Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action On The Block Before The Supreme Court

Affirmative Action has been a social policy for the past half century, and has allowed many people of color and women, who had been denied equality throughout American history, to have the opportunity to advance educationally, and enter many fields of work where they had been denied entrance.

Unfortunately, others, who were Caucasian, or male, or even Asian American ethnicity, lost opportunities that might have been theirs if there was no affirmative action programs.

So this issue is very complicated, but in the long run of history, it could be argued that affirmative action has been a positive concept, as unfortunately, there will always be those who are on the short end of any social change.

But, it is hard to believe that those who have been denied have not managed to succeed, just in a different manner and circumstance, as life is a challenge, and one cannot always gain everything one wants.

So, overall, it would be helpful if some form of affirmative action survived in the Supreme Court, as it now considers this issue, although it seems unlikely that it will survive this right wing Court in the present circumstances!

The Supreme Court Opens Its Most Controversial Term In Decades!

Today is the opening day of the Supreme Court term, and it likely will be its most controversial term in decades.

With a solid right wing tilt of six Justices, the Court seems likely to go against public opinion on many areas of constitutional law, including

Affirmative Action
Gay Rights
Voting Rights
Environmental Regulations
Religion
Free Speech
The Powers of State Legislatures

Public opinion image of the Supreme Court has dropped dramatically, and there have been massive negative reactions to the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in late June which declared abortion unconstitutional, nearly 50 years after Roe V Wade was decided in 1973.

The minority liberals on the Court, specificially Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, have been very outspoken in their criticism of the extremist agenda of the present Court, the most conservative, by far, since the 1920s!

There is much to fear as basic constitutional rights are being eliminated, it seems, with glee, led by Justice Samuel Alito (appointed by George W. Bush) and Clarence Thomas (appointed by George H. W. Bush), but joined in by the three Donald Trump appointees (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett) in most decisions, leaving Chief Justice John Roberts almost as an outsider, having little impact on trying to tame, to some extent, the rightward swing of the Court!

The only good news is the coming to the Court of Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first African American female in the history of the Supreme Court, and the fact that all three liberals now on the Court are women, along with Amy Coney Barrett.

But the future of constitutional law is in danger from the extremist agenda of the majority, an alarming situation!

The Supreme Court Reputation In Tatters, And Chief Justice Roberts Seems Clueless!

The US Supreme Court reputation is in tatters among all thinking, decent people, as the right wing extremist majority, made dominant by the appointments of Donald Trump, work to take away basic freedoms and rights!

The Dobbs V. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, taking away abortion rights from women after 49 years, reversing a precedent, is an outrage!

And the threat exists that contraception, gay marriage, and interracial marriage rights could be taken away in the near future, along with affirmative action, and environmental protections.

Chief Justice John Roberts seems clueless to this, and has lost control of his Court, and his name in history, as the leader of the Court, will be negative long term, unless he can bring pressure on other members to stop the extreme right wing tilt, which is making the Court look like a lawless institution!

Donald Trump Presidency Far Worse Than Richard Nixon Presidency, Which Had Positive Developments

The Presidency of Richard Nixon has long been understood to have been the most dangerous time of Presidential abuse in American history, but now with Donald Trump out of office, it is clear that the 45th President was much more abusive, and much more negative, than the 37th President a half century ago!

Nixon was involved in many illegal actions, culminating in the Watergate Scandal, but more more than just that scandal, and he was facing impeachment and removal from office had he not resigned.

But Nixon also made some major advancements in domestic policy making, signing into law Democratic initiatives that he could have vetoed, and would not have become law, including;

The Environmental Protection Agency
The Consumer Product Safety Commission
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

He also supported Affirmative Action, and appointed Associate Justice Harry Blackmun to the Supreme Court, and also, in foreign policy, opened up to mainland China, and accomplished the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with the Soviet Union.

Even though Nixon’s negatives, causing more indictments and convictions than any President, were major in other actions, he ranks in the mid to low 20s in ranking among Presidential scholars for his positive initiatives.

Donald Trump ranks near the bottom of listings of Presidents, and was ever more lawless, with many revelations yet to come, and he also set out to destroy much of the Nixon domestic accomplishments. And the fact that he was impeached twice, and lost the popular vote massively twice, adds to his negatives!

So Donald Trump elevates Richard Nixon, and even Presidents seen as primarily disasters, including George W. Bush!

