Anthony Kennedy

Supreme Court Has Waged An Extremist Right Wing Attack On Women!

In 1973, Roe V Wade, giving women the right of abortion, was decided by a 7-2 vote, including five Republican Supreme Court Justices: Harry Blackmun, Chief Justice Warren Burger, William Brennan, Potter Stewart, Lewis Powell.

In 1992, Planned Parenthood V Casey, was decided by a 5-4 all Republican vote, including Republican Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, John Paul Stevens, Harry Blackmun.

The draft opinion on abortion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, and said to have a 5-4 vote, was leaked last night, and it is an extremist right wing attack on women, taking away completely the right of abortion, including even having no exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother!

If this draft opinion is not changed by the end of the Supreme Court term, it has declared war on a woman’s ability to control her own body, and will lead to increased deaths by botched abortions, as was the case before 1973!

This bombshell report of what is likely to happen flies in the face of more than 70 percent of public opinion being in favor of abortion rights being retained after nearly 50 years of that right being affirmed!

Also, the fact that four of the five Supreme Court Justices in the majority of this opinion were chosen by Presidents who LOST the popular vote–George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016–is very disturbing!

Also, the Republican denial of the appointment of Merrick Garland in 2016, while allowing the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett in 2020, both election years, but a double standard on appointment, is outrageous!

The concept of established law, “Stare Decisis”, and “precedent” as part of Supreme Court history may be going by the wayside with this extremist Court!

And poor women, and particularly minority women, will be the ultimate victims, and poverty and abuse will become the norm more than ever!

Only about 25 nations ban abortion, and most of the Western world will look at the United States as a pariah on women’s rights, if this Court decision goes through, as there are already plans for the Republicans to try to promote a nationwide ban on abortion if they control both houses of Congress and the Presidency in the future!

The need for the vast majority of women, and men who understand the importance of preserving the rights of women to control their own destiny, to become engaged in the midterm elections six months from now, is urgent!

The Supreme Court Reputation Reaching An All Time Low

The US Supreme Court is in a crisis, as its reputation in public opinion polls, and among Supreme Court “watchers”, is reaching an all time low, not matched since the late 1920s and early 1930s.

The Court has never been as right wing in substance as it is now, since a century ago, and even going further back to the late 19th century Gilded Age era.

The Supreme Court’s reputation was glowing in the time of the Warren Court (1953-1969) and even moving forward to the Burger Court (1969-1986), and still having an image of balance in the era of the Rehnquist Court (1986-2005).

This was due to the reality that many Republican appointees to the Court, including the following, avoided hardline conservativism:

Eisenhower–Earl Warren, William Brennan
Nixon–Warren Burger, Harry Blackmun
Ford–John Paul Stevens
Reagan–Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy
HW Bush–David Souter

These eight Justices made a massive difference in enunication of Supreme Court opinions.

Sadly, George H W Bush’s appointment of Clarence Thomas, and George W. Bush’s selection of Samuel Alito, veered the Court far to the right, and Donald Trump’s three appointments—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett—have continued that trend.

The fact that Thomas and Kavanaugh have been connected to accusations of sexual harassment, and that Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett were chosen by Presidents who lost the national popular vote, and that Gorsuch took a seat that was meant for Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, and that Barrett was confirmed for the Court less than two weeks before the national election—only adds to the fury and disgust felt about the Supreme Court!

This has, reportedly, disturbed Chief Justice John Roberts (2005- ), whose historical reputation is being damaged, as he has moved, personally, from being conservative to attempts to create a moderate balance on the Court. Sadly, it is not working, so there are some rumors that he might retire from the Court after 17 years as its leader, as that is about the norm for most of the 17 Chief Justices in Amerian history, with the exception of John Marshall (1801-1835) and his successor, Roger Taney (1836-1864).

That would be a major step forward, to retire, and allow Joe Biden to pick a Chief Justice, which has not happened for a Democratic President since Harry Truman in 1946!

Chief Justice John Roberts Has Become The “Swing Vote” On The Supreme Court Since The Retirement Of Anthony Kennedy

Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed in 2005, has become a major surprise on the Supreme Court, and is seen by many as the new, often reliable “swing vote” on the Court, enraging hard line conservatives.

