Lewis Powell

Two Republican Majority Courts Supported Abortion Rights, But Not Now In 2022!

In the case of Roe V. Wade (1973), decided by 7-2, Abortion Rights for women was made federal law, with five of the seven votes being Republican appointments:

Harry Blackmun (Nixon)
Warren Burger (Chief Justice) (Nixon)
William Brennan (Eisenhower)
Potter Stewart (Eisenhower)
Lewis Powell (Nixon)

In Planned Parenthood V. Casey (1992), a later case on abortion, with some limits, the decision was 5-4, with all 5 in the majority being Republican appointments:

Sandra Day O’Connor (Reagan)
Anthony Kennedy (Reagan)
David Souter (HW Bush)
Harry Blackmun (Nixon)
John Paul Stevens (Ford)

All of these Republican appointed Justices were considered to be “conservatives” in their time frame, although Blackmun, Brennan, and Stevens came to be seen as “liberals’ over time, and O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter came to be seen as “moderates”.

The definition of “conservative” has changed dramatically in the past half century, so all of the Republican Justices would be seen by right wing Republicans in 2022 as “RINOS”, Republicans In Name Only!

In 2022, in Dobbs V. Jackson’s Women Health Organization, all six Republicans voted to end abortion rights, although Chief Justice John Roberts wanted only further limitations on abortion, and therefore dissented while joining the other five Republicans.

These appointments were by two Presidents who lost the popular vote when they were elected by the Electoral College, along with Clarence Thomas appointed by George H W Bush.

Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh both had charges of sexual impropriety brought against them, while Neil Gorsuch gained a place on the Court that was meant for Barack Obama appointee Merrick Garland, and Amy Coney Barrett replaced the recently deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg just a week before an election in which Donald Trump lost by 7 million votes to Joe Biden, who should have been allowed that appointment.

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!

Supreme Court Once Again Stands Up To Presidential Assertion Of Executive Privilege, And Limits It!

The Supreme Court of the United States for the third time in 48 years has stood up to a President who asserted “Executive Privilege”, and was smacked down by a court including members appointed by the President who was involved in the Court case.

First, we had US V Nixon in July 1974, having to do with Richard Nixon and the Watergate tapes, which the Court unanimously, 8-0, ordered them handed over to the Watergate Special Prosecutor and the House Judiciary Committee. This led within weeks to the resignation of Richard Nixon. Associate Justice William Rehnquist recused himself from the case, appropriately, as he had worked earlier in the Nixon Justice Department, but the other three Nixon appointees, Chief Justice Warren Burger, and Associate Justices Harry Blackmun and Lewis Powell, joined the unanimous decision.

Next, we had Clinton V Jones, 1997, which involved the issue of whether Bill Clinton could be required to testify in a civil trial while in office, a case brought by Paula Jones against Governor Clinton for sexual harrassment. The Court unanimously, 9-0, including his two appointees, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, ruled that he had to give testimony, and this helped to lead to his impeachment in 1998. So there was no immunity from civil law litigation for acts done before taking office, and unrelated to the office.

And now, we have Trump V Thompson, a lawsuit brought by Donald Trump against the January 6 House Committee investigation of the January 6, 2021 Insurrection, in the name of Chairman Bennie Thompson. So documents to show the series of events leading to the Insurrection are now to be made available to the House committee, as it investigates the wrong doing of the 45th President. This is a major victory, and all three Trump Supreme Court nominees—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—voted with the majority 8-1, with only Clarence Thomas in oppostion.

This is a conflict of interest by Thomas, who should have recused himself, as William Rehnquist did in the Nixon case. Since Thomas’s wife was involved in the planning of the January 6 Insurrection, encouraging lawlessness, this should be grounds for removal of Clarence Thomas from the Supreme Court, highly unlikely, but would be appropriate!

The Supreme Court Of 2014 Most Right Wing Since Early 1930s!

The Supreme Court has been controversial at different times in its history, but the present Court of 2014 is considered the most right wing Court majority since the early 1930s!

Since the Warren Court, which began in the 1950s, we have never had such conservative Justices as we have now.

Three of the present Justices are among the most conservative ever to sit on the Court, including Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito.

If one adds former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former Associate Justice Lewis Powell, we have the five most conservative Justice since 1953, a period of 60 years.

