Warren Burger

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.

The Supreme Court Of 2014 Most Right Wing Since Early 1930s!

The Supreme Court has been controversial at different times in its history, but the present Court of 2014 is considered the most right wing Court majority since the early 1930s!

Since the Warren Court, which began in the 1950s, we have never had such conservative Justices as we have now.

Three of the present Justices are among the most conservative ever to sit on the Court, including Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito.

If one adds former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former Associate Justice Lewis Powell, we have the five most conservative Justice since 1953, a period of 60 years.

Not much behind is Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, both capable of surprises in their votes and rulings, but still most of the time joining Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

These seven named Justices were all picked by Republican Presidents–two by Richard Nixon; two by Ronald Reagan, plus his promotion of Rehnquist to the Chief Justiceship; one by George H. W. Bush; and two by George W. Bush.

But also, Republican Presidents have selected Justices who turned out to be quite moderate, and even sometimes liberal, including Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice William Brennan by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice Harry Blackmun by Richard Nixon; John Paul Stevens by Gerald Ford; Sandra Day O’Connor by Ronald Reagan; and David Souter by George H. W. Bush.

Since 1953, Republicans have controlled the White House for 36 years, while Democrats have had control for 25 plus years, and that has caused the right wing tilt of the Court, which could have been even more so, if not for the surprises presented by the seven “less” conservative, and some “quite liberal” Justices listed in the above paragraph!

So the Republicans have chosen 17 of the past 25 Justices since 1953, with John F. Kennedy picking two, but one (Byron White) turning out to be conservative, and Arthur Goldberg leaving the Court after only three years, due to the urging of Lyndon Johnson that he become United Nations Ambassador. Johnson selected Abe Fortas to replace Goldberg, but he stayed on the Court for only four years, and left the Court under the cloud of scandal. The first African American Justice, Thurgood Marshall, would go on to serve as a champion liberal for 24 years from 1967 to 1991.

Jimmy Carter would have no appointments to the Court in his four years in the White House, the only such situation in the 20th century, and one of only four Presidents to have had no appointments, but the only one to have a full term in the Presidency. The other three Presidents were William Henry Harrison (one month); Zachary Taylor (16 months); and Andrew Johnson (almost a complete term, but so unpopular that the Senate would not confirm any Court appointments in his time in office).

Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama has chosen Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as his appointments, so far, on the Supreme Court. So note that out of the eight appointments by Democrats in the Presidency, three have been women; five have been Jewish; one has been African American; and one has been Puerto Rican, with only Byron White being a typical white Anglo Saxon Protestant.

The question has now arisen whether Ginsberg, and maybe even Breyer, should retire, and guarantee that Obama could replace them, with the concern that the Senate might go Republican in November, making any Court appointment nearly impossible due to gridlock and stalemate. There is also fear that were the Republicans to win the White House in 2016, which is highly unlikely, that then the Court would be ever more right wing reactionary than it already is.

It is a calculated gamble for Ginsburg and Breyer to remain on the Court for now, but it is not uncommon for Justices to retire at very advanced ages–such as Blackmun at 85 and Stevens at 90!

So do not expect that either will retire, but with a good chance of Democrats retaining the Senate majority in 2014, or regaining it on the back of the Democratic Presidential nominee’s expected major victory in 2016!

The Dangers Of The Supreme Court Run Amuck In Favor Of Wealthy And Corporations!

The Supreme Court is totally out of control, with its new decision on having no limits on campaign spending by wealthy donors, added on to the Citizens United Case of 2010, and the limitation of voting rights in a 2013 decision.

Chief Justice John Roberts has solidified a five member GOP majority to destroy all attempts to prevent corporate and wealthy people from controlling the political system, an effort pursued from the time of Theodore Roosevelt a century ago through Senator John McCain and Senator Russ Feingold in the 1990s and early 2000s.

That is all for naught now, and shows the dangers of a runaway, reckless, right wing radical Court!

This is what made Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Barack Obama criticize Court power, along with progressive reformers including Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, Senator George Norris of Nebraska, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont!

This is the result of 13 Supreme Court nominees since 1960 by Republican Presidents, to only 8 by Democrats, and with two of those Democratic appointments (Arthur Goldberg by John F. Kennedy and Abe Fortas by Lyndon B. Johnson), only lasting three and four years respectively.

Of course, Republican appointments of Harry Blackmun by Richard Nixon; John Paul Stevens by Gerald Ford; Sandra Day O’Connor by Ronald Reagan; and David Souter by George H. W. Bush, turned out to be major surprises in their rulings, but we also ended up with some of the most reactionary and right wing radical appointments in all of American history with the appointments of William Rehnquist by Richard Nixon and the elevation of Rehnquist to Chief Justice by Ronald Reagan; Lewis Powell by Richard Nixon; Antonin Scalia by Ronald Reagan; Clarence Thomas by George H. W. Bush; and Samuel Alito by George W. Bush. The appointments of Chief Justice Warren Burger by Richard Nixon; Anthony Kennedy by Ronald Reagan; and Chief Justice John Roberts by George W. Bush, have been more of a mixed bag, sometimes good, and sometimes horrible in its effect on constitutional law!

Meanwhile, John F. Kennedy selected a mostly conservative Justice Byron White; Lyndon B Johnson selected Thurgood Marshall; Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama selected Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, but sadly, their influence in the last four of the five names listed, has been mostly in being the opposition, sometimes vehement in nature!

The effect on the future of American democracy is massive, with this right wing Court majority, and the only hope is the eventual retirement of Scalia and Kennedy, and hopefully, continuation of a Democratic Senate and President for the rest of the decade, so that the Court changes direction in the future!

The Future Democratic Party Majority On The US Supreme Court

When one looks at the Supreme Court in recent decades, it is clear that it has been a conservative Supreme Court, dominated by Republican appointments, and it has shown in such decisions as the Citizens United Case of 2010, and the partial repeal of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, along with numerous other such cases tilted to the right side of the political spectrum.

So for progressives and Democrats, it has been a difficult time, wondering how the Supreme Court can be returned to the glorious era of the Warren Court and Burger Court from 1953-1986.

But there is the reality that the Supreme Court’s future for the Democratic Party and progressivism is very bright over the next decade, assuming what seems highly likely, that Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden or some other Democratic Presidential nominee will have the electoral college advantage for 2016, and likely for the following 2020 Presidential election.

If indeed the Democrats keep the White House beyond 2016, time and age will turn the Court into a majority Democratic Party appointed Court for sure!

History tells us this fact: If a party keeps control of the White House for an extended period of time, the Court becomes more than ever reflective of that political party.

So, for example, from 1933-1953, we had 20 years of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman in the White House, and a total of 13 Supreme Court appointments, all by these two Democratic Presidents, helping to shape the future Court, with a few “liberal” appointments by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Earl Warren and William Brennan), insuring a continuation of that trend.

But it can be said that from 1953-2013, sixty years of history, the Republicans held the White House for a total of 36 years to the Democrats’ total of 24 years.

In those 60 years, the Republican Presidents made 18 appointments to the Supreme Court, to the Democratic total of just 8 appointments, more than a 2-1 majority. While Republican appointments included Warren, Brennan, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, and David Souter, all quite liberal appointments, even so it still meant that 12 Republican appointments were quite conservative or VERY conservative, so the Supreme Court represents a strongly Republican flavor.

But now, we have four aging Supreme Court Justices–Ruth Bader Ginsberg (80 this year), Antonin Scalia (77 this year), Anthony Kennedy (77 this year), and Stephen Breyer (75 this year), and to believe that by 2020, that any or all of these members of the Court will be still serving, seems quite unreasonable, as they would be ranging between 82 and 87 by the year 2020!

And Justice Clarence Thomas, although claiming he will stay on the Court for 43 years, until age 86, would be 72 in 2020, and Samuel Alito would 70 in 2020.

No one is saying that either Thomas or Alito will have left the Court, but if the four elderly Justices have left, they would all be Democratic Party appointments if the Democrats keep the White House, highly likely, and that would mean SIX of the nine members of the Court would be Democratic appointments, including Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Only Thomas, Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts would be Republican appointments in the year 2020 under this scenario!

