Tag Archives: US Supreme Court

Let’s end pro-choice demagoguery

Abortion is coming back onto center stage soon as the Senate gets ready to debate the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I know this won’t happen, but I’ll ask for it anyway. How about calling a halt to the demagoguery that equates “pro-choice” with being “pro-abortion.”

The anti-choice side no doubt will make that unfair assessment as it argues on behalf of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination by Donald J. Trump. The president has vowed to appoint federal judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that in 1973 legalized abortion.

The ruling has enraged anti-choice advocates for 45 years.

What has been troubling to me has been the conflating of “pro-choice” advocacy with favoring abortion.

I consider myself to be a pro-choice American. I also am vehemently opposed to abortion. Could I ever advise a woman to end a pregnancy? No. Thankfully, I’ve never faced that question from a woman.

To be candid, I’ve never met a single person in my entire life who’s admitted to favoring abortion. And, yes, I have made the acquaintance of many people over the years who have been pro-choice on the issue.

To believe in a woman’s right to make the gut-wrenching choice about ending a pregnancy is not an endorsement of abortion.

Can we please end the hateful demagoguery? Emotions run white-hot enough as it is whenever the topic concerns abortion.

Yes, presidents can be investigated and indicted

Having offered admittedly muted praise for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, I now want to challenge an assertion he has made about whether presidents can be indicted.

He has changed his mind on that one. Kavanaugh once worked for Kenneth Starr while Starr was investigating President Clinton, who eventually got impeached for lying to a grand jury and for — that’s right — obstruction of justice.

Kavanaugh was up to his armpits in assisting the counsel’s task of finding criminality in a president’s behavior.

Then he switched gears. Kavanaugh has since written that presidents have too much to do, too much on their plate to be distracted by potentially criminal investigations. Let me think. Is he providing cover for, oh, the guy who nominated him to the Supreme Court?

Here’s my point.

Of course presidents can be investigated. They aren’t above the law. They must be held to the same standard as their constituents, which is the entire country.

President Clinton was able to perform his presidential duties while he was under investigation and, indeed, while he was being impeached by the House of Representatives and tried by the Senate.

The same is true for President Nixon, who was under investigation for myriad offenses relating to Watergate. The House Judiciary Committee passed articles of impeachment and then the president resigned. Was he able to do his job while all of this was occurring? Of course he was!

My strong hunch is that the Senate Judiciary Committee that will consider Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination will ask him directly and pointedly about what he thought while working for Kenneth Starr and what he thinks these days now that Donald Trump wants him to serve on the highest court in the land.

I hope someone on the panel asks him: What made you change your mind, Judge?

There will always be abortions

Let’s be crystal clear about something few of us want to discuss.

If the U.S. judicial system decides to overturn a ruling that legalized abortion, does anyone really believe that abortion will come to an end? Will women across the country decide to give birth even though they have been raped by an attacker, or impregnated in an incestuous relationship?

Abortion is about to return front and center to the public debate stage as the U.S. Senate ponders the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1973 the high court ruled in the epic Roe v. Wade decision that abortion can be done legally throughout the United States. It declared that the Constitution guaranteed a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy.

The discussion today centers on whether the court would reverse that decision if it receives a case involving abortion.

I want to be clear. Abortion won’t end if the court hands the issue back to the states. Many states are likely to make abortion illegal. I live in one of those states: Texas. Legislators here already have enacted anti-choice legislation and Gov. Greg Abbott has signed it into law. They have decided to make obtaining an abortion quite difficult.

Does it end abortion? Not in the least. Women will continue to seek them — for whatever reason they believe compels to do so.

I get the argument from those who are fervently anti-choice. They are sincere in their belief about when life begins. Their argument, though, won’t ever stop women from making profoundly difficult choices that only they can make.

Time to praise SCOTUS selection

I am feeling so good over the rescue of the Thai boys and their soccer coach from that flooded cave in northern Thailand that I want to offer a good word for Donald John Trump’s selection to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I’ll stipulate up front that you’ll deem this to be faint praise, but it’s praise nonetheless.

Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court has angered the crackpot Trump “base.” They’re none too happy with Kavanaugh, fearing that he doesn’t appear to be as firmly opposed to Roe v. Wade as the base continues to be. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania chided the president for surrendering to what he called the “Washington elite” by selecting Kavanaugh.

