Supreme Court

Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh A Very Political Choice, Reminding Us Of Past Political Wars

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh comes across as a very nice man on the surface, with a nice family, and a long history and record as a Judge on the Court of Appeals in Washington, DC.

He is smart enough and well spoken enough, but that is not enough for the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh is a political “animal”, involved in the Ken Starr Impeachment investigation of Bill Clinton two decades ago, and also engaged in the fight to help George W. Bush stop the vote count in the state of Florida in the Presidential election of 2000.

He also has a clear record of opposition to abortion rights as a devout Catholic who wishes to impose his personal views on the nation, instead of promoting “Stare Decisis”.

He also has a record of opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

So both of these important issues are now in danger as a result of his nomination.

Kavanaugh also has stated that a President should not face indictment and prosecution in office, which makes him a likely ally of Donald Trump in any future possibility of pursuing the President for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, violation of the Emoluments clause, and Russian collusion.

It will be extremely difficult to stop Kavanaugh’s nomination, but the Democrats, if they stay united, and if Republicans Susan Collins and or Lisa Murkowski can be convinced to oppose, it can be stopped.

These are very difficult times for progressives, but it is not time to give up, not yet at least!

Chief Justice John Roberts To Become The New Balance On The Future Supreme Court?

Chief Justice John Roberts has been on the Court for 13 years now, and he is generally perceived as a conservative.

But he has surprised some conservatives, as when he kept ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act) alive in 2012.

Also, Roberts has often stated by the doctrine of “Stare Decisis”–to stand by things decided”–although he has not been consistent on this over the years.

The odds of Roberts siding with the liberals on the Court for the image of the Court named after him as Chief Justice, is a thin measure of what kind of balance he might present on the future Supreme Court.

It seems likely that on balance, he will be “number 5”, in the middle, but that middle will be much farther to the Right than Anthony Kennedy or Sandra Day O’Connor represented.

But then again, Justices have surprised their Republican Presidents who appointed them, as with Earl Warren and William Brennan under Dwight D. Eisenhower; Harry Blackmun under Richard Nixon; John Paul Stevens under Gerald Ford; O’Connor and Kennedy under Ronald Reagan; and David Souter under George H. W. Bush.

The best estimate is that no one should count on John Roberts avoiding “his” Court from being regarded as the most right wing, conservative Court since the time of Warren G. Harding. Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover nine decades ago, before the Great Depression and New Deal began the transformation of constitutional law.

The Year Of The Woman 2018 Likely To Surpass The Earlier Year, 1992!

In 1992, we saw a major increase in women officeholders, a reaction against the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas controversy of 1991, with the number of women in Congress and in state legislatures dramatically rising.

It now seems likely that 2018 will see a massive rise of women into both houses of Congress, the governorships, and state legislature, with Donald Trump”s misogyny, along with the Republican attack on women’s health, sexual harassment, and treatment in society motivating greater participation in running for office as Democrats, and the expected much increased plan of women to vote across the country.

107 women presently serve in the US Congress (78 Democrats, 29 Republicans), with 84 in the House of Representatives and 23 in the US Senate.

Over 1,900 women serve in state legislatures, and six women serve as state governors, four Republicans and two Democrats.

Over 1,200 Democratic women are in state legislatures, with about 700 Republican women serving.

Overall, about 20-25 percent in elected positions across the nation are women.

So many women, particularly Democrats, are winning nominations for legislative and congressional seats and for governor, so we should see an all time high in November, once the election results are in.

As many as 77 women, two thirds of them Democrats, are running for Governor in the 36 states that have gubernatorial elections in 2018. There could be more than 9 women governors, which is the all time record.

32 Democratic women and 22 Republican women are running for the US Senate in 2018, and we should see more than the all time high of 24.

Women have voted in greater numbers than men in recent years, and that should be continued, with the motivation of Donald Trump, and now with the likelihood of a move in the Supreme Court to outlaw abortion, a divisive issue which will draw women to the polls in growing numbers.

Supreme Court Battle Could Move Potential Democratic Nominees Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, And Amy Klobuchar Into The Forefront

The battle over the Supreme Court nominee to be announced in four days by President Donald Trump could move potential Democratic Presidential nominees Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar into the forefront of the news.

All three potential candidates are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and all three are expected to be vocal in their opposition to whoever Trump appoints.

These three Democrats are part of the “newer generation”, as opposed to Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren, all of whom will be past 70 or nearing 80 in the case of the first two named, in 2020.

Booker and Harris will be 51 and 56, and Klobuchar will be 60 in 2020.

Booker and Harris tend to be more vehement in their oratory, than is the case with Klobuchar.

Booker and Harris represent the Northeast and Pacific Coast respectively, while Klobuchar is from the Midwest (Minnesota), an important factor for the Democrats, who need to win the Midwest if they are to win the White House.