So, for Democrats and Progressives, there is hope for a very different Court over the next decade and beyond!

Proud Day Of Civil Rights 49 Years Ago, And Now Backtracking On Lyndon B. Johnson!

49 years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson had his proudest moment in office, signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and then following up with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Finally, the tragedy of the years after 1877, the end of Reconstruction, was being rectified, 88 and 89 years after African Americans in the South were abandoned by the Republican Party in preference to an alliance with big business and industry committed to economic aggrandizement, and political insensitivity to not only African Americans, immigrants, women, children and even native born men that made up the industrial labor force, exploited until the Progressive Era started to rectify the worst evils of industrial capitalism!

And now, a half century later after Lyndon B. Johnson, it is the Republicans on the Supreme Court who are allowing unbridled capitalism to be seen as “people”, and in the process corrupting the system again, including victimizing all of the groups above, and negating the protection of minorities, the poor, elderly and college students in the states that had a long history of discrimination in voting rights, and now will have open access to do it once again, as if the civil rights era never occurred!

The Supreme Court majority is attempting to negate the Warren and Burger Courts in the great progress they made toward social justice and legal equality for oppressed groups, and this is a tragedy that will continue to emerge until and when Democratic Presidents can select more members of the Court to replace aging Justices, including Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy.

But sadly, the impact of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, the legacy of the two Bush Presidencies, is likely to continue for the long haul, and set back the nation on so many issues over the years to come!

40 Years Of Roe V Wade: Abortion Controversy Remains Red Hot!

Forty years ago today, the Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision, declared the right of women to an abortion, with three Richard Nixon appointments to the Court–author of the decision Harry Blackmun, and Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice Lewis Powell—joining two Eisenhower appointees—Potter Stewart and William Brennan—one Johnson appointee, Thurgood Marshall—and one Roosevelt appointee, William O. Douglas—in the majority.

Only Associate Justice Byron White, appointed by Kennedy; and William Rehnquist, appointed by Nixon, were in the minority.

Forty years later, the pro life and pro choice movements are still locked in constant combat, but with public opinion polls showing 54 percent want abortion rights retained all of the time or most of the time, with 44 percent against. And 70 percent in a poll do not want to see Roe V Wade overturned.

But meanwhile, Republican state legislatures in the past two years have passed a total of over 130 laws restricting the rights of abortion, and curbing the number of abortion providers.

Four states have made it almost impossible for women to obtain an abortion—Mississippi, Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

So the federal allowance for abortion may exist, but in the South and Great Plains areas of the nation, it is becoming nearly impossible for abortions to be obtained, no matter whether it is because of rape, incest, life of the mother, or just any other reason, whether seemingly justifiable or not.

Abortion is an emotional issue, and one that most people would say needs to remain legal and safe but also RARE, and should not be used as a method of birth control, or because of reckless personal behavior. It is not an issue that will disappear anytime soon, but for now, the odds of reversing Roe V. Wade on the national level are remote, as Barack Obama will not appoint a Supreme Court Justice who gives any hint of wishing to overturn what many call the most controversial decision of the latter half of the 20th century.

Conflict Between Presidents And Chief Justices Quite Common Historically

It is well known that President Barack Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts do not have a warm relationship, with Roberts chosen by George W. Bush, with Obama voting against his confirmation, and with the two men having totally different ideological views. Despite that, and the annoyance of Roberts over Obama’s condemnation of the Supreme Court for the Citizens United case of 2010, Roberts saved “ObamaCare” in June 2012, legitimizing it for the future, and gaining the anger of Republicans and conservatives. Who can say for sure how the relationship between Obama and Roberts will develop in the second term, and whether Roberts will surprise with more support of the administration than just the health care issue?

But the fact of their antagonism is not new in American history, as it is actually quite common that the Chief Justice is picked by a President of one ideological view, and will often clash with a future President of another party during his tenure on the Court.

The examples of such antagonism, far worse than the Obama-Roberts relationship, follow:

Thomas Jefferson and Chief Justice John Marshall (appointed by John Adams), on the Marbury V Madison case of 1803, dealing with Judicial Review. They were also distant cousins, who personally disliked each other.

