McCain's Judges

Jeffrey Toobin attacks McCain over possible Supreme Court appointments. I'm not sure why one should be surprised that McCain would likely appoint conservative justices. Here are the last two paragraphs:

Might [McCain] really be a “maverick” when it comes to the Supreme Court? The answer, almost certainly, is no. The Senator has long touted his opposition to Roe, and has voted for every one of Bush’s judicial appointments; the rhetoric of his speech shows that he is getting his advice on the Court from the most extreme elements of the conservative movement.

With the general election in mind, McCain had to express himself with such elaborate circumlocution because he knows that the constituency for such far-reaching change in our constellation of rights is small, and may be shrinking. In 2004, to stoke turnout among conservatives, Karl Rove engineered the addition of anti-gay-marriage voter initiatives to the ballots in Ohio and other states; last week, though, when the California Supreme Court voted to allow gay marriage in that state, only hard-core activists were able to muster much outrage. When it comes to the Constitution, McCain is on the wrong side of the voters, and of history; thus, his obfuscations.

Still, the Bush-McCain agenda for the courts has made great strides. Bush’s conservative appointees to the Supreme CourtJohn G. Roberts, Jr., and Samuel A. Alito, Jr.have joined Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in a phalanx that is more radical than any that the Court has seen since F.D.R.’s appointments. Those Justices allowed the New Deal to proceed, and set the stage for the noblest era in the Court’s history, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, when the civil and individual rights of all citizens finally received their constitutional due. By contrast, in just three years the Roberts Court has crippled school-desegregation efforts (and hinted that affirmative action may be next); approved a federal law that bans a form of abortion; limited the reach of job-discrimination laws; and made it more difficult to challenge the mixing of church and state. It’s difficult to quarrel with Justice Stephen Breyer’s assessment of his new colleagues: “It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much.” And more change is likely to come. John Paul Stevens, the leader of the Court’s four embattled liberals, just celebrated his eighty-eighth birthday; Ruth Bader Ginsburg is seventy-five; David Souter is only sixty-eight but longs for his home in New Hampshire. For all the elisions in John McCain’s speech, one unmistakable truth emerged: that the stakes in the election, for the Supreme Court and all who live by its rulings, are very, very high.