July 2, 2007

The Supreme Court’s rightward shift

Filed under: politics — ubikcan @ 12:50 pm

Jeffrey Toobin has some insightful analysis on the increasingly rightward-shifting Supreme Court.

Some excerpts below.

The careers of Roberts and Alito have been emblematic of the conservative ascendancy in American law. Both men, shortly after graduating from law school, joined the Reagan Administration, where Edwin Meese III, who was for a time the Attorney General, and others were building a comprehensive critique of the Supreme Court under Chief Justices Earl Warren and Warren E. Burger. The conservative agenda has remained largely unchanged in the decades since: Expand executive power. End racial preferences intended to assist African-Americans. Speed executions. Welcome religion into the public sphere. And, above all, reverse Roe v. Wade, and allow states to ban abortion.

I agree that the goal of expanding governmental power, especially that of the Executive, is a hallmark of conservatives (one that they often paper over with noises about state’s rights and “small government.”)

Toobin also points out that one of the most significant government intrusions has occurred in the area of abortion:

The Court all but abandoned the reasoning of Roe v. Wade (and its reaffirmation in the 1992 Casey decision) and adopted instead the assumptions and the rhetoric of the anti-abortion movement. To the Court, it was the partial-birth-abortion procedure, not the risks posed to the women who seek it, that was “laden with the power to devalue human life.” In the most startling passage in the opinion, Kennedy wrote, “While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained.” Small wonder that Kennedy’s search for such data was unavailing; notwithstanding the claims of the anti-abortion movement, no intellectually respectable support exists for this patronizing notion.

Toobin’s glum conclusion is worth dwelling upon too, because it obviates all those who see no difference between the parties:

At this moment, the liberals face not only jurisprudential but actuarial peril. Stevens is eighty-seven and Ginsburg seventy-four; Roberts, Thomas, and Alito are in their fifties. The Court, no less than the Presidency, will be on the ballot next November, and a wise electorate will vote accordingly.


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