Neil Gorsuch

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!

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 Majority Is Becoming Very Outspoken, Controversial In Actions And Statements!

The Supreme Court of the United States is supposed to be a nonpolitical body, that balances the law and the Constitution.

Of course, there are, and always have been, so called “liberals” and “conservatives” on the Court throughout its history, but the present Supreme Court with six conservatives and three liberals is badly unbalanced, and it is clear that the Court is the most extreme one sided to the conservative side that it has been since the 1930s, nearly a century ago!

There are three appointments to the Court by Donald Trump (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett); two appointments by George W. Bush (John Roberts, Samuel Alito); and one appointment by George H. W. Bush (Clarence Thomas).

There are already ethical and moral problems with Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas, regarding their behavior and treatment of women in their past; and Amy Coney Barrett was rushed through to confirmation more rapidly than normal after the sudden death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, so that Donald Trump had one more appointment close to the Presidential election, which should have been left to the winner of the election, which turned out to be Joe Biden.

Also, a majority of the Court was chosen by Presidents who lost the popular vote in 2000 and 2016, although the two Bush II appointees actually came in the second term when Bush II did win the popular vote.

And now, since the horrendous decision to allow the Texas antiabortion law to go into effect without a full hearing, taking away a constitutional right of women to control their own bodies, in effect since Roe V. Wade in 1973, the criticism of the Court’s action has led to Thomas, Barrett, and now Alito to issue political criticisms which are not appropriate for Supreme Court Justices. They should NOT be making public statements, no matter what they are thinking, but they clearly are on the defensive and have politicized the Court by their utterances, as well as their actions.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the reputation and public opinion rating of the Supreme Court has declined radically in the last few years, and particularly in the present year of 2021!

The Supreme Court is moving far to the Right as the nation is clearly moving to the Left, in a nation in which the white majority is rapidly declining, and will be the minority (under 50 percent) by 2045 at the latest.

So a constitutional crisis is at hand, and there is the danger of a future 7-2 conservative Court, with Stephen Breyer refusing to consider retiring at age 83, claiming he does not plan to die on the Court. This is a preposterous statement, and could end up denying Joe Biden any Supreme Court selection if a Democratic Senator dies or is incapacitated, or if the Senate goes Republican in the midterm Congressional Elections of 2022!

Chief Justice John Roberts Has Lost Control Of The Supreme Court, And His Own Reputation Is At Stake!

The Supreme Court is in crisis, as its reputation, and that of its leader, Chief Justice John Roberts, is at stake!

It is now the most rightwing Supreme Court since the 1920s and early 1930s, as extremism has taken over an institution which is supposed to be moderate centrist!

Past Chief Justices, including John Marshall, Charles Evans Hughes, and Earl Warren, had the ability to impact other members of the Court, and convince them to work toward moderation!

But John Roberts has clearly lost control of a Court which includes three Donald Trump appointees, with only the first choice, Neil Gorsuch, coming across as lacking in controversy outside of the fact that he became the replacement for Antonin Scalia, instead of Barack Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland!

Brett Kavanaugh has a cloud over his head and reputation as a sexual abuser, much like Clarence Thomas, appointed by George H. W. Bush thirty years ago, and having a deleterious effect on the Court for three decades!

And Amy Coney Barrett is clearly not Justice material, and her extreme religious swing to the far Right has besmirched the memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Had she been still on the Court, she would have prevented the atrocious decision of the Court to back the disgraceful Texas abortion law that now Attorney General Merrick Garland is suing to prevent the loss of a constitutional right for women to control their own bodies!

The Supreme Court Reputation Has Been Seriously Tarnished, No Longer Seen As Representing Moderation!

The John Roberts Supreme Court reputation has been seriously tarnished, no longer seen as representing moderation!

By deciding to go along with an extremist Texas abortion law, in a one paragraph middle of the night statement, which includes no exceptions for rape or incest, and allowing private citizens to sue anyone engaged in promoting abortion, the Court has done one of the worst ever actions, which will be compared to such other issues as Dred Scott V Sandford (1857) and Plessy V Ferguson (1896), and a small group of other reprehensible decisions!

Chief Justice Roberts himself recognized how terrible this 5-4 decision was, so despite earlier personal expressions of being anti abortion, he joined the three liberals on the Court in opposition.

Roberts knows his own historical reputation has been permanently damaged, as the Court has become dangerously radical right wing extremist, with the three reprehensible appointments by Donald Trump showing their true colors!

The fact that the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett switched the Court balance from what it was under the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg right before the Presidential Election of 2020 is reprehensible!

