Nel's New Day

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.  

February 20, 2016

‘Justice Scalia,’ an Oxymoron

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 1:43 PM
Tags: ,

Stock in aluminum foil must have gone up last week with its use by the tin-hat conspiracy people after the death of Antonin Scalia last week. One example of craziness is that God killed Scalia to elect Ted Cruz for president. Rick Wiles has used numerology to prove that President Obama killed Scalia. According to Wiles, “The 13th was the 44th day of 2016. Obama is the 44th president of the United States.” Wiles concluded that Washington officials are terrified:

“Deep down they know, the regime murdered a justice … This is the way a dictatorial, fascist, police state regime takes control of a nation.”

Scalia left a 30-year trail of decisions destructive to democracy and equal justice while pretending to be an “originalist” who channeled the minds of the Founding Fathers in determining exactly what they intended in the Constitution. Using ridicule mixed with exaggerated legalese, he was declaimed as “brilliant,” but he actually followed the “textual” approach to support his personal conservative ideology.

In 2009, Scalia declared that nothing in the Constitution “forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.” Scalia’s last act was to use “textualism” to put Gustavo Garcia to death in Texas. Executing intellectually disabled people was also just fine with Scalia, demonstrated by his dissent in Atkins v. Virginia (2002). His rationale is that juries continue to sentence mentally disabled people to death. Scalia ignored the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibiting  the imposition of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

In 2005, Scalia upheld an Indiana law barring the vote to people without photo IDs. The GOP excuse for these laws throughout the nation is supposedly the prevention of voter fraud, but in the former century Indiana had not found one case of one voter illegally impersonating another. Throughout the nation, approximately seven percent of possible voters lack the ID—most of them people of color, elderly, students, and poor whites. Getting an ID in Indiana was also onerous: the average poor person in the state lived an average of 17 miles from a county seat. Scalia said, “Seventeen miles is 17 miles for the rich and the poor.”

In 2013, Scalia was part of the voting block of five who overturned the Voting Rights Act. He attributed the law, originally passed in 1965 and clarified in 1970, 1975, 1982, 1992, and 2006, to “a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement…. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes…. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution…..” The only “original” part of the Constitution used by Scalia is the racist views of the 18th-century Constitution; Scalia ignored later amendments enfranchising all people in the U.S. including women and people of color.

North-Carolina-12-300x232The decision to overturn the Voting Rights Act has recently exploded in North Carolina, forced to postpone its congressional district elections for almost three months because the state Supreme Court requires redrawing the gerrymandered congressional districts. (An example at the right is North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District.) Although required to redraw the lines of some districts, the GOP legislature redrew every district line to maintain a 10-3 Republican majority in the House. In its first major action since Scalia’s death, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to address the state court’s decision; Scalia would probably have led SCOTUS to hear the case.

Republicans in North Carolina freely admit that the purpose of redrawing the map was to send Republicans to the U.S. House. GOP state Rep. David Lewis said, “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats.” Lewis added, “I acknowledge freely that this would be a political gerrymander which is not against the law.” A 2004 Supreme Court does permit political gerrymandering.

Another area in which Scalia led the Supreme Court was gun ownership, especially when he wrote the 5-4 majority decision in District of Columbia v Heller (2008), striking down a handgun ban. This case shifted the court’s position from protecting gun ownership connected to belonging to a state militia to maintaining that the Constitution allows people to possess as many guns as they want. Although Heller didn’t address restrictions of state and local governments, McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) ruled that the Second Amendment applies to individual states. Recently, the high court has avoided cases regarding the Second Amendment, but the court, however, might hear an appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upholding assault weapon bans in New York and Connecticut.

Scalia holds the worst record for Supreme Court justices in recent decades on women’s issues. He wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade and always voted anti-choice. He declared that a corporation could be religious in the Hobby Lobby decision denying contraception coverage to women by “religious” corporations. He was the sole dissenter in a case allowing women to attend the Virginia Military Academy. He voted against equal pay in Lilly Ledbetter’s case of sex discrimination.

According to Scalia, “ladies” are not protected by the Constitution. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction. To Scalia, that clause is for racial but not gender discrimination. In a 2011 interview, Scalia said:

“Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws.”

Another decision against women came from Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., with a 5-4 decision reversing a district court’s decision to certify a class action lawsuit from 1.6 million female Wal-Mart employees claiming gender discrimination. The court rejected a class lawsuit with the justification that the plaintiffs lacked enough in common to constitute a class.

Scalia didn’t even want women on the Supreme Court, as Sandra Day O’Connor can testify. Although O’Connor was confirmed for the Supreme Court in 1981, a woman’s restroom wasn’t added to the justices’ robing room until 1993 when Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In general, Scalia described O’Connor’s reasoning as “irrational,” and not to “be taken seriously.” In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), a case that confirmed Roe v. Wade, O’Connor voiced the “undue burden” test for abortion regulations that caused the court to oppose Scalia. He charged that this test was “unprincipled” and “will prove hopelessly unworkable in practice.” His dissent denounced O’Connor and the others in the majority for their “almost czarist arrogance.”

Blacks are better off in slower schools, according to Scalia. During oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, Scalia said:

“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.”

Scalia will have nothing more to say about this affirmative action case. Argued on December 9, 2015, the case will most likely be decided by the remaining eight justices.

Much of Scalia’s vitriol was directed toward LGBT people:

Homosexuality like murder: Scalia sympathized for Colorado residents who wanted to protect themselves from gay sex like they would from murder but lost that protection when Romer v. Evans (1993) overturned a Colorado amendment allowed anti-gay discrimination. Scalia didn’t think that animosity toward homosexuality was a valid argument because he “had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible–murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals–and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct.”

Homosexuality like incest: After the Supreme Court struck down a Texas ban on sodomy in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), Scalia wrote, “States continue to prosecute all sorts of crimes by adults ‘in matters pertaining to sex’: prostitution, adult incest, adultery, obscenity, and child pornography.” He argued gay sex should be criminalized because of moral objections to homosexuality.

Homosexuality like flagpole sitting: Scalia’s analogy in Lawrence v. Texas: “Suppose that all the states had laws against flagpole sitting at one time [which they then overturned].Does that make flagpole sitting a fundamental right?”

Marriage equality nothing more than “fortune cookie justice”:  In response to legalized same-gender marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), Scalia mourned, “The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.” He also described the majority opinion as being “couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic.”

“Justice Scalia” should go down in history as an oxymoron, defined by connecting contradictory words. While sitting on the Supreme Court, Scalia promoted himself instead of justice.

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