Friday, July 01, 2005

It's Me, It's Me, It's Sandra D.

So for months now, all the observers of the Supreme Court have been huddled around Chief Justice Rehnquist, wondering if he might announce a retirement this week. (Or, barring that news, perhaps he might add something else cool to his robes, to go with the Gilbert-and-Sullivan-inspired racing stripes he added there a few years back.) And then, suddenly, Sandra Day O'Connor has just announced that she's going to be the first one out the door.

While the Rehnquist retirement would have been important, given that we'd see the first new Chief in two decades, the president would've likely replaced that conservative with someone only slightly more conservative. O'Connor, however, is the Court's swing vote -- the moderate whose vote usually decides minor, piddling, uncontroversial issues like abortion rights, affirmative action, and the death penalty. This appointment could potentially complete the Court's transformation to full-on conservative and result in the overturning of Roe, Bakke, Lawrence, etc. etc.

When you add in the fact that Rehnquist will in all likelihood still retire, we have the potential for three confirmation hearings -- two for new appointments to the bench, and a third if Dubya decides to elevate someone like Scalia to Chief. The Antonin Ascension would be a catfight in Congress and, quite possibly, a Biblical sign of the coming of the apocalypse. And the other two appointments, given the past nominations by Dubya, would almost certainly involve more hardcore conservatives in the same mold.

Dear Lord, this is going to be a circus. Let's get ready to ruuuuuuummmmmbbbbblllle!


Studiodave said...

(1) Great title.
(2) Your analysis fails to capture the real issue that impact me on a daily basis - specifically flag burning and utilization of flag patterns for jean shorts.

Thrillhous said...

I don't see too much downside for the good guys. Up until now, much of the so-called conservative backlash has been unsuccessful in their quest to make abortion illegal, require prayer in school, etc. They'll insist on getting a "godly" replacement for Sandy, and Bush and the GOP senate are sure to come through. Then what happens? I think that as the new hard-right court starts to actually enact the godly agenda, regular folks are going to start getting real worried. People will rethink what's really important to them, and I think they'll realize that they don't actually want such an extremist judiciary. It will be a high price to pay, but perhaps a crazy court will wake up folks who have just been drifting along, thinking that nothing will change as long as they don't pay attention.

InanimateCarbonRod said...

Thrillhous might be right in the long term, but in the short term this is nothing but upside for BushCo. There will be wall-to-wall coverage of this for the forseeable future with only breaks for updates on the stories of missing white women. Things like this will be swept under the rug.

Otto Man said...

This is the moment of truth, as Thrillhous notes. This is put-up-or-shut-up time for Dubya to come through on the IOUs to Dobson and company. Either he puts someone on the bench who'll overturn Roe and wake up independents in the country, or he puts in a moderate and they turn on him with the fury of a woman named Phyllis Schlafly scorned. It's lose-lose.

The Dems should put up a good fight, and then step out of the way and let Bush put Santorum on the bench. Goodbye GOP.

But ICR has a point too -- this keeps people's minds of Iraq for a bit. But that said, I don't think they were paying too much attention anyway. This is better than nonstop coverage of "Hey, Where the White Women At?"

Studiodave said...

Re - smoking out Iraq stories, you need to remember, these data points obscure the facts.

Ruining the country is hard work. I mean "running the country"....

Otto Man said...

I think Brad Plumer has the prediction right:

"Some lunatic winger will get nominated — maybe even Jance Rogers Brown — the Democrats in the Senate will say, "Oh hell no" and launch a filibuster. So the battle will rage on for a while, Bush's "base" will get riled up and motivated to send in lots and lots of money, conservative judicial activists will blast their opponents with fairly superior firepower, and bobbing heads in the media will start carping on those "obstructionist" Democrats (bonus carping here if the nominee is a woman, minority, and/or Catholic).

"Finally Bush will give a very somber speech about withdrawing his nominee, announce that he's very disappointed in the Senate, toss in a few bonus 9/11 references, and nominate some slightly-less-lunatic ultraconservative instead. The new nominee gets treated as the "compromise" candidate, is lauded far and wide as a moderate, and finally gets confirmed after pressure on the Senate Dems to "act like grown-ups" by television pundits who can afford to get their abortions abroad and will have no problem with a Supreme Court hostile to labor and environmental protections.

"One would hope not, of course, but is there anyone who finds this scenario wildly implausible?"

Nope. Sounds about right to me.

Thrillhous said...

Yeah, the Plumer scenario definitely sounds right to me. However, with Harry "Advice and Consent This" Reid quarterbacking for us, things could go a little different this time. The fact that he preemptively tossed out a few acceptible supremo nominees last week is encouraging.