In 2000 I was a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. Like other organizations, NARAL provided delegates with information and materials promoting their issues. There were plenty of letters, flyers, campaign buttons, and yes, t-shirts. The NARAL t-shirt? “It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!” How right they were.

James Staab, a professor at the University of Central Missouri, is the author of The Political Thought of Justice Antonin Scalia: A Hamiltonian on the Supreme Court.

Stabb penned an op-ed in today’s Kansas City Star expressing NARAL’s sentiments in more scholarly language – “Much At Stake In Coming Election For Democrats” [not available on-line].  

Staab writes:

One important issue that has received insufficient coverage in this year’s presidential election is potential appointments to the Supreme Court…

…From 1969-2006, six justices turned out to be more liberal than their appointing president…

Staab assures us that this will no longer be the case:

While liberals can be thankful that things aren’t worse, they should not anticipate further miscalculations by Republican administrations. The most recent confirmation battles over Roberts and Alito reveals a dogged single-mindedness by movement conservatives to get their people on the court…

Staab also points out that Stevens and Ginsburg are close to retirement age. Even if a Democrat becomes the next president (making those appointments) the ideological direction of the court will remain the same.

…Except for Antonin Scalia, 71, the movement conservatives – Roberts, 52, Alito 67, and Thomas, 59 – are relatively young.

Democrats have much more than the election to lose if they are not victorious this year.

The consequences of a republican president appointing replacements for Stevens and Ginsburg are profound. How does the thought of two more “movement conservatives” on the Supreme Court for  the next 20 to 25 years strike you? I don’t think I’ll be particularly understanding if any disappointed Democrats, when contemplating a course of action after the Democratic presidential nominee has been determined, tell me that they’re going to sit this one out.

What is the 2008 presidential election all about? It’s the Supreme Court, stupid.