Warren Court

Proper Republican Strategy: Attack Donald Trump Or Ignore Him? Neither Will Help GOP Brand!

The Republican Party is in deep trouble, as Donald Trump has now emerged in first place in some public opinion polls, passing Jeb Bush, and leaving everyone else far behind.

This brings up the issue: What is the proper Republican strategy to deal with Trump, attack him or ignore him?

In reality, neither will help the GOP brand!

If the decision is to attack him, Trump will be infuriated, and will strike back and set out to destroy the GOP totally. He will bluster and bloviate, and will have the means to form an independent movement or third party.

If the Republicans choose NOT to attack and, therefore, to ignore him, they will be complicit in his racist and nativist viewpoints, which many of them actually agree with.

No political party can succeed now or in the future which sets out to demonize ethnic minorities, because, like it or not, the nation is becoming more diverse, and will be minority majority within three decades, counting Hispanic and Latino Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans.

There is no way to bring back, even if people wished it, a mostly white Anglo America, as that is not going to happen.

The rapidly aging white Anglo population is dying off, and the nation and the Republican Party MUST face reality.

But is that likely to happen for 2016?

The answer is NO, and therefore, the GOP is rapidly becoming a dinosaur, and trying to make voting more difficult will require more effort to overcome such restrictions through the courts and through political action to register voters and meet the onerous requirements that some Republican governed states have put on the elderly, the poor, college students, and racial minorities in a purposeful manner.

And with a Democratic President, a likely Democratic Senate, and a possible Democratic House of Representatives, the Republicans will be marginalized further. And a Democratic President will have the ability to insure that the Supreme Court and lower federal courts move to the left, and overcome the conservative influence of Ronald Reagan, and the two Presidents Bush.

Once constitutional law goes back to the Warren Court image of the 1950s through the 1970s, the country will have been transformed in a way that the Republicans will never recover, until they abandon the far right image they have developed over recent years. Only then will the Tea Party influence finally dissolve and disappear!

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 Most Significant Long Range Events Of 2013

Now that we are in the last day of 2013, it is time to reflect on what the most significant long range events of 2013 are, events that will affect us in the future, and are signs of progress, which can never be reversed.

They include in no special order:

The accomplishment of national health care, a dream since Theodore Roosevelt first mentioned the concept in his Progressive Party campaign in 1912, later suggested by Harry Truman, partially enacted by Lyndon B. Johnson, attempted by Bill and Hillary Clinton unsuccessfully, promoted by Senator Ted Kennedy, and finally becoming law under Barack Obama. Even with all of the kinks and quirks now and in the future, national health care is here to stay, finally making America reach the stage of all other democracies in the world, but as usual the last to adopt social and economic reform, as compared to Europe, Canada, and Australia.

The acceptance by the Supreme Court of the concept of gay marriage, and the expansion from nine to eighteen states of acceptance of same sex marriage, and nothing will ever reverse what has happened, and eventually, the Supreme Court will mandate its legality throughout America, just as they did for interracial marriage in 1967. Many may not like it, but just as with interracial marriage, one does not have to engage in either interracial or same sex marriage, but it is nobody’s business to tell someone else who he or she is to love and to have the benefits of marriage, and no religious institution needs to accept it, as civil marriage will always be available.

The civil war raging in the Republican Party, which will determine if the party of Lincoln, TR, and Ike will survive or go into the dustbin of history, which Is certain, if the right wing Tea Party Movement is allowed to take over the party apparatus, and control the House and Senate Republican caucuses, and control major state governments around the nation. An extreme right wing Republican Party will not survive, and will give the Democrats such dominance that a moderate centrist party, maybe on the pattern of the Whig Party of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John Quincy Adams and Abraham Lincoln in the 19th century, will then emerge as a valid alternative to the more leftist Democratic Party by comparison.

The rise of a permanent Democratic majority in the Electoral College, as Georgia, Texas, Arizona and North Carolina will turn “blue” over the rest of the second decade of the 21st century, due to the growth in the Hispanic-Latino population, and the alienation of women from the Republican Party, which is working to control the reproductive lives of women. Both groups will swing these Sun Belt States to the Democrats, and with the Atlantic Coast from New England down to Virginia, and the Pacific Coast and the Upper Midwest more “blue” all of the time, there will be no way that Democrats will lose the White House over the next couple of decades, whether they nominate Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden, or someone else, for the Presidency in 2016 and beyond.

