Monday, August 9, 2010

Think Tanks Continued: The Supreme Court

Two women nominated by President Obama have been approved by the Senate to serve as Associate Justices of the Supreme Court. Conventional wisdom holds that Judge Sonia Sotomayor leans left on social and economic issues and that Dean Elena Kagan will be part of a center-left bloc that includes justices Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Should Obama get to replace one of the four consevatives (Roberts. Scalia, Thomas, Alito) with a like-minded center-left or left-leaning justice, the liberal bloc would have a majority without justice Antony Kennedy.

One might think that fellows in a “conservative” think tank would express some opposition to Sotomayor, Kagan, or both. Indeed, this is so, but not at Hoover.

The Hoover Institution roster of fellows includes lawyers, of whom two have been judges and one a U.S. Attorney General. One is a full-time Hoover fellow (emeritus), three are joint appointments with Stanford law school, one joint with Chicago and NYU, one with GWU, and two with other conservative think tanks. What were their public statements about the two lady nominations?

None opposed Kagan. Only one, majority employed by another explicitly conservative think tank, opposed Sotomayor. Some openly supported one or both.

I previously blogged that Hoover falls into the centrist category of think tanks where the fellows’ scholarly merit, not ideology, determines appointments and research agendas. Hoover fellows’ views on Supreme Court appointments lends further credibility to my statement.