Nel's New Day

November 8, 2022

Supreme Court Addresses Race, Rights

SCOTUS will hear two more landmark cases this week. The first, on November 8, decides whether over 76 million low-income people in the U.S. could be stripped of Medicaid healthcare. The majority of justices, even some conservative ones, seemed reluctant to gut the program by saying that people couldn’t file a lawsuits for their rights under the law although they may determine that nursing home residents can use only administrative process to enforce the law. At this time, Section 1983 permits lawsuits for the enforcement. Only JusticesClarence Thomas and Samuel Alito might disagree. Justice Amy Coney Barrett seemed to join the three other women while Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh just asked about how Medicaid law should be enforced, appearing to assume that the law is enforceable.

A “conditional grant” program, Medicaid provides money to states, $670 billion in 2020, and funding includes general requirements governing its operation. In Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County v. Talevski, the plaintiffs are suing the Indiana health system for using psychotropic drugs as “convenience” to keep Gorgi Talevski, a dementia patient, docile with psychotropic drugs, a violation of Medicaid law. The health system asks the Supreme Court to remove all ability for patients to bring lawsuits for law violations protecting nursing home patients.

Making Medicaid law unenforceable would remove the legal requirement that patients receive coverage and overturn a half-century of precedents, something the conservative Supremes is comfortable doing, by returning to decisions from the 1800s. A decision against Medicaid leaves patients open to abuse from health providers and state health officials. Three justices have already argued that “the modern jurisprudence permitting [Medicaid] beneficiaries to sue does not generally apply to contracts between a private party and the government.” Technically, any government official, such as Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis could remove health benefits from a class of people, violating federal law but blocking people from suing for their rights.

In another case before SCOTUS this week, justices will decide whether children can be removed from families in the Native American tribes. The government forced Indian children into boarding schools or white families with the purpose to assimilate and Christianize them until blocked by the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Before the law, 25 percent to 35 percent of all Native children had been removed from their family and put into foster homes, adoptive homes, or institutions. They lost their language, culture, and religion.

Three families are arguing against ICWA before the Supreme Court, one of them a white evangelical couple taking a Navajo and Cherokee 10-month-old in 2016 to “rectify our blessings.” They were told they couldn’t adopt the baby because of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) but went to court a year later to fight ICWA. The tribe finally backed down. Federal law requires all removed children to be placed with family, if at all possible, but a Native Minnesota woman was forced to fight in the courts for years to be allowed to take her grandchild. The Supreme Court could take her child away from her. Cases of children who don’t need to be removed and overlooked relatives as foster placements are common, especially in Black and Indigenous families.

The plaintiffs are supported by wealthy, well-oiled right-wing organizations claiming that keeping Native children with members of their tribes is race discrimination against non-Native parents and an overly intrusive federal government. Native Americans maintain that tribes need their children for their continued existence. The case goes far beyond keeping children in their culture; it could go down the path to remove tribal rights beyond child welfare: water, land, gaming, policing, and Native sovereignty itself. Defendants argue that the case is not about racial discrimination but about political status, that they are “members of quasi-sovereign tribal entities whose lives and activities are governed by the BIA in a unique fashion.” Tribes have their Indian Health Services clinics, courts, elections, and police forces. The right-wing groups could erase these. In short, conservative whites want to eliminate Native American heritage.

Last week, the Supremes discussed stripping any part of race from college admissions. Two key cases concerned policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Republicans have worked toward that end for several decades, and the use of race has been greatly watered down. Both education experts and the public agree that racially diverse college campuses benefit all students, but the public wants it to happen by magic without “discriminating” against whites. Asian Americans support affirmative action to diversity populations, but right-wingers use them as the victims of the practice.

One person who doesn’t believe in diversity is Justice Clarence Thomas, who acknowledges that affirmative action policies helped his entrance into Yale University and called it “the taint of racial preference.” It most likely put him on the Supreme Court in 1991 when he took the position left by Thurgood Marshall. Four other conservative justices received privilige affirmative action, and Barrett was awarded her job with millions of dark money advertising for her appointment and confirmation.

The six conservative Supremes seemed ready to toss the use of race in a factor in college admissions. Barrett said, “Achieving diversity and diverse student populations in universities has been difficult.” Her solution is to not bothering to solve it. Justice Brett Kavanaugh also wants to know how to stop affirmative action. The conservative approach toward racism is to declare it doesn’t exist; Justice Samuel Alito maintains it victimizes white people.

White supremacists want to do away with affirmative action because elite universities are the conduits to leadership in government, politics, and private business as well as higher incomes and economic mobility. Keeping schools white keeps control of these areas white. Of lawyers arguing before SCOTUS, 81 percent are white and three-fourths are male. 

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recused herself from the Harvard case because she sits on the school’s board but pointed out that students get into schools because of their family ties. She asked why lineage put one student into the school but denied the lineage of the other one because slavery or discrimination prohibited their ancestors were attending.  

This week, Jackson wrote her first opinion on the high court, a two-page dissent over the court’s refusal to hear a death row inmate appeal. She stated the lower court applied the wrong legal standard and should review the case. Names of the refusers are not made public, but court rules means that fewer than four justices voted to hear it. Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined Jackson’s dissent. The man on death row asserted that prosecutors didn’t tell him that their key witness had a serious intellectual disability. Jackson pointed out that the GOP majority of justices doesn’t always bother with existing law and longstanding legal principles.

While hearing cases, justices are also accepting and rejecting appeals:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) must testify before the Fulton County (GA) grand jury regarding criminal election interference about his statements about finding ballots after DDT’s 2020 loss in the state. Thomas gave him a short reprieve in his appeal from his failed decisions from a federal district court and the 11th Circuit Court, but the Supreme Court rejected his request to block the subpoena. Graham may be questioned as soon as November 17; he can invoke the 5th Amendment to avoid self-incrimination, incriminating on its own. The background.

Roberts accepted DDT’s emergency appeal to block a House committee from obtaining his IRS records by creating a temporary hold on the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court ruling that the committee has broad authority to obtain tax returns: the committee has authority over taxation law. Roberts indicated it gives SCOTUS time to weigh the issues. The committee needs to respond by November 10. In 2019, the Manhattan DA, Cyrus Vance, obtained DDT’s personal and business tax records as part of a criminal investigation. At that time, the Supreme Court rejected DDT’s arguments of having broad presidential immunity. No other resident of the White House has denied making his tax returns public.

Justice Elena Kagan ordered a temporary block after an emergency appeal from Arizona’s GOP chair Kelli Ward to stop the House January 6 investigative committee from receiving phone and text records until SCOTUS settles the issue. The 9th Circuit Court had confirmed a U.S. district judge’s decision approving the committee receiving the records. Requested records do not include content or location information. Ward and her husband, Michael Ward, served as DDT’s fake electors for the state and talked to DDT and his staff members about Arizona’s election certification. In her testimony before the committee, she invoked her Fifth Amendment rights not to answer questions because her answers would incriminate her.

Last Friday, Barrett declined to block President Joe Biden’s student relief plan—for the second time. This decision leaves student loan forgiveness on hold from a separate challenge brought by six GOP-led states after an 8th Circuit Court judge granted a stay. As of last week, 26 million people applied for the program. Those behind the lawsuits suffer from a lack of standing, proof that the loan relief brings them harm. Private loans are not being canceled, leaving their lenders such as Pacific Legal Foundation with no reason to object. The two Indiana borrowers claiming they would be harmed because the state would make them pay taxes on the forgiveness aren’t required to participate in loan relief, leaving them without standing. Meanwhile applicants must wait for a ruling because six states are also suing.  

Tomorrow’s topic: whither democracy.

October 24, 2022

SCOTUS Justice Favors Graham, Other Rulings

British Prime Minister Update: Since yesterday, Penny Mordaunt has dropped out of the race, leaving Rishi Sunak the leader for Britain’s third leader in under two months.

The Supreme Court is not hearing arguments for a couple of week, but justices are making decisions. Justice Clarence Thomas just saved Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) from the horrors of testifying to the Fulton County (GA) grand jury, at least temporarily. The jury is investigating the attempts of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his allies—including Graham—to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Thomas’ edict reverses a unanimous decision from a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court, two of them DDT appointees; Graham claims that sitting senators are exempt from any questions about the events.

The jury is seeking information about Graham’s phone calls after the election to Georgia Secretary of State and his staff when he talked about absentee ballots and voter fraud. Graham has been dodging the subpoena for his testimony for several months, claiming that his calls to Georgia were part of his job. A district judge ruled that Graham couldn’t be asked about the election certification, but other topics such as the reason for raising the issues and his communication with DDT were acceptable for questioning. Thomas was able to temporarily block the subpoena because he is assigned to the 11th Circuit Court covering Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. A justice can unilaterally act on a stay or submit it to the court for a vote.

Once again, Thomas has proved his conflicts of interest. His wife was part of the plot to overturn the presidential election, the subject of Graham’s subpoena, and Thomas made the decree regarding without support of any other justices. Although the Supreme Court justices have no code of ethics, a justice is legally required to recuse themself for a conflict of interest.

Thomas’ refusal to save DDT in the Mar-a-Lago document fiasco was a flip from his protection of Graham. DDT had delivered a request to the conservative justice, asking the Supreme Court to permit his special master to review 100 classified documents seized from DDT’s club instead of turning them over to the FBI. The 11th Circuit Court overturned the order from DDT’s pet judge Aileen Cannon to give the materials to the special master. Last January, all the justices except Thomas refused to block the disclosure of presidential records from the National Archives to the House January 6 investigating committee.

