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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Supreme Irony

Since the 2000 selection, I've tended to regard the Supreme Court as the five bad ones (Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, O'Connor, Kennedy) who voted to stop the recounts in Florida, and the four good ones (Stevens, Souter, Bader Ginsberg and Breyer). But in two recent decisions, I've definitely been with the bad guys. On medical marijuana, the four "good ones" plus Scalia and Kennedy voted to say that federal law takes precedent over state law, no matter how many hoops the states, doctors and patients jump through to keep medical pot a local affair. But today, all four "good ones" were joined by Kennedy in deciding that cities can use eminent domain powers for private development. This strongly favors the wealthy, frequently out-of-town developers over the small homeowners, whose houses can now be bulldozed for a shopping mall or office complex.

Who woulda thought that I could agree with William Rehnquist, Clarence Thomas and Sandra Day O'Connor on two Supreme Court decisions, and lose both times? O'Connor wrote the dissent on the eminent domain case. According to AP, "She argued that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers."

I'll stick to my earlier "ruling" that Sandra Day O'Connor regrets her 2000 vote in Bush v. Gore. Rumor had it she wanted Bush to win so she could retire knowing a Repug would name her replacement. But Bush has been pResident for 4 1/2 years now, and she hasn't retired. There may be some very key issue before the Court in the near future (on impeachment or withholding evidence or something). I think O'Connor may end up being one of the "good ones" on that vote. Unfortunately, I'm not sure the "good ones" are still good.