Antonin Scalia

Donald Trump’s First Hundred Days: An F Grade Is Appropriate! Neil Gorsuch Is The Only “Accomplishment”!

This is the season for judgment on Donald Trump’s First Hundred Days, and being a professor of history and political science, as well as a lecturer, blogger, and published author of two books and many articles, the conclusion is clear.

Donald Trump gets a F for his performance, easily the least accomplished President in the first Hundred Days, with only one major accomplishment, the approval by the US Senate of his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

But even that only came about because of the Republican decision to abandon the filibuster rule, therefore allowing Gorsuch to be confirmed without a 60 vote margin usually required before a final vote. And it seems likely that Gorsuch will, sadly, take America backwards, maybe more so than his predecessor, Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch will affect constitutional law in a detrimental way, based on his earlier record as a circuit court judge.

Otherwise, Trump has been all bluster and bullyism, who has made many promises, and none of them nearing fulfillment. Trump’s public opinion ratings are by far the lowest of any President since polling began, particularly at this early a stage of his time in office. He has never had the majority of the nation behind him, either in the election, during the transition, or now after a hundred days in office.

Donald Trump has done more to divide America in his first Hundred Days than any previous President, and he relishes conflict, rather than compromise and unity. He has pitted his white working class supporters against minorities, and yet he is showing lack of any concern about those who supported him. There are signs already of disillusionment and “buyer’s remorse” by many who voted for Trump.

He has promised a Mexico Wall which will not work, if it is ever built, and it will add many tens of billions to the national debt, and Mexico is not going to pay for the Wall, and one hopes Trump is not ready to start a war with our neighbor, as he has more than enough foreign policy problems as it is.

He saw his National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, forced to resign in less than a month, and there has been total chaos, anarchy, and disarray with the White House staff, with the only good thing being the lessening of the influence of right wing radical Stephen Bannon, and the rise of the influence of Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner. It is hoped that the couple will have a humanizing influence on Trump, which would be a good thing.

Meanwhile, the Russian connection to Trump is still being investigated, and could force him out of office at some point. But meanwhile, Trump has been saber rattling with North Korea and Iran, and has bombed Syria and Afghanistan, and continues to promise the total destruction of ISIL (ISIS). Relations with Russia, at least publicly, are deteriorating as well.

Trump has managed to create hostility and antagonism with such allies as Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, and Australia, while seemingly cozying up to China over the Korean issue, and therefore changing his hostile tone in the campaign toward China.

Trump has shown his total ignorance of history and of science, and has declared war on the environment, on consumer rights, on labor rights, on women’s rights, on the Hispanic community, on African Americans, and on the health care system itself. He seems unconcerned about the loss of health care for 24 million Americans, and is just out to trash his predecessor, Barack Obama.

His appointments to his cabinet are atrocious, and we have the most terrifying Attorney General in all of American history in Jeff Sessions.

Trump has failed to gain any legislative accomplishments, and has, instead, used twice as many executive orders than his last two predecessors, but many are mean spirited and negative, undermining our values and the historical accomplishments of government in the past hundred years since Franklin D. Roosevelt, and including Republican Presidents, as well as Democrats.

Trump makes Richard Nixon look much better, and even the weaknesses and shortcomings of George W. Bush pale by comparison, as at least Bush was a decent human being, while wrong headed.

His anti immigrant, nativist stand is a stain on history, and the tragedy of deportation of children protected under executive order of Barack Obama adds to the horrors of families being torn apart.

His condemnation of the judiciary is detrimental to respect for the law, and his Muslim bans have been held up by courageous federal court judges.

Trump, in many ways, is the third President without a party, as there is a major split in the Republican Party, and there are many officeholders and conservative journalists and intellectuals who have major problems with him. John Tyler and Andrew Johnson are the earlier Presidents who had no party backing, but Trump was elected, while they were not, but Trump’s constant switches of position, and his lying, and insulting, undermine his Presidency dramatically.

Donald Trump comes across, ultimately, as the least likable President, if one judges by his character, his behavior, and his basic values.

Trump has no background, experience, knowledge, or ethical standard to be our President, and one must recall that 54 percent of those who voted, were against him, and he is the 7th lowest popular vote percentage winner of all Presidents, with the others–John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, and James Buchanan–all having two or three opponents who won electoral votes, while Trump only had Hillary Clinton as an electoral vote competitor. And Hillary won the biggest margin of popular votes of any losing candidate–2.85 million popular votes.

