Archive for federal judges

Poll-itics: SCOTUS approvals near lowest "in 14-year trend"

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SCOTUS, SCOTUS, SCOTUS, what are we going to do with you? Well, here's an idea: Elect Progressive presidents who will replace right wing extremist Supreme Court justices (and other judges) who decide cases that are turning this country upside down.

This Supreme Court has:

  • ruled in favor of prayers in city council meetings (read: Christian prayers);
  • eliminated buffer zones around abortion and contraception medical centers in Massachusetts so that women can now be intimidated and threatened literally within an inch of their lives;
  • weakened unions by ruling that they could not force home-care workers to join them and pay dues;
  • and, of course, allowed Hobby Lobby and other family-owned businesses to decide what kind of birth control their employees could use based on their bosses' religious beliefs. Not the workers' beliefs, mind you, because apparently, corporate religion trumps that of the individual.

And don't get me started on Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions allowing corporate money to attempt to buy elections the way Willard "Mitt" Romney buys car elevators.

According to Gallup, this has affected the court's popularity. Democrats in particular are not too thrilled with this SCOTUS. If that's the case, you know what to do: Vote. In droves. Swarm the polls. Help to register other voters and get them to the ballot box, too.

gallup scotus

Gallup:

Americans remain divided in their assessments of the U.S. Supreme Court, with 47% approving of the job it is doing, and 46% disapproving. These ratings are consistent with approval last September, when 46% approved and 45% disapproved, and rank among the lowest approval ratings for the court in Gallup's 14-year trend. [...]

Republican approval of the Supreme Court is up 21 percentage points since last September, from 30% in 2013 to 51%. Independents' approval shows little change, going from 47% to 46%. Support among Democrats, on the other hand, is down [...]

Americans' current views more closely reflect the court's own ideological divisions in these two recent decisions, rather than its bipartisan unanimity.

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Republicans Accuse Obama of Court Packing While They're Guilty Of Packing By Unpacking

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Shrinkage

Remember George Castanza in Seinfeld. He was embarrased when Jerry's girlfriend Rachel walks in on him and his naked "manhood?" He tried to explain he just got out of a cold swim and he was experiencing "SHRINKAGE."

Well, this week the Republicans tried to cause the country to feel a cold shrinkage. What they were trying to do was convince the senate that there was no need for filling the three vacancies on the second most important court in the land, The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, aka DC Circuit Court.

Normally 11 members, they've experienced shrinkage, resulting in only 8 justices covering the workload for the full contingency. Despite the Republicans claiming there isn't enough work to keep the 11 judges busy, the court has had to pull in retired justices to keep the courts head above water. So in fact, the GOP argument doesn't hold -- yup, you've got it, water.

Now this is the court that gave us Chief Justice Roberts. Since his promotion to the SCOTUS, his seat on the DC Circuit Court bench has been sitting vacant, collecting dust.

Of the 8 justices currently serving, 5 were appointed by conservative Republican presidents. The other 3 were Democratic appointments. So one could argue this makes this court conservative leaning, 5-3. And that's the way the GOP wants it to stay.

Back in 1937, FDR tried to add 6 additional SCOTUS justices to the bench which had then and still has now, 9 members. That became knows as his attempt at COURT PACKING, changing the conservative court more liberal by adding new seats. Obama only attempts to fill vacant ones. So the argument of court packing is again, a blatant falsehood.

What is true is the Republicans are guilty of COURT UNPACKING, leaving vacant seats unfilled so they have a philosophical majority. If Obama fills those three seats, as he will, the court will swing balance 6-5 favoring  Democratic appointments on that court.

But that's not all that's at stake here with the Republicans. Currently there are an equal number of Republican and Democratic appointed Federal Judges -- 390 apiece. There are 93 openings to be filled. Because the Republicans obstruction and the now approved nuclear option, a simple majority will be all that's required of the Senate to approve the President's nominees. Here's the rest of the story.

Lesson here is Mitch McConnell, don't fool with Mother Nature OR the senior senator from Nevada. You go, Harry!!!

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Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor: "I think there are many who think of judges as politicians in robes."

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Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spoke at the Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel on history, ethics and law. In that speech, she expressed her opposition to the election of judges, saying the following, per the Chicago Tribune:

“I think there are many who think of judges as politicians in robes. In many states, that’s what they are.”

No way! Whatever could have put that crazy idea into her head? Of course that wasn't what GW Bush had in mind at all, right, when he and the GOP packed the courts with conservative judges; yet Republicans now refuse to so much as consider President Obama's judicial nominees.

