Tag Archives: SCOTUS

Hideous POTUS, but legitimate nonetheless

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I want to clear the air a bit on Donald John Trump’s tenure as president of the United States.

No one wants to see him run out of office more than I do. I am using this blog to the best of my ability to declare his unfitness for the office he won in the biggest political fluke in American history.

However, I disagree with those who contend he is an “illegitimate” president. I have many social media friends who contend he was elected illegally. That the Russians’ electoral chicanery in 2016 resulted directly in his election, that the undermined Hillary Clinton’s candidacy sufficiently to guarantee Trump’s Electoral College victory.

I just cannot buy that notion.

I haven’t seen evidence that suggests that the Russians effort to undermine Clinton’s candidacy was decisive. It might have contributed to the defeat, but so did a number of huge tactical errors down the stretch by the Clinton team contribute to Trump’s shocking victory. Clinton ignored key battleground states in the Great Lakes region that Trump managed to peel away. There also was that horrendous announcement from FBI Director James Comey that he was taking a fresh look at the email matter that had dogged Clinton for months and months.

Sure, Trump received nearly 3 million fewer votes than Clinton. He won the Electoral College, though, which is where the Constitution prescribes the way we elect presidents. It was all done legally. The guy is legit.

I say all this while gritting my teeth so hard that they are hurting. The 2016 election produced precisely the wrong outcome. The wrong candidate got elected. However, the Constitution worked in this case, just as it did in 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned the presidency after facing certain impeachment and conviction on high crimes and misdemeanors and just as it did in 2000 when the Supreme Court awarded George W. Bush the presidency by disallowing the recount of ballots in Florida.

It worked in 2016 even as Donald Trump stumbled onto the nation’s highest office and is threatening to destroy the world’s greatest nation.

It will work one more time — I hope — when Americans vote this clown out of office.

Politics intersects with principle

I hate it when this happens, when principle runs headlong into partisan political interests … such as when presidents might be handed an opportunity to make a key appointment.

I refer to the U.S. Supreme Court and to Donald J. Trump.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in early 2016, creating a vacancy on the high court. President Obama, serving his final full year in office, then nominated Merrick Garland to succeed the brilliant conservative jurist. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed the brakes on that effort, saying that the Senate wouldn’t confirm an appointment from a lame-duck president in an election year.

Many of us — including me — raised holy hell. We argued that presidential prerogative allowed Obama to make that appointment. We argued on the principle that the Constitution granted him the authority to act. I also argued that McConnell was playing a shameful game of politics with this principle. The 2016 election occurred, Trump got elected, Garland’s nomination was tossed aside.

Here we are, four years later. Another Supreme Court justice, liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, revealed recently she is battling liver cancer. I now am asking myself: What happens if she can no longer serve on the court? Does Donald Trump deserve the same sort of presidential deference many of us in the peanut gallery said was due Barack Obama?

With gritted teeth and a tight jaw, I have to say: yes, he does.

Let me be crystal clear. I do not want Justice Ginsburg to leave the court until well after the November election. There’s a decent chance at this moment that Trump is going to lose to Democratic nominee Joe Biden. It is my fondest political hope that Justice Ginsburg can continue to serve on the court, can continue to write opinions and can be a full partner in the court’s deliberations. It also is my hope that should she decide to retire from the court that she can wait until after President Biden takes his oath of office in January and then is free to nominate someone of his choice.

However, if fate takes the court in another direction, I will be saddened beyond measure at what is likely to transpire as Trump wages war against those in the Senate who will fight to stall any confirmation process until after the voters have their say at the ballot box.

Yes, occasionally politics can be based on high principle. I fear that politics and principle might be pointed in opposite directions in this most volatile election year.

SCOTUS justices provide satisfaction

I took more than a little bit of satisfaction from this week’s stunning decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that no president is above the law.

My satisfaction came in the form of two justices’ decision to side with the 7 to 2 majority that declared that Donald Trump cannot invoke presidential immunity no matter what, that a Manhattan, N.Y., prosecutor is entitled to obtain Trump’s financial records in a probe that could result in some serious criminal indictments.

Those two justices happen to Donald Trump’s two nominees to the highest court in America: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Let’s presume Trump’s ignorance of the law and the Constitution for a moment and conclude that the president had hoped Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh would stand with him. I mean, Trump does demand loyalty even from members of an independent and co-equal branch of the federal government. The justices didn’t do as Trump no doubt wanted.

This gives me hope on at least one important matter. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh likely will sit in their high offices long after Trump leaves his office. Trump said he wanted to appoint rock-ribbed, true-blue conservatives to the federal judiciary, which is another way of saying he wants judges who will vote in his favor at all costs.

Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh saw the question arising from the Trump finances case differently. They interpreted the law with no regard to how it might affect Trump’s continuing refusal to release his financial records to prosecutors.

I cannot predict whether Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh will continue to demonstrate their judicial independence on future cases. The Supreme Court term has ended; justices will return to the bench in October, just ahead of the November presidential election.

