Tag Archives: Supreme Court

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.

Kavanaugh nomination on rocky ground, but not doomed

It’s pretty clear that Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s road to the U.S. Supreme Court has hit a serious pot hole.

I’m not yet sure his nomination to join the nation’s highest court is doomed.

A woman has come forward with a 35-year-old claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee to the court, denies the event took place. The woman swears it did.

Speaking of “swearing” to the veracity of her allegation, Christine Ford is going to take an oath next Monday to tell the whole truth to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering whether to recommend Kavanaugh to the full Senate.

If she is proven to perjure herself before the court, then her allegations is toast.

Then again, Kavanaugh also will take an oath to tell the truth. If he lies under oath — or if it can be proven that he lied, which is a tall order — then his nomination is toast.

I’ve wrestled with this one. Can teenagers grow out of their youthful nastiness to become upstanding adults? Sure they can. If this event happened, does Kavanaugh’s status as a federal judge and a devoted husband and father negate what he might have done as a drunken teen?

Not exactly. He’s being considered for the highest judicial post in the United States of America. The post requires men and women to be of fine moral character. I mean, Douglas Ginsburg withdrew his high court nomination in 1987 after he admitted to smoking pot while in college. This allegation against Judge Kavanaugh in my mind rises to a higher level of misbehavior.

But still, the two principals are going to take an oath to tell the truth. One of them is lying. The Senate Judiciary Committee — deeply split already along partisan grounds — will have to decide whom to believe.

Good luck, ladies and gentlemen of the committee.

Let the accuser — and the accused — make their case

I’ve been quiet about Brett Kavanaugh’s recent troubles and the allegation brought by a woman who has accused the U.S. Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers.

Until now.

Christine Ford is going to get to make her case next week in a hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh, nominated by Donald Trump, has denied the accusation that when he was 17 and his accuser was 15 he forced himself on her and sought to rape her at a high school party.

Man, this is serious stuff. You know?

I want to hear both of them. I want them both to look nation in the eye and make their case. Do I believe Christine Ford? I cannot state yet whether I believe or disbelieve her. And do I believe Judge Kavanaugh’s denial? Same answer.

I need to watch their body language. I need to look into their eyes.

I also want the FBI to conduct a complete, thorough and meticulous background check to ascertain which of these people is telling the truth. If that’s possible.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican “swing vote,” has declared that any evidence that Kavanaugh has lied about this alleged encounter is a deal-breaker. He cannot serve on the nation’s highest court. No kidding?

Thus, the rush to confirm this individual can wait for as long as we need to determine the veracity of the complaint brought against him. If the FBI investigation goes past the date in October when the high court convenes its next judicial session, well, so be it. The court has functioned before without  all nine SCOTUS seats being occupied (isn’t that right, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who obstructed President Obama’s nominee to succeed the late Antonin Scalia?).

The hearing will be open. The public will get to see for itself. Let’s give this accuser her the opportunity she deserves to make her case … and let’s give the accused the chance he deserves to defend himself.

May the more credible person win the day.

Is there a huge SCOTUS surprise coming?

The media are zeroing in on three appeals court judges being considered for a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

They are Raymond Kethledge, Brett Cavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Why do I keep getting this feeling in my rumbling gut that Donald Trump is going to go with someone else? He is so very unpredictable, so mercurial that it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him nominate someone who isn’t necessarily on anyone’s radar.

My only hope — and it’s a long shot — is that the president comes up with a “consensus” choice, someone who can earn the support of all the competing factions within the U.S. Senate.

If only I could trust the president and the team that surrounds him to deliver the goods.

‘Playing to his base’? What about the rest of us?

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Light a match to Old Glory and go to jail and lose your citizenship.

Yeah, that’s the ticket. Never mind the constitutional guarantee that doing something so reprehensible is protected under the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause.

The president-elect, though, ignored that fundamental truth when he blasted out a tweet that said those who do such a thing need to spend time in the slammer and forsake their citizenship as Americans.

The Washington Post and other media, though, say that Donald J. Trump is “playing to his base,” the voters who’ve stood with him through all the insults, innuendo and idiocy that have poured from his mouth.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/in-flag-burning-comments-trump-again-plays-to-the-voters-that-elected-him/ar-AAkW3eS?li=BBnbfcL

They helped elect him president and I guess that’s his way of saying “thanks, guys.” As the Post reported: “Trump won rural America, where support of the flag is a big issue,” said Scott Reed, a longtime Republican strategist who served as Bob Dole’s campaign manager in 1996. “A lot of those homes that had Trump signs out front were also flying American flags. This is clearly part of his base politics.”

