Behind the modern conservative movement that first found a champion in Barry Goldwater were several burning concerns.
The first was anti-communism -- outrage at FDR's "Uncle Joe" diplomacy at Yalta, Truman's "no-win war," the firing of Gen. MacArthur, softness toward Soviet spying and homegrown treason.
A second issue that rallied the Right was the Warren Court. In the 1930s, conservatives had turned back FDR's effort to "pack the court," but after 20 years of Roosevelt-Truman appointees, the court was packed. Ike's pick, Earl Warren, completed the job.
The Brown decision of 1954, desegregating the schools of 17 states and the District of Columbia, awakened the nation to the court's new claim to power. Hailed by liberal elites -- and finding no resistance from a Democratic Congress or president who spent his afternoons at Burning Tree -- Warren's court went off on a rampage.
It invented new rights for criminals and put new restrictions on cops and prosecutors. It reassigned students to schools by race and ordered busing to bring it about, tearing cities apart. It ordered God, prayer and Bible-reading out of classrooms. It said pornography was constitutionally protected, making Larry Flynt and Al Goldstein First Amendment heroes, rather than felons. It ruled naked dancing a protected form of free expression. It declared abortion a constitutional right and sodomy constitutionally protected behavior.
It outlawed the death penalty, abolished terms limits on members of Congress voted by state referendums, and told high school coaches to stop praying in locker rooms and students to stop saying prayers at graduation. It ordered the Ten Commandments out of schoolhouses and courthouses. It condoned discrimination against white students in violation of the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection. And, two weeks ago, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that towns can seize private homes and turn them over to private developers.
In every election since 1964, the court -- its liberal bias and usurped powers -- has been at issue. Nixon's narrow victory in 1968 was attributable in part to his pledge to "strengthen the peace forces as against the criminal forces in society" and put a Southerner on the Supreme Court.
Attacks upon court decisions seen as pro-criminal and anti-Christian have been a staple of Republican oratory that has given the GOP seven victories in 10 presidential elections and raised party strength from a third of the House and Senate in 1965, to majorities in both houses in 2005.