Supreme Court

Is Chief Justice John Roberts On Road To Judicial Leadership Of John Marshall, Charles Evans Hughes, And Earl Warren?

Chief Justice John Roberts is clearly a conservative on the Supreme Court, but he is also very much aware of and concerned about the turmoil in American society, and concerned about the long term reputation of the Court, as well as his own historical image, since he has a sense of history.

So Roberts has surprised Court watchers in some of his decisions, and he has emerged as the “swing” vote on the Court, as only he can prevent the Court from going so hard to the Right that it will lose its image of being an institution that promotes fairness and equity under the Constitution.

So expect that John Roberts will become a true judicial leader on the level of John Marshall (1801-1835), Charles Evans Hughes (1930-1941), and Earl Warren (1953-1969).

These three Chief Justices, generally acknowledged as the three greatest of the 16 previous Chief Justices before Roberts came to the Court in 2005, all demonstrated courage and principle, and came into conflict with Presidents.

Marshall had to deal with the strong opposition of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, while Charles Evans Hughes had Franklin D. Roosevelt challenging the Court during the Great Depression, and Earl Warren steered the Court in a direction not always agreed with by Republicans Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.

Now John Roberts has to deal with Donald Trump, who he has already issued a criticism, when Trump spoke of “Obama Judges”, “Bush Judges”, and “Clinton Judges”, with Roberts asserting there is no such thing as judges based on a President, but rather judges adhering to the Constitution as they see it.

This makes it quite clear to many observers that Roberts is ready to take a more moderate stand than he does typically, as he did in saving the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) in 2012.

Expect Roberts to side, if necessary, with the four “liberals” on the Court (chosen by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama), with the constitutional crisis that has clearly arisen, including trying to convince the four conservatives selected by both President Bushes and even the two Trump judges, to consider how the Court was unanimous in curbing President Richard Nixon in the Watergate Scandal 45 years ago, and Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones lawsuit 22 years ago.

It is the Supreme Court that is being looked to as the ultimate government branch to rein in a President far more abusive than Richard Nixon, and to reassert separation of powers and checks and balances.

Donald Trump Creates More Turmoil As He Promotes War On The Rule Of Law

Donald Trump and his underlings are creating more turmoil as he promotes war on the rule of law, determining to use military expenditures to build his Mexico Wall.

That is unconstitutional, as only Congress appropriates funds for any spending in the national budget.

There will be a court case pursued on this, and the Supreme Court will rule on this, and it is hard to imagine them upholding a President misusing federal funds that have not been passed through Congressional committees and a vote of both houses of Congress.

Terrible Idea To Have Notable Third Party Or Independent Presidential Candidate In 2020 Presidential Election

The thought that a notable third party or independent Presidential candidate might participate in the 2020 Presidential election is a terrible idea.

It would cause a potential Electoral College disaster, allowing a major party nominee to win with low 40s or high 30s percentage of the popular vote.

So when we hear that former Ohio Governor John Kasich or former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is thinking of just that, it is clearly a danger sign that might help Donald Trump or Mike Pence win the next term in the Presidency.

That would be total disaster for the nation, and would take the already downward moral and ethical trend in America to continue, and insure an extremist right wing agenda into the mid 2020s, including a totally extreme right wing Supreme Court and lower federal courts to go on for 30 or more years into the future.

It would also likely make it impossible for the Senate to go Democratic, and for the House of Representatives to remain Democratic, once we had the confusion of a well known third party or independent Presidential candidate siphoning votes, more likely from the Democratic nominee.

While there is no way legally to prevent this, we have to hope that sanity will rule, and we will get a two way race, with all of its attendant shortcomings, rather than the mess that a third serious candidate could bring to the American political system.

The Political Year 2018 Reviewed, And Hopes For A Political Renaissance

The year 2018 saw the drastic blunders and mean spirited nature of the 45th President come to full fruition.

It was the year of diplomatic, economic, environmental, and social steps backward, wiping out a lot of the good that has been done by Presidents and Congresses of both parties in the past 70 plus years since World War II.

It was the year of the passing of political leaders who always had the motivation to do good, even when they sometimes went the wrong direction on specific issues—John McCain and George H. W. Bush.

It was a year when the Federal Judiciary stood up to Donald Trump most of the time, but also a year when extreme right wing judges were approved, and a Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, similar to Clarence Thomas in his mistreatment of women, was confirmed despite that reality.

It was also the year of more gun related deaths and opioid deaths than have died in war since the end of World War II.

