Tag Archives: SCOTUS

Ex-POTUS faces legal steamroller

My ego is in check, meaning that I am willing to acknowledge I am wrong far more frequently than I am right.

There. I’ve laid down my predicate for being able to boast just a little on something I said a while ago … which is that Donald Trump’s legal difficulties well might overwhelm his continuing campaign to become president once again.

Trump is facing the real prospect of being declared ineligible to run for president based on a clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment says that no one who engages in an insurrection or gives “aid and comfort” to those who do is ineligible to seek public office.

Legal scholars on all sides are coming to the same conclusion: The amendment is clear, that Trump did seek to overthrow the government and he damn sure gave aid and comfort to the job that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The amendment makes no stipulation that says an insurrectionist must be convicted of a crime, only that the he or she participated in the act.

Boy howdy! Trump damn sure did participate.

The 14th Amendment was enacted just after the Civil War. Its aim was to prevent states from seceding and declaring war against the government.

To be clear, this matter is far from settled. There have been lawsuits filed and myriad court battles loom. This matter could up in the laps of the U.S. Supreme Court. I won’t pretend to predict how the SCOTUS would rule on this case. Its members include three Trump nominated justices, along with three other conservatives.

One final note. The calls for disqualification are coming from conservative lawyers and assorted legal scholars along with progressives. Maybe the right-wingers out here among the masses can beat some sense into the skulls of the six conservatives on the nation’s highest court.

Donald Trump, to be abundantly clear, is now engaged in the fight of his life.  I don’t know what y’all might think, but from my North Texas perch, he is looking more and more like a goner.

SCOTUS is ‘legislating’

My fellow Americans, I believe we are witnessing in real time the systematic dismantling of a long-standing conservative doctrine that says, in effect, that judges never should “legislate from the bench.”

Because, folks, the U.S. Supreme Court, with its 6-3 conservative supermajority, is doing precisely what conservatives used to accuse liberal judges of doing. It has turned the judiciary into a legislative vehicle.

I am going to offer a grudging acknowledgment of a pledge that Donald Trump made when he was elected president in 2016. He said he would appoint justices who would change Americans’ lives. He delivered in spades by nominating, in order, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to the nation’s highest court.

What have they done? They have tossed legalized abortion aside; they have eliminated affirmative action entrance requirements for colleges and universities; they have allowed a wedding designer to discriminate against a gay couple.

You want judicial activism? There it is in plain view!

Chief Justice John Roberts once said while he was being considered for the chief’s job that he only would “call balls strikes” from the bench. Well, he’s changed the strike zone to allow fellow conservatives to toss aside settled law and to re-define “equal protection under the law” to suit conservatives’ view of college admission standards.

The three SCOTUS newbies have been joined by conservative stalwarts Roberts, along with Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas in turning the court into an activist panel intent on changing the course of history.

The nation’s highest court, moreover, has become far more political than the founders — I am quite certain — ever imagined it would become. They crafted a government system designed to remove the federal judiciary from the political battles being fought between the legislative and executive branches of government.

I have stated before on this blog that our politics has been turned on its head. Small-government conservatives now favor government intrusion into Americans’ most intimate issues. Those same conservatives now believe it’s OK for the federal judiciary to toss standing law aside while writing news from the bench.

What is happening to my country?


Equal protection in jeopardy? What?

The U.S. Supreme Court, in my un-learned view, took an unusual tack in striking down college and university affirmative action admission policies this week.

It said the schools no longer can use a person’s race to help determine whether he or she should be admitted, but left the door open to allowing schools to determine whether the college applicant has suffered from discrimination as a result of his or her race.

That’s a fairly narrow decision, yes?

Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion written for the court majority, though, says affirmative action violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause contained in the 14th Amendment.

Hold on!

Affirmative action became law for the very same reason! Students were denied equal protection because they were being discriminated against on the basis of their race.

I am left to wonder: Which is it? Which of these policies is unconstitutional? Denying someone entrance because of their race or giving them opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have?

I am going to stick with the former definition, siding with those who believe affirmative action policies are the suitable remedies to denying students equal access to education.


GOP becomes nationalist party

Just how topsy turvy has the political machinery become in this country? Consider this example.

Republicans once thought that the federal government should leave key decisions up to the states and local government entities. Big Brother had no business telling people how to live or how to handle their affairs.

But wait! Now we have abortion on the table. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that abortion should be legalized and is a protected right under the Constitution, conservatives stuck to the let-the-locals-handle-it argument.

The current SCOTUS has overturned Roe v. Wade, unleashing a torrent of efforts to ban the practice.

Now, though, they want to enact a national ban on abortion. They insist that Congress enact federal laws that ban abortion after, say, 15 weeks of a pregnancy. Some states, such as Texas, have gone even further, banning abortion after six weeks … which often is before women even know they are pregnant.