He has become unpredictable after years of being seen as a solid conservative, and is evolving into the most important Chief Justice since Earl Warren retired a half century ago.

Roberts is now perceived as the new “Anthony Kennedy”, going with the liberal side of the Court about one third of the time, and staying with the conservative side two thirds of the time.

This does not please right wingers, who want a Court that is back to the Gilded Age in mentality.

Roberts saved Obama Care in 2012; and just this year backed off on conservative attempts to end abortion; to end DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals; and backed the rights of gays and lesbians in employment, all path breaking moments.

He also prevented a citizenship question from being added to the census, and backed New York City’s strict gun control laws. And just this week, he upheld Nevada’s restriction on church attendance in the midst of the CoronaVirus Pandemic.

Roberts also was critical of President Donald Trump’s statement last year about Justices being loyal to who appointed them, when he said that there are no Bush Justices, no Obama Justices, no Clinton Justices. And of course, he presided over the Trump impeachment trial professionally, but one can see he is no fan of Donald Trump in any sense.

It seems clear that Roberts is thinking of his and the Court’s reputation and legacy, as the Court is awfully close to the point where it would seem regressive for the 21st century, were Roberts to go full right wing.

So despite strong criticism from the Right, John Roberts has been a savior on the Court at times.

Most important is that Roberts, writing for the Court majority of 7-2 on two cases has made it clear that Trump is subject to the law regarding no immunity from state criminal investigation of his taxes and also from congressional subpoenas, a stunning series of development at the beginning of July. So the President is not above the law!

Let us cheer on Chief Justice John Roberts for maintaining the reputation of the Supreme Court as NOT overly ideological, to the detriment of Americans!

The Unpredictable Supreme Court Due To Republican “Maverick” Appointments

The history of the Supreme Court since 1953 has been one of unpredictability, due to Republican “Maverick” Appointments, who surprise conservatives who thought having a Republican President insured their narrow minded views of the Constitution and the law.

America has been fortunate that every Republican President from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Donald Trump has made an appointment that surprised the nation, and promoted social progress long term.

Eisenhower appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice William Brennan.

Richard Nixon appointed Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice Harry Blackmun.

Gerald Ford appointed Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.

Ronald Reagan appointed Associate Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy.

George H. W. Bush appointed Associate Justice David Souter.

George W. Bush appointed Chief Justice John Roberts.

Donald Trump appointed Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch.

So ten appointments in the past two thirds of a century have made a dramatic difference in so many ways, including racial integration, school prayer, abortion rights, ObamaCare, gay rights, and other significant areas.

The Moment Of Reckoning For The Reputation Of Chief Justice John Roberts And His Court

The time has come for the Supreme Court and Chief Justice John Roberts and their reputations.

Will the Court rule that Donald Trump’s tax returns shall be made public, which will indicate the depth of corruption, Russian Collusion, and reality of just how wealthy Trump is? This is a group of cases which might take months to be decided, but will have the potential to repudiate Trump.

Also, Chief Justice Roberts will preside over the Donald Trump impeachment trial, and while not directly involved in the final vote, Roberts will have an impact with his rulings on procedure.

Roberts is the third Chief Justice to preside over a Presidential impeachment trial, after Salmon P. Chase over the Andrew Johnson Trial in 1868, and William Rehnquist over the Bill Clinton trial in 1999.

Roberts’ reputation is at stake in the long run of history, not only for these issues mentioned here, but for the reality that he has become, effectively, the swing vote on many cases, since Justice Anthony Kennedy left the Court 18 months ago.

The Right Wing Supreme Court Seems Ready To Declare War On Abortion, Gay Rights, Gun Rights, Immigration, Separation Of Church And State, And Presidential Power

The new session of the Supreme Court has begun, and the full effect of Donald Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh will now, likely, be felt.

While it is true that Gorsuch and Kavanaugh are not “twins”, to expect any major surprises in constitutional law in this 2019-2020 term are highly unlikely, as right wing law looks in the ascendancy.

What the Court decides ends up as the law of the land, and for progressives, it does not bode well on the issues of abortion, gay rights, gun rights, immigration, separation of church and state, and the growth of Presidential power.

The fulcrum of the Court, Anthony Kennedy, is now retired for a year, and the only hope to avoid extreme right wing judgments is if Chief Justice John Roberts, who has been a surprise a few times in his views on the Court in recent years, becomes the new “swing” vote on the Court this term.

