Comparison and facts are questionable

In his column about William Rehnquist, Bret Clevenger states that “Most people can’t name all nine Supreme Court Justices …” He then goes on to prove it by listing those he identifies as “the eight left.” Unfortunately, there are, for all practical purposes, only seven right now, as Sandra Day O’Connor has resigned effective upon replacement, and there is not now, nor has there ever been, a Justice Edwards in the Supreme Court.

Also, I must take issue with the idea that Rehnquist should be mentioned in the same breath with Earl Warren, let alone rated as his equal. James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights, but Earl Warren, for all practical purposes, enacted it. Rehnquist spent 33 years trying to undo that progress toward the promise of the Revolution. If he deserves to be compared to any of his predecessors, Roger Taney would be a much more apt choice. To say Rehnquist let decisions like Roe v. Wade stand is to misstate the facts entirely. Why these decisions stand is that Rehnquist never quite had a solid majority of fellow right-wing radical activists on the bench with him.

There is no doubt that John Roberts, if confirmed, will run the Court like Rehnquist – and while that should be enough to keep him off the bench, it probably won’t. As bad as that will be, however, replacing one right-wing extremist with another will not make a big difference. What should scare everyone are, first, the loss of O’Connor, whose occasional forays into sanity are what kept Rehnquist in check, and secondly the fact that we can rest assured that anyone the current administration might appoint will guarantee a return to the jurisprudence of the 19th century.

Peter Gerlach

Graduate student, History