Tag Archives: US Supreme Court

Wait for FBI probe: What’s wrong with that?

Christine Ford has leveled a serious accusation against Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

She intends to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but wants the FBI to conduct a thorough investigation before she talks about her allegation: that Kavanaugh assaulted her sexually when they were teenagers.

The FBI can pull together all the evidence it needs to presumably determine whether Ford’s allegation holds up. Or it could come up empty. Or it could produce a result with no definitive answer.

Ford is asking that the FBI do its investigation before she talks.

If it delays Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote, so be it. If his confirmation — should it occur — come until after the court convenes its next judicial term, so be that, too.

The allegation is profoundly serious. Kavanaugh has denied categorically what the accuser has alleged. He is entitled to mount a vigorous defense. Ford, too, is entitled to get a fair and complete hearing of the allegation she has leveled against a man who wants to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

Astonishing: Trump sounds reasonable, measured!

An amazing thing occurred today that compels me to say something positive about Donald John Trump.

The president of the United States sounded reasonable, rational, measured and downright sensible in his response to a planned hearing involving a woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers.

There was none of the usual crap that flies out of Trump’s mouth when women accuse powerful men of sexual misbehavior.

The president instead said the accuser, Christine Ford, needs to be heard. Yes, he complained that the accusation became known so late in the Kavanaugh confirmation process. But again, he refrained from the usual bellicosity one usually hears from the president.

Trump has been known to dismiss female accusers. There were those who have accused him of various acts of sexual misbehavior; he called the women who accused former Alabama judge Roy Moore of raping them “liars.”

So, you see, to hear the president speak in such measured tones today makes High Plains Blogger want to say something positive about the tone of voice he used.

Let’s hope there’s more measured tones in store.

Federal judiciary: more political than ever?

I have long supported the principle of an “independent” federal judiciary, whose members are given jobs for life if they choose to stay at their post for as long as they draw breath.

The nation’s founders established it all at the beginning, giving the president the power to select these individuals and the U.S. Senate to confirm them.

My thoughts — naive though they were — believed that such independence would insulate judges from political pressure.

Oh, man! I was as wrong as I could be.

Brett Kavanaugh has provided us just yet another example of how mistaken I have been. Donald J. Trump selected him to succeed Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. The president has made his judicial preferences clear: He intends to nominate judges who will toss out Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion.

Thus, the political wind has swirled all over Judge Kavanaugh. He has said something about Roe being “settled law,” which gave pro-choice advocates some hope that he would leave the ruling alone were he to have to decide a case down the road.

Others aren’t so sure.

Presidential elections surely have consequences. Trump won the 2016 election and already has won the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the nation’s highest court. Kavanaugh is set to join the court.

Is he free of political pressure? No. He isn’t. Not by a long shot. Indeed, all federal judges — from trial bench judges, to all level of appellate court judges — face political pressure. It doesn’t let up after they take their seats on the bench. Yes, it gathers incredible steam as they seek confirmation.

I won’t back down from my strong belief in presidential appointment of federal judges. Their lifetime jobs give them some semblance of independence from run-of-the-mill political pressure.

Sadly, it doesn’t eliminate it.

Yes, elections have consequences

Brett Kavanaugh is likely to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become a justice on the Supreme Court.

Is he the kind of judge I want on the court? No. But here’s the deal, and I take no pleasure in acknowledging this: Donald Trump is the president of the United States; he was elected in 2016 by winning enough electoral votes to take the nation’s highest office; he gets to nominate individuals to the high court.

Elections have consequences. Of that there can be no doubt.

Kavanaugh is qualified to serve. I heard much of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. I listened to Democrats try to trap him into saying something he shouldn’t say. Kavanaugh didn’t take the bait.

I am deeply troubled that the president would declare his intention to nominate someone who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that legalized abortion. Tradition usually dictates that presidents not set pre-determined parameters for who gets nominated. This one, though, busted that tradition to pieces.

So, the court will have an even stronger conservative majority if Kavanaugh gets confirmed. I wish it weren’t so. But it appears set to occur.

We’re about to reap the consequence of the 2016 presidential election in a big way. That’s how the system works. I accept the process that has brought us to this point. That doesn’t mean I like it. Far from it.

Trump wants to ban dissent? Really?

I have a three-letter response to what I understand Donald J. Trump said in the White House today.

Wow!

Trump told the Daily Caller — and I hope you’re sitting down when you read this — according to The Washington Post: “I don’t know why they don’t take care of a situation like that,” Trump said. “I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters. You don’t even know what side the protesters are on.”

He added: “In the old days, we used to throw them out. Today, I guess they just keep screaming.”

Embarrassing for the country to allow protesters? Yep. He said it.

He clearly needs to read the U.S. Constitution, the document he took an oath to protect and defend. It lays out in the Bill of Rights that citizens are entitled to protest.

In fact, and this is no small point, the nation was founded by a band of protesters who came to this new land to protest things such as political and religious oppression.

Political protest is as American as it gets, Mr. President.

Really. It is!

If the president is discussing the unruliness of those who are yelling at U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee members and U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, I agree that they shouldn’t be allowed to disrupt a hearing. They are being “thrown out” of the hearing room by congressional security officers.

