Samuel Alito

The Supreme Court Opens Its Most Controversial Term In Decades!

Today is the opening day of the Supreme Court term, and it likely will be its most controversial term in decades.

With a solid right wing tilt of six Justices, the Court seems likely to go against public opinion on many areas of constitutional law, including

Affirmative Action
Gay Rights
Voting Rights
Environmental Regulations
Religion
Free Speech
The Powers of State Legislatures

Public opinion image of the Supreme Court has dropped dramatically, and there have been massive negative reactions to the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in late June which declared abortion unconstitutional, nearly 50 years after Roe V Wade was decided in 1973.

The minority liberals on the Court, specificially Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, have been very outspoken in their criticism of the extremist agenda of the present Court, the most conservative, by far, since the 1920s!

There is much to fear as basic constitutional rights are being eliminated, it seems, with glee, led by Justice Samuel Alito (appointed by George W. Bush) and Clarence Thomas (appointed by George H. W. Bush), but joined in by the three Donald Trump appointees (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett) in most decisions, leaving Chief Justice John Roberts almost as an outsider, having little impact on trying to tame, to some extent, the rightward swing of the Court!

The only good news is the coming to the Court of Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first African American female in the history of the Supreme Court, and the fact that all three liberals now on the Court are women, along with Amy Coney Barrett.

But the future of constitutional law is in danger from the extremist agenda of the majority, an alarming situation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Supreme Court Reputation Reaching An All Time Low

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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!

Confirmation Of Justice Amy Coney Barrett Creates The Most Extreme Supreme Court Since 1930s!

The confirmation last evening of new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett creates the most extreme Supreme Court since the time of the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s Great Depression, just as we are entering into the Second Great Depression.

The right wing narrow minded view of Justice Barrett is perceived as more so than even her mentor, former Justice Antonin Scalia.

The fifth woman to serve on the Court, she is the anti Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a great woman who we could only wish had been able to live two to three more weeks, preventing an appointment before the election.

And had she lived until December, even a lame duck President could not have replaced her before January and a new President.

This only accelerates the dire need for everyone to vote, and for the Republicans to be resoundingly defeated next week for the White House and the US Senate, and add seats in the House of Representatives.

With a 6-3 extremist Court, the following areas of law are greatly endangered:

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in general
Women’s Rights
Abortion Rights
Gay Rights and Gay Marriage
Labor Rights
Voting Rights
Environmental Reforms
Consumer Reforms
Business Regulations
Separation of Church and State
Firearms Regulation

The answer must be to expand the Supreme Court to 11 members, adding two progressives or liberal voices to the Court, making for a slight 6-5 conservative majority, but promoting the concept that Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch will, at times, side with the liberals.

It does not guarantee progressive and liberal ideas, but that has been that way for a generation, but once either Clarence Thomas (age 72) or Samuel Alito (age 70) leaves the Court, likely in the next four years, a moderate Court will be achieved. And if Stephen Breyer or Sonia Sotomayor were to leave, it would insure a Democratic President choosing their successors.

Voting for Joe Biden and a Democratic Senate insures that the right wing tilt of the Court will be short lived!

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!

The Supreme Court Might See Massive Change In Next Presidential Term

It seems likely that the Supreme Court might see massive change in the next Presidential term.

The automatic thought is that of course, the odds of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer leaving by one method or another, either death or retirement, seems likely as they are now 87 and 82 respectively.

If this happens with Joe Biden as President, the seats will remain in the liberal camp, so the news of Ginsburg again in the hospital, but supposedly recovering well, makes one’s heart skip a beat.

The thought of another Donald Trump appointment before the election is a horrible thought, but likely would happen if she were to leave the Supreme Court in the months before the election.

But beyond Ginsburg and Breyer, there are four other potential changes that could occur.

Both Clarence Thomas (age 72) and Samuel Alito (age 70) have been rumored to be thinking of leaving the Court, but no sign they would leave right now. But if they did in 2021 or after, with Joe Biden in office, these two most reliably conservative members would be likely replaced by nominees more to the left in their constitutional views.

Additionally, it is well known that Sonia Sotomayor (age 66) has a strong case of diabetes, and there is some speculation she might leave for health reasons at some point.

Finally, Chief Justice John Roberts (age 65) has had seizure issues, and could have died when he collapsed in 2007 on a deck while fishing, but fortunately did not fall into the water with no one nearby, and was instead found after the event. But he now has had a concussion, and one can wonder if it is related to his seizure issues, for which he takes medication. So it is possible to imagine him leaving the Court at some point.

So with the uncertainties of life, the six longest serving members of the Court could end up leaving the Court sometime between now and 2025. This would affect the balance of the Court on many cases that will come up in the future.

An Inspiring Victory For Gay And Transgender Employment Rights, As John Roberts And Neil Gorsuch Come Through!

In a year which has been so depressing in so many ways, a great and inspiring event occurred today, when the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to protect gay and transgender employment rights.

Chief Justice John Roberts (appointed by George W. Bush in 2005) and Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch (appointed by Donald Trump in 2017) voted with the four Democratic appointed Justices to bring about this victory.

A major rebuttal was issued to the decision by two of the three other Justices, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by George W. Bush and Donald Trump, respectively.

The decision shows once again how unpredictable judges and Justices can be, as to have the two Justices appointed by both Bush and Trump split on this case.

This decision is a repudiation of the anti gay stand of Donald Trump, and one wonders whether other decisions in the next two weeks will also go against Trump.

Thank goodness that, while the Supreme Court is at times disappointing in its decisions, it also can be very surprising and advanced.

A lot of it has to do with Roberts, who clearly wants to have “his” Court have a good reputation in history, and has been helpful on some cases, including upholding the Affordable Care Act in 2013, and he likely will continue to uphold that law soon, in another challenge.

And the idea that Neil Gorsuch, who gained the position that Barack Obama appointed Merrick Garland to, and was not even given the chance for a hearing and a vote on the appointment, was also in the majority on this case, is a welcome sign of a pyrrhic victory for Donald Trump, in getting Gorsuch on the Court!