Around the web, people keep writing that we must enact legislation to counteract the recent Supreme Court decision on campaign contributions. What's the point of a new law? The Supreme Court determines the constitutionality of laws. If you don't like the Court's decision -- and I sure as hell don't -- then you must agree on the need for either a new Constitution or a new court.
I'm not saying that we should chuck our current Constitution and start afresh. But we can renew it with an amendment which makes clear that corporations are not natural persons. Even the Supremes won't be able to eff with that
As for a new court: This is one area where I still retain hope that Obama will do the correct thing, as opposed to the right(-wing) thing. Say what you will about Sotomayor: She ain't no Scalia.
Justice John Paul Stevens, perhaps the most liberal of the Supremes (despite being appointed by Gerry Ford!), is 89. He is, by all accounts, still quite alert and intellectually active. But Obama will probably be a one-termer, and Stevens cannot be expected to remain alert and active beyond the next Republican presidency, which will probably begin in January, 2013. The Gingrich administration (Huckabee administration? Palin?) will probably last until 2021 -- grisly thought, eh wot? -- at which point Justice Stevens will be 100 years old, presuming that he and the Republic have managed to survive. If he cares about liberal values, he must step down.This year.
If he waits until 2011, Obama's nominee will have to be confirmed by a Republican Congress. At least, that's the way to bet. Those senators won't be in any mood to play Let's Make a Deal
But even if Stevens is replaced by someone like unto Stevens, the Supreme Court is still weighted toward the right. In order to change the balance of power, one of the right-wing justices must retire as well.
The two oldest right-wingers are Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia, both 73. Kennedy is considered a swing vote, although he usually swings right, or right-ish. He is, however, good on gay rights and (usually) good on abortion rights. Personally, I would prefer for Kennedy to stay.
As for Scalia -- oh, how I wish that someone could convince him to spend the rest of his days fishing. He's an ultra-conservative Catholic. Maybe one of our fine Marian visionaries (we have so many these days) can bring back a message from on high, telling Scalia that God wants him to quit his day job and become a professional bowler?
Clarence Thomas, some will be sorry to hear, is a spritely 61. He'll be regaling us with his puckish good humor for a long time to come.
Actually, the second-oldest Justice is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 76. I like her just fine. But maybe she should step down during this administration as well.
Would Obama dare to swing right in his next nomination? At this point, little would surprise me. But I still doubt that he would dare to piss off the Democratic base to that
Then again, even I
, cynic that I am, doubted that he would piss off the base to the degree that he has
One virtue of enacting a new law: It allows us to stall for time. A case challenging that law would probably take years to reach the Supremes. I still say our best bet is to amend the Constitution. And, y'know, maybe try that "message from Mary" gambit. Couldn't hurt.