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Republicans Say No Consensus - No Compromise on Supreme Court

With the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the poor health of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, George W. Bush will probably get to nominate at least two and possibly as many as four members of the Supreme Court during the balance of his term of office.

The record of Bush's judgment on previous nominees for various positions leaves a lot to question about the appropriateness of his choices.

He nominated Bernard Kerick to be head of Homeland Security and Kerik was exposed for a variety of illegal, immoral and questionable actions. Bush admired and praised him. Fortunately, Kerik withdrew his name before even more scandals could be revealed.

White House counsel Alberto Gonzales wrote a defense for torture and for ignoring the Geneva Conventions that were signed by the US, making them the law of the land. Bush nominated him to be Attorney General, the man responsible for seeing that the laws of the land are upheld.

We certainly can't forget John Bolton. Bolton has been quoted as saying, "There's no such thing as the UN." What did Bush nominate him for? Ambassador to the UN!

This first appointment will be important because O'Connor was considered a swing vote. Although she is a conservative appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, she was a moderate jurist. Sometimes she would side with the liberal members of the court and in other decisions she took the conservative position. In other words, she weighed all the information, thoughtfully considered all the consequences and possibilities and offered her judgment based on the law. That's what a judge is supposed to do. We are a nation of laws that must be applied equally to all. If the Court is packed with right wing radical judges we will become a nation of ideologies catering to the interests of special groups. That would be incompatible with democracy.

With a new Supreme Court, many of the hot button issues promoted in the 2004 campaign rhetoric are sure to come up again. Radical Right Wing Republicans are pressing for conservative ideologues to be placed on the bench. They feel they are responsible for delivering the votes that gave Bush the White House and now expect him to deliver by placing hard liners on the Supreme Court. People For the American Way president Ralph Neas pointed out that their choices would be likely to carry out the conservative movement's long-held goal of rolling back New Deal philosophies such as Social Security that this Court has upheld. A court with the majority of members holding the views of Justices Thomas and Scalia would be expected to overturn many rulings affecting not only reproductive choice, but civil rights, the environment and privacy. While Bush has said publicly that he admires Scalia and Thomas, he also said in one of the presidential debates that he would not subscribe to a litmus test for nominees. He must be held to that. Those two "strict constructionists" believe no new interpretations should be applied to the words of the Constitution. Without a balanced court that would moderate strict constructionism to encompass intent and take into consideration the changes and development of our nation and society in over 200 years we could find extreme rulings decided on the phrase "all MEN are created equal" that would exclude women. Extremism on either side of the spectrum is dangerous. The brilliance of the Constitution is that it is a living document that has been able to evolve as we have evolved as a democratic society to include women's suffrage and civil rights.

Gary Bauer, head of the American Values group and other hard line conservatives want to see a nominee who will "provide a reliable vote to overturn Roe v Wade". Women fought a long time for the right to have control over their own bodies and reproductive rights. Many will put up a fight if the freedom to make that most personal, intimate choice is taken from them and placed in the hands of the government. Remember when Republicans used to stand for less government? This new faction of radical Neo Cons who have taken over the Republican Party doesn't want the government to interfere with their ability to own a gun, but insists the government should control the ability of a woman to make her own reproductive decisions. Democracy is threatened when we consider limiting the freedom that would impact just one demographic group.

While there will be a great deal of attention focused on the nominees' attitudes on these "social values issues" we must not be distracted from protecting the Court from a fascist domination by Corporate America. Business advocates have been lobbying for the past three years to influence the president's choice for the expected vacancies on the bench. When preference is given in decisions that serve the interests of corporations, the interests of the people will suffer. Rulings of corporate favoritism would adversely affect our environment, labor protections and product liability. If our government is to remain one that is of, by, and for we the people, the interests of the people must come first. The American people want a Supreme Court judge who is committed to fully protecting the unalienable rights and freedoms of every American by upholding them. A Justice who walks into the Supreme Court with a pre-conceived agenda cannot judge wisely and fairly if decisions are based on a party platform.

Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life and the decisions they make will shape our lives and define our nation for decades to come. While the left is calling for a consensus nominee who will try to base their interpretations to encompass the best interests of all the people, the slogan of the right is, "No Consensus. Consensus Means Compromise." To them there is no mainstream and no democracy. Their slogan reflects their aim for a dogmatic, authoritarian government that will enforce only their views and suppress different opinions. We cannot allow anyone on the bench who would confuse "Justice" with "Just Us".

7-11-05