The Death Of Stare Decisis
Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor at Duke University, nails it when it comes to analyzing just how this could happen in his op-ed piece in today's Los Angeles Times.
THE SUPREME COURT term that ended Thursday confirmed exactly what many people had feared: that the testimony given by John Roberts and Samuel Alito at their confirmation hearings just months earlier was a lot of baloney.
During those hearings, the two presented themselves as open-minded jurists lacking an ideological agenda. Roberts likened a Supreme Court justice to an umpire, a neutral arbiter whose personal political views are irrelevant to decisions. Both Roberts and Alito promised fidelity to the court's precedents.
But instead, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito have behaved exactly as their opponents predicted. There was not one case this term in which the court was not ideologically divided, and not one in which Roberts and Alito did not vote for the result that their conservative backers would have wanted. In virtually all of these cases, they were joined by justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. ...
This term provides a powerful reminder of the importance of presidential elections in determining the composition of the court. If John Kerry or Al Gore had picked the replacements for William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor, it would have been a vastly different year at the Supreme Court.
It also is a reminder that the confirmation process is not working. Nominees come forward and murmur all the right platitudes, refusing to answer specific questions about their views. They promise to be open-minded, and they present witnesses who attest to their fairness. For Roberts and Alito, this was enough to secure their confirmation.
Heckuva job, Dems.
Labels: Supreme Court