But what about the rest of the country, Mr. President-elect, that didn’t vote for you? What about those of us who are appalled by your seeming ignorance of constitutional protections and your belief — if that’s what you truly believe — that the Supreme Court got it wrong when it ruled on two occasions that burning the Stars and Stripes is protected political speech?

My wife and I fly a flag in our front yard, too, by the way.

I won’t buy into the notion that Trump isn’t my president. I didn’t vote for him, but he’ll take office in January and will assume the role of head of government and head of state. I ain’t moving anywhere. I’m staying right here in the U.S. of A. and will continue to register my gripes — more than likely quite often — over policy pronouncements that come from the president.

Trump won’t be president just for those who stood with him. He’ll be my president, too.

Thus, I hereby demand that he stop making idiotic declarations. How about taking back that crap about flag burning?

A mystery of life needs solving

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Life is full of mysteries.

There are too many of them to list, but given that one of this blog’s stated missions is to discuss “life experience,” I am going to veer far, far away for a moment from politics, policy and the future of American jurisprudence in the wake of a Supreme Court justice’s death to discuss one of those mysteries.

Perhaps you’ve tuned in to one of cooking shows that tells you the secret of peeling an egg.

Here’s what just happened to me.

I boiled two eggs this morning for breakfast. I left both of ’em in the water for exactly the same length of time. I peeled the first egg and tore it ribbons. Half of the egg white stuck to the shell as I struggled to remove the shell.

Then I turned to the second one. The shell came off almost in a single piece. Slick is a whistle, man. No sweat.

I’ve never bought into this theories one hears from the likes of Racheal Ray or Martha Stewart about how to perform this simple, mindless task. Put salt in the water? Put cooking oil in it. Heat the water that’s already warm? Heat it when it’s cold? Mutter some ancient Native-American chant? Cross my eyes, stick out my tongue and stand on one leg?

These eggs came from the same carton. For all I know they might have come from the same damn chicken!

It’s a bloody mystery, I’m telling ya.

Whoever can solve this mystery — definitively! — is my candidate for a Nobel Prize of some kind. I’m willing to make up a category.

 

 

 

Unanimous picks loom as favorites for high court

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Politics rules on Capitol Hill. It swings both ways, influencing both political parties.

Consider what might be about to happen.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat in the final full year of his second term and final term, is likely to name someone to fill a vacancy created by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The U.S. Constitution grants him the authority to do so. It also grants the Senate the authority to approve anyone nominated to the court.

The Senate is controlled by Republicans.

Democrats and Republicans don’t like each other much these days. Republicans really dislike the Democrat in the White House and the feeling appears to be quite mutual.

What’s the president going to do about this high court vacancy?

One theory getting kicked around in the hours and days after Scalia’s death is that the president could name an appellate judge who’s already been approved by the Senate. One name has emerged as a possible favorite, Judge Sri Srinivasen, an Indian-American who was approved unanimously the Senate before he took his federal appeals court seat.

He’s apparently thought of as a moderate. He doesn’t lean far left. He surely doesn’t lean far right. He shoots straight down the middle, according to a number of legal experts.

So, will this fellow breeze through the confirmation process as he did when the Senate considered him for a lower court?

OK. You can stop laughing.

Republicans are vowing to deny the president any action on a pending nomination. They want to wait until after the November presidential election in which they hope a Republican wins the White House.

Democrats will have none of that. They want the president to make a nomination and they want the Senate to vote on it. Quickly.

Why not select someone who’s already been vetted by the Senate? Would a judge like Sri Srinivasen be just as qualified to sit on the Supreme Court as he is on a lower court?

Well, in my version of a perfect world, it would seem like a natural for the president to find a moderate judge who’s already been approved. Except that he would be succeeding a towering figure of the judicial conservative movement.

Scalia led what has been called a “conservative renaissance” on the Supreme Court. Anyone — regardless of credentials, standing among peers or legal brilliance — is going to be run through a political sausage grinder.

Politics. Sometimes it’s downright ugly.

