Tag Archives: SCOTUS

Flag-burning ban … it’s back!

I am both not surprised but still amazed that this issue keeps coming back. Donald J. “Panderer in Chief” Trump says he is “all in” on a proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to prohibit flag-burning as a form of political protest.

Oh, boy. Here we go. Again!

Trump put a Twitter message out this weekend that said he supports a “strong BAN on burning our American flag. A no brainer.”

He is backing a proposed amendment pushed by Republican U.S. Sens. Steve Daines of Montana and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota.

Where can I possibly begin on this matter? Let me try this gambit.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly already that flag-burning to make a political statement is protected by the First Amendment guarantee of free political speech. Even high court judicial conservatives, such as the late Justice Antonin Scalia, have upheld the principle of keeping the First Amendment unfettered. According to the Washington Post, Scalia once said he’d prefer to jail “every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag. But I am not king.” He has joined SCOTUS majorities in upholding the action as a form of political speech.

I am one who cherishes what the flag symbolizes, which is the right to make an a** of oneself, which is what flag-burning does to anyone who burns a flag as a form of criticism of government policy. I have maintained for as long as I can remember that such an act does not win converts to a point of view. It only enrages Americans who — such as myself — who have gone to war under that flag and who love their country … even with its warts.

Banning the act of flag-burning doesn’t do a damn thing but please those who somehow equate a piece of cloth with the doctrine it represents. The flag is merely a symbol of something greater, which is individual liberty — which includes the rights of citizens to act stupidly.

But the president of the United States doesn’t see it that way. He chooses to hug the flag to make some kind of goofy showbiz point.

‘Litmus test’ must not be a four-letter word

I have long wondered why the term “litmus test” has become a sort of plague to politicians running for offices that hold the power of appointment.

The U.S. Supreme Court, for instance, is going to become a key issue in the 2020 presidential campaign. Namely, the issue will revolve a potential appointment of the next justice on the nine-member court.

The expected Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, will insist he would appoint justices with a record of favoring pro-life litigants who would come before his or her court. Indeed, he’s already got two judicial appointments on the SCOTUS and they certainly seem to fit the bill prescribed by what Trump has said.

The large field of Democratic Party candidates will argue to a person that they want judicial candidates who take a more expansive view of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

But no one says they will apply a “litmus test” to determine who they intend to nominate the highest court in the nation.

They dance all over and around the issue. Litmus tests exist on all sorts of issues. They involve capital punishment, sentencing guidelines, drug policy, firearm ownership and, yes, abortion.

We know the types of individuals that presidents would nominate. They telegraph that punch before they deliver it. However, we refuse to hold them accountable on whether they are applying litmus tests on the individuals they are considering for these appointments.

U.S. senators who have the right to confirm or deny these appointments often make their decisions on single issues. Yet they won’t ever acknowledge they have applied a litmus test to the nominee, indicating whether they pass or fail the exam.

This is a circuitous way of saying, I suppose, that we apply litmus tests at every turn.

Why not, then, just call them what we know them to be?

Sen. McConnell: partisan hack supreme

There could be little, if any doubt, about Mitch McConnell’s partisan credentials.

The U.S. Senate majority leader, though, has just removed any possible benefit of the doubt. The man plays pure, raw, partisan politics better (or worse) than anyone else in Washington, D.C.

Consider his answer to this question recently: If a seat on the Supreme Court came open in 2020, the final full year of Donald Trump’s term as president, would he seek to confirm the nominee?

McConnell’s answer: “Oh, I’d fill it.”

Just four years ago, he had the chance to “fill” a seat on the high court upon the sudden and unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia. His response in 2016, the final full year of President Obama’s tenure in the White House, was markedly different from what he said to the crowd in Paducah, Ky.

McConnell said immediately upon Scalia’s death that Obama would not fill the vacancy. McConnell would block any attempt for a Democratic president to replace a conservative justice appointed by a Republican president; in this case, it was President Reagan who nominated Scalia.

Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the SCOTUS. The Senate didn’t give him a hearing. Key Republican senators never even met the fellow. His nomination withered and died. We elected a new president in November 2016 — and it happened to be Donald Trump!

Oh, but now we have a GOP president in office. If a vacancy were to develop on the court, McConnell — also a Republican — would move to fill the vacancy.

