Friday, September 09, 2005

Rehnquist's Legacy: Bush v. Gore

The recent death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist from complications associated with worshipping Satan have prompted legal scholars and commentators to frame his legacy. The emerging consensus is that Rehnquist was something of a trailblazer because he was widely considered a conservative wing-nut when appointed but a centrist at the end. While true, it should be recognized that this movement was due entirely to the subsequent appointment to the court of two raving psychotics, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who made Rehnquist appear moderate by comparison. So beyond simply continuing to take his Haldol, Rehnquist doesn’t deserve much credit for this.

The real legacy of the Rehnquist Court is the December, 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore which metaphorically speaking handed the keys to the national school bus to a sixteen year old glue sniffer. Total deaths resulting from this decision are now approaching 50,000 based on the 9/11 intelligence failures, the pointless war in Iraq, and the Hurricane Katrina debacle. While these results will long be suffered, the bizarro world reasoning of Bush v. Gore was almost immediately forgotten except by those who savor the delicious irony of disenfranchising thousands of poor African Americans and aged holocaust survivors in Florida using the Equal Protection Clause. The court demonstrated its own view of the opinion’s specious logic in two ways: (1) nobody signed it and (2) it has no precedential value outside of that case.

Rehnquist’s legacy is alongside Chief Justice Roger Taney whose twenty-eight years on the court can be summed up in two words: Dred Scott. That disastrous 1857 decision, which held that slaves were more akin to property than to human beings, pretty much necessitated the civil war. Only legal scholars remember the hundreds of other decisions by Taney Court which were important in expanding the power of the federal government and shaping the federal system. And perhaps that is as it should be.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/09/2005 06:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shimmering brilliance - thank you for these and the link. Please give us more more more, doctor.

9/15/2005 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From your comments I take it you are a lawyer. What is your opinion of nominee Roberts?

9/15/2005 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger The Fifth Dentist said...

Roberts is too smart to make a mistake in the confirmation hearings. There's no way to predict what he'll do on the Court.

9/15/2005 04:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So if there is no way to predict what he'll do (and I agree he's too smart to make a mistake, although how smart do you have to be to keep saying, "I prefer not to comment because I might be asked to hear a case on this issue."), then should we be worried that he might not be conservative enough?

9/15/2005 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger The Fifth Dentist said...

It's possible, but unlikely, given some of the memos he wrote during the Reagan administration. It's more likely that his judicial conservatism will counterbalance his cultural conservatism meaning he'll be reluctant to reverse precedents even if he disagrees with them. The Court's legitimacy is based on the appearance of finding the law. When they transparently make shit up, it hurts the institution which is something these guys care about a lot once they get on.

9/15/2005 05:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you could select someone to fill the remaining vacant seat (on the assumption Roberts will be approved), who would it be and why?

9/15/2005 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger The Fifth Dentist said...

If I were Bush, I'd pick a moderate former Senator like Fred Thompson. Senators tend to get confirmed easily and their political experience makes them good Justices. If it were solely up to me I'd probably pick John Stewart, provided he agreed to continue hosting the Daily Show.

9/15/2005 06:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From reading your blog I can understand why you'd pick John Stewart. I think you're projecting your viewpoint somewhat onto the President when you say you'd pick Thompson if you were Bush. Why should he pick someone tending to moderate when he can pick a clearly conservative candidate like Roberts who'll skate through anyway, even if it's not unanimous? Once he's in he's in and this way the President is showing his loyalty to his base.

9/15/2005 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger The Fifth Dentist said...

You might be right about my projecting. But given his 39 percent approval rating it might be time for Bush to stop courting his base and throw a bone to the other side. Thompson's not a liberal but he's not a party hack either.

9/16/2005 04:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you really call the two most accurate interpreters of the law at the SCOTUS - Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas - "raving psychotics"?

Shame on you. Shame. We need justices like them to interpret the law, not justices like Ginsberg to create laws. Leave that the Congress.

9/30/2005 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger The Fifth Dentist said...

I must have inadvertantly referred to them as raving psychotics. What I meant to suggest is that they're heavily into autoerotic asphyxiation.

10/01/2005 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush was in office only 8 months before 9/11, but the attack was planned years before that. Perhaps we should point a finger at the administration before him also. There was also an attack on the USS Cole, and yet they did nothing. It seems perhaps most of the blame should lie on that administration.

12/27/2005 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger The Fifth Dentist said...

Read Richard Clarke's book and you'll come away with the impression that Clinton tried to warn Bush about bin Laden, but he didn't want to hear about it. Al Franken's book, "Lies", also details Bush's incompetence pretty thoroughly. Franken refers to the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policy as "operation ignore."

12/28/2005 06:58:00 PM  

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