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43 years ago, Lyndon Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall during heated civil rights tensions

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ruggerson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 03:47 PM
Original message
43 years ago, Lyndon Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall during heated civil rights tensions
Edited on Sat Apr-10-10 04:09 PM by ruggerson
Back then, a wide swath of racists called that nomination unnecessarily "divisive."

Looking back, others correctly now think it was a transformational turning point for the country.

Johnson's own words:

"I believe he earned his appointment. He deserves the appointment. He's the best qualified by training and by very valuable service to the country. I believe it's the right thing to do, the right time to do it, the right man, and the right place."

20 Southern Senators abstained from voting.

A country is changed for the better with transformational leadership, not cautious, near term political concerns.

Mr. President, you're up at bat.

Many of us hope you hit this one out of the park.
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Unvanguard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 03:51 PM
Response to Original message
1. That was before Roe v. Wade and before Bork.
The Senate confirmation atmosphere is entirely different.
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Alexander Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 03:52 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Yes, it was also before Abe Fortas, Clement Haynesworth and G. Harold Carswell...
Supreme Court appointments were not nearly as driven by politics as they are today.
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activa8tr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 03:53 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Are we afraid of a big bad Republican minority in the Senate?
PLEASE! Let's just move forward with the most progressive justice nomination since T Marshall
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katandmoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 03:58 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Only one problem...Obama is president now I've been told over and over here that he's a CENTRIST.
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Unvanguard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:00 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Ignoring the political situation does not make it go away. n/t
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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:03 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. No, but fearing it gives your enemies more power.
Somewhere between those extremes there are beautiful things that can be done.
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Unvanguard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:12 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. It's not about fear, it's about prudence.
There is every reason to believe that Obama can push through a moderate liberal, who will reliably vote with the Court's liberal wing, without excessive political difficulty. A strong liberal would be better, but it would be substantially more politically difficult, and would distract him and Congress from tackling issues like financial reform and the economy that might help them in November. Remember that power in the Supreme Court is effectively held by the person who holds the deciding vote, and that will remain Justice Kennedy whoever Obama appoints.
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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:38 PM
Response to Reply #9
15. The point about Marshal, and others, like Ginsburg
Is that they weren't simply liberals. They made statements outside of the normal political spectrum, in a direction that was bold and clearly leftist, but at the same time put the conservatives on the spot in social terms. It was hard to vote against a black man even if he was liberal because of all the other things his appointment said. Same with Ginsburg, and Sotomayor.

Bold and creative can break molds. Obama did it once. Now let's see him do it again. Make a statement beyond politics, and he will be remembered and loved and feared by his enemies for it. Pick a middling safe pick, and everyone will smile and say "Okay, I'm okay with that," and the Republicans can chalk one up in their score column, and they are strengthened, and we are weakened.

Politics is an art, not a mathematical puzzle. When the numbers don't add up exactly the way you want, you rewrite the equation rather than simplifying your terms. That's what the great leaders have always done. After a shaky start, Obama shows signs of learning that, and this is his chance to really prove it. It takes a lot to block a SCOTUS nominee when you are a majority. You give up political clout to make your statement. Obama can take it to them, push them just far enough back that they have more to lose by fighting than by conceeding, and he can win a major victory and set the table for future wins. Or he can play it safe and strengthen the other side, and we'll pay for that in November. Maybe several Novembers. No one wants a president of change who does things the way they've always been done.

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Unvanguard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 08:09 PM
Response to Reply #15
35. I agree, a Sotomayor-like nomination would be ideal.
Edited on Sat Apr-10-10 08:10 PM by Unvanguard
But I don't see anyone among the potential candidates with that combination of political appeal and liberal conviction, so I see no way to outflank the Republicans on this one.

"Great leaders" are the ones lucky enough to have good circumstances for policymaking, and pragmatic enough to accurately judge their political circumstances. At least in constitutional republics with as many veto points as ours, they do not and cannot make their own circumstances.
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ruggerson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:11 PM
Response to Reply #1
8. You could have made the same argument back then to Johnson
just insert the Civil Rights Act and Earl Warren as substitutes for Roe V Wade and Bork.
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Unvanguard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:15 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Neither of those are substitutes for actual Supreme Court confirmation fights.
And a clear, decades-long agenda on the part of the Right to control the Supreme Court.

The abstentions of Southern Democrats are not equivalent to a filibuster attempt with some real potential of success.
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ruggerson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:18 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. I guess you don't remember the "Impeach Warren" bumperstickers
And the only reason the rightwing battle for the USSC has gone on for decades is because we don't fight back as effectively and with steely determination.