Just think that this partisan hack has the gall, the stones, the chutzpah to suggest Democrats are “playing politics.”

This guy, McConnell, plays the political game with the best of ’em.

Sen. McConnell’s thinly disguised contempt for fairness — to my way of thinking — is what gives politics and politicians a bad name.

Merrick Garland to preside over Trump appeal? Oh, the irony

The irony here is just too obvious and too rich to ignore.

Donald Trump’s legal team is going to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that the president must obey congressional demands to turn over his financial records.

And just who is going to preside over the federal appeals court that will consider this case? None other than Judge Merrick Garland, the man who by all rights should be sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court instead of serving as chief of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This is quite fascinating.

President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the high court after the sudden and shocking death of Justice Antonin Scalia in early 2016. Justice Scalia had been dead mere hours when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that President Obama would not get to fill the SCOTUS seat. Obama was in the final full year of his presidency and McConnell insisted that the next president be allowed to perform that constitutional duty.

In truth, Merrick Garland was a superb choice. He should have been given a hearing. He should have been confirmed by the Senate. He wasn’t because of McConnell’s partisan grandstanding.

Now the judge gets to preside over an appellate case filed by Donald Trump.

My hunch is this: Judge Garland is going to demonstrate for the entire world his impartiality, his legal judgment, his expertise and knowledge of the U.S. Constitution . . . and will show us precisely why he should be sitting on the United States Supreme Court.

Trump once again speaks from ignorance of government

Donald Trump’s blunderbuss tendency has seized control of him once again. Who would’ve thunk that?

He said via Twitter that if the U.S. House of Representatives impeaches him he is heading immediately to the Supreme Court to get the justices to intervene on his behalf, to block an impeachment.

D’oh! Except for this little bit of information that Trump either ignores or does not know exists: The U.S. Constitution does not give the SCOTUS any authority to act.

The U.S. Constitution says the House shall have “sole authority” to impeach and that the U.S. Senate shall have “sole authority” to put the president on trial for the impeachable offenses brought by the House.

Get it? The high court cannot intervene in a political action by one of the other co-equal branches of government.

The only role the court plays involves only one of its justices. The chief justice would preside over a Senate trial. Chief Justice William Rehnquist fulfilled that role during President Clinton’s impeachment trial; Chief Justice John Roberts would get the call if the House impeaches Donald Trump.

So, with that we have seen yet another example of the president of the United States not knowing what he’s talking about.

Who knew?

Sen. McConnell is a jokester supreme

Mitch McConnell just slays me. He knocks me out. He throws out jokes when he’s trying to be serious.

Such as when he writes an essay on Politico.com and urges Democrats to stop obstructing Donald Trump’s myriad appointments.

Yep, the Senate’s chief obstructionist masquerading as its majority leader, is scolding Democrats for playing politics.

You can read Sen. McConnell’s essay here.

I want to have my say for just a moment.

Majority Leader McConnell has set a new standard for obstruction. He rolled it out in early 2016 when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly. The president at the time, Barack Obama, was empowered — by the U.S. Constitution — to nominate someone to replace Justice Scalia.

President Obama sought to do so. He nominated federal judge Merrick Garland — a superb jurist, a centrist — to join the SCOTUS.

McConnell’s response? He would not allow Garland to have so much as a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. He wouldn’t meet with the nominee. He instructed his GOP colleagues to stiff Garland.

In fact, McConnell made clear his intention within hours of Justice Scalia’s death. He said a “lame duck” president shouldn’t be allowed to fulfill his duty. We were going to have an election that year, McConnell said, and we should let the next president fill that vacancy.

It was a tremendous gamble on McConnell’s part. He was hoping for a Republican to be elected president. It turned out to be Donald Trump, who then won the election that November.

So, for McConnell today to excoriate Democrats for “playing politics” with these appointments — in the words of a former boss of mine — is like the Happy Hooker, Xaviera Hollander, lecturing someone on the virtues of chastity.

Term limits for SCOTUS? Really, Sen. Booker?

Cory Booker needs to take a breath.

The U.S. senator from New Jersey and one of dozens (or so it seems) of Democrats running for president has pitched a notion of setting term limits for members of the U.S. Supreme Court.

C’mon, senator. Get a grip here!

