Friday, June 29, 2007

Elections Have Consequences, Supreme Court-Style

Charvakan has always been of the opinion that the Supreme Court, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't really matter all that much. "Let them overturn Roe v. Wade," he's said. "The Republicans would run out of issues and the Democrats would win in a landslide." That may be true on the merits or not, but the question of the Supreme Court's importance is a separate matter. It literally makes or breaks the law. The idea that the makeup of the court isn't important is like thinking it doesn't matter if you have a blind umpire working the World Series. Even if Congress is swinging a hot bat, all it takes is a few dumb calls to ruin the whole thing.

To whit, among other decisions: the recent call on affirmative action in schools. I'm not a scholar on the issue by any means, and I can't speak knowingly about the legal and historial precedents at work here. But the result is objectively reactionary and regressive -- essentially returning us to a time before Brown v. Board of Education -- and it's no coincidence that the 5-4 vote came with the help of Bush's two Supreme Court picks. The Washington Monthly blog points out that of the recent spate of rulings (all 5-4, all conservative victories), Roberts has written three opinions and Alito the other two. And in a bit of understatement, it calls the rulings "one of those elections-have-consequences moments."


Blogger nolo said...

This court's a fricking wrecking crew as far as precedent is concerned.

9:36 AM  
Blogger charvakan said...

I do think the Supreme Court is "important". But I also think the other two branches have far greater influence on our lives. There have been some awful decisions recently, but it's unclear how much effect they'll have. Our county lost its affirmative action cases a long time ago but has found reasonable (and legally supportable) substitutes. For instance, Seattle could substitute a geographic criterion for the racial one. (Arlington did that at the high school level for its magnet school.) It would have the same effect until housing-based segregation ended, in which case it would no longer be necessary since the neighborhood schools would be integrated.

The Democrats could easily have kept Thomas off the SC, you know; they were in the majority. They could have filibustered Alito too. They just didn't. It isn't only elections that have consequences. We'll see whom the next Democratic President nominates for the Court and how the Republicans react. Should be interesting. Until Bush is gone, though, the Dems should not confirm anyone (should an opening arise) who isn't entirely acceptable to them.

11:16 AM  

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