Does America care about a “Supreme Court nominee”?

Washington DC has heated up this summer, but it’s not just the summer heat.

The recent retirement announcement of Supreme Court Justice Kennedy sent people racing in all directions heating things up politically.  The DC Political Machines are kicking into high gear as they try to rally for their cause.  The parties are out there telling anyone who’ll listen why Bret Kavanaugh (a former Kennedy Clerk) would be a good or bad choice to replace outgoing Justice Kennedy.

But how does a Supreme Court nominee affect the lives and possibly future votes of those outside of Washington DC?  In the short term, there is virtually no effect in the long term there maybe but its hard to measure.

So this raises the question do voters look at issues that could take years or decades to change if ever?  If you follow the Supreme Court you can see things don’t change overnight, the judicial process can take years to make its way to the Supreme Court.  Even if a case is added to the docket that doesn’t ensure a decision will be made.  Sometimes the court will push the case back to a lower court.

So when voters are asked does this Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh change the way they vote there may be too many what-ifs to really answer.

The Associated Press did an article that tried to answer this question from voters around the States.

Associated Press
As Supreme Court battle roils DC, Suburban voters shrug
By Thomas Beaumont and Steve Peoples

OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) — It stands to shift the direction of the nation’s highest court for decades, but President Donald Trump’s move to fill a Supreme Court vacancy has barely cracked the consciousness of some voters in the nation’s top political battlegrounds.

Even among this year’s most prized voting bloc — educated suburban women — there’s no evidence that a groundswell of opposition to a conservative transformation of the judicial branch, which could lead to the erosion or reversal of Roe v. Wade, will significantly alter the trajectory of the midterms, particularly in the House.

Many of those on the left who were already energized to punish Trump’s party this fall remain enthusiastic. On the right, voters loyal to Trump often needed no encouragement either, though some Republicans who have soured on the president were heartened by the nomination of federal court judge Brett Kavanaugh.

And those in the middle? Many said they weren’t following the issue closely enough to have a strong opinion despite the prospect of dramatic changes to America’s customs and culture.

“I’m not going to know much about this, I’m afraid,” said 31-year-old Christian school principal Sara Breetzke, a self-described moderate Republican who lives in Omaha. “I really should know more, but I don’t have anything unique to say.”

Breetzke was among two dozen voters interviewed by The Associated Press in the days immediately after Trump tapped Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was a swing vote on several key issues, including abortion rights. Those interviewed live and vote in districts that are expected to decide the House majority this fall — places like suburban Philadelphia; metropolitan Omaha; Orange County, California; northern Virginia; and Denver’s western suburbs, where Republicans hold seats but Democrat Hillary Clinton performed well in 2016.

Democrats must pick up at least 23 new seats now held by Republicans to claim the House majority. They are starting with a focus on 25 districts where Clinton led Trump in the presidential vote, but the field now extends to several dozen more districts where Trump won by small margins.

The Supreme Court battle will be fought in the Senate, where Republicans are eager to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination before the midterms. The vote is especially crucial for Democrats seeking re-election in states Trump won in 2016 and could affect turnout in those races. But for now, it’s unclear whether that enthusiasm will trickle down to contests for the House, where Democrats are better positioned to regain control.

The Democrat said she was already motivated to vote in November — against vulnerable Republican Rep. Mike Coffman — from the moment Trump was elected: “I don’t think anything is going to change that.”

In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia, Sandi Frederick said she’d be troubled if Roe v. Wade were overturned. But having voted for Trump in 2016, she said she’d likely vote for freshman Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick.

For now, Frederick, a 56-year-old registered independent, says Trump’s Supreme Court pick is a qualified candidate: He speaks well, seems like a family man and seems to have an acceptable resume.

And in northern Virginia, where two-term Rep. Barbara Comstock is considered one of the nation’s most vulnerable Republicans, Marlene Burkgren says she feels powerless to stop Trump’s party from confirming Kavanaugh.

“I’m a little disappointed with the way things have worked out,” said Burkgren, a 67-year-old volunteer tai chi teacher at a local senior center.

“There’s nothing we can do,” Burkgren said, noting that she still plans to vote in November to try to oust Republicans from control. Comstock faces state Sen. Jennifer Wexton in a campaign season that has seen a wave of new women candidates.

