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Bush legacy will be defined by Supreme Court

POSTED: August 9, 2007 5:03 a.m.
Johnson is identified by Viet Nam, Nixon by Watergate, Carter by a lousy economy, Reagan by ending the Cold War, H. Bush by Desert Storm, and Clinton by Monica Lewinsky. So by what will George W. be identified?
Well, most will say 9-11, and I guess from the standpoint of history, that is a fair and accurate assumption.
With the magnitude of what took place on Sept. 11, 2001, being in the same category as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, one could, as most will, state this will be what defines George W. Bush. But I beg to differ, as I usually do.
When Bush was running for president the first time, I told many of my friends both on the right and the few I know on the left, “this election will probably be the most important election to take place over the next 20 years.”  
Because several Supreme Court justices were (how can we be polite and say) getting up there in age, it was evident that whoever won the Bush-Gore election would be in the “Supreme Court” driver’s seat for probably the next eight years. This could be assumed by knowing how hard it is to unseat an incumbent president.
President Bush has put two justices on the court, and when you consider Samuel Alito replaced Sandra Day O’Connor, the court has shifted from a moderate/left area into a moderate/right area.  
If the country could get one more conservative judge, who has a history of strict constitutional interpretation, on that court we might be able to turn this country back to what the founding fathers intended. Well, I can dream can’t I?
But even though we have a way to go, we can still lift our heads up and take a little pride the Supreme Court is making, or at least has made, some fairly good decisions.
We could review some of these cases, but we have been getting that information on the Internet and in the newspapers. So lets just say, several groups in the “left-out liberal left” are sweating bullets right now.
What some of the justices are thinking can be wrapped up in what Clinton nominee Justice Stephen Breyer recently said in a dissenting opinion, “It is not often that so few have so quickly changed so much.”
Don’t you know Justices Antonio Scalia and Clarence Thomas were just about to bust loose hearing that from Breyer?
But with this shift on the court, the most influential man in the nation has become Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was put on the court by President Reagan.  
Being a Reagan appointee, most would think he is a staunch conservative but his history of voting has shown him to be a moderate. And he has especially been a “thorn in the side” in regard to conservative social issues.
On a recent docket of 24 cases heard, more than a third of the cases were decided by a 5-4 vote. Tell me Alito replacing O’Connor wasn’t pivotal now. But the only justice who was in the majority on every single case was, you guessed it, Kennedy; talk about sitting on the fence.
So what does all this mean? We are much better now than we were in 2005 when O’Connor was on the bench. But we still have a long way to go and we are still early in the John Roberts era for being the chief justice. Roberts has already shown he is hesitant to overturn a decision based upon precedent, so we don’t want to start jumping for joy just yet.
But who knows, maybe Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Justice Breyer will retire before our man W. leaves office, and he can put one more on that bench. It could happen.
 

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