Monday, October 04, 2010

But We Have Dry Powder

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC-Irvine School of Law, assures us that this Supreme Court term will be no different than the last, or the one before that, or the ones before that. The conservatives, led by Chief Justice Roberts, will continue to chip away at the US Constitution and decades of interpretation of that foundational document.

As the Supreme Court begins its new term Monday, its sixth with John G. Roberts Jr. as chief justice, the reality is that this is the most conservative court since the mid-1930s. Since Richard Nixon ran for president in 1968, conservatives have sought to change constitutional law, and they have succeeded in virtually every area.

During the first years of the Roberts court, it has consistently ruled in favor of corporate power, such as in holding that corporations have the 1st Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts in independent political campaigns. For the first time in American history, the high court has struck down laws regulating firearms as violations of the 2nd Amendment and held that the Constitution protects a right of individuals to possess guns. It has dramatically cut back on the rights of criminal defendants, especially as to the exclusion of evidence gained through illegal searches and seizures under the 4th Amendment and the protections of the 5th Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination. It has greatly limited the ability of the government to formulate remedies for the segregation of public schools. It has significantly expanded the power of the government to regulate abortions.

And, absent anything unforeseen, that trend will continue for at least another decade, no matter who is elected president in 2012. We will continue to see 5/4 decisions, with Justice Anthony Kennedy providing the swing vote (and he has voted with the conservative bloc of Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito more than twice as often as he has with the liberal bloc). Complicating matters even further this term is the fact that the newest member of the Court, Justice Sotomayor, will be recusing herself from at least a third of the cases because she participated in those cases at the trial or appellate level.

This is going to be painful to watch and even more painful to live through when it comes to civil liberties and the rights of women and minorities.

I really am going to take to my bed one of these days.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The newest member of the court, Justice Kagan...

11:32 AM  

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