Election Issues

judicial appointments, judicial appointments obama, judicial appointments mccain

Election Issues: Judicial Appointments

August 08, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
Senator McCain endorses conservative, “constructionist” judges, such as John Roberts, while Obama hopes to seat liberals, like former justice Earl Warren, on the Supreme Court. Learn more about their conflicting stances in findingDulcinea’s survey of key issues in the November election.


With a currently divided Supreme Court, this presidential election may decide the fate of the court for years to come. A recent slate of 5–4 decisions splitting the court along ideological lines reinforces that when it comes to the Supreme Court, one precedent is steadfast: elections matter. The candidates’ differences on appointments to the federal judiciary exhibit stark contrasts.


Senator McCain maintains a traditional conservative position on judges, planning to appoint “strict constructionists” to the bench, and deriding “judicial activism.” His speech at Wake Forest University lays out his judicial philosophy and expresses his reasons for supporting the recently appointed Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito.


Barack Obama, a lawyer and former constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago, hopes for a judicial system that expresses empathy for the plight of ordinary Americans. His hero on the court is Earl Warren, the former Supreme Court justice who is championed among liberals for expanding benefits to the powerless, but who remains derided in conservative legal circles for his wide-ranging interpretation of constitutional rights. The New York Times summarizes the different philosophies of the candidates and offers a glimpse of what the Supreme Court might look like under either an Obama or McCain administration.

The Short Lists

Whom might Barack Obama or John McCain nominate to the Supreme Court?  Supreme Court litigator and author of SCOTUSblog, Tom Goldstein, runs down potential nominees and makes predictions for both the Democrats and the Republicans.

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