Sunday, July 01, 2007

Realities about how we got to the Roberts Court

Emily Bazelon has written a must read piece on the new Supreme Court entitled "Sorry Now?What do the liberal and moderate lawyers who supported John Roberts' nomination say today?" It's a piece of Slate whom we hardly ever note and link to even less so, again, must read. A number of e-mails came in this week noting either "Precedent is again tossed out the window" (June 17, 2007) or "Precedent and privacy go out the window" (April 22, 2007) -- some noted both -- and wondering if we were going to update it in light of more cases where precedent got tossed under the moving train?

We hadn't planned on it, we're still a little numb from the shock. But what we can note is that while some outlets were doing their gas baggery over the 2006 elections during now Chief Justice John Roberts' confirmation hearing, we were loudly saying no to him. "Editorial: Who decided Roberts could play leap frog on the Court?" (September 11, 2005) noted one obvious issue:

Last Monday the hearings on John Roberts Jr. nomination to the Supreme Court were supposed to start. They were postponed. Now they are due to start tomorrow. In a week's time, Roberts' nomination has shifted. He's no longer just nominated to the Court, he's now nominated as Chief Justice.

Only in a Bully Boy world could someone who's never served on the Court be considered worthy of not only serving but also presiding over the Court. That's the kind of thinking that puts roommates and pals and campaign workers into public posts and we've seen the damage that can do.

Now the press has taken a pass on Roberts from day one. They're eager to see the boy get confirmed. So we aren't surprised that in the last week little was made of the fact that there's a world of difference between the federal courts and the Supreme Court.

(For the record, Scalia didn't show for Roberts' confirmation and one rumored reason bandied about DC had Scalia ticked off that he wasn't elevated.)

Roberts is damaging in any capacity on the Court, but it bears noting that as Chief, he has even more influence and, due to his age, he will most likely wield that influence for many, many years to come.

When the Court decided women shouldn't have control over their own bodies earlier this year, Katha Pollitt (The Nation) penned one of her most passionate columns in years. But what undermined it, besides apologizing for the fact that she was angry, was that Pollitt saw the new Court make up as a time to lecture voters that it does matter who is in the Oval Office. Sandra Day O'Connor (who chipped away at Roe v. Wade for years) left and look who we got.

The problem with that argument, as we've noted before, is that O'Connor wasn't nominated by Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton. O'Connor was nominated by Ronald Reagan. Staying on the issue of the Oval Office, with the exception of those who may feel, as the Bully Boy does, that s/he talks to God, more important than who is in the Oval Office is what's out in the land. A strong, vocal mass saying, "You're not doing s**t to overturn Roe v. Wade" is a lot more important than who is in the Oval Office. It was 'cute' hearing all the White men on various programs, even CounterSpin offered one, saying of Bully Boy's nominees (Samuel Alito and Roberts), that too much focus was placed on the issue of abortion.

Presumably when it's an issue that will never directly effect your own body, it's real damn easy to dismiss it. However, reality check, women are in the majority in the United States so a health issue that effects them will always effect more citizens than one that only effects men. It was amazing, during the lead up to the confirmation of both, to see so many White males provided with column space and air time. To repeat, men are in the minority in this country and, not unlike conservatives with talk radio shows, over-represented within the media.

If there's any lesson here (and remember, there are rumors that Anthony Kennedy -- an alleged moderate -- will be stepping down from the court to allow Bully Boy to make one more nomination) for media -- big and small -- maybe it's that next go round, instead of rushing to the White males, you try providing some women. And not just on the topic of the abortion -- though, on the rare occasions women were allowed to weigh in, it was always on that issue. The National Lawyers Guild's Marjorie Cohn, Nancy Chang and Heidi Boghosian (to name only three women, and Boghosian is also a co-host of Law and Disorder) are more than qualified to speak on the issues before the court as is Amnesty's Dalia Hashad (also a co-host of Law and Disorder). All four are attorneys even if, when it comes to the 'big' topics like the Court, the media seems to forget that fact.

Back to Pollitt. The other aspect of her column that was flawed was the rush to pin the blame on the Oval Office. That's where the nominee originates, that's not where s/he gets confirmed. Who confirms? The Senate.

In the two confirmation hearings, most of the Democrats embarrassed themselves. Joe Biden demonstrated how much he enjoys the sound of his own voice. We picture him using broadcasts of his own speeches as make out music. Dianne Feinstein was infamously dubbed by Rebecca "Diane Feinstein, Girl Senator," the non-action figure. And what an apt call that was.

Where was the opposition party? Rushing to prove that they were not going to make waves -- not unlike they still do today.

A more vocal reproductive rights presence would nip that in the bud too. In fact, it would stop the Democratic Party's retreat on the abortion issue in its track. But NARAL's not going to do anything to change it. They became DC lobbyists and, while running through the Beltway, dropped their independence and never went back to pick it up.

This is what you get, the current make up of the Court and the decisions they've rendered, when little poodles want to self-present as bad asses, when 'lefties' want to be respected and beloved across the political spectrum, when too much cheerleading for the Democratic Party is coming from supposed independent, left media and not enough calls for accountability.

Roberts and Alito made their decisions and no one should be surprised. Bully Boy nominated them and no one should be surprised by that either. But let's not yet again drop common sense and act as though Democrats in the Senate aren't also culpable for the ascensions of Alito and Roberts. Let's not all play stupid and rewrite history yet again.
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