US Supreme Court

Brennan Center For Justice: 19 States With New Voting Restrictions Since 2016

The William Brennan Center For Justice, named after the great former Supreme Court Justice, tracks violations of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and has exposed the reality that 19 states, since the Supreme Court backtracked on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in a decision in 2013, have made the right to vote much more difficult, and affecting election results.

In 2016, 14 states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election, with these states including Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In 2017, Arkansas, North Dakota, Missouri, Georgia, and Iowa added new laws.

So 8 Southern states of the old Confederacy (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia) are back where they were before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it harder for blacks and other people of color, and poor people in general, to be able to have the chance to vote.

But also, the 8 Midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas have gown down the same road.

And Arizona in the West and New Hampshire and Rhode Island on the Atlantic Coast also have made it more difficult to vote.

Look at this list of states, and notice almost all of them, except Virginia, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island voted for Donald Trump.

So we have the possibility that despite public opinion polls that indicate a “Blue Wave”, the restrictions on voting rights could impact election result in November.

Unwise For Republicans To Denounce Lisa Murkowski, And Democrats To Denounce Joe Manchin: They Could Switch Parties After Midterm Elections

Now that the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has been accomplished, by the smallest margin since 1881, there is discussion in both political parties about retribution to be paid for the one Republican Senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and the one Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who broke ranks in their parties and voted against the party line.

This is very unwise, and could reverberate after the midterm elections are completed.

What if the US Senate ends up with a 50-50 split, which would give Vice President Mike Pence the ability to organize the Senate for the Republicans?

If Lisa Murkowski is angry in November, she could decide to switch parties, becoming a Democrat, as long as the party promised, with her 16 years of Senate experience, to give her a committee chairmanship. That would make the Senate 51 Democrats and 49 Republicans, backfiring on the Republicans.

Or what if the Senate became 51-49 Democratic, and Joe Manchin decided to switch to the Republican Party, making a 50-50 tie, giving Mike Pence the ability to organize the Senate for the Republicans?

What it comes down to is that no political party should punish its members because they are not always in lockstep with their party.

There is no reason why all Democrats have to be to the left of center, and all Republicans have to be to the right of center.

In the past, there were a lot of people who “crossed the aisle” on a regular basis, and accomplished great goals, as for instance Lyndon B. Johnson gaining support of many Republicans for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 due to his ability to work with Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen.

Another instance was a deal on Social Security reform in 1983 between Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill.

The only way to move ahead is to overcome the confrontational, no holds barred rhetoric, that now has made Congress such an inept institution, and promote willingness of both parties to negotiate and compromise for the good of the nation and its future.

The Long Term Crisis Of Supreme Court Legitimacy Could Tear This Nation Apart Over Next Few Decades

The US Supreme Court is entering a period which could tear this nation apart over the next few decades.

Here we are in the 21st century, and yet, the Supreme Court could be taking us back to the late 19th century Gilded Age in its constitutional decisions. Now there is a solid five member conservative majority, with the confirmation and swearing in of Brett Kavanaugh, the most contentious nominee with the closest vote in the Senate since Stanley Matthews’ appointment by President James A. Garfield in 1881.

Matthews served nearly eight years on the Supreme Court, having been nominated by President Rutherford B. Hayes, but seen at the time as too much of a “crony” of the President, so his nomination was withdrawn, but resubmitted by President James A. Garfield in 1881, and confirmed by the closest margin in history, 24-23, but with Kavanaugh the second lowest ever vote 50-48. This was the only Supreme Court appointment of Garfield, who had only served four months, when he was shot and mortally wounded by an assassin, and died in September 1881.

The concern about fairness on the part of Brett Kavanaugh however was not the same as Stanley Matthews, who was the majority opinion author in a case involving discrimination against Chinese laundries and their owners in San Francisco, with the case being Yick Wo V. Hopkins, enforcing the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. This was a step forward at a difficult time, in the year 1886, although the government had passed into law the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

We could only hope for the kind of open mindedness on the part of Brett Kavanaugh, as occurred with Stanley Matthews’ authorship of this case, which gives him stature in Supreme Court history.

We have had Republican appointments in the past, who turned out to be surprises, including:

Earl Warren and William Brennan, appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower

Harry Blackmun, appointed by Richard Nixon

John Paul Stevens, appointed by Gerald Ford

Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, appointed by Ronald Reagan

David Souter, appointed by George H. W. Bush

It would be a miracle at this point if Brett Kavanaugh were to travel the same road.

In a nation becoming more minority over the next decades, and with young people and women and college educated people veering to the left, while the Supreme Court veers dramatically to the Far Right, the question is whether civil disorder is not in the making, creating a crisis atmosphere in the future decades, exactly what America’s enemies are hoping for.

The Collapse Of Supreme Court Reputation And Evangelical Christian Legitimacy, But John Kasich Emerges As Rare Sane Voice In Republican Party

The Supreme Court has reached a crossroads, and will be going back a century to its most conservative nature since the Gilded Age. In the process, the concept of balance is gone, and the Court is losing its reputation as a reliable judgment on the meaning of the Constitution.

The Evangelical Christian movement is also losing its legitimacy, and is now shown for what it is, totally immoral, unethical, NOT based on the teachings and social justice of Jesus Christ, and undermining respect for an institution that is revealed as totally hypocritical, and displaying its misogyny.

We need the Supreme Court, but we do NOT need a religiously fanatical and false group, which is only interested in forcing theocracy on America, which the American people at large will NOT tolerate.

So we are entering the most dangerous period in more than 150 years, since the Civil War raged in the 1860s.

And Donald Trump is reveling in all this, as he works to undermine what is left of American democracy, and hopes to grab power and become an absolute dictator for the rest of his life.

Interestingly, in the midst of this promotion of chaos and anarchy by Donald Trump, we DO have a sane Republican, outgoing Governor John Kasich of Ohio, who on Sunday morning on CNN is emphasizing the need for unity and crossing the aisle. It is clear he will challenge Trump or Mike Pence for the Presidency in 2020, and his is one of the very few sane voices in the Republican Party, which at this point, seems “owned” by Donald Trump, but needs a strong challenge from someone like Kasich.

What Donald Trump is promoting must be bitterly opposed by mass action in the streets, and if the police refuse to honor the right of citizens under the Bill of Rights to peacefully demonstrate for redress of grievances, than a real violent reaction is likely, which Donald Trump will pay for in the annals of history!

Profiles In Courage: Heidi Heitkamp Of North Dakota And Lisa Murkowski Of Alaska

Tow US Senators, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the first a Red State Democrat, and the second a Republican, shine today as true “Profiles in Courage”, for voting NO on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Heitkamp is in danger of losing her seat, but let her conscience rule her decision.

Murkowski was the only Republican to break the solidarity of the party and do the right thing.

Both saw Kavanaugh as besmirching the image of the Supreme Court as more significant than the future of this one individual nominee.

The rest of the Republicans, including Jeff Flake of Arizona, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, and also Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia did what seemed more to defend their seats and position, than do what is right.

Susan Collins will now face the wrath of Maine voters in 2020, as will Ben Sasse in Nebraska, and both are likely to see their political influence wane as a result of their actions.

The Moment Has Come For Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse: Put Up Or Shut Up, And Be Never Believed Again!

There are four Republican Senators who are drawing all the attention on the issue of Brett Kavanaugh:

Jeff Flake of Arizona

Susan Collins of Maine

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

Ben Sasse of Nebraska

It is these four who will decide if Kavanaugh ends up on the Supreme Court, and besmirches the reputation of the Court.

Kavanaugh on the Court will never be accepted as legitimate by half the nation, particularly after he lost his temper and became partisan, worrying Court watchers that he would not recuse himself on cases involving left wing issues and Democrats, including anyone or anything that might show up in the Court regarding Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Kavanaugh lacks the judicial temperament, and self destructed in that rampage a week ago, and it is like an egg that has been broken, and it cannot be put back together again, even if he were to apologize.

It would paralyze the Court, or cause great controversy on many Supreme Court cases that will be divisive enough without his outburst.

So it is up to these four Senators to do what is right, even if it affects the long term career of Collins, Murkowski, and Sasse, with Flake retiring from the Senate.

The first and the third face election in 2020, and Murkowski in 2022.

Sasse may also plan to run for President, and it would be good if he demonstrated independence from Trump.

The two women want abortion to survive, but to believe Kavanaugh will not work to destroy Roe V. Wade, is to be naive.

So it is now that true “Profiles in Courage” are needed, as written about by John F. Kennedy in 1956.

A Way To Promote End Of Political Polarization: Nominate Merrick Garland A Justice Of The Supreme Court

Assuming that the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court fails to gain a majority of the US Senate, the future of the Court and its reputation remains at stake.

One way to resolve it is for both Republicans and Democrats to work toward the end of polarization, and call upon President Donald Trump to nominate Merrick Garland to the empty seat on the Supreme Court, three years after he was summarily dismissed and ignored by the Republicans, when President Barack Obama nominated him to replace Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016.

Merrick Garland was seen by Obama as a compromise choice, whom the Republicans would accept, as he is seen as a moderate, and has a distinguished background as the Chief Judge of the US Court Of Appeals for the DC Circuit, the highest court next to the Supreme Court.

Garland is technically the “boss” of Brett Kavanaugh, and also was of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, and both of them have always been very positive in their views of Garland.

Being in his mid 60s. Garland would serve far less than the theoretical 30 years that Gorsuch might serve, and that Kananaugh might serve if he was confirmed.

Garland is perfectly qualified to keep the Court balanced, and would likely replace Anthony Kennedy as the “swing vote” on the Court, and would prevent the kind of polarization represented by an extreme right wing choice for the Supreme Court, keeping it as four liberals, four conservatives, and Garland as the crucial vote, sometimes siding with one or the other side, as Anthony Kennedy did, and earlier, Sandra Day O’Connor did.

Why could not the two parties agree to a truce, to work toward cooperation, and return the US Senate to what it was under Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan, when Senator Everett Dirksen worked with LBJ, and Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill did with Reagan, working across the aisle on many matters?

It is proper that Merrick Garland be put on the Court, as a distinguished, and accomplished man, who deserves, belatedly, three years late, to give his service to our nation’s highest Court.

Christine Blasey Ford Spoke For All Women, And Men, Who Have Been Sexually Abused, And Brett Kavanaugh Proved He Is Unfit For Supreme Court

The testimony of Christine Blasey Ford was gripping and convincing, and she proved to be so genuine that even Republicans avoided attacking her, and Donald Trump stated words of praise for her performance.

At the same time, Republicans and Donald Trump called for moving forward on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, until two courageous women confronted Arizona Senator Jeff Flake in a Capitol Hill elevator, and convinced him to call for time out, and an FBI investigation to be conducted, which now is moving forward.

Christine Blasey Ford was articulate, and her education and career as a college professor of psychology gave her the ability to overcome her nervousness at speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She knows how to speak, how to deliver ideas and points, but even this professor, the author and blogger, as much as he can speak before hundreds of people, wonders if he could do as fine a performance if he had to face a Senate committee.

Imagine if Christine Blasey Ford was NOT a professor, but rather one of millions of ordinary women, not educated, not professional, not having the kind of family and moral support that she had.

Imagine if it had been a poor, minority woman, someone not good at expressing herself, or had been a man of similar lack of education and speaking ability and economic station, who had been abused as boys and men also are, and terrified to speak out, even including those who are gay or lesbian, and suffer sexual abuse every day, and yet remain silent.

Those people, men and women, who dispute CHristine Blasey Ford for waiting so many years, look at the case of Bill Cosby, or look at the cases of the men abused by the Catholic Church over decades, or look at the women abused by their mother’s boyfriends or their stepfathers, which happens so often after failed marriages.

Those men and women who have no heart, no concern, and always back white male privilege, and powerful male privilege, reveal themselves for what they are: despicable, disgraceful human beings who have no compassion, no empathy, no concern for anyone unless they are wealthy, white males, and whose wives who go along with them, reveal they have no minds of their own, and are “Stepford Wives”, who do not realize they are being manipulated by their dominant husbands who most likely are cheating on them. There is so much domestic abuse that never is reported, or is overlooked historically by legal authorities, when it is reported by courageous victims.

Brett Kavanaugh proved in his tirade against Democrats and Senators on the Judiciary Committee, that he is unfit for a lifetime position on the Supreme Court, and that he is too partisan and too supportive of Donald Trump, to be an objective, open minded member of the high Court, His drinking problem is a severe one, and he is too cocky, and self serving, much like Donald Trump, to have so much power and authority over Constitutional law for the next thirty to forty years. His performance was a disgrace, that should open the eyes of the eight members of the Court for lack of dignity and decency, and the American Bar Association and other groups which had endorsed him, have withdrawn their support.

It is time for decent Republicans, including Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Bob Corker, and Ben Sasse to show they have guts and principle, and reject this nomination!

The Brett Kavanaugh Debacle Will Accelerate A “Blue Wave” And A “Pink Wave”, Which Will Transform American Politics

I am writing this entry after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has gone before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, September 27, 2018, and before Federal Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh has started his testimony on the charge of inappropriate sexual behavior toward Dr. Ford.

Dr. Ford was a very credible witness, but it will be unlikely to change any Republican votes in the Senate, which is hell bent on confirming Kavanaugh to a lifetime position on the high Court, despite many doubts about his honesty and veracity.

In any case, no matter what happens, it is clear that this is a turning point in American politics, and that this debacle will accelerate a “Blue Wave”, as well as a “Pink Wave”, both of which will transform our political system.

The Republican Party has tried, under Donald Trump, to maximize their support among white males, but now they have alienated intelligent, educated white women, and unless the Russians are able to collude again in 2018, and fix the results of the midterm elections, as they did in the Presidential Election of 2016, then the Democrats will have a massive midterm election victory, and it will carry over to the 2020 Presidential election and beyond.

The Republican Party, relying on the diminishing white male population, the South, the Midwest, the Great Plains, and rural America, are going to see much of the Midwest give up on the Republicans, for many reasons, but misogyny is one of those factors.

This is indeed a major turning point in American history, and will seen as such in retrospect.

The vast majority of the American people are sick to death of misogyny, racism, nativism, and the hatred of white supremacists and their ally, Donald Trump!

Supreme Court Longevity An Issue, As Recent Justices Have Stayed Much Longer Than Average, Including Contested Nominee Clarence Thomas

In the midst of the controversy over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is the reality of how long he might serve.

There has been a trend whereby recent Supreme Court Justices serve much longer than historically traditional.

Right now, contested Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed in 1991 despite strong testimony of Anita Hill, has served 27 years on the Court, and is already number 24 in longevity of service out of 113 members of the Court in American history. He will be number 17 in two years and number 13 in four years. In May 2028, he would break the all time record of 36 years and nearly 7 months of Justice William O. Douglas, and Thomas would be just about a month short of age 80, and can be seen as likely, if he stays healthy, to accomplish this goal.

If one just looks at the top fourth of all Supreme Court Justices in longevity, a total of 31 out of 113, all 24 years or more of service, we find the following recent Justices, all appointed since the 1950s, are on the list:

John Paul Stevens
William Brennan
William Rehnquist
Byron White
Anthony Kennedy
Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Sandra Day O’Connor
Harry Blackmun
Stephen Breyer
Thurgood Marshall

In the earlier history of the Supreme Court, the average length of service was about 15 years by comparison.

That is why the idea, proposed by this author two days ago, that a future Supreme Court Justice be limited to an 18 year term, allows for turnover, and prevents dominance by an ideological minority for decades, as now is threatened by Brett Kavanaugh, or another extreme right wing appointment by Donald Trump.