U.S. Supreme Court: Republicans – 20, Democrats – 8

Republicans – 20 and Democrats – 8

That’s the number of Supreme Court judges appointed by each party since the end of World War 2. That’s a difference of +12. If we’re keeping score, the Republicans are annihilating the Democrats in the Judicial branch of our government.

Have the Republicans simply been luckier? Maybe, but there’s a little more to it.

The 1960s and 1970s were some of the most trans-formative years in American history. The 1960s saw the rise of social movements across the nation demanding an equal share in the society the people helped built. Civil rights, women’s rights, voting rights, environmental rights, economic rights, etc. etc. In short, the country was becoming more democratic.

In the 1970s, corporate power fought back the democratic aspirations of the people. The business community felt threatened, spurred into action, and initiated plans take even further control of the American political process.

In 1971, Lewis Powell was a well-connected partner in the Richmond-based law firm of Hutton, Williams, Gay, Powell and Gibson and sat on the boards of 11 major corporations, including the tobacco giant Philip Morris. He also had served as chairman of the Richmond School Board from 1952 to ‘61 and as president of the American Bar Association from 1964 to ‘65.

On August 23 of the same year, Powell wrote a memo to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Education Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memo was titled Attack on American Free Enterprise System.

Two months later, Powell was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Nixon. He was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 89-1.

Powell began his analysis:

No thoughtful person can question that the American economic system is under broad attack, … We are not dealing with sporadic or isolated attacks from a relatively few extremists or even from the minority socialist cadre. Rather, the assault on the enterprise system is broadly based and consistently pursued. It is gaining momentum and converts.

Powell continued:

The time has come — indeed, it is long overdue — for the wisdom, ingenuity and resources of American business to be marshalled against those who would destroy it.

There should be no hesitation to attack the Naders, the Marcuses and others who openly seek destruction of the system. There should not be the slightest hesitation to press vigorously in all political arenas for support of the enterprise system. Nor should there be reluctance to penalize politically those who oppose it.

Powell asked directly in the memo, “What specifically should be done?” to awaken the business community from its torpor, spur it to counter the New Left and reassert its political and legal hegemony.

The first step, he reasoned, was “for businessmen to confront this problem [the threat to the system] as a primary responsibility of corporate management.” In addition, resources and unity would be required.

This is a vast area of opportunity for the Chamber, if it is willing to undertake the role of spokesman for American business and if, in turn, business is willing to provide the funds.

Independent and uncoordinated activity by individual corporations, as important as this is, will not be sufficient. Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and the political power available only through united action and national organizations.

Powell then gave the key to achieving his goals and those of the business community he represented:

Under our constitutional system … the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic and political change.

It’s not luck. It’s strategy!

Thanks for reading,

Notes: Here’s a quick summary just for fun:

Donald Trump (3) … and counting.

  1. Neil Gorsuch
  2. Brett Kavanaugh
  3. Amy Coney Barrett

Barak Obama (2)

  1. Sonia Sotomayor
  2. Elena Kagan

George W. Bush (2)

  1. John Roberts
  2. Samuel Alito

Bill Clinton (2)

  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  2. Stephen Breyer

George H. Bush (2)

  1. David Souter
  2. Clarence Thomas

Ronald Reagan (3)

  1. Sandra Day O’Connor
  2. Antonin Scalia
  3. Anthony Kennedy

Jimmy Cater (0)

Gerald Ford (1)

  1. John Paul Stevens

Richard Nixon (4)

  1. Warren E. Burger
  2. Harry Blackmun
  3. Lewis F. Powell
  4. William Rehnquist

Lyndon B. Johnson (2)

  1. Abe Fortas
  2. Thurgood Marshall

John F. Kennedy (2)

  1. Byron White
  2. Arthur Goldberg

Dwight D. Eisenhower (5)

  1. Earl Warren
  2. John Marshall Harlan II
  3. William J. Brennan
  4. Charles Evans Whittaker
  5. Potter Stewart

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