President Obama called the task of nominating a Supreme Court justice, “the most important job I have.” That’s why the president needs to replace John Paul Stevens with someone who can serve as a counterweight to the Court’s swing to the right.
That’s why President Obama needs to put Leah Ward Sears on the Supreme Court.
Judge Sears is the former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, a Black woman who has defended gay rights, is pro-choice and would be a liberal voice on the Court. She’s also a friend of Clarence Thomas which means she would be hard for right-wingers to stick horns on her head as some sort of wild-eyed Lefty.
Sears turns 55 in June which makes her young enough to sit on the Supreme Court for 25-30 years. Things will never get better for a strong progressive to get through the Senate during Obama’s remaining term. Will the Republicans scream and shout that Ward is “out of the mainstream?” Of course they will and what of it? Who gets to decide what qualifies as being “in the mainstream?” As Senator Lindsay Graham said during the Sotomayor hearings, “Elections have consequences.” Obama won the last election and he needs to place people on the federal bench that reflect his beliefs, not that of the party that lost.
Long after Obama is out of office, the people he places on the federal bench will remain. The choice of Sonia Sotomayor was a strong and principled one for Obama as it was time for a Latino representative on the highest court of the land. Now it is time for him to make an audacious choice and choose a successor that will represent and defend the liberal perspective as solidly as Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas represent the conservative perspective.
The one thing Sears should not be seen as if Obama taps her for the Court is as the arch-enemy of Clarence Thomas. Sears and Thomas are friends despite coming from two very different political perspectives.
There’s no doubt Obama will choose a qualified candidate, but being qualified isn’t enough. He needs to choose someone who has lived in the real world and has some understanding of how the law impacts upon ordinary people. Too many judges live in a bubble where they are removed from that type of reality. Phrases such as “mainstream” judges who “respect the Constitution” and “the best and brightest” are thrown around by conservatives who ignore the real-life consequences of the High Court’s dictates.
Too often “the best and brightest” has been a euphemism for “the most plugged-in and Whitest.” I’d love to see a sista get tapped for the job and let those old bastards like Jeff Sessions and Jon Kyl TRY to attack her.
Step your game up Mr. President. Be bold and go with a choice that excites your base and dare the Republicans to filibuster a Black woman. Choose Leah Ward Sears and put a sista on the Supreme Court.