Archive for supreme court justices

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.


Cliff Notes: GOP has "pre-pubescent angst fueling vitriolic rage... Not a legislative or legal strategy. But it sure feels good."



My dear friend and mentor, Cliff Schecter, has a new post up; Cliff has given me permission to share his work with you, so I’ll give you the latest edition of what I call Cliff Notes.

He skewers better than a chef at Smokey Joe’s BBQ. He has comedic insights that rival those of our mutual friend, the hilarious Lizz Winstead. He’s sharper than the point on Sarah Palin’s pin head.

Here are a few excerpts from his latest, with permission. Please read the whole thing, because he has way more than I’ve included here:

Praise be to Judge Antonin Scalia, for he sees what the rest of us do not. The man for whom nasty, brutish and short is not simply a political formulation, but a mirror image, can look at hundreds of years of slavery, 100 more of legalised segregation and another 50 of daily discrimination and see "racial entitlement" in the basic right to vote in America. I guess it's kind of like the right-wing-clown entitlement enjoyed by our current Supreme Court. [...]

Policy-wise, the GOP is an entity that literally lacks any new ideas, has no interest in governing, and has rejected all of its own policy positions [...]

You believe in global warming? Then they don't, dang it! You accept that human beings didn't ride saddleback on a brachiosaurus into the Battle of Little Bighorn? They have an App for that, the Creation Museum, where you can ride Noah's Ark with your friendly Triassic-period imperial walker. You offer them way-too-friendly a deal on the budget? Then as Cartman from South Park says, "screw you guys... I'm going home". 

The most potent example is the rise and fall of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as conservative heartthrob. [...]

Meanwhile, Antonin Scalia seems to size up any crowd he's in and think to himself, what would a Morlock do? And then does it. [...]

The key to McCain, as I argued in my 2008 book The Real McCain (to the horror, the horror! of mainstream media back then... who these days have pretty much come to agree with this analysis) is that he legislates via anger. [...]

Whether calling his wife some really bad names, bum rushing fellow members of Congress or condescendingly and heartlessly lecturing a mother whose son was killed in the Aurora-Movie-Theatre massacre that he has "straight talk" for her, one thing you can count on is that McCain will bring the bitter with a healthy-helping of McNasty (his high school nickname). This is what allows him to survive his occasional maverick-ness on issues like immigration. Well, that and the fact he switches his positions every six years just in time for re-election. 

Pre-pubescent angst fueling vitriolic rage. Sure, it's not a legislative or legal strategy. But it sure feels good.

Cliff Schecter is an author, pundit and public relations strategist whose firm Libertas, LLC handles media relations for political, corporate and non-profit clients. 

Follow him on Twitter: @CliffSchecter


VIDEO: VP Biden speaks at annual "Bloody Sunday" commemoration of 1965 Selma to Montgomery bridge march


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NBC: Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Alabama at the annual commemoration of the Selma to Montgomery bridge march of 1965.

"We saw in stark relief the rank hatred, discrimination, violence that still existed in large swaths of the nation."

"What all of you did that day, and the next, and the next, and the next, allowed America to... begin to see the potential that actually existed maybe, maybe for the first time."

"What happened at the bridge generated a lesson that was absolutely clear... it was palpable... There's courage to stand up to moral imperatives of the day... saying the right thing... But there's a different kind of courage standing and looking at somebody who has a club in his hand, and you KNOW... The courage to look evil in the eye."

"... Believing that although the cost had been high, victory was inevitable."

"We owe Jesse Jackson... We owe John Lewis, and so many more. We owe all of you a debt that we can never be fully repaid."

"I wonder how many people remember what the fight was about... But today you say... it was about the right to vote, nothing else. Just the right to vote. It wasn't about the right to go to 'somebody's school'... Most everybody already thought by '65 [the right to vote] was pretty settled."

"You walked out of the doors of the... church... that's why, in spite of the certain knowledge that you'd get beaten, you stepped your foot on that bridge and defied and ultimately defeated those voices of prejudice. That's why you did it. Because you know and every American knows... that without the right to vote, there's no right guaranteed, and you can't count on anyone else voting your interests. YOU gotta vote your interests."