The founders had it right when they established a federal judiciary that allows judges to serve for the rest of their lives. Lifetime appointments provides judges — and that includes SCOTUS justices — the opportunity to rule on the basis of their own view of the Constitution and it frees them from undue political pressure.

Sen. Booker is a serious man. I get that. He has an Ivy League law degree and is a one-time Rhodes scholar.

He’s also running for a political office in the midst of a heavily crowded field and is seeking to put some daylight between himself and the rest of the Democrats seeking to succeed Donald Trump as president.

Term limits for SCOTUS justices isn’t the way to do it.

We don’t need term limits for members of Congress, either. My view is that lifetime appointments for the federal judiciary has worked well since the founding of the Republic. There is no need to change the system based largely on a knee-jerk response to the current political climate.

No need to mess with SCOTUS numbers

I’ll be clear right up front.

Leave the U.S. Supreme Court numerical composition alone!

Some of the Democratic candidates for president of the United States are declaring their discomfort with the fact that the SCOTUS comprises nine justices. They express openness to increasing the number of justices sitting on the nation’s highest court.

Why? Because they dislike the assault on the court mounted by Senate Republicans, notably the refusal by the GOP majority in the Senate to give a Barack Obama nominee a hearing after the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

Let’s hold on a minute. Catch our breath. Take a moment or two to think about this.

The SCOTUS has operated for better or worse with nine justices since the founding of the Republic in 1789. The Constitution empowers the president to nominate individuals to serve on the court; it also empowers the Senate to confirm those nominees.

The court as well as the presidency are subject to the ebb and flow of the political tides. Am I happy with the way the Senate stiffed President Obama in 2016 when he nominated Merrick Garland to succeed Justice Scalia? No. I am not! The Senate GOP leadership exercised its political power brazenly and recklessly by denying the president a chance to nominate a highly qualified jurist to sit on the Supreme Court.

But . . . that’s what the Constitution allows!

We all understand that “elections have consequences.” We’re going to conduct a presidential election in 2020. Voters have the chance in November of next year to fundamentally shift the balance of power at the very top of the political chain of command.

I am going to argue that’s the way you bring change to the Supreme Court, not by monkeying around with the number of justices who sit on that bench.

The court and the presidency have survived for as long as there has been a United States of America. So, too, has the nation.

Call me a judicial stick-in-the-mud if you wish. There is no need to overreact.

McConnell now seeks ‘bipartanship’?

Mitch McConnell’s lack of self-awareness takes my breath away.

The U.S. Senate majority leader has penned an op-ed in the Washington Post that demands that congressional Democrats “work with us” instead of putting “partisan politics ahead of country.”

Interesting, yes? You bet it is!

Let’s review part of the record for just a brief moment.

  • McConnell once declared his intention to make Barack H. Obama a “one-term president.” In fact, he said it would be his No. 1 priority while leading the Senate Republican caucus.
  • He has remained shamefully silent about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
  • This is my favorite: McConnell said that he would not allow President Obama to nominate anyone to replace the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He made that proclamation mere hours after Justice Scalia died in Texas. Obama nominated Merrick Garland to succeed Scalia, but McConnell would not allow even a hearing to examine Garland’s exemplary judicial credentials. Obama was in the final full year of the presidency and McConnell gambled — successfully, it turned out — on the hope that a Republican would win the 2016 presidential election.

This Senate Republican leader now accuses Democrats of “playing politics” over The Wall and causing the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Astonishing. I need to catch my breath.

Former Fox News talker shows hideous side

Bill O’Reilly is a cable news has-been, but he still commands a substantial audience of true believers who hang onto the crap that flies out of this guy’s pie hole.

Such as what came from his Twitter account today: Justice Ginsburg is very ill. Another Justice appointment inevitable and soon. Bad news for the left.

Hmm. Let’s ponder that one briefly.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has just had some cancerous nodules removed from her lung. She is recovering. Doctors believe they got all of it; they also believe the cancer hasn’t spread.

Does the former Fox News talking head say a thing about Justice Ginsburg’s recovery, wishing her well? No. The no-spin phony talks about “bad news” coming to political progressives.

The man knows not a lick of shame. He is utterly lacking as well in class, decorum, decency, sympathy, empathy, kindness.

This individual makes me sick.

I just had to get that off my chest.