Sep 5, 2005

portrait of an american hero.

a note to possible future readers. be assured that there will be more to me than the boring ho-hum of snarky america-bashing. my relationship with the big place across the ocean is far more complicated than that (and probably best analogised in my complex love-hate tussle with that most american of entities the disney corporation - but another story for another post i think). but for the time being i wanted to draw your attention to the obituary (i know... way to kick a man when he's truly down) of Chief Justice William Rehnquist in the guardian today.

now being relatively virginal in regards to the grimier ins and outs of Washington, this gentleman was unbeknownst to me before now. it didn't take long for me to dislike him...

Taking his seat the next year, the split emerged within weeks, when he became one of two dissentients to the historic 1973 Roe v Wade judgment, which legalised abortion throughout America.

yep... that oughta do it. and it continues. it seems that back in the fifties our young friend wrote a paper on the racial segregation that went a little something like this:

"the court faced the fact that the white people in the south don't like coloured people; the constitution restrains them from effecting this dislike through state action, but it most assuredly did not appoint the court as a sociological watchdog ..."

(any bets on billy here being friends with trent lott...?) when it looked like this narrow minded you-stick-to-your-half-and-we'll-stick-to-ours approach to american life might prove damaging to his career, rather than attempt to justify himself, like all good politicians rehnquist tried to fob blame of on someone else. and it worked. soon, our reactionary little troll was the most powerful judge in all the land.

and yet, my new pal william isn't done impressing me yet.

Kleindienst recruited Rehnquist into the [Nixon] administration's office of legal counsel, where he gained a fearsome reputation as the department's most ardent advocate of wire-tapping, government surveillance and preventive detention. [...] At the justice department he had backed the army's intimidating surveillance of [anti-Vietnam War] protesters and had publicly decried the legal action that civil liberty groups had launched against the practice.

and,

In successive cases, he voted in favour not only of states' rights, capital punishment and school prayers, but against abortion and affirmative action.

The thing that worries me however is that in a more liberal pre-Reagan America Rehnquist's reactionary antics were so out of synch with his fellow justices that he became known as the Lone Ranger - a mocking title that cast him as an out of date relic in of bygone era.

but the times how they are-a-changing. soon he was no longer the one dissenting voice of unreason, but became the court's guiding light. and then its voice of reason. so powerful was Rehnquist that by 2000 he could give away the highest office in the land to an unworthy texan with a line in fucking things up.

More controversially, he was later one of the five republican-appointed justices who decided in December 2000 that George Bush had won an electoral college majority in the presidential election, though he was well behind the Democrats' candidate, Al Gore, in the popular vote.

by this point The Lone Ranger was no longer all that lonely. and the epithet itself, in an new dawn of false wild-west inspired patriotism (seen most shamelessly in the faux-cowboy antics of the Republican poster boy himself, George W) was a badge (a sheriff's badge no doubt) to be warn with pride.

so there you have it William Rehnquist. The Lone Ranger. A crusading christian hero for his time, his place alongside Reagan and Bush jnr in the holier-than-thou trinity of conservative politics, no doubt secure.

3 comments:

Laurence of Atlanta said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
no-nuthin said...

You write very well, and I hope you do a lot more of it.

dearieme said...

"one of two dissentients to the historic 1973 Roe v Wade judgment": but any honest Justice should have joined him. Wade-Roe was disgraceful: the correct decision was "Sod off, abortion is nothing to do with the Constitution, it is a matter for the legislators, and therefore electorates, in each State." What was done was just a judicial putsch. Shame on them (And no, I am not an anti-abortionist, just someone who likes the idea of Constitutional government and hates to see it undermined by bent judges.)