To be sure, the justice nominee is a conservative. He appears to be what one could call a “mainstream conservative,” not a goofball/wack-job conservative.

He has pledged to be independent and to study the law as it is written, not as one wishes it were written.

Is this the kind of judge I would have selected? Of course not! However, Trump is the president of the United States.

By anyone’s measure, Kavanaugh is supremely qualified to serve on the high court. He’s a Yale Law School grad, meaning that the entire Supreme Court would comprise Ivy League legal eagles if Kavanaugh is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The Senate will nitpick the daylights out of Kavanaugh’s lengthy written record. Senators will need to examine Kavanaugh’s views on health care, as well as on whether sitting presidents can be indicted for criminal offenses. His record suggests he might tilt the “wrong way” on both of those issues.

I continue to believe that while Kavanaugh’s conservative credentials might solidify the court’s right-leaning bias, it doesn’t guarantee it necessarily on every single key ruling that would come before the Supreme Court.

That seeming uncertainty, I submit, is what might be driving the Trump bloc of “base” voters nuts.

SCOTUS nominee needs to get set for big battle

Brett Kavanaugh is now headed for the fight of his life.

He stands nominated to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. He is 53 years of age. We know a good bit more about his personal history: only child of two two lawyers; father of two daughters, one of whom he said “likes to talk a lot”; married to a West Texan.

He also pledges to be faithful to the U.S. Constitution. But that’s what all Supreme Court justice nominees pledge to do.

What happens next? He’s going to make the rounds of senators who will vote up or down on his nomination.  He won’t answer questions about how he would vote on specific issues that come before the high court.

Kavanaugh won’t have to answer those questions for senators to get a good read on this man’s judicial philosophy. He has a lengthy paper trail of opinions he has written, of essays, a history of serving as a clerk for the justice he seeks to succeed on the court, Anthony Kennedy.

If I could ask him one question it would be this: Do you consider Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion in this country to be “settled law”? I would prefer him to answer “yes.”

If he says “no” or refuses to answer because he might have to decide an abortion case, well, that’s troubling.

This nomination will proceed, despite protests from those — such as me — who think the Senate should await the results of the midterm election this fall before considering this nomination.

I won’t predict how it will turn out. I feel comfortable suggesting that this confirmation process is going to be a donnybrook.

We’ll see about ‘judicial activism’ from SCOTUS nominee

Donald J. Trump says he will reject any candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court who advocates “judicial activism.”

Well now. How about that?

Here’s part of what he said in a radio address:

Judges are not supposed to rewrite the law, reinvent the Constitution, or substitute their own opinions for the will of the people expressed through their laws,” Trump said. “We reject judicial activism and policymaking from the bench.”

“In choosing a new justice, I will select someone with impeccable credentials, great intellect, unbiased judgement, and deep reverence for the laws and Constitution of the United States,” he added.

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s upcoming retirement from the Supreme Court has launched a serious national debate over the future of what many call “settled law,” meaning the legalization of abortion in the United States.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the next justice must leave his or her hands off of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion. Any hint of overturning it, she said, is a dealbreaker.

That brings up a critical point. If Roe v. Wade is “settled law,” does the court run the risk of becoming a panel of “judicial activists” if it decides to repeal any or all of the reproductive rights guarantee?

The president has said he would appoint a justice who would overturn Roe, but then has said he won’t ask any of the candidates that question explicitly. He’ll know their views on the issue if he takes time to read their writings or understands their notion of the how justices should rule on these matters.

I guess I could add that judicial activism isn’t  a malady that afflicts only liberal judges. Conservatives can get pretty damn activist, too.

Hoping that SCOTUS leaves ‘Roe v Wade’ alone

Let’s talk about abortion rights, shall we?

The talk of the nation appears to be the future of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States of America.

The ruling didn’t give women carte blanche to obtain abortion on demand. It merely declared that the U.S. Constitution contains a provision that gives women the right to choose to end a pregnancy. They are allowed to consult with their partner, with God, with their doctor, their conscience.

It is their call. No one else can make that call for them.

The Supreme Court vacancy that Donald J. Trump wants to fill well might put Roe v. Wade on the line.

