James Forsyth

A supreme debate

A supreme debate
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One of the reasons Obama has been so successful in his brief political career is that he has largely dodged the culture wars. I remember in Iowa and New Hampshire meeting many voters who were drawn to him because they wanted to, in Obama’s phrase, stop re-litigating the 1960s. 

But the Supreme Court vacancy caused by David Souter’s coming retirement could drag Obama into this battle. Where the nominee stands on Roe v. Wade, DC’s gun control laws and school vouchers which are used to send pupils to religious schools will dominate the debate.  

Bush’s experience, though, shows a way that Obama, who used to teach constitutional law himself, could minimise the culture war fall-out. When Bush nominated John Roberts, the current Chief Justice, he was so well credentialed it attracted little controversy. Roberts ended up being confirmed by a 78 to 22 vote of the Senate, a far more comfortable margin than people were expecting given the polarised state of American politics and that Roberts was the first Supreme Court nominee in more than a decade.  

If I was a betting man, I might have a small bet on Elena Kagan, the former dean of Harvard School who Obama appointed as his solicitor general. Kagan was previously a professor at Chicago where Obama taught.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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