Maggie Gallagher
For the Democrats, Saturday's Supreme Court decision was a gut-blow. The rage, the pain, the betrayal, the barely veiled threats to take to the streets, to delegitimize the Supreme Court, or at least deprive it of its cherished "moral authority" were no ploy. This heart-wrenching, supreme outrage was the real thing, and to confess my own sins this Advent season, if I were a more high-minded person, I wouldn't have enjoyed it nearly so much.

"Against every principle of states' rights and judicial self-restraint," moans columnist Sidney Zion, "the Rehnquist court moved into Florida like an occupying army and effectively put George W. Bush into the Oval Office." Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy could barely contain himself: "Their credibility is so diminished," he fulminated, "and their moral posture is so diminished, it will take years to repair." "The court, at least in my eyes, has damaged its credibility," intoned Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, conscience of the Senate. The New York Times called the criticism from Democrats "so harsh that it was reminiscent of the 1960s, when conservatives sought to impeach Chief Justice Earl Warren." The Rev. Jesse Jackson threatens a "civil rights explosion" if the Supreme Court rules against Gore.

Liberals aren't used to this. For the last 50 years, the courts have been their personal secret weapon. Again and again, conservatives arduously use the democratic process to gain legislative victories -- only to see the Supreme Court rummage around mysteriously in that black bag they call our constitutional values and pull out a trump card for the liberal view.

Judeo-Christian values are deeply judicially suspect. But any value held by someone with a Ph.D. via the latest French postmodern deconstructionist? That's in the Constitution, stupid.

The courts don't always rule in the left's favor (witness their excruciatingly narrow 5-4 Supreme Court loss in the obscene effort to have the government force the Boy Scouts to accept NAMBLA's moral views). But when courts do move to overturn the will of the majority, it is almost always in defense of liberal interpretations of fairness or social justice. How could the Supreme Court betray this sacred trust, this founding principle of our democracy?! Liberals are used to the idea that they have two chances to win: in the arena of public opinion and, failing that, in the courtroom.

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.