Roberts might also preside over an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, who he, clearly, has been critical of in a number of ways, and the Court could limit Trump’s Abuse of Power, beyond Roberts presiding over an impeachment prosecution.

Since Roberts is worried about the image of “his” Court, some surprises may be in the offing, and of course, progressives will be watching the health and stability of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, now 86, having survived a third and fourth cancer, and wondering if she will be able to continue on the Court into the next Presidential term in 2021.

The Long Term Crisis Of Supreme Court Legitimacy Could Tear This Nation Apart Over Next Few Decades

The US Supreme Court is entering a period which could tear this nation apart over the next few decades.

Here we are in the 21st century, and yet, the Supreme Court could be taking us back to the late 19th century Gilded Age in its constitutional decisions. Now there is a solid five member conservative majority, with the confirmation and swearing in of Brett Kavanaugh, the most contentious nominee with the closest vote in the Senate since Stanley Matthews’ appointment by President James A. Garfield in 1881.

Matthews served nearly eight years on the Supreme Court, having been nominated by President Rutherford B. Hayes, but seen at the time as too much of a “crony” of the President, so his nomination was withdrawn, but resubmitted by President James A. Garfield in 1881, and confirmed by the closest margin in history, 24-23, but with Kavanaugh the second lowest ever vote 50-48. This was the only Supreme Court appointment of Garfield, who had only served four months, when he was shot and mortally wounded by an assassin, and died in September 1881.

The concern about fairness on the part of Brett Kavanaugh however was not the same as Stanley Matthews, who was the majority opinion author in a case involving discrimination against Chinese laundries and their owners in San Francisco, with the case being Yick Wo V. Hopkins, enforcing the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. This was a step forward at a difficult time, in the year 1886, although the government had passed into law the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

We could only hope for the kind of open mindedness on the part of Brett Kavanaugh, as occurred with Stanley Matthews’ authorship of this case, which gives him stature in Supreme Court history.

We have had Republican appointments in the past, who turned out to be surprises, including:

Earl Warren and William Brennan, appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower

Harry Blackmun, appointed by Richard Nixon

John Paul Stevens, appointed by Gerald Ford

Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, appointed by Ronald Reagan

David Souter, appointed by George H. W. Bush

It would be a miracle at this point if Brett Kavanaugh were to travel the same road.

In a nation becoming more minority over the next decades, and with young people and women and college educated people veering to the left, while the Supreme Court veers dramatically to the Far Right, the question is whether civil disorder is not in the making, creating a crisis atmosphere in the future decades, exactly what America’s enemies are hoping for.

A Way To Promote End Of Political Polarization: Nominate Merrick Garland A Justice Of The Supreme Court

Assuming that the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court fails to gain a majority of the US Senate, the future of the Court and its reputation remains at stake.

One way to resolve it is for both Republicans and Democrats to work toward the end of polarization, and call upon President Donald Trump to nominate Merrick Garland to the empty seat on the Supreme Court, three years after he was summarily dismissed and ignored by the Republicans, when President Barack Obama nominated him to replace Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016.

Merrick Garland was seen by Obama as a compromise choice, whom the Republicans would accept, as he is seen as a moderate, and has a distinguished background as the Chief Judge of the US Court Of Appeals for the DC Circuit, the highest court next to the Supreme Court.

Garland is technically the “boss” of Brett Kavanaugh, and also was of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, and both of them have always been very positive in their views of Garland.

Being in his mid 60s. Garland would serve far less than the theoretical 30 years that Gorsuch might serve, and that Kananaugh might serve if he was confirmed.

Garland is perfectly qualified to keep the Court balanced, and would likely replace Anthony Kennedy as the “swing vote” on the Court, and would prevent the kind of polarization represented by an extreme right wing choice for the Supreme Court, keeping it as four liberals, four conservatives, and Garland as the crucial vote, sometimes siding with one or the other side, as Anthony Kennedy did, and earlier, Sandra Day O’Connor did.

Why could not the two parties agree to a truce, to work toward cooperation, and return the US Senate to what it was under Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan, when Senator Everett Dirksen worked with LBJ, and Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill did with Reagan, working across the aisle on many matters?

