Tag Archives: SCOTUS

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.

Transgender ban: lesson in bald-faced bigotry

Donald John Trump sought ways to avoid serving in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. He succeeded through a series of deferments that prevented Uncle Sam from drafting him into the service.

So now, decades later, the president wants to deny a group of Americans who seek to volunteer to serve their country and possibly die in that service the ability to perform their patriotic duty.

This is an exercise in bigotry against transgender Americans.

The president has issued a blanket ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military. He now wants the U.S. Supreme Court to fast-track the issue to a hearing before the court. He expects the court will rule in his favor and uphold the ban.

Donald Trump is pandering to his base. Period. That is precisely what is happening here. The Trump base of voters want to deny transgender individuals the opportunity to serve their country. Whatever the base wants, Trump wants.

The rest of us, those who believe that the transgender ban is discriminatory on its face do not matter one bit to this president.

Trump maintains some bogus notion that the medical costs of allowing transgender personnel to serve is too much for the Pentagon to bear. He ignores the reality that the Pentagon spends more on men’s erectile dysfunction than it would spend on those who are undergoing changes in their gender.

I don’t know what the Supreme Court will do. Just maybe, even with its conservative majority, the high court can rule that the transgender ban deprives the United States military of individuals who already have served with distinction . . . and will do so far into the future.

The ban is discriminatory on its face.

Sen. Grassley weighs in on Trump-Roberts ‘feud’

Donald J. Trump is continuing to beat the drum against U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is likely to show needed restraint. I trust he’ll let the president continue his infantile tirade on matters on which he knows next to nothing.

Trump called some U.S. troops stationed overseas and continued his tirade over criticism the chief justice made about the president’s reference to an “Obama judge.” He sought to inform the president that that federal judges are “independent” and not partisan. That, of course, fell on Trump’s deaf ears.

So, then this happened: U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley defended Trump, saying that Roberts didn’t criticize President Obama when the president in 2010 “attacked” Justice Samuel Alito during a State of the Union speech.

Good job, Mr. Chairman, except you got quite wrong.

President Obama didn’t “attack” Alito; he criticized the Supreme Court’s decision on the Citizens United case that opened up campaign finance to corporations, allowing them to spend unlimited amounts of money on political races. He stated his view that the torrent of money would further corrupt the U.S. political system.

Justice Alito famously shook his head while sitting in front of the president and muttered “not true.” Obama, I repeat, did not single any justice out . . . which is quite different from what Trump has done with the chief justice.

To be fair, Obama was wrong to criticize the court in that setting. Most of the justices were sitting in a group in the audience on Capitol Hill. Democrats in the chamber cheered the president; the justices had to take it. I said at the time — and I’ll repeat it here — that President Obama’s criticism was done in the wrong place and in the wrong setting.

There is no equivalence to be found in what Donald Trump is doing now and what Barack Obama did then. As Chief Justice Roberts, I hope he’s done commenting on this ridiculous spat that the president initiated with his ill-informed and ill-tempered remark about an “Obama judge.”

Should judges speak out more?

A former Clinton administration Cabinet official poses an interesting question in light of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ rebuke of Donald Trump.

Should they speak out more? asks former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

My quick answer: no, they shouldn’t.

Roberts said this today: “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.”

It’s a rare rejoinder coming from the nation’s top jurist aimed at the nation’s top governmental executive.

We can argue all day about whether the federal judiciary is actually independent. Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing showed just how political the high bench has become, many would argue. I won’t join that debate today.

The issue is whether the president should be condemning them or whether judges should be let loose to respond.

Donald Trump has been castigating judges, calling them “Obama judges” or “so-called judges” or judges who oppose his policies because they are appointed to the bench by someone from another political party.

The chief justice is responding cleanly and succinctly to the president.

It’s the rare quality that gives the statement its gravitas, adds weight to it. It lends and air of added ummmph to the chief’s rebuke of the president.

Thus, my hope would be that federal judges — let alone the chief justice of the nation’s highest court — would remain quiet. If they all start offering opinions about careless statements coming from politicians, the frequency would clearly water it all down.

I welcome the chief’s remarks. That they are so rare makes them even more significant.

SCOTUS chief to POTUS: No such thing as partisan judges

Listen up, Mr. President. Sit up straight and pay attention. The chief justice of the United States of America is speaking words of wisdom.

Chief Justice John Roberts has informed you, Donald Trump, that the country doesn’t have “Obama judges, or Bush judges or Clinton judges.” The federal judiciary, he reminded all of us in a statement issued today, is an independent branch of the government. The men and women who adjudicate cases must be free of partisan consideration, such as the individual who nominated them to whatever bench where they sit.

It’s a rare event to have the chief justice admonish a politician, Mr. President. Congratulations, you’ve stirred the pot!

The chief is admonishing you for those intemperate remarks you keep making about judges. You had the gall to refer to a U.S.-born federal jurist as a “Mexican” only because he is of Mexican heritage; the judge was ruling against your anti-immigration efforts. You referred to another judge based in Hawaii as a “so-called judge” because he knocked down your Muslim travel ban. Another judge who ruled against your recent asylum ban became an “Obama judge.”

Thus, the chief justice got riled enough to speak out against your careless references to the men and women who sit on our federal bench.

Perhaps he’s ticked that you criticized him directly for his vote in 2012 to preserve the Affordable Care Act. That makes it even worse, Mr. President.

You, Mr. President, keep demonstrating an absolute and unwavering ignorance of the roles that the co-equal branches of government play. You don’t understand the limits of your own executive power, or the limitations placed on the legislative and judicial branches of government. Your habitual loud mouth and careless rhetoric underscore your own ignorance of the governmental framework you took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend.”

