Tag Archives: SCOTUS

Roe v. Wade far from ‘settled’

If you thought the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States had become “settled law,” you had better think again.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is now under a full frontal assault by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature. Texas now has a law on the books that prohibits a woman from obtaining an abortion as early as six weeks into her pregnancy.

President Biden calls the law “unconstitutional.” The current Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 to let the law take effect even though it is being contested by multiple lawsuits.

One of the four dissenting justices, Stephen Breyer, calls the SCOTUS decision “very, very, very wrong.”

The Texas Tribune reports: The Texas law is novel for incentivizing private citizens to police abortions. It empowers anyone living in the state of Texas to sue an abortion provider or anyone else they suspect is “aiding and abetting” abortions after the six-week mark. Those opposing the law say this may be far-ranging and could include the abortion provider or anyone who provided transportation to a woman, or counseled or referred a woman for an abortion.

Stephen Breyer calls Supreme Court decision on Texas abortion law ‘wrong’ | The Texas Tribune

There’s a fascinating bit of irony at play here. Conservatives proclaim proudly that they oppose what they call “judicial activism.” They say they dislike court decisions that go beyond the Constitution’s strict adherence to original intent.

From my perch in North Texas, it appears that most of the court’s conservatives — except for Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the liberal wing — are engaging in a raw form of judicial activism by dismissing the lawsuits and declaring that a law that is being challenged should take effect.

Wouldn’t a “conservative” court just let the litigation play out and stay out of the way?

Settled law? Not when you have a group of judicial activists on the nation’s highest court.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

No need to pack SCOTUS

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Hell hasn’t exactly frozen over, but the rare moment of my agreeing with a conservative legal scholar has arrived.

Jeremy Dys writes in The Hill that there exists no clear reason to expand the ranks of the U.S. Supreme Court, or to “pack” it to make it more palatable to us liberals.

I happen to agree with him.

Furthermore, I wish the lefties among us would just pipe down and let the judicial branch of our federal government do the job granted to it by the U.S. Constitution.

Dys and I come at this from different perspectives. He believes the court’s “center-left demise” has been exaggerated. I happen to believe that elections have consequences, as we learned to our dismay — I hasten to add — with the election in 2016 of the moron who got impeached twice by the U.S. House of Representatives.

He exited the White House in disgrace. However, he was able to nominate three individuals to the high court and much to the surprise of many of us, the judicial troika he selected hasn’t fallen in lockstep with whatever judicial philosophy POTUS 45 wanted them to follow.

No reason to pack the court | TheHill

Justice Stephen Breyer is not sending any strong signals that he is about to retire from the court. The liberal justice’s successor would not change the ideological balance on the SCOTUS. I do have a fear that if the GOP gets control of the Senate after the 2022 election that its leadership will stall any nomination process the way it did in 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died and the Senate denied President Obama the chance to select a successor to the conservative judicial icon.

But that’s how it goes.

I just dislike the notion of monkeying around the size of the Supreme Court because the politics of the moment do not suit one side of the political divide.

Yep, elections have consequences

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The old saying about how “elections have consequences” is playing itself out on the U.S. Supreme Court.

President Biden’s immediate predecessor was able to nominate three justices to the nation’s highest court during his single term. This week, we saw the effect of those nominations present itself in real time with a ruling that makes it more difficult to stem the Republican tide that seeks to make voting more difficult for Americans.

The court ruled 6 to 3 — with conservative justices winning the fight — on a ruling out of Arizona that keeps in place strict voter requirements that critics suggest aim to make it harder for traditionally Democratic citizens to vote.

So the battle will be joined.

The ruling makes it harder for ethnic and racial minorities to challenge the Arizona law, which places many restrictions deemed critical to the political balance of power.

These appointments to the nation’s highest court have reignited calls to expand the court from its current nine justices to, oh, 13 or 15. That’s a bad idea and I do not support such a drastic move. President Biden isn’t warm to the notion, either. He pledged to appoint a blue-ribbon commission of conservative and liberal legal scholars to find a way to reform the federal judiciary.

However, electoral consequences have this way of presenting themselves when courts make these difficult decisions.

Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed to the court in 1994 after being nominated by President Clinton, might retire soon. Breyer is among the liberals on the court. A nomination by President Biden isn’t going to change the court’s ideological tilt should he get the chance.

These key court rulings do make it imperative that we understand the consequences of electing presidents. They are huge, especially when the court system swings too far in the wrong direction.

In my humble view, it has done so.

ACA survives again; time to let these challenges go

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The Affordable Care Act is alive and likely quite well.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a remarkably united decision — 7 to 2, to be precise — that keeps the landmark health care program intact.

According to The Hill: The case was decided on fairly technical grounds. The Court ruled that the challengers did not have standing to sue, given that the penalty for not having health insurance at the center of the case had been reduced to zero, so it was not causing any actual harm that could be the basis for a lawsuit. 

Five takeaways on the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision | TheHill

What does this mean for the future of what has been known colloquially as Obamacare, named after President Obama’s signature domestic victory? It should signal the end of Republicans’ futile attempts to repeal the law. I say “should,” but it likely won’t.

