Tag Archives: SCOTUS

Biden faces stern test of his character

Well now, an interview that Joe Biden thought might quash concerns about a sexual assault allegation likely has done nothing of the sort.

The former two-term vice president of the United States and presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president has been accused by former Biden staffer Tara Reade of sexually assaulting her. Reade says that in 1993 Biden pinned her against a wall and groped her.

Biden went on the air this morning to deny categorically the allegation. He told MSBNC’s Mika Brzezinski that the incident never happened. He didn’t question Reade’s motives. Biden said no one on his staff ever reported anything resembling what Reade has alleged.

Furthermore, Biden today announced he has asked the secretary of the U.S. Senate to obtain personnel records from the National Archives that would contain any formal complaint that Reade might have filed and release them to the public. Biden said the archived record would contain nothing of what Reade has alleged.

Is that good enough? Will it quell the questions? Will it stop Donald Trump’s slime machine from kicking into high gear? Hah! No to all of it!

I am inclined to believe Biden, but you likely have assumed that already. Fine, assume all you want. I also believe we need to examine fully the veracity of what Tara Reade has alleged and come to a conclusion on its validity.

Yes, this episode has the sort of echo that resonated when Christine Blasey Ford alleged sexual misconduct by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when the two of them were much younger. Ford got her public hearing, as did Kavanaugh. The U.S. Senate confirmed Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the story of what she alleged has more or less gone dormant.

Meanwhile, the president of the United States has been accused by more than 20 women of assorted acts of sexual misbehavior. Donald Trump has denied all of it; he has called the women liars and worse. Accordingly, he has suggested that Reade’s allegation might be as false as the accusations he has said were leveled against him. Of course, we have heard that hideous recording of Trump regaling “Access Hollywood” about how he sought to have sex with a married woman and how his celebrity status allowed him to grab women by their genitals. What a guy.

Whatever. This matter needs a resolution.

My own belief is that Joe Biden has been a national political figure since the moment he was sworn into the Senate in 1973. He took office under the most extreme duress imaginable, having lost his wife and daughter in a tragic auto accident in late 1972.

He and his second wife, Jill Biden, have been at the forefront of any number of social issues, involving protection against women facing sexual assault. Therefore, I would be astonished beyond all measure to learn that Joe Biden — of all people — would have behaved in the hideous manner that Tara Reade has alleged.

Let’s get to the truth.

Schumer needs to settle down

“I want to tell you Gorsuch. I want to tell Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

So said U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. He was directing his remarks to Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

They were taking part in a Supreme Court hearing on a controversial abortion case out of Louisiana. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, of course, are two justices nominated by Donald John Trump and approved after bruising confirmation battles in the Senate; Schumer opposed them both.

Sen. Schumer is wrong to threaten these justices. Chief Justice John Roberts took the unusual approach in rebuking the Senate leader, calling the threats leveled by Schumer “inappropriate” and “dangerous.” Yes. They are.

Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh aren’t my favorite members of the nation’s highest court. I want them to rule the right way on this case and I want them to preserve a woman’s right to control her own body. However, Sen. Schumer has stepped way over the line that separates the legislative and judicial branches of government.

Schumer needs to pipe down and let these justices do their job without that kind of intimidation.

No, Mr. POTUS, justices need not recuse themselves

Donald John Trump hasn’t yet read the U.S. Constitution, let alone the part that declares that the federal judiciary is supposed to operate free of any political pressure or interference from another “co-equal” branch of government.

You see, the current president has declared that Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg need to recuse themselves from any cases involving the president. Why? He says they’re biased against him.

Please pardon me for saying this, but we all have our bias. Judges take oaths to administer the law fairly and without prejudice. Their oath does not scrub the bias from their minds or their hearts, any more than it does for any other high-ranking office at any level of government.

As long as we’re talking about bias, should those justices who agree with the president philosophically recuse themselves from any case brought by those parties that might oppose him? Of course not! The framers intended for the federal judiciary, including the highest court in the land, to be free of political pressure, coercion or intimidation.

Therefore, Donald Trump’s call for Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg to recuse themselves from any future case involving the president’s administration is laughable on its face. Except that I ain’t laughing. Nor should anyone who values the distinct separation of powers among the three branches of government slap their knees while they guffaw hysterically.

