Friday, July 01, 2005

I WAS OUT ALL MORNING, and when I got home the news was already blazing across the blogosphere: Sandra Day O'Connor has announcd her retirement. O'Connor is a Republican and a conservative, but of the Reagan stripe (she was appointed to the Court by Reagan) -- meaning that she is not a rapid right-wing ideologue, as George W. Bush's preferred nominees all are. O'Connor has been a crucial swing vote on abortion, affirmative action, separation of church and state, and the balance between federal and state powers.

USAToday has a good sidebar on how O'Connor's replacement could tip the scales on any one of these issues, or all of them.

People for the American Way lists over a dozen rights and protections that are at stake in a Supreme Court without Sandra Day O'Connor.

A number of names are being bandied about as possible Bush nominees for O'Connor's spot on the Court. The Supreme Court Nomination Blog lists four, with detailed information on each one. They are Janice Rogers Brown, Edith Brown Clement, Edith Hollan Jones, and Alberto Gonzales.

Surprisingly (to me, at least), the right is not jumping for joy over Gonzales. The reasons, according to William Kristol:

  • Gonzales is too much of a moderate on issues like abortion and affirmative action (what conservatives would call "racial preferences").
  • Gonzales is a non-starter for confirmation. Democrats hate him, and Republicans are lukewarm about him. A Gonzales nomination would put Senate conservatives in an awkward position.
  • Gonzales just started as Attorney General. Why would Bush want to have to fill that spot again, and put Gonzales in a position where he could not (at least openly) advocate for right-wing causes?

Here is some commentary from the left:

John Aravosis, AMERICABlog: "Anybody who is not the same kind of moderate as Sandra Day MUST be stopped."


The wingnuts must be dancing in the streets today if that isn't against their religion. But of course any victory they might have here is a Pyrrhic one, for once Roe v. Wade is gone so is the main reason why so many fundamentalists vote Republican. I'm not certain if Rove can continue walking on the thin edge of the blade much longer: he must deliver something to the wingnut base.

Roe v. Wade is based on Griswold vs. Connecticut, the decision that made birth control for married couples legal. The two decisions might go down together, or so I imagine, and then we'd find people in the streets but not dancing. The majority of people today have no memory of an era when condoms were illegal and when backstreet abortions killed and mutilated women. Maybe this era must come back for the necessary learning to happen, but I dread the suffering it will cause.

Kevin Drum:

I can't help but think that leading Democrats are setting the bar too low in their statements about Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement [by calling her a "voice of moderation"].
It's true that O'Connor has been a swing vote on the court, but statements like these make it sound like she's in the dead center of constitutional jurisprudence. She's not. She's a conservative, and Democrats should make that clear.
After all, if she's really a moderate, then surely a conservative president has the right to appoint someone just a little more conservative than her, right?

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