US Supreme Court

Crucial Senate Races On Road To Democratic Majority In 116th Congress

The US Senate will be a major battleground this coming November.

Ten “Red State” Democrats face the challenge of winning their seats, with a few of them the most endangered.

If the Senate is to go Democratic, all ten seats must be won by their Democratic veterans, but that is a tall order, and is tied to the hearings over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The most endangered regarding that issue are West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, and Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly.

Also possibly in trouble on that issue is Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.

These four Senators are seen as moderate, rather than liberal Democrats, and all of them except McCaskill, voted for Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch last year.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Jr., Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, and Montana Senator Jon Tester all seem safer in their Senate races as of now, but that could change.

The most endangered incumbent, with or without the Kavanaugh vote, is Florida Senator Bill Nelson, who has Governor Rick Scott as his opponent, and with Scott having triple the amount of funds that Nelson has been able to garner. Scott is horrific, but he won two close races for Governor in 2010 and 2014, using his own wealth.

Now there is a new threat, that New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich might have more trouble being reelected, as former Governor and Libertarian Party 2016 Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, has just entered the race as an Independent, and in a three way race, anything is possible.

The problem is that even if all of these 11 Senators are successfully reelected, the Democrats still must win two more seats, with Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas as possibilities in that order.

If the Democrats are able to win 51 seats in 2018, it would have to be considered a true miracle!

Eve Of Richard Nixon Resignation From Presidency 44 Years Ago, And Sense Trump Is On Road To Similar End

We are on the eve of the 44 year anniversary of the resignation of the 37th President, Richard Nixon, who faced the reality that he had been impeached by the House Judiciary Committee, by a bipartisan vote.

Nixon had also been ordered by the Supreme Court, which included four Justices selected by him, to hand over the Watergate “smoking” tapes, which demonstrated his guilt.

It was certain that the US Senate would move to convict him on impeachment charges, had he chosen to fight, but Republican Senators, headed by Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania and Barry Goldwater of Arizona, and leading House members, had gone to the White House to inform Nixon that he did not have the support to survive an impeachment trial vote of two thirds of the Senate and more, convicting him, and removing him from office.

It was tomorrow, August 8, 1974, that Nixon went on television, and announced he would resign at noon the next day, August 9, and Vice President Gerald Ford would succeed him in the Oval Office.

As we come up to this anniversary, there is a growing sense that Donald Trump is on the road to a similar end.

No one believed Richard Nixon would resign, but he did, and few are willing to believe that Donald Trump will resign, but it looks more and more likely.

Trump is indicting himself on Twitter, and his involvement in Obstruction of Justice seems clear, along with other violations.

And his family members are in trouble too, particularly Donald Trump Jr and Jared Kushner.

The Robert Mueller investigation is moving fast forward, and it seems, at least to this author and blogger, to be inevitable that Vice President Mike Pence will be President by the end of the year.

We shall see how accurate this author and blogger is, so stay tuned!

Possible Democratic Gains In US Senate In Midterm Elections Of 2018

The Democrats have a massive challenge ahead, somehow to reelect all ten “Red State” Democratic Senators, but also, at the same time, to gain at least two additional seats and have a majority of 51 or more in the US Senate.

This is crucial to stop the worst of Trump Administration policies, and to insure that any future Supreme Court or Circuit or District Court judgeships not be as extreme right wing, as are occurring now.

Six seats seem open to switching to the Democrats:

Arizona, where Jeff Flake is retiring, and where Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is ahead of three potential Republican opponents.

Nevada, where Dean Heller is the most endangered Republican Senator up for reelection, challenged by Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, and she has been ahead of Heller in many public opinion polls.

Tennessee, where Bob Corker is retiring, and former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen is seen as ahead of Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.

Texas, where Ted Cruz is gaining a serious challenge from Congressman Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, and O’Rourke has raised more money than Cruz, who famously is disliked by all his fellow Senators by the testimony of many Democrats and even Republican colleagues.

Mississippi, where Thad Cochran retired suddenly due to bad health, and will have a special election to fill the seat, temporarily filled, and the hope that an upset is possible, as occurred in Alabama last fall, with Doug Jones taking a normal Republican seat. Mike Espy, former Congressman, Secretary of Agriculture for two years under Bill Clinton, and an African American, is seen as having some chance to take the seat, although not seen as likely to win, but a surprise could occur.