The Tough Battle Ahead On Supreme Court Replacement For Justice Anthony Kennedy

The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative but moderate on such issues as gay rights and gay marriage, abortion, affirmative action, flag burning, and the use of the death penalty, leaves the Senate in a tough battle for confirmation of whoever Donald Trump appoints as his replacement.

The fair thing to do would be to postpone the appointment and confirmation hearings until after the midterm elections of 2018, just as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prevented hearings and a vote on Barack Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, a Presidential election year. But it is clear McConnell has no such intentions to treat this situation in the same manner as he did two years ago.

So the question is whether there is any possibility of stopping a Trump appointment, and it seems pretty gloomy and very little chance to intervene and delay or prevent a confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice.

With only 49 votes, the Democrats need one or two Republicans to join them in opposition, and for all Democrats, including more moderate and conservative members of the caucus, to stay loyal, even in an election year where 10 Senators who are running for reelection are from Trump carried states.

The saddest part of all this is that now we will have FOUR Supreme Court Justices–two by George W. Bush and two by Donald Trump–selected by Presidents who massively lost the popular vote in the elections in 2000 and 2016 when the Electoral College went to them.

Six of the last seven Presidential elections have seen the popular vote won by Democrats, all but 2004 since 1992, but the power over the future of the Supreme Court has been lost for the long term, for the next 30 years, beyond the theoretical lifetime of this author and blogger, and of many people who are 40 or over right now!

July 2 An Historic Day In So Many Ways!

July 2 is an extremely historic day in American history in so many ways, more than typical.

July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, with the document being printed, and beginning to be signed on July 4.

July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed Morrill Act, granting land for state agricultural colleges.

July 2, 1863, Second day of Battle of Gettysburg, turning point battle of Civil War.

July 2, 1881, President James A. Garfield was shot and mortally wounded by Charles Guiteau, died 79 days later on September 19, 1881, a tragedy I devote a chapter to in my Assassinations book, now out in paperback from Rowman Littlefield.

July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, most path breaking and historic civil rights law in American history.

July 2, 1986, the Supreme Court upheld Affirmative Action in two cases.

23 Years Since Richard Nixon’s Death, Final Total Repudiation Of His Positive Legacy In Domestic Affairs

Richard Nixon died on Earth Day 1994, at the age of 81.

He died, knowing that the Watergate and related scandals under his Presidency, would damage his reputation forever.

But Nixon also left a positive legacy, which now, a generation later, is, finally, totally repudiating his time in office.

Nixon, for all his faults, was the most “liberal” or “progressive” Republican President since Theodore Roosevelt, and no Republican President since has been anywhere near as much so.

Nixon could have prevented a lot of reforms, with his veto, but instead went along with a Democratic controlled Congress, and signed into law the following:

The Environmental Protection Agency

The Consumer Product Safety Commission

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Large increases in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as well as the Food Stamp Program.

Enactment of the Supplemental Security Income program, providing a guaranteed income for elderly and disabled citizens.

Signed into law various environmental laws, and expanded national park land protection under the Department of the Interior.

Signed into law Title IX, guaranteeing equal access and opportunity to women in all educational and recreational activities in colleges and universities and public schools.

Signed into law the addition of Affirmative Action to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for women, and ethnic minorities, in education and in employment–race, color, sex, religion, national origin.

Nixon also endorsed the proposed Equal Rights Amendment for women, also backed by his successor, Gerald ford, but opposed by Ronald Reagan, and failing of being added to the Constitution during the Reagan Presidency.

Finally, one of Nixon’s four Supreme Court appointments, Justice Harry Blackmun, turned out to be a very progressive member of the Court, and was the author of the majority opinion in Roe V. Wade, the abortion case, which has continued to divide Americans 44 years later, and which the Republican Party is attempting to bring about its reversal, with one step being the addition of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

Now, in 2017, President Trump and the Republican controlled 115th Congress seem to be on the road to destruction of all of these major achievements under Richard Nixon, a true travesty of justice.

We are witnessing the most reactionary, right wing extremist Congress and Presidency in American history, and progressives must fight tooth and nail to prevent this destruction of the “good side” of Richard Nixon’s legacy.

Most Significant Issue Of Entire Campaign: The Supreme Court Future And A Democratic Majority US Senate!

No more important issue is on the plate for this election year than the Supreme Court future, tied into a Democratic Majority US Senate!

The Republicans have made it clear that if Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency, but the Republicans retain the control of the Senate, that NO Supreme Court nominee will be confirmed, and in fact, not even considered in hearings.

This is totally unacceptable, and cannot be allowed to occur for the next four years, as effectively, that is destroying the whole purpose of the separation of powers and constitutional government!