These voters echo the beliefs of many of Washington’s top political operatives, who are skeptical that the high-profile Supreme Court nomination debate in the weeks ahead will significantly change the fight for congressional control this fall. The skepticism reflects the increasingly short attention span of most voters given the weekly turbulence in the Trump era and the likely timing of the Senate’s pre-election nomination battle.

Polling related to past Supreme Court nominees suggests there is typically little public awareness or informed opinion on the picks, especially within a few days of their unveiling.

Certainly, some Republicans who have been lukewarm to Trump said the president’s push for another conservative justice renews enthusiasm that has waned somewhat as the GOP-controlled Congress has failed on key promises to dismantle the 2010 health care law and enact new immigration restrictions.

Retired airline pilot Dave Stacy of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, voted for Trump but said he doesn’t like him. Kavanaugh’s nomination gives Stacy reason to vote for vulnerable Republican freshman Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick.

“I don’t like (Trump) as a person,” Stacy said. “I think he’s arrogant. But I like what he’s doing.”

And Kavanaugh’s profile serves as a powerful reminder for some Democrats of what they don’t like about the Trump era.

“I think (Trump) doubled down on what divides us,” said Gavin Laboski, also of Doylestown. “That pick isn’t a reach across the aisle in any way shape or form.”

Despite the ambivalence from some, candidates in both parties are working to use the situation to their advantage.

Democrats in Washington and in congressional districts are warning voters that a conservative shift on the court could negatively affect women’s rights, health care and the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The party enjoys a consistent advantage generically in polling ahead of the Nov. 6 election, and the Kavanaugh nomination is expected to push more activists to volunteer and more donors to contribute to party causes, Democratic operatives said.

Likewise, Republicans cheered the prospect of new restrictions on abortion and other conservative priorities that help motivate evangelical voters who may be skeptical about Trump’s leadership style and personal baggage.

Still, Republicans will need suburban women, especially those like Republican-leaning Taylor Liesemeyer of Omaha, where first-term GOP Rep. Don Bacon is facing a spirited challenge from progressive Democratic newcomer Kara Eastman.

Bacon called Kavanaugh’s credentials “impeccable” and congratulated Trump on the pick, comments that could pose a risk in an election where women like Liesemeyer, a Republican who supports keeping abortion legal, will be key.

“I think as a country we need to be more progressive in certain aspects, though I have a lot of traditional values,” the 21-year-old occupational therapist said. “I think, as a woman, I should give other women that choice.”

Associated Press writers Matthew Barakat in Loudoun County, Virginia, Marc Levy in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Nicholas Riccardi in Centennial, Colorado, and Amy Taxin in Huntington Beach, California, contributed to this report.

 

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John G. Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States,
was born in Buffalo, New York, January 27, 1955. He married Jane Marie Sullivan in 1996 and they have two children – Josephine and Jack. He received an A.B. from Harvard College in 1976 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1979. He served as a law clerk for Judge Henry J. Friendly of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1979–1980 and as a law clerk for then-Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 1980 Term. He was Special Assistant to the Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice from 1981–1982, Associate Counsel to President Ronald Reagan, White House Counsel’s Office from 1982–1986, and Principal Deputy Solicitor General, U.S. Department of Justice from 1989–1993. From 1986–1989 and 1993–2003, he practiced law in Washington, D.C. He was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2003. President George W. Bush nominated him as Chief Justice of the United States, and he took his seat September 29, 2005.

Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice

Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice,
was born in Sacramento, California, July 23, 1936. He married Mary Davis and has three children. He received his B.A. from Stanford University and the London School of Economics, and his LL.B. from Harvard Law School. He was in private practice in San Francisco, California from 1961–1963, as well as in Sacramento, California from 1963–1975. From 1965 to 1988, he was a Professor of Constitutional Law at the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. He has served in numerous positions during his career, including a member of the California Army National Guard in 1961, the board of the Federal Judicial Center from 1987–1988, and two committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States: the Advisory Panel on Financial Disclosure Reports and Judicial Activities, subsequently renamed the Advisory Committee on Codes of Conduct, from 1979–1987, and the Committee on Pacific Territories from 1979–1990, which he chaired from 1982–1990. He was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1975. President Reagan nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat February 18, 1988.

Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice

Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice,
was born in the Pinpoint community near Savannah, Georgia on June 23, 1948. He attended Conception Seminary from 1967-1968 and received an A.B., cum laude, from Holy Cross College in 1971 and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1974. He was admitted to law practice in Missouri in 1974, and served as an Assistant Attorney General of Missouri, 1974-1977; an attorney with the Monsanto Company, 1977-1979; and Legislative Assistant to Senator John Danforth, 1979-1981. From 1981–1982 he served as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, and as Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1982-1990. From 1990–1991, he served as a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. President Bush nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and he took his seat October 23, 1991. He married Virginia Lamp on May 30, 1987 and has one child, Jamal Adeen by a previous marriage.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice,
was born in Brooklyn, New York, March 15, 1933. She married Martin D. Ginsburg in 1954, and has a daughter, Jane, and a son, James. She received her B.A. from Cornell University, attended Harvard Law School, and received her LL.B. from Columbia Law School. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable Edmund L. Palmieri, Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, from 1959–1961. From 1961–1963, she was a research associate and then associate director of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure. She was a Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law from 1963–1972, and Columbia Law School from 1972–1980, and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California from 1977–1978. In 1971, she was instrumental in launching the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, and served as the ACLU’s General Counsel from 1973–1980, and on the National Board of Directors from 1974–1980. She was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980. President Clinton nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and she took her seat August 10, 1993.

Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice

Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice,
was born in San Francisco, California, August 15, 1938. He married Joanna Hare in 1967, and has three children – Chloe, Nell, and Michael. He received an A.B. from Stanford University, a B.A. from Magdalen College, Oxford, and an LL.B. from Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to Justice Arthur Goldberg of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 1964 Term, as a Special Assistant to the Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Antitrust, 1965–1967, as an Assistant Special Prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 1973, as Special Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 1974–1975, and as Chief Counsel of the committee, 1979–1980. He was an Assistant Professor, Professor of Law, and Lecturer at Harvard Law School, 1967–1994, a Professor at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, 1977–1980, and a Visiting Professor at the College of Law, Sydney, Australia and at the University of Rome. From 1980–1990, he served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and as its Chief Judge, 1990–1994. He also served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States, 1990–1994, and of the United States Sentencing Commission, 1985–1989. President Clinton nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat August 3, 1994.

Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice

Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice,
was born in Trenton, New Jersey, April 1, 1950. He married Martha-Ann Bomgardner in 1985, and has two children – Philip and Laura. He served as a law clerk for Leonard I. Garth of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 1976–1977. He was Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of New Jersey, 1977–1981, Assistant to the Solicitor General, U.S. Department of Justice, 1981–1985, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, 1985–1987, and U.S. Attorney, District of New Jersey, 1987–1990. He was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1990. President George W. Bush nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat January 31, 2006.

Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice

Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice,
was born in Bronx, New York, on June 25, 1954. She earned a B.A. in 1976 from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the university’s highest academic honor. In 1979, she earned a J.D. from Yale Law School where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. She served as Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office from 1979–1984. She then litigated international commercial matters in New York City at Pavia & Harcourt, where she served as an associate and then partner from 1984–1992. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and she served in that role from 1992–1998. She served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1998–2009. President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009, and she assumed this role August 8, 2009.

Elena Kagan, Associate Justice

Elena Kagan, Associate Justice,
was born in New York, New York, on April 28, 1960. She received an A.B. from Princeton in 1981, an M. Phil. from Oxford in 1983, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1986. She clerked for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1986-1987 and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court during the 1987 Term. After briefly practicing law at a Washington, D.C. law firm, she became a law professor, first at the University of Chicago Law School and later at Harvard Law School. She also served for four years in the Clinton Administration, as Associate Counsel to the President and then as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. Between 2003 and 2009, she served as the Dean of Harvard Law School. In 2009, President Obama nominated her as the Solicitor General of the United States. A year later, the President nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 10, 2010. She took her seat on August 7, 2010.

Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice

Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice,
was born in Denver, Colorado, August 29, 1967. He and his wife Louise have two daughters. He received a B.A. from Columbia University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a D.Phil. from Oxford University. He served as a law clerk to Judge David B. Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and as a law clerk to Justice Byron White and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States. From 1995–2005, he was in private practice, and from 2005–2006 he was Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice. He was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in 2006. He served on the Standing Committee on Rules for Practice and Procedure of the U.S. Judicial Conference, and as chairman of the Advisory Committee on Rules of Appellate Procedure. He taught at the University of Colorado Law School. President Donald J. Trump nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat on April 10, 2017.
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