Monday, June 27, 2005


SCOTUS: Ten Commandments fine for we, but not for thee

It was ironic that this morning, as I was driving through a beautiful stretch of road known as Baker Highway in Scott and Campbell Counties, I was admiring the beauty of my state and thanking God for creating such majesty. Only after one has lived in the concrete jungles of Chicago and Washington can one truly appreciate what we have here in Tennessee. I say that it was ironic because it was then as I traveled back to Knox County that I received word that the Supreme Court had continued the confusing methodology of ruling certain Christian legal displays in compliance with the U.S. Constitution, while others were found wanting and illegal. (The opinions, which I haven't finished reading, can be found here and here.) I am not surprised, but, as with the Kelo decision last week, I was hoping for a light in the darkness that is the expanding Establishment Clause doctrine of the Rehnquist Court. In normal times, I would probably be hopping mad about this decision - where the Ten Commandments are ruled illegal in a Kentucky courthouse by a Court sitting before a mural containing the Ten Commandments - especially since I worked on gathering some evidence for the Kentucky case several years back when I was a law student. However, I feel a bit worn down right now, as I suspect several of my conservative brethren are. As Glenn Reynolds recently opined on Instapundit, conservatives don't have anything to cheer about in 2005, having consistently lost out with decisions from the White House, Congress, the courts, and select state government entities. Reynolds can't even remember when the last big conservative victory occurred.

I may have other bloviations about this topic later, but one thing I have been pondering deserves print. Given the public outcry over the decisions released at the end of this term and how concerned Chief Justice Rehnquist is with his legacy, I can't see him stepping down this summer. I know that may disappoint several of my conservative friends, but timing is key to how you are remembered, and Rehnquist wants to be remembered fondly. A line of unpopular, anti-conservative holdings could tarnish his legacy. I could see him wanting another year (with potentially a different judicial line-up if O'Connor retires) to end with a bang instead of a whimper.

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