Whelan to Marcus: Bring It On!

Washington Post columnist writes of her hope that the Supreme Court becomes an election issue this November.

Conservatives, seizing on the Supreme Court's ruling last week on Guantanamo detainees, want to turn the court into election fodder.

I hope they succeed.

At Bench Memos, Ed Whelan replies "Marcus grossly misestimates how a well-informed public would assess the relative prospects of McCain and Obama appointees to the Court."

Insofar as the judiciary has been a major issue in recent political campaigns, it appears to have worked to Republican advantage. The issue of judicial nominations motivates a key portion of the Republican base, and so-called "liberal judicial activism" appears to alienate a least a sliver of independents. Could Boumediene change this? I doubt it. I think Whelan is correct that the average American is to the "right" of the Court when it comes to the treatment of non-citizen enemy combatants. (Indeed, much of the public may be to the "right" of the Boumediene dissenters.) What about the other issues Marcus mentions? Here again I think she underestimates the public support for, say, allowing states to adopt more stringent abortion restrictions. I also think the issue of judicial nominations cuts in favor of Republicans when the subject turns to gay marriage, as even some who support gay marriage would like to leave the issue in the hands of state legislatures, and keep it out of federal courts. We'll see who is correct as the campaign unfolds.