The Silver Lining of Bush's Supreme Agenda

How the people could win even if the court seems like a lost cause

The potential for galvanizing progressives and moderates is the silver lining of the Bush administration's court-packing agenda.

A louder and broader model seems to be needed than a few lobbying groups e-blitzing the nation with bullet points about the nomination of Roberts. Guinier, who started out as a civil rights activist, hopes for "the emergence of an emboldened progressive movement that builds from the people up rather than from the elites down."

For those worried about Roberts and despairing over the unknown next Bush appointment to the Court, there is a livelier option than head shaking. Why not take that energy and begin to mobilize a long-term, popular movement? Build toward 2008. Try to assemble, despite gerrymandering, a more accountable Congress next year. Not just with slogans, but with real change—easier and sounder voting processes, minority-supportive districting, inclusive leadership rather than cults of personality. That could bring more power to people most vulnerable to shifts in criminal, property, and civil rights laws—people who are currently shut out of the process.

In the past, a strong, progressive coalition has given ammo to the justices who looked to the wishes and needs of the workaday majority, fueling bold decisions for racial and gender equality and for labor rights. And it wasn't always just the liberal justices who responded. There is no reason that kind of lawmaking can't happen again.

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