Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Conservatives: Choosing Ideology over Law

It would be something of an understatement to say that George Bush's Supreme Court appointments have been controversial. The argument has been made repeatedly that Bush is trying to stack the SCotUS with right-wing ideologues sympathetic to the neoCon view that courts should be extremely limited in what they do.

Someone took some time to review recent SCotUS rulings, and it's not a pretty picture - especially for a country that supposedly has a "rule of law":

In a weeklong flurry of eye-popping judicial activism and ideological triumphalism, the court shredded some basic legal doctrines and moral principles that have guided this nation’s conscience for more than a century. Nothing could have done more than last week’s rulings to focus our collective attention on the meaning of democracy and justice.

That's from the opening paragraph. It gets worse, much worse:

Of all these decisions, the most appalling was the last major ruling of the session, Parents v. Seattle, outlawing public-school integration plans in Seattle and in Louisville, Ky. By a narrow 5-4 majority, the court all but overturned Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 school desegregation ruling that was arguably one of the moral high points of American public life in the 20th century. In his decision, Roberts blithely claimed he was actually upholding Brown, whose purpose, he wrote, was to achieve a “colorblind” society rather than to advance racial justice, as most of us supposed.

By his logic, government is barred from doing anything that acknowledges race — even if it is intended, as in the current case, to advance racial justice. Kennedy, in his separate concurrence, allowed that there might be a legitimate program somewhere to advance racial justice, but he left Americans guessing about just how to find it and, in effect, strongly discouraged from trying.

The reading of the decision left the court’s so-called liberal wing — John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer — literally slack-jawed in rage and shame. The normally unflappable Breyer, who authored the liberal dissent, spent 20 minutes at the bench passionately denouncing the court’s ruling and, by implication, its overall direction. “It is not often in the law,” Breyer declared, “that so few have so quickly changed so much.”

If you step back from this a moment, you quickly realize that in the minds of neoCons, anybody who asks for their rights to be protected and recognized in law is asking for "special privilege". Of course, most of the neoCon crowd is wealthy, privileged and often white (usually at least 2 of the three), and would never have experienced significant discrimination aimed at them in their lives.

It's bad enough in the States after ~7 years of BushCo damage, but let's not be smug and naive about Canada. This country's CONS have long complained about "activist courts", and more recently Harper has all but admitted to trying to stack Canada's judiciary with ideologues sympathetic to his perspective.

Remember, this is the same PM who has directed the bureaucracy to implement an arguably illegal no-fly list, and has spent huge amounts of money protecting Rob Anders - by bending and breaking his own party's rules. Just how much respect does this man have for law, rights and your freedoms? (not much)

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