Monday, October 31, 2005

No Surprise Here Part II, But the Worst Case Scenario

The last time we visited this topic the President was reeling from a 39% approval rating (2% among African Americans), a possible indictment (of top White House aids), soaring gas and heating prices (with record profits by Energy companies), an increasingly upopular war (with US deaths topping 2,000) and a sunk Supreme Court nomination (because his conservative base refused to support his friend and nominee Harrier Miers).

With those hurdles to cross and those burdens to bear the president had two options in replacing Ms. Miers. He could take the high road and appoint a moderate in the line of outgoing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whose seat he is filling, and watch the nomination sail through the Senate. Or he could bend to the will of the conservatives, who impaled the Miers appointment, and name a proven, active conservative and brace for a fight.

No surprise, the President bent and now we have the worst case scenario. A proven, active conservative nominee.

Early this morning President Bush named 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Samuel Alito to replace Associate Justice O'Connor. Judge Alito comes with the conservative credentials the Far Right so despitely wanted. In fact Mr. Alito is so conservative his nickname is "Scalito" after proven active conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The choice was hailed by conservatives, as they now see the opportunity to turn the Court right. A turn that will be seen and felt by African Americans as a turning back the clock. Justice O'Connor was the swing vote on many civil rights, civil liberties and some criminal justices issues. The early comments on Mr. Alito is that he is no Sandra Day O'Connor, and that the Supreme Court protection for many statutes that deal effectively and progressively with racism are now in severe trouble.

Since the Far Right did the Democrats dirty work on the Miers nomination, they should be well rested and edging for a fight to keep those protections. Senate Democrats will have to lead the charge against an a smart, savvy and experienced judge, which will cause them to have John Roberts nightmares and flashbacks. But this is why they are in the Senate, for times like this -- and if not now, when? And all 45 Senate Democrats better be on the same page if Judge Alito is as conservative the right has said and cheered.

The Dems said all the right things today, calling the nomination "needlessly provocative," and ignoring "the value of diverse backgrounds and perspectives," but the proof of their spine will come when the hearings start and the voting begins. Will they have courage to shut down the Senate and demand better?

They haven't in past, but we're due for a surprise.