It is proper that Merrick Garland be put on the Court, as a distinguished, and accomplished man, who deserves, belatedly, three years late, to give his service to our nation’s highest Court.

Supreme Court Longevity An Issue, As Recent Justices Have Stayed Much Longer Than Average, Including Contested Nominee Clarence Thomas

In the midst of the controversy over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is the reality of how long he might serve.

There has been a trend whereby recent Supreme Court Justices serve much longer than historically traditional.

Right now, contested Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed in 1991 despite strong testimony of Anita Hill, has served 27 years on the Court, and is already number 24 in longevity of service out of 113 members of the Court in American history. He will be number 17 in two years and number 13 in four years. In May 2028, he would break the all time record of 36 years and nearly 7 months of Justice William O. Douglas, and Thomas would be just about a month short of age 80, and can be seen as likely, if he stays healthy, to accomplish this goal.

If one just looks at the top fourth of all Supreme Court Justices in longevity, a total of 31 out of 113, all 24 years or more of service, we find the following recent Justices, all appointed since the 1950s, are on the list:

John Paul Stevens
William Brennan
William Rehnquist
Byron White
Anthony Kennedy
Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Sandra Day O’Connor
Harry Blackmun
Stephen Breyer
Thurgood Marshall

In the earlier history of the Supreme Court, the average length of service was about 15 years by comparison.

That is why the idea, proposed by this author two days ago, that a future Supreme Court Justice be limited to an 18 year term, allows for turnover, and prevents dominance by an ideological minority for decades, as now is threatened by Brett Kavanaugh, or another extreme right wing appointment by Donald Trump.

Supreme Court Justice Predictability Not So: Nine Cases From Felix Frankfurter To David Souter

As the hearings continue on the nomination of Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the question has arisen over whether Supreme Court Justices are predictable in their evolution on the Court.

The argument is that most Supreme Court Justices are “pegged” when they are considered for the Court, and do not disappoint the President and the party which nominated them for the Court.

But history actually tells us that there are quite a few exceptions to this perceived thought.

Felix Frankfurter (1939-1962), appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, migrated from an earlier liberal, almost radical view, to a clearly conservative view, disappointing many Democrats in the process.

Earl Warren (1953-1969), appointed Chief Justice by Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, and thought to be a conservative oriented person, turned out in the mind of many Republicans “a flaming liberal”, totally surprising Eisenhower and many pleased Democrats and liberals.

William Brennan (1956-1990), appointed by Eisenhower, and a rare Catholic on the Court, and thought to be a conservative, turned out to be even more liberal in his jurisprudence, and lasted twice as long as Warren on the Supreme Court, stunning many conservatives and Republicans.

Byron White (1962-1993), appointed by John F. Kennedy, was thought to be a liberal, but was a consistent conservative in his years on the Court.

Harry Blackmun (1970-1994), appointed by Richard Nixon, started off as a conservative, along with his so called “Minnesota Twin” and colleague, Chief Justice Warren Burger, but veered sharply left more and more, diverging dramatically from Burger as the years went by, and honored by liberals as a great Supreme Court Justice.

John Paul Stevens (1975-2010), appointed by Gerald Ford, was thought to be a moderate conservative, but dramatically moved left in his jurisprudence, and remained on the Court for 35 years, third longest of any Justice in history, retiring at age 90, but still active at age 98 (the longest lived Justice ever), and still promoting liberal viewpoints.

Sandra Day O’Connor (1981-2006), appointed by Ronald Reagan as first woman on the Court, turned out to be far less conservative, veering toward the center, and seen as a balance on the Court, unpredictable during her tenure on the Court.

Anthony Kennedy (1988-2018), appointed by Reagan, and just retired, thought to be a hard line conservative, turned out to be the second “swing” vote with O’Connor, and then the true “swing” vote on the Court, joining the liberal side one third of the time.

David Souter (1990-2009), appointed by George H. W. Bush, was thought of as moving the Court to the Right, after William Brennan retired, but many Republicans and conservatives were severely disappointed in his unpredictability, and often his siding with the liberal view on many issues, more than one would have expected.

Notice, however, that seven of these nine cases, all but Frankfurter and White, were of Republican appointments that turned out to be much more “liberal” than one might have imagined, with only Frankfurter and White turning out to be more “conservative” than perceived at the time of their nominations to the Supreme Court.