Monday, October 31, 2005

A Nomination Bourne of Weakness

George W. Bush has had a shitty couple of months.

His party's House Majority Leader was indicted and forced to step down; his Senate Majority Leader is being investigated for shady stock dealings; his FEMA apparatus botched the response to Hurricane Katrina; he wasn't able to kill Social Security; his buddy Harriet Miers was laughed out of contention for the Supreme Court; his Vice President is in the crosshairs of Treasongate after his chief-of-staff was indicted with five felony counts; his own "brain" remains in legal jeopardy; and noone trusts his warmongering strategy in the Middle East anymore.

This is not exactly the strongest position to be in while making another Supreme Court nomination. Rather than govern from the middle, as a real leader would do in a time like this, George decided it was better to make a political calculation that would shore up his base. This morning he nominated Samuel A. Alito to fill the SCOTUS vacancy.

To be sure, Alito is a staunch conservative. Here are just a few bits of past rulings that make my blood run cold on this Halloween Monday. Via the indispensable Think Progress:

ALITO WOULD OVERTURN ROE V. WADE: In his dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Alito concurred with the majority in supporting the restrictive abortion-related measures passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in the late 1980’s. Alito went further, however, saying the majority was wrong to strike down a requirement that women notify their spouses before having an abortion. The Supreme Court later rejected Alito’s view, voting to reaffirm Roe v. Wade. [Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 1991]

ALITO WOULD ALLOW RACE-BASED DISCRIMINATION: Alito dissented from a decision in favor of a Marriott Hotel manager who said she had been discriminated against on the basis of race. The majority explained that Alito would have protected racist employers by “immuniz[ing] an employer from the reach of Title VII if the employer’s belief that it had selected the ‘best’ candidate was the result of conscious racial bias.” [Bray v. Marriott Hotels, 1997]

ALITO WOULD ALLOW DISABILITY-BASED DISCRIMINATION: In Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, the majority said the standard for proving disability-based discrimination articulated in Alito’s dissent was so restrictive that “few if any…cases would survive summary judgment.” [Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1991]

ALITO WOULD STRIKE DOWN THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) “guarantees most workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a loved one.” The 2003 Supreme Court ruling upholding FMLA [Nevada v. Hibbs, 2003] essentially reversed a 2000 decision by Alito which found that Congress exceeded its power in passing the law. [Chittister v. Department of Community and Economic Development, 2000]

ALITO SUPPORTS UNAUTHORIZED STRIP SEARCHES: In Doe v. Groody, Alito agued that police officers had not violated constitutional rights when they strip searched a mother and her ten-year-old daughter while carrying out a search warrant that authorized only the search of a man and his home. [Doe v. Groody, 2004]

ALITO HOSTILE TOWARD IMMIGRANTS: In two cases involving the deportation of immigrants, the majority twice noted Alito’s disregard of settled law. In Dia v. Ashcroft, the majority opinion states that Alito’s dissent “guts the statutory standard” and “ignores our precedent.” In Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, the majority stated Alito’s opinion contradicted “well-recognized rules of statutory construction.” [Dia v. Ashcroft, 2003; Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, 2004]

I hope this nomination serves as a big BLINKING NEON-SIGN NOTICE to all women in this country. You will no longer be in control of your body if this nomination makes it to the Supreme Court.

This is not about abortion.

This is about who gets to make the decisions in your life. Would you rather have the ability to discuss your options with your doctor, and make a reasoned choice that way? Or would you rather the decision be made by a group of men sitting behind a big wooden slab wearing black robes?

You decide.

George Bush has made it clear that you are a second-class citizen, along with those who have disabilities, happen to be minority, or are in need of personal time to take care of a sick family member. This is the Republican model of Compassionate Conservatism in action.

You get what you voted for, I suppose. Don't make the same mistake in 2006.

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