Tag Archives: SCOTUS

‘Youthful indiscretion,’ anyone?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had a contentious Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, to be sure.

He argued that he shouldn’t be held totally responsible for how he might have acted as an irresponsible teenager.

What, then, does one make of a decision he signed off on that keeps a man in prison for life after he killed a grandparent when he was just 15 years of age?

Brett Kavanaugh Remains As Incorrigible as Ever | The Nation

The Nation magazine, a left-leaning publication, calls Kavanaugh “as incorrigible as ever” and criticizes him for the decision he rendered regarding the young murderer.

I know one cannot possibly compare the act of someone who kills another human being with what Kavanaugh was accused of doing — sexual assault and assorted other related activities.

Still, The Nation’s Ellie Mystal does pose an interesting question about how one can ask for leniency for his own behavior but can dig in so deeply when a young man commits a crime and is being forced to spend his life behind bars for a “youthful indiscretion.”

What’s good for the proverbial goose … you know?

‘Older liberal justices?’ Seriously?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It’s rare that I would challenge the reporting of a major news outlet, but I cannot let this item go without offering a tart response.

The Business Insider reports that U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones, a Democrat, wants Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire at the end of the court’s current term. He also favors expanding the ranks of justices from nine to 13, filling the four additional seats with liberal justices.

I oppose Rep. Jones’s notion of packing the court, even though he calls it a longstanding “court tradition.” Which it isn’t.

OK, then the Business Insider reports this: Many Democrats, still smarting over Donald Trump’s installation of three jurists to the Supreme Court, want to avoid the court becoming even more conservative due to older liberal justices declining to step down during Democratic presidencies, which Jones alluded to in his interview.

Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones calls on Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire (msn.com)

What? Three justices comprise the liberal wing of the court. Breyer is 82 years of age. He’s an “older” justice. The other two are Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan; Sotomayor was born in 1954, Kagan was born in 1960. Sotomayor is 68 years of age; Kagan is 61. I do not consider them to be “older” or “elderly.”

Justice Breyer will retire when he believes the time is right. President Biden is not about to nudge him toward the Back Forty. Neither should other Democrats in public life.

As for the Business Insider’s description of “older liberal justices,” the organization must be populated by Gen-Xers.

Don’t add to SCOTUS

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Listen up, my progressive friends. I am going to say something that will pi** you off.

U..S. Senate Democrats are seeking to do something that I fundamentally oppose. They want to add four seats to the U.S. Supreme Court, packing it with justices more to their liking.  That is a bad call.

What we have here is a slippery slope that can do as much harm over the longer haul than any “repair” that Democrats think will occur were Congress to actually agree with packing the court.

I now feel compelled to stipulate that I do not like the philosophical composition of the Supreme Court. It comprises six conservative justices and three liberals. Donald J. Trump nominated three of the justices and got them approved during his term in office. Did it infuriate me? Yes. It did, particularly after Senate Republicans denied President Obama the opportunity to have a justice seated after the sudden death in early 2016 of conservative icon Antonin Scalia.

As they say, elections have consequences. Trump was elected in 2016 and then Republicans who ran the Senate were able to confirm three Trump SCOTUS nominees.

But is the proper response now to expand the court, allowing President Biden to nominate justices who would grant liberals the judicial edge on the Supreme Court? No. It must not happen.

Why not? Because such a dramatic notion gives conservatives an opening to respond in kind were they to regain the White House and regain control of the Senate. Might they want to add another two seats, expanding the court to, say, 15 justices, allowing a GOP president and Senate to construct a conservative majority?

Let’s be real. The Constitution does not specify how many justices should sit on the high court. Indeed, the number has changed over the two centuries of our republic. Nine of them have presided for many decades. The number of justices is sufficient.

As for the court’s philosophical makeup, elections and attrition ought to be allowed to determine the SCOTUS composition.

President Biden is on record opposing court packing. He wants a commission to study high court procedures. Biden plans to set a 180-day period for a panel to make its recommendations on how we might reform the court.

Let’s tinker around the edges of that process. Packing the court with four new seats, though, is the wrong path to take.

Don’t expand SCOTUS ranks

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

All right, President Biden.

You said during the 2020 presidential campaign that you opposed expanding the number of justices serving on the Supreme Court. I am going to hold you to that notion as you launch the formation of a bipartisan commission to study SCOTUS “reform.”

Mr. President, the court functions just fine with nine justices. You are getting pressure from the left to expand the court to select more justices who fit your philosophical world view. That’s a bad idea.

