Crunch Time


Retiring Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor

If you thought the 2004 presidential campaign was a difficult, bitter, acrimonious, blood-earnest fight to finish, you have not seen anything yet. The Bush-Kerry battle royal was a battle royal because of their sharp ideological differences with respect to the culture war. In this war, the most prized territory to occupy is the Supreme Court, and now that territory is up for grabs.

Now that Sandra Day O’Connor has announced her resignation, we are about to witness a fight that will make the 2004 presidential campaign look like ring-around-the-rosy. As Tom Goldstein said today after O’Connor’s announcement, “Now the gloves are entirely off. In political Washington there is no more important question to the left or the right [than the composition of the Supreme Court]” (source).

For President Bush, this is crunch time. Millions of Evangelicals came out to vote for President Bush last November because of his promise to appoint “strict constructionists” to the court. This means, of course, that he has promised only to appoint judges along the lines of Scalia and Thomas, not Ginsburg and Souter. If President Bush is to make good on his election promises, then he has to put all his “political capital” on the line to see a hermeneutical conservative appointed to the bench.

This means that rumors of Alberto Gonzales being a potential appointee better be just that—rumors. Alberto Gonzales opposed a parental notification law when he was on the Texas Supreme Court and is obviously not the kind of justice that evangelicals had in mind when they came out to the polls to vote for Bush. If Gonzales becomes Bush’s nominee, then evangelicals need to go shopping for another party. After all, why should we support any candidate or party that will not deliver when it’s crunch time?

More on this later. Believe me, much more on this later.

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