But also, the fact that Brett Kavanaugh was the second Court Justice to face accusations of inappropriate sexual conduct, along with Clarence Thomas three decades ago, and now they decided the private lives of women, is totally infuriating!

And the fact that Neil Gorsuch gained an appointment after a full year of no replacement of Antonin Scalia, and that Merrick Garland was denied even a hearing as his replacement, makes all three of Donald Trump’s Court appointments questionable and wanting!

It is further proof that the Supreme Court has lost whatever aura it had, as a fair, reasonable body!

To reverse a decision of nearly 50 years, when the tradition of the Court is to uphold legal precedent normally, and that it has such a dramatic effect on more than half the population, is beyond the pale!

If Hillary Clinton had won the Presidential Election of 2016, which this author and blogger and tens of millions of Americans think is the truth, the Supreme Court today would not be in the crisis atmosphere it is in!

It requires an attempt to add members to the Court, because otherwise, the Court is on a tear to the promotion of Fascism clear and simple, and that cannot be allowed to move forward toward ultimate destruction of the Constitution and rule of law!

The idea that two Presidents, George W. Bush and Donald Trump,who lost the popular vote, could add two and three members to the Court respectively, which otherwise would have been appointees of Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, is simply outrageous and unacceptable for the long haul!

It will permanently destroy the reputation of a very evil man, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who brought about this travesty!

When one thinks back to the mid and late 1970s, we actually had a 7-2 Republican Court by party affiliation, but it included moderate Republicans, which included statesmen, including William Brennan, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, and Chief Justice Warren Burger!

So action must be taken to expand the Court, as we are in a constitutional crisis that will only get worse if no action is taken!

The Unpredictability Of Supreme Court Justices Continues!

The Supreme Court has proved once again that, despite which President chooses them, and their political ideology, that being on the Court has an effect, and causes surprises.

All three of Donald Trump’s appointments (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett) have surprised on some cases, so while all are conservative in nature, one sees unusual alliances on some decisions, including being on the same side at times with Democratic appointments (Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan) to the Court.

So no President can ever be certain that his appointments will vote the way he might wish, as Trump has seen that his nominees have not sided with him, including on the claim that the Presidential Election of 2020 was “stolen”!

So it is really a case of unpredictability on the future of the present Court, although clearly, it is still the most conservative Court since the 1930s! Even Chief Justice John Roberts, however, is sometimes surprising in his views on cases!

One point is perfectly clear, however, that Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito are the most right wing members of the Court!

The Corruption Of The Supreme Court, With Five Appointees By Presidents Who Lost The Popular Vote!

With the likelihood that Amy Coney Barrett will be successfully confirmed to be the replacement of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the Supreme Court, we are about to have a Court with five appointees by Presidents who lost the national popular vote, but still won the Electoral College.

George W. Bush lost the national popular vote to Vice President Al Gore in 2000 by a 540,000 margin, but was able to select Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito in 2005 and 2006.

And now Donald Trump, who lost the national popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016, by a 2.85 million margin, has been able to select Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch in 2017, Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, and now Amy Comey Barrett in 2020.

And even more infuriating is that three of these five appointees helped the George W. Bush campaign in the Bush V Gore Supreme Court case, assisting him winning the case in a majority Republican selected Court in December 2000–specifically, John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Comey Barrett!

And the right wing Federalist Society, which has been on a 40 year campaign to make the federal court system move to the extreme right on such issues as health care, abortion, gay marriage, gun rights, so called freedom of religion, deregulation of the economy and the environment, suppression of voting rights and labor rights, has fully succeeded in its campaign to undermine American democracy and a sense of humanity!

So when one complains from the right side of the political spectrum at the “horror” of Democrats “packing the Court” if they were to add seats to the Supreme Court, one has to say the level of hypocrisy is enormous, when that has been the commitment for four decades of the Right in American politics.

And who can say that if the Republicans were to win control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency, that they would not be willing to promote “packing of the Court’, so that they could add two to four more seats to the Supreme Court, and make the Court not just the 6-3 margin it will now be, but possibly 8-3 or 10-3, if two to four seats were to be added!

And one more point: Two of the six member Republican majority have had sexual misconduct hanging over their heads, although it has not affected their tenure on the Court, speaking specifically of Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh. So the ethical and moral standing of the Court has been damaged irrevocably!

But do the conservatives and the Federalist Society care about this? Not one iota!

We Are On The Way To The Most Reactionary Right Wing Supreme Court Since The 1930s

In the 1930’s, Franklin D. Roosevelt had the most reactionary right wing Supreme Court, working to undermine the New Deal.

