I'm no longer excited about peripheral issues ... not like I once was ... but this demanded a question be asked and answered: assuming the linked story accurately reflects the opinion and statements of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, should the public be impressed with statements such as this?Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor says the Supreme Court should generally follow its prior rulings so the public has confidence that laws do not change just because justices come and go.The logic of such a statement, though appealing to the ear, would imply the necessary unbroken existence of legal support for Dred Scott to this day; and the Taney decision would see blacks as chattel still.
Also, isn't the public more confident by the whole when it believes "justice" does not "change just because justices come and go" rather than "laws"? As long as there are politicians the laws will change. But justice? NeverO'Connor, a swing vote in favor of abortion rights and affirmative action, said she was seeing an unprecedented level of public criticism in recent months of state and federal court decisions.A hard line approach to O'Connor's doctrine, by justices in general, would have seriously impaired her own ability to "favor of abortion rights and affirmative action."The vast majority of the criticism, she said, is unjustified and borders on harassment of judges, especially in cases where lawmakers threaten impeachment of judges for decisions they disagreed with.Here again we see the answer of the powerful to criticism of the powerful by the powerless is for the powerless to be muzzled.But federal courts, too, play a role in fostering public credibility by generally adhering to "stare decisis," or settled precedent, O'Connor said."Obviously, that is a concern," said the Reagan appointee who retired early last year. She responded to a question in a broadcast interview about the public's perception that the Supreme Court based its decisions more on politics than principle and whether that belief undermined the court's credibility.Here again I feel as if Lady Justice herself is being supplanted by the justices themselves. God help us!
The law "shouldn't change just because the faces on the court have changed," she said.Her comments come a month after the high court changed course on abortion, upholding a national ban on a midterm method of ending pregnancies known as "partial-birth abortion." It was a 5-4 decision that opened the door for states to pass additional abortion restrictions.To Hell with experts, conservative or liberal; what is the just thing to do? Have we, after 6,000 years of recorded history and 500 years of American existence, not resolved what is just?
Liberal and some conservative legal experts have criticized the decision as disturbing and inconsistent because it seemed to defy a virtually similar 5-4 high court case in 2000.
Had the legislatures and justices gotten the Sanctity of Life issue right in the first place we wouldn't have these side shows. Of course had Adam and Eve gotten the obedience thing right in the first place we wouldn't need legislatures or justices.In the 2000 case, O'Connor was the key vote in striking down an abortion ban that placed an "undue burden" on a woman's right to choose. O'Connor has since been replaced by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, who voted last month for the ban.How is it O'Connor can say out of one side of her mouth we should, at all costs, honor stare decisis and then out of the other side vote to affirm these two decisions, both of which fly in the face of the doctrine?In the interview, O'Connor said she is working to put together a Web site aimed at junior high and high school students that will seek to instill respect for the judicial process, including "stare decisis" and the court's power to overturn actions by the legislative or executive branch that impinge on individual freedoms such as speech, religion and due process of law.How about starting a web site aimed at Law School students "that will seek to instill respect for the [legislative] process," including "separation of powers" and "checks and balances"?
And how about the court itself paying closer attention to its own decisions "that impinge on individual freedoms such as speech, religion and due process of law."
And how about the rights of unborn-Americans as a class of "hyphenated" citizens being victimized by the legislatures and courts of our land?