Mississippi, where Roger Wicker faces a challenge from state legislator David Baria, Minority Leader of the state legislature, who is seen as having a reasonable chance to win.

The first three of these six seats seem likely to go to the Democrats, which if true, would allow the loss of one of the ten “Red State” Democrats, and still have 51 seats, but that does not leave much room for error.

If all six seats, magically, went Democratic, and no loss of any of the “Red State” Democrats in November occurred, in theory, the Democrats could have as many as 55 seats, but that is clearly a result with very low potential to occur.

One more issue: New Mexico, where Democrat Martin Heinrich should have no trouble winning, but if former Republican Governor and 2016 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee Gary Johnson decides to run for the Senate, creating a three way race, it could put Heinrich’s seat in jeopardy.

So the challenge for Democrats to gain a Senate majority of 51 votes is clouded by overwhelming challenges!

Lying In State And Honor At The US Capitol Rotunda In American History

The Reverend Billy Graham is lying in state and honor at the US Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC today.

This is a rare event, and Graham is only the fourth private person outside of government to be so honored, along with Civil Rights Icon Rosa Parks in 2005, and two police officers who defended the Capitol from a gunman in 1998.

The list of government figures who have been so honored include 11 Presidents; 10 Senators; Soldiers of the various wars of America in the 20th century; and a few other military and government figures.

Henry Clay 1852
Abraham Lincoln 1865
Thaddeus Stevens 1868
Charles Sumner 1874
Henry Wilson 1875
James A. Garfield 1881
John A Logan 1886
William McKinley 1901
Pierre Charles L’Enfant 1909
George Dewey 1917
Unknown Soldiers of World War I 1921
Warren G. Harding 1923
William Howard Taft 1930
John Joseph Pershing 1948
Robert A. Taft 1953
Unknown Soldiers of World War II and the Korean War 1958
John F. Kennedy 1963
Douglas MacArthur 1964
Herbert Clark Hoover 1964
Dwight D. Eisenhower 1969
Everett McKinley Dirksen 1969
J. Edgar Hoover 1972
Lyndon Baines Johnson 1973
Hubert H. Humphrey 1978
Unknown Soldier Of the Vietnam Conflict 1984
Claude Denson Pepper 1989
Jacob Joseph Chestnut and John Michael Gibson (US Capitol Police Officers)
Ronald Wilson Reagan 2004
Rosa Parks 2005
Gerald R. Ford, Jr. 2006-2007
Daniel K. Inouye 2012

Additionally, Salmon P. Chase 1873 in the Senate chamber; Samuel Hooper 1875 in the House chamber; also Thurgood Marshall in 1993, Warren Burger in 1995, and Antonin Scalia in 2016 at the US Supreme Court; as well as Commerce Secretary Ron Brown at the Commerce Department in 1996.

Supreme Court To Hear Arizona Immigration Law Challenged By Federal Government

In a term already historic for the significance of cases to be decided, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today on the Arizona Immigration law that permits the state to do the following:

Require state and local enforcement to verity the citizenship status of anyone stopped, detained or arrested.

Authorize law enforcement officials to arrest without a warrant when an officer believes someone has committed a public offense that could lead to deportation

Make it a state crime to be in the US unlawfully, and require non citizens to carry documents to prove they are legally in the country

Make it a state crime for such a person to work or seek work, instead of the employer having the burden to verify legality of those seeking to work

This Arizona law has led to similar laws in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and elsewhere.

The Supreme Court, with only eight Justices participating in the case, because Elena Kagan was Solicitor General in the Obama Administration, will have to decide if states can have their own immigration laws, or if this is only a federal matter.

This is one of the most controversial issues in America right now, and so far, a federal judge and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals have held up enforcement of much of the Arizona law, pending the decision in June of the Supreme Court.

The federal government is seen by many as not enforcing immigration laws, while others would say that more illegal immigrants have been deported under Barack Obama than under George W. Bush.

This Arizona law is seen by many as an issue of basic civil rights, and as racial profiling, so the decision in the case is going to be one of the major political stories of the year, and will have an effect on the Presidential Election of 2012.

Seven Factors Which Could Defeat Barack Obama In 2012

Despite all of the evidence that Barack Obama has a great advantage for re-election in 2012, there certainly are factors which could lead to his defeat.

These include:

If the economy has another backslide of notable proportions, and gasoline prices continue to rise.