The Supreme Court vacated the 3rd Circuit Court ruling that Pennsylvania could count undated mail-in ballots. The law requires the voter to put the date on the envelope. The former decision can no longer be used as a precedent in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to permit counting of ballots with such errors. The high court did not deal with permission for voters to go to the Board of Elections to “cure” ballots by adding the date, signing a security envelope, or other provisions.

In November, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Ohio will be using gerrymandered congressional districts that courts have rejected, districts that may be proved illegal at trial. The rationale is supposedly that changing voting rules cannot be changed close to an election after a 2006 Supreme Court case, Purcell v. Gonzalez.

In an extension of the redistricting conflict, Louisiana Republicans want to redefine a Black voter to exclude anyone who identify with another race—a “pure” view of racial identity. In Ardoin v. Robinson, Republican officials argued that Blacks are limited to only those who check just the Black box or both Black and White and do not identify as Latino. Alabama had already dropped the idea before taking their lawsuit to the Supreme Court. GOP success would almost entirely eliminate the use of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act to challenge district maps. The topic hasn’t been up for a debate since the 2003 ruling overturning Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and was considered settled.

The Supreme Court refused to hear a case from Rhode Island in which a Catholic group and two women attempted to overturn a lower court’s ruling. The plaintiffs want the state’s abortion-rights law declared unconstitutional because it doesn’t give 14th Amendment legal standing for fetuses. A 2019 Georgia law grants fetal personhood to embryos at six weeks of pregnancy; pregnant women can claim them dependents on tax returns.

SCOTUS permitted the execution last Thursday of a severely mentally ill man in Oklahoma who killed his nine-month-old daughter two decades ago. Benjamin Cole is the second execution of 25 planned executions through 2024, one a month. Although the state has a history of painfully botched lethal injections, that process was used. A 1986 Supreme Court ruling found the execution of the severely mentally ill to be unconstitutional; Oklahoma state law blocks executions of people who are insane. Cole lives in a largely “catatonic” state, not understand legal proceedings, and uses a wheelchair.

The conservative Supremes are preferential toward executions. Recently, they kept Andre Lee Thomas, a 21-year-old Black man, on death row despite his ineffectual defense, racial bias, and a mentally ill defendant. Thomas was declared incompetent to stand trial for 47 days until a psychiatrist stated he suffered from a drug-induced psychosis. Later, the defense attorney said not challenging the letter was a mistake. An all-white jury, four of whom openly opposed interracial relationships, convicted him.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett also declined a request to halt the federal judge’s ruling permitting President Joe Biden’s student loan relief plan to continue. The lower federal court in Wisconsin determined that the plaintiff, the Brown County Taxpayers Association, lacked standing. The judge said that merely paying taxes is not sufficient to challenge federal actions. In St. Louis, another federal judge dismissed a challenge to the program from six GOP-led states, again on the basis that the states lacked standing.

An appeal from the St. Louis case to the 8th Circuit Court brought the program to a temporary halt, however, until the court rules on an emergency request by the six GOP states to block the policy. Briefs regarding the case are due to the 8th Circuit Court by October 24 and 25. The White House asked borrowers to continue to apply, adding to the at least 22 million who have already done so. The process of review applications and preparing them for transmission to loan servicers can take place during the hiatus. Only one of the 11 active judges on the 11th Circuit Court was appointed by a Democratic president, Barack Obama. Of the remaining ten, DDT appointed four, George W. Bush 5, and George H.W. Bush one.  

In a case on October 12, 2022, Helix Energy Solutions Group argued that employee Michael Hewitt, paid by the day, didn’t deserve overtime because he made over $200,00 a year. Exempt from overtime are executives, administrators, and other professional categories. A lower court agreed with Helix, and the 5th Circuit moved to the Hewitt’s side. The six conservative Supremes seemed to oppose the remaining justices in another continued attempt to overturn agency “power.”

On the same day, arguments in Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith debated whether Andy Warhol legally used Lynn Goldsmith’s 1981 copyrighted photograph of Prince for his 1984 screenprints. When Vanity Fair’s image of Warhol’s Orange Prince on a 2017 special issue, Goldsmith wasn’t credited or paid. The Warhol Foundation received $10,000 for its use. In 2021, the 2nd Circuit Court ruled in favor of Goldsmith, overturning a New York federal judge’s ruling in 2019 that Warhol’s series was fair use. The question before the Supreme Court is whether changing the source material’s meaning creates fair use.

On Fridays, the Supreme Court justices determine which petitions for appeal they will accept, usually rejecting 98 percent of them which leaves lower courts’ decisions intact. At least four justices must agree whether to take the case, and the conservative majority wants to go big, aggressively moving the county in a far-right direction as shown by last year’s overturning Roe v. Wade. The remaining three progressive justices don’t even have the numbers to determine what cases will be heard; they can only dissent. Chief Justice John Roberts prefers small incremental rightward movement, but he’s no longer in charge.

Republicans still slam Democrats for “activist judges,” but the GOP is now responsible for the radical changes to the right. Expectations for the term are to eliminate affirmative action, continue narrowing the Voting Rights Act, and permit discrimination based on “free speech” and “religious freedom.”

The decisions evidence a strong MAGA movement at the current Supreme Court because of its emphasis on white grievances. According to the conservative Supremes, the 14th Amendment to protect minority rights forbids a more equal society and allows them to chip away at the Voting Rights Act. The argument is always “racism is over.” Five more cases are already scheduled for the upcoming docket that can elevate white supremacy, one of them already heard on October 4.

Ruth Marcus wrote, “Never before in the court’s history has the ideological alignment of the justices tilted so heavily to one extreme.”

October 4, 2022

News: Supreme Court, DDT Plus More

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) head to Mesa (AZ) on October 9 for another rally so supposedly campaign for his endorsed candidates Kari Lake (governor) and Blake Masters (U.S. Senate). No mention of another far-right GOP candidate Mark Finchem for Secretary of State. The day before, October 8, he’ll be at the Minden-Tahoe (NV) Airport for Adam Laxalt (U.S. Senate), Joe Lombardo (governor), and “the entire Nevada Trump ticket.” At DDT’s rally last week, people started leaving after 15 minutes, almost two hours early, from the facility not filled to capacity. 

As befits their ideology, six conservative justices appear to lean on their second day toward narrowing voting rights by permitting racial gerrymandering even after a Circuit Court three-judge panel, two of them DDT appointees, ruled the racial discrimination violated the Voter Rights Act (VRA). Justice Samuel Alito went the farthest, possibly willing to make the legal challenges against racial gerrymander even more stringent by “revisiting” Thornburg v. Gingles (1986), in which a unanimous vote blocked North Carolina from partisan racial gerrymandering.  

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson brilliantly defended the VRA, at least the small piece left after Roberts court destroyed an important part of it in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) to permit racial discrimination and opened the South to voting oppression laws.

For years, conservative justices have driven poor decisions through SCOTUS through their personal views of originalism of WWTFFD—What Would the Founding Fathers Do. Conservative justices have insisted that the Constitution is “colorblind,” allowing them to allow racial discrimination by saying it wasn’t discriminatory. Jackson refused to give in to them. In the arguments on Merrill v. Mulligan to determine the Alabama districting case, the theory emerged again from conservatives. Jackson tutored them and Alabama’s lawyer in the purpose of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments: “provide equal opportunity for formerly enslaved people, using color-conscious remedies whenever necessary to put them on the same plane as whites,” according to Mark Joseph Stern. She added that drilling down in the Constitution shows “that the Framers themselves adopted the equal protection clause, the 14th, the 15th Amendment, in a race-conscious way.”

Alabama Republicans argue that protecting Black citizens’ voting power would violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Jackson may lose, but she won’t give up without a fight.

In other business, the Supremes declined to hear Costello v. Carter, challenging Pennsylvania’s court-approved congressional map after the GOP legislature deadlocked with the Democratic governor, an issue with the high court’s upcoming arguments on Moore v. Harper. Perhaps they figure a ruling to give state legislatures carte blanche would render the case moot. Tragically, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and strong supporter of voting rights, Max Baer, died last Friday. The governor appoints his replacement until an election in 2023, but the legislature may not confirm the current governor’s choice. If extremely far-right Doug Mastriano gets elected in five weeks, the replacement can be a disaster for all rights in the state. In Pennsylvania, the governor also appoints the Secretary of State, who manages elections.

The Supreme Court has another chance to take on a gun issue, this time from Mexico. Alejandro Celorio, the country’s lead attorney, wants to sue U.S. gun manufacturers.  Last year, a judge dismissed a $10 million lawsuit against eight companies making and selling weapons favored by drug cartels with a law giving U.S. companies immunity from liability for guns illegally used by criminals. The lawsuit asserts 70 to 90 percent of guns recovered at Mexican crime scenes are illegally trafficked from the U.S. with the eight companies making over two-thirds of those weapons.    

DDT didn’t waste time sending his appeal to overturn the ruling from the 11th Circuit Court to allow the DOJ to start examining classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago on August 8; he went directly to Justice Clarence Thomas. He wants the court to give the documents back to his special master. Thomas can refer DDT’s request to the full court, but the question is whether he will.   

Another question is whether anyone will trust DDT with classified documents after 14 of his officials reported on his four-year failure to follow guidelines for handling sensitive government documents. One adviser still seeing him regularly describes him as a “pack rat” and a “hoarder.” Some classified documents could be seen by anyone walking by him, and he didn’t always have them for official purposes.  