O'Connor prefers to think of judges as, you know, impartial and independent, fair and unbiased. How novel.

Instead, she said, people "seem to think judges should be a reflex of the popular will" and that judges "need to avoid sitting on cases if even a whiff of bias can be detected."

Are you listening, Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito?

More at the link.

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"New definition of a consensus nominee is someone who Republicans like, Dems can stomach..."

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wtf moment in progress

 

Judicial nominations have been moving at a snail’s pace, and of course, Republicans have blocked the president every step of the way. The courts have been overloaded, backed up, cannot function properly, and so they are unable to handle cases as judges are unavailable to preside over court proceedings. Trying to get your day in court has become as challenging as passing Democratic legislation in our current Congress.

 

To make matters worse, many Bush judges are already in place, which explains so many decisions that make Progressive heads explode.

 

Which brings us to the good news and bad news.

 

The good news: President Obama has found himself a judicial nominee that appeals to Republicans.

 

The bad news: President Obama has found himself a judicial nominee that appeals to Republicans.

 

Via the Los Angeles Times:

 

President Obama, who has seen court nominees run into Republican roadblocks, may have found a winning strategy for putting a judge on the powerful U.S. appeals court here: He chose a highly regarded corporate lawyer whose resume suggests he could have been a Republican nominee.

Sri Srinivasan, 46, was a law clerk for two Republican-appointed judges after graduating from Stanford University, and he worked in the George W. Bush Justice Department for five years before joining the Obama team as deputy U.S. solicitor general.

 

This man, per the Times, is likely to be confirmed. Bush's guy. From the Bush Justice Department, which, by the way, is an oxymoron.

 

More bad news: Senator Ted Cruz likes him. He and Srinivasan were law clerks in Virginia and at the Supreme Court together.

 

More good news: He would be the first South Asian native to serve on a U.S. appeals court.

 

More bad news:  He could be a leading candidate for the Supreme Court if and when a vacancy opens up.

 

More good news: He's a good listener and open-minded, per a colleague.

 

More bad news:

 

Liberal activists, unions and human rights groups refused to support him. Most of them say they decided to remain silent, not wanting to upset the White House or stand in the way of an Obama nominee.... The strongest opposition to Srinivasan has come from human rights advocates who have sued multinational corporations.

 

Are you getting nervous yet? No? Let me nudge you along:

 

Marco Simons, legal director for Earth Rights International, wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee complaining of Srinivasan's "propensity for pro-corporate, anti-human rights judicial activism." As a lawyer in Washington, Srinivasan has "built a practice around defending powerful multinational companies against allegations of human rights abuses such as war crimes, torture and summary execution," Simons wrote... "The new definition of a consensus nominee is someone who the Republicans like and the Democrats can stomach because they don't want to defy the president," he said.

 

There's your "liberal" president, GOP.

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VIDEO: McCain: "I don’t understand" why GOP would filibuster gun legislation. Should've stopped after the word "filibuster."

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filibuster cartoon reid

What a surprise! John McCain on a Sunday talk show! But I digress.

Think Progress has a post up titled, McCain: ‘I Don’t Understand’ Why GOP Would Filibuster Gun Legislation.

That should have read, "McCain: 'I don't understand why the GOP would filibuster.'" Most of us sure don't understand why the GOP would filibuster 99% of what they freaking filibuster.

Well, actually we do. Their raison d'être is obstruction, their goal (other than acquiring more money and power, that is) is to tarnish President Obama and his legacy, and their appallingly gleeful reliance on perpetual blocking comes from the successes they've had.

Did I mention that Harry Reid (and many Democrats) is aiding and abetting them? I did? Good.

Here is the entire Face the Nation interview. Relevant segment starts at about 9:45:

McCain:

I don’t understand it. The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand.

Schieffer:

So you’d encourage Republicans not to filibuster?

McCain:

I would not only encourage it, I don’t understand it. What are we afraid of? ... Why would we not want...  Why not take it up and amend it and debate? The American people would profit from it. I do not understand why United States senators want to block debate when the leader has said we can have amendments.

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Report: Sen. Harry Reid "not inclined to use" tools he has to overcome filibuster of background check bill

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new rules 2

It was only yesterday that I posted, "Harry Reid hints at filibuster 'nuclear option'… again. Try using it this time, Harry." I peppered that post with comparisons of Reid to an ineffectual parent plus comments like:

-- But Harry shook hands instead, although he has threatened to revisit filibuster reform from time to time, getting Democratic hopes up, like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. We’ll believe it when we see it.