If a war breaks out in the Middle East or elsewhere, and the President is seen as handling the foreign crisis poorly.

If the Republican attempt in many states to limit the vote by discriminatory voter registration legislation succeeds in cutting voter registration and participation down dramatically.

If the enthusiasm of voters for Barack Obama is toned down, because of disillusionment that he has not been able to solve all of the problems he faced upon taking office.

If the effects of the growth of SuperPACS, encouraged by the Citizens United Case of the Supreme Court in 2010, are able to propagandize enough with less informed voters who react to negative commercials.

If a major political scandal erupts that undermines faith in the President’s leadership, with the opposition already starting to blame Obama for the Secret Service scandal.

And finally, the issue of race, as electing the first African American President is a path breaker and milestone, but re-electing would be an even more path breaking milestone, with the constant reference to race by right wing extremists, conservatives, and a majority of Republican officeholders, all designed to instill fear, panic, and conspiracy theories into the heads of white working class voters in Pennsylvania and the Midwest.

So there is no guarantee, and six months is an eternity in American politics!

Earth Day, The Environment, And Republicans From TR And Nixon To James Inhofe And Mitt Romney!

The Republican Party under Theodore Roosevelt a century ago promoted conservation and growth of national parks.

The Republican Party under Richard Nixon promoted the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and expanded on the air and water pollution legislation of Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson.

The Republican Party under Ronald Reagan, despite his wish to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency, and having a terrible record on the environment, possibly the worst of modern times, actually came to realize the dangers of global warming, which became part of the national security agenda in 1985 and after.

The Republican Party under George H. W. Bush, and then Democrat Bill Clinton, continued to deal with the issue of global warming.

It seems clear that once Al Gore, an environmental champion before, during, and after serving as Vice President under Bill Clinton, lost the Presidential Election of 2000 in the Supreme Court, it became the clarion call of those who would deny global warming and climate change, to push against any such crusade, and to condemn environmentalists on principle, much of it based on fake science promoted by right wing Evangelical Christians, with their leading champion being Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, but certainly joined by others in the Republican Party in both houses of Congress.

So we have even Mitt Romney now straddling the fence, refusing to take a strong stand on the environment, global warming, and climate change, and about to give a commencement speech next month at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Virginia, where denial of environmental crisis, and even of evolution, runs rampant.

Look how far the GOP has fallen from the time of TR and Nixon to the present–a true national tragedy playing itself out, and certain to have a negative impact on the future of this country and the planet!

Gun Rights, Mass Murder, Chief Justice Warren Burger, And The Second Amendment

The National Rifle Association is riding high, having succeeded in promotion of “Stand Your Ground” laws which has led to the deaths of hundreds of victims in the past ten years, including Trayvon Martin in Florida in February.

The NRA was the host of the rant of Ted Nugent last week, threatening the life of President Barack Obama, and calling for harm on Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Attorney General Eric Holder.

The NRA sat back and had no reaction to the assassination attempt against Arizona Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords in Tucson in January 2011.

The NRA had no reaction to the mass murder of 32 people at Virginia Tech five years ago this week.

The NRA had no reaction to the mass murder at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, also occurring this week.

The NRA continues to say that guns do not kill people, and that instead, people kill people, but fight against any sensible background checks, or the banning of assault weapons.

They continue to state that the Second Amendment allows uninhibited ownership of guns by anyone who wishes to collect them.

A Supreme Court case in June 2010 in McDonald V. Chicago further cemented their 2008 decision in District of Columbia V. Heller, with the five Supreme Court conservatives deciding both cases, in favor of gun owner rights.

The thought that such an important decision came about by a bare 5-4 vote on ideological grounds is very disturbing, and belies the statement of former Chief Justice Warren Burger, appointed by Richard Nixon in 1969 and serving to 1986.

In 1991, the former Chief Justice stated that the Second Amendment was subject to fraud by special interest groups, does not guarantee the right to have firearms at all, and was designed to provide state militia to promote defense of the state.

But then, as conservative as Burger was thought to be in his tenure on the Court, it is clear that the conservative majority on the Court today is far more right wing than any since the 1920s, a foreboding of the damage they may do in many key cases to be decided and announced between now and the end of June, including the Obama Health Care legislation!

Mitt Romney: Total Opportunist, Totally Unprincipled!