Sadly, Booker being African American, and Harris being mixed race (Asian Indian mother and Jamaican father) and a woman, have to be regarded as minuses in the present political atmosphere.

Klobuchar is also a woman, of course, but being Caucasian and from the Midwest are pluses, along with her avoiding being confrontational or overly controversial in her public utterances, as Booker and Harris tend to be, along with other women candidates Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren.

One might say that a progressive should be for the most leftist candidate possible, but this author and blogger at this point, which is very early, sees Amy Klobuchar as more “mainstream”, and in theory more electable in 2020.

Truthfully, however, there is no way to judge this early, 18 months before the earliest caucuses and primaries, and 28 months before Election Day on 2020, as to which Democrat is the best bet.

But these three Judiciary Committee members will certainly be making news in the next few months, before their likely announcements of Presidential candidacy.

Utah Senator Mike Lee Seems To Have An Edge For Supreme Court Nomination

On June 28, this blogger suggested that Utah Senator Mike Lee was a likely potential possibility for the Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

He would be a rarity, a sitting United States Senator, chosen for the Supreme Court.

There is no requirement that a sitting Federal Court judge must be chosen, although that has become the tradition since Governor Earl Warren of California was chosen to be Chief Justice by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, with only Sandra Day O’Connor, who served in the Arizona State Senate, and chosen by Ronald Reagan in 1981, having any elective experience since then.

As stated on June 28, we had Senators earlier, including most impressively, Hugo Black, who had done good deeds on the Supreme Court.

So the belief that Mike Lee has the advantage comes to the forefront again. It was announced that Lee had been interviewed for the position, so he is on the short list.

Lee is 47, which from the viewpoint of Donald Trump and conservatives, is ideal, meaning a 35 year term on the Supreme Court under normal circumstances.

Lee is a sometimes critic of Trump, who did not back him, which makes him seem independent of any influence by Trump if Lee was on the Court.

Lee is pro life, which would make it hard for Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to support him, but neither is needed as long as some Red State Democrats—Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp—all who voted for Neil Gorsuch last year—support him. And both Collins and Murkowski ended up voting for Gorsuch, so their protestations seem weak.

It would be difficult for either Collins or Murkowski to vote against their own party and Senate colleague in the end, as after all, both voted for Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, and Collins even gave a strong endorsement presentation before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his nomination to the Justice Department, despite his outrageous racism.

So I suggest that Lee might be the choice of Trump, and more likely to sail through confirmation, and with a likely 53-46 vote (without John McCain voting), and possibly more Red State Democrats justifying the vote for their “Senate colleague”!

Party loyalty and Senatorial “courtesy” give Mike Lee the advantage, at least in theory, but we shall see!

The Trump Juggernaut Overrunning Moderate Democrats: Between A Rock And A Hard Place!

The Democratic Party is at a crossroads, and moderate Senate Democrats are “between a rock and a hard place”, with the Trump juggernaut about to run them down!

There are 10 Democratic moderates who are running for reelection in states won by Donald Trump.

If they all remained loyal to their party, and IF Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski joined them, a Supreme Court pick could be stopped, but that is asking for too much to be assured.

And if they do not support the Trump nominee, it could kill their chances of reelection.

But of course, if they vote for the Trump nominee, many Democrats and moderates might decide it is not worth voting, and they will lose their elections anyway.

So what to do?

Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota voted for Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, last year.

All three are in great danger of losing their seats, with or without the Supreme Court nominee controversy they now face.

Then we have Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana, also in great danger of losing their seats.

The other five “Red State” Democrats are probably safer, and unlikely to lose their seats—Bob Casey Jr of Pennsylvania (who however is anti abortion in his background); Sherrod Brown of Ohio; Debbie Stebanow of Michigan; Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin; and Bill Nelson of Florida (but his seat will be the most expensive race ever, with opponent Rick Scott spending tens of millions to defeat Nelson).

So if one is to promote the left wing Democratic view, we would say to hell with these Senators, whose voting record is far from ideal, but the alternative to staying united no matter what these ten Senators decide to do on the Supreme Court nominee of Trump, is to see the Republicans gain more seats and lock up the Senate for the long haul.

That is why it seems to this blogger that to promote or expect a left wing Democrat as the Presidential nominee, while ideal in theory, is likely to kill off any chance of the Democrats winning the Presidency in 2020, after what could be a Democratic debacle in the Senate races this year.

What seems likely to happen is that the three Democrats who voted for Gorsuch will vote for the Trump Supreme Court choice and will survive, and the other seven Democrats—particularly the three women—McCaskill, Stabenow and Baldwin—will vote against and yet survive as well. Casey will be conflicted but probably vote NO and survive, as well as Brown. And Tester should still be able to win another term as well.

The toughest seat to keep will be Bill Nelson in Florida, but it seems likely he will vote NO on the nominee.

