Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Thing Is

This is a link to a completely thoughtful analysis by Jack Balkin of the new SCOTUS nominee Alito.

We know that the new median Justice supports abortion rights claims a little less than O'Connor...supports gay rights claims a bit more than O'Connor...thinks affirmative action is largely unconstitutional..thinks most campaign finance regulation is unconstitutional...[and] has been more likely to permit government endorsements of religion and state financial support of religion than O'Connor.... On federalism, it's a mixed bag[ and o]n Presidential power, the position of the new median justice, interestingly enough, appears to be unchanged.

What I find illuminating is the list of issues in order:

abortion rights
gay rights
affirmative action
campaign finance
government endorsements of relegion
Predintial power

Certainly these are the hot issues before the Court. But what does it say about the monopolization of our public life by the Forces of Evil that abortion rights and gay rights are at the tippy-top of the list? Two absolutely crucial issues to be sure (and yes, I mean "to be sure" in that pundit-y way of dismissing something as less important as something else coming up). Where are the issues that affect tens of millions of Americans' lives? (And don't start by re-asserting how important and impactful abortion rights and gay rights are -- I already said they are, then did the dimissing "to be sure." So, 'nuff said, right?)

FDR went to the mat with the Court to protect his efforts to help millions of Americans end the cycle of poverty and dispair that his Republican predecessors had set up so devastatingly. He fought to protect the rights of Americans to enjoy safe work places and wholesome foods and drugs. He fought for things that impacted the lives of ordinary Americans. While reproductive freedom (might as well lump it together with Gray since many extra-kooky wingnuts do also), certainly impacts virtually all adult Americans deeply, there are other issues which are also deeply impactful: lack of proper healthcare, inadequate education, lack of support for families, checks on corporate-ism run amok -- in short, a lack of financial security that has gutted for many Americans any sense of hope or stability.

All of which is a long way of saying that let's fight the good fight against the Forces of Evil and their Cold Heartless Judges. But until we open up a strong offensive front of our own choosing -- i.e., without regard to the Forces of Evil's agenda -- we will continue not only to lose, but also to ignore the crying needs of our society. We won't prevail til we have a leader as dedicated and forceful as FDR (or, I hate to say, Reagan), but that's no reason to delay framing our own agenda as professionally and compellingly as we can in the meantime.


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