Tag Archives: SCOTUS

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.

Time to move on from Kavanaugh fight

I cannot guarantee it, sign it in blood or put my name on a sworn document, but this might be my final blog post … on the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation conflict.

The man is now on the U.S. Supreme Court. He will take his oath of office yet again in a prime-time TV event at the White House. The president will be there, no doubt to crow about the victory he and his fellow Republicans scored in securing Kavanaugh’s confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

The road to confirmation was rocky in the extreme. You know how I feel about, so I won’t belabor the point.

I guess this is my way of saying that because I was a bit late in concluding Kavanaugh didn’t belong on the court I won’t keep fighting a battle that’s been lost.

The other side won. I’ll leave the on-going fight to others.

I do intend to watch Justice Kavanaugh’s record on high court ruling and plan to comment on those rulings as they develop.

The fight for the rights of sexual assault and sexual abuse victims overall, of course, is worth continuing. I’ll keep my head in that fight, too, as it goes on.

However, my commentary on whether Brett Kavanaugh is fit for service on the high court has come to an end.

More than likely.

Oh, as for the man who nominated Justice Kavanaugh to that post — the president of the United States? I intend fully to stay engaged in that discussion over his fitness — or lack thereof — for the job he occupies.

Avenatti becomes a royal pain in the … wherever

Michael Avenatti began driving me crazy some months ago when he was seen everywhere, talking to every talking head on TV about a client of his, a woman who goes by the name of Stormy Daniels.

She is the adult film actress/dancer who took a $130,000 payment from the former lawyer for Donald Trump to keep her quiet about a one-night stand she said she had with the future president of the United States in 2006.

Avenatti has become a ubiquitous presence on TV.  Good grief, the guy seems able to be everywhere all at once! How does this clown do that?

And then he entered the battle to keep Brett Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court. He now represents a woman who contends that the newly sworn in justice assaulted her years ago.

You know, I am going to buy into the argument that Avenatti’s late entry into this discussion might have doomed efforts to keep Kavanaugh off the court.

Avenatti has become a politician. He has stated his desire to consider running for president of the United States in 2020. He is making political speeches. He is saying Democrats need to deal with Trump with even more bile and vitriol than the president dishes out to his political foes.

I’m trying to connect the dots. A lawyer signs on to represent a high-profile client; then he starts sounding like a possible presidential candidate; and then he jumps into another high-profile fray, this time involving a nominee to the highest court in the United States.

What’s this guy’s motive, other than to boost his clientele, make a name for himself and, well, fatten his wallet?

Avenatti very well might be a first-rate lawyer. He says he is. All the time. To any talk-show host who’ll have him on the air.

Me? I’m sick of listening to this clown.

SCOTUS becomes a political rallying cry

I admit that at times my memory fails me. However, I am trying to dredge up some flashbacks on how previous presidents of the United States responded to Supreme Court battles over people they have nominated to the high court. I keep coming up empty.

Did George H.W. Bush stage political rallies in 1991 on behalf of Clarence Thomas? Does anyone recall Ronald Reagan juicing up rally crowds in 1987 after the Senate rejected Robert Bork and after Douglas Ginsburg withdrew his name because he smoke a few joints in college? Do you remember seeing Bill Clinton stoking up crowds when he nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Stephen Breyer, or George W. Bush do the same when he selected John Roberts and Samuel Alito?

That’s not how presidents traditionally respond to criticism of their judicial picks.

Then you have Donald Trump. He is the man who knows no boundaries. He trashes two centuries of judicial/political decorum whenever he gets the chance. His base loves it! His supporters cheer him on! That’s fine with him. He speaks to them exclusively as it is.

Trump’s latest nominee to the Supreme Court is now Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He is a deeply flawed justice, given the accusation that he assaulted a woman sexually when they were teenagers in the 1980s.

But, hey. What’s the prob? His benefactor, Donald Trump, has been accused by several women of doing the same thing. What’s more, he’s actually bragged about how his “celebrity” status allowed him to grab women by their genitals.

No sweat, man! He’s our guy, the base declares.

So he’s going to hit the campaign trail and boast about seating two men on the high court in his first two years. That’s it! The Supreme Court is now a political football to be kicked around.

It’s a tragic development in the history of this great nation.

‘Even the playing field,’ Mr. President? Really?

Donald John Trump offered a straightforward answer to a direct question from a Fox News questioner about why he felt the need to mock a woman who accused a Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault.