Only two of the court’s conservatives ruled to repeal a portion of the law: Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Other right-wing jurists — Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts — sided with the liberals on the court, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer in determining that the litigants didn’t have standing.

I am delighted to know that the ACA no longer has a president in office who keeps yapping about ending the law while producing not a single idea for how to replace it. For four years, President Biden’s immediate predecessor kept telling us how he would repeal the ACA. It didn’t happen. Indeed, two previous court challenges ended with conservatives coming up short.

I get that the ACA isn’t perfect. So does President Obama. He has said repeatedly that he took no exclusive ownership of the law, insisting that he was open to anything to improve it. Republicans so far have some up with, well … nothing! All they have sought was to remove the ACA from the books, cheered on by POTUS 45, who just could not stomach being shown up by the black guy who preceded him as president.

Here we are. A 7-2 Supreme Court decision should spell the end of these ridiculous challenges. I fear it won’t.

Still, to borrow a phrase muttered into a hot mic by then-VP Joe Biden when the Affordable Care Act became law more than a decade ago, this court ruling is a “big fu**ing deal.”

Justice Breyer should ignore the pressure

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Someone will have to explain to me why congressional progressives are getting all wound up over whether Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer needs to retire.

As in this summer when the current term ends.

Breyer is one of them. He’s a progressive justice on the nation’s highest court dominated these days by conservatives. The right wing holds a 6-3 majority on the high court. Breyer usually votes with the liberal wing comprising justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Breyer is getting a bit long in the tooth to be sure. He was nominated by President Clinton in 1994 and was approved overwhelmingly by the U.S. Senate.

Liberals in Congress want him to retire, paving the way for President Biden to select another — presumably much younger — liberal justice.

I need to stipulate that a Breyer retirement and an appointment by Biden won’t change the court’s political tilt. It would remain  6-3 conservative-leaning panel.

Among the progressives calling for Breyer’s retirement, quite naturally, is the New York firebrand U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the second-term congresswoman who — for reasons that escape me — has become the go-to voice among progressives in Congress.

I have argued that Justice Breyer needs to listen to his own counsel on this one. That is why the framers created an ostensibly “independent” federal judiciary. Justices shouldn’t have to listen to others yap and yammer over what they should do. Do they stay or do they go?

As near as I can tell, Stephen Breyer still has his wits about him. He is able to do the job and he’s doing it well.

As for AOC and other progressives, they need to tend to their own business, which is writing laws and enacting them. The judiciary is an independent branch of government, which tells me that federal judges don’t need others to tell them when they should call it a career.

State Bar examines AG’s conduct … wow!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Are you really surprised that this item has splashed its way onto the news cycle?

The State Bar of Texas is examining whether Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s frivolous lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election constitutes an offense worthy of his disbarment.

Well …

Who’da thunk that might happen? I sorta did.

Paxton sought to reverse the results of the election in four states that voted for President Biden over the Republican incumbent president. The U.S. Supreme Court tossed the lawsuit with nary a word, contending that Paxton had no standing to file such a lawsuit.

The Huffington Post reported:

Kevin Moran, the 71-year-old president of the Galveston Island Democrats, shared his complaint with The Associated Press along with letters from the State Bar of Texas and the Board of Disciplinary Appeals that confirm the investigation. He said Paxton’s efforts to dismiss other states’ election results was a wasteful embarrassment for which the attorney general should lose his law license.

“He wanted to disenfranchise the voters in four other states,” said Moran. “It’s just crazy.”

State Bar Investigating Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton | HuffPost

Yep. It’s crazy, all right. It also served to embarrass Texas in front of the entire world! It suggested to many of us that the AG’s fierce fealty to the former president blinded what passes for his better judgment.

So, here we are. The state’s top legal eagle is awaiting trial in state court on securities fraud allegations; the FBI is probing a whistleblower complaint of wrongdoing brought by several former top AG’s office lawyers; now the State Bar is looking into whether the attorney general should be stripped of his license to practice law.

Nice going, Mr. Attorney General.

Abortion headed for scrap heap?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am profoundly offended by the notion of politicians dictating to women how they can deal with emotional trauma that virtually no one else can comprehend.

Yet that is what is likely to happen if — or likely when — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs an anti-abortion bill into law.

The Legislature has enacted a bill that would make abortion illegal six weeks after conception, which is before many women even know they are pregnant.

Texas Senate advances bill to outlaw abortions if Roe. v. Wade overturned | The Texas Tribune

What’s more, these politicians — dominated in Texas by Republicans, of course — are poised to make all abortions illegal if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in this country.

As the Texas Tribune reported:

I am shaking my head in disgust and dismay at what these pols think they are doing.

As I have noted already on this blog, my distress at this draconian measure does not make me “pro-abortion.” I never could recommend an abortion for a woman who sought my counsel. I simply would stand back and tell that woman to do what her heart tells her to do.

If only our state’s smug political class — comprising a solid majority of men — would comprehend the notion that they are venturing into territory where they should never tread.

‘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.