Tag Archives: Stephen Breyer

Bring in the insurrectionists, too!

President Biden said Thursday he intends to consult with members of the U.S. Senate from both political parties on who he should nominate to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

It occurs to me: Wouldn’t it be cool if the president were to include in those sessions members of the GOP caucus who voted to obstruct the certification of the 2020 presidential election results because of those phony claims of “widespread voter fraud”? 

I believe he should invite the likes of Sens. Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and perhaps even the nuttiest of ’em all, Ron Johnson to the White House. The media covering the meeting could put the clowns on the record on what they might have told the president on their feelings of who he should pick.

Stephen Breyer is retiring from the court soon. Joe Biden has pledged to nominate a black woman to succeed Justice Breyer. He already is getting resistance from some quarters of the far-right wing of the GOP caucus. I believe it is imperative for the president, therefore, to bring some of those fruitcakes into the White House, hear them out — along with members of the Democratic Party caucus — on what they think and why they think it.

Of course, it is likely be merely a symbolic gesture. The president is no rookie when it comes to vetting judicial nominees; he served for several years as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, so he knows his way around the judicial pea patch.

However, if Biden is intent on seeking bipartisan consultation — and I believe he is — the president ought to go all the way.

Bring in the nut jobs, too, Mr. President!


Awaiting SCOTUS debate

I am waiting with bated breath — yes, already! — for Senate Republicans to voice their opposition to whomever President Biden chooses to succeed Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court.

You see, we now will get to hear the objections as to why they oppose what the president promises will be a legal scholar of impeccable credentials; she will be someone with outstanding character; she will have unassailable legal credentials.

That won’t be enough to swing GOP senators over the right side of history as Joe Biden proceeds to find the first African American woman nominated for a spot on the nation’s highest court. Oh, no!

They will concoct reasons to oppose her. They will take whatever she might have said about something out of context, twist it into something no one can recognize and then declare that there is “no way” they can support such a “radical, left-leaning” lawyer to the Supreme Court.

I actually welcome that debate. Why? Because I want to know who the individuals are who cannot set their political bias aside while considering such an important choice for a lifetime appointment.

Oh, and be sure to stay alert to the accusation that Democrats in Congress and the president are somehow playing “politics” with this choice. Wait for it. That ridiculous canard is bound to surface.


Breyer to retire … who will join SCOTUS?

Stephen Breyer today made official what the world has known for, oh, the past 24 hours, that he is retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of the court’s term.

Now comes yet another stern test for President Biden: finding a nominee who will be seated quickly on the nation’s highest court.

The president has limited his field of choices dramatically by pledging to name an African American woman to succeed Justice Breyer. Allow me this bit of wisdom per the next nominee to join the court.

Of the names I have heard mentioned I am struck by the term “public defender” in the backgrounds of at least two prominent judges. The idea that a legal genius who has served as a public defender could join the nation’s highest appellate court is appealing in the extreme to me. One name appears to be the prohibitive favorite, as an article By Elaine Godfrey in The Atlantic has noted:

We know that his nominee will almost certainly be a woman. In 2020, then-candidate Biden vowed that he would respond to a Supreme Court opening by nominating a Black woman. Dozens of candidates are being talked about, but nearly all of the Court watchers I interviewed for this story have their money on one in particular: Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Biden’s Likeliest Replacement for Justice Breyer: Ketanji Brown Jackson – The Atlantic

I believe someone with public defender experience in her legal background brings a totally new perspective to any judicial conference that would occur when the court is considering, for example, an appeal on a death penalty case; or perhaps an appeal on a conviction that someone believes was incorrectly achieved.

Could a Supreme Court associate justice soften the hard hearts of her colleagues? It’s possible. Then again, it might not. My point though is that a U.S. Supreme Court need not be populated only with jurists who come from, say, civil law or who have experience only as criminal prosecutors.

President Biden seemingly wants to broaden the scope of the Supreme Court’s world view. Go for it, Mr. President.


Speed is critical, Senate Democrats

I will be watching with keen interest to see whether U.S. Senate Democrats can move with the speed and precision that their Republican colleagues can when they are given the chance to push a Supreme Court nominee through the body and onto the court.

Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring at the end of the current SCOTUS term. President Biden has promised to name a nominee soon to replace Breyer. He said during the 2020 presidential campaign he would name an African American woman. Remember that he made the same pledge when looking for a vice-presidential nominee. So, he’s a man of his word.

Democrats still control the Senate. But not by much. The body is split 50 to 50. Vice President Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote if she needs to do so. Gawd, I hope it doesn’t come to that when the Senate votes on a Supreme Court nominee.

When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in 2020, Republicans moved heaven and Earth to get Amy Coney Barrett confirmed just weeks before that year’s election. But … when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, nearly a year before a presidential election, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell dug in his heels and denied President Obama the opportunity to nominate a successor to the iconic conservative justice.

We have a midterm election coming up and Republicans could seize control of the Senate when they count the ballots.

So, the speed of this nomination process is critical.

No lollygagging allowed, Mr. President.


Why fight this pick?

My idea of political perfection might lie in the way the president of the U.S. and the U.S. Senate conduct themselves as we seek to find a justice to the nation’s highest court.