I am hoping the election will deliver a new president who then will take over the appointment powers from a president who doesn’t grasp that the concept of an independent judiciary is inscribed in our nation’s governing document.

I am going to hope that the men who ended up on the court because Donald Trump nominated them will continue to exhibit the independence they showed in determining that no one — not even the president of the United States — is immune from criminal prosecution.

What? POTUS goes after his Senate pal?

Donald J. “Whiner in Chief” Trump is so darn angry at the Supreme Court that he is now taking aim at one of his closest pals in the U.S. Senate.

Trump just can’t get past the notion that the high court said he isn’t above the law. He now wants Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham to go after the court, to stand up for the president.

Trump’s Twitter tirade has some folks wondering: Is the love affair between Trump and Graham over? I have no clue about that. I just am flabbergasted as usual by Trump’s tirade via Twitter over a court ruling that illustrates the value of the separation of powers between branches of government.

And once again Trump has decided to criticize his immediate predecessor, President Obama. He said in a tweet: “We have a totally corrupt previous Administration, including a President and Vice President who spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAUGHT…and nothing happens to them. This crime was taking place even before my election, everyone knows it, and yet all are frozen stiff with fear.” Then he adds: “No Republican Senate Judiciary response.”

Unbelievable.

SCOTUS provides wonderful civics lesson

Dear readers of High Plains Blogger, I am happy to report to you that our U.S. Supreme Court has issued a ruling that sparkles on a number of fronts.

It ruled 7-2 that the president of the United States is not above the law. The ruling said that Donald Trump’s financial records are open to grand jury scrutiny in Manhattan, New York City, which is examining potential criminal conduct from the president.

The ruling demonstrated the value of having an “independent federal judiciary.” Two justices who joined the majority were nominated by Donald Trump. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh sided with Justices Elana Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chief Justice John Roberts in this seminal ruling

Why is that important? It’s because the federal judiciary has become the target of partisans who worry that the SCOTUS has tilted too far to the right, that it will bend to the will of a president who demands loyalty at all levels … even from members of the federal judiciary.

Federal judges get appointed for life. The founders intended for them to be free of political pressure. Today’s ruling suggests to me that the nation’s highest court is delivering on the founders’ promise.

It’s not clear whether the nation will see Trump’s tax returns prior to the November presidential election. That’s really not the point, as I have thought about the ruling over the past few hours. Trump will bob and weave for as long as he can to keep them out of public view.

The ruling, though, does establish a clear legal concept that presidents of the United States cannot invoke their incumbency as a shield against prosecutors.

I doubt it will prevent Donald Trump from trying every dodge he can find to keep those records out of public view.

Still, I am heartened to see the strength of an independent federal judiciary show itself in front of the nation.

SCOTUS delivers needed gut punch to POTUS

Well now, this is judicial independence at its finest.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a stunning 7-2 ruling, has told Donald John “Lawbreaker in Chief” Trump that he is not above the law and that a New York-based prosecutor is on solid legal footing in seeking Trump’s financial records as part of an ongoing investigation.

Why is this so remarkable? Two conservative justices nominated by Donald Trump, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, sided with the majority in declaring that the president of the United States is “not above the law.”

What does this mean? Well, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. gets to proceed with a probe into whether Trump broke the law when he wrote a stripper a $130,000 check to buy her silence over an allegation that she and Trump had a one-night affair prior to Trump taking office as president.

Vance is going to obtain Trump’s complete financial record as part of his probe and then we might learn about those mysterious tax returns that Trump has refused to release to the public for its review.

Donald Trump has been fighting all of this hammer and tong, as you might expect. He staked his argument on a notion that a president is not subject to grand jury inquiry. The high court said “no so fast, Mr. President.” Indeed, Justice Kavanaugh made the specific point that the president is not above the law.

The next question now is whether Cyrus Vance will move quickly in obtaining that information and will it become known prior to the Nov. 3 presidential election. I won’t offer a prediction, but instead will express my desire that the public is given a chance to review Donald Trump’s financial dealings prior to deciding whether he deserves another term in office.

The matter now rests in Cyrus Vance’s hands.

Let’s get busy, Mr. Prosecutor.

Terminate ACA … now? Heartless!

Is it possible that there is a more heartless, inhumane or incompetent governmental administration than the one that runs the executive branch of the United States government? I have trouble thinking of one.

The Donald Trump administration, which is losing its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to toss out the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

Think of the ramifications here. Donald “The Imbecile in Chief” Trump has no replacement lined up to succeed the ACA, the legislation that has brought tens of millions of Americans into the realm of those covered by health insurance. Dismantling the ACA would push about 20 million Americans back into the world of the uninsured. Meanwhile, the nation is fighting the pandemic and, to my eyes, is losing the fight.

This is just one more example of Donald Trump seeking to eliminate all vestiges of his immediate presidential predecessor, Barack H. Obama. The reasons why remain somewhat of a mystery to me, except that Trump simply cannot stomach the notion of the country’s first African-American president accomplishing anything of significance.

This is yet again a fundamental demonstration of Trump’s petulance.