I am glad to know that Chief Justice Roberts has called you out, although his language — quite understandably — was measured and scholarly.

I know you won’t learn from this. I just had to weigh in anyway.

Mr. President, you simply scare the spit out of me.

It was a ‘job interview,’ not a criminal proceeding

I am going to revisit an issue I once declared was done. I’ll be brief, so bear with me.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh went through a grueling confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee because of an accusation leveled against him by Christine Blasey Ford, who said when the two of them were teenagers, he sexually assaulted her.

Kavanaugh denied it in the strongest terms possible. Most of the Senate believed him, despite Ford’s compelling testimony that it happened.

Was the justice applying for a lifetime job on the highest court in the land or was he being grilled in a criminal investigation,  you know, by prosecutors and cops. Well, it was the former. He was seeking to be confirmed after Donald J. Trump nominated him.

I, too, have been able to interview applicants for jobs. I was able to hire individuals who worked under my supervision. I have had to let a couple of them go over time. It’s not fun.

Here’s the question of the day: Were I to hear of an allegation of a sex crime leveled against someone who wanted to work for me, would I presume them to be innocent until they are proven guilty? No. I would consider that a disqualifier. I would be under no obligation to presume anyone’s innocence if I perceived the allegation to have a lick of credibility.

That appeared to be the issue facing Judiciary Committee members and then the full Senate when they pondered Kavanaugh’s fitness for the job he was seeking.

I want to circle back to a point I made in an earlier blog post. Justice Kavanaugh’s position as a “job applicant” did not rise to the level of criminal defendant. He wasn’t answering questions in a courtroom. He wasn’t being grilled by cops. He was being questioned by politicians who were considering whether to hire him for a lifetime job on the nation’s highest court.

Well, it all went for naught. Kavanaugh was confirmed. He’s now on the court. He’ll be there for the next umpteen years, making decisions on the constitutionality of some of the most controversial issues of our time.

Did he do the terrible things his accuser said he did? We’ll never know … will we. As a former employer, I would not want to live with such uncertainty hanging over someone who works for me.

Trump seeks to amend Constitution with an executive order?

Hold on, Mr. President!

You used to excoriate your immediate predecessor, falsely, for over-using his executive order authority. Now you are considering a notion to issue an order to stop birthright citizenship to everyone who is born within the United States of America?

I do not believe you can do that, Mr. President. Your White House legal team is giving you bad advice. I feel confident saying such a thing even though I am no lawyer, nor do I purport to know “the best words” or surround myself with “the best people.”

I understand that you just don’t want all them “illegal aliens” giving birth in this country to babies who become immediate U.S. citizens. You want citizenship only for those who “merit” it.

Let’s take a quick look — shall we? — at the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Section 1 says it clearly: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.”

The amendment was proposed in Congress on June 13, 1866, a little more than a year after the Civil War.

Constitutional scholars say the amendment was a result of efforts granting full citizenship to African-Americans who only three years earlier were “emancipated” from their enslavement by President Lincoln.

Still, it’s written in the Constitution, that everyone born in this country is granted immediate citizenship upon birth.

Thus, I just don’t believe, Mr. President, that you can circumvent the Constitution with the kind of executive order you said was abused by former presidents.

If you do, sir, my sincere hope is that someone challenges it immediately and that it finds its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the conservative majority on the court — which has been buttressed by the recent confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh — stands by the document y’all have pledged to protect and defend, they’ll join their liberal colleagues in shutting down this unconstitutional effort.

This executive authority notion, Mr. President, is un-American.

Kavanaugh not proven ‘innocent’

The president of the United States keeps opening his mouth about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s tumultuous confirmation process, tugging me back into that fray.

I won’t plunge directly into the back-and-forth of that debate, but I do want to say something briefly about Donald Trump’s apology to Justice Kavanaugh and his family. He delivered the apology at the start of a White House ceremonial swearing in of the new justice.

He said that Kavanaugh was “proven innocent” of the allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman when the two of them were teenagers in the early 1980s.

Umm. How do I say this? No. He wasn’t proven innocent of anything.

The FBI came back with that perfunctory “investigation” into the allegation. It determined there was no “corroborating evidence” to back up the accusation delivered by Christine Blasey Ford.

That, Mr. President, does not constitute a declaration of “innocence.” It said the FBI couldn’t verify a contention. It doesn’t wipe the allegation away.

My request now is this: Let the new justice get to work, Mr. President … and keep your mouth shut. You, too, have more relevant things to keep you busy.

‘Lies and deception’? Really, Mr. President?

I cannot believe I just heard the president of the United States utter these words.

Donald Trump today opened a White House ceremony welcoming newly minted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh with an apology. He sought to apologize to the justice’s wife and daughters for what he called a campaign of “lies and deception” that led up to Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the nation’s highest court.

I promised I wouldn’t talk about the Kavanaugh confirmation process. So, I won’t go there.

I do want to call attention to the campaign of “lies and deception” that Donald Trump himself waged against his Republican primary foes and against Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton while winning the presidency in 2016. The utter gall, the brass, the absolute absence of self-awareness from the president is simply breathtaking.

He sought to implicate Sen. Ted Cruz’s father in President Kennedy’s assassination; he denigrated the service of his GOP foes; he hung hideous “nicknames” on many of them; then he went after Hillary Clinton, leading campaign-rally chants to “lock her up!” even in the absence of any evidence of criminality.

And I haven’t mentioned, until right now, the hideous and unfounded denigration he tossed at all those who oppose him.

To hear, therefore, the president talk about “lies and deception” is laughable on its face.

Except that it’s not funny.