Friday, January 13, 2006

Three Things I Would Hope To See Happen With Alito On the Supreme Court

With "muddled middle" swing-voter Sandra Day O'Conner soon to be replaced by Sam Alito on the Supreme Court I would hope and expect to see a few changes in the High Court's rulings over the next several years.

1. With new Chief Justice Robertson leading the charge my first hope would be a flat-down overthrow of the insane ruling in last year's Kelo v. New London concerning the right of emminent domain. By a 5-4 margin the Court ruled that municipalities have the right to commandeer private property in order to cater to the needs of private business... all in the name of economic development, of course.

The Bad News is, unfortunately, that all five supporters of this ruling are still sitting on the court. One can only hope that fresh insight from the two SCOTUS newbies will be persuasive enough to lead one of those five to reconsider their previous opinion.

2. One can also hope for a slow reduction of a woman's current "right" to choose to have an abortion in any way and at any time she would like, even if she is a minor with a pregnancy created by abuse or incest.

Eventually, the Constitutional illogic of Roe v Wade will crumble into dust. A new ruling would one day, hopefully, identify what legally constitutes human life (this is most certainly a Federal matter) and then leave the debate of the morality/legality of abortion and to what degree it may or may not be available to the States where it belonged in the first place.

3. The issues concerning the separation of Church and State have also become unnecessarily muddled over the past 30 years of Supreme Court innovation and wishful thinking. I'm not sure what direction the new Court will take on this and I really do not care, as long as the decisions are rendered intelligibly and in accordance with the plain meaning of the Constitution. Hopefully, the so-called "Lemon Test" will be replaced by something more objective and grounded in legal clarity.

4. The Supreme Court cannot seem to make up its mind concerning the Constitutionality of Affirmative Action, either. In a ruling concerning academic Affirmative Action in the admission practices of the University of Michigan, Justice Sandra Day O'Conner, who provided the swing vote endorsing affirmative action, wrote in her decision, "Effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our nation is essential if the dream of one nation, indivisible, is to be realized." She also said that affirmative action is "potentially so dangerous" that it should be eventually phased out.

Such loopy logic must be killed off and buried forever. It is hard to believe that, if the late Chief Justice Reinquist couldn't bring the Court to ground on this matter, Robertson and Alito will be able to do any better.

If nothing else, there will be some snappy, blunt and articulate dissentions should the "flighty five" ever gang up against logic and common sense in the future.

While such potential flights of fancy may not advance the cause of juris prudence, the dissents, at least, will most certainly be more entertaining and educational to read than in the past!