This week, DDT was directly connected to withholding federal documents when he asked Alex Cannon, a former DDT lawyer, to lie to the National Archives last February and tell the agency that DDT returned everything the archives wanted. Now DDT is accusing the Archives, as well as the FBI, for planting documents at Mar-a-Lago.  

There’s also DDT’s problems with his social media platform. After months of hype about Digital World, the company behind Truth Social, over three dozen disillusioned investors want a way out of the $1.3 billion to take the startup public. Last October, Digital World’s stock skyrocketed from $10 to $175 but dropped to $17.10 this week, ten percent of its high. A year later, the company faces the threat of liquidation, and backers had to pony up another $2.9 million in September to extend a deadline until December 8 for finalizing the deal. Digital World already moved from luxurious office space to a UPS store.

Bad news has piled up: a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into illegal stock trading, a lawsuit by a scorned business partner against going public, investors promising $138 million have already pulled out, and reports that the social media platform isn’t paying its bills. Truth Social’s web host, RightForge, threatens legal action with claims that it is owed $1.6 million after the social platform paid for only three months since Truth Social inception in February 2021. In response to questions about the financial viability of Digital World, DDT said, “I don’t need financing. I’m really rich!” He just doesn’t pay his bills.

Investors may be unnerved by the trend for Truth Social to run QAnon advertising explicitly referencing a coming storm and including Q in the logo. The ads follow DDT sharing posts from over 100 QAnon accounts with images of DDT wearing a Q lapel pin. This week, he promoted QAnon and its predisposition of violence by tagging its image of a burning Q on top of the U.S. flag. Recent DDT’s and Truth Social’s promotion of QAnon has occurred at the same time as an increase in QAnon-linked violence. In June, Kash Patel, former DDT official and Truth Social board member, said, “We try to incorporate [QAnon] into our overall messaging scheme to capture audiences. Analysts state the social platform’s biggest problem is its narrow audience, lacking diversity of opinion and content—an echo chamber for DDT’s followers. 

DDT has twice endorsed Jair Bolsonaro for his last Sunday’s election, but the “Trump of the Tropics” lost his election by over five points. Unfortunately, his opponent, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was short of 50 percent by 1.2 percent. The runoff is on October 30.

After VP Kamala Harris said that North Korea has a “very important relationship” with the U.S., DDGT called her a “North Korea sympathizer.” This from the man who “fell in love” with Kim Jong-Un.

Eager for more attention, DDT is suing CNN for defamation; he wants $475 million. He claimed the network used its influence to defeat him politically.

More clarity has come out about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ use of federal monies authorized for Florida use to ship 48 migrants from San Antonio (TX) to Martha’s Vineyard after lying to them about their advantages and destination. Migrants were lured onto the flight with lies from a woman calling herself “Perla.” Her last name is Huerta, and she is allegedly a “former combat medic and counterintelligence agent” discharged after two decades in the U.S. Army that included several deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was sent from Tampa to Texas to help execute DeSantis’ plot. Migrants suing DeSantis plan to name Huerta as a defendant in the civil suit, leaving her open to deposing her for details about Florida administration’s potential involvement in the deception. Under immigration law, the asylum seekers aren’t “unauthorized aliens” as DeSantis claims.

Possibly to put the GOP back into control of the U.S. government, OPEC may cut oil production at a Wednesday meeting, driving up the price of gas in the U.S. Since June, gas prices have dropped by one-third from $120 to $80 a barrel, easing inflation. OPEC countries want to have greater control over the world’s oil production as the U.S. became a bigger player in the oil market. OPEC also blames the dollar’s rising strength for decreasing revenues.

Another Republican violated his state’s voting laws by creating a fake ID and using it to vote in multiple elections, this one Alabama’s GOP chairman John Wahl. The state government never issued him an ID, and he wasn’t on any state list of employees. Wahl claimed State Auditor Jim Zeigler gave him permission to make the ID himself, but Secretary of State John Merrill said he told Wahl it is not a valid voter ID. Although Wahl blamed poll workers for forcing him to use the ID through harassment, he also had a driver’s license that he could have used for a legal ID when voting. And he lied about not having made the ID himself.  

October 3, 2022

New Supreme Court Term:   Repeal the 20th Century, Part II

The launching of the new Supreme Court term began with a case about the Clean Water Act, whether it covers connections such as creeks and ditches between bodies of water. Two conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, had already joined Chief Justice John Roberts in backing a stringent test requiring wetlands to have a “continuous surface water connection.” Another justice, Neil Gorsuch, appeared in favor of building a house on wetlands in Idaho, in opposition to retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom he clerked. In her questioning, new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson appeared to have joined other progressive justices, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor in favor of federal regulation of wetlands under the law. In concern about the “vagueness” of the law, six conservative justices could “shrink” the Clean Water Act, as Ian Millheiser wrote.

In a second SCOTUS case on its first day, the Supremes need to define “money order” in Delaware v. Pennsylvania. States can take possession of unclaimed or abandoned property within their borders, but states argue about “intangible property,” such as uncashed states. In Delaware, MoneyGram is one of its many incorporated businesses providing 8 percent of state revenue in 2021. People buy “official checks” used to transmit funds; if no one cashes the check, it becomes unclaimed property. Similar products such as money orders and traveler’s checks to the state where the item was purchased, according to a 1974 law. Thirty states argue that Moneygram checks are a money order, but Delaware has a narrower definition of money order. Conservative justices seemed to lean toward Delaware.

The Supreme Court also declined to hear three major cases:

The $1.3 billion civil defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell can go forward after he continues to falsely claim that the voting equipment was used to help give the 2020 election to President Joe Biden.

The DOJ can continue its practice of using “filter teams” not assigned to a given case to determine whether classified documents seized at Mar-a-Lago are privileged. The 11th Circuit Court had permitted the DOJ use of this process in other situations. At least eight federal circuits had permitted the DOJ to use these teams, also called “taint teams,” but the 4th Circuit Court finally ruled against the DOJ in 2019.

Two challenges to the 2017 federal ban on bump stocks that transform semi-automatic rifles into the ability of machine guns lost as both the 6th and 10th Circuit Courts upholding the ban.

Almost 60 percent of people think the Supreme Court is out of touch with the values and beliefs of most individuals, and 66 percent want term limits on judges including over half the Republicans. A current House bill puts an 18-year term on Supreme Court justices and requires appointments of new justices in the first and third year of every president’s term. After their 18-year term, justices hear cases only if the number of justices falls below nine. With this law, Thomas would immediately lose his active status, and Alito would be retired in another year.

While destroying democracy law year, the Supremes decided the fewest number of cases after oral argument in over 150 years. By early June, justices had issued opinions in only half of these 62 cases, resulting in the least productive court in history. The lack of cases cannot be an avoidance of interference. The Roberts court has created more chaos in the U.S. with rulings across a broad number of issues than most of the courts in the past century.  [visual – Supreme Court unproductive]

 

The court is also the most conservative in 90 years, when Franklin D. Roosevelt considered taking action, and at the same time overly aggressive. Congressional gridlock with the GOP unwilling to compromise has exacerbated the serious problems.

In addition, the Roberts court has also ruled in favor of religious groups over 80 percent in its cases—the most pro-religion since the 1950s—and has the six most pro-religion justices since at least World War II. Taxpayers are increasingly being forced to pay for Christian activities while churches pay no taxes. Two of the most notoriously far-right judges—Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett—took the seats of justices most advocating religious liberty and human rights when Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were gone.

The U.S. is only 22 percent Catholic, but six of nine Supreme Court justices are Catholic—two-thirds of the total—making decisions for 100 percent of the nation. Episcopalian Neil Gorsuch, raised and educated a Catholic, joins his five Catholic colleagues to make the Catholic majority 78 percent. The other two justices are Jewish and Protestant. The Catholic Church elevates virginity, requires female subservience in marriage, restricts women from controlling their own bodies, and damns LGBTQ people. Evangelical Christians follow the same philosophies.

These personal beliefs will guide the Supreme Court majority decisions of the Supreme Court after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) Republicans put three highly conservatives on the court to join two others. Chief Justice John Roberts looks almost moderate compared to those five although he frequently votes with them as in banning abortion. Heresy to Catholics is freedom of conscience, general human rights, and the belief that sacredness cannot be found outside organized religion, especially Catholicism.

Amy Davidson Sorkin writes about “a feeling with this Court that the conservative Justices could make a landmark ruling out of almost any case.” Roberts’ denial of court problems bodes poorly for this term as the conservative Supremes try to make their mark with these landmark cases.

Addressing Roberts’ whining about how SCOTUS is legitimate, former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) said GOP senators “destroyed the legitimacy of the court” when they stole two seats—using a fake rule to ignore Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland and then ignoring their own rule by putting Amy Coney Barrett onto the court days before a presidential election.

Dahlia Lithwick, who has reported on the Supreme Court for almost 25 years, wrote, “In the matter of the Supreme Court v. the Supreme Court, it’s safe to say the Supreme Court is most assuredly losing.” She cited some of its disasters: overturning Roe v. Wade, expanding gun ownership in a nation overwhelmed by sheer numbers of them, fetishizing “religious liberty” over basic equality and other freedoms, and a multitude of other problems such as conflicts of interest, internal leaks, and inappropriate speeches.  She left out climate change.  

The court is so anti-disability rights that lawyers don’t file lawsuits that would give the justices the chance to set back rights for disabled people. Twenty-three years ago, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion for Olmstead v. L.C. revolutionary ruling that unjustified segregation of people with disabilities violated the principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Clarence Thomas, the only remaining justice from that 1999 court, wrote the dissent. At that time, Amy Coney Barrett clerked for another dissenter, Antonin Scalia. While on the D.C. Circuit Court, Brett Kavanaugh ruled that the District of Columbia could improperly authorize elective surgeries for women in their care because they “lack …” the mental capacity to make medical decisions.” On the 10th Circuit Court, Neil Gorsuch ruled against a professor receiving six months of paid leave after a cancer diagnosis because it “would turn employers into safety net providers.”

Marc Ash issued the most dire warning: “This Court is dead forever. A new Court must rise.”

The conservative Supremes claim they follow the Founding Fathers statements, their own version of originalism, but Sotomayor pointed out that the Constitution doesn’t allow the Supreme Court having “the last word,” as conservative justices have claimed. Their claims come, not from the Constitution, but from Marbury v. Madison (1803) when the court declared legislative and executive actions unconstitutional. True originalism erases the high court’s superiority over the other two branches of government. In 1868, the court decided that the court’s jurisdiction was subject to congressional limitation, and other justices have agreed in the past century. Even Warren Burger, appointed by Richard Nixon, wrote that Congress could pass simple legislation “limiting or prohibiting judicial review of its directives.”

The Constitution states that the “judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” Article III, Section 2 limits original jurisdiction to “all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party.” Otherwise, “the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.” Additional writings clarity the opinions of some Founding Fathers, but the court has already negated their value as in cases of the separation of church and state.

Thus Congress could deny Supreme Court jurisdiction over a new voting rights act, the right to privacy such as abortion, and other measures. The legislative and executive branches could leave the Supreme Court to adjudicate only insignificant minor matters. Not a good idea for stability but neither is the present court’s majority claim of unchecked power.

Or maybe the new court won’t proceed with its past heedlessness, ignoring its real-world consequences on all minorities and democracy itself. We can only dream.

October 2, 2022

New Supreme Court Term: Repeal the 20th Century (Part I)

The U.S. Supreme Court launches the 2022/23 year of conservative decisions this coming week, and scandals grow as more information comes out about both justices and their spouses. (Above: President Joe Biden and Vice-president Kamala Harris, center, with Supreme Court justices; below left: illustration by João Fazenda) )

The best known may be Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Thomas Justice, who still declares that the 2020 presidential election was overturned, even to the House January 6 investigative committee. With extensive work to overturn the elections through texting and other contacts with both federal and state officials and legislators, she has political connections with over half the anti-abortion organizations lobbying the justices and operates a consulting business including conservative activist groups with interest in Supreme Court decisions as clients. She hides names of clients and how much money she gets from them but maintains she never talks to her husband about the court while he votes in her favor.

More information came out this summer about the beer-swilling, Hillary Clinton-hating, sobbing caricature regarding the complete lack of vetting for the lifetime term to tell everyone in the U.S. how to behave. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was pushing his hand-picked agencies to get Brett Kavanaugh confirmed and ignored 4,500 comments about him, many of them about his sexual assault, were sent into a tip line about him. None of them was investigated because DDT-appointed FBI director Chris Wray sent them to DDT and claimed that the FBI lacked authority to further investigate Kavanaugh. Yet Wray used “proof” that doesn’t clearly state any restrictions.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, who earlier ruled a trucker driver must die because leaving his rig in the cold was illegal, was so eager to push “religious freedom” that he ruled for a praying football coach based on the lies that a lawyer told the high court. He also ignored testimony about the coach coercing players into joining the prayers. Gorsuch declared that prayer is protected by “free speech,” making it “doubly protected,” two clauses against one. He sees himself protecting Christians against a government “hostile” to religion.  

Justice Samuel Alito used religion to outlaw abortion using religious opposition to abortion by a 13th-century judge and a 17th-century Puritan judge who burned witches and supported marital rape. Alito calls secularism “secular orthodoxy” with anti-Catholic prejudice.

The background of Justice Amy Coney Barrett is steeped in the tiny, rigid Catholic group People of Praise rejecting homosexuality, practicing ecstatic Christian traditions like speaking in tongues and called a “covenant community.” She’s so secretive about her husband’s work that she redacted his business name in her most recent disclosures. In contrast, her husband prominently displays his wife’s name on the website of the boutique firm advertised as a “white-collar criminal defense, internal investigations, and complex commercial litigation [across] virtually every industry.” The justice objected to any guidelines for spouses because they wouldn’t “be very happy.”

Even the wife of Chief Justice John Roberts, Jane Roberts, is active in the political world as a legal head-hunter at Macrae representing high-powered attorneys looking for jobs in wealthy firms. A former managing partner at a firm hiring her said the firm hoped for a benefit from employing her to share networks. Jane Roberts also represented top government officials at federal agencies with direct interests in court business.  

Justices have great latitude in what they must include on their disclosure forms, a way to conceal conflicts of interest, and some of them omit expensive dining and access to luxurious vacation homes. The religious organization Faith and Action bragged about using wealthy couples to “wine and dine” conservative Supremes, helping them to feel “more secure” in pushing a faith-based legal agenda. None of these expensive meals, club visits, and plush vacation properties appears on the justices’ disclosure forms. An excuse is the pitiful salaries for justices–$274,200 for associates and $286,700 for the chief—compared to millions for elite attorneys in private practices.

Despite multiple efforts, the only law regarding conflicts of interest for justices in the past decade has added the requirement for judges and justices to report stock trades on their disclosures. Previously, Roberts was upset about the problems in federal courts’ ethics practices after conflicts of financial interest in almost 700 instances over nine years and suggested more “rigorous” ethics training programs. Now he declares the high court hasn’t lost its legitimacy, it’s just that the public disagrees with what they’re doing.

Roberts spent part of the summer trying to convince people that he was part of—certainly not leading—a legitimate court, but the GOP Senate clarified that SCOTUS is a political group by ignoring President Obama’s nominee and pushing through DDT’s picks from the Federalist Society. The five justices follow GOP guidance; Roberts just trails along with them.

Justices greet the all-time low court’s ratings, according to conservative Gallup polling, with defiance. Only 40 percent approve of its job performance, down nine points from last year, with 58 percent disapproving while conservative justices say they should ignore any public opinion. Dropping 20 percent from two years ago, only 47 percent cite “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the government’s judicial branch—the lowest ever rating by six percent. Plus 42 percent find the court too conservative, up 22 points from 2016 before DDT and the GOP Senate added Barrett, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh.

Justice Elena Kagan tried to explain the problem with the high court:

“If, over time, the Court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that is a dangerous thing for democracy… The very worst moments have been times when judges have even essentially reflected one party’s or one ideology’s set of views in their legal decisions. The thing that builds up reservoirs of public confidence is the Court acting like a court and not acting like an extension of the political process.”

Alito, in essence, told her to shut up, saying that “implying that the Court is becoming an illegitimate institution or questioning our integrity crosses an important line.”

After taking away women’s reproductive rights, the Supremes plan high-profile cases this year to turn the country into a far-right theocracy and remove democracy. They’ve already taken away women’s reproductive rights and maintain that Congress can’t make laws. Issues thus far this year:

Voting Rights: Using the earlier overturning of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, districts with predominantly Black voters are disappearing, and the Supremes will increase the trend by legalizing racial gerrymandering and doing away with Black legislators. Equally—or more—dangerous, a major case this year could turn over all election decisions to state legislatures, eliminating any involvement from judges, governors, state supreme courts, even voter initiatives. The court could permit legislators to give electoral votes to a candidate of a candidate who lost the state’s popular vote.

Clean Water/Environmental Protections: The Clean Water Act doesn’t define “waters of the United States” in prohibiting discharges of pollutants so the high court can permit polluting wetlands bordering a river or lake and connections between two bodies of water such as creeks and ditches. In a less conservative court, the last case on the subject, Rapanos v. United States (2006), had no majority and thus no decison.

Affirmative Action: Another two cases can forbid universities to completely consider race in student admissions, possibly even overturn race-based hiring initiatives at private companies. Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) ruled that universities can take limited account of race to block an inferior educational experience for all students, but the new Supremes love to overturn recent cases while looking to decisions from the 17th century.

Medicaid: With current law, the federal government funds much of poor people’s healthcare if states and health providers comply with patient protection guidelines. The lawsuit, which could erase these rules, is from a woman who wants a nursing home to give her husband, who has dementia, “powerful and unnecessary psychotropic medications for purposes of chemical restraint,” currently against the federal Medicaid law.

Cultural Genocide of Native Americans: In the past, the U.S. used the Constitution to “Christianize” supposed “heathens” and removed Native children from their homes to erase their cultural knowledge. To stop these practices, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978 requires that children removed from their homes must be placed with an American Indian family, preferably with the child’s extended family or at least their own tribe. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs in three red states don’t want to comply with ICWA’s requirements. The current court sees established precedents as optional and sometimes a nuisance/ A ruling could upend relations between the government and federally recognized tribes.

Immigration: The Supremes wants to overturn federal law and remove control of immigration enforcement policies from the Department of Homeland Security after a conservative Texas judge said that would be okay. Even if the Supremes rule in favor of federal law, they have already taken the right from the DHS secretary and support a GOP excuse for impeaching Biden by accusing him of focusing on only migrants deemed a “threat to public safety.”

