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Battle Lines Drawn Helps None of Us

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

April 13, 2010

By Perry Redd

I don’t know much, but I do know this: what’s about to happen in American politics is a big deal; a damned big deal.  The Supreme Court is about to be re-drawn. So are the politcal guns that will decide who will fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.

This is the time when the girding up of loins to vilify the nominee of a president comes into play.  This is also the time when you need to fully understand what that vilifying is all about.  The ones name-calling and labeling people have a purpose.  You may be one of those who say, “Man, I don’t wannna get involved in all that.”  Well, that’s exactly what they want you to say…because when you’re disengaged, they keep going on—and they win.

Two leading senators on the Judiciary Committee, which will consider President Obama’s upcoming Supreme Court nominee, signaled Sunday that a bruising fight is likely. 

Committee chairman Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, called the current conservative-leaning Supreme Court the most activist he had seen, while ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama wouldn’t rule out a filibuster if Obama nominates what the GOP perceives to be a liberal activist.

Appearing on the NBC program “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Leahy said Obama wants the replacement for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens to represent all Americans rather than any particular ideology.

Stevens, who will turn 90 on April 20 and has served nearly 35 years on the court, announced his resignation on Friday.  Since when has that happened?  That’s good in theory…

“This is a very, very activist court, the most activist court in my lifetime,” Leahy said, citing the recent Supreme Court ruling that lifted restrictions on corporate spending on elections.  Rich people and corporations loved the ruling.  That left the average American as insignificant in helping small candidates compete for elected office.  Corporations, with their money, will win elections from now on.  Obama’s 2008 victory was a game-changer.  Our American history shows that when traditionalists lose “the game”, they change the rules. 

These are the types of rulings conservatives aimed for when then-President George W. Bush nominated Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, shortly after.  Two young, highly conservative-minded justices—to rule on behalf of corporate interests.

What the Republicans are aiming to do is stall President Obama’s nominee through the summer and linger into the fall—in hopes of regaining control of Congress (and the committee chairs) to thwart the confirmation of Obama’s more progressive-minded candidate—one who may very likely rule on the side of Constitutional protection for the people, instead of corporations.

It’s going to be contentious and will look like the Healthcare Insurance Reform fight…ugly, divisive and racial.  Socially speaking, when politicians draw battle lines, it helps none of us.

Perry Redd is a longtime social change activist with his legacy in worker’s rights advocacy; the co-founder and Executive Director of Sincere Seven in Knoxville, Tennessee, he is currently an internet radio talk show host in Washington, DC.

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