Supreme Court hands down THREE Split decisions in one day.
Age imbalance between factions now serious issue.
June 29, 2007


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The U.S. Supreme Court handed down no less than THREE historic 5-4 split decisions Thursday, two of which fell in the Conservative direction and one falling for the Progressives. Dependable Conservative Justices Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Scalia all voted together, as did dependable Progressive Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens. Justice Kennedy became the lone key swing vote in all three cases, siding with Conservatives in two out of the three rulings.

Only one of the rulings made the mainstream news: “Parents vs Seattle School District No. 1“, in which precedent was overturned when the court ruled that “race” could no longer be used as the “deciding factor” in admittance with all else being equal. While it fell as a victory for the Conservative judges, even as a Liberal, I find it difficult to argue against such a ruling. Discrimination in any form, including reverse discrimination, is something I feel needs to be phased out of our society.

The second ruling… falling in the Progressive column, was a decision regarding the execution of the mentally challanged. upholding the practice as illegal. It is frightening to think that The Court came within one vote of approving putting retarded people to death.

The third ruling, the most complicated of the three, “Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc.” loosened government restrictions on “minimum pricing“, deciding that in fact manufacturers CAN tell their retailers the absolute minimum they are allowed to charge for their products. Conservatives in the High Court ruled that Suppliers could demand that no Retailer charge so little as to undercut their other customers. Progressive judges pointed out that allowing the supplier to set the market prices for ALL of its customers amounted to “price fixing”, a violation of the Sherman (Antitrust) Act. Again, precedent was overturned with the Conservative ruling.

So many rulings breaking “5-4” demonstrates a growing and dangerous ideological split within the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). President Bush, having had the coveted opportunity to appoint not one but *two* Supreme Court judges, plays a major part in the High Courts new found polarity. His two appointments, Roberts and Alito are the youngest of the nine Justices, ensuring Conservative rulings long after President Bush retires to Crawford.

On the other side, Justices Souter (67), Stevens (87), Ginsburg (74), and Breyer (69) are all well within retirement age. Souter, despite being the youngest of the four, is said to be pondering retirement. At 71, lone swing vote Kennedy is also well within retirement age.

On the Conservative side, three of the four Justices Thomas (59), Roberts (52) and Alito (57) average more than 18 years younger than their Liberal counterparts if you don’t count Justice Antonin Scalia (71), who shows no signs of retiring anytime soon.

With this age imbalance, the odds favor that the next vacancy will be that of a Progressive judge, and the possibility that President Bush fills that third vacancy with another hard-Right nominee before he steps down in 2009 becomes a very real possibility (Presidents filling multiple vacancies is not that uncommon. FDR holds the record with EIGHT appointments during his three terms following the deaths of seven and the retirement of one (George Washington technically leads the pack with ELEVEN, but to be fair, there was no Supreme Court at the time, so he had to nominate the first nine before getting two vacancies).

Thursday’s ruling demonstrate like fire in the night sky the need for the remaining four Progressive judges to stay right where they are, and the critical need for the next President to be a Progressive Democrat.

Justice Stephen Breyer’s frustration with this new ultra-polarized Court becomes all the more understandable when he took the unusual step of reading aloud a scathing 77 page dissent, stating that “Rarely have so few, so quickly, changed so much“… a direct reference to the way in which the Conservative members of the Court have regularly ignored precedent and ruled in favor of big business and against Civil Rights, adding just one more asterisk to just why the 2008 Presidential election is *so* important.

During the confirmation hearings for Judge Roberts, the subject of “precedence” and/or “stare decisis” came up a total of 44 times during four days of confirmation hearings. On the subject of modesty, Roberts told the panel:

Another part of that humility has to do with respect for precedent that forms part of the rule of law that the judge is obligated to apply under principles of stare decisis.”

During hearings for Judge Alito, the subject of precedence was broached a total of 47 times. During his confirmation, Judge Edward Becker (now deceased) praised his colleague Sam Alito with this gem:

He scrupulously adheres to precedent. I have never seen him exhibit a bias against any class of litigation or litigants.

To which Judge Anthony Scirica added:

He has a deep respect for precedent. […] His personal views, whatever they might be, do not jeopardize the independence of his legal reasoning or his capacity to approach each issue with an open mind.

Judge Gibbons praised his friend with:

A thorough review of his record shows that, in fact, he’s a fair-minded jurist who pays careful attention to the record below and who takes great pains to apply precedent.

There is no way to unseat a sitting judge. No “impeachment” proceeding or Presidential Executive Order can unseat a sitting judge. So if a nominee and/or their character witnesses lie their asses off just to get appointed, the onus falls on Congress to expose them for who they really are and prevent them from ever making it onto the court.

Somehow, I can’t help but feeling a bit swindled. How ’bout you?


June 29, 2007 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Politics

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