Monday, July 02, 2007

A nation gone mad with amnesia

Digby has this to say about the SCOTUS
My personal feeling is that this court is going to practice a form of radical right wing judicial activism that will transform our country over the next generation. (Remember, everything the right accuses the left of doing is what they actually are doing.) Democrats will spend a major amount of time when they are in power trying to find legislative and executive remedies for the dramatic judicial tilt toward big business, fundamentalist religion and racist, discriminatory outcomes --- which will have been made in service to the Republican party and its donors. (After Bush vs. Gore I think we can finally dispense with any notion that the justices are non-partisan.)But we knew that didn't we, when the gang of 14 decided they needed to keep their powder dry for a rainy day?

Roberts is a particularly unctuous character, with his sunny smile and youthful energy, while he dishonestly passes off wingnut bumper stickers like “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race” as judicial reasoning. (I can hardly wait for him to read his decision on gun rights where he says "guns don't kill people, people kill people")

Rick Perlstein nails him to the wall with this passionate post about Roberts' other fatuous punchline: "Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin."

If I were a high school teacher and young Johnny Roberts wrote this on an exam on civil rights history, I would give him an "F." The idea that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court could cough up such a ludicrous hairball is evidence of a nation gone mad with amnesia. Or, if you prefer, a conservative intellectual class that knows the history full well, and has simply let itself lie.

Do educated people really need this explained to them? It wasn't merely "before Brown" that "schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on their color of their skin." It was long, long after the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka - for the next seventeen years at least.


Since the 1964 Civil Rights Act had provided that no segregated public institution could get federal funds, this was, finally, a chance to punish the vast, vast majority of Southern school districts who - read this carefully, Justice Roberts - eleven years after Brown outlawed telling schoolchildren where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin.

By that point only 6 percent of Southern schoolchildren attended classes with kids of another race. How did we know? Because the federal government counted.
The decision last week said that counting --- the mechanism that showed that school districts were simply refusing to adhere to the law --- is now illegal. Neat, huh? And in perfect inverted GOPtalk, Roberts smugly claims that he's actually advancing the cause of school integration. He's doing his mentors proud.

It is clear that the major legacy of the Bush administration will be this court. But then, the man became president in the first place due to a blatantly partisan Supreme Court decision, so I suppose there's some symmetry in that.


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