E.J. Dionne Jr. | Thank You, Justice Alito
E.J. Dionne Jr., Truthout, 30 January 2010
Alito's inability to restrain himself during the State of the Union address brought to wide attention a truth that too many have tried to ignore: The Supreme Court is now dominated by a highly politicized conservative majority intent on working its will, even if that means ignoring precedents and the wishes of the elected branches of government.
Obama called the court on this, and Alito shook his head and apparently mouthed "not true." His was the honest reaction of a judicial activist who believes he has the obligation to impose his version of right reason on the rest of us.
The controversy also exposed the impressive capacity of the conservative judicial revolutionaries to live by double standards without apology.
The movement's legal theorists and politicians have spent more than four decades attacking alleged judicial abuses by liberals, cheering on the presidents who joined them in their assaults. But now, they are terribly offended that Obama has straightforwardly challenged the handiwork of their judicial comrades.
There is ample precedent for Obama's firm but respectful rebuke of the court. I know of no one on the right who protested when President Reagan, in a 1983 article in the Human Life Review, took on the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision of 10 years earlier.
"Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution," Reagan wrote. "No serious scholar, including one disposed to agree with the court's result, has argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to create such a right. ... Nowhere do the plain words of the Constitution even hint at a 'right' so sweeping as to permit abortion up to the time the child is ready to be born."