Tag Archives: John Roberts

SCOTUS chief to get his feet wet at the highest level imaginable

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts is a serious man who takes his responsibility as seriously as is humanly possible. Of that I have not a single, solitary doubt.

However, I heard something tonight that made my jaw drop. It was that Chief Justice Roberts, who today took an oath to preside over a U.S. Senate trial of the Donald John Trump, has never tried a case in court.

Yep, this will be the first trial over which he will preside.

President Bush appointed Roberts to the D.C. Court of Appeals in 2003. An appellate court doesn’t hear witness testimony; it doesn’t rule on court objections. It hears lawyers argue their cases. Then the court decides which side wins the argument.

After that, Roberts got the nod in 2005 to become chief justice of the nation’s highest court. He does more of the same thing he did at the lower-court level.

Prior to the D.C. court appointment, Roberts worked in private practice, then went to work for the attorney general’s office during the time William French Smith was AG during the Reagan administration.

Trial court experience? None, man. Now he’s been dragged into the role of presiding judge in the U.S. Senate, where he will be charged with keeping order. He’ll get to rule on whether witnesses will be called, although the Senate can overturn whatever ruling he issues.

Still, it is mind-boggling to think that the chief justice’s first actual trial involves a case involving whether the president of the United States keeps his job.

I am certain the chief justice is up to the challenge that awaits him.

Wow!

Chief justice delivers message worth heeding

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is a champion of an independent federal judiciary and seeks to instill a civics awareness in the nation he serves.

So it is that the chief justice has delivered in his annual state of the judiciary message a stern warning that needs to be taken to heart.

Roberts said the nation must be more aware of government, of civics and should beware of “fake news,” especially those who deliver it under the guise of “information.”

The chief justice is about to assume a most remarkably high profile post as the presiding judge in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump. On the eve of that historic event, he is seeking to deliver the nation from the dangers of false narratives, bogus news reporting and the “fake news” that the president himself is so adept at delivering.

As Politico reported: “In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government and the protection it provides is ever more vital,” Roberts said in his annual New Year’s Eve message summing up the work of the federal judiciary.

Some critics have taken Roberts’ message as a direct criticism of Trump. Hmm. I won’t march precisely down that path. However, I do believe that the president has fed our social media fascination with much of the fiery rhetoric he spouts.

Trump has, for instance, insisted that the federal judiciary is politically biased when it doesn’t rule the way he prefers. Roberts did issue a stern rebuke of that notion a year ago when he declared: “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.” 

The chief justice is seeking to restore dignity to the discussion of the federal courts. I wish him well. If only the public that feeds at the trough of innuendo and insult will listen.

Mr. Majority Leader: Just do your job!

(Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The more I think about it, the more persuaded I become that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is incapable of doing the job he took an oath to do.

He swore to be faithful to the U.S. Constitution. The nation’s governing document empowers the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to preside over a trial of the president, and that empowerment allows the chief justice to administer an oath to senators who then vow to administer “impartial” justice in determining a president’s guilt or innocence.

Why, then, does Mitch McConnell declare his intention to violate that oath by saying he has no intention of being an “impartial juror” in the upcoming trial of Donald Trump, who’s been impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

If McConnell will not adhere to the constitutional provisions set forth in the trial, then he needs to recuse himself from the trial itself. He isn’t the only senator who’s vowing to less than impartial. Fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has declared that he doesn’t need to hear any evidence, that he’s made up his mind that Trump did nothing wrong. Yep, it’s a done deal, says Graham.

To be fair, there likely are some Senate Democrats who also have made up their minds. I do not recall hearing them declare it publicly and brazenly as McConnell and Graham have done. These men’s bias is stated and well-known.

It is amazing in the extreme to hear the Senate majority leader say without hesitation or reservation that he won’t be faithful to the oath that Chief Justice John Roberts will administer to the 100 senators who will act as jurors in the latest trial of the century.

It makes me wonder if the chief justice has any authority to determine whether senators are in contempt of the Constitution.

One can hope …

How is McConnell able to serve as a Senate ‘juror’?

I am baffled. The U.S. Senate majority leader is seeking to grease a pending Senate trial in favor of the president of the United States.

And this will occur after he takes an oath administered by the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to be an impartial juror.

How does that work?

Mitch McConnell is working with the White House to ensure a favorable outcome for Donald Trump, who’s about to be impeached by the House of Representatives. The Senate will get the matter and will conduct a trial to determine whether Trump should be convicted of two high crimes and misdemeanors: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

All 100 senators will serve as jurors in a trial presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts. But how in the name of impartial juris prudence can Majority Leader McConnell perform the duties he will swear he will do if he’s attempting to rig the outcome in favor of the president?

