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The court of revolutionaries

The zenith of the US Supreme Court’s power should have been reached when it decided the outcome of the much disputed 2000 presidential election. But the conservatives on the bench are not content with this, as Ronald Dorkin explains in The New York Review of Books.

“It would be a mistake to suppose that this right-wing phalanx is guided in its zeal by some very conservative judicial or political ideology of principle. It seems guided by no judicial or political principle at all, but only by partisan, cultural, and perhaps religious allegiance.” Some may even say racist, given the court’s 5-4 ruling barring states introducing measures that would address continued segregation in schools. Others may also use the word elitist, for the court has struck down campaign finance laws that limited how big corporations and unions could prop up candidates with attack ads against their opponents during election campaigns.

Hypocritical is another word that springs to mind, given that the justification for this ruling was based on protecting freedom of speech. In a case regarding a student who held up a banner making fun of Jesus, the court supported the decision of his school to suspend him, ignoring any free speech concern.

One final word that can also be employed is revolutionary. The separation of church and state is clearly stipulated in the country’s revered constitution, the very document that Supreme Court justices are supposed to interpret. Yet Bush’s faith-based initiatives that channel state largesse in the direction of religious groups are not though to contradict this clause. As Dorkin laments sarcastically, “Would they have reached the same result if a president had launched programs to support and proselytize for atheism?”

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