-- Of course you will, dear.

-- I will NOT get my hopes up, I will NOT get my hopes up…

-- That would be novel. Just do it already.

From the tweets and comments I received, we all had the same reaction. And for good reason.

Roll Call:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has the tools he needs to overcome any initial filibuster of a firearms background check bill, but he may not be inclined to use them.

Indeed, the Nevada Democrat is biding his time, even as President Barack Obama embarks on an aggressive new push for votes on a variety of gun-related measures, including background checks and a new prohibition on assault weapons.

The trouble for Reid is the new process — established in January through modest filibuster rules changes — may have a fatal flaw in practice when the Nevada Democrat actually wants the bill involved to become law.

And what might that fatal flaw be? Reid's New Rules do not prevent senators from blocking a bill from passing once it’s up for debate.

Did I mention that he still needs at least 60 votes? That he still needs a super majority? That real filibuster reform is still just a twinkle in sane and reasonable Democrats' eyes? And that Republicans despise compromise so much that they won't even use the word?

Here's what "compromise" means to the GOP:

Here's what Harry Reid means to those of us who are fed up:

peanuts lucy charlie brown football 2Here's what many of you may be doing after reading this post:

banghead

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Harry Reid hints at filibuster "nuclear option"... again. Try using it this time, Harry.

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Harry Reid reminds me of those ineffectual, weary parents who you see in a public place repeatedly scolding his annoyingly obstinate, uncontrollable toddler, saying things like, "If you keep that up, you'll get punished." Then, "Just keep pushing, young man, and there will be no McFlurry dessert for you." Followed by, "I'm warning you."

And then does nothing.

And the kid keeps misbehaving.

In that scenario, Daddy Dearest was about as effective as Gene Wilder intended (not) to be as Willy Wonka:

Which brings us to the unprecedented use of the filibuster by the GOP, their favorite weapon, the one they've used to obstruct just about every proposal by President Obama and the Democrats... including judicial nominations.

Over the years, we've witnessed the Reagan/Bush conservative judicial trajectory and subsequent decline (see: Scalia, Antonin et al) of our judiciary, and as a result, our democracy, civil rights, and legal system. And since Obama took office, his judicial nominations have been moving at a glacial pace.

He did manage to nominate the first openly gay black man to sit on a federal district court, the first Asian American lesbian, and the first South Asian. But at least 35 nominees are waiting for the Senate to vote, and there are still 50 more vacancies. That's called GOP "payback."

So Dick Durbin said, “We need to revisit” the filibuster rules and Senate Dems thought Harry Reid should revisit filibuster reform.

All that because Harry Reid insisted on that "gentleman’s agreement" with Mitch McConnell, the ridiculous handshake deal he made, saying he was "satisfied" with the Republicans just "agreeing" to be more reasonable.  Remember that?

As you may recall, Jeff Merkley’s plan for reform would not have ended the filibuster, and the Dems would still be able to use the option to filibuster when they are the minority party. It would have taken more effort and transparency to voice opposition, but the filibuster would have remained intact.

But Harry shook hands instead, although he has threatened to revisit filibuster reform from time to time, getting Democratic hopes up, like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. We'll believe it when we see it.

Roll Call:

The Nevada Democrat said that while he was “happy” with the modest rules changes adopted in January on a bipartisan basis, the number of pending judicial nominations led him to warn his colleagues of the potential for the chamber’s rules to be modified at any point in the year, not just at the opening of a new Congress.

“All within the sound of my voice, including my Democratic senators and the Republican senators who I serve with, should understand that we as a body have the power on any given day to change the rules with a simple majority, and I will do that if necessary,” Reid said on Nevada Public Radio.

Of course you will, dear.

peanuts lucy charlie brown football 2

Harry:

"We made changes, but the time will tell whether they’re big enough. I’m going to wait and build a case. If the Republicans in the Senate don’t start approving some judges and don’t start helping get some of these nominations done, then we’re going to have to take more action.”

"Just keep pushing, young man, and there will be no McFlurry dessert for you."

But it does get more promising (I will NOT get my hopes up, I will NOT get my hopes up...). Reid said it's not only about judges, but also the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

"Now, we have the Republican-dominated D.C. Court of Appeals who have said, look, the president can’t even do recess appointments now,” Reid said. “So, we’re left with few alternatives, and we’re going to have to move forward and do something to change that.

Yes, we're going to have to do something. We've had to do something for years now.

"If you keep that up, you'll get punished."

That would be novel. Just do it already.

mitch mcconnell filibuster cartoon get rid of Obama

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