The nightmare of Donald Trump has just begun, and America is a loser for having, somehow, elected this egomaniac and narcissist, who is only out for his own glorification!

115th Congress Begins Tomorrow: Joe Biden Could Have A Surprise (We Can Hope)!

Tuesday, January 3, is the opening of the 115th Congress, but Joe Biden is still Vice President for 17 days more, and could have a surprise up his sleeve, which is perfectly constitutional.

What is this potential surprise?

Joe Biden, in league with Democrats in the US Senate, can call for an immediate vote on the languishing Supreme Court appointment of Merrick Garland, made ten months ago, to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February of last year.

It is unheard of to deny the Supreme Court a full number of members for an entire year, but this is what the Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did, and it borders on unconstitutionality, for which the Republicans have suffered no consequences.

Joe Biden, after 36 years in the US Senate, and eight as Vice President under Barack Obama, has continued to keep good relationships across the aisle, and was praised profusely recently by Republicans, as well as Democrats, in a near eulogy about his great Senate and public service.

But that does not mean that Joe Biden is, as nice and gracious and cordial and warm as he is, not willing to be a gutter fighter over principles he believes in, and he was vehement at the unfairness of not giving Merrick Garland a Senate hearing at the least, on his unquestioned qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice.

Garland was “railroaded” in Biden’s mind, victimized for no good reason, and Joe feels Garland should not be pushed by the wayside, in his own heart and mind.

So the rumors were around, and then hushed, that Joe Biden might call for a vote of the 66 returning Senators who do not need to be sworn in by him after 12 noon tomorrow.

If he decides to call a vote, the balance of those 66 Senators is 34 Democrats, 2 Independents (Bernie Sanders and Angus King), and 30 Republicans, so on a straight party line vote, Garland would be confirmed 36-30, and Mitch McConnell and the Republicans could do NOTHING about it legally, as it is constitutional to call a vote, and there is no constitutional requirement to have hearings. Many Justices never had hearings, which only became customary and drawn out in the 1980s, when Joe Biden led the fight with Ted Kennedy against Robert Bork, and later in the 1990s and since, when Joe Biden led the fight against Clarence Thomas on the Court.

So the point is that Joe Biden knows now to play “hard ball”, and he just could surprise us tomorrow, which would lead to condemnation by the right wing and Republicans, but who really cares?

The GOP does not worry about being nasty and playing “hard ball”! In fact, they specialize and revel in it, so let them stew in their own juice!

Let us hope that Joe makes news and distinction for one of his last actions as Vice President and Presiding Officer of the US Senate.

Let him become the center of attention, and maybe, just maybe, if he stays in good health, he can break a new barrier in four years, becoming the oldest President of the United States at age 78, making Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan look like youngsters by comparison.

Certainly, Joe Biden, the common man with no fortune, running against the wealthiest and most arrogant man to ever hold the Presidency, Donald Trump, would look very tempting as an alternative in 2020, since so many think he could have won the difference in the vote in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, had he run, and son Beau Biden had not tragically passed away in 2015.

And there are strong hints that Delaware Senator Tom Carper, with a long distinguished career with six years as State Treasurer, ten years as Congressman, eight years as Governor, and 18 years as US Senator by the end of 2018, may wish to retire, so imagine this!

Joe Biden could run for and win back a Senate seat and add to his 36 years in the Senate, and be a sitting Senator if he decides to run for President again, and if not, he can still serve his nation in the US Senate, and add to his distinguished record of public service!

The South’s Continuing Impact On Impeding Democracy With Voter Restriction Laws

The South lost the Civil War, but they continue to dominate American politics.

It used to be that the South was Democratic, and that they promoted slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and lynching.

Then, we had a Southern President, Lyndon B. Johnson, who accomplished the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with the Southern wing of Democrats in Congress bitterly opposing it, and many of them, plus much of their population, abandoning the party and going to the Republicans.

Under Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, they found a home, and worked to undermine voting rights and civil rights, often with the support of those Presidents.

The state governors and legislatures became Republican controlled, and worked to limit civil rights and voting rights, and the Republican majority Supreme Court in 2013 cut back on enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

As a result, Southern states and many midwestern and mountain states under Republican governors and legislatures started to pass new restrictive laws designed to undermine voting of minorities, particularly African Americans and Hispanics-Latinos.

This led to law suits and now decisions by federal circuit courts in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas, and earlier, Texas, to declare such restrictive laws unconstitutional, a major victory which could affect the Presidential Election of 2016.

