Concettina Died and Other Stories of the East Side

O'Connor and Stare decisis, posted May 20, 2007 at 11:07 PM

From an AP article headlined O'Connor: Court should follow precedent:

Federal courts... a role in fostering public credibility by generally adhering to "stare decisis," or settled precedent, O'Connor said.

"Obviously, that is a concern," said the Reagan appointee who retired early last year. She responded to a question in a broadcast interview about the public's perception that the Supreme Court based its decisions more on politics than principle and whether that belief undermined the court's credibility.

The law "shouldn't change just because the faces on the court have changed," she said.

Her comments come a month after the high court changed course on abortion, upholding a national ban on a midterm method of ending pregnancies known as "partial-birth abortion." It was a 5-4 decision that opened the door for states to pass additional abortion restrictions.

Liberal and some conservative legal experts have criticized the decision as disturbing and inconsistent because it seemed to defy a virtually similar 5-4 high court case in 2000.

In the 2000 case, O'Connor was the key vote in striking down an abortion ban that placed an "undue burden" on a woman's right to choose. O'Connor has since been replaced by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, who voted last month for the ban.

Dear Sandra Day O'Connor:

Please shut up.

Every bit of integrity and authority you may have had to discuss stare decisis was washed away by your single vote resulting in George W. Bush "winning" the presidency. The problems you're discussing with the judiciary would not be nearly as pervasive as they are today if Bush had not spent the last six-and-a-half years stacking the courts with incompetent ideologues who have worked tirelessly to undo every sensible decision you helped the Supreme Court come to.

Take a look at this bit of the wikipedia article on Bush v. Gore (emphasis at the end is mine--see the article for footnotes. dmz):

The decision itself was widely criticized for the following sentence in the majority opinion:

Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities.

The court's defenders argued that this a reasonable precaution against the possibility that the decision might be read overbroadly, arguing that in the short time available it would not be appropriate to attempt to craft language spelling out in greater detail how to apply the holding to other cases. Critics, however, interpreted the sentence as stating that the case did not set precedent in any way and could not be used to justify any future court decision, and some suggested that this was evidence the majority realized its holding was untenable. It was seen by many as a departure from the stare decisis principle.

No amount of blather from a retired Supreme Court justice who critically went against the very principle she is now espousing is going to influence the hubristic men who have have replaced you on the court. If your ailing husband was the reason you left the court, then you should be taking care of him and shut your mouth now. A bit of foresight and some concern with stare decisis back when you alone decided which candidate would control the White House would have been appreciated. Now, with your retirement providing that chosen president with the opportunity to swing the court toward authoritarian executive rule, you want to say that the court should follow precedent.

Far too little. Far too late.

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