Conservatism

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.

The Surrender Of The Republican Party To The Cult Of Donald Trump Seems Complete

The Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H W Bush, Gerald Ford, and even Ronald Reagan is gone.

So is the party of Robert LaFollette, Sr., George Norris, Nelson Rockefeller, Mark Hatfield, Clifford Case, William Scranton, and innumerable others who served as Governors or US Senators.

The Republican Party of 2018 has sold its soul to the idea of maintaining office at all costs, and all principles, morals, and ethics have totally disappeared.

No one, literally no one, who is running for election now or in the near future, is willing to gamble losing his or her position of power.

Only those who are dying, as John McCain–or not running for reelection, such as Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona—or not in office or those who have journalistic integrity despite their Republican or conservative credentials in the past—have the willingness to speak up. Or the most recent example of South Carolina Congressman and former Governor Mark Sanford, a strong conservative Republican, who lost his party’s primary despite his conservative credentials, because he had the “nerve” to criticize Donald Trump!

The only way to purge the party future is for all officeholders, or most of them, who are facing election and staying silent, to be forced out of office by the voters in the midterm Congressional and state elections in November 2018.

This is, and it is not meant to sound dramatic, but this is the only hope for American democracy, that the Democrats have a massive, overwhelming victory.

If not, we are living in a period where the Constitution and Bill of Rights are being destroyed before our eyes, with most Americans not caring, or complicit by silence and lack of interest and participation in voting, in the downfall of the American experiment as the great constitutional democracy America was meant to be!

We are living in a time of a cult, a mass worship of a very flawed, evil human being, who has no concern for the future, but only for his own material wealth and stroking of his ego.

We have a very sick, mentally deranged individual who has the capability of destroying the planet, or caving in to the whims of other totalitarian leaders who he wises to emulate.

If there is a history to be written in the future, however, Donald Trump will be condemned as the most despicable, evil leader we have ever manufactured!

Could The Equal Rights Amendment Become The 28th Amendment? The 27th Amendment As A Case Study

Lo and Behold!

The proposed Equal Rights Amendment, passed through both houses of Congress by wide margins, and then ratified by 35 states between 1972 and 1977, three states short of the three fourths or 38 states needed to ratify, and abandoned after one three year extension from the original seven year plan, in 1982, suddenly has life again!

Nevada’s legislature became state 36 in 2017, and Illinois just became the 37th recently, and now North Carolina is moving ahead on the measure, even though it is 41 years since the original 35 states ratified it, and 46 years since it was passed by both houses of Congress. Also, as a backup, the states of Arizona, Utah, Florida and Virginia are moving in the same direction.

There is precedent for this great delay in the 27th Amendment, suggested in 1789, and only finally ratified by enough states in 1992, mandating that Congress cannot raise its own pay during the same session of Congress that they enact a raise, but only for the succeeding Congress.

If that can happen 203 years after the original enactment, then why not 46 years?

George Will, the conservative ideologue, is bitterly opposed, as he argues progress has been made for women as members of Congress and in society and in law. from what it was in the 1970s.

While that is true, there is still no reason NOT to put women in the Constitution specifically, as the only mention is the 19th Amendment in 1920, giving women the right to vote long after the first push for suffrage at the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848.

State Politics Much More Complicated Than Often Realized: The Cases Of New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Texas, California

Anyone who follows American politics historically and contemporarily often seems unaware of the complexity of state politics around the nation.

We hear discussion of “Blue” states and “Red” states, but state politics is much more complicated that that.

Gerrymandering often distorts the reality of political loyalties in many states, and also the reality of about one third of voters being “Independent”, rather than loyal to Democrats or Republicans.

There are many examples of this across the nation, particularly noticeable in larger, more populated states.

Just a few examples:

New York State is often thought to be strongly Democratic, but not true in the state legislature, and New York City is vastly different in political culture from upstate New York areas, such as Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. Even Long Island, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, often reflect different views than the five boroughs of New York City, and within New York City, Staten Island, is vastly different from Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, with Queens County more balanced than the other boroughs in the city.

Pennsylvania is a state where gerrymandering has given the Republicans until now a great advantage, but new court ordered mandates may change that balance in Congress and the state legislature. Philadelphia has a very different political orientation than western Pennsylvania, often called “Alabama” outside of the city of Pittsburgh.

Virginia is well known to have a very liberal Democratic northern section (often called NoVa), reflecting the influence of being the Washington DC suburbs, while much of the rest of the state is reliably conservative and Republican.

Florida is strongly Democratic in the southern counties, particularly Broward and Palm Beach Counties, with somewhat less so in Miami Dade County due to the influence of Cuban Americans, but even that is diminishing, since it is now 60 years since the rise of Fidel Castro, and those directly affected negatively by Castro, are mostly no longer part of the population in Miami. At the same time, Central Florida is the real battleground in the state, the area that decides most elections. North Florida is much like Alabama or Georgia, its neighbors.