Andrew Jackson and Chief Justice John Marshall (appointed by John Adams), on the removal of the Cherokee and other Indian Tribes after the Worcester V. Georgia and other similar cases in the 1830s.

Abraham Lincoln and Chief Justice Roger Taney (appointed by Andrew Jackson), over the Dred Scott V Sanford case in 1857, and the President’s use of war powers during the Civil War years until Taney’s death in 1864.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes (appointed by Herbert Hoover), over Supreme Court decisions during the New Deal years, and specifically FDR’s Court “Packing” Plan in 1937.

Richard Nixon and Chief Justice Earl Warren (appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower), who Nixon had criticized in earlier years, and were rivals in California politics,and Warren trying to leave office under Lyndon B. Johnson, so Nixon would not replace him, but unable to do so due to controversy over Johnson’s nomination of Associate Justice Abe Fortas in 1968, leading to rejection, and Warren’s replacement, Warren Burger, being chosen by Nixon in 1969.

Bill Clinton and Chief Justice William Rehnquist (appointed by Ronald Reagan), who had major disagreements on policy, but Rehnquist conducted himself well at the Bill Clinton Impeachment Trial in 1999.

So the antagonism and rivalry of Presidents and Chief Justices is nothing new!

Robert Bork, Controversial And Rejected Supreme Court Nominee, Dead: Brings Back Memories And Reflections On Effect On Supreme Court

Twenty five years ago, President Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork, former Solicitor General and Acting Attorney General under President Richard Nixon, as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. His death was announced today by his son.

Bork had become controversial for firing Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate Scandal, as ordered by President Nixon. But he also became controversial for the judicial viewpoint known as “originalism”, which contended that judges and Justices should always interpret the Constitution solely on the basis of what the Founding Fathers enunciated in the 18th century, and not consider changing times in their decisions.

This alarmed progressives, liberals, labor supporters, African Americans, women, environmentalists, and others who saw him as a threat to progress on race and gender, and also on privacy rights, including abortion and contraceptives, of which he vehemently was on record as an opponent of such rights not contained in the original Constitution. Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden became major critics, and his nomination became a massive controversy, and made it that future Supreme Court nominees would be examined with a “fine tooth comb”, making them less willing to be as forthcoming as Bork was in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

Bork also believed in no limitation on police rights, and thought evolution should not be taught in public schools as fact, therefore promoting fundamentalist religion as part of the curriculum of schools. He was confrontational in his approach, giving as good as he received in the pursuing debate. He displayed no problem with the growth of monopolies, and had no interest in the rights of gay men and women.

After a bitter battle, he was rejected, and this affected the future Court, as Anthony Kennedy became the new appointee the following year, and now after almost 25 years on the Court, has become in recent years the “swing” vote on many cases, therefore having a major impact on constitutional law.

Do not forget that Kennedy’s vote on Gay Privacy rights, in Lawrence V. Texas in 2003, transformed the gay rights movement, and it is thought likely that his vote will call for the allowance of gay marriage when the cases presently before the Court come up for consideration in March, and decision in June!

There is no way that Robert Bork would have been a “swing” vote on the Court, and might very well have been MORE conservative and right wing than either Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas have turned out to be, so it was a great moment when Bork, with his radical right agenda, wishing to turn back the decisions of the Earl Warren and Warren Burger Courts that expanded individual rights from the 1950s through the 1980s, was soundly rejected!

The REAL Issues Of 2012 That Are Being Ignored In The Presidential Campaign

If one follows the Presidential campaign of 2012, one would think that ONLY the economy matters.

YES, the economy matters, but the newest jobs report demonstrates that this nation is on the mend, and that over the next Presidential term, the economy will recover, with some experts saying that up to 12 million jobs will be created, whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins the White House on Tuesday.

Others would say the danger of Iran is the major issue, but even on that, it is clear that both Obama and Romney would react similarly to an actual Iranian attack on Israel or any other part of the Middle East.

So the REAL issues are not the economy or Iran!

