Your Lying Eyes

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26 June 2007

The Court Veers Right

One of Bush's few successes is his moving the Supreme Court to the right. Conservatives went 4-for-4 with yesterday's decisions, though a closer look at the box score suggests it was more like 4 singles with no rbi's.

In deciding against the "Bong Hits for Jesus" kid, the court connected with some common sense. In this case, a high school principal disciplined some wise-guy kid who unfurled his offending banner during a school sponsored event during school hours (though off school property). Principals can't be expected to face lawsuits everytime they try to tame their charges, and so barring an obvious outrageous infringement of civil rights, the kids will just have to like it or lump it.

In another decision too boring to get through, they limited to some extent the "Endangered Species Act." This is an obviously easily abused law, and so this decision seems sensible. This is a victory for developers, but not necessarily for the average property owner. As Steve Sailer has pointed out, if a community is facing an unwanted development that is likely to increase traffic, overburden community resources, hurt property values, etc., the Endangered Species act could be a handy way to thwart it, if some useless though rare species of lizard could be found on the property. Though it probably doesn't come up too often, it's another example of where libertarian, free-market philosophy collides with the real interests of Republicans' natural constituency - upper middle-class suburbanites.

In deciding for Bush's faith-based initiative, Alito made little sense. Scalia, who agreed with the decision, lambasted Alito's reasoning in a separate opinion. Alito's decision seemed designed to give Bush's particular faith-based initiative a pass while doing little to help religion in the public sector generally.

I tend to agree with the decision to invalidate the restriction on political ads in McCain-Feingold. But, again, for the average person who is not involved in advocacy for a special-interest group, there's little to get excited about.

The real test will come Thursday, when the conservatives on the Court will have a chance to knock one out of the park with the two cases involving race-based school assignments. There are few things more important to people than where their kids will go to school (particularly since this is so critical to deciding where to live). Forced de-segregation leads to the destruction of cities as habitats for the middle class. But minority communities in cities can't resist the temptation to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs by insisting that their kids get to go to the "good" schools, which inexorably leads to the "good" schools becoming "bad" schools when all the "good" kids' parents take off for the suburbs (or send them to private school).

The fact that each of the above decisions was a 5-4 split suggests that the court remains bitterly divided, and thus portends another 5-4 decision against the forced integration practice. My thinking is that the liberals might have been tempted to go along on one of these (as a show of unity) if Thursday's decision were going their way. On the other hand, the fact that swing-vote Kennedy went along with the conservatives on each of these might mean he abandons them on Thursday. Kennedy in the past has gone with the conservatives on the equal protection cases, while O'Connor went with the liberals. Hopefully, Kennedy hasn't decided to fill O'Connor's role (and bask in the adulation of the elite press).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was once again an all around excellant post. I hate to nitpick but did you mean forced de-segregation? Keep up the good work.

June 26, 2007 9:59 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Thanks. To me, "forced integration" and "forced de-segregation" mean the same thing. I like 'integration' better because 'de-segregation' sounds like a euphemism.

June 26, 2007 6:51 PM  
Blogger Glaivester said...

ziel, you didn't say "forced integration" or "forced de-segregation." You said "forced segregation." That was anonymous's nitpick.

July 10, 2007 2:09 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Wow, I had to stare at it a few seconds to actually see it - thanks Glaivester. I'm changing it now for posterity's sake.

July 14, 2007 9:24 AM  

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