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  • Obamacare Now Welcome to the official source for everything to show your support
  • Interview

    A dark political satire film set in the future in the fictional desert country of Turaqistan.

    It stars John Cusack, Hilary Duff, Marisa Tomei, Joan Cusack, Ben Kingsley, and Dan Aykroyd.
    107 min., Rated R, 2008.
  • Movie Review


    Choices of the Heart: the Margaret Sanger Story (True Stories Collection)
    Starring Dana Delany and Henry Czerny, Directed by Paul Shapiro
    Rated: NR
    IMDb:
    **********

    The movie tells the story of Margaret Sanger (Dana Delany, China Beach) fight for women’s health through family planning and sex education in the early 1900s. The story takes place in New York City where despairing, women are forced mainly by economics to end unwanted pregnancies themselves.

    Outraged and saddened by what she sees, Sanger takes on her life work to fight against the moral zealots that have created chaos in women’s lives.

  • Book Review


    Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion
    Trained as a nurse and midwife in New York’s Lower East Side gritty slums, Margaret Sanger grew aware of the dangers of unplanned pregnancy—both physical and psychological. Sanger ignited a movement that has shaped our society to this day. Her views on reproductive rights have made her a frequent target of conservatives and moral zealots.

    In this captivating new biography, the renowned feminist historian Jean H. Baker rescues Sanger from such critiques and restores her to the vaunted place in history she once held.

  • Book Reviewed

    An American Prophecy: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny By William Strauss and Neil Howe
    400 pages. Broadway 1997.
  • Book Reviewed

    The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court

    By Jan Crawford Greenburg
    368 pages. Penguin Press HC. 2007.

Book Review: Supreme Conflict by Jan Greenburg

The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court

By Jan Crawford Greenburg

368 pages. Penguin Press HC. 2007.
Jan Crawford Greenburg has written in Supreme Conflict a fast-moving account about the fight for control of the Supreme Court.

Beginning in the 1950s civil rights groups increasingly turned to the courts to protect the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority. The court responded by attempting to solve the most vexing social problems.

While liberals believed this was a proper role for the Supreme Court, conservatives saw an arrogant power grab by the court.

The book is more than an academic treatise on the court based on collections of notes, documents and papers. Greenburg spent hours interviewing not only many current and former administration officials but also more than a dozen federal appeals court judges and nine Supreme Court justices.

She takes a fresh approach at looking at the court. The book is more about the justices as individuals than the court as a whole.

She writes that Justice Clarence Thomas, rather than being Justice Antonin Scaliss intellectual understudy as the conventional wisdom would have you believe, is instead forceful in voicing his views in conference. Its more likely for Scalia to change his opinion to Thomass, rather than the other way around.

The underlying theme that runs throughout the book is the Republicans 4-decade long campaign to move the Supreme Court toward the right.

Beginning with President Nixon appointment of four justices, including Justice Harry Blackmun who moved left and wrote Roe v. Wade, 1973, a decision that would outrage conservatives for decades to come and change forever the tenor of confirmation hearings, Greenburg highlights the Rights enormous exasperation over the Supreme Court, often caused by their own missteps.

She opens up a door to allow the reader a look behind the nomination process. When Chief Justice Warren Burger retired in 1986, President Ronald Reagan was at the height of his popularity. He would have been successful in appointing anyone he wanted to the Supreme Court.

President Reagan choose to nominate Justice William Rehnquist for chief justice. To replace Rehnquist as associate justice the choice was between Scalia and Robert Bork. Reagan choose Scalia because of political consideration. He would be the first Italian-America justice. During the hearings Rehnquist nomination was contentious but the charming Scalia sailed through the process.

A year later Reagan had his chance to nominate the very conservative Bork. But now Reagan was a weakened president because of the Iran-Contra scandal. Adding to Borks troubles, was his personality.

Greenburg explains: He came across as arrogant and dismissive, playing into the hands of his opponents, who effectively portrayed him as cold, uncaring, and unsympathetic to the problems of ordinary Americans.

The full Senate turned down his nomination causing the conservatives to lose another chance to redirect the court. Greenburg argues Reagan should have reversed the nomination order for Scalia and Bork.

The planned nomination of Kenneth Starr by President George H.W. Bush ended when he was convinced not to do it by his Attorney General Richard Thornburgh.
Thornburgh was troubled by disputes between Starr and two of his closest advisors. Both Bill Barr and J. Michael Luttig had sparred with Star the previously summer over issues involving presidential powers. Thornburgh, Barr and Luttig all agreed that Star wouldnt be a reliable conservative.

Bush only backed down after Thornburgh threatened to resign over the nomination. Bush then nominated David Souter, then a New Hampshire judge. Souter with little experience in the big issues that the Supreme Court decides moved toward the left as he gained experience on the Supreme Court.

She writes about the political nature of the nomination process. The nomination of Harriet Miers caused such an outrage not from the Democrats as one would expect but from the far Right who wanted to see a paper trail.

Greenburg paints a portrait of the ever-changing dynamics of the court. With Thomass arrival at the court, for instance, the brash and politically unskilled Thomas caused an unexpected shift in the courts power balance to the left.

Greenburg explains: By the end of Thomass first year, [Sandra Day] OConnor and Souter and to a lesser extent [Anthony] Kennedy had moved left, a shift that would ultimately prevent conservatives from undoing the liberal legacy of the Warren Court under Rehnquists leadership.

The court again was push to the left after the 2000 presidential elections because as she writes, that decision opened the court to withering criticism for deciding the case on politics, not law. True or not, justices OConnor and Kennedy, Greenburg writes, became wary of being cast as predictable conservatives.

The book flows smoothly from chapter to chapter. This is an easy, fast read. When the books needs to explain legal jargon, Greenburg weaves the explanation into the story without breaking the storys continuity.

She writes of Chief Justice Rehnquist assigning an opinion to Justice Thomas about a robbery case that came out of conference with a 90 agreement. This should have been an easy short opinion saying there was enough evidence for a conviction. Thomass draft opinion instead went into a lengthy historical analysis of earlier cases and habeas corpus. All but Scalia and Rehnquist backed away from this opinion and wrote concurring opinions.

Greenburg explains the consequences of having a plurality opinion instead of an unanimous opinion is that a decision now doesnt have precedent-setting value or bind the lower courts.

She tells of the sparks that flew between Thomas and OConnor in this case. Greenburg writes: in a separate concurrence she eviscerated Thomas, mentioning him by name eighteen timesbut OConnor was brutal, paragraph after paragraph. OConnors opinion was a stinging lecture on the law.

Justices Thomas and Scalia meanwhile were quickly finding common ground.

Not until the successful nominations of John Roberts, Jr. and Samuel Alito, Jr. has the conservatives seen the light at the end of the tunnel. Roberts and Alito are collegial and savvy. Their people skills will allow them to keep the moderate Kennedy in check. Along with the more conservative Scalia and Thomas, the conservatives may have completed their goal. A conservative Supreme Court ready to give up power and role back civil rights.

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