Monday, April 12, 2010


Jake Tapper identifies another candidate who's reportedly under consideration for the Supreme Court:

Former Georgia Supreme Court chief justice Leah Ward Sears is also on the short list, a senior White House official tells ABC News.‬

Sears ... was the first female African-American chief justice in US history, and ... became the first woman and the youngest person to ever sit on the court.‬...

She was appointed by then-governor Zell Miller, who later became a right-wing hero. She's reportedly a friend of Clarence Thomas. And she's now a corporate lawyer, which (presumably) means she's not one of those horrible socialists.

Oh, and she's rather obsessed with the notion that marriages are too easy to dissolve as a result of no-fault divorce. (She says this even though she's divorced and remarried.) She's written op-eds about this subject for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and CNN; in the latter, entitled "Let's End Disposable Marriage," she actually seems to blame no-fault divorce for her brother's suicide:

... no-fault divorce's broad acceptance as an unquestioned social good helped usher in an era that fundamentally altered the seriousness with which marriage is viewed. It effectively ended marriage as a legal contract since either party can terminate it, with or without cause. This leaves many people struggling to remake their lives after painful divorces that they do not want. It also left many parents cut off from, or sidelined in, the lives of the children they love.

When Tommy divorced, as in so many cases, a bitter struggle over resources and the children ensued. My brother came to believe that the legal system turned him into a mere visitor of his children.

... I know I'll never understand fully all that factored into his decision to kill himself. No doubt Tommy was wrestling with more demons than he had ever admitted to me or knew himself. But as a divorcee myself and, for a number of years, a single parent, I know the immense pain of divorce and its aftermath. The limitations the law placed on Tommy's right to raise his own children after his divorce magnified my brother's pain and was, I believe, more than he could live with....


The Utne Reader notes that when Sears headed the Georgia Supreme Court, the Court's

Commission on Children, Marriage, and Family Law ... sponsored a series of billboards with the message “Get Married, Stay Married."

Sears also

helped cosponsor a pro-marriage symposium that gathered participants from the fields of psychology, law, and religion. The other sponsor of the event was the Institute for American Values (IAV), a "private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that contributes intellectually to strengthening families and civil society in the U.S. and the world.” ...

But ... the “American Values” touted by the IAV don’t include equal rights for the GLBT community. During a conference debate ... IAV president David Blankenhorn argued vehemently against gay marriage, claiming it would weaken the general institution of marriage.

Sears, in fact, is a director of the IAV, as well as its William Thomas Sears Distinguished Fellow in Family Law. (William Thomas Sears was her late brother Tommy.)

IAV's David Blankenthorn takes great pains to point out that while he's an opponent of gay marriage, he's not one of those opponents. As USA Today noted in a 2007 profile, Blankenthorn

argues kids need both a mother and a father, and because same-sex marriage can't provide that, it's bad for society and kids....

Blankenthorn may sound like a conservative Christian, but he he's a liberal Democrat.

"I'm not condemning homosexuality. I'm not condemning committed gay relationships," he says. But "the best institutional friend that children have is marriage, and if grownups make a mess of it, the children are going to suffer."

(By the way, I lost my father when I was nine, and I'm a functioning member of society, so I resent that "kids can't thrive without a father" line of thinking.)

I don't know for sure what all this tells us about Sears herself. On gay issues, she did vote with the majority to overturn Georgia's sodomy laws, which gained her the opposition of Georgia's Christian Coalition in her next judicial reelection campaign. (She won anyway.) She also opposed an attempt to put a same-sex marriage referendum on the Georgia ballot.

All I know is that she'll be vehemently opposed from at least some elements of the right if she's the nominee -- and all the palsy conversations with Clarence Thomas all the pro-marriage op-eds she can write aren't going to prevent that.

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