It was the year when schools and religious institutions and public gathering places were subjected to mass death by people who desperately needed mental health intervention.

It was the year when racism, nativism, misogyny all had massive revival, assisted by the behavior of the Chief Executive in the Oval Office.

It was the year when the Republican Party lost all credibility as it refused to stand up and condemn the unstable behavior of Donald Trump, and allowed him to hijack the historical reputation of the party.

But in the midst of all this gloom, it was also the year of the rise of women, racial and religious minorities, gays and lesbians, and young people to more political power and influence than has ever been seen in American politics and society.

The Democratic Party became the bastion of future hopes of reform and change, and they have the backing of millions of Americans who desperately want a different direction for American politics and society.

2019 needs to be the year of movement against Donald Trump, and hold him accountable for his crimes and sins, and the likelihood of the Trump Presidency coming to an end by criminal indictments against family members, leading to the resignation of Trump, as occurred with Richard Nixon, seems likely.

The future of American democracy and constitutional government is at stake as we enter 2019, but the massive “Blue Wave” evokes hope and optimism.

Let us all hope for a better, more productive 2019 politically and socially.

The Struggle Of Donald Trump With Chief Justice John Roberts More Dangerous Than Earlier Challenges Of Presidents To Supreme Court Chief Justices

Donald Trump has challenged Chief Justice John Roberts and the Supreme Court, just as he has challenged every other institution of government, but Chief Justice John Roberts seems well prepared to deal with Trump, if and when he gets out of hand.

It is certainly a dangerous struggle, as Donald Trump has an authoritarian bent unlike any earlier President, but it seems clear that Roberts is ready to do what must be done to keep the President within the Constitution.

Earlier in history, there were major confrontations of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson with Chief Justice John Marshall; Abraham Lincoln with Chief Justice Roger Taney; Franklin D. Roosevelt with Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes; Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon with Chief Justice Earl Warren; Richard Nixon with Chief Justice Warren Burger; and Barack Obama with Chief Justice John Roberts.

But Trump has demanded that the court system favor him in all of his executive orders, and other executive actions, but the Court has refused to back him on a regular basis, leading Trump to say that there are Clinton Judges, Obama Judges, and Bush Judges, but Roberts responding that there are no such descriptions, as all are dedicated to the rule of law, a true rebuke of the President.

On a recent executive order to deny asylum automatically to those who seek it, the Court ruled 5-4 against it, with Roberts joining the four Democratic appointments on the Court, and he has earlier upheld ObamaCare in 2012, and at other times, has sided against conservatives.

It is clear that Roberts sees the Supreme Court as “his Court”, and is concerned about the reputation of the Court long term, so one can be assured that if a case comes up against Trump trying to grab too much power, that he will, likely vote against him, as the entire Court, including three Nixon appointees, voted against him in US V. Nixon of 1974, and when the Court, including two Clinton appointees unanimously voted against Clinton in the Clinton V. Jones Case of 1997.

The Negative Side Of The Presidency Of George H. W. Bush

As George H. W. Bush lies in state before his funeral on Wednesday and his burial on Thursday, praise and plaudits have been visited on the 41st President.

But as with all Presidents and all government leaders worldwide and historically, there is a negative side.

Among the shortcomings of the 41st President are the following in no particular order:

Bush ignored the AIDS Epidemic crisis, much like his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, allowing the Religious Right Wing to set the agenda on a hate campaign against gays and lesbians.

Bush switched his pro choice views on abortion by picking up the Reagan viewpoint on women, and sacrificing his beliefs, while his own wife Barbara quietly continued to support abortion rights.

Bush ran a nasty, dirty, and despicable campaign for President in 1988 against the Democratic nominee, Michael Dukakis, allowing falsehoods and distortions to be promoted, without any consideration of the damage his campaign manager Lee Atwater was engaged in.

Bush pursued a Mideast policy that led to long term disaster, and placing troops on a permanent basis in the Middle East led to September 11 and the Iraq War and Afghanistan War.

Bush as CIA head backed dictatorships in Latin America, particularly in Chile and Argentina.

Bush promoted a tough war on drugs, as Ronald Reagan had done, and it victimized people of color much more than whites, and caused prison terms that are now seen as a failed policy, that did not really get to the issue of how to treat those addicted to drugs.

Bush was involved in the Iran Contra Scandal under President Reagan, never fully explored, and ended up giving pardons to many who were part of that scandal, right before he left office in 1993.

