Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Courting Disaster?

With the announced retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor from the Supreme Court, one must wonder what the future holds and how the outcome of this process will shape our nation in the years to come. As has been seen, the Supreme Court has become a more and more important arbiter of policy and at the center of controversies of the day. From abortion to property rights to gay marriage, the high court will doubtless play an important role.

Given the current political climate, especially in the Senate, I think that "shitstorm" is hardly the word to describe the impending melee over this nomination.

In a sense, President Bush must find a moderate that Democrats can live with and a conservative that will please the base of the party that will be crucial in the 2006 mid-term elections and the 2008 race for President. Obviously, such a person does not exist, nor is there any guarantee that this person's ideological stance would stay the same, as O'Connor's did not. Conservatives call the likes of O'Connor and David Souter traitors and consider the Supreme Court a hall of betrayal and broken promises. Liberals point at the lockstep marched by Rhenquist, Scalia and Thomas and are fearful (somewhat justifiably) that President Bush will "pack the court" with hard-right conservatives who will then proceed to eviscerate rights for years to come.

In a certain sense, this is one of the greatest pieces of any president's legacy and his chance to effect the agendas of administrations and people for years to come. Bush will not nominate someone that is unelectable, so don't be afraid of Pat Buchanan or Ann Coulter becoming justices. Will it be Alberto Gonzales? He is not a serious right-conservative, but he has been a long time friend of Pres. Bush. Conservatives don't like him, but he may be more palatable to liberals. He may be the best that they get.

This will be gridlock and provincial politics at its worst. The Democrats will fight anyone that Bush nominates and the Republicans will whine and moan that the Democrats are stonewalling and holding up the process. Several nominees will be marched in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and be argued over, shot down or agreed to and then fail in the whole Senate or get fillibustered out of viability.

Will Rhenquist retire too? I get the feeling that he will die in office. He will not retire. How 'bout Stevens or Ginsburg? Those sound like alarmist rumors that are fake, especially in the case of Ginsburg. She is in the liberal core of the court and would not give Bush the satisfaction.

Will all of this become irrelevant when the person who gets in changes sides or "betrays" someone? Of course it will. Is is inevidable that this will get worse before it gets back to so-so? Not really, but I think that we are headed for rough times ahead.

In the larger picture, though, one thing has not changed. The power of the Supreme Court, an unelected body with lifetime appointments, continues to influence and change policy and pass down decisions that expand the power of the government and negatively effect the people, encroaching on their liberties and making us all less free.

This is where the real fight should be.

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