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Saturday, July 02, 2005
What has 18 legs and 5 halos?

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement yesterday, and it took me back five years to the summer of 2000. Candidates Bush and Gore were zipping around the country, pretty much saying the same things in regard to why we should elect one of them President. I now recall just how bored and disappointed I was in the lack of differences between the two. There were some, but you have to remember that Bush was still feeding us that "compassionate conservative" bullshit, so there wasn't a whole lot of difference in the rhetoric.

But even with both of them trying to wear moderate clothes, I knew when November rolled around, I would end up voting for Gore, even though I wasn't truly excited about it. And my sole reason for doing so was because, in spite of the fact that a President Gore wasn't going to really do much to improve the country, he would at least not completely fuck up the Supreme Court should an opening arise.

So, here we are.

Justice O'Connor was really a damned-near perfect Supreme Court Justice. And I say that because, even though I think you could properly peg her as more conservative than liberal, you could honestly say that with any case, she would always consider it on it's own merits, and vote how she saw best for that case. That is such an important distinction. There are justices serving right now that whose opinions on certain issues are very rarely in doubt. I suppose it's ok to have some like that, but it's crucial to have a majority of thoughtful, deliberative jurists like O'Connor to sort out the facts, instead of knee-jerking all the time.

I try to remain optimistic, and hope that President Bush will nominate a mainstream moderate, who is capable of forming an opinion that hasn't already been handed down by Ralph Reed or James Dobson. The idea of an Evangelical Supreme Court Justice is frightening beyond belief. I really don't think that anyone who believes that these are "End Times" and that God is going to wrap this whole thing up in the near future has any business in a position of authority. The Supreme Court's main function is to see the future, and someone who believes that there won't be one ought not be making important decisions for the rest of us.

An example of that type of thinking leaps out from Justice O'Connor's writing on the recent Ten Commandments decision. She mentioned "the violent consequences of the assumption of religious authority" by governments around the world, and asked the only question that need be asked in regard to maintaining secular government:

"Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must answer a difficult question: Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?"

That is the entire argument right there.

I want to believe that this president is capable of doing something that will benefit the entire country, and not just satisfy millionaires and/or Christians. But you look at who his friends are (Ken Lay), who he chooses as his second-in-command (Dick Cheney), or who he nominates for Ambassador to the UN (John Bolton), and you just know he's going to fuck this up. I've been saying it for well over four years now, "Please, prove me wrong. Just once, George. Don't do what I know you're going to do. Do something for all of us."

Sandra Day O'Connor was truly an excellent jurist. I hope she has a long and happy retirement.

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posted at 8:09 AM

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