Tag Archives: Supreme Court of the United States

Justice Barrett

Huzzah, huzzah.

Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court Monday evening by the Senate in a 52-48 vote – with Republican Susan Collins crossing the aisle to vote against her.

Donald Trump’s third nominee was not in the chamber to watch the roll call vote, which allows her to join the eight justices on Tuesday morning, and potentially to decide on cases about voting before the November 3 election.

Senate president pro tempore Chuck Grassley declared her confirmation at 8.06pm; outside the Supreme Court conservatives chanted Coney Barrett’s name as soon as she was confirmed.

Biden Plans to Pack the Court

There is no other way to interpret this answer. You lefties OK with this? You do realize that if Biden does it, then the Republicans will also do it the next time they are in power? Eventually, we will have a SCOTUS with 79 members.

‘They’ll know my opinion on court-packing when the election is over,’ Biden said Thursday as he arrived in Arizona for a campaign stop with running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris.

Unfortunately, I think that our civics education has become so intentionally bad that only a minority of voters will even understand what an assault this is on our Republic.

Trump Nominates Barrett for SCOTUS

Sorry for going dark yesterday. I was in final consideration for the SCOTUS pick. As you can see, the President went another way.

US President Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a favourite of social conservatives, to be the new Supreme Court justice.

Speaking by her side at the White House Rose Garden, Mr Trump described her as a “woman of unparalleled achievement”.

[…]

After graduating from Notre Dame University Law School in Indiana, she clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. In 2017, she was nominated by Mr Trump to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

She is an outstanding pick. If there is one thing that Trump has proven to be very capable of, it’s choosing Supreme Court Justices. His previous two picks have been outstanding and this one is too.

Given that the Senate confirmed her just three years ago, there shouldn’t be a need for much of a confirmation hearing. There will be, of course, but it’s just theater with Republicans trying to goad Democrats into bashing a Catholic Midwestern woman and the Democrats taking the bait.

Democrats Will Overreach

I wrote this in February of 2017.

The Democrats have already reflexively announced their opposition to Gorsuch, even though their criticisms have failed to rise to any cogent standard. Wisconsin’s own Senator Tammy Baldwin has even refused to meet with Gorsuch, thus abdicating her role in the process and retreating behind nasty press releases and daft commentary.

Far be it from me to advise the Democrats, but their overreach on Gorsuch may neuter them further on future picks. Remember that former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid killed the filibuster rule for all but Supreme Court picks in his effort to ram through President Obama’s lower court appointments, but left it in place for Supreme Court appointments. In doing so, Reid laid the ideological groundwork and precedent for killing the filibuster rule for Supreme Court picks too.

If the Democrats in the U.S. Senate choose to filibuster and obstruct what is clearly a brilliantly qualified choice for the Supreme Court, the Republicans can rescind the filibuster rule for Supreme Court picks too and confirm the appointment without needing to make a single concession to the minority party. The Democrats’ intransigence and unwillingness to even participate in the process, and the precedent already established by Harry Reid, will provide ample political cover for the change in rules.

Then, if and when Trump gets another opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice, the rules will already be set to allow an easy confirmation. If the Democrats participate and allow a vote – even if all of them vote against the nominee – they will likely preserve the filibuster for future Supreme Court nominations while undercutting the political justification to rescind it next time.

If the political battles of the past few years in Wisconsin have taught me anything, it is that Democrats will overreach. Their base of radicals demands unbending fealty to ideology – even at the expense of victory.

As it turned out, McConnell did end the filibuster for SCOTUS confirmations over the Gorsuch fight and here we are. Then the Democrats hardened once “play nice” Senators like Graham during their atrocious behavior in the Kavanaugh hearing. Again, I expect the Democrats to overreach again here.

Through all of this I continue to lament that we attach so much importance to a single judge; on a 9-judge panel; in one branch of our federal government. It shows how much power we have ceded to the federal government and, specifically, the Supreme Court. Do you know why judge appointments were mostly a non-event outside of Washington for well over a century of our nation’s history? Because it didn’t impact the lives of most Americans. That’s not the case anymore and our Republic is worse for it.

