The experiment has run its course: put nine justices together, add a healthy mix of some of the most challenging and contested issues of the day, and wait 11 years. Glance inside occasionally and find various revolutions in progress, portending major changes in federalism, religion and property rights.Greenhouse has been overusing the word "revolution" for years, so excuse me if I yawn over the observation that it wasn't really a revolution after all. That observation was always easy to make at every point along the way. The reason Greenhouse didn't make this observation before, I imagine, is that she wanted to alarm readers and create pressure for the Court to not abandon various positions she favored. The reason she makes the observation now, I suspect, is to align with the Democratic position that the Court has been balanced and stable with the presence of Sandra Day O'Connor and that the new Justice must preserve the existing balance or terrible new things will happen.
But what finally emerged was something quite different: not revolutionary change but, in the end, continuity. In the interim, the period was dynamic, even tumultuous, but by the time it was over, the revolutions had fizzled or run their course, and the fervor appeared to have died. To the extent that there was basic change, it was to the left rather than the right: a firmer foundation for affirmative action, a constitutional framework for gay rights.
Which Greenhouse will call "revolution."