Trump told Jeannine Pirro that he felt the need to “even the playing field” because of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation that Justice Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Really, Mr. President? You had to use this woman’s allegation as a campaign rally punch line?

He disgraced himself yet again. Sure, Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate, has taken his oath of office and will start hearing arguments this week as member of the highest court in the land.

However, the president’s participation in this political debate arguably was one of many “lowest moments” of his term in office.

The president felt some need to denigrate a woman who had leveled a serious accusation. Indeed, he earlier had urged that Ford get a fair hearing and said her allegation needed to be examined with extreme care and deliberation.

Trump scores victory

Then he flew off the rails with that ghastly rant.

He needed to “even the playing field” … or so Trump said.

There were many other ways to accomplish that goal than to do what he did at that campaign rally, drawing hoots, hollers and huzzahs from the crowd gathered in front of him.

His response, as it usually is, sounded so “unpresidented.”

Hypocrisy rules the day in Kavanaugh fight

Hypocrisy is king in Washington, D.C.

Not the truth. Not nobility. Not high ideals or soaring rhetoric.

It’s hypocrisy that rules. It has cemented its vise-grip on U.S. politics and government. The Brett Kavanaugh battle is over and the judge is now Justice Kavanaugh, the ninth member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Who is the Hypocrite in Chief? I’ll hand that dubious honor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

You’ve read on this blog already my distaste for the hypocrisy exhibited by Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal — who once lied about serving in the Vietnam War — and his lecturing of Kavanaugh about whether lying about one thing means he lies about all things.

The Hypocrite in Chief (dis)honor goes to McConnell because of the ramrod job he pulled in shoving Kavanaugh’s nomination through. And then he blames Senate Democrats for “obstructing” the process and for “playing politics” with this nomination.

McConnell wrote the book on obstruction in early 2016 upon the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The justice died in Texas and McConnell immediately declared that President Barack Obama would not fill the vacancy created by Scalia’s death. Obama went ahead with his nominating process, selecting U.S. District Judge Merrick Garland to succeed Scalia.

Garland didn’t get a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He didn’t get the courtesy of meeting with Republican senators privately. McConnell said that the president was not entitled to replace Scalia during an election year. He gambled that a Republican would win the 2016 election and then would be able to nominate someone of his choosing.

McConnell’s cynical gamble paid off. Donald Trump won. He nominated Neil Gorsuch to the high court. The Senate confirmed him.

And all the while McConnell tossed out “obstruction” epithets at Senate Democrats who were rightfully steamed that a Democratic president had been denied the right to fulfill his own constitutional duties in seeking to fill a Supreme Court seat.

Then came the Kavanaugh nomination. McConnell greased it to allow Kavanaugh to be confirmed after a perfunctory secondary FBI investigation that — big surprise! — turned up no corroboration to the allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a young woman in the early 1980s.

The obstructionist named McConnell then had the temerity to hammer at Senate Democrats for their own resistance to Kavanaugh’s nomination.

So … take a bow, Hypocrite in Chief Mitch McConnell.

Kavanaugh joins high court with zero political capital

Now that we’ve established — at least in my humble view — that the U.S. Supreme Court has become the third political branch of government, it’s worth examining briefly the cache that the court’s newest member brings to his post.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh has none. Zero, man!

Is that important, given that he is now charged with interpreting the constitutionality of federal law? Yep. It is. Why? Because the new justice takes office by the thinnest of political margins.

The U.S. Senate voted today 50-48 to confirm him. The previous narrowest confirmation belonged to Justice Clarence Thomas, who was approved 52-48 in 1991. Move over, Justice Thomas. There’s a new Bottom Dog in town.

I will acknowledge that at least the confirmation vote for Justice Kavanaugh wasn’t an entirely partisan affair; Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin voted with the majority to confirm Kavanaugh, and no doubt all but sealed his re-election to the Senate from West Virginia, a state that Donald Trump carried by more than 41 percentage points in 2016 over Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Kavanaugh has pledged to rule with impartiality and independence. He did so in an op-ed piece written for the Washington Post. It was a remarkable pledge, given his fiery — and highly partisan — rebuttal to the criticism that exploded in the wake of the sexual assault allegation leveled against him by Christine Blasey Ford.

This justice takes his lifetime appointment seat amid continuing question and a good bit of recrimination over the manner in which the Senate shoved his confirmation across the finish line.

I now am going to rely on my limitless optimism that Justice Kavanaugh will deliver on his promise to be independent and impartial as he takes on the huge challenges of constitutional interpretation.

Don’t mess up, Mr. Justice.