So, which is it?

I know the answer. It depends on the issue. It’s a form of selective principle. Go small on government interference, until the issue involves the hottest of the hot-button matters. Then you go big.

Conservative, small-government philosophies be damned!


GOP not more corrupt than Dems, however …

There is not a chance in hell I am going to declare that Republicans as a human subspecies are inherently more corrupt than Democrats.

However … we are seeing a disturbing trend that seems to give substance to that assertion. I refer to the incidents involving GOP-appointed justices who sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rather than recuse themselves from cases involving wealthy benefactors, three justices seem to go on as if, well, there’s not a damn thing wrong with accepting lavish gifts from individuals who have business before the court.

This is a matter of perception. If the public believes a justice is influenced by those gifts, there remains little room for the justice to set the record straight.

Justice Clarence Thomas has accepted lavish vacations from Texas billionaire Harland Crow. He hasn’t recused himself from any decisions involving his big-time pal. Thomas was nominated for the court in 1991 by GOP President George HW Bush.

Justice Samuel Alito has been accepting lavish gifts from an uber-rich Republican activist. No recusal from Alito, either. President George W. Bush nominated Alito in 2005 to the highest court in the land.

Chief Justice John Roberts’s wife has been working as a head-hunter for big-time law firms that have cases before the high court. Oh, Roberts is another G.W. Bush appointee.

OK, enough about the high court. I have witnessed judicial misbehavior in Texas at lower courts. For instance, I offered criticism of a Democratic district judge in Jefferson County who used facsimile letterhead stationery to help him acquire a private business license to operate a restaurant in the county courthouse.

These recent examples of lax ethics standards on the Supreme Court, though, does involve Republican-appointed justices. It is troubling in the extreme to see the court’s public opinion standing plummet in real time.

Americans have every right to demand and expect their justices to adhere to high ethical standards. We aren’t getting it at this time from some members of the high court’s conservative super-majority.

I am, therefore, demanding it from the U.S. Supreme Court.


What don’t these justices get?

What part of the term “conflict of interest” don’t members of the U.S. Supreme Court understand?

Now it’s Justice Samuel Alito who’s under the lights over his involvement with a wealthy Republican campaign donor.

Good grief, man.

ProPublica is reporting that Alito took a pricey vacation thanks to the generosity of a man whose company had business before the nation’s highest court.

Politico.com reports: According to ProPublica’s investigation, Alito in 2008 flew on billionaire Paul Singer’s private jet on a trip that included room and board at Alaska’s pricey King Salmon Lodge. That was paid for by then-owner Robin Arkley II, who is a prolific donor to conservative legal causes, like Singer, according to the report. Singer had connections with corporate entities who later made cases in front of the Supreme Court and won with Alito’s support.

Holy conflict of interest, Batman!

Justice Clarence Thomas has been pilloried over his relationship with Harlan Crow, the wealthy Texan who bankrolled glitzy vacations for the justice and his wife. That’s bad enough.

Now we hear about Justice Alito doing essentially the same thing.

You know, when I first started covering the justice system as an opinion writer in Oregon, then in Beaumont and Amarillo in Texas, one of the first commandments of judges was that they must steer far away from anyone who is litigating legal matters before the courts on which the judge sits. Any appearance of conflict of interest taints any decision the judge makes and opens him or her up to questions about their fairness, let alone their legal scholarship.


What is it going to take for the U.S. Supreme Court to enact some sort ethical rule that prohibits justices from engaging in this kind of cozy cuddling with big donors and/or with those who are trying cases before the judicial panel?

Chief Justice John Roberts refuses to act. So does Congress. Meanwhile, we keep getting reports from legitimate news sources of these kinds of relationships that — at minimum — cast doubt on the fairness of decisions being handed down by the nation’s top judicial court.



Not a ‘liberal’ vendetta

As I listen to congressional Republicans launch their counterattack in defense of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, I am struck by what I am not hearing from them.

I am not hearing GOP lawmakers actually defending Justice Thomas’s receiving of lavish gifts from a Texas billionaire. They aren’t justifying the fact that Thomas has refused to report those gifts to the court.

No. Instead they are questioning the motives of those who are reporting these hideous ethical lapses on the part of Justice Thomas. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, said liberals “hate” Justice Thomas and “will do anything” to undermine him.

Others have echoed the Cruz Missile. The likes of Sen. Josh “Clenched Fist” Hawley, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Mike Lee all have singled out the so-called “liberal media” for launching what they call a vendetta against the conservative justice.

Thomas has taken vacations aboard Harlan Crow’s luxurious yacht; he has allowed Crow to purchase his mother’s house and let her live in it rent free; he has paid for a grandnephew’s tuition at a high-end private school.

Think about this: What we have is a Supreme Court justice who is on the take.

