fundamentalist-friendly help wanted

This morning, Sandra Day O’Connor stepped down from the Supreme Court of the United States, leaving a seat on the highest court open for the first time in nearly ten years. There’s no word yet as to why she quit, but it’s hard to imagine that O’Connor, a moderate, would have left the court without good reason, as doing so will give President Bush the opportunity to replace her with a much more conservative justice, one that could, among other things, put a woman’s right reproductive freedom in jeopardy.

I suppose it’s possible that she could have just gotten tired of confronting the ever-growing anger of the radical right, but it surely couldn’t have been a decision that she took lightly… Maybe she just wanted to be the first one out though. It’s been theorized that Bush might be appointing as many as four justices to the Supreme Court during this term, and it’s possible that she, at 75 years old, was thinking that this was her only chance to get out with any dignity. Waiting until someone else left would only increase the pressure on her to stay and be the voice of reason amid partisans.

If you’d like to take action and let your representatives know how you feel about this, the folks at MoveOn have started a petition asking for George Bush not to nominate an ideological zealot. The Daily Kos has also posted a list of actions that can be taken.

Here’s a clip from the Chicago Tribune article linked to at the start of the post:

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court and a moderate voice on such issues as abortion and the death penalty, said today she is retiring from the court…

O’Connor often lines up with the court’s conservative bloc, as she did in 2000 when the court voted to stop Florida presidential ballot recounts sought by Al Gore and effectively called the election for President Bush.

As a “swing voter,” however, O’Connor sometimes votes with more liberal colleagues.

Perhaps the best example of her influence is the court’s evolving stance on abortion. She distanced herself both from her three most conservative colleagues, who say there is no constitutional underpinning for a right to abortion, and from more liberal justices for whom the right is a given.

So, if you care about things like the right to privacy, the right to reproductive choice, the separation between church and state, and responsible environmental laws, follow one of those links above and do something. Bush hasn’t been a President to lead by building consensus and there’s no reason to think that he’ll start now by nominating a justice with a reputation for protecting the rights of individual Americans.

…Now we just have to wait and see whether or not Bush has the balls to step up to the likes of James Dobson and far-right extremist wing of the Republican party and nominate an independent judge who won’t feel obligated to toe the line of the fundamentalists. I’d like to think that there’s a chance, but I’m not counting on it.

Prepare for the fight of our lifetimes. It could start as early as Tuesday.

UPDATE:
The following comment was just left by Jim and I think that he might really be on to someting.

It first struck me as very bad news that O’Connor, not Rehnquist, was retiring. But this retirement creates a dilemma for Bush. If Rehnquist had retired first, Bush could have nominated an extreme right judge, which is the top priority of the religious right, and later, when O’Connor retired, Bush could have nominated Gonzalez, which Bush would love to do. With O’Connor retiring first, Bush can’t nominate Gonzalez without outraging the Dobsonites, and he can’t nominate an extreme right winger without facing significant moderate and liberal opposition. It’ll be interesting to see which fight Bush chooses.

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6 Comments

  1. Anna
    Posted July 4, 2005 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I actually sort of wondered if she’d had a terminal diagnosis or something, since she seems to take her role as a justice seriously. Or, maybe at 75, she’s decided to spend some time focusing on interests and family after a very long career (personally, I’m ready for that, and I’m only in my early thirties :-))

  2. mark
    Posted July 4, 2005 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    That’s the first thing that crossed my mind too… I thought that she must have just been given a few days to live. I don’t think that’s probably the case though.

  3. Jim
    Posted July 5, 2005 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    It’s been reported that O’Connor is stepping down in order to spend more time with her husband, who has Alzheimer’s disease.

    O’Connor seems moderate because the Court has moved so far to the right. A Reagan appointee, O’Connor is better characterized as a pragmatic or moderate conservative.

  4. Jim
    Posted July 5, 2005 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    It first struck me as very bad news that O’Connor, not Rehnquist, was retiring. But this retirement creates a dilemma for Bush. If Rehnquist had retired first, Bush could have nominated an extreme right judge, which is the top priority of the religious right, and later, when O’Connor retired, Bush could have nominated Gonzalez, which Bush would love to do. With O’Connor retiring first, Bush can’t nominate Gonzalez without outraging the Dobsonites, and he can’t nominate an extreme right winger without facing significant moderate and liberal opposition. It’ll be interesting to see which fight Bush chooses.

  5. john galt
    Posted July 5, 2005 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to see a libertarian nominated, someone who respects propety rights, of course they would be instantly demononized as “outside the mainstream”. What if Bush nominated Hitlary, That would effectivly eliminate her from 2008 and she wouldn’t be able to do much harm if he nominated a conservative to counter her vote.

  6. mark
    Posted July 5, 2005 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Jim, I like that. I think you might be on to something. I haven’t heard that expressed elsewhere, but it seems perfectly reasonable.

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