This led him to promote the so called “Court Packing Plan” in 1937, to add six new Justices for each one over 70, but the Congress, controlled by his own party, but having a strong Southern conservative contingent, promoted its defeat.

Now, eight decades later, America is on the brink of having the most reactionary right wing Court since then, with the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett by President Donald Trump.

Already, the Supreme Court has four Justices appointed by Presidents who lost the popular vote, and now they will have a majority, if Barrett is approved, which is likely.

And Barrett does not believe in the doctrine of “Stare Decisis”, the legal principle of determining points in litigation based upon earlier precedents.

Instead, she has very strong personally held beliefs, tied to her strong Catholic faith, and her involvement in a religious charismatic Christian group called “People of Praise”, which preaches that the man is the leader of the family over the wife.

This is very concerning, because she seems likely to wish to overturn many precedents and laws that have been upheld, in unison with others on the Court who have right wing views, including Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh.

The reliability of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch is uncertain, as both, and particularly, Roberts have surprised on some decisions.

So a potential 6-3 Court on many cases could end up 5-4 in favor of the right wing, or possibly 5-4 with the three liberal appointments on the Court, but it seems more likely that the possible so called “best” outcome is at least 5-4 conservative.

So that means the Affordable Care Act, coming up for review in November after the election, could be gutted.

Also in danger are cases involving women’s rights, abortion rights, gay rights, labor rights, religious issues favored by conservatives, voting rights, Presidential authority, environmental laws, consumer laws, and the overall regulatory state promoted since the New Deal of FDR and the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as agencies formed under Richard Nixon and later Presidents through Barack Obama.

So we are involved in a crisis constitutionally which could destroy much of what the federal government has done in the past century of American history, and all brought about by Justices appointed under questionable circumstances by Republicans who do not follow rules except when it favors them, and by Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump, who failed to win the national popular vote, and by Justices who, in the case of Thomas and Kavanaugh had major issues with private behavior with women.

And with Justice Stephen Breyer being 82, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor having issues with her health (diabetes), two of the three liberals on the Court could be replaced if Donald Trump or a future Republican President gains the opportunity!

Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch A Surprise On The Supreme Court

With the third term of Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court now complete, one must say that Gorsuch is quite a surprise in his decisions on the Court, startling many conservatives, and pleasing progressives.

It is clear that Gorsuch is, and will continue to be, unpredictable on the Court, and already, he joins Chief Justice John Roberts in siding with liberals on some cases before the Court.

He has already made observers compare him to former Justice Byron White, and even by some to former Justice David Souter.

This means that the idea that are five rigid conservatives on the Court now looks more like four liberals, three conservatives, and some of the time two “swing” Justices, mostly conservative but totally unpredictable, and therefore, not reliable all of the time for the conservative camp.

It was wonderful to see Gorsuch side with native Americans in declaring that eastern Oklahoma is native American territory, although it is not clear what that means in reality to Oklahoma’s future.

His backing of gays and lesbians having employment rights guaranteed under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, may be one of the most important cases in many years.

The at times unpredictability of both Gorsuch and Roberts makes following the Supreme Court much more fascinating, for sure!

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Cancer Crisis Raises Alarm For Supreme Court Future

Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been on the Court for 27 years, and is a true icon with millions of fans and supporters of her brilliant liberal perspective on legal matters.

But now, at age 87, she has suffered again a bout with cancer, having survived colon cancer in 1999, pancreatic cancer in 2009, lung cancer in 2018, and pancreatic cancer again in 2019. Now, she is diagnosed with liver cancer, so this is her fifth bout with cancer.

Ginsburg has proved to be a tough lady, doing great sessions with exercise over the past generation, and recovering from conditions most would not have survived.

She is still able to do her job, and is determined to remain, but now, there is fear she might not be able to continue, and could, god forbid, die in office or be forced to resign this fall, giving Donald Trump another appointment to the Court, which would shift it to the far right, a true disaster.

Since Barack Obama was not allowed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, because it was an election year, by all rights, Trump should not be able to replace Ginsburg. Any appointment should be delayed to 2021. as it was delayed until 2017, when Neil Gorsuch took the Scalia seat, rather than Merrick Garland, the Barack Obama appointee to replace Scalia in 2016.

We must all pray that Ginsburg will, once again, fight and overcome this challenge, and remain on the Court until at least January 4, when the new Congress, hopefully with a Democratic Senate, begins, and the upcoming inauguration, hopefully, of Joe Biden to the Presidency, would occur on January 20, 2021.

Then, we will know that Ginsburg’s Court seat is safely in the hands of a liberal Justice, preserving the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg!