No White Males Need Apply
Filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court is, of course, among the most consequential of presidential acts—not quite so grave, perhaps, as taking the nation into war, but in the long run probably of more lasting effect. Indeed, the Court has itself become something of a theater of war, one in which the terms that the victors succeed in imposing upon the vanquished can shape the life of the country for generations. Thus every resignation from that body nowadays sets off an immediate and lively round of national debate. In addition to the inevitable gossip about whose name is most likely to be on the famous “short list,” there is much proffering of advice to the President about where his duty now lies.
The resignation of Justice Harry Blackmun, announced on April 5, was certainly no exception—despite the fact that since the Justice and the President stood pretty much on the same side of the political street, there was general agreement that whoever was appointed would in all likelihood not make much difference to the ideological balance of the Court. Still, for at least some of the President’s would-be advisers, there were other kinds of balance to worry about. As early as April 7 the New York Times editorialists, for instance, already found themselves quite concerned about certain rumors that were coming out of Washington, and they hastened to share their concerns with Clinton in an editorial entitled “How to Fill a Justice’s Shoes.”
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