Why in the world he continues to insist that the ACA is a “failure” is another mystery to me. Is the ACA perfect? No, it isn’t. However, President Obama has said many times during his time in office and afterward that he would welcome changes to improve the standing law. That doesn’t fly with Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans.

And now he is asking the high court to strip away the ACA while the nation is engaging in this fight against an “invisible enemy” that is sickening and killing thousands of Americans every day.

Reprehensible!

POTUS’s petulance on full display

“These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!”

“Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?”

Come on, Mr. Crybaby in Chief. You should know better than that, but you don’t.

The U.S. Supreme Court performed its duty in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, which you and the justices all took an oath to uphold, to protect and defend.

The court’s 5-4 ruling on the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals is a victory for reason, for humanity and for sane public policy. Its ruling is clear: You didn’t follow the law when you rescinded the order that kept DACA recipients from being deported to countries they never knew, as they were brought here as young children illegally by their parents.

And if you would read the Constitution, Mr. President, you would understand that the court’s decision isn’t about “liking” you. It has nothing to do with what the justices think of you personally … although I can deliver a fairly educated guess on how most of them might think of you. They keep those thoughts private, unlike you, who continues to blast out those idiotic tweets bitching about this and/or that policy matter that doesn’t go the way you prefer.

I’ve been watching politics for a long time, Mr. President, and I do not recall a president as thin-skinned and as churlish as you. I do remember that moment in the House of Representatives when President Barack Obama scolded the Supreme Court — whose members were sitting in front of him — during a State of the Union speech about its Citizens United campaign finance decision. I didn’t think that was appropriate, either … and I said so at the time.

However, President Obama didn’t blather on via Twitter the way you have done and you continue to do. Other predecessors of yours have taken their lumps like grownups.

Good grief, dude. Suck it up.

SCOTUS scores a win for DACA recipients

It looks for all the world as if the U.S. Supreme Court has been smitten by a case of humanity along with a touch of compassion.

The court issued a ruling, albeit a narrow 5-4 decision, that upholds the Obama administration’s executive order protecting the residency status of hundreds of thousands of folks who came here illegally, many of whom as children brought to the United States by their parents.

President Obama issued the order called Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. It protected about 650,000 immigrants from deportation. Donald Trump rescinded that order. The high court, though, today said “not so fast.”

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four progressive justices in siding with DACA recipients, writing the opinion that said Trump’s order lacked sufficient legal foundation.

This a good deal. Many, if not most, DACA recipients have known no other country but the United States. Many of them are unfamiliar with their country of birth. They speak English. They attend school here. They work here. They pay U.S. taxes. They live as de facto Americans. Except that they aren’t citizens.

Donald Trump sought to ship them out, send them back to a country with which they have no understanding or familiarity. Politico reports: Roberts, who has emerged in recent years as a semi-regular swing justice on the court, wrote the majority opinion concluding that the decision to phase-out the program was unlawful because it did not consider all the options to rein in the program and failed to account for the interests of those who relied on it.

So the fight continues. It appears that the Trump administration will be unable to craft a new order in time for the November election.

My hope is that if Trump loses the election that the new president, Joe Biden, will scrap the effort to eliminate the DACA program and allow these once-young immigrants to continue to pursue their dream of living in the land of opportunity … provided, of course, that they seek to legalize their standing as U.S. residents.

Texas Democrats to ask SCOTUS for help in voting by mail

This is likely a bit of a reach, but perhaps the Texas Democratic Party is heartened by the U.S. Supreme Court decision to include LGBTQ Americans as those who are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Texas Democrats today have asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue of voting by mail, something Democrats want and which Republicans oppose. The high court had been seen by many as a fallback for rigid GOP conservatism; the LGBTQ ruling, though, now suggests there might be a glimmer of independence inside the nine-member Supreme Court.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has put the brakes on a lower court Texas ruling that cleared the way for voting by mail. The Fifth Circuit sided with GOP officials who keep arguing that vote by mail is too fraught with potential corruption, despite claims to the contrary by elections officials in states that have all-mail voting.

At issue is that damn pandemic that is infecting and killing Americans. Democrats are concerned that in-person voting might expose too many Americans to the COVID-19 virus. They want to boost voter turnout by allowing all-mail voting, something Republicans dislike seemingly because it would invite too many anti-Donald Trump voters to cast their ballots for president this fall.

This is no big flash, but I am standing with Democrats on this one. They have reason to be concerned about “voter suppression,” which is being practiced in the guise of protecting us against “rampant voter fraud” that simply doesn’t exist.

Donald Trump is cooking up this excuse because he fears the outcome of an election that produces massive voter turnout. His GOP allies out here in Trump Country are lining up behind him.

Democrats, meanwhile, are turning to the Supreme Court for a decision on the matter. As the Texas Tribune reports, Democrats want the court to rule on a Fifth Circuit “block on a sweeping ruling that would allow all Texas voters who are seeking to avoid becoming infected at in-person polling places to instead vote by mail. Early voting for the July 14 primary runoff election begins on June 29.”

And … yes, this has implications down the road, for the presidential election in November.