There will likely be an appeal to the Supreme Court, a clear cut reason to make sure that the Democrats win the White House and the US Senate, as the outcome for this election is uncertain, and the future of the Court and voting rights in the future hangs in the balance.

It seems likely that the present Court might split 4-4 without Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February, and that would uphold the lower court decisions declaring such laws to be unconstitutional, but no certainly of that.

The South is crucial in our nation’s politics as they hold 22 seats in the US Senate, 31 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives (138 out 435), and 162 electoral votes in the Presidential race. And this does not include the Border states such as Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri, and Oklahoma, which tend to the same politics of exclusion toward minorities and voting rights.

The Changing Supreme Court In 2017: A Move To The Left That Will Last To The 2040s Or Beyond!

With the reality that Democrat Hillary Clinton has a clear lead for the Electoral College, the likelihood of a liberal majority Supreme Court seems more certain in 2017 and beyond.

News that Justice Clarence Thomas might retire at age 68 in the next year is encouraging in that regard, but even if he does not, as his wife has just contended, the likelihood is of FOUR appointments to the Court outside of Thomas, with two of them (Antonin Scalia dead and Anthony Kennedy retiring) being a movement to the left, making at the least a 6-3 Court by 2020. If Thomas also leaves, it would be a 7-2 Court, which would have a long range effect to the 2040s or beyond!

The Supreme Court has had a Republican and conservative majority for 44 years, since 1972, so it is about time to right the balance and make for a revival of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Court, which had an effect for 16 years, and continued to influence, if not control the Court, with the extended service of Justice William Brennan and Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Fortunately, Justice Harry Blackmun, Justice John Paul Stevens, and Justice David Souter, all appointed by Republican Presidents, often joined the few liberals left on the Court, and prevented the Court from going even further Right than it did in those 44 years.

But there is a desperate need for a tilt to the left on so many issues, so that is the most important reason for the election of Hillary Clinton to the White House in November!

Barack Obama’s Supreme Court Solution: Choose Former Republican Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor On One Year Term!

The Republican majority in the US Senate have made clear that they will not hold hearings, or in any fashion, consider the nomination of anyone selected by President Barack Obama to replace Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, leaving the membership at eight for over 400 days, until a new President has been inaugurated and chosen a successor.

There is not much that can be done about this in reality, except that it should convince those who support the Democrats to come out in droves and insure that Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is elected President.

It is, certainly, another issue in the campaign for the national elections, and since Republicans are split around Donald Trump, it gives an advantage to the Democrats, if only they can convince voters not to sit home, when either Hillary or Bernie lose the Presidential nomination to the other over the next few months.

But Barack Obama could put the Republicans in a box if he were to nominate a former member of the Supreme Court, chosen by Ronald Reagan, to return to her seat which she gave up ten years ago, not because of her own health, but because her husband had Alzeheimers, and she wanted to take care of him.

Were it not for that, O’Connor, with 25 years on the Court, could be close to the all time record of service of Justice William O. Douglas, who served 36 years from 1939-1975.  Her age is not an issue, as Justice John Paul Stevens was on the Court until age 90 and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes a few months older but still age 90.

Yes, O’Connor will be 86, but she would be capable of serving for a year, and her record shows she would be a balancing influence, much like Justice Anthony Kennedy, not a certainty to vote with conservatives or with liberals on the Court.

This way, she would be able to help the Court do its work, serve her country, and leave after a new President made his or her appointment shortly after inauguration.

One can be sure that O’Connor would do her duty for her country, as she is highly honored already.  And Associate Justice Charles Evans Hughes came back to the Court as Chief Justice 14 years after leaving the Court in 1916.

So the best solution is for Obama to request that O’Connor agree to return, and it will put the Republicans in an awkward situation if they refuse to allow it!

Most Significant Election Since 1968: Presidency, Senate, And Supreme Court Are In Play!

It is becoming very clear that the Presidential Election of 2016 will become the most significant election since 1968, when we saw the beginning of the Republican resurgence under Richard Nixon, due to the splintering of the Democratic Party under Lyndon B. Johnson, due to the turmoil around the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.

The Democratic New Deal coalition had lasted 36 years, with only Dwight D. Eisenhower, really a non politician who ran on the Republican line after being briefly considered by Democrats in 1948, breaking the Democratic dominance, which also included Democratic dominance of the Congress, except in 1947-1948 and 1953-1954.