LGBTQ Rights: Religious conservatives also want to erase LGBTQ people. Two SCOTUS rulings favoring discrimination have been narrow, but the current court prefers a shotgun—or an AR-17—approach. The court returns to wedding cakes—specifically designing them. The question is whether the new court will rule that all “religious liberty” is good even if it broadly discriminates. Sensing a friendly high court, Melissa Klein and her husband are also asking the Supremes to take an Oregon case charging them a $135,000 fine for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple who had been together for ten years. Online funding brought them almost $500,000, and now they complain about being poor. The high court could also overturn the 2013 Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing marriage equality, and 35 states still have laws banning same-gender marriage. A May 2022 Gallup poll revealed that support for same-sex marriage is at 71% – an all-time high.

And the Supremes have just started; their docket has more room. They also might take a few minutes here and there to make a ruling in a shadow docket, not bothering with any arguments or testimony. 

More in Part II.

July 2, 2022

Supreme Court Destroys Constitution, Part II

[Mass Shootings: July 1, 2022 – In Allen (KY), population under 200, a man killed three law enforcement officers and a service dog while injuring at least five other people. Deputies had tried to serve a warrant related to a domestic violence incident. Many police officers have opposed the loosening of gun laws; this tragedy is only one example of their reason. July 2, 2022 – In Chicago’s Loop, two people were killed and three others wounded in the same area where four people were shot in May. Four other people were wounded in West Garfield Park.

A few slightly more positive Supreme Court rulings:

Concepcion v. United States: Prison inmates can more easily get shorter sentences, using a bipartisan 2018 federal law to reduce racial disparities in prison terms for cocaine crimes. Trial judges asked to resentence inmates may examine a wide range of factors, some of them not related to crack cocaine offenses. Appellate courts disagreed about what judges should do. The 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 8th circuits allow district courts to consider variables if they wish. The 5th, 9th, and 11th circuits cannot consider any intervening case law or update sentencing guidelines and aren’t required to consider personal circumstances of a prisoner during resentencing. Again, a person’s rights depend on location.

The 19-year sentence for possessing at least five grams of crack cocaine with intent to distribute for Carlos Concepcion was determined by previous state court convictions making him a federal career offender. The 2019 First Step Act might have made him eligible for a shorter term. One of his earlier convictions had been thrown out, and others were no longer considered violent crimes under SCOTUS decisions. The judge refused any changes to his sentence. Brett Kavanaugh wrote the dissent for the four justices, including Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, and John Roberts, saying that the majority misconstrued the 2018 law.

Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety: A military veteran’s lawsuit can continue against his former state-agency employer; five justices rejected sovereign immunity shielding Texas. When state trooper, Le Roy Torres, was called to active duty in Iraq, his lungs were damaged by the burn pits disposing of toxic waste. He was honorably discharged but couldn’t perform the responsibilities of a state trooper, and the Department of Public Safety refused Torres’ request for assignment to a comparable job. He sued because his rights under a 1994 law had been violated. A state court of appeals agreed with the department’s excuse of state sovereign immunity, but the Supreme Court ruled that states had waived their rights under the 1994 law, enacted under congressional war powers. The majority cited “unbroken line of precedents,” which some of them ignored in other opinions. Dissenting were Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas, who maintained states retained immunity in state, not federal, courts. The solution was for Torres, but no for the confusion of sovereign immunity doctrines.

Remain in Mexico Policy: President Joe Biden won, at least briefly, when the Supreme Court sent a case back to a federal court in Texas debating whether immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. must stay in Mexico until courts can hear their cases—sometimes as long as five years. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) established the Migrant Protection Protocols in January 2019. Five justices—Chief Justice John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh joining the three more liberal justices—ruled against Texas and Missouri to keep the policy in existence. Biden has the right to terminate DDT’s program until the lower court rules, but individual states can keep pushing for the program’s continuance. The five justices stated that the Biden administration acted lawfully.

Dr. A. v. Hochul: On the last day of this past year’s SCOTUS session, six justices told New York state it could keep its coronavirus vaccine requirement for health-care workers that lacked a religious exemption. Alito, Gorsuch, and Thomas dissented. Thomas wrote the 16 health-care workers suing to be exempt on the basis of religion object to vaccines “because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children.” Vaccines to not contain these cells. As with tests for rubella vaccines, the coronavirus vaccines were checked for efficacy with fetal cells, using one elective abortion over 50 years ago. Contrary to Clarence’s citing a lie about coronavirus vaccines, they contain only messenger RNA, genetic material instructing cells to make proteins used to train the immune system to fight off the virus along with lipids to help RNC cross cell membranes, salt, sugar, and other substances to help stabilize the other ingredients.  

Thomas may have lost lost—temporarily—the vaccine battle, but he has much bigger plans. And all he needs are laws from states to contest existing Supreme Court decisions. One major plan is to destroy LGBTQ rights from Lawrence v. Texas (2003) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). Overturning these two cases would blocks any same-gender relationships under the false guise of sodomy in the first case and eradicates marriage equality in the second. Texas AG Ken Paxton, currently indicted for a number of alleged fraudulent and unethical actions, is only too happy to be complicit: he said he would defend his state’s sodomy law, now defunct after Lawence.  Running for election this fall, Paxton said he could support a law outlawing intimate same-sex relationships. The state law charges someone with a Class C misdemeanor if the person “engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex.” The rationale has been that sex is only for procreation, but laws typically don’t affect opposite-sex couples although they can also engage in sodomy, “sexual intercourse involving anal or oral copulation.”

Andrew McDonald, a senior associate justice on the Connecticut Supreme Court, pointed out Thomas’ hypocrisy. Biracial marriage is not in the long list of constitutional rights Thomas threatens to overturn although an Indiana member of the U.S. House raised that specter. In a Facebook post, Andrews wrote about the Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia (1967), permitting the Black justice to marry a white woman in Virginia:    

“Mr. Justice Thomas had much to say today about my loving marriage. Oddly he didn’t have much to say about his ‘Loving’ marriage.”

Thomas has also attacked Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Supreme Court decision making contraception a U.S. constitutional right for married couples. Single couples didn’t have the same right until 1972, in the Supreme Court ruling in Eisenstadt v. Baird. The decision in Loving, like those in Griswold, Eisenstadt, Lawence, and Obergefell, was partially on the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Three justices–Barrett, Gorsuch, and Thomas–may join a far-right legal group to allow states to remove religious freedom by declaring that states are exempt from the First Amendment declaring “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Their position is that Congress can’t establish a religion but that states can. Some theocrats, including the far-right group America First Legal, argue that states have the constitutional right to decide “whether and to what extent they will establish religion within their borders.”

The others in the six conservative Supremes claim they have no intention attacking any other rights. Yet legislators promised not to remove rights with laws to prohibit the “non-existent” critical race theory in public schools before they attacked books about LGBTQ people, sex, women’s rights, etc. Rochelle Garza, the Democrat running against Paxton in November, tweeted:

“Roe was just the first—they won’t stop till they roll back all of our civil rights.”

Freedom of the press also seems to be on Thomas’ cutting board after his dissent to denial of certiorari warranting a review of Coal Ridge Ministries Media v. Southern Poverty Law Center. Thomas wrote that the court should “revisit” (aka “overrule) New York Times v. Sullivan (1964). Public figures—like Thomas—could much more easily sue—and threaten—the press which would lose its ability to be at all critical about these figures such as elected officials—and judges. Destroying the free press, DDT’s desire, is just one more piece of authoritarianism.

DDT’s Supreme Court made a 180-degree turn this year when it opposed the “stare decisis,” “to stand by things decided” to make very slow changes to keep social stability through consistent and evenly applied law. Important reversals of former SCOTUS rulings in the past, such as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka desegregating public school, moved the country to individual rights. Two major rulings this past week overturned the 1913 gun safety law and erased the policy for agencies to successfully operate with the intent of eliminate any federal regulation of business. No longer can government effectively respond to climate change, and future laws may move that restriction to all federal agencies. The six Supremes voting in favor of this law knew that the Senate filibuster would block any legislation from dealing with crises and destroy the U.S. standing in the world.

Eugene Robinson likens the U.S. Supreme Court’s socially conservative majority to a “secretive and unaccountable junta in long black robes.” He explained:

“Junta is a strong word, but considering that one-third of the justices were appointed by former President Donald Trump—the most authoritarian and dangerously corrupt president in U.S. history—it doesn’t seem like an exaggeration.”

To be continued.

June 30, 2022

Supreme Court Destroys Constitution, Part I

The swearing in of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson onto the U.S. Supreme Court makes two firsts for the high court: she is the first Black woman to be a justice, and the high court has four female justices for the first time in history. The 116th justice, she replaces Stephen Breyer who retired just before her being seated. Jackson was appointed in February and faced rugged confirmation hearings, rife with racism and transphobic questions and statements from Republican senators. The 53-47 vote approving her appointment was largely on party lines. Her swearing-in came immediately after the high court announced a large number of controversial rulings, many of them removing the rights of people in the U.S. [Photo: Jackson takes a judicial oath from Breyer, right, while her husband, Patrick Jackson, holds two bibles.]

On the last day of June, the activist conservative Supreme Court completed its release of opinions, promoting guns, opposing pro-choice, and supporting other pro-death positions. As the six Supremes twist the Constitution for their own purposes, they following their only rationale: they can do it.