Democrats Threaten to Pack the Supreme Court

This is very simple. There is no practical purpose to expand the court for the good of the American People. The only reason to do it is to change the philosophical center of the court one way or the other. It is about raw power.

Democrats have threatened to pack the Supreme Court if Donald Trump‘s nomination gets confirmed following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The president on Saturday urged the GOP-run Senate to consider ‘without delay’ his upcoming nomination to fill the seat vacated by Justice Ginsburg, who died Friday after a battle with cancer.

[…]

Several Democrats have vowed the party will expand the size of the court if they capture the Senate in November and Republicans have already pushed through a conservative successor to Ginsburg.

Joe Kennedy III, who represents Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District and is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, tweeted Sunday: ‘If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021. It’s that simple.’

Let’s think this through a few steps. Let’s say the Democrats win the presidency and majorities in the Congress, so they expand the court to 11 members, appoint two liberals, and shift the balance. What’s to stop the Republicans from doing the same thing the next time they are in control? Does the Republic then just keep expanding the Supreme Court every time a party gets in power? We still experience the sway of courts as elected officials from one party or the other gain power, only now it happens faster because they don’t have to wait for sitting justices to die or retire.

Is that better? Is our Republic better for it?

Nope. Do the Democrats care? Nope.

Let’s hope this is a passing tantrum and more thoughtful people step to the front of the Democratic Party.

RIP RBG

Condolences.

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an iconic champion of women’s rights, has died of cancer at the age of 87, the court has said.

Ginsburg died on Friday of metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington, DC, surrounded by her family, the statement said.

SCOTUS Rules on Sex Discrimination

I haven’t had a chance to read all of the ruling, but it looks like a good one.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that workers cannot be fired for being gay or transgender in a major win for members of the LGBT community.

The 6-3 holding, authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a conservative appointed by President Donald Trump, is a blockbuster development in the history of gay rights in the United States.

“An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions,” Gorsuch wrote. “That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”

While workers in about half the country were protected by local laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, there was no federal law that explicitly barred LGBT workers from being fired on that basis.

Gorsuch was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, a fellow conservative, and the four members of the court’s liberal wing, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.

SCOTUS Upholds Election Laws

Excellent. A two-fer today.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a plan to extend absentee voting in Wisconsin’s spring primary by six days because of the coronavirus.

The Wisconsin election is being viewed as a national test case in a broader fight over voter access.

The Supreme Court’s decision came shortly after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4-2 on Monday that Evers lacked the authority to move the election on his own.

It’s not about whether or not when we should have the deadlines for voting, absentee ballots, etc. It’s about who gets to decide. The People through their elected representatives and a legislative process? Or a single man in a black robe? In this case, as in the case of Evers, the People get to decide these things through our elected government. We are not subjects. We are citizens.

RBG Praises Trump Appointees

Remember how much the liberals tried to smear and trash these good, decent, smart men? It was all a farce. Tip o’ the ol’ hat to RBG for being decent to decent people.

Washington (CNN)Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg came to the defense of her more conservative colleagues on the bench, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

“I can say that my two newest colleagues are very decent and very smart individuals,” she said Wednesday at an event in Washington, D.C., hosted by Duke Law as she answered questions from Neil Siegel, a law professor and one of her former law clerks.
Now that the Supreme Court term has ended, Ginsburg, 86, has been pushing back against criticism of the court, saying in a recent interview with NPR that the nine justices work well together and rebutted the idea that the Supreme Court is a partisan institution, according to the news outlet.

SCOTUS Justices Question Judicial Overreach into Redicsticting

You could easily go broke betting on SCOTUS rulings, but this was a positive line of questioning.

At issue is when politicians go too far in drawing lines for partisan gain, and it could be one of the most consequential cases of the court’s term. The justices could, for the first time, establish a standard to decide when politicians go too far in drawing lines for partisan gain, or the court could slam the doors shut on such claims of extreme gerrymandering.
Chief Justice John Roberts suggested at one point that it would be hard for the court to police the use of partisanship in map drawing, when the process is intrinsically political. Justice Samuel Alito emerged as the most vocal critic of the court’s involvement, often picking apart the manageability of tests that were presented to the court and worrying that every single dispute in the future would have to be resolved by the judiciary.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh — whose vote could be key — said he would not “dispute” that extreme partisan gerrymandering has become a problem that was especially evident in a map drawn in his home state of Maryland. But he also questioned if the courts should stay out of the issue because states are reacting with their own initiatives.
It was a sentiment shared by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who said states have “provided remedies in this area.”

