This week's decision by the Supreme Court to end the moratorium on the death penalty by striking down a case that challenged the constitutionality of lethal injection should help bring the demographics of the Court into sharper focus.
And, regardless of who the Democratic presidential nominee is, come November, before casting a vote, think about this:
Only two of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices were nominated by a Democratic president, both by Bill Clinton; the remaining seven were nominated by Presidents Ford, Reagan, and Bush. President George H.W.
Bush picked Justice Souter who, compared with Alito and Roberts, is a flaming liberal. His son, as you know, nominated Justices Roberts and Alito.
With their latest decision, we got a sneak preview of the direction in which Chief Justice Roberts, who is a young'un compared with his associates, plans to take the Supreme Court given their 7 to 2 ruling against a challenge to lethal injection.
Over the coming years, the Supremes will have the opportunity to hear more challenges, like whether or not D.C. has the right to ban handguns, whether a woman has the right to control her own reproductive destiny, as well as decide on issues from electronic surveillance, retroactive immunity, what constitutes torture to if you must forfeit your right to litigate against an employer for pay discrimination because you didn't file your lawsuit on time.
Be scared, be very scared, and remember that the one who wrote the strongest opinion of all, on Wednesday, against capital punishment, calling it a "pointless and needless extinction of life," Justice Stevens, is the closest to retirement while his conservative colleagues, Justices Alito, Roberts, and Thomas, are young enough to be his children. Indeed, these Bush nominees to the bench are in their infancy.
Remember, too, that over the next 35 years, the Supremes will decide on issues we care about most, as well as those we can't even imagine. So, given that this President has already nominated nearly a third of those sitting on the Court, all lifetime appointments, one shudders to think what his chosen successor will do if given his turn up at bat, given that this executive branch has all but shredded not only the First and Fourth Amendments, but the Eighth Amendment, too.
Odds are, whoever occupies the Oval Office next will get to pick two more Supreme Court justices.
Imagine what this country will be like if six of nine on the bench were appointed by George W. Bush or one whose stated intentions are to follow in Bush's nu-cu-lar footsteps. When we retire a president, in January, the future of the Court, and the country, will be at stake.
If protecting the integrity of the Supreme Court, and the balance of power, by keeping a level ideological playing field, isn't a good enough reason to defeat John McCain then what is?