Is the court composed of a majority of jurists I favor? No, but you know the saying about how “elections have consequences.” The 2016 election delivered serious consequences, indeed, when Donald Trump was elected president and he was able to get three justices confirmed in his single term in office.

Biden Commission Would Study Possible Supreme Court Reforms : NPR

I don’t like the court’s solid conservative majority any more than the lefties do. However, packing the court with more justices and then finding the “correct” jurists to fill those seats plays fast and loose with the founders’ efforts to de-politicize the federal judiciary.

I accept the White House statement on the commission: “The Commission’s purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals,” the White House said in a statement. “The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.”

While we’re at it, Mr. President, let’s not limit the terms of the justices, either. There is no compelling need to usher them out the door after they reach a certain age. As long as they are able to do the job, they should be allowed to stay on the court and play a role in determining the constitutionality of federal law.

That all said, good luck with the commission. Just don’t go too far.

Don’t pressure Breyer, Mr. POTUS

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden is getting plenty of pressure from the progressive left of the Democratic Party.

The current hot button happens to involve a member of another co-equal branch of government. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer might be retiring later this year from the court. Activists on the left want President Biden to nudge him out the door so he can appoint the first black woman to the nation’s highest court, which Biden already has pledged to do.

Don’t take the bait, Mr. President.

It is believed that Breyer, appointed to the court in 1994 by President Clinton, will retire when the court’s current term expires. White House press flack Jen Psaki assured reporters today that Biden plans to let Justice Breyer make that decision on his own. Good call, there.

The Hill reports, however: Demand Justice, an advocacy group led by a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), launched an effort Friday to push Breyer, 82, to step down so that Biden can appoint the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court while Democrats have control of the Senate.

“We are now firmly in the window when past justices have announced their retirement, so it’s officially worrisome that Justice Breyer has not said yet that he will step down. The only responsible choice for Justice Breyer is to immediately announce his retirement so President Biden can quickly nominate the first-ever Black woman Supreme Court justice,” said Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice and a former top aide to Schumer.

Biden will let Breyer decide when to retire, aide says | TheHill

Earth to Brian Fallon: Justice Breyer is under no obligation to announce on any timetable when he plans to retire. He was appointed to a lifetime judgeship, which I am certain is well-known  to Fallon. When he decides to call it quits, I also am certain that Brian Fallon will be among the first to know.

George P. might run for AG? Yes!

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush says the state’s attorney general must be “approve reproach.”

So … with that the nephew and grandson of two presidents has declared for all the world that he is giving serious thought to running to become the state’s next top legal eagle.

I cannot attest to the kind of lawyer George P. Bush has been over the years. However, I believe I can speak to the seriously damaged reputation of the current AG, Ken Paxton, who is facing a pending criminal trial in state court on allegations of securities fraud and is under investigation by the FBI over a whistleblower complaint brought by several of his former top legal assistants.

Bush is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the grandson of the late President George H.W. Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush.

I saw P. once in person at the 1992 GOP presidential nominating convention in Houston when, as a teenager, he brought the house down with his exhortation of “viva Boosh!” while speaking on behalf of his “Gampy,” the 41st president of the United States. It was Bush 41, you’ll recall, who famously referred to Jeb’s children as “the little brown ones,” given that their mother, Columba, is of Mexican descent.

George P. Bush says he may primary Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton | The Texas Tribune

Paxton needs to quit. I’ve said so already on this blog. The securities fraud allegation — resulting in a Collin County grand jury indictment — is bad enough. Then came the resignations and firing of several key Paxton legal assistants who blew the whistle on their boss, alleging that he is partaking in illegal activities while serving as AG; one of the allegations involves bribery, for God’s sake!

I have been frustrated beyond belief that Texans actually saw fit to re-elect Paxton, who was indicted for securities fraud in his first term as AG. Then, perhaps emboldened by his re-election in 2018, Paxton decides to sue several states where voters cast most of their ballots for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. The Supreme Court tossed Paxton’s lawsuit aside, saying the Texas AG didn’t have jurisdiction in telling another state how to conduct its election.

Put another way, the highest court in the land told Paxton to butt the hell out!

I am, therefore, going to applaud the notion that George P. Bush wants to challenge Paxton in the 2022 Republican Party primary for Texas attorney general. I have had enough of Paxton’s dirtiness in an office that demands its occupant be above reproach.

Let’s try this type of ‘diversity’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald Trump was fond of reminding us that “elections have consequences.” Of course, he was right. They do and those consequences often present themselves in the form of judicial nominations.