So at the end, the likely vote will be 53-46, all 50 GOP Senators, including Collins and Murkowski, with the exception of the absent John McCain, and Manchin, Donnelly, and Heitkamp, with anger and disgust by Democrats, but the only likely road to those seats being saved.

So IF all seats are saved, except possibly Florida, and then IF Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, and maybe Texas are gained, the Democrats MIGHT have a 51-49 or 52-48 Democratic Senate, and the battle against Trump will have another day and more to fight, the best possible under present circumstances.

Of course, all progressives have to pray for the good health and continued life of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, to serve until 2021, a tall order, as if that does not happen, the Supreme Court is lost with a certainty until close to 2045-2050, past the lifetime of this blogger and probably all of my readers.

This is a gloomy reality, but we have to do whatever we can do to promote a Democratic majority in both houses, and accept that not all Democrats will be progressives, but will at least be of the party persuasion!

Supreme Court Membership Could Be Increased In Future By Democratic Party Senate Majority, Perfectly Legal

Progressives have developed the idea that in the future, when Democrats gain the majority of the US Senate, they may move toward increasing the membership of the Supreme Court, playing hardball as much as the Republicans have under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell refused to allow hearings for Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee to replace the dead Antonin Scalia, saying it was an election year, and improper to allow an outgoing President to make an appointment.

This was preposterous, as John Adams named John Marshall Chief Justice in 1801, after losing reelection to Thomas Jefferson; Andrew Jackson chose Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney in 1836, his last year in office; and Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison and William Howard Taft chose Justices in their last year in office; and Herbert Hoover chose Benjamin Cardozo in 1932, his last year in office; and Dwight D. Eisenhower chose William Brennan in the year of his reelection campaign; and Ronald Reagan chose Anthony Kennedy in his last year in office in 1988.

We have had differing numbers of justices. up to ten, and there is no constitutional barring of adding more Justices, as Franklin D. Roosevelt wished to do in 1937.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander, as the saying goes, and this might be a way to wield power on the part of the Democrats to create a balanced Court, as otherwise, we will have the most extremist Court since the 1920s!

The Pressure To Be Brought On Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly, Bob Casey Jr. And Joe Manchin On Supreme Court Nominee

With Donald Trump ready to announce his Supreme Court nominee on July 9, pressure is starting to be brought against four “Red State” Senators facing reelection, who might vote for Trump’s selection.

Three of them—Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia—crossed the aisle and supported Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court last year, and have visited the White House already, being lobbied by Trump.

They, and Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Jr, strongly anti abortion, but not supporting Gorsuch last year, are the four Democrats most worried about, with at least the first three feared likely to cross the aisle again.

The problem is that the Democrats cannot afford to repudiate these three or all four Senators, if they hope to have any chance of regaining control of the US Senate in November.

So while wishing to be critical and denouncing them if they abandon the Democratic Senate caucus on this matter, they are still needed for the future.

The Crucial Role Of Two Republican Pro Choice Women Senators: Susan Collins And Lisa Murkowski

It is going to be a major pressure point brought against two women Republican Senators—Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—that will likely decide if Donald Trump gains the confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee before the midterm elections.

Both women are pro choice, and wanted to keep ObamaCare, and are considered moderates of the Republican brand.

Both come from small populated states, mainly rural and poor, and needing ObamaCare, with no alternative offered by the Republican majority in Congress or Donald Trump.

Both have, however often voted with their party under pressure, even on support of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court last year.

Both have often disappointed observers who wanted to believe they had courage and guts.

Both are broad based social moderates, but they have been unwilling to defy party leadership, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

So the odds that they will do the right thing is a long shot.

Particularly in the case of Susan Collins, who disappointed many when she testified in favor of the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, because they were Senate colleagues, and “friends”, as if that is justification for supporting the most bigoted, racist Attorney General in American history!

Supreme Court Battle Most Contentious Since Robert Bork And Clarence Thomas Nominations In 1987 and 1991

It is already clear, just two days after Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, that the battle to confirm a replacement will be the most contentious since Robert Bork was nominated by Ronald Reagan in 1987, and Clarence Thomas was nominated by George H. W. Bush in 1991.

Both times, the Democrats, however, controlled the Senate, and this time, they do not, which is a massive difference.

Bork was defeated in a roll call vote of 58-42, while Thomas was confirmed by a vote of 52-48.

The Democrats have limited ways to stop the confirmation of a replacement for Anthony Kennedy, as no longer can the filibuster tactic be used, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unwilling to give an inch to the Democrats.

The only hope for the Democrats is to convince Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine to back up their strong support of abortion rights, but both voted for Neil Gorsuch last year, as the first Supreme Court choice of Donald Trump.

But it is certain that the fireworks over this nomination, whoever it might be, will make the 2018 midterm elections even more a reason for all Americans to pay attention and to vote, as clearly, voting can change the course of history, and non voting has consequences!