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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Here we go again

The thank yous to Associate Justice John Paul Stevens are still reverberating and the war cries from the right are already full throated. Another year, another pitched ideological battle.

I've always thought if conservatives could govern as well as they campaign -- and liberals could only campaign with half the success of conservatives -- this country would be far less divided than it is today.

But as we look to replace a moderate appointed by a Republican president we can see how badly the left-right split has become in today's United States. While it is true Stevens anchored the left side of the court, it is largely because subsequent Republican appointments have threatened to plunge the court off the right wing, er, edge.

And let's be blunt: the twaddle being offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is just that:
Republicans will “make a sustained and vigorous case for judicial restraint and the fundamental importance of an evenhanded reading of the law.’’
Judicial restraint? Um, Senator, have you ever heard of Bush v. Gore, one of the most blatant pieces of judicial activism this nation has ever seen, where five people opted to end a disputed presidential election in which the majority of Americans in all 50 states voted for the other guy?

The conservative minority proved it will stop at nothing when it launched a major assault on Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor based solely on her reference to a "wise Latina." That's not political restraint, much less judicial restraint.

It is important to note that the ideological s-t storms that no categorize the Supreme Court nomination process did start with the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and his opposition to the nomination of Robert Bork. But Kennedy had some substantial legal beefs with Bork. The Sotomayor attacks were pitiful in comparison.

The hallmark of the Bush years and the GOP control of Congress was an assault on our civil liberties and right to privacy through the Patriot Act and the illegal use of torture to pursue a war launched on false pretenses. Even the conservative majority acknowledged the grotesque overreach of their political brethren.

The Republican game plan, first during the Clinton years and now with Barack Obama has not been simply opposition. It was and is an effort to delegitimize anyone who dares disagree with its talking points.

Barack Obama has an opportunity to hold back that tide of regression. If he nominates anyone marginally close to Stevens in stature it will be a significant appointment.

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