05/01/09 — Why it matters: Justice retirement means more than you think

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Why it matters: Justice retirement means more than you think

The news that Supreme Court Justice David Souter will likely retire at the conclusion of the court's term this June likely did not register as all that important news to many citizens.

After all, it's just another political appointment and retirement, isn't it? All that will happen is someone else will be appointed to the post, right?

Yes, that's the gist of it, but there is so much more significance.

The Supreme Court is an enforcer and interpreter of sorts of the Constitution, which outlines the rights that Americans enjoy.

Therefore, the court makes some decisions that affect many of us -- even if we do not really think about what it does every day.

Here are a few: National flag burning as free speech or a crime, abortion, religious displays in public buildings, the right to bear arms and what that exactly means.

Beginning to see why a retirement on the court can be a significant occurrence? Changing the distribution of votes could easily change a position on a key issue -- and change an interpretation of the law or eliminate it altogether.

Many people do not think about the consequences of a shift in political parties as it relates to the beliefs and concerns they want as priorities for the future of their country.

But when the court changes, so, too, do the decisions it delivers.

So now we will have something else to watch to see just what effect this announcement will have on the future of this nation. And we should, closely.

Published in Editorials on May 1, 2009 11:08 AM