As America heads into the confirmation process of U.S. Supreme Court nominee, the esteemed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, we had former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton; historian, book and comic strip author; and partner at West Wing Writers Jeff Shesol on a podcast to discuss the likely Justice-to-be and the retiring Justice Stephen G. Breyer’s efforts to keep the Court out of politics.
Jeff has written several books including Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy, and the Feud That Defined a Decade, about the rivalry between Lyndon Johnson and Bobby Kennedy, and Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court, about President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s court-packing plan. Jeff took a lead role on two State of the Union Addresses, the President’s 2000 Democratic National Convention speech and the Farewell Address. He deeply understands Washington, the Court and history.
On the show we discussed, as Jeff put it, “The irony…that no one has been more insistent than Justice Breyer that politics do not shape the decisions of justices—that whoever put them on the court and how, justices are noncombatants in partisan wars. This is an idyllic notion, naïve, even, but there is reason to hope it outlasts Justice Breyer’s tenure.”
For one, I am an institutionalist and believe in the critical importance of process. I know it doesn’t grab headlines, but it gives us order that applies—at least theoretically—equally, regardless of the litigants or the political outcome. When we weaken the Court to accommodate outcome determinative rulings, there are no ultimate winners.
It is a delightful show filled with historical anecdotes and perspectives.
Enjoy the show.
Listen to Justice Stephen G. Breyer and Supreme Court Nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson