US Supreme Court

The Right Wing Supreme Court Seems Ready To Declare War On Abortion, Gay Rights, Gun Rights, Immigration, Separation Of Church And State, And Presidential Power

The new session of the Supreme Court has begun, and the full effect of Donald Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh will now, likely, be felt.

While it is true that Gorsuch and Kavanaugh are not “twins”, to expect any major surprises in constitutional law in this 2019-2020 term are highly unlikely, as right wing law looks in the ascendancy.

What the Court decides ends up as the law of the land, and for progressives, it does not bode well on the issues of abortion, gay rights, gun rights, immigration, separation of church and state, and the growth of Presidential power.

The fulcrum of the Court, Anthony Kennedy, is now retired for a year, and the only hope to avoid extreme right wing judgments is if Chief Justice John Roberts, who has been a surprise a few times in his views on the Court in recent years, becomes the new “swing” vote on the Court this term.

Roberts might also preside over an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, who he, clearly, has been critical of in a number of ways, and the Court could limit Trump’s Abuse of Power, beyond Roberts presiding over an impeachment prosecution.

Since Roberts is worried about the image of “his” Court, some surprises may be in the offing, and of course, progressives will be watching the health and stability of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, now 86, having survived a third and fourth cancer, and wondering if she will be able to continue on the Court into the next Presidential term in 2021.

New York Times: 168th Anniversary Worthy Of Celebration

Today, September 18, is the 168th anniversary of the New York Times, the best newspaper in America, and maybe in the world at large.

Founded in 1851, it became famous as the newspaper with the slogan: “All the News That’s Fit to Print”.

The newspaper has had its ups and downs, and has made mistakes, and been controversial, as they are presently for their revelation about Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh and sexual harassment, based on a lack of clear cut reporting on a new book on the Justice.

But despite that, there is still a recognition in the journalism profession that the New York Times has been in the forefront of so much important news in detail, and revelations that might not have occurred otherwise.

Despite its lack of perfection, the New York Times is still more to be trusted and revered than any politician, who does not like the willingness of the New York Times to be attacked for mostly telling the truth.

So Donald Trump attacks the news media, and particularly the New York Times and Washington Post, the two best newspapers who have held his administration to the fire in an appropriate manner to preserve our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

No President, no Senator, no Congressman, no public personality in any endeavor can rest, knowing that the New York Times will do what it must do to preserve freedom and democracy for the long run.

So when one might occasionally be angry or irritated by some article in the New York Times, remember they are not here to be popular, but to be our guardian, and so one should always be glad that the New York Times does well, because to imagine the paper’s demise would be a sign of the downfall of the American Republic,

And every scholar, including this one, is indebted to the New York Times, for having been of great assistance in the publication of books and articles. My two books could not have been published without using the New York Times Index, and being amazed at the unbelievable depth of reporting provided in the pages of the New York Times for so long a time frame.

The New York Times has survived many demagogues in the world, and will survive Donald Trump, for certain!

Reflecting On The Age Issue Over Next Decade

America is faced with many crises, but one not much paid attention to is the Age issue.

We are seeing more people in government who are reaching their 70s and 80s, and that is a worrisome trend.

Certainly, people in their 70s and 80s can be active, engaged, constructive, as this author, in his mid 70s is, as an adjunct college professor, lecturer, author, blogger, contributor of articles on history and politics, and participant on radio shows about history and politics.

But this author is NOT making government policy, and is not facing the daunting challenges of dealing with a multitude of challenges in domestic and foreign policy, that affects and will continue to affect hundreds of millions of Americans, and seven billion people worldwide.

We see Donald Trump in his mid 70s, showing signs of craziness and dementia. We see Joe Biden, who this author loves, not quite as swift and alert as he seeks the Presidency. We see Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren both seemingly very alert and energetic, but reaching 79 and 71 by January 20, 2021, both older than Trump when he was elected, and with Biden reaching 78 by Inauguration Day 2021.

We see the top three Democrats in leadership in the House of Representatives all nearing 80 in the next couple of years, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and the same with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. There are about four Senators over 80 already, and Dianne Feinstein was elected at 85 in 2018, to serve another six year term to age 91. And at least two Senators will be added to that list over 80 in the next few years.

We have two Supreme Court Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, who are 86 and 81, and their refusal to leave years ago has created the possibility of an extreme right wing Court if Donald Trump wins reelection.

There has to be recognition of the need for younger generations to inherit power, and for older generations to accept that their time has passed.

Justice John Paul Stevens, Longest Lived, And One Of Greatest Supreme Court Justices In American History, Dies At 99 Years Of Age

America has just lost one of its greatest Supreme Court Justices in all of American history, with the death yesterday of retired Justice John Paul Stevens at the age of 99.

Second longest serving, after his predecessor William O. Douglas, and second oldest at retirement at age 90, after Oliver Wendell Holmes, Stevens came on the Supreme Court as a conservative, and became more liberal by the year, and was the leader of the liberal wing of the Court in his last years, serving altogether 35 years from 1975 to 2010.

The only appointee of President Gerald Ford, Stevens was clearly the best appointment and best action taken by President Ford in his nearly two and a half years in the White House.

Stevens spoke up for gay rights, abortion rights, gun control, and against the death penalty, and against the Bush V. Gore and Citizens United Supreme Court decisions.

Stevens was a truly decent, compassionate man, a true jewel, a rare public servant who was on the proper side on so many decisions.

We will probably never see another Republican appointed Justice of the caliber of John Paul Stevens, but then again, we will probably not have a Republican President of the basic decency and moderation of Gerald Ford!

From Barry Goldwater And Hugh Scott To Mitt Romney And Mitch McConnell: The Loss of Republican Principle

Forty five years ago, there were distinguished Republican Senators who stood up for principle, and pressured President Richard Nixon to resign for his abuse of power in the Watergate Scandal.

These included 1964 Republican Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater of Arizona, and Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, who went to the White House with others to inform him that the vast majority of Republicans were not with the President, and would vote to remove him in an upcoming impeachment trial.

Like any Senator, they wished to promote the advancement of their party and its goals, but also believed in the rule of law.

So they stand out as profiles in courage for their public actions and statements, which did the Republican Party proud.

Now, 45 years later, we have Republican Senators, who on the surface are principled and unhappy about the abuse of power of President Donald Trump, but beyond words, will not take action to inform Donald Trump that his time is up.

So we have Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee; and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Romney has condemned the actions and behavior of President Donald Trump, but it is just words, as Romney has refused to take leadership to promote the impeachment or resignation of the 45th President.

Meanwhile, McConnell, who worked to deny Barack Obama a second term in the Presidency, and to prevent Merrick Garland from being considered for a Supreme Court vacancy in 2016, has led the charge to cooperate with Trump, as the only purposes McConnell cares about are more massive tax cuts for the wealthy one percent, and the promotion of extremist right wing judges and justices, which will distort constitutional law for the next two generations.

Two Secretaries Of State Running For Governor And Suppressing Voter Rights–Brian Kemp In Georgia And Kris Kobach In Kansas

A new level of political corruption is now occurring in upcoming state elections for Governor.

In Georgia, Brian Kemp is the Secretary of State since 2010, responsible for keeping track of voter registration. He is the Republican nominee for Governor, and has refused to allow updating of registration, with 70 percent of 53,000 voters not being allowed to vote being African Americans, and with his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, an African American female, protesting that Kemp should resign as Secretary of State, because he is interfering unjustly with the right to vote. Kemp has dismissed such calls for him to give up his government position as Secretary of State, despite the fact that he will be leaving that position at the end of the year, whether he wins or loses the Governorship race, but trying meanwhile to stack the deck against his African American opponent.

In Kansas, Republican nominee for Governor Kris Kobach, has been Secretary of State since 2011, and has removed nearly 20,000 people from voter rolls, and implemented some of the strictest voter ID laws in America. He has been noted nationally for his charges of voter fraud being widespread, and he has purged voter rolls in the same corrupt way that Kemp has in Georgia, and it will affect voting next month, as it will in Georgia. He has been the strongest advocate of nativism toward immigrants, and headed a White House Presidential Advisory Commission On Election Integrity in May 2017, disbanded without a report in January 2018. Kobach has been a lightning rod for many who have accused him of massive corruption, and discriminatory policies toward immigrants, making him the hero of white supremacists and nativists, even more than Brian Kemp.

Both Kemp and Kobach are close friends of Donald Trump, who, of course, has no problem with what they are doing, since it benefits Republicans.

Effectively, both Kemp and Kobach are working to fix the election results by limiting the right to vote, and all this occurring because the Supreme Court in Shelby County V Holder in 2013 allowed weakening of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and gave states the right to set up new voter restrictions.

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!