Bush made a horrible appointment to the Supreme Court when he nominated Clarence Thomas in 1991, and the nation has been burdened with his influence for the past 27 years, including many potential future Supreme Court nominees who worked for Thomas, and are now being put on the Circuit Courts under President Donald Trump, setting up a future Court with even greater Thomas impact than just himself.

Bush also gave us the most ill qualified, incompetent Vice President in modern history, Dan Quayle, and when Bush had medical issues in office, it made the nation worry at the thought of a President Quayle.

These nine points mentioned above make an assessment of the ultimate historical significance of George H. W. Bush much more complicated than the fulsome praise now being promoted at the time of his passing.

The Death Of The 41st President, George H. W. Bush, At Age 94

This blogger woke up this morning to the news that the 41st President of the United States, George H. W. Bush, had died last night (November 30) at age 94, and five and a half months.

He had the longest life span of any President, although former President Jimmy Carter will surpass him in age on March 22, 2019.

Bush was one of the most experienced Presidents, with a tremendous resume particularly on national security and foreign policy issues. This included being a Houston, Texas, Congressman; United Nations Ambassador; Republican National Committee Chairman; Second Chief of the Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China; Central Intelligence Agency Director; Vice President of the United States for two terms under President Ronald Reagan; and President of the United States for one term from 1989-1993.

Bush was an honorable, decent man, who knew his own shortcomings and admitted to it, but although he was the first Vice President to succeed his President by election since Martin Van Buren in 1836 after Andrew Jackson, he was unable to win a second term, losing to future President Bill Clinton, in an election which included businessman Ross Perot, who managed as an independent candidate to win 19 percent of the vote. This led to Bush having the second worst defeat for a sitting President, with 37 percent, only ahead of President William Howard Taft in 1912, gaining only 23 percent of the vote in a three way race with Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt.

Bush will be best remembered for his leadership in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein; his helping to end the Cold War with Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev and usher in the unification of Germany; the promotion of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada; the concept of a “Thousand Points of Light” to encourage local activism to solve problems; the signing into law of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide equal opportunity for those Americans with disabilities; and the appointment of two Supreme Court Justices, David Souter and Clarence Thomas.

His decision to support tax increases caused a challenge by conservatives, led by Pat Buchanan, in the primaries of 1992, which he overcame, but that plus the recession America was suffering at the time of the election, along with the challenge of not just Bill Clinton, but Ross Perot, making the campaign a three way race, led to his defeat.

Bush lived to see his son George W. Bush become President, only the second such situation, after John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and he had nearly 26 years of retirement, and the longest Presidential marriage, until his beloved wife Barbara died in April, after 73 plus years of a devoted couple, who brought up five children.

Bush is ranked near the middle of all Presidents, generally between 17 and 20, depending on the poll of 44 Presidents, with his failure to win a second term a factor in why he has not risen higher.

His impact on America, however, has been massive, and it is likely his ranking among Presidents will rise in the coming years.

Matthew Whitaker Becoming Acting Attorney General Creates A Constitutional Crisis Over Robert Mueller Investigation

The decision of President Donald Trump to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and temporarily replace him with Matthew Whitaker, who has clearly stated his belief in 2017 that there should not be a continuation of the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian Collusion, is an alarm bell in the night.

It is now clear that Trump has decided to take action on Mueller before he can issue a report, and before the Democrats take over the House of Representatives, and start investigations and issue subpoenas to the Trump Administration.

Trump’s bizarre performance in his nearly hour and a half press conference yesterday makes one worry as to what will happen next, as Trump is acting totally bipolar, whether he is or not.

The rumor that Donald Trump, Jr. may soon be indicted by Robert Mueller is probably the reason behind the suddenly rash action by Trump to fire Sessions.

But ordinarily, the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, who has been overseeing the Mueller investigation, and who hired Robert Mueller in the first place, should be the Acting Attorney General.

So many observers think we are on the verge of repeating the “Saturday Night Massacre” of Richard Nixon in October 1973, which led to impeachment by the House Judiciary Committee, the decision of the Supreme Court in US V. Nixon, and Nixon’s resignation in August 1974.

The Attack On Birthright Citizenship And The 14th Amendment By Donald Trump, Mike Pence, And Lindsey Graham

Donald Trump has opened up a new area of attack on constitutional law, claiming that he can, by executive order, end birthright citizenship for infants born of undocumented immigrants, bypassing the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship for all born in the United States in 1868, exactly 150 years ago.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, for once, is correct when he says that is not possible legally, as executive orders cannot end what is in the Constitution or its amendments.

It is also a fact, despite some, like Vice President Mike Pence, and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who claim otherwise, that legislation by Congress also cannot end what is in the Constitution or the amendments.

