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Nan Aron

Nan Aron

Posted: October 12, 2006 12:57 PM

Turning up the Volume on the 'Quiet Revolution'


President Lyndon Johnson was discussing a vacancy on the Supreme Court with Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach when he admitted he couldn't remember who the justices were.

If a sitting president didn't follow the Supreme Court closely, it's a good bet most Americans don't, either.

That's just fine with the ultra-conservative politicians who have been assaulting our rights and freedoms for more than two decades in an ongoing attempt to tilt the courts in their favor.

We Americans are protective of our rights, but news about court appointments doesn't always seem relevant to our lives. Even when it does, it can get lost in the shuffle of cable TV, the Internet, video games and iPods.

That plays into the hands of the power-crazed Bush administration, as well as the irresponsible corporations, polluters, and all the others who benefit from restricting the rights of ordinary Americans.

Of course most people would never buy the far right agenda if it were clearly labeled. Most people want the government to protect public health and safety, our environment, our civil rights and our reproductive freedom.

So the right relies on stealth marketing behind the smokescreen of abortion, gay marriage and other hot-button issues. That's how George W. Bush was able to appoint two Supreme Court Justices with only token resistance from Senate Democrats.

Trying to shine a spotlight on this stealth attack is a constant challenge. But it's an absolute necessity if we want to preserve our freedom.

Alliance for Justice has produced a 23-minute film, titled Quiet Revolution, that tracks the genesis and progress of the ultra-conservative assault on our courts, and puts the appointments of Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito in context.

The film is narrated by actor Bradley Whitford, whose interest in politics didn't end when The West Wing went off the air. Bradley is passionate about protecting our rights, and the reason is simple: "I have three young children," he said.

Quiet Revolution also features the charismatic Senator Barack Obama, and powerful footage that proves that the appointments of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito were part of an orchestrated effort to move our country to the right.

Those appointments are already bearing fruit. Last summer, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito joined conservative Justices Thomas and Scalia in an opinion that would have severely curtailed the protection of wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Although four justices opposed them, the 4-4 split has given developers a loophole they are already trying to exploit.

Now the Roberts Court has begun a new term, and it is scheduled to hear another case that could have a huge impact on our environment - this time involving the Bush administration's lackluster enforcement of the Clean Air Act, including the refusal to address greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Fights over federal court judges aren't simply about ideology - they are about things that touch our lives every day. Right wing activists have long understood that taking over our courts was essential to everything on their agenda, from rolling back civil rights to stripping environmental protections to undermining the rights of workers.

Michael Greve of the conservative American Enterprise Institute summed up the right-wing strategy when he said, "I think what is really needed here is a fundamental intellectual assault on the entire New Deal edifice. ... Judicial activism will have to be deployed."

Hard core conservatives have been working to hijack our laws and our courts for more than 20 years. You can begin to fight back by taking 20 minutes to watch this important film.

Watch Quiet Revolution on our website - www.AllianceForJustice.org. Better yet, order a free copy and share it with your friends and neighbors. Write letters to your local newspaper, comment on blogs, and call talk radio shows to explain how court decisions affect our daily lives. By turning up the volume on the "quiet revolution," we can defeat the ultra-conservative agenda.

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