Since 1968, the Republicans controlled the White House for all but for the four Jimmy Carter years up to 1992, and then won a contested election in the Supreme Court, giving the Presidency and the Republican Party control in the early 2000s under George W. Bush.  And the Congress was Republican, except briefly from 1994-2006, and again after 2010 in the House of Representatives and 2014 in the US Senate, after the Senate had been Republican in the first six Reagan years of the 1980s.  And the Court appointments after 1968 have been 13 under Republicans and only 4 under Democrats, but with the death of Antonin Scalia, the possibility of a permanent (for a generation) Democratic and liberal majority is within reach.

Now, after a long period of Republican control of the Supreme Court, it will come to an end if the Democrats can win the Presidency again, and if they can regain control of the US Senate, so this is easily the most transformative election in a half century!

It would transform America IF the Democrats can gain the upper hand in the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the Presidency, and the hope is that the House of Representatives might be different after reapportionment after 2020. with the goal now to create a smaller GOP margin in the lower House in the interim.

One period of Democratic dominance was replaced by a period of Republican dominance, and with the GOP splintering around Donald Trump, we might be seeing a return to the concept of the New Deal-Great Society and a new Progressive Era.

It all depends on voter turnout and commitment, and for anyone to be lackadaisical and not vote, is inexcusable in the present circumstances!

Three Eisenhower Supreme Court Appointments Were “Recess” Appointments: Earl Warren, William Brennan, Potter Stewart!

Barack Obama has a perfect opportunity to select a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia right now, this week, before the Congress returns from the Presidents Day recess!

Sure, the Republicans would scream and yell, and probably threaten to impeach, but it is totally legitimate for the President to go ahead and nominate a Justice, who would immediately take the seat of Scalia.

And history tells us that Dwight D. Eisenhower had THREE recess appointments, all outstanding:

Chief Justice Earl Warren 1953

Associate Justice William Brennan 1956

Associate Justice Potter Stewart 1958

And the Brennan appointment was right before the Presidential Election of 1956, when in theory, Ike could have lost the election, but still the appointment went ahead, and Ike was elected to his second term!

So enough already of the hand wringing, and Obama needs to insure a nominee now, to prevent a vacancy for a year, which would cripple the Supreme Court’s ability to do its job!

 

Barack Obama’s Supreme Court Choices

Barack Obama has every right, and the responsibility, to select a replacement for the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

We have never had more than 125 days from an appointment to confirmation, and never more than 114 days from an appointment to rejection by the US Senate.

The Supreme Court cannot do its proper job with eight members for more than a year, so Obama must push for his nominee, and if the GOP refuses, they will suffer in the Fall campaign in Congress and for the Presidency.

The Republicans have prevented action in the legislative branch, and tried to bottle up the executive branch, but cannot get away with blocking the judicial branch.

As far as who Barack Obama should select for the Court appointment, there are many names mentioned, but it would be good to have a Supreme Court Justice who has NOT been a federal judge, as this trend did not always exist in the past.

We need a wider variety of experiences, and one can think of Earl Warren, Governor of California, and Hugo Black, Senator from Alabama, as two exceptional Justices who never served as judges. We have had 14 Senators and 17 Congressman on the Court, with Warren an outlier, but Governor of a major state that was on its way to being number one in population.

So one can think of former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick;  Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey; Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; and Attorney General Loretta Lynch as excellent possibilities, with hints that Lynch might be the choice!  Some mention of Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has arisen, as well.

We would have our first African American woman on the Court with an appointment of Lynch, and she is used to long waits for confirmation, as with six months to become Attorney General.

IF Obama took action this week, during the recess of Congress for Presidents Day, the nominee would take his or her seat immediately, and the GOP could do nothing about it, so why not take action when one can?

But at worst, if the Court had to live with eight members, Lynch could stand by, stay as Attorney General to the end of the term, and then be chosen by Democrat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, assuming one of them become the 45th President of the United States.

But really, the Court NEEDS a new Justice NOW, and tough luck that the Republicans lose their control of the Court majority after 44 years!  Such is life, and it is time for the liberal-progressive agenda to be the majority of the Supreme Court’s future, as elections, as that of Barack Obama in 2012, DO have consequences!

44 Years Of Republican Supreme Court Majority Comes To An End With Death Of Justice Antonin Scalia!

The death of the most right wing Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, in modern American history, offers Barack Obama and the Democrats a real opportunity to transform the majority of the Supreme Court, which has been with a Republican appointed majority for the last 44 years!

