Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- The latest Supreme Court rulings on the death penalty, campaign financing and congressional redistricting were not only victories for good government, but for President Bush's fight to turn the judiciary in a rightward direction.

If Bush's conservative base, which has been dispirited and divided over the last year, needed to be reminded what he has done for them lately, last week's rulings gave them their answer in abundance.

With conservative Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel Alito added to the bench, the High Court last week handed down a string of decisions that had Bush's allies cheering and his liberal foes increasingly depressed over their declining power in American politics.

The court's 7-2 ruling in favor of Texas' bold redistricting plan (with the exception of a 5-4 ruling on a minority-leaning district that it said violated the Voting Rights Act), was a strategic victory for the GOP and especially former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, who crafted the map-changes that sent four more Republicans to Congress.

While the ruling still left questions about the always-contentious battles over redistricting, there is now no doubt that the states have been given the green light to redraw congressional district boundaries to their political advantage any time they choose, and not wait for the 10-year census report on population shifts.

DeLay may be gone from Congress, brought down by a specious and politically motivated indictment related to the redistricting plan, but he has left behind an institutional victory that strengthened the GOP's control of the House -- possibly for many years to come.

Bush helped to cement that victory by nominating conservative jurists to the court who upheld the bulk of the redistricting plan.

Earlier, the court struck down Vermont's draconian, anti-free speech restrictions on campaign contributions, which limit donors to a maximum of $400 to candidates for statewide office.

The ruling no doubt will lead to numerous challenges to flush out what exactly is too much, and whether people should be free to give what they want to the politicians they like. Even so, it was a fresh and needed blow against those who seek to use "campaign reform" to take away what freedoms we still have to support candidates of our choice, free from government encumbrances.

And it will likely encourage renewed challenges to the McCain-Feingold reforms, particularly the restrictions on financing campaign ads in the final weeks of an election, which are among that law's worst assaults on freedom of speech.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.