Not much behind is Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, both capable of surprises in their votes and rulings, but still most of the time joining Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

These seven named Justices were all picked by Republican Presidents–two by Richard Nixon; two by Ronald Reagan, plus his promotion of Rehnquist to the Chief Justiceship; one by George H. W. Bush; and two by George W. Bush.

But also, Republican Presidents have selected Justices who turned out to be quite moderate, and even sometimes liberal, including Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice William Brennan by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice Harry Blackmun by Richard Nixon; John Paul Stevens by Gerald Ford; Sandra Day O’Connor by Ronald Reagan; and David Souter by George H. W. Bush.

Since 1953, Republicans have controlled the White House for 36 years, while Democrats have had control for 25 plus years, and that has caused the right wing tilt of the Court, which could have been even more so, if not for the surprises presented by the seven “less” conservative, and some “quite liberal” Justices listed in the above paragraph!

So the Republicans have chosen 17 of the past 25 Justices since 1953, with John F. Kennedy picking two, but one (Byron White) turning out to be conservative, and Arthur Goldberg leaving the Court after only three years, due to the urging of Lyndon Johnson that he become United Nations Ambassador. Johnson selected Abe Fortas to replace Goldberg, but he stayed on the Court for only four years, and left the Court under the cloud of scandal. The first African American Justice, Thurgood Marshall, would go on to serve as a champion liberal for 24 years from 1967 to 1991.

Jimmy Carter would have no appointments to the Court in his four years in the White House, the only such situation in the 20th century, and one of only four Presidents to have had no appointments, but the only one to have a full term in the Presidency. The other three Presidents were William Henry Harrison (one month); Zachary Taylor (16 months); and Andrew Johnson (almost a complete term, but so unpopular that the Senate would not confirm any Court appointments in his time in office).

Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama has chosen Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as his appointments, so far, on the Supreme Court. So note that out of the eight appointments by Democrats in the Presidency, three have been women; five have been Jewish; one has been African American; and one has been Puerto Rican, with only Byron White being a typical white Anglo Saxon Protestant.

The question has now arisen whether Ginsberg, and maybe even Breyer, should retire, and guarantee that Obama could replace them, with the concern that the Senate might go Republican in November, making any Court appointment nearly impossible due to gridlock and stalemate. There is also fear that were the Republicans to win the White House in 2016, which is highly unlikely, that then the Court would be ever more right wing reactionary than it already is.

It is a calculated gamble for Ginsburg and Breyer to remain on the Court for now, but it is not uncommon for Justices to retire at very advanced ages–such as Blackmun at 85 and Stevens at 90!

So do not expect that either will retire, but with a good chance of Democrats retaining the Senate majority in 2014, or regaining it on the back of the Democratic Presidential nominee’s expected major victory in 2016!

The Dangers Of The Supreme Court Run Amuck In Favor Of Wealthy And Corporations!

The Supreme Court is totally out of control, with its new decision on having no limits on campaign spending by wealthy donors, added on to the Citizens United Case of 2010, and the limitation of voting rights in a 2013 decision.

Chief Justice John Roberts has solidified a five member GOP majority to destroy all attempts to prevent corporate and wealthy people from controlling the political system, an effort pursued from the time of Theodore Roosevelt a century ago through Senator John McCain and Senator Russ Feingold in the 1990s and early 2000s.

That is all for naught now, and shows the dangers of a runaway, reckless, right wing radical Court!

This is what made Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Barack Obama criticize Court power, along with progressive reformers including Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, Senator George Norris of Nebraska, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont!

This is the result of 13 Supreme Court nominees since 1960 by Republican Presidents, to only 8 by Democrats, and with two of those Democratic appointments (Arthur Goldberg by John F. Kennedy and Abe Fortas by Lyndon B. Johnson), only lasting three and four years respectively.

Of course, Republican appointments of Harry Blackmun by Richard Nixon; John Paul Stevens by Gerald Ford; Sandra Day O’Connor by Ronald Reagan; and David Souter by George H. W. Bush, turned out to be major surprises in their rulings, but we also ended up with some of the most reactionary and right wing radical appointments in all of American history with the appointments of William Rehnquist by Richard Nixon and the elevation of Rehnquist to Chief Justice by Ronald Reagan; Lewis Powell by Richard Nixon; Antonin Scalia by Ronald Reagan; Clarence Thomas by George H. W. Bush; and Samuel Alito by George W. Bush. The appointments of Chief Justice Warren Burger by Richard Nixon; Anthony Kennedy by Ronald Reagan; and Chief Justice John Roberts by George W. Bush, have been more of a mixed bag, sometimes good, and sometimes horrible in its effect on constitutional law!

