Overruled


What Goes Around Comes Around
May 13, 2009, 9:00 am
Filed under: Ian | Tags: , , ,

ScotusAs if they were trying to gin up support for John Roberts just months before his confirmation hearings, the Supreme Court decided a 5-4 case called Kelo v. New London at the very end of the term that saw Justice O’Connor’s retirement.  Doctrinally, Kelo was a snoozer—it did nothing more than uphold a decades-old doctrine establishing that the Constitution does not place practical limits on how the government can use its emminent domain power, provided that the government is willing to pay for all the property it seizes.  Politically, however, it was a train wreck.  Suddenly reminded of the fact that the government has the power to force any American to sell their home, the nation became captured by libertarian revenge fantasies against the justices who stayed their hand in Kelo, and it became very easy for George Bush to sell his new justice in part by using Kelo as a boggieman.

So, since John Roberts came to power against this background, color me a bit surprised that he is about to join a decision (most likely a majority decision) holding that school principals can strip search 13 year-old girls who are suspected of carrying Advil.  If I were looking to do something completely appalling at the very moment that the nation turns its attention to my branch of government; to do so in a way that makes me look like an out-0f-touch monster; and to do so in a way that makes President Obama’s vision of the Constitution look much more compelling by contrast, I would probably hold that it is ok to force 13 year-old girls to strip naked at a school official’s command.  Right-wing justices already make my skin crawl.  Soon, the whole nation will share that opinion.

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