Kavanaugh Hearing Begins

Heh.

As his confirmation hearings begin, an ABC News/Washington Post poll finds the public evenly divided on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court – among the lowest support levels for a high court nominee in polling back to 1987.

Six in 10 Americans also say Kavanaugh should publicly state his position on abortion before being confirmed. And there’s a substantial shift from 2005 in views on how the court should deal with abortion access – fewer say it should make it harder to get an abortion, more say the court should make it easier.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans say Kavanaugh should be confirmed, 39 percent not, with the rest undecided in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Only two nominees have had weaker public support: Harriet Miers, who withdrew her nomination, in 2005; and Robert Bork, rejected by the Senate in 1987.

The lefty media seems to be in high frenzy about this. I would point out that I highly doubt that 6 in 10 Americans could name 2 things on Kavanaugh’s resume that qualifies him, or disqualifies him, from sitting on the Supreme Court. The reason that this process is set up the way it is and the Justices have lifetime appointments is precisely to insulate them from the whims of public opinion. If we are going to start listening to polls when appointing SCOTUS justices, then we should just make them elected positions like in Wisconsin.

Hopefully the Senate will ignore the manufactured wails from the media and get this done in a professional and efficient manner.

Astroturfing the Supreme Court

This time they got sloppy. Usually they at least change a few words to make it more believable. It’s hard to blame the papers. How are they supposed to check that until the letters run elsewhere?

Judge Brett Kavanaugh is going into the Supreme Court confirmation process with a hail of rhetorical arrows zinging by him, including a phony letter-writing campaign aimed at unsuspecting American newspaper editors

At least 21 papers were duped last week, including big-market brands like the Dallas Morning News and The Washington Times. They ran identical letters over a four-day period, each signed by a different person.

The effort is an example of public-relations ‘astroturfing,’ a technique meant to simulate genuine grassroots support for an idea or cause.

The form letter is one small piece of the message minefield erupting around Kavanaugh as he prepares for a brutal confirmation process that will end with scant support from Democrats.

Democrats Call for Kavanaugh to Recuse Himself

The Democrats are just insane right now.

A former boss and political ally of Brett Kavanaugh, pushing back on a mounting rallying cry of Senate Democrats, said it is “preposterous” to suggest that the Supreme Court nominee should recuse himself from cases involving Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russia, because there is no evidence Kavanaugh and the president made a “deal” about the issue.

“I don’t see the basis for a recusal,” Timothy Flanigan, who served as deputy White House counsel during the early years of the George W. Bush administration, said in an interview for the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery.”

When it was pointed out that Trump had nominated Kavanaugh while under investigation by Mueller — and facing a potential subpoena for his testimony — Flanigan replied, “I’m not sure I see the relevance of that.” He added that “unless there was a credible suggestion that … there’s some kind of deal that Brett would vote against [upholding a subpoena to the president], I frankly find that preposterous.”

Since President Trump announced Kavanaugh’s nomination Monday night, a number of Democrats have demanded that Kavanaugh commit to recusing himself from any issues involving the Mueller probe that could end up before the court. They have argued that it would be a conflict of interest for him to rule on issues such as a potential subpoena for Trump’s testimony or whether the president can be indicted — and that his vote on a divided court could be decisive, ultimately determining the fate of Trump’s presidency.

“I don’t think he should be on the court, and you can be sure that me and my colleagues on the Democratic side are going to be asking if he will recuse himself, should he be confirmed,” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., told reporters.

So because Democrats fantasize that Trump made a deal with Kananaugh over an BS investigation, he should commit to recusing himself on some potential, unnamed case that might come before the Supreme Court? Nuts.

Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh for SCOTUS

By all reports, Judge Kavanaugh is a solid, traditional, judicial conservative. In another era, he would not be controversial at all. Trump is delivering on his promise of nominating great judges.

Mr Kavanaugh has served since 2006 on the influential US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and was formerly a White House aide under George W Bush.

He previously worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Democratic former president Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

[…]

He is the kind of judge a President Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney would have picked – a man with an established legal pedigree and a reputation as a reliably conservative jurist.

If the party sticks together, the president’s choice will be sitting on the Supreme Court when its new term starts in October.

President Trump campaigned with a promise to conservatives that he would fill the federal courts, from the top on down, with judges to their liking.

It’s a promise that has helped cement near-record levels of support for his presidency from Republican voters – and for good reason.

Mr Trump is securing a conservative judiciary for a generation.

Supreme Power

Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday. And now that I’ve ruminated and griped about how much power we have ceded to an unelected branch of government, the realities of today dictate that we must get a good, constructionist jurist in place before the election.

The Supreme Court of the Unites States completed its session with a flurry of mostly good rulings and Justice Anthony Kennedy added an exclamation point by announcing his retirement. With the prospect of President Trump’s second appointment to the court looming, every politician and special interest in America has launched into battle as if the world depended on the outcome.

I can’t help but feel a deep sense of sadness for the state of our republic. It was never supposed to be like this.

Somehow we have drifted from Judge Marshall’s opinion in Marbury v. Madison, “that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument” to a point where the Supreme Court of the United States is routinely called the “final arbiter of the Constitution” without so much as a second thought. But interpretation and enforcement of the Constitution is not the sole responsibility of the Supreme Court. Even Marshall acknowledged this fact when he includes “other departments” in the quote above. Those “other departments” are the other two branches of government.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It supersedes anything generated by any part of the government. This is what Marshall meant when he wrote: “The Constitution is either a superior, paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and, like other acts, is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it.

If the former part of the alternative be true, then a legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law: if the latter part be true, then written constitutions are absurd attempts, on the part of the people, to limit a power in its own nature illimitable.”

In other words, a written constitution is meaningless if it is able to be quashed by a simple act of the legislature or by an arbitrary regulation from the executive. It is the responsibility of every branch of the government to maintain the integrity of the Constitution.

It is worth noting that Marshall closed his opinion by pointing out that the oath taken by judges obligates the judges to place the Constitution above other considerations. The oath taken by a judge reads, in part: “I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

This portion of a federal judge’s oath is also included in the oath taken by a soldier, a senator, a congressman and, most notably, a new United States citizen. Just as a new citizen must verbally vow to support and defend the Constitution, each natural- born American citizen implicitly adheres to the same oath as a duty of citizenship. It is every citizen’s duty to support and defend the Constitution.

It must be remembered that the Constitution is a document that restricts what the federal government can do. The federal government is specifically denied the power to do anything outside of the specific powers delegated to it in the Constitution.

Since the Constitution is a shackle for government, why would we make an institution of that government “the final arbiter” of its meaning and extent? That is like letting a child be the final arbiter on how much Halloween candy is permissible to eat in one sitting. Just as that child would end up bloated and sick, so too would a government left to decide its own boundaries.

The current apoplectic fury over the appointment of a single judge of a ninejudge panel of a single branch of our three-branch government is symptomatic of the degeneration of our adherence to our Constitution. As a people, we Americans have ceded the responsibility of binding our government to the tenets of our Constitution to an unelected branch of that same government. We have permitted the pendulum of power to be permanently stuck on the side of the government.

The result has been predictable. Our federal government routinely acts well outside its constitutional boundaries with not only the consent, but the adulation of much of the citizenry.

As the federal government’s overseers, it is the American people’s historic responsibility to fasten tight the constitutional fetters with which we bind our government and closely guard the key. Yet over the past two centuries, we have fallen asleep on our watch and left the keys dangling within easy reach of our charge.

I do not fault the political factions in our nation for waging a rhetorically bloody crusade for control of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has become the nuclear weapon of the modern American political landscape, control of which dictates supremacy. At the same time, every citizen should take to heart the words written in our Declaration of Independence: “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The Supreme Court only has as much power as Americans consent to give it.