The Supreme Court will turn more liberal, as over the remaining years of this decade, the likelihood of new Supreme Court appointments, as well as circuit and district courts, will fall to Democratic Presidents, who no longer have to worry about a filibuster proof majority of 60 votes. The need for only 51 votes or 50 with the Vice President breaking the tie, insures that the courts, and eventually the high Court, will take a different view over time on same sex marriage, abortion rights, civil rights, and civil liberties, reminding one over the next two decades (due to lifetime appointments) of the history of the Warren Court.

A happy 2014 to all my readers and contributors!

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!

Right Wing Enemies Of Progressivism

The battle for progressive ideas and goals is a never ending one, and the right wing enemies of progressivism are numerous.

Among them are the following:

Fox News Channel–Roger Ailes
Koch Industries–Charles and David Koch
Freedom Works–Dick Armey
Tony Perkins–Family Research Council
Pat Robertson–Christian Coalition
Edwin Feulner, Jr.–The Heritage Foundation
Tom Donohue–US Chamber of Commerce
Rupert Murdoch–Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and Fox News
Grover Norquist–Americans For Tax Reform
Phyllis Schlafly–The Eagle Forum
David Barton–so called, self appointed expert on American History

There are other groups and individuals as well as these, but the above are doing everything they can to fight progressivism, and take away the hard earned reforms of the New Deal, Great Society, the Warren Court, and Presidents of both political parties who have promoted political, social, and economic reform!

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!

Two Important Supreme Court Anniversaries On June 13: Miranda Decision And Nomination Of Thurgood Marshall

On this day, 47 years ago, the Supreme Court made one of its most important decisions in modern times, in the case Miranda V. Arizona, declaring that anyone stopped and questioned as a suspect by police officers must be read his basic rights before any questions are asked. While law enforcement was furious about this at the time, it has become one of the most important expansions of civil liberties in modern times, although one wonders if the Roberts Court would favor it, if a case came up to reverse it, as the Warren Court was a special, unique period in Supreme Court history.

Also, a year later on this day, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated the first African American Supreme Court Justice, Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall, who went on to a distinguished 24 year career on the Supreme Court as one of its leading liberals. Sadly, he was replaced by Clarence Thomas, who is the direct opposite of everything Marshall believed in, with the only common theme being that Thomas is the only other African American ever to serve on the Supreme Court.

These two events transformed the Court in major ways, and this is an occasion to celebrate both events, as we await major decisions facing the Court in the next two weeks!

Despite Health Care Ruling, Supreme Court Is Still Out Of Control, And Presidential Election Will Decide If It Regains Confidence Of The American People!

The Supreme Court came through by the barest of margins on the issue of “ObamaCare” last week, but when one looks at the Court’s radical swing to the right in so many other ways, it is clear that the future reputation of the Court and the long term future of the nation requires the victory of Barack Obama for a second term as President.

By confirming their Citizens United decision again in a case involving Montana state law, and by actions against labor unions and their rights in another case, and in the solidity most of the time of the Republican appointees in rejecting past precedent and tradition, the Court has gained an image of being extremist and confrontational, and lost American public opinion and respect, which is dangerous for our democracy.

Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush effectively moved the Court away from the political center to the extreme right, and we are suffering the effects of this extremist rightward tilt.

We cannot afford to base the future on Anthony Kennedy SOMETIMES going with the liberal side of the Court, or Chief Justice John Roberts seemingly being concerned about the reputation of the Court. Neither is reliable to keep the Court in the political center, and protect the rights of the powerless.

The only answer is to insure that when the older members of the Supreme Court retire or die while in service on the Court, that we replace them with Justices who have a vision of the country more in line with the reality of the 21st century than the 19th century Gilded Age!

With Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Antonin Scalia, and Anthony Kennedy to be over 80 before the next Presidential term ends, the likelihood is that whoever is President in the next four years will have a transformative effect on the Supreme Court and constitutional law.

The thought of Mitt Romney making those choices is truly terrifying, and will make the Court a right wing extremist influence into the 2040s, totally unacceptable!

