Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Supreme Legacy

For millions, the Presidency of George W. Bush has proven to be something of a watershed. Just as the Beatles once inspired kids to pick up and learn guitar, Bush's tenure has mobilized millions of conservatives and liberals to action. His incredible failures are themselves an example of how important the Presidency is, but so too are his successes. While his legacy will be under conjecture for years to come, the New Yorker's Jeffrey Tobin points out out one area that is secure: the conservative consolidation of the Supreme Court.

In its first full session with both Bush appointees,
Justices Roberts and Alito, on the bench, the Court has moved swiftly to rule in-favor of conservative ideals far and wide. Tobin gives examples of decisions against employment discrimination victims, death-row criminals applying for appeal, and, most notoriously, the court's ban on the so-called "partial birth abortion" procedure.

Monday, just days after the Tobin article, the court issued three key rulings. One scored on the side of big business in campaign finance, one ruled against a student's right to free speech in school, and another shielded the President's faith based initiative program from challenges through the court.

As Tobin's notes, the key issue is that all of these rulings were the five to four. The power of the court has clearly shifted to the right in what USA Today called the
"revamped conservative majority" flexing its muscle. It is not hard to imagine more than a few of these decisions going the other way had former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor been the swing vote instead of the more conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy. And thus Bush, who has produced almost nothing but madness for six years, has quietly consolidated conservative power on the bench of the United States Supreme Court.

That is our winner-take-all system in a nutshell
. The same decayed mind who has given us the war in Iraq, the Department of Homeland Security, terror alerts, corruption, and confusion, gets to nominate two Supreme Court Justices who will serve for the next 20 to 30 years. The same guy who has the approval of 25% of Americans is able to turn the tide of control on the Supreme Court from middle to right, paving the way for, as Tobin outlines, a further expansion of executive power, limited racial preferences, faster executions, more religion into the public sphere, and the reversal of Roe v Wade.

Even now I can sense the liberal idealism beginning to impede on the Democratic party. The frustration among the "base" is rising. The war has not been stopped and congressional approval ratings have plummeted. The idea of a third party candidate seems more and more enticing. Meanwhile the Republicans are playing a more patient, more disciplined game, one that has recently resulted in what must seem like a fulfilled prophecy. Fueled by fear and suspicion they closed ranks, prayed, and took the slow gains over time. Although many of them have turned against Bush now, he has delivered for them a huge, subtle victory, perhaps where it matters most, and its effects may even outlast the terror spawn of operation Iraqi Freedom.

Update 6/28
Today, in another 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court rejected school diversity plans that take into account students' race. The decision is expected to further restrict how public schools maintain racial diversity.

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