October 6, 2008

Today’s the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term, and President Bush is using the occasion to appear before the Cincinnati Federalist Society. He’s being joined by a coterie of right-wing judicial activists who helped him push hundreds of nominations through the Senate. Among them will be Wendy Long, whose Judicial Confirmation Network just launched a nasty smear campaign against Obama.

Bush is taking a victory lap, and you almost can’t blame him. Of all the terrible things that he set out to do, shifting the federal courts far to the right is the only thing he’s achieved. A full one of every three federal judges were appointed by Bush, including Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito on the Supreme Court, and they have steadily chipped away at our rights.

But Bush couldn’t quite close the deal – the right-wing bloc on the Supreme Court is still one vote short of an unstoppable majority. Justice Stevens – 88 years young and the most progressive member of the Supreme Court – stubbornly refused to retire. Justices Ginsburg and Souter, who have reportedly eyed retirement, also weathered the Bush reign, presumably in hopes of a better political environment next year.

What that means is McCain, if elected, stands to achieve Bush’s goal of a right-wing court. There’s no uncertainty here – McCain has pledged to nominate “clones of Roberts and Alito”:

So that’s where we’re at. The next 40 years of the Supreme Court are on the ballot.

Kathryn Kolbert is President of People For the American Way

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