The Score: Anthony Kennedy, Criminal Justice, New Zealand, Brett Kavanaugh
This week on The Score – Two scholars talk about the future of the Supreme Court without Anthony Kennedy; an activist explains current efforts to reform the criminal justice system; a former cabinet minister from New Zealand argues for better processes to shrink government.
Supreme Court, Part One
On The Score this week, we hear about what changes we can expect if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed as the successor to Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. A policy analyst from the R Street Institute brings us up to speed on efforts toward criminal justice reform. And a man with a remarkable list of professional accomplishments suggests ways to make government both smaller and more efficient.
First, earlier this week I spoke by telephone with Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. Dr. Perry has been a guest on The Score twice before, talking about the late First Lady Barbara Bush and the assassination of Robert Kennedy fifty years ago.
This week, Dr. Perry is here to discuss how the U.S. Supreme Court may look and act differently now that Justice Anthony Kennedy has retired after thirty years. We spoke less than 24 hours after President Trump announced his nominee for the Supreme Court seat, Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, who once was a clerk for Kennedy. (Future bar trivia question: Which two Supreme Court justices both attended the same Jesuit high school in Maryland? Answer: Brett Kavanaugh graduated from Georgetown Prep two years before Neil Gorsuch.)
Criminal Justice and Government Reform
Here’s a topic that the Supreme Court might have an opinion about: criminal justice reform. I had an opportunity to discuss this subject with Jesse Kelley, a former criminal defense attorney from Alabama who now is a policy analyst with the R Street Institute in Washington. It’s a wide-ranging topic, starting with prison reforms (like reducing solitary confinement) and extending to bans on felons obtaining professional licenses for occupations like barbering and interior design — not to mention changes in drug laws in an era of popular opposition to marijuana prohibition.
Earlier this week I got to speak with Maurice McTigue, vice president for outreach at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He is also director of the Mercatus Center’s Government Accountability Project and a member of its Spending and Budget Initiative and State and Local Policy Project. Maurice has a remarkable resume – he was a member of New Zealand’s parliament, held several posts in his country’s cabinet, and was sent abroad as New Zealand’s ambassador to Canada before settling in Virginia as an advocate for smarter, more efficient, and smaller government.
Supreme Court, Part Two
Now back to where we started. Walter Olson writes about legal issues at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington. He is the author of The Excuse Factory, The Litigation Explosion: What Happened When America Unleashed the Lawsuit, and Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America, among other books. He writes the popular legal blog, Overlawyered. We spoke by telephone about the Supreme Court and I apologize in advance for the poor quality of our connection. Ignore the hisses and pops and you’ll hear an insightful analysis.
The second half of my interview with Walter Olson will be available to hear on The Score next week, when he discusses this article he wrote for The Wall Street Journal on the future of gay marriage under a Kennedy-less Supreme Court.
From the Archives
Since I had the opportunity to speak with a former New Zealand politician, Maurice McTigue, earlier in this week’s episode of The Score, I went to my audio archives and found an interview from 2012 with Peter McCaffrey, a libertarian political activist from Wellington, New Zealand. At the time, he had already been a candidate for parliament twice before he turned 25 years old.
This conversation took place in a crowded bar after a Republican Liberty Caucus event in Washington, which explains the buzz in the background. McCaffrey explained how he got involved in party politics:
“I turned 18 in 2005,” he said, which is the voting age in New Zealand, as it is in the United States.
While he was still in high school, he said, “I just read the web sites of all the main parties that were in the parliament and had a bit of a think. ACT seemed to make the most sense, and so I voted for ACT in 2005,” the first year he was eligible to cast a ballot.
Then, he said, “having voted for ACT, when I got to university, there was a table at the orientation week for ACT on Campus, which is the youth wing of the ACT Party. I signed up to ACT on Campus and then over the next couple of years I got more and more involved in the ACT on Campus group and also in the party itself.”
McCaffrey explained that the “party is very open to young people, volunteers coming in, even coming into the parliamentary offices, helping out, volunteering, doing research — all that sort of stuff — so just sort of slowly I got more and more involved.”
Eventually, he “ended up being the ACT on Campus president, leading the youth wing of the party” and later he was selected to serve on “the board for the Wellington region” (equivalent to the unit committee of an American political party) “and stood as a candidate for the party for parliament in 2008 and 2011 in my local district,” Otaki.
He was not elected, however, noting modestly that “to be honest, my district isn’t a very good area for ACT, so I was kind of the only one who was willing to do it in my area.”
That’s it for The Score this week. If nothing else, we provided some intellectual ammunition for the conversations we are all bound to have about the Supreme Court over the next few months. Look for The Score here next week and tell your friends where to find us.