Op-ed column: Hillary ideally suited for Supreme Court

Many disappointed “Hillary for President” fans are hoping that Obama will name her vice president. H
Frank Galasso
Frank Galasso

Many disappointed “Hillary for President” fans are hoping that Obama will name her vice president. Her name is also floated as our next secretary of state. Other ideas will surface. Ambassador? Secretary of health and human services?

I would like to see Hillary Clinton appointed to the Supreme Court. She sets an example of a keen legal mind maturing over a lifetime, and shows a willingness to commit herself to what she believes to be right.

Anyone who has watched this woman conduct herself — as a youthful idealist embracing her father’s Republican politics; her gradual move toward the Democratic party; her activism during her Wellesley years culminating in giving the first commencement speech ever delivered by a student (she was president of student government); and her selection by her political science professor for the Wellesley Internship Program in Washington, where she was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee (at that time researching legal grounds for a presidential impeachment) — will have witnessed this maturing.

Much has been written about Hillary’s career at Yale Law School, where in 1969 she was one of 27 women among 235 students; her involvement campaigning for other political candidates during the summers; her marriage to Bill; her time as first lady of Arkansas, eventually moving on to two tumultuous terms in the White House; and then astounding everyone by running for and winning the seat of junior senator of New York state.

This is a woman who has spent much time advocating for the poor, who has given deep thought to improving health care, who is dedicated to achieving civil rights and social justice and who has worked with such specific interest groups as the National Farm Workers and the Children’s Defense Fund. The New York Times presidential endorsement read, “We are hugely impressed by the depth of her knowledge, the force of her intellect and by the breadth of, yes, her experience . . . she has won the respect of world leaders and many in the American military.”

In good company

The Constitution doesn’t have a job description for federal judges as it does for president. Many believe that the justices should have prior judicial experience, but of the 109 people who have been on the Supreme Court, 41, including John Marshall, Earl Warren, Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter and William Rehnquist, had no prior judicial experience according to the Congressional Quarterly. So she would be in good company. Justices are appointed under Article III of the Constitution by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate and can only be removed by impeachment.

We can read Hillary’s well-articulated position on the “Supreme Court v. Gonzales” case published on April 18, 2007, and paid for by Hillary Clinton For President. She has been vocal about the workings of the Court even when it might have jeopardized her campaign for president. It read, in part, “This decision marks a dramatic departure from four decades of Supreme Court rulings that upheld a woman’s right to choose and recognized the importance of women’s health. Today’s decision blatantly defies the Court’s recent decision in 2000 striking down a state partial-birth abortion law because of its failure to provide an exception for the health of the mother. As the court recognized in Roe vs. Wade in 1973, this issue is complex and highly personal; the rights and lives of women must be taken into account. It is precisely this erosion of our constitutional rights that I warned against when (as a NYS senator) I opposed the nomination of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. In appointing (Roberts and Alito), Bush succeeded in appointing two solid conservatives. . . . O’Connor’s pivotal swing vote passes to Anthony Kennedy joining the bloc of Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito.” (The more liberal bloc consists of Stevens, Ginsburg, Souter and Breyer, making for a 5-4 vote).

Welcomed back

Back in upstate New York a day after ending her presidential run, Hillary was greeted by large, cheering crowds. Sister Joan Sauro of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Syracuse said, “What they say about her grace and grit are true.” Sister Joan was heartbroken that Hillary pulled out of the presidential race, but “that means we have her back in New York.” An even better place for her to be in coming years would be on the Supreme Court. She would be less in the limelight. Maybe she could lose the undeserved taint of being Bill’s wife.

In July 2007, Barack Obama said, “We need somebody [on the Supreme Court] who’s got the heart and the empathy to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenager.” Hillary has repeatedly aligned herself with the disenfranchised. On the Supreme Court, her deliberations and decisions would affect all of our lives for years to come.

Ruth Peterson lives in Glenville.

Categories: Opinion

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