Instead, they are the following, although ignored in campaign rhetoric:

Climate Change or Global Warming—the reality of it, as demonstrated yet again by Hurricane Sandy, and the need to take the lead in moving away from oil and coal as the major energy resources. But, of course, Republicans and conservatives deny the reality of this threat, and the oil and coal industries do everything they can to protect themselves at the expense of the nation in the long run.

Gun Violence—as demonstrated by what happened so many times in the past few years, including Tucson, Arizona in 2011 to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; the mass murders in the Aurora, Colorado movie complex in 2012; the constant murders in cities such as Chicago, often ignored because the victims are African Americans; and so many other cases. And again, the Republicans and conservatives fight any type of gun control, and allow the National Rifle Association to hold America hostage.

Education—the dire need to promote more people attending and graduating four year colleges and universities. Many would say that having a four year degree does not guarantee that one gets the job he wants or needs. While that is true, the unemployment figures make clear that those with a four year degree or more have an unemployment rate under FOUR percent, while those with less education or dropping out of school have an unemployment rate of TWELVE percent! Is there any evidence other than this to convince parents and children of the urgency of getting an education through a four year degree? And besides, there are intangibles other than just getting a degree for a job, such as improving one’s basic skills of reading, writing, and speaking, and improving one’s mind and knowledge; making one a better person in social situations and parent situations; and raising people up from ignorance, conspiracy theory beliefs, and over reliance on religious doctrine, which unfortunately makes many people unwilling to reason for themselves, and just accept gospel as absolute fact. And of course, Republicans and conservatives argue against extra funding and assistance for education, and would prefer to lean on organized religion to “control” the masses, keep them ignorant, and willing, therefore, to accept ideas without questioning or challenge!

The Supreme Court—not understood by many for the important role it plays, and will continue to play, and the urgency of having a President who will select nominees who wish to look to the future, and not the past, and prevent regression politically, socially, and economically back to the Gilded Age and the 1920s. The Republicans and conservatives and Mitt Romney want more Antonin Scalias, Clarence Thomases, and Samuel Alitos, to insure that we go backward for the next 30 years! So the election of Barack Obama is urgent for the future of constitutional law and the preservation of the advancements of the Earl Warren and Warren Burger Supreme Courts.

These issues mentioned above SHOULD be understood before people, who have not voted before Tuesday, vote for our next President, and the best decision for any sane individual is to vote for the candidate who represents a willingness to deal with the future, President Barack Obama!

Roe V. Wade Almost 40 Years Later Still Debated, But Five Of Seven Justices In Majority Were Appointed By Republican Presidents Eisenhower And Nixon!

In the midst of the heated debate about abortion rights, rape, Todd Akin, Mitt Romney, and the Republican Party platform which bans ALL abortions, whether rape, incest, or life of the mother, something very significant has been ignored!

The Roe V. Wade case of January 22, 1973 was decided by a 7-2 vote, with FIVE of the seven Justices in the majority being appointed by Republican Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon!

That was an era when Republicans could be in the mainstream, supporting voting rights legislation by vast majorities in Congress, but now 40-50 years later, leading the charge to do everything possible to repeal the legislation, or deny many categories of voters their basic human right to vote.

That was, also, a time of mainstream Republican Justices supporting a woman’s right to privacy with her own body, exactly the opposite of what is happening 40 years later in the Republican Party!

The Republican appointments who supported Roe V. Wade in 1973 were:

William Brennan, appointed by Eisehower
Potter Stewart, appointed by Eisenhower
Chief Justice Warren Burger, appointed by Nixon
Harry Blackmun, author of the decision, appointed by Nixon
Lewis Powell, appointed by Nixon

Two Democratic appointments, William O. Douglas (appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt), and Thurgood Marshall (appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson), joined the five Republicans, with only one Democratic appointment (Byron White, appointed by John F. Kennedy), and one Republican, (William Rehnquist, appointed by Nixon) being in the minority.

How far the Republican Party has wandered from the mainstream of American politics over the past 40-50 years, and the only answer is a sound defeat of the right wing, and bringing the GOP back to the mainstream, or else they will become part of the dustbin of history, being replaced by a centrist party that resembles the proud history of the earlier Republican Party, which understood that an alliance with religion is poisonous to tolerance and the mainstream of American politics!