Sunday, July 03, 2005

Supreme Thoughts

Unless you live in a cave you've heard the news that Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has retired. This is big news. I was still in grade school when she was appointed to the Court in 1981, but I remember it happening. It didn't strike me as groundbreaking as it was to have a woman appointed (& confirmed!) to the Supreme Court - I hadn't yet realized that women had any fewer options as men, or that women couldn't do anything men could do. It had never been explained to me that this was a reality of our society at that time. Strange to think that just 25 years ago it was a huge deal for a woman to assume such a leadership role. Like, duh! And just a few years after Justice O'Connor ascended to the highest court in the land, Geraldine Ferraro was chosen as the running mate of Dukakis in the 1984 Presidential Election. Again, this was a big deal but to me, at the age of 14, it seemed normal. Why not? But now that Justice O'Connor is retiring all of this is being rehashed as the frenzy over her replacement starts to really heat up. Will another woman be appointed? I don't care if it's a woman, man, or monkey who gets appointed as long as they are fair, moderate, and centrist. Republican or Democrat? Who cares?? It's how the person tends to vote on critical issues that affect the days of my life that matters to me.

A big deal has been made over the abortion issue and how Sandra Day O'Connor was a critical swing vote. This is true. The Court has been nearly evenly split on this issue for years, leaning by just one vote to preserve and uphold Roe v. Wade. With Justice O'Connor's departure this could now go the other way and this vital right granted to women could be overturned, making abortion illegal again. It all depends on who Bush nominates as her replacement and whether that person gets confirmed. I don't care what your personal preferences are on the topic of abortion, but it would be a terrible blow to all American women if that right was taken away. The right to choose is vital. Even if you choose life at all costs, the point is that you have the CHOICE. Someone else may choose to terminate a pregnancy, but again, they have the choice to do so. We allow religious freedom in this country and we should continue to allow personal freedoms, like the right to choose to abort or not, as well. What YOUR choice is should be left to you, but the right to choose should be upheld by the court, even if you disagree on the morality of abortions. Think about it. And this is what scares me about Bush being the sitting president with this critical issue at hand. He is very conservative and likely to select a nominee who is against Roe v. Wade and right to choose. I just hope that the good sense of the people on the confirmation committee prevails and the right person is selected. We need another Sandra Day O'Connor.

On another Supreme Court topic, has anyone been following the Imminent Domain controversy? In a nutshell, it has always been "allowed" for municipalities to seize ownership of private property for purposes of building schools or roads or whatever. Things that "improve" the city or town. But now a ruling has been upheld that allows the seizure of private property if said property can be used to generate more tax revenue for the municipality than it does as private property. So in essence, someone could decide that a hotel, built on your property instead of your home, would benefit the city by generating more revenue than what it receives from you already. And so your property could be legally seized for development whether you like it or not. At least, this is how the ruling has been explained to me. Does this seem crazy and unfair to anyone else?? Yikes! I've also heard that this is a proposal being submitted right now to develop a hotel at the private residence of Justice Souter, a proponent of this ruling, to make a point. You feel it's ok to take private property away from someone for purposes of increased revenue? Fine - we'll take yours, thankyouverymuch. Hmm... might be an interesting investment opportunity!

Rulings like this should make everyone nervous. The Supreme Court wields tremendous power. These Justices are appointed for LIFE. It's very political. They have the power to decide what is OK or not OK for you to do with your own body. They can say whether you can keep the property you already own, or if someone else with a money-making idea can just have it - even if you don't agree. These opinions and decisions affect all of us. And in addition to Sandra Day O'Connor leaving, it's quite possible that another Justice or two will be leaving before the end of Bush's tenure in the White House. That is a very frightening thought. I mean, how old is Chief Justice Renquist?? 81. He was born in 1924. How much longer do you think he'll serve?? Not long, I bet. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 72. Scalia is 69. Justice Stevens is 85. My point is that it's an old court. It's not unlikely that another one or more will retire before Bush leaves office.

If you don't normally follow the doings of the Supreme Court, now is a good time to take a moment and think about how these Justices affect your life. What is important to you? What sort of jurist would YOU like to see on the court? These are not elected officials. They are political appointees. Whether you like the system or not,it is what it is. I, for one, will be closely following the list of nominees up for consideration. Let's hope it's not all tight conservatives.

Comments:
I have to say I hadn't really thought about it till now!!! You make a very good point!! Ya, I am a little bit nervous that some old fuddy (sorry) will be able to tell me what to do with my body (after having to terminate a 20 week preg. in feb) and being told that my property is not really mine as I thought when I bought it!!! These are scary times we are living in!!
 
While I personally do not believe in abortion, in no way do I think I have the right to deny any other woman that choice. It's the hardest choice a woman will ever have to make, and we should be make it as emotionally compassionate as possible.
 
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