With the appointment and confirmation of Justices William Rehnquist and Lewis F. Powell, Jr. by Richard Nixon in January 1972, the beginning of the fourth year of his Presidency, we have had a Republican appointed majority, and the Democrats have only had a total of four appointments to the Court, as compared to the nine that the Republicans have had.

With nearly a full year until the next Presidential inauguration, there is no excuse for the Republicans to filibuster or to dismiss an appointment without just cause, and the Republicans are playing a very dangerous game in so threatening, within hours after Scalia’s death.  Public opinion is likely to reverberate against them if they follow through and create the longest delay in a Court appointment being confirmed.

The all time record is the 125 days between when Woodrow Wilson nominated Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish member of the Court, until his confirmation in 1916.  The second longest delay was when Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork in 1987, and his rejection by the Senate after 114 days.

So to say it will take more than the 342 days when the next President is inaugurated to gain a ninth Supreme Court Justice is totally preposterous, and delays so many decisions, and basically cripples the ability of the Court to do its job, its constitutional duty.

Already, the Republicans have shown they do not believe in doing the government’s business in the House of Representatives and the Senate, so are they now going to do the same with the Supreme Court?

Is this the way for them to convince the nation to give them responsibility for control of both houses and the Presidency, and also the Court for the long term future?

Obviously, the answer is NO, so the chance for a Supreme Court of nine members might very well be resolved with Barack Obama appointing a perceived moderate to the Court, which will be hard for the Republicans to refuse to confirm!

Barack Obama is our President for another eleven months, and constitutionally, he has the right and the responsibility to choose a new Supreme Court Justice, no matter how the Republican Party feels about it!

Long Term Political Projections For 2016 And Beyond!

As 2016 arrives tomorrow, some long term projections for the upcoming year politically.

Next December, we can see how accurate these projections are:

Donald Trump will NOT be the Republican Presidential nominee, and he will lose both the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary.  He will be a sore loser there, and will announce a third party movement, but will win NO states in November, but take away votes from the Republican nominee, similar to Ross Perot in 1992.

The Republican nominee for President will be Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who will select Ohio Governor John Kasich as his Vice Presidential running mate.

Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic Presidential nomination, and will select Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown as her running mate for Vice President to blunt the effect of Ohio Governor John Kasich as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee.  And remember Ohio is the crucial state historically in the Electoral College, as NO Republican has won the White House without Ohio!

Hillary Clinton will become the 45th President of the United States , and Sherrod Brown will become the 48th Vice President of the United States, winning by a substantial margin in the Electoral College, keeping the 242 electoral votes of 18 states (Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii) and the District of Columbia, PLUS the following “swing states”—Ohio (18); Virginia (13)–thus insuring an Electoral College majority of 273 when 270 are required;  but also, in addition, the following:  Colorado (9); Iowa (6); Nevada (6); New Mexico (5); New Hampshire (4)–a total of 25 states and 303 electoral votes.

The only loss for the Democrats will be Florida, which will go to Rubio, a home state favorite, and taking away 29 electoral votes, from the 332 of Barack Obama in 2012 to the 303 of Hillary Clinton.  So Hillary Clinton will win 25 states, instead of the 26 that Obama won in 2012. The final electoral vote will be 303-235.

Hillary Clinton will name Vice President Joe Biden her Secretary of State.

Hillary Clinton will gain the opportunity to select FOUR Supreme Court nominees in her four year term, as follows:  Ruth Bader Ginsburg,  Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer–but of course, this cannot be proved to be correct until that next four year term is completed!

The US Senate will go back to the Democrats, gaining the seats up in Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Missouri, going from 44 seats plus two Independents (Maine, Angus King; and Vermont, Bernie Sanders) to 51 plus 2, effectively 53 seats to 47 for the Republicans, from the present 54 seats for the GOP.  Senator Chuck Schumer of New York will be the Senate Majority Leader as a result.  The President Pro Tempore position will go back to Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the longest serving Senator with 42 years and another elected term beginning in 2017.

The US House of Representatives will go from 247 Republicans to 188 Democrats, to a gain of 17 seats, and a new total of 205 Democrats and 230 Republicans.  Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin will remain Speaker of the House of Representatives.

So the line of succession will be President Hillary Clinton; Vice President Sherrod Brown; Speaker of the House Paul Ryan; Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy, followed by the cabinet officers, beginning with Joe Biden.

We shall see in a year how accurate my prognostications are!  Happy New Year 2016!