Three of this week’s decisions:

West Virginia v. EPA:  Like the multiyear strategy by GOP officials, conservative legal activists, and funders to rewrite law in Roe v. Wade, the GOP-appointed justices curbed the EPA’s ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants by ruling that the EPA lacks broad authority to shift energy production from coal-burning power plants to cleaner sources such as solar and and power. As Justice Elena Kagan said in her dissent, the majority didn’t even “see what the new rule says” before ruling. In fact, there was no rule after the D.C. Circuit Court rejected one from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Kagan also wrote:

“The subject matter of the regulation here makes the Court’s intervention all the more troubling. Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change. And let’s say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decision-maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”

Kagan noted that the conservatives’ impositions on EPA’s authority “fly in the face of the statute Congress wrote.” The majority stated that “it is simply ‘not plausible’ that Congress enabled EPA to regulate power plants’ emissions through generation shifting. But that is just what Congress did when it broadly authorized EPA in Section 111 to select the ‘best system of emission reduction’ for power plants.” Regarding the conservatives’ claim that they are textualists, she wrote, “The current Court is textualist only when being so suits it.”

The current court examines an executive branch policy that was never enacted and follows this court’s pattern of obstructing EPA’s efforts, beginning with staying the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan—an unprecedented action. This rule had set a goal for each state to limit carbon emissions but permitted states to determine how to meet those goals.

The decision is dangerous not only for refusal to delay climate warming in this one respect but also denial of the EPA ability to fight the climate crisis overall. The Clean Air Act, originally signed by President Lyndon Johnson and amended by presidents of both parties, has saved “millions of lives and trillions of dollars.” According to experts, the ruling can set the U.S. back years and have deadly, costly impacts. About 25 percent of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions come from generating electricity with coal about 20 percent of U.S. electricity.

According to Kagan, the majority isn’t following precedent but making up justifications. “The Court has never even used the term ‘major questions doctrine’ before.” This ruling states that biggest issues should be settled by Congress, not agencies, with no definition for the biggest issues. Justices  assigned technical decisions to unknowledgeable lawmakers instead of experts. The activist conservative justices could also apply the “Major Questions Doctrine” to all areas such as health, safety, and consumer protections. In another area, the six Supremes could block IX regulations, such as handling sexual misconduct allegations.

Noted legal expert Rick Hasen wrote about how the self-identified “textualists” deviate from valid textual analysis, proving Kagan’s point about the new opportunist “textualists.” In West Virginia, they failed to use the words of a statute in context with surrounding text, to read punctuation and grammar, and to examine dictionaries and other literature to determine meaning. Hasen wrote, “Instead, the Justices pull a rabbit out of a hat and avoid the words of the statute almost in their entirety.” The justices’ “substantive cannon … comes from the value judgments of the conservative Justices and from nowhere else. These justices are skeptical of broad administrative power, and of executive power generally. These justices know that in a closely divided Congress, its rulings like this will stymie legislative action on issues like climate change or preventing the spread of Covid. And they are fine with that… So much for honest textualism.”

Ardoin v. Robinson: The six Supremes blocked a district court’s order requiring the Louisiana legislature to draw new congressional maps that included a second majority-Black district. The lower court found that the original map likely violates Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act. The justices put the challenge to the map on hold until deciding a similar dispute involving Alabama redistricting. With the oral argument on October 4, the old racist maps will obviously be used in the 2022 general election. Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards had vetoed the original map, but the legislature overrode him. Blacks comprise almost one-third of the state’s population, but the Supreme Court map has only one of six districts with a majority of Black voters.

On June 6, a federal judge agreed the challengers had a good case and told the legislature to draw a revised map for two majority-Black districts. Louisiana’s secretary of state Kyle Ardoin asked the 5th Circuit Court freeze the judge’s order, but a three-judge panel with appointments by Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump rejected the request. Ardoin appealed, and the panel set oral arguments for early July. On June 17, however, Ardoin asked the Supreme Court to put the district court’s order on hold by June 20, claiming the 5th Circuit Court’s refusal had  thrown the state “into divisive electoral pandemonium” and created “confusion statewide, all of which undermines confidence in the integrity of upcoming congressional elections.” He added that the “racial gerrymander … is particularly ‘odious.’”

Early voting doesn’t begin until October, over two months away, and the original map is the one that is racially gerrymandering. Yet the six Supremes bypassed the Court of Appeals to ignore a very conservative panel of judges and violate a law. The one-page order from the six Supremes provides no explanation of why they stripped half the Black representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta: Oklahoma—and perhaps other states—now have the authority to prosecute non-Native people committing crimes against a Native person on tribal lands. This conservative majority was only 5-4 with Neil Gorsuch joining the three “liberal” justices. Gorsuch wrote that the Cherokee were promised they would be free from state interference when they were exiled to Oklahoma:  

“Where this Court once stood firm, today it wilts. Where our predecessors refused to participate in one State’s unlawful power grab at the expense of the Cherokee, today’s Court accedes to another’s.”

In 2015, Oklahoma state prosecutors charged Victor Castro-Huerta for the malnourishment and neglect of his five-year-old disabled stepdaughter and sentenced him to 35 years in prison. Castro-Huerta is not Native, but his stepdaughter is. The abuse occurred on the Cherokee Reservation. According to the Supreme Court opinion in McGirt v. Oklahoma (2020), Castro-Huerta could be only federal prosecuted.

The new decision limits McGirt, which declared much of eastern Oklahoma an American Indian reservation and blocked the state from prosecuting Native Americans on these lands which includes much of Tulsa. Instead, offenders are prosecuted in either tribal or federal court. The state is unable to “prosecute anyone for crimes committed on tribal land if either the victim or perpetrator is Native American.” Oklahoma overturns part of McGirt with the opinion that the state can intervene when victims are tribal members.

Native American rights advocate Gentner Drummond won the June 28 GOP primary for Oklahoma AG by defeating John O’Connor, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s choice who he had appointed last year for AG. Drummond had said that he was “not in favor of ripping [away] Native Americans’ rights they have been granted by treaty.” O’Connor called for disestablishing the six recognized Indian Nations in eastern Oklahoma. Drummond also called O’Connor Stitt’s personal attorney, leaving none for Oklahoma.

The ruling applies to all states if Congress doesn’t pass a law opposing that action for a given tribe of reservation. The result is a massive disruption of Indian Country criminal justice, including tribes’ prosecuting non-Indians for intimate partner violence and child abuse. The dissent stated that Congress could easily use a quick reversal as it did in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007).

Lobbyist Grover Norquist said:

“My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

The six Supremes have the same goal for the Constitution, and they’ll do it in a much shorter time.

To be continued.

June 27, 2022

SCOTUS Continues Disastrous Rulings, CNN Goes Conservative

Mass Shootings: Last weekend, seven people were killed and 46 injured in 10 shootings of four or more people. Locations were Tacoma (WA); Blakely (GA), San Antonio (TX), Brooklyn, Patterson (NY), Winona (TX), Sutherlin (VA), Minneapolis, Hopewell (VA), and Houston.

Breaking news! The House January 6 investigative committee has scheduled an unexpected hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 at 1:00 pm EST after announcing none until the week of July 11. The sixth hearing comes after “recently obtained evidence.” No one knows that the “evidence” or the new witness is. One guess is that that rush comes to keep Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and his allies from suppressing the revelation.

One new bit of information is that federal agents used a warrant from the DOJ’s inspector general to seize the phone of DDT’s former lawyer John Eastman, instrumental in developing the illegal plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election. U.S. District Court Judge David Carter had called the “likely” criminal conspiracy between DDT and Eastman “a coup in search of a legal theory.”

A federal grand jury in New York issued subpoenas to Digital World Acquisition Corp., the special purpose acquisition company merging with Trump Media & Technology Group, and its board members. The investigation can delay the merger and caused the company’s stock to drop ten percent, making this year’s loss over half its value.

Kennedy v. Bremerton School District: The current Supreme Court continued its unanimous list of decisions against separation of church of state by ruling that a football coach could kneel to pray after games, possibly coercing his players into following his Christian religion. Writing for the six Supremes, Neil Gorsuch, stated lower courts should no longer follow the “Lemon test” from Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), criticized by religious conservatives, about whether the government’s action might look to a reasonable observer as government endorsement of religion. Overturned is 60 years of the Supreme Court position that the government cannot organize and promote prayer in public schools. Previously the high court had also limited speech rights of on-duty public employees.  Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent:

“This Court consistently has recognized that school officials leading prayer is constitutionally impermissible. Official-led prayer strikes at the core of our constitutional protections for the religious liberty of students and their parents … The Court now charts a different path.”

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State stated:

“Today, the court continued its assault on church-state separation, by falsely describing coercive prayer as ‘personal’ and stopping public schools from protecting their students’ religious freedom.”

Gorsuch’s opinion shows that the six Supremes swallowed the lies of Kennedy’s lawyer. Joined by many people, Kennedy wasn’t “offer[ing] his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied,” but the decision was based on “private” and “quiet” prayer.” The coach inserted “motivational” prayer into his coaching which resulted in a presentation on the 50-yard line, shown in photographs. He also went on a media tour bragging about being a coach who “made a commitment with God” and inviting everyone to come pray with him on the field in what a federal appeals court called a “stampede.” The school principal “saw people fall,” and the district was unable “to keep kids safe.” Crowds knocked down members of the school’s marching band. Gorsuch claimed that only the opposing team players joined Kennedy—which makes no difference.

Other pro-Christian opinions from the six Supremes are mandating states to include religious private schools in public tuition grants, access of a spiritual adviser for a person being executed, and the requirement that Boston fly a Christian flag at city hall if secular groups have that privilege. In banning abortion, Alito said that states should have the rights to make their own laws, but their decisions in religion and gun safety are opposite to this statement.