I do not want the court to mess with that ruling. I do not want the court to toss the law back to states. The Supreme Court ruled correctly, in my view, to give women the right of choice and to ensure that they alone can decide whether they want to give birth.

Do not accuse me of being “pro-abortion.” I am not. I never could counsel a women to get an abortion. Thankfully, I’ve never faced that dilemma. No woman has ever asked me for my advice on that most personal of decisions.

My point is that this decision doesn’t rest with me. Nor should it rest with lawmakers at the state or federal level.

Roe v. Wade has been at the center of a political firestorm for the 45 years since the nation’s highest court shook up the world with that decision. It well could boil over and might damn well explode if Donald Trump picks someone who is intent on tossing Roe v. Wade aside at the earliest possible opportunity.

Schumer to Trump: Why not select Merrick Garland?

It won’t happen in this universe, but it’s worth calling attention to this strange idea.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — the Senate’s top Democrat — has urged Donald Trump to select Merrick Garland to succeed Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hell would freeze over, Earth would spin off its axis and the sun would rise in the west for that to happen.

However …

Schumer is making the request in the name of national unity. Garland, a centrist appeals court judge, was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — within hours of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia — declared any high court nominee Obama would put forward would go nowhere. McConnell announced his intention to obstruct the nomination and confirmation process.

Garland got nominated. His nomination languished. Trump got elected president. The new president nominated Neil Gorsuch, who then was confirmed.

We’re still divided, significantly because of the theft of the Supreme Court seat by McConnell.

Unification could occur if Trump were to follow Schumer’s advice. I mean, Trump has promised unity. Hasn’t he?

It won’t happen. The idea of nominating Merrick Garland does cause a tingle or two among many of us out here. I’m one of them.

Pure politics drives this SCOTUS nomination

The federal judiciary isn’t political? It isn’t driven by partisan politics?

Excuse me while I bust out laughing.

There. Now I feel better.

Donald J. Trump reportedly has narrowed his short list of U.S. Supreme Court justice candidates to an even shorter list. It’s good to ask: Do you think the president is poring over written opinions, legal scholarship and the candidates’ judicial records to help him make this pick?

I don’t believe that’s the case.

Unlike some of his predecessors — namely Barack H. Obama, who taught constitutional law before entering politics — this president depends seemingly exclusively on the politics of the moment and on whether he likes whoever he might select for a lifetime appointment to a federal judgeship.

This is a big one, folks.

Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal — is on the line. Do you believe the president has studied the implications of that ruling, that he understands its legality?

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s pending retirement gives Trump the chance to make his second Supreme Court appointment. Think of this, too: It’s only a year and a half since he took office. How many more appointments do you think this president can make before his time is up?

Then there’s the question of whether the Senate should consider this appointment before the midterm election. Given the masterful obstruction that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell performed to block Obama’s selection of Merrick Garland to succeed the late Antonin Scalia, there might be a push to delay this vote into 2019. Don’t bet on it, though, given polling that suggests Americans want the Senate to proceed.

I have one more issue to raise quickly. Trump said he won’t ask his court candidates how they would vote on reproductive rights. Do you take him at his word?

Neither do I.

The drama is about to get real thick.

‘Swing vote’ will switch chairs at SCOTUS

Before we get all worked up and apoplectic over the individual who will get Donald J. Trump’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, let’s consider the reality of the departing justice, Anthony Kennedy.

Kennedy has been hailed as a crucial “swing vote” on the court. He sides with liberals on occasion, but mostly sides with the conservative majority.

It’s good to understand that the conservative justices hold a 5-4 majority on the court. That majority won’t change.

Indeed, I am of the opinion that’s being shared that the next swing vote will likely belong to none other than Chief Justice John Roberts, who on occasion has sided with the liberal bloc of justices on key decisions, such as the ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act.

The court’s conservative-liberal balance won’t change fundamentally, in my view, with whoever the president nominates.

The serious crap storm is going to erupt in the event one of the court’s liberal justices decides to call it a day.

However, the president’s selection — which he plans to announce on July 9 — is no doubt going to endure the kind of public scrutiny not seen since, oh, Robert Bork was defeated in 1987.

The symmetry of that fact also is fascinating.

The U.S. Senate rejected Bork’s nomination; then Douglas Ginsburg pulled out after admitting to smoking weed while in college. President Reagan’s third pick for the court? Anthony Kennedy.