You don't win against a dangerous bully by meeting them halfway.
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Cirque du So-What Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:22 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Bumperstickers? I remember a multitude of billboards with that slogan!
John Birch Society had deep pockets for such a raggedy-ass crew.
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:51 PM
Response to Reply #12
26. the Chad Mitchell Trio sang about that stuff.
Mitchell left and was replaced by John Denver.

"We're your Friendly Liberal Neighborhood Ku Klux Klan,
Ever since we hired that lawyer and that public relations man,
We threw out one reporter
But he was quite obscene
And we don't use no big words
"What does Anglo-Saxon mean"?

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Unvanguard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 08:06 PM
Response to Reply #11
34. The Supreme Court has always been a matter of political controversy.
That is not at issue. The issue is the narrow one of how willing Senators are to filibuster nominees. And there is no comparison in that respect.
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Bluenorthwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:57 PM
Response to Reply #1
16. 20 Republican Senators refused to vote at all
I'm sorry, but Marshall was a hugely controversial appointment in a much more trying time, an appointment specific to the major issue of the time. You are searching for excuses for timidity.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 06:23 PM
Response to Reply #16
29. +100 "Excuses for Timidity"
It could be a bumper sticker.

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Unvanguard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 08:04 PM
Response to Reply #16
33. Abstaining is actually a weaker sign of opposition than voting against.
The issue is not the level of controversy, it is the willingness of Senators to block nominations, and that has changed a lot, holding controversy constant, since the 1960s.
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onenote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-11-10 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #33
42. most didn't abstain; they were absent but the vote they would have cast was announced
Different from abstaining by voting "present".
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onenote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-11-10 07:32 AM
Response to Reply #16
41. most of the Senators not voting were Democrats and most of them announced how they would vote
The vote was 69-11 with 20 not voting. I believe 17 of the 20 were Democrats. Prior to the vote, announcements were made as to how most of the absentees would've voted had they been present. Twelve of them (ten Democrats and 2 repubs) would have voted yea. And four (all Democrats) would have voted nay.

http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/240_1967.pdf
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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:01 PM
Response to Original message
6. Well said.
:applause:
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vaberella Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:23 PM
Response to Original message
13. Why would you use another President as a basis?
I felt Obama made a very good choice with Justice Sotomayor and I hope he makes another great decision such as that. Further more, if he did well on this I don't see how he won't do well with the second one. Unless of course he doesn't choose one pushed by some folks.
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ruggerson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:26 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Uh, because it's how presidential history often works?
Comparative analysis.
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vaberella Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:03 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. We're not in the midst of civil rights tensions (well not like in the 60s-70s).
Unless we look at gay rights which is most definitely undermined and if President Obama chooses a gay nominee for the Supreme Court. However, we have no nominee---wouldn't the comparative analysis work better if we had a nominee in place to fulfill the equation? The thread seems pre-mature.
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ShortnFiery Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:18 PM
Response to Reply #18
24. As more and more people fail to deal with under-employment, you're going to see a ground swell
Edited on Sat Apr-10-10 05:18 PM by ShortnFiery
of anger. It's not too far off. Listen?
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ruggerson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 06:11 PM
Response to Reply #18
28. Why is it premature?
Can we not express our thoughts about a process while it is occurring? I don't think there are rules that we can't discuss this and kick it around until after he has made his selection.

And if you don't think that a divide exists in this country today that corresponds to the racial divide in the 60's (which is debatable in and of itself), then the argument can be made that it's actually easier for Obama to make a visionary and bold pick in today's climate.
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DCKit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:02 PM
Response to Original message
17. One of our best, ever. n/t
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jefferson_dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:12 PM
Response to Original message
19. Great post.
Edited on Sat Apr-10-10 05:14 PM by jefferson_dem
We'll see what happens.
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rurallib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:13 PM
Response to Original message
20. and what an insult that he would be replaced by Clarence Thomas.
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StevieM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 07:04 PM
Response to Reply #20
30. ITA. It's upsetting just to think about. (eom)
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whistler162 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:13 PM
Response to Original message
21. Yup... because his previous nomination was a
right wing hack!:sarcasm:
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ShortnFiery Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:15 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. She may go either way. She doesn't have much of a track record save for "the middle." eom
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ShortnFiery Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:14 PM
Response to Original message
22. He won't. I have no "hope" left given that President Obama has tacked to the corporate right. eom
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craigmatic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:28 PM
Response to Original message
25. LBJ was looking far ahead past his own lifetime. Obama needs to do the same with his pick.
no more moderates we need a liberal.
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ruggerson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 11:29 PM
Response to Reply #25
36. good point
Visionary.
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ClarkUSA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:57 PM
Response to Original message
27. Um, LBJ had 68 Democratic Senators to back him up while President Obama has 57 + Bernie Sanders.
Edited on Sat Apr-10-10 06:37 PM by ClarkUSA
You're comparing apples and oranges. 43 years ago, there were plenty of Rockefeller Republicans who voted with Democrats regularly. Now they are extinct, while teabaggers rule the GOP base and Republicans are proud of being the Party of "Hell No!"