Barack Obama will be able to make the Court shift more into the mainstream, preserving the brilliant times of the Warren Court in the 1950s and 1960s, when America advanced constitutionally in so many ways!

Newt Gingrich’s Attack On Activist Judges: Hypocrisy, Since Only Against Progressive “Activists” But NOT Conservative “Activists”!

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is already showing signs of decline from his “surge” two weeks ago!

Not soon enough, as Gingrich is declaring “war” on “activist” judges, but is totally hypocritical in that he is only attacking “progressive” activists, and not “conservative” activists!

He would wish for a court system which was one sided, only promoting conservative advocacy, and setting America back to the 19th century Gilded Age!

He claims to know history, since he has a History Ph.D. from Tulane University in European History, but he boasts too much of his knowledge about American History and the American Constitution!

If it was up to Gingrich, he would wipe out Warren and Burger Court decisions that have transformed this country politically and socially, and really would wish to wipe out the “judicial review” established by the Supreme Court under John Marshall in the early 19th century!

To claim that only “progressives” are activists is totally ridiculous, as ALL Justices are “activist” in different ways, as they are INTERPRETING the Constitution, which is meant to be a “living” document, adaptable to changing times!

Just one example of conservative “activism” on the Supreme Court is Bush V Gore, where the conservative majority Court in 2000 decided to intervene, stop the ballot recount in Florida, and decided the Presidential Election Of 2000. What gave them the right to do that? And look at what it led to, eight years of foreign and domestic disasters that will reverberate for many generations on our nation!

So Gingrich, as usual, is acting as a demagogue, also demonstrated by his demand that lower federal court judges be required to explain their decisions to the Congress in committees, or be arrested! What a revolutionary, radical grab of power such a requirement would be!

The Republican Attack On The Constitution: A Threat To American Democracy!

The Republican Party loves to assert that the Democrats, and progressives in particular, are attacking the Constitution, and that they are the experts on the Constitution.

So therefore, in this Presidential primary season, and in the party membership in Congress, there are statements constantly attacking the court system, anytime that a federal judge or court issues a decision against the conservative view of the Constitution. There are condemnations and calls to change the court system on a regular basis.

One would think that the Democrats and their progressive friends have dominated the courts in recent decades, which, of course, is the exact opposite of the truth!

One forgets that from 1969-2011, there have been only 15 years of Democratic control of the Presidency, as compared to 28 years of Republican control.

The vast majority of federal judges have been Republican appointments, as a result, and Republican Presidents have made a total of 13 Supreme Court appointments over those years, and Democrats have made only 4, two by Bill Clinton and two by Barack Obama!

But now,. Newt Gingrich calls for judges to be required to testify before partisan Congressional committees, a violation of the separation of powers, and a danger to an independent judiciary!

What it comes down to is that Newt Gingrich and all of the Republican opponents, with maybe the exception of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, wish to create a court system that would move away from the path breaking changes that the Supreme Court brought about during the years of the Warren Court, Burger Court, and Rehnquist Court including:

Brown V. Board Of Education
Miranda V Arizona
Roe V Wade
University Of California V. Bakke
Lawrence V Texas

As it is, there are threats presented by the Republican growth of dominance on the federal courts to all of these issues–racial integration, rights of criminal suspects, abortion rights, affirmative action, and gay rights.

The Republicans will not be contented until there are reversals on all of these issues, and a return to the “good old days”, when minorities “knew their place”; police had unlimited rights over those they questioned or arrested; women had no control over their reproductive rights; minorities and women had disadvantages, as compared to white males, on educational and job opportunities; and gays were forced to remain “in the closet” and face open discrimination and hate without recourse!

So when the Republicans claim to understand what the Founding Fathers meant at the Constitutional Convention, they are forgetting that those esteemed leaders put into the Constitution the “Elastic Clause” to allow for expansion of the Constitution beyond the original document, in order to make the Constitution a “living document” adaptable to changing times.

The real threat is not what the federal courts have done in the past sixty years! It is the attempt of conservatives and the Republican Party to negate the great progress brought about the Supreme Court and lower courts in the past sixty years, and revert back to the years after World War II, when all of these great changes started slowly to evolve through courageous judges and Supreme Court Justices, including Earl Warren, William Brennan, Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.