C’mon, guys! This isn’t a “liberal media” campaign. It is the result of gumshoe reporting that has revealed the sad and maddening lack of ethical standards for the nine men and women who sit on the nation’s highest judicial panel.


Thomas’s ethics getting stickier

Is there no end in sight for the ways that Clarence Thomas can disgrace himself, the high office he occupies and the judicial system over which he presides?

The U.S. Supreme Court associate justice — the longest-tenured member of the nation’s highest court — is now reportedly the recipient of yet another lavish gift from a Texas billionaire who, that’s right, has business before the court.

Dallas financier Harlan Crow has been paying the tuition to a high-priced private school for Justice Thomas’s grandnephew, who he has raised as his son.

Oh, my. The hits just keep coming. Crow has treated Justice and Mrs. Thomas to trips on his private aircraft and yacht in exotic locations around the world. He has purchased a home for Thomas’s mother and allowed her to live in it rent free. Now we hear about the tuition payments for Thomas’s grandnephew.

I want to offer a bouquet of sorts to Justice Thomas, who has helped raise the young man. That’s a noble act and I don’t want to let that go unnoticed. However, such nobility should not be the stuff of potential graft from a rich pal … who befriended the justice only after he joined the Supreme Court in 1991.

What a coincidence, yes?

As we have noted here already, the nation’s highest court demands the courts lower on the judicial pecking order follow strict ethical guidelines. Yet it has none for its own nine members.

Are we left, then, to believe the Supreme Court is self-policing, that its justices are adhering to the letter and the spirit of ethical standards? I guess so … except that they aren’t doing anything of the sort.

What we have instead is a Supreme Court once held in high esteem by the public denigrating itself because some of its members — not just Justice Thomas — are flouting the standards they demand of others within the federal judiciary.

It is hypocritical in the extreme.


SCOTUS: above the law?

The irony is so rich you can slice and dice it, given the U.S. Supreme Court’s insistence that lower courts abide by strict ethics rules … but operates on its own without any such restriction.

We have three justices on the nation’s highest court who now have some serious — and possibly egregious — ethics troubles hanging over them.

They start with the chief justice, John Roberts and include Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. The Senate Judiciary Committee had invited Chief Justice Roberts to visit with the panel about those questions, but Roberts declined, citing judicial independence.


Roberts’s wife is a headhunter for law firms, earning millions of dollars annually. The firms for which she works routinely have business before her husband’s court. Conflict of interest? Looks like it to me.

Justice Gorsuch sold some property to a lawyer with another mega firm, which also does business with the court. More conflict? Umm, yep!

Justice Thomas has demonstrated a nearly legendary lapse of judgment. His wife is part of the Big Lie crowd, believing the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump; a Texas gazillionaire has lavished gifts on the Thomases and the justice has failed to report them; the rich Texan also has purchased the justice’s mother’s home and allows her to live there rent free. What do you think about that? Yeah … conflict of interest.

But the court has no rules governing this conduct. There are no restrictions or reporting requirements demanded of the men and women who serve on the court.

These men all have one thing else in common: they are Republican-nominated justices.

Why mention the partisan label? Well, consider something else. Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, was a partner in an international law firm. By the time VP Harris was sworn into office, Emhoff quit his job, surrendering millions of dollars in income. Why? Because there might be a hint of conflict. He chose the right path and is now teaching law at Georgetown University, earning a handsome salary, but which is significantly less than he would have earned had he stayed employed by the mega firm.

No one can fire any of the justices, or the vice president. The only way to remove them from office is to impeach them and then convict them in a congressional trial. The three men mentioned here have ignored any pretense of ethical conduct; the vice president and her husband have chosen a more correct option.

There must be an accounting for the individuals who serve on the nation’s highest court. For the chief justice to resist any calls for ethics reform is to betray the high office he occupies.


Just quit, Justice Thomas!

Your humble blogger — that’s me! — has used this forum to call for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign because of what I believe is a conflict of interest involving his wife’s involvement with The Big Lie movement and the 2020 presidential election.

I now want to offer a brief explanation as to why it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference on the high court.

The Supreme Court now comprises a 6 to 3 conservative majority. Thomas is one of the six; the others are Chief Justice John Roberts and associate justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

If Thomas left the court, it would still have a conservative majority, given that President Biden is likely to find a more, um, liberal judge to confirm to the court.

So, what’s the big deal? Justice Thomas no longer is able to serve on the court when his wife is actively involved in a matter involving the 2020 election, which keeps coming before the court on various rulings … which Thomas glaringly deviates from the majority by dissenting in favor of the 45th POTUS.

Then comes the news about Justice Thomas taking those lavish gifts from a billionaire Texan and refusing to report them, as he should have done. Good grief! Oh, and then the billionaire ends up buying a house for Thomas’s mother … and lets her live there rent-free!

Just resign, Justice Thomas.