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    Monday, November 01, 2004

    Mortality, Part 2 

    Chief Justice William Rehnquist missed today’s session of the U.S. Supreme Court. News reports that he is receiving chemotherapy has experts speculating that he has a rare, more serious form of thyroid cancer.

    Both liberals and conservatives like to point out
    that it's been 10 years since a new justice – Stephen Breyer -- was named to the court, the longest interval since James Monroe was president in 1823.

    So the nation is due for several vacancies in the next four years. So the president who appoints those justices will influence the course of this country for much longer than his term.

    As far as I’m concerned, none of the five justices who stopped the vote counting in Florida in 2000 deserves to be on the Court. In a remarkable story in last month’s Vanity Fair magazine, which hasn’t gotten enough attention, clerks to the justices broke silence and talked to reporters. They say that the five decided the outcome in advance and then came up with (extremely tenuous) reasons for it, sacrificing both integrity and credibility for politics.

    When both liberals and conservatives discuss the makeup of the Court, they often focus on abortion, gay rights and school prayer. But as People for the American Way has detailed, a more conservative court could undo a lot more rights than those.

    For one thing, the president wouldn’t be stopped, as he was this year, from indefinitely detaining U.S. citizens without any rights on American soil by naming them “enemy combatants.” Who knows how many other rights we would lose during this eternal war?

    Also at risk: affirmative action, voting rights, protection against discrimination, the right to organize, patients’ rights against HMOs, protection of pension and retirement benefits, environmental protection, disability rights, protection against age, gender, race and religious discrimination, separation of church and state, laws against sexual harassment.

    We elect more than a president tomorrow. Much more.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 3:56 PM


    On the left: Carol Towarnicky, chief editorial writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, from a liberal point of view.

    On the right: Leo Morris, editorial page editor of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel, from a conservative point of view.

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