Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Justice Ginsburg will be 79 years young

Another example of how vast the "dime's worth of difference" is in this election -- Dahlia Lithwick points out how crucial this election is.  If a Republican wins, he will have the opportunity to turn a right-leaning Supreme Court into the most solidly conservative one in a hundred years.  If you don't like corporations being equated with "people," if you think money is not the same thing as "speech," then this election should matter very much to you.

For anyone considering the 2012 election’s importance to the future of the American judiciary, one fact stands out: next November, Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be seventy-nine years old. If a Republican wins the presidential election, he or she may have an opportunity to seat Ginsburg’s successor, replacing the Supreme Court’s most reliably liberal jurist with a conservative. That would mean that the Court—currently balanced almost elegantly between four liberals, four conservatives, and the moderate conservative Anthony Kennedy—would finally tilt decisively to the right, thereby fulfilling Edwin Meese’s dream, laid out in his famous 1985 speech before the American Bar Association, of reshaping the Court around one coherent “jurisprudence of original intention.” Meese, who was then Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, wanted nine conservative constitutional originalists on the Court. He may soon get his wish. A 2008 study by Richard Posner, a federal appeals court judge, and William Landes, a law professor at the University of Chicago, examined the voting records of seventy years of Supreme Court justices in order to rank the forty-three justices who have served on the Court since 1937. They concluded that four of the five most conservative justices to serve on the Supreme Court since 1937 sit on the Supreme Court today. Justice Clarence Thomas ranked first.
Read, ya know, the whole thing.  If there is one thing both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have failed to do in their administrations, it is matching the focus on the courts -- both the Supreme and the Appellate courts -- that Reagan and the two Bushes exhibited.  And we are a poorer, less equal, and less free as a result.

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