Joseph Biden also knows that truism and he demonstrated just how consequential his election as president might become for the nation’s judicial system. President Biden rolled out his first list of court nominees and they are a truly diverse bunch.

Biden’s nominees include plenty of women, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, a Muslim, a smattering of men, as well as Anglos of both genders.

Already, one of those nominees, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, is being discussed as a possible nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court in the event a vacancy occurs. Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed to the court in 1997 by President Clinton, is thought to be considering retirement once the court’s term expires later this year.

Biden has pledged to name an African-American woman to the nation’s highest court. Given that he made a similar promise when he named a vice presidential nominee, I am going to take him at his word that he will do what he promised. Judge Jackson fits the description.

However, I want to offer this suggestion for a way to diversify the SCOTUS: Find someone who didn’t earn a law degree from either Harvard or Yale University.

All but one of the justices on the court received their legal degree at one of those schools. Hmm. It makes me wonder whether the rest of the nation’s legal institutions are worth a damn. Well, of course they are! Which is why I would hope President Biden could cast his Supreme Court nomination wide, far beyond those Ivy League enclaves. Judge Brown is a Harvard Law grad. The only non-Ivy Leaguer on the high court is its newest justice, Amy Coney Barrett, who earned her law degree at Notre Dame.

Biden releases first wave of judicial nominees – POLITICO

I once made a similar request of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who was considering an appointment to the Texas Supreme Court. It dawned on me years ago that the Texas high court comprised justices who resided strictly between Interstates 35 and 45. I implored Gov. Perry to look for someone beyond that corridor. As it turned out, a highly qualified appellate judge from Amarillo, Phil Johnson, applied for that vacancy.

What do ya know? Perry appointed Johnson to serve on the court. Either he heard my plea which I made on the editorial page of the Amarillo Globe-News, or he listened to the advice of aides who had been strong-armed by legal eagles in West Texas to select someone from our part of the state.

Whatever. I think President Biden could rethink how he wants to apply diversification to the nation’s legal network by looking for a Supreme Court justice who didn’t earn his or her law degree in the hallowed halls of the Ivy League.

Garland: an impressive presence

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Surely I am not the only red-blooded American patriot who watched U.S. Attorney General-designate Merrick Garland’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee to have this thought.

It was that he would make a terrific U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Oh, but wait … he could’ve gotten there had the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate not blocked his confirmation in 2016 after President Barack Obama nominated him to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Oh well. Garland will make a stellar AG by employing the same temperament that would have served him well as a SCOTUS justice.

Let go of ‘Big Lie’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald John Trump just cannot — or will not — let go of the Big Lie.

The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down his attempt to shield eight years worth of tax returns from Manhattan, N.Y., prosecutors who are examining whether he committed campaign finance crimes.

It means that they are now entitled to subpoena those  returns to pore through them in search of potential evidence.

Trump said: “I will fight on, just as I have, for the last five years (even before I was successfully elected), despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me. We will win!”

Election crimes? Are you serious … Donald?

Once more with all due hostility: There were no “election crimes” committed against Trump in the 2020 election. There was no “widespread vote fraud,” no “illegal ballots cast,” nothing that would swing the result.

He is living the Big Lie and is fomenting it among the wild-eyed fanatics who continue to support the former Liar in Chief.

SCOTUS clears way for probe of ex-POTUS

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s admit it: We are a nation of Nosey Neds and Noras. A lot of us  want to know all we can know about the individuals elected to govern us.

Such as their financial condition. It’s only right … right? Yes.

So it is that the U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for the Manhattan prosecutors to subpoena the tax records of a former president of the United States, Donald John Trump, to determine whether he broke any laws.

This is huge deal. I am among those who wants to know more about the former president’s financial dealings.

I want to know if he is as rich as he kept bragging he was; whether he manipulated property valuations to obtain financial favors; whether he broke campaign finance laws when he paid the porn star $130,000 to keep quiet about a sexual encounter — that he says never happened; and whether he has given any money to charity.

Supreme Court refuses Trump effort to block tax return subpoena (msn.com)

This is relevant especially for those who supported Trump during his two bids for the presidency, the second of which he lost bigly to President Biden.

The court didn’t specify any particulars in its decision, nor did any of the justices issue any public dissents from the court ruling.

Yes, I know that Trump is now a private citizen. That doesn’t matter in this instance. He has been all over the pea patch on this tax return matter. He said he would release them, then he back off that promise, then he said he would do so again, then he blocked efforts to reveal them to the public.

He has lied incessantly for as long as he has been a politician … and likely long before that period in his life.

Let’s see the returns. Those of us with inquiring minds want to know the truth — finally.