Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Activist Courts for the Right Wing

Samuel Alito (aka "Scalito") is about to be confirmed for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. He'll get out of the Judiciary Committee by a 10-8 partisan vote. Unfortunately, the chair of the committee (Sen. Specter) doesn't seem to care that Alito is certain to overturn Roe and other protections based on the right to privacy. He's like a Southern mother who's 40 yr old son is still single, owns a flower shop, and a has a longtime "roommate" named Steve: in denial.

By now, we know that Alito promises to be open minded and fair, and has even trotted out some "liberal" judges to say he's not got a partisan bone in his body. Of course, his letters during the Reagan years belie this argument, not to mention his record of siding with government and conservative causes nearly 100% of the time when his discretion was not bound by precedent. He touted his membership in an organization that was notoriously racist and sexist but only because he was mad that ROTC was kicked out of Princeton, even though this group did NO work on ROTC whatsoever.

This week, we saw that Bush did well in his pick of John Roberts as Chief Justice. Roberts joined his ideological soulmates Scalia and Thomas in dissenting from a 6-3 decision telling the Attorney General he overstepped his authority by trying to punish doctors who legally prescibe lethal doses of medication under Oregon's Right-to-Die law. Of course, when it suits conservatives, they are all about states' rights. They scream that if you want abortion or gay rights, the only way to get them is through the ballot box. But when the ballot box doesn't go their way, suddenly it's the federal government's role to BAR the actions of democracy for the good the nation. Hypocrites. Roberts has declared his allegiance to the Scalia faction, and Alito will join him there. That means Scalia basically controls 4 votes on the Supreme Court, one vote shy of a majority.

These are perilous times in our great nation. We have a president ignoring whatever laws he deems to be inconvenient, who spies on Americans and claims it's a "terrorism prevention program", and a court system that is veering sharply to the right. Bush has appointed 25% of the judges on the courts today. He's not picking old people either; most of the people he's picking are in their 40s and could be on the court for another 30 years. They can be counted on being firmly with the religious right on issues of the day from abortion to gay rights.
I think Roe is finished. If there is one more retirement in the Court, then Bush will have his 5th vote to overturn Roe. Barring that, his justices will interpret O'Connor's undue burden standard to mean, "Hey, as long as you aren't making abortion illegal, it's not 'undue'. Otherwise, all restrictions and impediments are fair game."

As disgusting as I find the prospect, perhaps we should let the right wing start to have its way. The American public has NO idea what kind of wackos they have put into power. The interference with the Terri Schiavo case was just one example. Let's go back to back alley abortions and young girls dying in old warehouse while some butcher leaves her barren or dead. Let's see the Supreme Court allow states to regulate contraception so that women will no longer have control over their bodies. Let's go back to the days where women were expected to remain virgins until their wedding night and then give their men as many babies as he wanted. How much is America willing to put up with? How about reversing the right to privacy? After all, it's not spelled out in the Constitution itself, even though any idiot with half a brain understands that the rights that are guaranteed mean nothing if privacy is not a protected right.

Perhaps pundits are right. Maybe outrageous court decisions are the way to get America to wake the hell up and kick the "Christian" Taliban-dominated GOP out of power. The price though will be steep, and I don't think it's necessary for us to pay it. However, with the electorate seeming to believe whatever lies are fed to them by the Bush machine, maybe some harsh realities are in order. Maybe scores of young women need to die, scores of gay people get lynched openly, and the government have the "right" to search your home or person any time they please before people will wake up and realize that this GOP is destroying America and our freedoms.

Some say that the Democrats should fight harder to stop Alito. With what? The American people have hobbled Democrats to the point they don't have the votes to stop anything. If they try to filibuster, the GOP will simply revoke that right. The Dems could retaliate by bringing the Senate to a screeching halt, but odds are good that the GOP will just turn that against Democrats in the fall and claim they "need" a filibuster proof majority of 60 in the Senate. All they lack are 5 seats. The danger is not worth the risk at this point. Progressive purists just think the Democrats should throw caution to the wind and fight to certain death. Maybe it wouldn't be bad to filibuster, but then have the "gang of 14" vote to end the filibuster. At least a statement would have been made that the party wasn't going to just roll over while Bush installs right wing fanatics on our courts. The Democrats in the "gang of 14" would then have to face voters who could reject or reward them. My senators are two Republicans who both basically promised to do whatever Bush wanted in order to get elected. So I could write or call until I'm blue in the face, and they will ignore me. Any Democrat though who votes for Alito and doesn't live in a deep red state should be ousted at the first chance for dereliction of duty to protect the Constitution from all attackers, DOMESTIC and foreign.

We'll see which Democratic Senators enter the hall of shame by voting to confirm Scalito and bring us all within one vote of having a world view from 1789 firmly in control of our nation.

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