Ruan v. United States and Kahn v. United States:  Doctors may now overprescribe drugs after the government is forced to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the doctor knew or intended to prescribe drugs in an unauthorized manner. The ruling overturned the conviction of two physicians accused of operating opioid “pill mills” in Alabama. Xiulu Ruan made over $4 million in four years when he dispensed almost 300,000 prescriptions, many of them for opioids, in a pharmacy connected to his medical clinic. Practicing in Arizona and Wyoming, Shakeel Kahn operated mostly on a cash-only basis and accepted property for payment including firearms. The convictions were returned to the lower courts for review. Samuel Alito, who voted for the decision, wrote that the court’s “radical new course” may cause “confusion and disruption.”

Clarence Thomas dissented from the Supreme Court’s refusal to revisit New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) that creates a higher bar for public figures to claim libel. He opposes the rights of the media “to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.” Earlier Neil Gorsuch had also urged justices to revisit the decision. Public figures such as Thomas must show “absolute malice” to succeed in a libel dispute against people or the media. Thomas ranted against the Southern Poverty Law Center calling Coal Ministries a “hate group” because it claims “homosexuals say yes” to pedophilia and promotes other anti-LGBTQ lies, called the SPLC position a “blatant falsehood.” He wrote that the group “has nothing but love” for homosexuals despite the leader emphasizes literature that pushes LGBTQ people to be executed.  

The six Supremes justify overturning Roe by saying “the law offered no protection to the woman’s choice in the 19th century.” That could be the justification for overturning everything—desegregation, biracial marriage, mandatory sterilization, male ownership of wives—the list could be endless. Declaring precedents “egregiously wrong,” the six Supremes are making the United States into a place with rights only for adult straight Christian conservative white men. Everybody else is screwed.

Judges in Louisiana and Utah temporarily blocked the states’ anti-abortion “trigger laws,” those immediately going into effect to block abortions. Louisiana has passed multiple trigger laws since 2006, and which ones go into effect or what conduct is prohibited is not clear. In Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, and Texas, trigger laws are also being challenged. Mississippi AG Lynn Fitch had already certified the state’s trigger law, meaning that all abortions, except to save the pregnant woman or in a confirmed case of rape, will be illegal.

The high court has four more cases to announce this term, one determining clean water and the power of agencies. The others are President Joe Biden’s overturning DDT’s border policy “Remain in Mexico,” refusing immigrants entry from Mexico; EPA regulation of carbon emissions from existing power plants; and weakened work protections for veterans with disabilities.

Note: CNN used to be a useful alternative to MSNBC for a take on the news—until Chris Licht was hired to replace Jeff Zucker as the head of CNN. Licht said he wants CNN to be “a beacon … by being an organization that exemplifies the best characteristics in journalism.” Friends with GOP former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), Licht watched the Super Bowl with GOP pollster Frank Luntz and wants to showcase more conservative guests.

After Roe was overturned, CNN immediately aired commentary from these “experts:

  • Mary Szoch, the director of the center for human dignity at the anti-abortion rights and anti-LGBTQ rights Family Research Council who talked about how “American needs to reckon with” the “60 million unborn children’s lives taken by the abortion industry.”
  • Jeffrey Toobin, who exposed his penis during a Zoom meeting with colleagues at The New Yorker and masturbated.
  • Democrats for Life, that “seeks to elect anti-abortion Democrats,”—not a major player in the political world.

Licht told producers to stop referring to DDT’s accusations of a stolen election as the “big lie,” its common nickname. A CNN insider said:  

“It’s worrisome that we’re being told how to talk about one of the worst things that ever happened to American democracy. We have to call lies, lies, whether they’re small lies or big lies. Is there any lie bigger than that lie?”

Reporters such as Brian Stelter and Jim Acosta will be forced out if they don’t keep to Licht’s “less partisan coverage.” The influence seems to come from parent company Warner Bros. Discovery with DDT-donor John Malone calling the shots. Instead of raising ratings, Licht wants to generate revenue by sponsored segments inserted in news broadcasts, meaning the “news” comes from big business, and a paywall for part of CNN’s website, reducing CNN’s audience.

Not a blueprint for a “beacon.”

June 24, 2022

SCOTUS Religion Consumes U.S., Destroys Women

[Mass Shooting: June 23, 2022 – In Philadelphia, two men were killed, another went to the hospital in critical condition, and a fourth suffered non-fatal leg wounds.]  

According to the website of the U.S. Supreme Court, “the Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law.” This court is failing. The six Supremes (SS) overturned Roe v. Wade (1973), possibly the worst decision since Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), which ruled that Blacks cannot be citizens even if they are “free.” After almost 50 years of moderate freedom, all women able to become pregnant can be childbearing slaves, incubators for the males who impregnated them—even molesters and rapists.  

The Supreme Court bucked popular opinion in only three major rulings during the past 60 years: permitting flag burning in Texas v. Johnson (1989), the 1966 court ruling for Miranda requiring law enforcement to inform suspects of their rights to be silent and seek an attorney in Miranda v. Arizona (1966), and supporting mandated integration busing of Black children to white schools in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971). Congress immediately passed the Flag Protection Act, overturning the Supreme Court, and on June 23, 2022, the SS overturned Miranda by removing the ability to sue law enforcement by not reading them these rights.

All three of these unpopular decisions expanded the rights of people; these SS vastly shrink people’s rights, favoring the U.S. minority of evangelical Christians, big business, and law enforcement—although police prefer not to have unfettered concealed carry of weapons. In the 21st century, the majority of Supreme Court justices uses religion and politics, not the law or constitution, to determine their decisions. Their inexcusable rational for “no” is “it’s not in the constitution” and the reverse for “yes.” 

Technically, Chief Justice Roberts only voted to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, but he’s still complicit in the plot against women’s rights because he said Roe should be overturned. Within hours after the ruling, abortion is illegal in 10 states, another seven will soon join the ban, and four more within weeks. The number changes minute by minute. (The map is from early June 24, 2022.) Other states will charge into legislation to take the rights from women in their states, resulting in women losing their rights in half the “united” states. Women’s health will be dependent on where they live, how much money they have, and who their supporters are, exaggerating the current problems of healthcare which also ties into their race.

Roe prevented states from banning abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy and limited the ability to regulate abortion during the second trimester. In 1992, the high court ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey changed the trimester guideline to fetal viability. Samuel Alito, who wrote the decision, claimed the right to abortion doesn’t exist in the U.S. Constitution. As in his opinion, he repeated his ignorance of history demonstrated in the leaked draft by stating that the right to abortion “was entirely unknown in American law” until the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment of 1868 as a fake excuse that “the Constitution and the rule of law demand” the question of abortion return to the states. And his “historical rationale” for overturning Roe from directions by a medieval judge and a 17th-century witch-burner,

Alito has wrongly argued that contraception could prevent almost all unplanned pregnancies. He complained about nonexistent “barbaric” medical procedures but refers only to the fetus and not the pregnant woman who will die without an abortion or who is carrying a dead fetus. For emotional reasons, anti-abortionists uses the term “baby” for any embryo, zygote, and fetus to create a sense of guilt.

Brett Kavanaugh, who violated the law as a judge when he tried to prevent an undocumented girl incarcerated at the southern border from obtaining an abortion, tried to appear “moderate.” He claimed that today’s ruling “does not outlaw abortion throughout the United States.” The SCOTUS majority hates precedent, however, and this ruling, joined by a concurring opinion from Clarence Thomas, endangers federal rights to contraception and marriage equality, words also not used in the constitution. He didn’t mention biracial marriage, but with a White wife, Thomas won’t go there. (Thomas’ wife leads the SS.)

Alito argued that no other rights are at risk, that abortion is unique because it deals with “potential life.”  The religious view that contraception is a type of abortion, as five justices granted in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores (2014), makes all rights to contraception easy pickings for the SS. Roe is also based on Griswold v. Connecticut, which granted a federal right for married women right to birth control. The SS have claimed that privacy isn’t included in the constitution; all rulings remove that right—unless it deals with a leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling.

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) says Roe’s overturn “will work out for everybody.” Praised for his choice of three justices, he answered, “God made the decision.” Former VP Mike Pence, a 2024 presidential hopeful, wants a national ban on abortion, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, another presidential wannabe, is enthusiastically calling for abortion restrictions in her state.

The dissent from Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor explains that, according to the ruling, “from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”

In the New Yorker, Jia Tolentino wrote how much worse women’s lives will be than before Roe:

“We have entered an era not of unsafe abortion but of widespread state surveillance and criminalization—of pregnant women, certainly, but also of doctors and pharmacists and clinic staffers and volunteers and friends and family members, of anyone who comes into meaningful contact with a pregnancy that does not end in a healthy birth. Those who argue that this decision won’t actually change things much—an instinct you’ll find on both sides of the political divide—are blind to the ways in which state-level anti-abortion crusades have already turned pregnancy into punishment, and the ways in which the situation is poised to become much worse…”

Tolentino describes many of the ways women have already been criminally charged and the lengths to which fanatical anti-abortionists will go to hurt women.