So now Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor, has what he has wanted all of his life: to be the nominee of the Republican Party for the Presidency of the United States!

Now the problem is to WIN the Presidency from a man who is one of the great orators and political “animals” of the modern Presidency, right up there with Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.

Each of the above had his shortcomings and weaknesses, but each knew how to inspire and motivate people, and have people believe in them and their principles.

Mitt Romney has no such problem, no such oratorical gift, no such ability to inspire and motivate people, and no principles he will not abandon in his mad dash to be President!

Mitt Romney offers himself as a chameleon who will change his views on a moment’s notice if he believes it will help promote his desire to be President!

But by being so inconsistent, so changeable, so lacking in embarrassment that he has totally changed his views and repudiated his record as Governor of Massachusetts, he makes it difficult for anyone to feel a commitment to go out there and vote for Mitt as a principled political leader who one can know how he would conduct himself as President.

Mitt Romney is phony even when he laughs, even when he tells a joke, even when he attempts to sing. One finds himself embarrassed for him, that he cannot look at tapes of himself and wince at how he appears to the American people.

This is a man of unknown quality, an intelligent man for sure, a good family man for sure, probably a lot of fun to be around in private according to his wife’s testimony, a man of strong religious principle for sure, and a man who if he was not running for President might come across as genuine if he was not seeking your vote.

But he is asking us to vote for him without having any clue as to whether he will go back to being a moderate, or remain on the right wing of the Republican Party. We do not know if he would be willing to gut the social safety network that even George W. Bush expanded. We do not know if he would be able to get along with right wing Republicans in Congress, or would be his own man and break with the extremism that they represent.

We do not know how he would shape the Supreme Court, whether he would pick moderates or make the Court so right wing that it would set us back for two generations of time.

We do not know how he would communicate with the media, and through them, with the American people on a daily basis. He certainly would have a tough act to follow, lacking the charisma and personality of Barack Obama.

Would Mitt Romney be willing to preside over the dissolution of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as we know it? Would he be unwilling to work with our European allies, and be ready to commit troops to ever continuous war in the Middle East? Would he be someone who would resist religious influence to promote an intrusion in government beyond the wishes of the Founding Fathers? Would the Mormon Church gain a special foothold in government, and be able to promote its backward, resistance to change, mentality with a Mormon in the White House, or would Romney, like John F. Kennedy, make clear that he happens to be a Mormon, but is not the Mormon President, not dedicated to the church’s advancement in a nation that is a country of all religions and also, no religious beliefs?

What it comes down to is that Mitt Romney as President would be a total “blank slate”, an unknown, who we would have no idea of what kind of President he would turn out to be.

The question is whether the American people want to gamble on a man who is so much an unknown quantity, due primarily to his chameleon nature!

The betting is clearly that the answer will be NO!

Is It The Kennedy Court, Rather Than The Roberts Court?

The more one analyzes the US Supreme Court in recent years, it is more clear than ever that we should call it the Anthony Kennedy Court, rather than the John Roberts Court!

Kennedy, appointed to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan in 1988 as a compromise choice who could pass Senate muster, after the well publicized rejection of Robert Bork in 1987, has now been on the Court for 24 years, and is seen more than ever as the “swing vote” on the Court, first sharing that with former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, until her retirement in 2005, but now all by himself as the most significant vote on the Court.

Kennedy, basically a conservative but with an open mind, has leaned to the Right two thirds of the time, and to the Left one third of the time on the average.

It is seen by just about all Court watchers that Kennedy’s vote on the Obama Health Care legislation is crucial, as to whether it survives or goes down.

Kennedy disappointed many on the left in being in the majority on the Bush V. Gore case of 2000, the Citizens United case of 2010, and the Strip Search case of this past Monday. But at the same time, he upheld the rights of gays to privacy in the Lawrence V. Texas case of 2003, enraging fellow Justice Antonin Scalia.

His questioning about the Obama Health Care law last week showed the quandary he is in, and he is getting pressure from many sources to uphold the law, but the belief is that he will not give in to pressure, and might even be tempted to go with the other conservative Justices in overturning the law.

The theory is that IF Kennedy goes with upholding the law, that Chief Justice John Roberts will join him, making it a 6-3 vote, but that if he decides to negate the law, then the vote will be a partisan 5-4 vote against the legislation.

So to call the present Court the Kennedy Court seems very appropriate!