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Justin Frank Headshot

A Lawyer and a Justice

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George W. Bush is getting heat from all sides for his second Supreme Court choice. The left cries cronyism; the right fears there is no litmus test on abortion and gay rights; one cynical columnist speaks of "office wives tucked away in the White House;" cartoonists ask what kind of justice is it that puts Lynndie England in jail for three years because of Abu Ghraib while her boss Donald Rumsfeld remains at large.

All these views have merit. But there is an elephant in the room that even a psychoanalyst can see: Bush is reacting to what Truthout calls the "tightening noose" around the White House's neck -- George Stephanopoulos revealed on Sunday October 2 that Bush himself may have been involved in the plotting to expose Valerie Plame to the press.

By appointing his personal lawyer after appointing a Chief Justice who helped him out in the 2000 Florida election, he is "stacking" the court with justices who will protect him and his colleagues at all costs. After all, Miers kept Bush from one particular jury duty which, had he served it, would have exposed his DWI arrest record before he even had a chance to cover it up.

As it stands, the court will protect even more White House secrets than ever, against any and all investigators. After all, Roberts didn't have to release personal memos that had direct bearing on his beliefs. And the old GAO case about the energy scandal remains a big win for White House secrecy. This appointment is insurance: the Harriet Miers policy. No more close votes in Bush's favor. In case there is an impeachment effort Bush will be safe from inquiry by counting on his court (i.e. his lawyers) to protect him.

Nothing psychological there. Bush is as astute as ever, as are those around him who also fear indictment. When will the Senate wake up? This is not about Roe v. Wade; this is not about favors to big business through eliminating business accountability; it is not about gay marriage. The only thing this appointment could be about is self-protection from impeachable offenses. How great to have your own lawyer sitting on the bench of the highest court in the land?