“Search histories, browsing histories, text messages, location data, payment data, information from period-tracking apps—prosecutors can examine all of it if they believe that the loss of a pregnancy may have been deliberate. Even if prosecutors fail to prove that an abortion took place, those who are investigated will be punished by the process, liable for whatever might be found.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) described overturning Roe “one of the darkest days our country has ever seen.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) called a hearing in the judiciary committee next month “to explore the grim reality of a post-Roe America.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talked about how the most recently nominated conservatives—three of whom overturned Roe—swore under oath that they “respected authority” and the “precedent of the court, that they respected the right of privacy in the Constitution.” In the past two days, Pelosi said, the court contradicted itself in its rulings. In overturning a 1913 New York law, the same SS ruled that states cannot make laws “governing the constitutional right to bear arms,” Pelosi said. “Today, they’re saying the exact reverse, that the states can overturn a constitutional right for 50 years, a constitutional right for women having the right to choose.”

She concluded, “Their hypocrisy is enraging, but the harm is endless.”  

About the ruling, Virginia’s Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) praised the SS who “rightfully returned power to the people and their elected representatives in the states.” That description doesn’t fit a myriad of other decisions that force Supreme Court rulings on all the states. Recently, the SS ordered that state courts can order the execution of innocent people and that states must pay tuition at religious schools. 

Youngkin’s “power of the people” didn’t appear in the religious decision. A May CNN poll showed 66 percent of people don’t want a complete overturn of Roe compared to 34 percent who do. Back to 1989, no more than 36 percent have wanted the ruling overturned. Seven in 10 people think the decision to have an abortion should be left up to a pregnant person and their doctor rather than being regulated by law.

Both Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) expressed disappointment in Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, saying they trusted what the two justices said during the confirmation. Manchin further said that, although a Catholic and pro-life, he has “come to accept that my definition of pro-life may not be someone else’s definition of pro-life.” These senators, however, are not known for following through.

Republicans have what they said they wanted. Now they head into a vast swamp of problems they created—high infant mortality, lack of care for women and children, increased need for prisons by criminalizing all connected to any abortion, expensive health and life care for fetuses unable to permanently function without ventilators and other needs, more divorces, greater crime, need of support for child care, the growth of poverty, and increased need for foster care as Republicans take children from mothers because of GOP-legislated child abuse. Texas already has a law criminalizing parents who allow transgender children any medical care connected to their gender dysphoria. The GOP’s pattern of dealing with these problems: nothing and whining nonstop about lazy people who won’t work and women who have children only to get undeserved taxpayer money.

Rejoicing Republican women may not want to be in jail when their miscarriages are assumed to be a self-inflicted abortion. Or lacking medication for after a miscarriage from a doctor’s refusal to prescribe it because it’s same as the one causing an abortion. Or their names on data bases the minute anyone knows about the pregnancy to make sure they won’t get an abortion. Rachel Maddow has more on her program. 

Much more will be written about this Supreme Court travesty in upcoming days, but that’s it for me on “a day that will live in infamy.” 

The U.S. beacon of democracy is extinguished.

June 17, 2022

Ginni Thomas Corrupts the Supreme Court, the U.S.

The Supreme Court may be at its lowest ebb during modern times with a massive leak of the anti-abortion draft, a California man at Brett Kavanaugh’s house armed with a gun and knife, and protests outside other justices’ homes. Justice Clarence Thomas has decried the situation, blaming the “left,” but his own conflicts of interest, especially those exascerbated by his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, may be the biggest problem of the current court. A poll shows that 61 percent of the respondents want Congress to open an investigation into Clarence Thomas’ refusal to recuse himself, following Ginni Thomas’ increasing activism to overturn the 2020 presidential election

Events about Thomas, a major figure orchestrating insurrection events, have been increasingly revealed within the past several weeks. Before the third House January 6 investigative hearing, the one focusing on Mike Pence’s refusal to overturn the 2020 presidential election despite the false theory from John Eastman that it was his prerogative, more coup information about Eastman came out in connection to Ginni Thomas:

  • Eastman’s private December 24, 2020 email stated he knew about an internal “heated fight” at the Supreme Court about hearing arguments on DDT’s overturn attempts.
  • Eastman directly corresponded with Ginni Thomas while they coordinated to keep DDT in the White House after he lost the 2020 election.
  • The House investigative committee, according to its chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS), will ask Ginni Thomas to testify before of this information.

Eastman had clerked for Clarence Thomas in 1996 and 1997, and Thomas has strong ties with the Claremont Institute, where Eastman works, having spoken there and regularly quoting the conservative founder. In an 8-1 decision against blocking the release of White House records connected to the January 6 insurrection, Thomas was the one vote to support DDT by opposing the request.

Ginni’s Timeline:   

During 2022, more and more information has come out about Ginni Thomas’ pressure on everyone to overturn the election:

January 2022: Jane Mayer’s seminal essay in The New Yorker established Thomas’ background and her work to politically swing Supreme Court decisions. Thomas’ connection with the Oath Keepers who helped organize the violence at the January 6, 2021 insurrection includes speaking at one of their events.

February 2022: A lengthy piece from the New York Times describes how Thomas worked to bring together the organizing factions behind the January 6 rally and Charles Pierce’s response to Jane Mayer’s essay. Thomas led the C.N.P. Action coalition of leaders from such groups as the Federalist Society, the National Rifle Association and the Family Research Council in “action steps” to pressure state officials in Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania to overturn the people’s votes. Clarence Thomas’ former clerks also tried to overturn the election.

March 2022:  Twenty-nine newly-revealed texts between Thomas and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows before the insurrection communicate her conspiracy theories and urge him and others in DDT’s inner circle to overturn the election.  

May 2022: Communication between Thomas and two Arizona GOP state legislators showed her argument to ignore the voters’ decision to choose Biden for president and appoint their own “clean slate” of electors for DDT.

June 2022: It was discovered that Thomas actually lobbied 27 more Arizona legislators for a total of 29 to set aside the 2020 popular vote and “choose” presidential electors for DDT. That total is more than half the state GOP lawmakers in Arizona. She told them that the responsibility to choose electors was “yours and yours alone” and wrote in her email to them:  

“The nation’s eyes are on you now. Please consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you do not stand up and lead.”

A month later she sent other similar emails to 23 of the Arizona GOP legislators. Her earlier influence with DDT included regular meetings with him and gave him lists of people to hire and fire. Thomas’ email correspondence with Eastman details the plan for overturning the 2020 election, more extensive efforts than previously known. She had also sent a text on election night to Meadows stating, “Do not concede. It takes time for the army who is gathering for his back [sic].”

On January 6, 2021, Thomas also attended the “Stop the Steal” rally and was seen at the Willard Hotel, location of the “command center” where Rudy Giuliani led the group to overthrow the election. She is a friend of the chief of staff for Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who sued to force Pence to keep DDT in the White House. The chief of staff also belongs to the private “Thomas Clerk World” email listserv, past and present Clarence Thomas law clerks who support QAnon and who Thomas persuaded to join her overturning scheme. Next year, the House will be safe from Gohmert: he gave up his seat to fail a run for Texas attorney general. He now pushes for “justice” for those attacking the U.S. Capitol on January and accuses of the government in lying about these cases.

Ginni Thomas has long been intimately involved with several conservative groups with connections to the Supreme Court. In 2000, Thomas, then a staffer at the conservative Heritage Foundation, screened resumes for Bush administration employees while the court had yet to rule on the legality of the Florida recount. Her husband, Clarence, was one of the five justices who put a stop to the recount in Florida, later shown to have a majority for Democratic candidate Al Gore who would have been president with the electoral votes from Florida.

More recently, Ginni Thomas was on the advisory board of the conservative group Turning Point USA, which transported busloads of insurrectionists to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. Clarence Thomas was the only dissenter to the case which required DDT to allow the House investigative committee to receive White House documents. It was one of ten election-related cases that Thomas helped decide. In addition, Ginni Thomas openly complained that the U.S. is in danger of falling into the hands of “transsexual fascists.”

Stephen Gillers, an NYU law professor and a judicial ethicist, said:

“I think Ginni Thomas is behaving horribly, and she’s hurt the Supreme Court and the administration of justice. It’s reprehensible. If you could take a secret poll of the other eight justices, I have no doubt that they are appalled by Virginia Thomas’ behavior. But what can they do?”

Clarence Thomas has allied himself with conservatives in his speeches and rejects the “left” in his “we” and “they” terminology. In his talks, he also defends Senate Republicans for refusing President Obama his right to appoint Merrick Garland ten months before the end of his term with no excuse for a GOP Senate who put Amy Coney Barrett on the high court in under two weeks before DDT lost his election.  

Earlier, Republicans tried to push the narrative that she had no influence over her husband, Clarence Thomas, who is the longest-sitting justice on the U.S. Supreme Court—and one of the most controversial for his possible unethical behavior in that position. In March, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) denied that Ginni would have any influence over her husband’s decisions and condemned Democrats for their demands that Clarence Thomas recuse himself from cases in which she is involved. A question might be if he sticks to his insistence that people are making “spurious accusations about fake ethical problems or partiality.”

After the latest revelation about Ginni Thomas, that she was working with a major figure in DDT’s attempt to overturn the election, Democrats are calling for her husband to resign from the Supreme Court, at the very least recuse himself from election-related cases. Approval of the high court is 36 percent, the lowest it’s been since the Supreme Court put George W. Bush into the White House in a 2000 decision and lower than President Joe Biden’s 39 percent approval rating at this time.  

A MoveOn.org petition to impeach Clarence Thomas has reached almost 238,000 signatures with impetus since the Wednesday hearing revealed emails between Ginni Thomas and John Eastman.

The argument has always been that the president is not above the law. That might be true, but Supreme Court justices, with no ethics guidelines and no oversight, will probably never be brought to justice.

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