This isn’t how you’re supposed to do it.

I get that the trial isn’t strictly a judicial affair, that it’s tinged with politics through and through. However, there is supposed to be a certain level of judicial decorum involved when the jurors take an oath to judge the evidence fairly and with an open mind.

For the leader of the Senate to work against that very oath is a serious violation of the duties he is supposed to perform.

Chief Justice Roberts merely shows his independence

Political conservatives are angry with one of their own.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has turned on them, they say, because he is siding with liberals on the court … on occasion.

Interesting.

The chief justice, to my way of thinking, merely is showing what happens when these men and women get lifetime appointments to the federal bench. They toss aside their partisan labels and start deciding cases on matters relating to the law.

That’s not good enough for many conservatives who believe Roberts should remain the conservative they knew he was when President Bush appointed him to the high court in 2005.

Roberts this week joined the court liberals by turning aside the Trump administration’s insistence on including a “citizenship question” when taking the 2020 census.

The previous day, according to Politico: “Roberts was the sole GOP appointee to side with the liberal wing in a case many legal conservatives were hoping would deal a major blow to the much loathed administrative state by overturning decades of precedent allowing federal agencies wide leeway to interpret their own regulations.”

Roberts earlier was the swing vote on the court that helped save the Affordable Care Act, which the right wing in Congress — and the president — detest merely because it was proposed by a Democratic president and enacted by congressional Democrats.. He also sided with the court progressives in declaring gay marriage to be legal in all 50 states.

Conservatives are angry. Some activists want him impeached. Why? Because he isn’t true to their cause.

This is utter nonsense! The founders established an ostensibly independent judiciary understanding that judges who take the federal bench well could upset the proverbial “conventional wisdom.”

Roberts has not flown off the rails in the 14 years since he joined the Supreme Court. So, he sides with liberals from time to time. The chief justice is entitled under the provisions set forth in the U.S. Constitution to interpret the law and to rule according to his understanding of what the law tells him.

Will there be rulings from Roberts that disappoint me? Sure. Am I going to yammer for Chief Justice Roberts’ impeachment?

No. Never.

Get a grip, righties.

‘Swing vote’ will switch chairs at SCOTUS

Before we get all worked up and apoplectic over the individual who will get Donald J. Trump’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, let’s consider the reality of the departing justice, Anthony Kennedy.

Kennedy has been hailed as a crucial “swing vote” on the court. He sides with liberals on occasion, but mostly sides with the conservative majority.

It’s good to understand that the conservative justices hold a 5-4 majority on the court. That majority won’t change.

Indeed, I am of the opinion that’s being shared that the next swing vote will likely belong to none other than Chief Justice John Roberts, who on occasion has sided with the liberal bloc of justices on key decisions, such as the ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act.

The court’s conservative-liberal balance won’t change fundamentally, in my view, with whoever the president nominates.

The serious crap storm is going to erupt in the event one of the court’s liberal justices decides to call it a day.

However, the president’s selection — which he plans to announce on July 9 — is no doubt going to endure the kind of public scrutiny not seen since, oh, Robert Bork was defeated in 1987.

The symmetry of that fact also is fascinating.

The U.S. Senate rejected Bork’s nomination; then Douglas Ginsburg pulled out after admitting to smoking weed while in college. President Reagan’s third pick for the court? Anthony Kennedy.

Well stated, Mr. Chief Justice

chief-justice-roberts

How about that John Roberts?

The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court has rebuked the U.S. Senate — here it comes — for playing politics with the appointment of the next justice on the nation’s highest court.

Chief Justice Roberts did not know he was doing so when he made the remarks, as they came just a few days before the shocking and tragic death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

He noted the partisan nature of the votes for recent appointees to the court. According to the New York Times: “Look at my more recent colleagues, all extremely well qualified for the court,” Chief Justice Roberts said, “and the votes were, I think, strictly on party lines for the last three of them, or close to it, and that doesn’t make any sense. That suggests to me that the process is being used for something other than ensuring the qualifications of the nominees.”

The court, of course, has a vacancy to fill. President Obama has selected D.C. Circuit Court Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat. Senate Republicans say they want the next president to make the call, denying the current president the opportunity to fulfill his constitutional responsibility.

Chief Justice Roberts, served with Garland, surely must believe his judicial colleague is as “extremely well qualified” as justices Alito, Kagan and Sotomayor — whose confirmations were approved on largely partisan votes.

Roberts is on point with his call to consider these nominations on the merits of the individual’s qualifications.