Meanwhile, John F. Kennedy selected a mostly conservative Justice Byron White; Lyndon B Johnson selected Thurgood Marshall; Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama selected Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, but sadly, their influence in the last four of the five names listed, has been mostly in being the opposition, sometimes vehement in nature!

The effect on the future of American democracy is massive, with this right wing Court majority, and the only hope is the eventual retirement of Scalia and Kennedy, and hopefully, continuation of a Democratic Senate and President for the rest of the decade, so that the Court changes direction in the future!

40 Years Of Roe V Wade: Abortion Controversy Remains Red Hot!

Forty years ago today, the Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision, declared the right of women to an abortion, with three Richard Nixon appointments to the Court–author of the decision Harry Blackmun, and Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice Lewis Powell—joining two Eisenhower appointees—Potter Stewart and William Brennan—one Johnson appointee, Thurgood Marshall—and one Roosevelt appointee, William O. Douglas—in the majority.

Only Associate Justice Byron White, appointed by Kennedy; and William Rehnquist, appointed by Nixon, were in the minority.

Forty years later, the pro life and pro choice movements are still locked in constant combat, but with public opinion polls showing 54 percent want abortion rights retained all of the time or most of the time, with 44 percent against. And 70 percent in a poll do not want to see Roe V Wade overturned.

But meanwhile, Republican state legislatures in the past two years have passed a total of over 130 laws restricting the rights of abortion, and curbing the number of abortion providers.

Four states have made it almost impossible for women to obtain an abortion—Mississippi, Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

So the federal allowance for abortion may exist, but in the South and Great Plains areas of the nation, it is becoming nearly impossible for abortions to be obtained, no matter whether it is because of rape, incest, life of the mother, or just any other reason, whether seemingly justifiable or not.

Abortion is an emotional issue, and one that most people would say needs to remain legal and safe but also RARE, and should not be used as a method of birth control, or because of reckless personal behavior. It is not an issue that will disappear anytime soon, but for now, the odds of reversing Roe V. Wade on the national level are remote, as Barack Obama will not appoint a Supreme Court Justice who gives any hint of wishing to overturn what many call the most controversial decision of the latter half of the 20th century.

Roe V. Wade Almost 40 Years Later Still Debated, But Five Of Seven Justices In Majority Were Appointed By Republican Presidents Eisenhower And Nixon!

In the midst of the heated debate about abortion rights, rape, Todd Akin, Mitt Romney, and the Republican Party platform which bans ALL abortions, whether rape, incest, or life of the mother, something very significant has been ignored!

The Roe V. Wade case of January 22, 1973 was decided by a 7-2 vote, with FIVE of the seven Justices in the majority being appointed by Republican Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon!

That was an era when Republicans could be in the mainstream, supporting voting rights legislation by vast majorities in Congress, but now 40-50 years later, leading the charge to do everything possible to repeal the legislation, or deny many categories of voters their basic human right to vote.

That was, also, a time of mainstream Republican Justices supporting a woman’s right to privacy with her own body, exactly the opposite of what is happening 40 years later in the Republican Party!

The Republican appointments who supported Roe V. Wade in 1973 were:

William Brennan, appointed by Eisehower
Potter Stewart, appointed by Eisenhower
Chief Justice Warren Burger, appointed by Nixon
Harry Blackmun, author of the decision, appointed by Nixon
Lewis Powell, appointed by Nixon

Two Democratic appointments, William O. Douglas (appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt), and Thurgood Marshall (appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson), joined the five Republicans, with only one Democratic appointment (Byron White, appointed by John F. Kennedy), and one Republican, (William Rehnquist, appointed by Nixon) being in the minority.

How far the Republican Party has wandered from the mainstream of American politics over the past 40-50 years, and the only answer is a sound defeat of the right wing, and bringing the GOP back to the mainstream, or else they will become part of the dustbin of history, being replaced by a centrist party that resembles the proud history of the earlier Republican Party, which understood that an alliance with religion is poisonous to tolerance and the mainstream of American politics!