The Great William O.

Posted on April 10, 2010 by

George Bush’s second Supreme Court nominee – Samuel Alito – was confirmed in 2006 after a feeble filibuster attempt by democrats, even though the appointment of this judicial conservative to replace retiring moderate justice Sandra O’Connor promised to be a game changer.

Don’t expect the republicans to be anywhere near as accommodating when President Obama nominates John Stevens’ successor, a pick which will not likely alter the court’s current trajectory.

Republicans use every opportunity to draw blood, even in political fights which they ultimately can’t win outright.  They understand political theatre and use these ideological battles to promote their agenda while discrediting and disparaging their opponent’s ideas and ideals.

And don’t think the republicans won’t use this high profile battle to deplete the political oxygen and leave less room for other Obama / democratic initiatives.

Too bad Obama’s first two court picks simply maintain the status quo.  But just imagine what we would be looking at if these vacancies were being filled by a republican president.

I noted these thoughts just as the Stevens’ announcement hit.  Then I did something I’ve become increasingly comfortable with:

I boycotted the news.

I’m at the point where I can barely tolerate the media storm which accompanies every news outbreak.

Instant analysis, commentary, spin, advocacy.

So I took a couple of days to ruminate.

And I recalled how glum I felt in 1975 when President Ford appointed Stevens to replace William O. Douglas, who had served on the court for 36 years, was a key vote in the Warren court reforms and was the justice most identified with the defense of even the most radical free speech.

Take a look at “Points of Rebellion,” Douglas’ treatise on dissent and protest.  When I read it in the early 70s I was astonished that a Supreme Court Justice would endorse 60s style radical dissent.

Stevens, a centrist republican, was replacing the great William O.  What a mockery!

Something to think about as Justice Stevens now leaves the court as its most high-profile “liberal.”

Comments (1)


  1. congratulations on your two day boycott of the news

    having majored in college in art history, i can tell you that art history is not the history of what has been painted, but the history of what has been written about what has been painted

    similarly “the news” is not a chronicle of current events, but only a chronicle of the chronicle of current events

    i turn on NPR radio news only on the hour or on the half hour, and stay tuned until it chronicles sports, or until its news commentators begin their blabber about “what if”

    thus i seldom stay tuned more than 10 minutes

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