President Obama would nominate whoever the hell he wanted to if Democrats had a 68 member Senate majority. But he doesn't have the luxury or blessing that LBJ did, in either numbers or political culture.

Note that I am not depending on McCain's choice for VP aka. Sen. Lieberman as a sure vote for President Obama's choice because I wouldn't put it past him to act like a GOP stalking horse on this issue. Even if Lieberman voted for the eventual WH nominee, that puts Senate Democrats at one fewer than what's required to overcome a Republican filibuster.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just a few facts:

:redbox: FDR had 329 House and 69 Senate Democrats in Congress. It took FDR 29 months to pass Social Security after being inaugurated for the first time.

:bluebox: LBJ had 295 House and 68 Senate Democrats in Congress. It took LBJ 20 months to pass Medicare after being inaugurated.

:redbox: President Barack Obama had 258 House & 57 Senate Democrats (plus 1 Socialist and 1 Independent who usually caucus w/Democrats) in Congress. It took President Obama 14 months to pass HCR after being inaugurated.


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StevieM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 07:11 PM
Response to Reply #27
31. I'm sure I'll be satisfied with Obama's eventual pick, like I was was Sotomayor, but I do think
that LBJ deserves a lot of credit for putting Thurgood Marshall on the Court. It was an enormous step forward, and not one that many people were ready for. We don't know that a different president would have done the same thing, or even considered it.

Whoever Obama picks will be an anti-Federalist Society Justice. The important thing is that we not have another Justice like Roberts, Scalia, etc, men (or women) who have absolutely no business being on the Court.

Steve
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onenote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-11-10 07:15 AM
Response to Reply #27
40. you are right about the numbers, but it was the repub support, not the 68 Dems that mattered
Edited on Sun Apr-11-10 07:36 AM by onenote
Its correct that LBJ had a much larger Democratic majority, but it wasn't the fact that there were 68 Democrats in the Senate that made Marshall's confirmation possible. It was the fact that repubs were largely united in their support for Marshall. Only one repub voted against the nomination; ten of the 68 Democrats voted no, and around 17 more were absent (along with three repubs), although it was announced on the floor of the senate how most of them would vote. Even if you count the absentee Democrats, I believe fewer than 50 Democrats publicly supported the confirmation of Marshall.

http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/240_1967.pdf

It was a completely different political landscape and you're right that comparing then and now, from a political standpoint, is comparing apples and oranges.
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 07:49 PM
Response to Original message
32. As I read what you wrote, I could literally recall the quote in Johnson's voice.
I am certainly old enough to recall the quote. I'm not at all sure if I heard it contemporaneously (on teevee or radio) or later, in a clip of it. But I recall it vividly.

By the way .... K&R. The notion of an appointment based on short political expedience is shameful.
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Overseas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-11-10 12:29 AM
Response to Original message
37. K&R . //nt
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Ter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-11-10 03:03 AM
Response to Original message
38. A strong liberal is prefered, as long as he/she supports the 2nd Amendment
If not then I won't support him/her, no matter if I agree with everything else this person supports.
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onenote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-11-10 07:11 AM
Response to Original message
39. it was a much different political landscape - nearly as many repubs voted for Marshall as Dems
Edited on Sun Apr-11-10 07:34 AM by onenote
While LBJ had a sizable Democratic majority to work with, that isn't what made the confirmation of Marshall possible. It was a political climate in which repubs were willing to (or not afraid to) support Marshall's nomination.

The confirmation vote for Marshall was 69-11 with 20 senators not voting. Ten of the 11 no votes came from Democrats, including Senators Byrd and Hollings. Nearly half of the yes votes came from repubs. Most of those not voting were Democrats, although it was announced on the senate floor that ten of them would've voted yea had they been present; two of the three repubs not present would've voted yea, while four of the absent Dems would've voted nay.

http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/240_1967.pdf

Comparing the political landscape of that time with today is comparing apples and oranges.
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Ter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-12-10 03:37 AM
Response to Reply #39
43. Let me guess...
Goldwater was the lone no Republican vote?
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onenote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-12-10 06:30 AM
Response to Reply #43
44. nope. Thurmond
BTW, Goldwater wasn't in the Senate at the time. He didn't run for re-election in 1964, but after losing the presidential race, he ran again in 1968 and was elected.
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VMI Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-12-10 07:03 AM
Response to Original message
45. Expect a moderate.
Anything else from this President would be shocking.
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