But to ban political protest? I say again: Wow!

Meet with the judge, Senate Democrats

It’s no surprise to anyone who reads this blog regularly that Brett Kavanaugh is not the kind of jurist I would nominate to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, it might surprise regular readers of High Plains Blogger to know that I believe U.S. Senate Democrats are wrong to refuse to meet with Kavanaugh prior to voting “no” against his nomination to the nation’s highest court.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, whose statement is attached to this post, calls the nomination a sham and said he won’t participate in private with Kavanaugh. He is troubled by the conviction of former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of tax fraud and the guilty plea of former Trump lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen to similar accusations.

Here is what I would do if I were a member of the Senate — and y’all can thank God in heaven, as I have, that I am not a U.S. senator. I would sit down with Kavanaugh and then read him the riot act.

I likely would tell him up front that he won’t have my vote, that his lengthy paper trail of judicial opinions and essays is anathema to my own philosophy and that I cannot in good conscience betray my own values.

Then I would shake his hand in front of the cameras, smile and send him on his way.

The idea that these senators — particularly those who will question Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing — will refuse to meet privately with him is anathema to the kind of decorum and dignity they insist from the president of the United States.

It’s important to remember that presidents have the right under the Constitution to nominate judges to lifetime posts on the federal bench — and that the Senate has the role to “advise and consent” to these nominations.

What is the actual harm in sitting down with this individual and questioning him intently about issues you deem critical — and then voting your conscience?

Sen. Collins: Kavanaugh says Roe v. Wade is ‘settled law’

It might be that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has won over a key Senate Republican vote as he seeks to be confirmed for a spot on the nation’s highest court.

If Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is right, and Kavanaugh believes a landmark court ruling on abortion is “settled law,” he has gone a long way toward winning the support of many skeptics across the country.

Collins and Kavanugh met and the senator — a noted GOP moderate lawmaker — said the following to reporters: “We talked about whether he considered Roe (v. Wade) to be settled law. And he said that he agreed with what Justice [John] Roberts said at his nomination hearing, at which he said that it was settled law.”

Those of us who believe in a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy consider this an important hurdle that Kavanaugh has to clear if he is to be confirmed to a seat vacated by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

I do not believe Sen. Collins is prone to shoot of her mouth without thinking, which gives me hope that her two-hour closed-door meeting with Judge Kavanaugh produced the kind of dialogue she has mentioned. Collins has declared Roe v. Wade to be the benchmark on which she would decide whether to confirm his nomination to the court.

There are many other hurdles, though, to clear. Such as the one about whether the president of the United States can be charged with crimes, or whether he can be compelled to testify before a judicial body. He once thought it was OK to compel a president to testify; then he seemed to have changed his mind.

That will be explored in detail, I presume, when the Senate Judiciary Committee considers Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

However, if Sen. Collins is correct and Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t want the high court to mess with Roe v. Wade, then he well might have won an important skirmish in the battle royale that is shaping up in his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Alienation of affection? For real?

Some states have archaic laws on the books, such as one that has produced an eye-popping court settlement that has my head spinning.

North Carolina is one of a few states that has a law called “alienation of affection” on the books. This story was reported this morning.

It goes like this: A married began having an affair with a man. Her estranged husband was so outraged that he filed a lawsuit under the alienation of affection statute.

Then the married man, the guy his wife jilted, won a settlement totaling nearly $9 million.

North Carolina is one of just six states that have such a law. I believe the law needs to go. It needs to be scuttled along with other statutes, such as, say, states’ anti-sodomy laws that essentially prohibit gay men from having intimate relations in the privacy of their own bedroom.

What the alienation of affection law implies is that wives are the “property” of their husbands, that they are unable to make decisions on their own. I wasn’t aware, for example, that marital infidelity was against the law. Men and women commit these acts damn near every hour of every day.

Am I condoning it? Of course not.

However, I do not condone the state intruding in the private business of married couples who grappling with life-changing decisions and actions.

When I heard that only six U.S. states have such a law on the books, I feared Texas was one of them. It isn’t.

Perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court might eventually get to decide this matter on appeal, which the wife’s paramour in the North Carolina case has vowed to pursue.

Democrats ‘obstruct’ and ‘resist’? They learned from the best

Donald John Trump suffers acute short-term memory loss.

Take a quick gander at this message, which he sent out via Twitter:

The only things the Democrats do well is “Resist,” which is their campaign slogan, and “Obstruct.” Cryin’ Chuck Schumer has almost 400 great American people that are waiting “forever” to serve our Country! A total disgrace. Mitch M should not let them go home until all approved!

Sigh and double-sigh!

“Mitch M” is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose picture should appear next to the dictionary definition of “obstructionist.” Why is that?

Well, he obstructed President Barack Obama’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Obama nominated federal judge Merrick Garland, a supremely qualified candidate. McConnell obstructed the nomination even before the president announced it, declaring that in 2016 there would be an election first and that Obama would not be allowed to fill this seat even though he had nearly a year to go before moving aside for the next president.

Obstructionist, Mr. President? “Mitch M” is the king of obstructionists.

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.