Jan Crawford Greenburg has a post that whacks the right and the left for their respective whining about the latest Supreme Court term. She starts by lecturing conservatives for understating the significance of the Court’s shift:
Let’s be clear here: There’s no question that the Court ended its term pointed in a more conservative direction with the addition of Justice Alito for O’Connor. Putting aside the overheated talk on the Left for a minute, it’s been outright baffling to listen to some conservatives try to argue the Court didn’t do all that much. Justice Scalia didn’t leave town depressed (like in years past) by end-of-term rulings, so why are conservatives downplaying what were significant rulings for them?
Personally, I don’t think I have downplayed the fact that conservatives won at the Supreme Court. I have just bemoaned the undeniable fact that the rulings could have (and should have) been more sweeping. As I said in this post:
The fact is that, while conservatives won a lot of decisions, they won them on narrow grounds.
Greenburg acknowledges this fact in the next paragraph:
Sure, the Court didn’t overturn Roe—but it upheld the first-ever ban on a specific abortion procedure and indicated a clear willingness to allow other regulations and restrictions down the line. Sure, it didn’t overturn McCain-Feingold, but it limited its scope with a decision that is certain to lead to more attacks down the road. And, no, the Court didn’t get five votes for a color-blind Constitution, but it so dramatically limited when schools can consider a student’s race for diversity purposes that most school officials—notoriously litigation adverse—are going to scrap those programs.
Just say it: The Court turned to the Right.
OK. The Court turned to the right. Just not as much as it could have — or should have.
If conservatives like me have spent time discussing the limited nature of our victories, it has been in reaction to the sweeping and dramatic language from people like drama queen David Savage:
In what may signal a generational shift in power, new Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. led a confident conservative majority at the Supreme Court this year and moved the law to the right on abortion, religion, campaign funding and racial diversity.
or his fellow Chicken Little Linda Greenhouse:
It was the Supreme Court that conservatives had long yearned for and that liberals feared.
And indeed, Greenburg acknowledges that the hand-wringing on the left is overwrought — and provides numerous examples, from Kathleen Sullivan to Geoff Stone to Adam Cohen, and many more.
It’s a good post, and you should read it all.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of her post, however, is an offhand comment she made about Kathleen Sullivan. It’s a different enough topic that I’ll discuss it in a separate post.