July 10, 2005

When and why do you look at the Court and see a "revolution"?

Linda Greenhouse writes of the recently concluded 11-year-long "natural court" -- a court with unchanged membership:
The experiment has run its course: put nine justices together, add a healthy mix of some of the most challenging and contested issues of the day, and wait 11 years. Glance inside occasionally and find various revolutions in progress, portending major changes in federalism, religion and property rights.

But what finally emerged was something quite different: not revolutionary change but, in the end, continuity. In the interim, the period was dynamic, even tumultuous, but by the time it was over, the revolutions had fizzled or run their course, and the fervor appeared to have died. To the extent that there was basic change, it was to the left rather than the right: a firmer foundation for affirmative action, a constitutional framework for gay rights.
Greenhouse has been overusing the word "revolution" for years, so excuse me if I yawn over the observation that it wasn't really a revolution after all. That observation was always easy to make at every point along the way. The reason Greenhouse didn't make this observation before, I imagine, is that she wanted to alarm readers and create pressure for the Court to not abandon various positions she favored. The reason she makes the observation now, I suspect, is to align with the Democratic position that the Court has been balanced and stable with the presence of Sandra Day O'Connor and that the new Justice must preserve the existing balance or terrible new things will happen.

Which Greenhouse will call "revolution."


Troy said...

Maybe with Rehnquist retired -- this revolution WILL be televised.

Should've but couldn't resist.

"Revolutionary" would not even begin to describe the last 11 years, especially since the fizzling of the new federalism and the head scratching Breyer 10 Commandment "how many Commandments can fit on the head of a needle?" decisions.

"Yawnsville" as my significantly better half says.

vnjagvet said...

I am not sure Ms. Greenhouse's conclusions are supported by the evidence.

If she sees Grutter as a "firmer foundation" for affirmative action, my question is firmer than what? Adarand? Perhaps Justices Scalia's and Thomas' positions in dissent? Not so "firm" if you ask me.

And what is the "constitutional framework" for gay rights. Well I suppose decriminalizing same sex sodomy may a move in that direction, but it is a far cry from a constitutional underpinning for gay marriage for example.

Looks like Linda is hyping the results of the past 11 years for her constituency.