Justice Stephen Breyer has announced his intention to retire from the Supreme Court at the end of the current court term. President Biden then will get to select a nominee to succeed Breyer.

Biden’s pick won’t swing the ideological balance of the court; it will remain a 6-3 conservative panel.

That all said, it makes sense — to me, at least — that all Biden has to do is find a qualified jurist to take the seat once the Senate confirms her. Oh, yeah; I need to mention that the president has pledged to select an African American woman to succeed Breyer.

It should be a slam dunk, right? A 100-0 vote to confirm, presuming the justice-designate is qualified and has earned the necessary chops to take a seat on the highest court in America.

It ain’t likely to work that way. We hear now from Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Republican from South Carolina who doubles as Donald Trump’s suck-up boy in the Senate, saying Biden can get a nominee approved “without Republican support.” Does that mean the GOP caucus is going sit on its hands while fabricating reasons to oppose whomever Biden selects? Sounds like it to me.



A new fight in store for SCOTUS seat?

Here we go again, maybe, perhaps … but I surely hope not.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced today his intention to retire from the court at the end of the court’s term. He is paving the way for President Biden to nominate a successor.

Is this a big deal? You bet it is! Presidents have a chance to make a lasting impact on our judicial system that will remain far longer than their terms in office. However, let’s consider some key elements.

Breyer is one of three “liberal” justices serving on the court. A Biden appointment isn’t going to change the nine-member court’s ideological balance. Donald Trump nominated three justices during his term on the court, the last one of whom delivered the strong conservative majority that now sits on the nation’s highest court.

Progressives have been hollering for Breyer to step down for a long time. They want a woman to join the court, along with Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Amy Coney Barrett. President Biden already has pledged to nominate a woman, and she likely will be a Black woman. As NBC News reports: Biden has pledged to make just such an appointment. Among likely contenders are federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, former Breyer law clerk, and Leondra Kruger, a justice on California’s Supreme Court.

Is all of this a done deal? Well, consider that recent judicial appointments have been subjected to harsh partisan disagreements between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, which has confirmation authority.

President Biden is going to move rapidly to nominate someone. Indeed, time is not his friend. The midterm election is coming up this fall, the court’s new term begins in early October and the president will need to get someone seated with whom he feels comfortable.

It’ll be a fight but let us hope is not the kind of bloodbath to which we have grown accustomed.


SCOTUS to get kicked around?

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mitch McConnell has demonstrated a clear ability — and a tendency — to play hardball politics whenever the need arises in his own pointed head.

Think about how the Senate Republican leader can manipulate things in the event the GOP takes control of the U.S. Senate after the 2022 midterm election.

Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer might retire from the court. Say, he does so at the end of the current term, which arrives in late June or early July 2022. President Biden has to select a nominee immediately after such a retirement occurs. McConnell well might decide to throw up roadblocks anticipating a GOP takeover of the Senate in November 2022.

What might occur, then, if the GOP wins a Senate majority, seats a new Senate in January 2023 and Biden’s SCOTUS nominee still hasn’t had a hearing, let alone a vote? I’ll tell you what’ll happen. The GOP-led Senate could scuttle a Biden choice and then McConnell could decide to replay the tactic he used in 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly. President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the court, but McConnell torpedoed the nomination, refusing to grant Garland a hearing. Why? Because we had an election months away and McConnell said the next president deserved the right to select someone. The next president happened to be Donald J. Trump and, well, you know the rest of it.

This all seems to give a Breyer decision on whether he stays on the court a good bit more of a time urgency. I don’t expect Justice Breyer to act on the wishes of others around him. He is entitled to walk away on his own terms and on his own schedule.

The nation’s highest court, though, does not need or deserve to be kicked around like the political football some in the Senate have made it out to be.


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.

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.

Court says Texas can ban Confederate flag

Did hell freeze over when I wasn’t paying enough attention to what was happening down below?

I’m trying to figure out what happened today at the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that Texas indeed can prohibit people from displaying the Confederate flag on their motor vehicle license plates.

What’s more, one of the court’s more rigid conservatives, Justice Clarence Thomas, joined the majority in upholding the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles policy allowing the ban.


Great day in the morning!

The court has ruled correctly.

The Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans had brought the case to court after the DMV denied its request, with the backing of then-Gov. Rick Perry. The group contended it was a “free speech” issue, that it was allowed by the Constitution to make its statement of pride in the Confederacy.

Other Texans, though, objected mightily. Imagine that. The Confederate States of America seceded from the United States of America in 1861, declared war on the Union, launched the Civil War that killed 600,000 Americans. And why?

Because those states wanted the right to allow their residents to own slaves.

The Confederate flag in question has become a symbol for hate groups ever since. Go to a Klan rally and you’ll see the flag flying.

That is what drew the objection.

Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the opinion, said issuance of specialty plates is a form of “government speech,” not individual speech. Thus, government reserves the right to reject requests such as the one that came from the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans.

So, the state will get to keep making decisions on how folk can adorn their motor vehicle license plates. And if the DMV deems a particular symbol to be hateful in the eyes of Texans, then it won’t be found on our public streets and highways.