By now, you should all know that I’m not a fan of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District. In my humble opinion, the majority made a policy decision by contending that desegregation is good, but the way this community chose to go about it wasn’t effective. The court ultimately found that they had the constitutional right to do what they were doing but they just weren’t very good at it. This type of logic is the exact type of thing that was ridiculed by Judges Roberts and Alito during their respective confirmation but it isn’t the least bit surprising to see them rule this way.
Enough of my opinion- the blogosphere is swarming with opinions that range from silly to cautious gaiety. The blogosphere is full of half-baked opinions so I’ll skip straight to the good stuff- local newspaper editorial pages.
Over at the Monterey County Herald, Marianne Means contends that the Supreme Court will lose credibility. Miss Means has an obvious liberal persuasion and I can’t argue with a lot of her criticism of the court this term. However, she goes to far in suggesting that the court is losing legitimacy.
Ever since its contorted 2000 decision to hand the presidency to George W. Bush — the clear loser in the popular vote — the court has not been operating from a position of popular strength and credibility.
The Supreme Court has lost its role as a neutral arbiter of national disputes. Maybe it was never really neutral, but at least it had the moral standing to make some people think so. Nobody thinks this court is neutral about anything.
When I read ‘lost its role as a neutral arbiter of national disputes,’ I near died of laugher. Fortunately, she clarified her opinion by bringing her outlandish claim down a notch. The problem remains however, that the court still has the ‘moral standing’ to make people adhere to its rulings. By electing a conservative president, the American people signified a desire for a continued conservative shift in the political dynamics of Washington.
It is not unprecedented for a Court to have a very clear political bias. The Warren Court of the 1950′s plowed the way towards racial equality even when it wasn’t popular (Brown, Brown II), upheld (or created if you have a conservative perspective) the right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut), and outlawed school prayer (Engle v. Vitale.) The Burger Court of the 1970′s somehow managed to affirm abortion rights (Roe v. Wade), temporarily outlaw the death penalty (Furman v. Georgia), contract the powers of the executive (US v. Nixon), and reaffirm a limited affirmative action policy (Regents of the University of California v. Bakke)- All while maintaining the same ‘moral standing’ that Miss Marianne Means moronically and maliciously misapplies.
Jesse Jackson over at the Chicago Sun-Times claims with harsh rhetoric that “A quarrelsome claque of five right-wing justices on the Supreme Court of the United States has abandoned the court’s historic commitment to integration.” Well, not yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a major rollback of that ‘historic commitment’ in the next decade. James nonsensically decries the court for overturning 50 years of civil rights precedence. He’s not entirely correct, but the court has definitely curtailed some important rights.
Ruben Navarrette over at RealClearPolitics, the ordinarily useful source of our polling data, writes a bigoted article that suggests that “the conservatives on the court did minorities a favor” by “forc[ing] everyone to think about whether such race-based solutions, while essential a few decades ago, have outlived their usefulness.” That type of outlandish value-judgement is the exact type of logic that the court used when it decided two local school boards were forwarding ideas that weren’t as effective as they could have been. It seems as though many conservatives continually call for a ‘strict interpretation’ of the Constitution but actually decide cases by making a policy decision and loosely justifying it with a thoughtless interpretation the law. Fortunately, Navarrette comes to his senses he declares that he is having “a tough time understanding how they got there.” He concedes that he doesn’t care about the law more freely than most but also seems unapologetic about this fact.
The court’s decision in this case can be easily understood to be a complete reversal of Brown. In my opinion, this case will be remembered as a minor setback for the civil rights movement, but not the same fatal blow that many individuals are claiming that it is.