No one has heard hardly a whimper from anyone questioning whether Merrick Garland is qualified to determine the constitutionality of federal law.

The opposition is being mounted for purely political reasons.

John Roberts says such posturing should stop.

I happen to agree with him.

As the chief said in his remarks preceding Scalia’s death: “We don’t work as Democrats or Republicans and I think it’s a very unfortunate impression the public might get from the confirmation process.”

 

Will these justices stay away from SOTU?

Supreme_Court_US_2010

Do you ever hear something from someone and think, “Damn! I wish I’d have thought of that”?

That happened to me today.

One of my Facebook pals wondered out loud if the only mystery surrounding President Obama’s upcoming State of the Union speech would be whether the three most conservative members of the Supreme Court would stay away, as they have done in recent years.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia all have been absent during Obama’s recent speeches before a joint session of Congress.

I’ve long wondered — as have others –whether it is because they detest the president’s politics so much that they’d rather do something else than sit in front of him while he makes policy statement with which they disagree?

Look, gentlemen, this is the last one of these speeches Barack Obama will give as president of the United States. Surely you can find the time — not to mention the courtesy — to attend this speech along with the rest of your colleagues. Chief Justice John Roberts usually attends, and he’s in the conservative camp right along with the three no-show justices.

It might have been a single event that ticked them off. That would be the time that Obama scolded the court for its Citizens United ruling that took the limits off of corporations and enabled them to give unlimited amounts of money to political candidates. Justice Alito was seen mouthing the words “not true” when the president made his critical comments.

That was then. If the scolding is the reason, well, get over it, will you?

The president is entering his final full year in office. The Joint Chiefs of Staff will be there. Most of the Cabinet will be there; custom calls for one of them to stay away in case something catastrophic happens at the nation’s Capitol Building.

I hope all nine justices see fit to make an appearance. They don’t have to applaud. Just be there.

 

Justices vent their anger, show their fangs

What? Do you mean to say that the U.S. Supreme Court justices are human beings, with actual tempers?

I guess so, if the story attached to this post is any indicator.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/supreme-court-justices-antonin-scalia-samuel-alito-119486.html?ml=po

The two huge rulings this week — affirming the Affordable Care Act and legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states — reportedly has revealed a growing schism between the two wings of the court.

Conservative justices don’t like the liberal tilt the court showed in the two rulings.

And at least one of them, Justice Antonin Scalia, said as much in his dissenting opinions.

Scalia and fellow Justice Samuel Alito appear to be angriest at Justice Anthony Kennedy, who joined the liberal justices on both rulings. Kennedy was picked for the court by a conservative president, Ronald Reagan, as was Scalia; Alito was picked by President George W. Bush.

I happen to believe that Scalia and Alito need to settle down. It seems a stretch for me to believe that a high court headed by yet another Bush selection, Chief Justice John Roberts, is going to become a bastion of liberal constitutional interpretation.

OK, so the liberals won two gigantic victories. Obamacare stands and gay marriage is now legal.

There will be plenty of other fights along the way.

What’s more, the fact that Scalia wrote such scathing dissents shouldn’t surprise anyone. He’s known for using colorful language and is fearless in stating his case.

As for the court’s fifth conservative justice, Clarence Thomas, well … he’s always silent during oral arguments before the court. The day Justice Thomas erupts in a fit of rage might be cause for concern.

Next up for Supremes? Gay marriage

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, with two conservative justices joining the liberals to form a majority coalition, it is fair to speculate about the gay marriage ruling that’s coming up.

My trick knee is throbbing and it’s telling me the court is going to declare that gay couples can legally be married.

What’s more, if conservatives think they’re angry now at Chief Justice John Roberts’s ruling in favor of the ACA, wait to see the reaction if he decides that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause applies to gay couples.

http://www.texastribune.org/2015/06/18/cruz-courts-evangelical-voters/

Republicans, such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, say that religious liberty is under attack. Cruz, who’s running for the GOP presidential nomination, told the Faith and Freedom Coalition: “I would encourage everyone here to be lifting up in prayer the court that they not engage in an act of naked and lawless judicial activism, tearing down the marriage laws adopted pursuant to the Constitution.”

There he goes again, using that word “lawless.”

The case under consideration deals with whether a gay couple can be married legally in one state and have it recognized in another. Federal judges have overturned state bans on gay marriage, declaring that such bans violate the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law for all citizens. Gay people are citizens, too.

The court surprised a lot of Americans — including me — by upholding the ACA.

I’m sensing a less-surprising outcome on the gay marriage issue.

The reaction, though, could be ferocious.