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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Obama 2012: If the Supreme Court Skews We Are Supremely Screwed

Dahlia Lithwick:
For anyone considering the 2012 election’s importance to the future of the American judiciary, one fact stands out: next November, Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be seventy-nine years old. If a Republican wins the presidential election, he or she may have an opportunity to seat Ginsburg’s successor, replacing the Supreme Court’s most reliably liberal jurist with a conservative. That would mean that the Court -- currently balanced almost elegantly between four liberals, four conservatives, and the moderate conservative Anthony Kennedy -- would finally tilt decisively to the right… A 2008 study by Richard Posner, a federal appeals court judge, and William Landes, a law professor at the University of Chicago, examined the voting records of seventy years of Supreme Court justices in order to rank the forty-three justices who have served on the Court since 1937. They concluded that four of the five most conservative justices to serve on the Supreme Court since 1937 sit on the Supreme Court today. Justice Clarence Thomas ranked first. Kennedy, who is ranked tenth in that study, will be seventy-six next November. If a Republican successor of Obama gets to replace both Kennedy and Ginsburg, it’s fair to predict that the Roberts Court may include five or even six of the most conservative jurists since the FDR era.
Needless to say, these so-called "conservative" jurists would surely be better denoted radical plutocrats with profoundly reactionary social and cultural views and an urgent activist agenda in mind.


jollyspaniard said...

It's a scary prospect but I have a lot of faith in Romney's ability to screw up this election.

Dale Carrico said...

I feel now as I always have, that Obama's re-election is not seriously in doubt. I regard Romney as quite as seriously flawed in his own way even as the so-called unelectables with which he is usually favorably compared, Paul Gingrich Santorum. None of them can win, true enough, but it really is just as hard for me to see how a famously smarmy flip-flopping Massachusetts media alienating richy rich vulture capitalist Obamneycare co-author who is also a Mormon is really any more electable as a Republican than those nut jobs when all is said and done. Of course, the stakes associated with this contest remain high even if I feel confident the good guys will win this one. For me what matters is not just victory but victory with the coattails to retain the Senate and regain the House, and for that outcome it's important to get everybody into the voting booth. Reminding them about things like the Supreme Court should be wonderfully clarifying to the minds of those pampered purists who like to pretend there is no difference between the Parties as compared to abstract ideals when all that matters politically is that there are differences that make a difference.

jollyspaniard said...

I'm not an expert on the GOPs inner workings but I find it interesting that their primary process consisted of Romney whom they clearly prefer (with the possible exception of Perry) and a busload of clowns all splitting the so called "Tea Party" and the jesusfreak segments of the base.

The GOP serves the business plutocrats with the christians and teapartiers as useful idiots. Even the TP folks are remarking on this which is one of the reasons why they're railing so hard against Romney. But they are already falling in line to the mantra of hate Obama, hold your nose and vote for Romney.

Dale Carrico said...

Of course, nothing could be clearer than that the GOP does NOT prefer Romney, hence their almost hysterical affirmation of not-Romey after not-Romney. That even much of the Establishment neither likes nor trusts Romney any more than the Base does is well documented (and following the money confirms this). However, his quick consolidation of front-runner status through the primary contests (which I certainly expected, given the alternatives) is quite interesting nonetheless. It is important to remember that what you appropriately call the "busload of clowns" (Palin, Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Santorum) are actually reflecting and catering directly to the real attitudes and assumptions that drive the GOP Base, so that when they "fall in line" as they are for Romney on the grounds of electability as they are (setting aside for the moment that I honestly regard him nearly as unelectable as the rest of clowns in the clown car, not just as likely to lose but as structurally nearly incapable of winning, with nothing but lots of money and his Base's rancid rather race-based of Obama on his side) it is useful to notice that this choice of "electability" over their own core convictions is premised on their recognition that they are a marginal minority in a browning, secularizing, planetizing, democratizing nation -- that whatever their boasts about being the "real Americans" and "the American people have spoken and what they want is... voucherized social security! more austerity for the undeserving poor! zero taxes and regulations for our rich overlords! climate change denialism! creationism in biology class! jezebels hanged birth control!" and so on, they actually are starting to make political decisions based on changed assumptions. The unconscious realization that the right lost the culture wars has long driven the disciplinary fervor of the GOP (as well as accounting for their weird declarations that a blandly average Christian majority seems really surreally to feel themselves embattled and discriminated against and hanging by their nails at the edge of a precipice or something), but the emergence of a more pragmatic politics premised on the un-electability of candidates reflecting their actual views may be the first step toward recognizing that their views have been tested and found wanting. This may be the beginning of the self-awareness that will eventually redefine the Republican party into a version of conservatism that can partner in the fact-based administration of a diverse sustainable multicultural multipolar polity/world (their loss to Obama again, and the loss of most of their mid-term gains would drive that lesson home further still). Definitely the old dysfunctional coalition you rightly describe of "business plutocrats with christian[ist]s and teapartiers [eg, more or less the Bircher contingent -- various mixes of libertopian neo-confederates] as useful idiots" has not survived the p2p-democratization of base voters any more than the faux-centrist Clinton/DLC left survived the p2p-democratization of the Democratic Party from MoveOn through Dean to Obama's triumph (whose second term will reflect that transformation even better than the first if we manage to swing the Congress in my view).