What I suspect many liberals really long for--and this is reflected in the Dahlia Lithwick piece Adler links to--is not so much someone to push the Court in a substantially more liberal direction (at least in the short term), but someone to unabashedly play culture warrior in the way that Scalia has sometimes done. Someone to "speak with a roar" and exercise "dramatic flair"--"some cross between Rachel Maddow and Emma Goldman." What they're unhappy with is not primarily the Court's decisions, but the absence of a liberal on the Court with the ability to capture the imagination of the public (and perhaps legal academia) in the way that Scalia has. To be a Supreme Court justice is to have access to a sort of intellectual bully pulpit that few other jobs come with, and it's in this capacity, rather than the doctrinal one, that liberals have been disappointed.
I'm not sure many liberals have given much consideration to the notion that there might, in fact, be a direct trade-off between public dynamism and behind-the-scenes effectiveness. But it's a question they'll now have to grapple with sooner rather than later.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Posted by Gerry Canavan at 10:56 PM