And sometimes it doesn’t serve the nation well.

 

A major battle now looms

chapman.0830 - 08/29/05 - A Supreme Court headed by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has questions for Chapman University Law School professor John Eastman as he and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer argue the 1905 ''Lochner v. State of New York'' case during a re-enactment Monday afternoon at Chapman University. (Credit: Mark Avery/Orange County Register/ZUMA Press)
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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death today has stunned the nation.

As President Obama said this evening, the 30-year member of the nation’s highest court was one of the “most consequential” legal minds of our time.

The president now faces arguably the “most consequential” appointment of his time in office.

To say that Justice Scalia’s passing upsets the ideological balance of the highest court would commit the supreme understatement.

And, oh yes, the partisan divide opened wide immediately upon news of Scalia’s death. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said the Senate should wait until after Barack Obama leaves office to vote on a replacement; meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, wants the Senate to act quickly.

Who could have seen that coming?

The president said he’ll make the appointment “in due time.” He wants a thorough, fair hearing and a “timely vote.” As the president — lame duck nor not — Barack Obama deserves the chance to nominate someone of his choosing.

Indeed, the appointment coming from a left-of-center president to fill a vacancy created by the death of a right-of-center Supreme Court justice sets up a huge battle that likely will dwarf any of the many fights Barack Obama has waged already with the U.S. Senate.

The court’s narrow balance has just been shaken to its very foundation.

 

‘Five unelected lawyers’ have lots of power

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I saw a news clip last night that, frankly, stunned me.

I’d seen it before, but had forgotten how ill-informed the person featured in it seemed to be when he made a particular statement.

Sen. Ted Cruz is a smart guy. Harvard Law grad. Former law clerk to the current Supreme Court chief justice. Solicitor general for Texas.

He’s running for the Republican nomination of president of the United States.

But when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 this past year to legalize gay marriage throughout the country, Cruz said it was wrong for “five unelected lawyers” make such profound decisions. He sought to make the case, it appears to me, that the federal judicial system — as established by the founders of this country — was fatally flawed.

See Cruz’s statement.

I do not intend to lecture this bright young lawyer about the Constitution, but I do want to make this point.

The nation’s government framework gives the Supreme Court enormous power. That’s why making appointments to that court is arguably the most important decision a president ever makes during his time in office. Cruz knows that . . . I’m sure.

When the court rules on the constitutionality of issues, its word is final. That’s how the framers set it up. They entrusted the highest court in the land to make these decisions without qualification. Yes, some of these decisions have been reversed over time. By and large they’ve been overturned with good reason.

However, one shouldn’t trivialize these court rulings as being the mere opinions of “five unelected lawyers.” They’ve been given a huge responsibility by the very government for which Sen. Cruz, himself, works as a legislator.

The court has made decisions over the years with which I disagree. However, I honor and accept those decisions as part of the constitutional process.

At least, though, the nation’s Supreme Court comprises nine lawyers, individuals who’ve studied the law and know it pretty well. The founders didn’t require justices on that court to be lawyers in the first place.

I trust Sen. Cruz knows that to be the case as well.

 

The law is the law, Mme. Clerk

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Kim Davis keeps running into that silly little thing called the law.

The Rowan County (Ky.) clerk who’s made a spectacle of herself because she refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay couples has been hit with yet another legal setback.

A federal court has denied Davis an exemption from a gubernatorial directive that requires all public officials to comply with federal law. The law in question, interestingly, originated in a Kentucky case when a gay couple sued to have their marriage declared legal under U.S. law. The Supreme Court ruled in the couple’s favor earlier this year.

Davis, though, has resisted, saying she follows God’s law.

Davis defeated by court

God’s law is not the law to which she swore an oath to uphold. That oath involved secular law established by the U.S. Constitution.

I’ve noted already that Davis — who spent some time in the slammer on a contempt of court violation when she refused to issue marriage licenses to anyone — has gone back to work. She still isn’t granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but she’s allowing her deputies to do so.

But she’s running out of legal options to keep fighting the law she vowed to follow.

This sideshow became a media spectacle the moment Davis started this illegal protest.

It’s time for it to end. Do you job, Mme. Clerk, or else walk away. You’ll be allowed to pray real hard for what you believe and you can become an advocate for whatever cause you wish to pursue.

You just can’t do it while you’re being required to serve the public interest.