Monday, 30 June 2008

Legislating Judges

The evening news was populated by bereaved members of the extended family of Nathan Allsbrook, 15, yet another Harlem adolescent killed by a stray bullet. They described how he stayed close to home, worked hard at school and took his mother to church on Sundays. The suggested narrative, sometimes explicitly stated by those interviewed, is that this fellow, of all the candidates for a random death, least ‘deserved’ it as he was trying to survive without becoming part of the rough street culture.

One wonders if Bush’s panting Supreme Court majority would have charged forward so enthusiastically to rewrite local gun laws were white suburban teenagers the ones being mown down with such depressing regularity. (Allsbrook was the third teen victim in New York this week.) Or how they will rule on these same ghetto teens’ habit of packing heat given the enormous dangers they face just to get through the day.

An end to ‘judicial activism’ was the battle cry of the conservatives after the federal courts played a key role in the civil rights movement. But now that the ideologues have the edge, no arena of social policy is off limits.

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