Pundits and press have been chewing over the possibility of a resignation on the Supreme Court this week, with most of the focus on ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist. But the script has changed: This morning, Justice Sandra Day O’Conner announced that she’ll be leaving the Court before the beginning of its next term.

BushGreenwatch (disclaimer: I wrote for BGW last year) ran an overview of what a vacancy on the court could mean for environmental laws, and it won’t surprise anyone to read the anxious prognosis. I’d say this forecasting is even more relevant with O’Conner’s departure than Rehnquist’s. Less doctrinaire than either her most liberal or conservative colleagues, she was often the swing vote on the Court from case to case. Replacing her may well mean a real shift in the Court’s balance of power. I can almost feel the air around me thickening with emergency appeals from the liberal/progressive/green alert-o-matic machine. I’m getting preemptively exhausted just contemplating the impending blogospheric rantings.

Here’s my radical idea: What about taking all — okay, some — of the activist ire that is about to be aimed at opposing President Bush’s as-yet-unnamed nominee, and instead direct it into organizing in local communities? The current political situation took decades to come into being; it won’t be solved by focusing every drop of energy at the very top. Rebuilding long-term relationships and relevance at the political, environmental, educational, media, and economic grassroots is what will ultimately create a sustainable future for the U.S.

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