It's a day of celebration for fundimentalists and hard-liners all over the US of A. Samuel Alito, a man who opposed the admission of minorities and women to his alma matter of Princeton, has replaced Sandra Day O'Conner, the first female on the Supreme Court. The right wing political machine will churn up an increasing number of challenges to Roe v. Wade to the court over the next several years, as well as attacks on affirmative action programs, etc. The framework of federal standards for equality which was the legacy of the last liberal generation will be significantly eroded over the next few decades.
For all of us living in nice places like New York and California, Massachusetts and Vermont, this doesn't really mean all that much. The real action now is on the state level, and all the places I'd ever consider living have a pretty solid bedrock of progressive values. Over in Mississippi, where there's already literally only one clinic in the whole state where you can get an abortion, people are going to have a harder time, I think. Welcome to the century of states rights. Make the most of it.
On the national level the only issue is Presidential power. Should any of Bush's abuses of Presidential power be investigated or otherwise tested in court, there are probably four solid pro-King-George votes, meaning only one of the moderates needs swinging. And it will go to court. If by some miracle the Democrats are able to build enough momentum to force some investigations, I don't think it's likely that Bush will bow to any demands from congress. Any attempt to curb or centure his behavior will be fought to the end, meaning the SCOTUS, where he's got quite a little fan club going.
But I don't think it's very likely he'll be investigated, which is in some ways better. If no one presses the legal question, the imperial Presidency may just fade away, an embarassing relic of a turbulent time, like when we locked up all the Japaneese people in those camps in the desert. If it's ratified by the Supreme Court, that's real, a solid blow against the Republic.
The action now is in the states. For people who disagree with the radical right's view of what America should be (a legislatively-mandated Leave It To Beaver), the real task is now to build local organizations which can place progressive representatives in State Senates and Assemblies, resist crackpot citizen-initiatives, and begin pushing for local leaders -- from Governors down to Mayors -- to be innovative and bold in crafting good governance.
There are opporunities here, but States are going to be ineffective at regulating corporate behavior, which remains one of the greatest challenges of government in the modern era. I mean, Exxon pulls in significantly more revenue than even the State of California. So that's a problem.
Also, PFAW and NAARAL should probably go up on a mountain and figure out why they keep taking honest people's money.