Apocalypse 2006

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Apocalypse 2006

The way things are shaping up, the presumably brutal fight over Justice O'Connor's replacement may just be a warm-up for the 2006 campaign, which will itself be a warm-up for the 2008 presidential race. The culture warriors are out raising funds from the faithful for the Supreme Court fight, but once they've got either a sense of victimization or a sense of invincibility (or both) from that fight, they'll be primed to go for more culture/judge wars. And the hot-button cases are lined up to provide the fuel.

As has been noted here recently, the Supreme Court has some abortion cases on the menu for the coming Term. These will probably be handed down near the very end of the term in late June, conveniently near the run-up to the midterm election. Plus which the cases challenged the Partial Birth Abortion Act should be through the Courts of Appeals soon. If those courts come to the same conclusion as did the district courts--namely, that an earlier Supreme Court case in which O'Connor cast the deciding vote means that the federal Act is unconstitutional--that sets up 2006 GOP Senate candidates to run as the guarantors that Dubya will be able to fill the next vacancy with a true believer. And Dems to run as the guarantors that Roe won't be gutted.

Then there are the gays. I've mentioned the upcoming cases in the highest courts of Massachusetts and New Jersey, both of which will probably also be decided in mid-2006, give or take a few months. Now comes California, where the Attorney General has just asked the state's supreme court to answer this question.
Where California law provides that registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections and benefits as spouses, while at the same time preserving the common understanding of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, does this legislative balance deprive same-sex couples of fundamental rights or otherwise discriminate on the basis of gender [sic] or sexual orientation in violation of the California Constitution?
You'll recall that this was the question that the Massachusetts SJC answered in the negative (with respect to the Mass. Constitution, of course) in the advisory opinion that followed the Goodridge case; the legislature asked, essentially, whether it could comply with Goodridge by passing civil union legislation, and the court answered that "second class citizenship" wasn't good enough, and only marriage would do.

Oh, and have I mentioned the Ten Commandments, the Pledge of Allegiance, and "intelligent design," all issues making their way through the judiciary?

If you think you've seen ugly politics before, just wait.

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