That separation is spelled out categorically in the U.S. Constitution.

The president of the United States needs to read it.

Do your job, Mr. Texas AG

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sworn an oath to defend, among other things, the U.S. Constitution, which Texans still must obey under the law.

The Constitution, as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, has an equal-protection clause that says all Americans are entitled to be treated equally. That means gay couples, men and women, who choose to marry some of the same gender.

So, when a justice of the peace refuses to follow the law, gets sanctioned by the Texas Commission on Judicial  Conduct, and then gets sued by the JP for allegedly violating her religious liberty, then the AG is bound by law to defend the TCJC. That’s how I read it.

Paxton ain’t doing it.

Oh, no. He is siding with the justice of the peace, Dianne Hensley, for refusing to preside over same-sex marriages, citing her religious convictions, which endorse only marriages between one man and one woman.

But wait! The SCOTUS has determined that gay marriage is legal in this country. That includes Texas, doesn’t it? Aren’t we part of the United States of America, the nation governed by a secular Constitution?

I am all in favor of religious liberty. This is just my interpretation, though, but I always have considered religious liberty to have boundaries. People are free to worship as they please, or not worship a deity. Religious liberty grants them that right. However, public officials who take an oath to follow the laws of the land have responsibilities to adhere strictly to that oath.

The JP is wrong to deny marrying individuals on the basis of their gender. The AG is wrong to refuse a legally constituted state agency that has ruled appropriately against the JP.

Just do your job, Mr. Attorney General.

Sanctuary cities for unborn? Oh, my … get ready for the fight

Three Texas communities — Big Spring, Colorado City and Rusk — have thumbed their collective noses at a legal activity that I acknowledge fully has its sworn enemies.

The cities all have created what they are calling “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn.” They have declared that abortion is illegal in their cities and I will presume women who obtain them are subject to criminal prosecution.

Abortion-rights activists are furious, as they should be. Why? Well, it’s a simple notion, truth be told. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy was legally protected under federal law. Subsequent high court rulings have upheld the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Thus, the activity remains legal. Does it produce a desirable outcome? Of course not. However, I am in no position — nor is anyone else, for that matter — to dictate to a woman how she must make such a gut-wrenching decision. That is her call in consultation with her partner, her physician … and her conscience.

The Texas Tribune reports: The American Civil Liberties Union has said it is seeking to strike them down. Three towns — Mineral Wells, Omaha and Jacksboro — have voted down similar ordinances or walked them back under advice from city attorneys.

Big Spring, Colorado City and Rusk haven’t yet made their decisions final.

I am all for local control. I dislike states telling cities and towns that they cannot, for example, install electronic devices to help police enforce traffic laws. However, the U.S. Constitution remains the law of the land and in the case of abortion, the Supreme Court already has stood behind the Constitution as the final arbiter on the inflammatory issue of whether a woman can choose to terminate a pregnancy.

Texas already has told cities they cannot create sanctuaries to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation. Yes, I am aware of the intense political differences between illegal immigration and abortion.

But the Texas cities that are seeking to create “sanctuaries for the unborn” need to prepare for a fight that they should not win.

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!

McConnell exhibits stunning lack of self-awareness

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Of all the statements, assertions, pronouncements and declarations I keep hearing while we watch this impeachment drama unfold, I keep circling back to what keeps coming out of the mouth of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Kentucky Republican keeps hurling “partisan political” accusations at his Democratic colleagues in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. When I hear him accuse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of acting as a purely partisan politician, I find myself thinking: Dude, do you not remember your own political history? 

Of course he does!

I harken back to the Mother of All Partisan Acts when in early 2016 he declared that President Obama would not be able to select someone to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly that year; Obama sought to nominate Merrick Garland to succeed him; McConnell put the brakes on it, declaring that the president’s nominee would not get a Senate hearing in an election year.

Democrats were rightfully outraged. It was an act of supreme partisanship, just as he has continued to exhibit his partisan bona fides during the run-up to the Senate impeachment trial that has commenced.

Speaking of that … for the Senate majority leader to accuse anyone else of partisan game-playing is akin to getting a lecture on marital fidelity from, oh, you know who.

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.