The announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens represents a wee bit more than pretty much the last "Rockefeller Republican" (a holdover from the days when the Dixie-free Republican Party were the social liberals in this country) in major office in the United States (Snowe and Collins, folks, for all the talk of their "centrism," are "new Republicans," i.e., "fascists").
As hinted at in this piece by Greenwald, Stevens's departure from the Court and likely replacement by former Hahvahd Law School Dean and current U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan represents the probable end of any semblance of American constitutional government. (As a bonus, Greenwald also briefly discusses the "on cue" withdrawal of the excellent Dawn Johnsen's nomination for DOJ Legal Counsel, another somewhat ominous sign insofar as her "problem" was criticizing the very executive overreach that Kagan is so jiggy with). On the meaningless sideshow issues that we will hear about in the corporate media (gay marriage and the appearance of legalized abortion), Kagan will vote to uphold he sanctity of Roe v. Wade (perhaps this will let us forget that the President who she serves just signed an executive order banning all federal funds for abortion services, and that same President has railed against gay mariage). That should get NARAL, NOW and the usual pressure groups off her back.
No, it's the "usual" things that Greenwald (and I) like to talk about that will likely define "the Kagan era" (aside from the rather anomolous situation of the nation's dominant religious group, Protestantis, being entirely unrepresented on a Court consisting of six Catholics and three Jews). "Justice Kagan" will mean that Stevens's eloquent suspicion of the unchecked power of the American executive under cover of "the war on terror" even as against U.S. Citizens-- a position that Stevens shared with uber-conservative Antonin Scalia-- will likely be lost, and even the Court's comparatively limited checks on executive overreach (often imposed by 5-4 vote) will fall away. The triumph of de jure fascism in America will be "bipartisan."
In short, like the totalitarian regimes to which the American government aspires (and to which it has allied itself all over the world), the words "national security" will prevail over any purportedly countervailing "constitutional rights," and the only thing keeping you or I out of a dungeon of "our leader's" whim will be our leader's whim, rather than the government's obligations to provide us with evidence of our guilt under due process of law.
FWIW, here's hoping that somewhere along the line Ms. Kagan hasn't paid her nanny taxes.
Update: What Bmaz says.