Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Bush Faces Payback Time

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Bush Faces Payback Time

Article excerpt

One can hardly blame the religious right for insisting that the president nominate a constitutional hardliner--a "strict constructionist"--to the nation's highest court. They put their political capital and their votes on the line for George W. Bush in two elections. It is payback time. They are owed. Anything less than another vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, to place additional restrictions on abortion rights, to reject gay marriage, to expand religious speech in classrooms and other public venues, and to generally implement a socially conservative agenda would be nothing, short of betrayal.

And, of course, they have been betrayed before. By Earl Warren, by Harry Blackmun, by Sandra Day O'Connor, by David Souter, by Anthony Kennedy--Republican-appointed justices all who, emboldened by a lifetime appointment, shaped American constitutional law in a manner the right finds downright un-American.

Sure, there are those conservatives, particularly those who value their standing in the legal community, who say that it is not the outcome that most concerns them, but the process, which must be reformed. Activist courts, according to this argument, have usurped the electorate's right to be the decision-makers on too many highly charged questions. And there is some truth in that, just as there is in all cliches.

But there are equally vocal if less articulate right-wing voices who care mostly about the ends and want some assurances this time that they are going to get the results, meaning the decisions, they seek.

George W. Bush and Karl Rove are reaping the harvest of intolerance and extremism they sowed. And there are some indications that they don't like the results.

The White House has reportedly told conservative activists--the true believers--to cool it. Stop encouraging your surrogates to lobby White House staff members and the president himself. …

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