The hyperbole over the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor portrays her as a flaming moderate. This is extraordinary for the jurist who put George W. in the White House in 2000, upholds abortion “in principle” while limiting actual access to it, opposes civil rights protections for gays, and favors religious school vouchers, mandatory sentencing and the death penalty.
Her fictional moderation joins the urban legend of the Democratic Party as champion of working people no matter how often disproved, it just won’t die.
Another myth is that the Supreme Court itself is the golden arbiter of justice and democracy. Actually, with its justices appointed for life, it’s the least accountable branch of government!
The truth is that whoever replaces O’Connor matters less than one might think. Conservative justices move left, and liberals move right. Although unaccountable, however, the court is subject to pressure from mass movements. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have abortion rights or integrated schools, and Guantánamo Bay prisoners would have no right to trial in U.S. civilian courts.
Mobilized working people have an impact. So let’s take to the streets and give the court a lot to think about!