Ohio is strongly Democratic in the northern and central sections, particularly in Cleveland and Toledo, and the capital of Columbus, but in the more rural parts and in southern Ohio, near Kentucky, including Cincinnati, it is strongly Republican.

Illinois is dominated by Chicago in the northern part, but down state Illinois is much more Republican in orientation.

Michigan has Detroit as strongly Democratic but in western and northern Michigan, it is much more rural and Republican.

Texas has Democratic strongholds in the state capitol, Austin, and in Houston, while other portions of this very large state, including the rural areas, are strongly Republican.

California has Democratic strongholds in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but the Central Valley, San Diego, and cities like Bakersfield, where House Majority Leader and possible next Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy resides, are strongly Republican.

The next race for the Speaker of the House could be between two Californians of totally different mentalities–Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.

A basic reality is that urban areas are always much more likely to be Democratic while rural areas are certain to be more Republican.

Suburban areas are what often decides the politics of a state and in Congress and the Presidential election, as they are the balancing force that determines a state vote, and recently it seems clear the suburban areas, often Republican, are starting to move away from that long time loyalty.

The Disgrace Of The US Senate: Republican Mismanagement And Corruption, Deserving Of Massive Repudiation By Voters In 2018 And 2020

Norman Ornstein, Congressional scholar, political scientist and resident scholar of the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, has never said or published what most people who are employed by that interest group usually produce.

He has long been condemnatory of how the Congress has deteriorated in its approach to its responsibilities. He has been bitterly critical of the extremism that has taken over both the House of Representatives and US Senate. He is known for blistering critiques of Congress and how it operates.

It is a disgrace how both bodies of Congress operate, but the US Senate is particularly a train wreck under Republican control, promoting mismanagement and corruption, and now in the process of passing a disastrous tax bill that will make the wealthy wealthier, and harm everyone else, and add dramatically to the national debt.

Mitch McConnell and his party in the Senate, along with Paul Ryan and his party in the House, have abused their power, and are voting on legislation without full knowledge of what is in it, and changing details to please certain party members, without an understanding of the short and long range effect on the American economy.

The Republican Party has become the party of evil, deserving of massive repudiation by the voters in 2018 and 2020, but the question is whether those who vote for the Republican Party without a clue or knowledge of their agenda will finally understand that the voting for the GOP is a bargain with the devil, voting for people with no principles except their own self aggrandizement without conscience of what it is doing to millions of senior citizens, disabled and sick, and struggling middle class and poor people, in the name of greed and selfishness.

Donald Trump’s Full Scale Attack On The First Amendment, While Endorsing No Limit On The Second Amendment, A Danger To America

Donald Trump has mounted a full scale attack on the First Amendment freedom of speech and press, while endorsing no limit on the Second Amendment, despite the recent Las Vegas Massacre, and is therefore a danger to America.

If it were left up to Trump, many cable TV channels, such as CNN and MSNBC, would be denied licenses to operate, but thankfully, no such mechanism exists to suppress the First Amendment.

Also, Trump wishes to suppress freedom of speech for National Football League players to protest the treatment of African Americans and other minorities by police.

And he seems to think that everyone MUST stand for the flag and the National Anthem, while the Supreme Court has declared that the flag need not be obeyed, and in fact, can be burned in protest, something much more extreme than bending the knee for the flag.

The case on this is Texas V Johnson (1989), with Justice Antonin Scalia, certainly the most conservative Justice in a century, writing the majority opinion.

What Trump is doing was denounced by principled conservative Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who has been against Trump from before the election. He said yesterday that Trump is violating his oath of office by refusing to defend the Constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights, and that Trump had, therefore, committed an impeachable act.

Trump sounds more like Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, or other totalitarian dictators than the leader of a democracy, and he is a clear and present danger to all Americans, as a result.

The possibility of moving toward impeachment is starting to grow, as Sasse joins Senator Bob Corker in warning against the threat that Trump clearly presents the nation.

Trump seems to be unraveling, as reported by journalists who have contacts within the staff of Donald Trump, reminding us of the last days of Richard Nixon.

But if anything, Richard Nixon was far less dangerous than Donald Trump is, as Trump has been collaborating with Russia, while Nixon understood the threat presented by Russia.

Also, Nixon was not out to destroy all domestic reform of the previous hundred years, as Trump is in the process of doing, with ObamaCare, the environment, consumer legislation, and government regulation of business.

And Trump is also out to destroy the Iran Deal, go to war with North Korea, and destroy all areas of our foreign policy with other nations.

So the need for prompt action, before Trump must be wrestled for control of the nuclear codes, is real!

The End Of The Supreme Court Term: Any Retirements Coming?

This is the last week of the present Supreme Court session, and Court watchers are wondering if we are about to see a sharp swing to the Right, with the potential retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan nearly 30 years ago, and a crucial swing vote ever since on the Court.

Kennedy has been on the conservative side about two thirds of the time, and on the liberal side one third of the time, and without him, for instance, there would have been no advancements on gay rights and gay marriage, as he was the crucial fifth vote.