"You broke the back of the forces of evil. .... That march didn't end in Montgomery. You know it continues today."

"Never did I think 40 years earlier that I'd be standing on that platform [with Pres. Obama]. Things have changed, they've gotten better, but folks, there's still a lot more."

"In 2011-12, we were preparing to run for re-election. 40-41 states passed 180 laws to restrict the right to vote. 180 laws. Some more pernicious than others. We saw it with state legislators working to end same day registration, cutting back early voting, requiring voter ID where no fraud was ever shown, restricting voters registration drives... Here we are, 48 years after all you did, and we're still fighting? In 2011, '12, and '13? We were able to beat back most of those attempts, but that doesn't mean it's over."

"Strom Thurmond voted for re-authorization, and yet it's being challenged in the Supreme Court of the U.S. as we stand here today. Legislators in a number of states are looking for new ways to restrict and make more difficult for African Americans and other minorities to vote."

"Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act... We can't let our guard down."

"Here's what John said [at the National Democratic Convention]... He said, "They're changing the rules. They're cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the vote. Too many people struggled," he went on to say, "And die to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote. We have come too far together to turn back."

Please watch all the way to the end.


Scalia Tips His Hat That Supreme Court Will Further Crack Down on Gun Control

 (Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

(Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

In a little noted speech reported in the conservative Washington Examiner, the leading Supreme Court judge who regularly legislates from the bench, Antonin Scalia, signaled that he is ready to further rule in favor of more guns in more hands, with even fewer restrictions than now.


USA Today reported that Scalia teased Totenberg before an audience at the Smithsonian Associates:

Asked if the Second Amendment's right to bear arms is as unequivocal as the First Amendment's right to free speech, Scalia said, "We're going to find out, aren't we?" -- an indication he expects the court to hear a gun rights case in the near future.

"There are doubtless limits (on gun rights), but what they are, we will see," Scalia said.

But as with his remarks this week contemptuously dismissing Congress's repeated renewal of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) – and his claim that the VRA is nothing more than "racial entitlement" – Scalia is once again signaling his role as the radical right wing SCOTUS enforcer.  Scalia is a cross-breed between the Federalist Society and the Tea Party – sort of a brown shirt with a Harvard legal degree -- in this case on assault weapons and big guns, Scalia apparently regards anything that can shoot a bullet as Constitutional, only drawing the line at rocket launchers that can bring down aircraft. How extreme is that?  It makes the NRA look like moderates.

The immoral limits of Scalia's ideological fervor appear to have few limits.  More than once, BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote commentaries on Scalia's astounding assertion: "Scalia Ruled That the Constitution Doesn't Prohibit Executing an Innocent Man in Troy Davis Case." As we observed in one of our columns:

Because it was during an appeal to the Supreme Court in 2009 on behalf of Davis that Scalia - and BuzzFlash is not making this up - actually wrote a dissenting opinion that there was nothing in the Constitution that prevented a state from executing an innocent man (or woman). [...]

If the Constitution doesn't protect us from being executed even if we are innocent, then, Houston, we have a fundamental problem of human rights in America.


Scalia is a dangerous man. He should be in a loony bin for self-styled intellectuals who scorn all brains but their own ("I think, therefore it is the law" is his motto), where he would not be such an ongoing threat to the nation.

Please read the entire post here.


Chief Justice Roberts was wrong. He misconstrued census data in voting rights argument.

Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

Dear Chief Justice Roberts,

If you base your arguments on misconstrued data, then your argument is faulty at best and without merit at worst.

If your final judgment of a case is based on your own worthless arguments, then you are erroneously and egregiously changing and affecting lives and law, not to mention disenfranchising voters and altering election outcomes.

Oh, and your credibility goes down the toidy.


Americans who care about democracy


At the voting rights argument in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts tore into Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, grilling him on his knowledge of voting statistics.