The Supreme Court has been Republican majority since 1972, and finally, the tipping point to a Democratic and more progressive/liberal Court is in the offing.

Such issues as the following could end up before the Court in the next four years:

Abortion
Affirmative Action
Campaign Finance
Class Action Suits
Climate Change
Contraception
Gun Rights
Immigration Reform
LGBTQ Rights
ObamaCare
Redistricting
Unions
Voter ID Laws
Voting Rights

24 Years Of Justice Thurgood Marshall; 24 Years Of Justice Clarence Thomas: The Contrast!

Hard to believe, but it has been 24 years since Clarence Thomas was nominated for the Supreme Court by President George H.W. Bush, with Thomas being chosen to replace the first African American on the Court, Thurgood Marshall, who had been selected 24 years earlier (1967), by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Marshall had made it clear that he wanted to stay on the Court until a Democrat was elected President, but despite his desires, his poor health forced him to resign. Marshall stands out as having been a quality member of the Court, one of the top 15 Supreme Court Justices of the 20th century.

Thomas, the second African American in Court history, would face severe attacks on his competency and on charges by Anita Hill that he had sexually harassed her when she worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the 1980s.

The Thomas nomination became a major controversy, and led to the passage of sexual harassment laws affecting all employees in America, both in government and out of government.

It also led to a bitter and close nomination battle, with Thomas winning his seat on the Court by the closest margin in modern history, 52-48.

It caused Thomas to become embittered, and he has expressed this bitterness toward liberals ever since, and he has pledged he will not leave the Court until he is 86 years of age in 2034, doubling his age of 43 when he came to the Court.

Thomas has made his mission on the Court to oppose civil rights and civil liberties wherever he can, despite the fact that he benefited personally from Affirmative Action, and his race helped him to gain his job, even though his accomplishments were far less than Thurgood Marshall. Many well qualified African Americans were passed over for Thomas, because he was an outlier, a conservative, who did not care about what had happened to people of his race.

So Thomas has been an extreme right winger on the Supreme Court, along with Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, but in many ways more hard right than even them, without the intellectual brilliance of Scalia for much of the time he has been on the Court.

Thomas has almost never asked questions in oral arguments, and his history on the Court is just about the least impressive of all nine Justices.

But at the same time, he has had conflicts of interest that should disqualify his Court membership, and his wife has been a big power player with Right Wing groups that present many conflicts of interest, but no concern or explanation or apology from Justice Thomas, who has no concern as to how he is perceived or reported in the news media.

Thomas has come across as arrogant, but also dense about discrimination against African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, women, gays and lesbians, organized labor, and the environment.

Thomas is seen as certain to work against Affirmative Action, as in several cases in the past, despite the advantages he has had in his own life.

When one compares him to Justice Thurgood Marshall, it is clear that the appointment of Thomas was just about the worst decision President George H. W. Bush made in his term of office.

And if in the afterlife, someone can look down on the world, it would be clear that Justice Marshall, who was known for being blunt, would be furious that Thomas replaced him as the African American member on the Court, with no likelihood of his early departure anytime soon!

Commemoration Of Mississippi “Freedom Summer” Fifty Years Ago!

Fifty years ago, the Mississippi “Freedom Summer”, including thousands of northerners, white and black, who came to Mississippi to register black voters, in a state which was the absolute worst in race relations, and in many ways still is even now, was marked by the death of three civil rights workers–James Chaney who was black, and Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were New Yorkers, Jewish, and students at Queens College in Flushing, New York, my alma mater, and where I was attending at that time.

Tonight, PBS has a two hour “American Experience”, detailing the horrors of Mississippi in 1964, very close to Nazi Germany in its mentality. The documentary portrays the sacrifices and dangers faced by the Civil Rights Movement, occurring just as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed and signed into law. The following year, the Voting Rights Act was passed, in commemoration of the reality of so many barriers, including intimidation of blacks who wanted to vote, including the threat to take away their jobs, force them out of their homes, or even starve them!

When one thinks of what the Republican Party in the South now is doing to cut down the black vote, to deny them the right as if there was no Voting Rights Act, it causes great outrage! And the fact that the Supreme Court has weakened the law, as if there is no need to enforce it, when it is clear that bias still exists in the South, and even elsewhere, is enough to infuriate fair minded people! And finally, the fact that Clarence Thomas, the only black member of the Court, and a beneficiary of affirmative action, sees no need for enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, and has turned on his own race, it is truly maddening!