The State of the Judiciary and the Bush Legacy

Individual Rights, Access to Justice Threatened
President Bush's final State of the Union address will in part be an effort to shape the public view of his presidency. But here's something he won't say: a long-lasting part of his legacy will be the weakening of Americans' rights and legal protections due to the dangerous state of the federal judiciary created by judges he has placed on the federal bench.

President Bush may actually brag about his success in placing Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court. Indeed, this is one arena in which he accomplished what he set out to do. He has also populated the lower federal courts with judges of similar ilk. The result is a Supreme Court more firmly in the grip of an ideology that is undermining individual rights and the constitutional and legal principles that are supposed to protect them, and a federal judiciary that is increasingly denying ordinary Americans their day in court to challenge unlawful treatment by corporations, government agencies, and other powerful entities.

The federal judiciary's declining commitment to protecting Americans' liberties and access to justice is a consequence of an aggressive campaign by the Federalist Society and other right-wing strategists to transform the federal courts. With his judicial nominees over the past seven years, President Bush enthusiastically embraced that campaign, leaving a harmful legacy that will last for a generation or more.

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