The point the chief justice was trying to make was that Massachusetts, which is not covered by the preclearance section of the Voting Rights Act, has a far worse record in black voter registration and turnout than Mississippi, which is covered by Section 5 of the act.

But a close look at census statistics indicates the chief justice was wrong, or at least that he did not look at the totality of the numbers.

oopsie cat

He also “mangled the wording” of presidential oath in 2009, but who's counting?


Watch out, GOP. "Tomorrow's ex-majority may need the same voting protections as today's minority does."


voting rights act maddow

Today's L.A. Times letter to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re “Judging the Voting Rights Act,” Editorial, Feb. 26

The Supreme Court should not substitute its judgment for Congress' on voting rights.

A short time in the future, today's minority will become our nation's majority.That may possibly include those sitting on the Supreme Court bench.

Tomorrow's ex-majority may need the same voting protections as today's minority does.

Indeed, the shoe may be on the other foot.

Ken Johnson
Pinon Hills

turnabout is fair play

ICYMI: VIDEO: Rep. Lewis was “shocked.” He was also there in 1965. “You’re going to suggest that [the right to vote] is some racial entitlement?”


VIDEO: Rep. Lewis was "shocked." He was also there in 1965. "You're going to suggest that [the right to vote] is some racial entitlement?"


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As I watched Rachel Maddow explain the history of the Voting Rights Act, put everything into context so beautifully as she always does, as I watched and listened to her narrative, as it unfolded, as I watched her interview with the amazing John Lewis, I dissolved into tears. I couldn't stop.

I couldn't fathom that we have a sitting judge on the Supreme Court who comes out with as many biased opinions as he does, who politicizes when he should be dispassionately offering legal arguments, who consistently spouts Fox News [sic] talking points.

"Racial entitlement" Justice Scalia? Really?

I'm sorry, did I just write the words "Justice" and "Scalia" in the same sentence? That's an oxymoron, my bad.

Rep. John Lewis:

"On bloody Sunday, nearly 50 years ago, Hosea Williams from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Organization, and I, led 600 peaceful nonviolent protesters attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery to dramatize the need for voting rights protection in the state of Alabama throughout the south and our nation.

"As we crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, we were met by state troopers who shot us with tear gas, beat us with nightsticks and trampled us with horses. I was hit on the head and suffered a concussion on the bridge. Seventeen of us went to the hospital on that day, the Good Samaritan Hospital in downtown Selma.

"Just eight days later, President Lyndon Johnson introduced the Voting Rights Act, and later, on August 6th, 1965, he signed that act into law."

Rachel Maddow:

"That was congressman John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia who led the march on the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma that day in 1965. He was speaking about that experience today on the steps of the Supreme Court as the conservative majority on the court seemed to indicate a willingness to at least considering dismantling the pillars the Voting Rights Act first passed in 1965 in the aftermath of that violent day in Selma."

Rep. John Lewis:

"I grew up in the South. I lived in the South. I tasted the bitter fruits of racism. I saw discrimination with my own eyes. I felt it. We made progress, but we're not there yet. There are still methods and means, devices that have been used to make it hard, to make it difficult for people to participate in a democratic process.

"And it's not just African-Americans, but it's seniors, students, Asian Americans, Latinos, and the movement was saying in effect, open up the system and let all of the people come in. Let everyone participate.

"My fear, if we get rid of Section 5, we will go farther and farther back. We made progress, but I say over and over again, we're not there yet. So you can argue oh we have an African- American president. we elected some African-American, Latino officials, some Asian American officials. But I tell you, in some of these towns and communities in the South still represent the Old South."

"I was shocked. I couldn't believe that a member of the United States Supreme Court... it was just nonsense. It was almost the verge of some racist feeling of another period. And it pained me to hear a member of the Supreme Court saying something like this. That to protect the right to vote, to participate in the democratic process, you're going to suggest that it's some racial entitlement?

"We all have a right to vote. We all have a right to participate in a democratic process. One person, one vote.

"The congress spoke, we represent the American people, the House and the Senate. We work hard in a bipartisan coalition to extend the voting rights act in 2006."

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