His vote this week may decide whether the Muslim ban of Donald Trump is upheld, or prevented, as it has been by several circuit courts around the nation.

Kennedy has been the unpredictable vote all by himself in the past decade, since Sandra Day O’Connor left the court at the end of 2005.

For a decade before 2005, it was said the Court was the “O’Connor-Kennedy Court”, and now for the past 12 years, it has been the “Kennedy” Court, more than the Roberts Court, as traditionally, the Court is described by the name of its Chief Justice.

Since Kennedy will be turning 81 in one month, and is the second oldest member of the Court, after Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 84, but has made clear she is going nowhere, and hopes to stay on the Court until 2021, so that hopefully a future Democratic President in 2021 can choose her successor.

So if Kennedy does retire this week, it will mark a sharp move to the Right, which will undermine constitutional law for the next generation!

The Republican Party Agenda In 2017: Destroy Obama Legacy And New Deal And Great Society, And Ignore Trump Abuse Of Power

The Republican Party of 2017 is hellbent on destroying entirely the Barack Obama legacy, and all political, social, and economic reforms of the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson, along with other reforms even by Republican Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush, and Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

They are willing to cope with the insanity of Donald Trump, willing to ignore the abuse of power by the 45th President, and in the process, undermine civil liberties, civil rights, labor rights, women’s rights, consumer rights, protection of the environment, and the rights and protection of the disabled, elderly, and poor among our population.

In the past, the Republican Party was the conservative mainstream in American politics, but now the most mean spirited, nasty, uncaring elements have held sway over the party apparatus, and no longer care what public opinion polls indicate, that there is strong, vehement opposition to going back to the America of the Gilded Age and the 1920s, and in so doing, destroy all progress, and put America further behind more advanced nations in Europe, as well as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand worldwide.

Senate Intelligence Committee (Richard Burr-Mark Warner) Might Be The New Watergate Committee (Sam Ervin-Howard Baker) Of 1973-74

Forty four years ago, in 1973, the US Senate formed a special committee to investigate the burgeoning Watergate Scandal under Richard Nixon.

The committee was headed by a conservative Southern Democrat, Sam Ervin of North Carolina, and the ranking Republican member of the committee was Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee, and the committee dedicated itself to the discovery of the truth.

Over the next year and few months, many witnesses were called, and evidence was gathered, which helped to lead to the indictment of 40 Nixon Administration figures and the conviction of several aides to Nixon on charges of obstruction of justice and other crimes.

Ervin and Baker became folk heroes, and John Dean and Alexander Butterfield became the most famous witnesses that, through their testimony, helped to lead to impeachment charges against Richard Nixon, and cause his resignation 15 months after the Watergate Committee began its work.

Nixon was in the early months of his second term, coming off a massive victory against George McGovern in the Presidential Election of 1972.

Now, we are witnessing another committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by another North Carolina Senator, Republican Richard Burr, and assisted by the ranking Democratic member of the committee, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, beginning an investigation of Donald Trump and his Russian connection, believed to have assisted him in defeating Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election. Trump had only a small margin in the proper combination of states to win the Electoral College, but with Hillary Clinton having won the popular vote nationally by 2.85 million votes.

Burr is a conservative Republican, as Ervin was a conservative Democrat more than four decades ago, and Mark Warner is a moderate Democrat as Howard Baker was a moderate Republican back in the 1970s, and all four of these Senators came from the South–North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia–and all four were and are dedicated to finding out the truth about Presidential scandals.

Expect the Senate Intelligence Committee to have a dramatic impact as the Senate Watergate Committee, and it seems likely that Michael Flynn will be the new John Dean, and that others we are not yet aware of will be the new Alexander Butterfield and other significant exposers of the facts that we learned about in 1973.

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions: A Horrible Successor To The Position Of Attorney General

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions may be very cordial and pleasant to his Senate colleagues, but he is clearly a horrible successor to the position of Attorney General of the Unites States.

The only Senator given a cabinet post, Sessions is, unfortunately, the totally wrong choice to enforce civil liberties and civil rights. He is rated one of the most conservative, hard right members of the US Senate.

He was rejected for a Circuit Court Judgeship thirty years ago by a Republican controlled Senate due to his insensitive statements on race, and has no record of tolerance on immigrants, Latinos, Muslims, gays and lesbians, and women.

Sessions would present a very different image of the Justice Department, to favor the powerful and elite over the powerless and middle class and poor in legal and constitutional matters.

He voted against use of medicinal marijuana, and is opposed to stem cell research. He also was highly critical and voted against Barack Obama’s two Supreme Court nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Sessions is like bringing back the “Old South” image of George Wallace, Jesse Helms, and Strom Thurmond, with lack of concern about the growing number of cases of police behavior in controversial cases where people of minority status are often the victim of trigger happy cops, and end up deceased.

Will the Senate again reject one of its own, of the majority party as thirty years ago? That is the question that will be focused on next month when Sessions faces Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.