With Justice David Souter retiring, we could use a real “liberal” in his place. Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo may be one of the greatest unsung legal and moral-philosophical minds alive in America — and God Himself knows we could use more morality on that High Court these days, nevermind law-abiding!
As if somebody knew something was coming, we have this piece on Cuomo’s visit to the Court last month. I actually didn’t know Clinton almost nominated him in ’93, maybe because I was otherwise occupied. But it seems Gov. Cuomo still considers a need for him in other fora:
“You have 100 cases a year at the Court, and five or six of them are really significant, maybe.” When the Clinton offer came, Cuomo says, the deciding factor in saying no was the prospect of “never being able to speak out again” on issues like the death penalty or poverty. “Even now, nobody is talking about poor people,” Cuomo laments. After serving as New York governor for three terms, he said that virtual vow of silence seemed impossible.* He’s been happy doing other things that help people in recent years, Cuomo says. “One does what one can.” He counts his mediation in the asbestos case as one of his endeavors that has benefited those who need help. Through the mediation, a new $500 million fund was created to compensate thousands more victims of asbestos-related disease who could not have received anything from the depleted Johns-Manville fund.
Talking about giving up the Court to help people puts me in mind of the line about the college professor: “He’s a doctor, but not the kind that helps people”!! At 76 though, Cuomo is a few years older than Souter, and we may need rather to pull a Clarence Thomas and nominate a 30-something radical prophet who’ll stand up for law and justice and democracy for the next two generations on the Court. Damned shame. If it wasn’t for anti-Italian/anti-Catholic bigotry, he would’ve been President as early as ’88 instead of George I … or certainly ’92, when America could’ve done a whole lot better than William Jefferson Clinton.
I just saw a quote of Mario’s I’d never heard before, but which speaks of my own marveling at how decent, respectable, thoughtful moderate Republican politicians of the ’70s and ’80s have become monsters since:
There are few things more amusing in the world of politics than watching moderate Republicans charging to the right in pursuit of greater glory.
God grant you Many Years, Governor — Ad Multos Annos!
(*–Tell Scalia, Governor!!)