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The Sad Symbolism of Samuel Alito and Coretta Scott King

January 31, 2006

There are days when the convergence of events can't help but deliver a larger message, to augur change or signal the passing of one era and the start of another. With the coincident confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito and the death of Coretta Scott King, today is one of those days of historical - and symbolic - significance.
In Washington, the U.S. Senate confirmed Alito by 58 to 42, possibly changing the the direction of the Supreme Court for a generation. Alito brings to the Roberts Court a proven hostility to women's reproductive rights, extreme deference to presidential and police powers, and a narrow view of federal authority under the commerce clause. What Justice Brandeis referred to as Americans' "right to be left alone" is now very much in jeopardy.
Meanwhile, civil rights icon Coretta Scott King passed away after months of failing health. After her husband's assassination, Mrs. King continued the struggle of civil rights for all Americans. In her last days, Mrs. King witnessed the indignity of a 21st century poll tax being passed by the Republican legislature of her own state of Georgia. That assault on minority voting rights led Representative and close King associate John L. Lewis to boycott the 2006 Martin Luther King Day tribute of the Georgia House.
The death of Mrs. King and the elevation of Justice Alito is only a preamble to tonight's State of the Union Address. In that speech, President Bush will proudly proclaim the government's abdication of any role in ensuring the health of its citizens. Bush will then trumpet his illegal domestic spying on American citizens and the abrogation of their rights and liberties, all under the rubric of a "terrorist surveillance program."
That's just too much symbolism for one day.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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