Q&A Friday #84: What Kind Of Judges Would McCain Appoint?

Question: “Since McCain has all but wrapped up the Republican nomination, assuming he is voted in as President, what kind of judges do you think he would appoint?

The real legacy of any presidency is the measure of the judicial appointments. The reforms that Reagan managed to pass were wiped out by succeeding administrations, and even though welfare reform was passed under Clinton, it can come back at any date. However, the judges that were appointed will sit for life.

This issue should be paramount since Judge Stevens – arguably the driving force behind the leftward march of the Supreme Court – isn’t likely to last through another presidential term. Who knows what other judges will retire in the meantime. Consider, who knew during the 2004 campaign that not one, but two Supreme Court positions would need to be filled. Everything else that Bush has done – or not done – aside, the appointments of Alito and Scalia to the bench were victories for conservatism.” — The_Mutant

Answer: First of all, before I answer this, it’s worth noting that either Hillary or Obama would appoint ultra-left-wing judges, so anybody McCain appoints is likely to be better.

That being said, the key question is whether McCain would appoint conservative judges.

The evidence that says he won’t
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* McCain loves pleasing the press. There’s are few better ways for McCain to do that than to appoint a moderate justice who disappoints conservatives.

* Reliable accounts have McCain saying that he, “would be happy to appoint the likes of Chief Justice Roberts to the Supreme Court. But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito because ‘he wore his conservatism on his sleeve.'”

* McCain has previously said that he opposes overturning Roe v. Wade (he has changed his tune since) and originalist judges are not going to support parts of McCain-Feingold. So, can you really trust John McCain to appoint a 5th originalist judge to the court, when that could mean that Roe v. Wade and his signature legislation, McCain-Feingold, may be deep-sixed as a result?

The evidence that says he will
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* McCain did vote to approve Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, & Alito.

* McCain has been publicly telling anyone who’ll listen that he will appoint judges like Alito and Roberts.

* After the enormous dogfight over Harriet Miers, McCain is going to be very aware, especially given the promises he has made over judges, that he will pay an extremely heavy political price for picking a judge who isn’t acceptable to conservatives.

So, what does that all add up to? My best guess is that McCain would PROBABLY appoint originalist judges, but with a guy like John McCain, who has made a career out of sticking it to the Right, in the end, there are simply no absolute guarantees that can be made on any conservative issue.

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