Published 11:44 am Saturday, July 9, 2005
Day O'Connor's retirement could cause chaos in senate
President George W. Bush has spent a great deal of his four years in office battling Congress over varying issues, but especially his appointments to various federal courts.
That controversy came to a head two months ago when Republican Senators came to a compromise with their Democratic counterparts over the filibustering of several appointments the democrats had deemed too conservative. Democrats agreed to end their filibusters of three of them, including former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, and not filibuster in the future in response to threats by Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to end the filibuster.
Debates have continued over the legality of the Democratic filibusters, but the amount of filibustering was a bit overblown. Only 10 of President Bush's 200 nominees did not pass through Congress.
Luckily a compromise was reached to end the deadlock and prevent the abolition of filibustering (an important protection of minority parties).
However, events of last week have brought judicial issues back to the forefront, with the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Justice O'Connor was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 shortly after he entered office, and has had a moderate record in her 24 years of service. She was the first woman appointed to the court, and only one other woman has been appointed; that being Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a Clinton appointee in 1993.
The early favorite for her spot appears to be recently-appointed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He was appointed to the Attorney General after the resignation of John Ashcroft last year. His appointment hearings went off with a bit of a controversy over his role in the Abu Ghraib fiasco, but his Latino background prevented Democrats from pushing the issue very far.
Early reports have shown that Gonzales is too moderate for some Bush backers, many of whom would like to see a significant shift to the right in Supreme Court rulings (a court which was already packed with seven Republican nominations and only two Democratic nominees prior to O'Connor's retirement).
If Gonzales has a truly moderate slant, his presence would be a sigh-of-relief from our current "Red State vs. Blue State" ideological Civil War, and we hope President Bush will take a moderate stance on the court.
If he does not, we could be looking at much greater chaos in our Senate, which is the last thing America needs right now.