 

Supreme Power

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. You can find the whole thing by following the link. Here’s a snippet:

Since the Constitution is a shackle for government, why would we make an institution of that government “the final arbiter” of its meaning and extent? That is like letting a child be the final arbiter on how much Halloween candy is permissible to eat in one sitting. Just as that child would end up bloated and sick, so too would a government left to decide its own boundaries.

The current apoplectic fury over the appointment of a single judge of a nine judge panel of a single branch of our three-branch government is symptomatic of the degeneration of our adherence to our Constitution. As a people, we Americans have ceded the responsibility of binding our government to the tenets of our Constitution to an unelected branch of that same government. We have permitted the pendulum of power to be permanently stuck on the side of the government.

The result has been predictable. Our federal government routinely acts well outside its constitutional boundaries with not only the consent, but the adulation of much of the citizenry.

Anthony Kennedy Steps Down

Thank you for your service, Justice Kennedy.

Anthony Kennedy retiring from Supreme Court

  • Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy will step down at the end of July.
  • The departure gives President Trump a second opportunity to fundamentally alter the nation’s top court for decades.
  • Senate Republicans plans to move quickly on appointing a successor as the two major parties fight for control of the Senate in November.

Now the GOP needs to get their act together and put a replacement on the bench before the election. They need to give the voters a reason to return them to the majority in the Senate.

SCOTUS Rules Against Forced Union Dues

Excellent. Forced unionization has been a century-long stain on the freedom of association.

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court has barred public-employee contracts requiring workers to pay union dues, dealing a severe blow to perhaps the strongest remaining redoubt of the American labor movement.

The 5-4 vote, along conservative-liberal lines, overruled a 1977 precedent that had fueled the growth of public-sector unionization even as representation has withered in private industry. More than one-third of public employees are unionized, compared with just 6.5% of those in the private sector, according to a January report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The impact is likely to stretch far beyond the workplace, sapping resources from unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the National Education Association that have provided funds, resources and activists largely in support of Democratic candidates.

[…]

Under that theory, it would violate the First Amendment for government to condition a job on subsidizing political speech a worker may oppose—and therefore public-employment contracts including union-security clauses would be unconstitutional. The court majority has now accepted that argument.

SCOTUS Upholds Travel Ban

Excellent. Even though it is moot now, it was important to adjudicate the issue.

 The US Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the Trump administration’s travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.

Lower courts had deemed the ban unconstitutional, but the US top court has reversed this decision in a 5-4 ruling announced on Tuesday.

The ban prohibits most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the US.

The court’s reversal is viewed as a victory for the Trump administration.

But the travel ban has been widely criticised by refugee and human rights groups.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, which said the travel ban was “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority”.

SCOTUS Rules Against Police Use of Cell Phone Locations Data Without Warrant

This is a close call, but I agree with the ruling. In the digital age, we are trying to figure out how far we want our government to be able to know our private information. I fall on the side of strong 4th Amendment protections. If law enforcement thinks that someone is guilty of a crime, then they should be required to get a warrant to search and use their cell phone data just like if they were searching their home.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Police generally need a warrant to look at records that reveal where cellphone users have been, the Supreme Court ruled Friday in a big victory for privacy interests in the digital age.

The justices’ 5-4 decision marks a big change in how police may obtain information that phone companies collect from the ubiquitous cellphone towers that allow people to make and receive calls, and transmit data. The information has become an important tool in criminal investigations.

Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the court’s four liberals, said cellphone location information “is detailed, encyclopedic and effortlessly compiled.” Roberts wrote that “an individual maintains a legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements” as they are captured by cellphone towers.

Roberts said the court’s decision is limited to cellphone tracking information and does not affect other business records, including those held by banks. He also wrote that police still can respond to an emergency and obtain records without a warrant.

But the dissenting conservative justices, Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, cast doubt on Roberts’ claim that the decision was limited. Each wrote a dissenting opinion and Kennedy said in his that the court’s “new and uncharted course will inhibit law enforcement” and “keep defendants and judges guessing for years to come.”