Entry for June 21, 2007

Illustration from Black Agenda Report, June 20, 2007

A chatty piece by in today’s New York Times by reporter Linda Greenhouse, who writes about the Supreme Court ( “Supreme Court Memo: Precedents begins to fall for Roberts Court: The question is not whether the court will overturn more, but how often, by what standard and in what terms.”) alerted me to the second case overturning precedent.

Of course, that’s not counting the Gonzales v. Carhart decision on partial birth abortion, “by stealth, without having the grace to admit that is what they were doing,” in the words of Ronald Dworkin “The Court and Abortion: Worse than You Think,” The New York Review of Books, May 31, 2007) as there was little effort to reconcile the decision with one in 2000 overturning of a nearly identical Nebraska law.

I say chatty, because nothing in the article gave the name of the decision or much about it. For that, turn instead to Margaret Kimberley’s (email), whom I mentioned June 19 and read her June 20 column in the Black Agenda Report, “Supreme Injustices.” I’ll write about the actual decisions later, as the library closes soon. But just let me give you her conclusion, which is chilling:

It is obvious that the current Supreme Court is quite simply not the place to get justice. Good cases that can undo great wrongs should not be heard there unless or until there is a Democratic president who can change the makeup of the court. ..

The hope for justice rests with the Democratic party, a sure sign of desperate whistling past the graveyard.

It must never be forgotten that many of the sentencing disparities and draconian drug laws that have now decimated the black community originated with the Clinton administration. Yet the Democrats at their most craven, compromised and triangulated are better than Republicans. Judicial appointments are one of the clearest examples of the Democratic lesser evil being preferable to the Republican evil that scores an eleven on a scale of one to ten. There is no hope of any semblance of justice unless a Democratic president is making judicial appointments.

If the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has the letter R behind his name, racism and the most extreme forms of punishment that go along with it will continue to rule on the bench. The traditional depiction of justice with a blindfold will have to be exchanged for one with her eyes wide open and her thumbs on the scale.

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