The only way to change what is in the Constitution or its 27 amendments is by another constitutional amendment, as occurred when the 18th Amendment banning liquor (Prohibition) was passed in 1919 and fourteen years later, with much discontent, the amendment was repealed by the 21st Amendment, the only way Prohibition would ever have ended.

If it was that easy to change what is in the Constitution or its amendments, then there would be a move to end the Electoral College, but that will never happen legally unless an amendment is passed by two thirds of each of the two houses of Congress, and three fourths of the states’ legislatures (38 out of 50).

The idea that Lindsey Graham is suddenly a great friend of Donald Trump, after the way that Trump trashed his good friend, the late Arizona Senator John McCain, is infuriating. One can be certain that McCain would fight this idea that Trump has suggested that he has the authority, all on his own, to destroy the language of the 14th Amendment. It is certain that McCain would be angry at Graham for his changed behavior, and it makes one wonder what is going on in Graham’s disturbed mind that he does not know the basic reality of constitutional law.

Of course, those on the Right would say the Supreme Court could justify what Trump wishes to do, and in theory, a lawless Court, which has already made decisions clearly and purely political in the last ten years, could by a 5-4 vote, including compromised Justice Brett Kavanaugh, do such. But it is hard to imagine that Chief Justice John Roberts would wish to be part of a majority that would undermine his reputation and that of his Court in the long run of history.

If such a disgrace were to happen, the Supreme Court would lose its credibility for all time, and would be helping Donald Trump to destroy our democracy, and impose an authoritarian dictatorship on our nation.

There is absolutely no moral or ethical way that this could happen, and be allowed to stand!

And also, the thought that an infant would not have the opportunity for a good life in America, simply because his or her parents were not documented at the time of his or her birth, is to deny the whole point of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and the reality that tens of millions of immigrants, and not all legal, with many “slipping in” through our borders and not realized what they had done, contributed to our nation’s greatness.

Think of the refugees from Cuba and Vietnam who came to a nation welcoming them from their personal tragedies in the past half century, and think of the refugees who came from all over the world over two centuries to a nation that gave them a chance to succeed and prosper, and benefit all of the American people!

One Term Presidents Who Lose Reelection Reassessed

The historical image of One Term Presidents is that it is the worst thing imaginable to lose reelection, and that their historical image is damaged.

Actually, though, it could be argued that a one term Presidency often is a blessing in disguise in the long run.

Let’s examine what happened to the lives of Presidents defeated for a second term.

John Adams lost reelection to Thomas Jefferson in 1800, but went on to live another 25 years, see his son John Quincy Adams be elected and inaugurated President, and die at the age of 90 years and seven months, the all time record until the 21st century, when four other Presidents surpassed him in age.

John Quincy Adams lost reelection to Andrew Jackson in 1828, but went on to live another 19 years, and be elected to nine terms as a Congressman from Massachusetts, engaged in the fight against slavery as the only President elected by popular vote to an elected office after being President.

Martin Van Buren lost reelection to William Henry Harrison in 1840, but went on to live another 21 years, and be the Presidential nominee of the Free Soil Party in 1848, winning about 10 percent of the national popular vote, the first such third party to have an impact on a national election.

Grover Cleveland lost reelection to Benjamin Harrison in 1888, but came back to the White House by election in 1892, and later served on the Princeton University Board of Trustees after his retirement.

William Howard Taft lost reelection to Woodrow Wilson in 1912, but went on to become the only President also to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1921-1930.

Herbert Hoover lost reelection to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, but went on to the longest retirement of more than 31 years, only surpassed by Jimmy Carter in 2012, and Hoover having growing respect for his post Presidential activities, and dying at the age of 90 in 1964, only five months less lifespan than John Adams, and the second President to reach that age.

Gerald Ford lost election to Jimmy Carter in 1976, after succeeding Richard Nixon under the 25th Amendment, but went on to growing recognition and respect in his nearly 30 years after his Presidency, setting the record for longevity until 2018, dying at the age of 93 and five months.

Jimmy Carter lost reelection to Ronald Reagan in 1980, but went on to become the most outstanding former President in his activities and commitments to public service, and has had the longest retirement of any President, nearly 38 years, and has just reached the age of 94, being 111 days younger than George H. W. Bush.

George H. W. Bush lost reelection to Bill Clinton in 1992, but went on to see his son, George W. Bush be inaugurated and serve two terms in the Presidency, and growing respect as he set the all time record of age 94 in June 2018.