Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Friday, July 01, 2005

Sandra Day O'Connor to Retire

She will not be missed.

True, she landed on the right side of some important issues. For example, she voted against the recent eminent domain case, Kelo v. City of New London (yeah, fat lot of good it did the evicted property-owners). But my problem is not with her vote tallies - counting how many times I agreed with her versus how many times I disagreed. My problem is with her judicial philosophy, or rather, her utter lack of a philosophy. After over twenty years on the bench, who can honestly say what the woman stands for, other that "What-O'Connor-Feels-Like-Doing-Today-ism"?

No Justice is always consistent - I'm not asking for that. Liberal Stephen Breyer voted to allow a Ten Commandments monument on certain government property, in certain situations. Liberal David Souter had a surprising vote in a right to die case. Conservative Antonin Scalia disappointed conservatives when he voted in favor of expansive Interstate Commerce Clause powers. And conservative Chief Justice Rehnquist surprised people when he upheld a law mandating certain maternity leave provisions for local government employees (the details escape me, and I'm not going to go look them up). So again, I'm not insisting on absolute consistency - they're all human beings, after all.

And yet the only thing consistent about O'Connor is that she was O'Connor. She stands for nothing, she produced nothing but 20 years of muddled opinions and legal uncertainty, and her job could have been performed just as well by a wrought-iron weathervane.

A few quick points:

1. This article says that "Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's decision to retire unleashed a bipartisan wave of praise Friday on Capitol Hill..."

Well, that just serves to increase my disgust with Capitol Hill. There is not a single Congressman, liberal or conservative, who can honestly say she represented their principles. How do I know this? Because she didn't represent any principles. In an opinion ostensibly affirming strict scrutiny for race-based laws that benefit blacks, she single-handedly re-defined strict scrutiny so she could sound like she was giving a victory to both conservatives and liberals. All she really did was create massive uncertainty, give a tempered victory to liberals, and solve no real problems. Her opinions in the two University of Michigan race-based admissions programs are logically inconsistent with each other - and they were issued on the same day.

I could go on. The point is, this noise from Congress is nothing more than speaking kindly of the dead. These Senators and Reps are just smiling for the camera before the fight begins.

2. From that same article, "President Bush thanked O'Connor for her service on the court, calling her a 'a discerning and conscientious judge.'"

Horse crap. That kind of talk lowers my esteem for the President. That kind of crap directed at George Tenet made me sick. It's no better now.

3. In this one, Bush called for "a dignified process" in the upcoming confirmation process. He then reportedly asked China to stop being so Chinese, asked the oceans not to be so salty, and asked Chewy Chips Ahoy! cookies not to be so delicious.

In other words, it's not gonna happen.

4. From the same story:

"O'Connor has dismissed the swing vote label, telling CNN recently, 'That's something the media has devised as a means of writing about the court, and I don't think that has a lot of validity.'"

Er, Frankly it doesn't matter whether or not you think it's valid, sweetheart, your record is undisputable. You're all over the place, and everybody knows it. It may be true that you're not always the swing vote, but fifty or sixty percent of the time, on a court of nine justices, is good enough to settle the question.

So to reiterate, so long, Justice O'Connor. You will not be missed.