Why The Open Supreme Court Seat Gives Democrats A Better Chance At The Senate

In a bombshell announcement, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said he was retiring from the Supreme Court. There had long been speculation he’d retire, his wife allegedly wanted him to retire. He will turn 82-years-old in July. Without meaning to disparage, he was old and tired and that was reflected in this last session where he seemingly rolled over and let the partisan right-wingers have their way. Even his concurring opinion in support of Trump’s “Travel Ban,” a meager 1 and 1/2 pages indicated his effort was gone. Kennedy had apparently retired long before his announcement.

Immediately, Trump, McConnell, and many top Republicans started drooling at the thought of what they could do with an untouchable partisan majority once they inserted another like-minded Justice to serve 30-40 years or more on the bench. They could undo Roe v. Wade, outlaw gay marriage and eliminate Affirmative Action. Planned Parenthood… gone! This most recent session gave us a glimpse as to what the new SCOTUS would look like. They approved a “Travel Ban” which was an ill-disguised Muslim Ban in its third iteration, they severely wounded public unions by eliminating their ability to collect dues from all workers they were required to represent. They looked the other way on “Partisan Gerrymandering” which in most cases is “Racial Gerrymandering” by another name. Out of the other side of their mouth, they said; “Racial Gerrymandering” is bad and rejected the Texas version of it, The new Court, not much different than the current one, will take away rights from women, gays, minorities, workers, and students. We don’t have to guess at their intentions, they are happy to tell us who they are and what they plan. And that will be their undoing.

While the Democrat Party has mostly been a pushover in times like these. Even the initial comments from the elected leaders are focusing on Republicans not “being fair” when not applying the same standard about holding confirmation hearings so close to an important election. Frankly, they sound like they’re whining and when Mitch McConnell points out that “Mid-Terms are different than a Presidential election,” he’s right. The same President will be in place before and after the election and would be in no way compelled to consider any result of the election when making his appointment and sending him/her to the Senate for confirmation. A far more compelling argument is that the current President is a target of an investigation and has a conflict of interest in appointing a Justice that might ultimately hear his case. Another possibility is that he’s demonstrated an unusual deference to the Russians he may or may not have conspired with, we should wait for the investigation to be concluded before possibly letting Vladimir Putin select our next Supreme Court Justice.

But it won’t be Democrat leaders who carry the fray, it will be the people. It will be the women, even many of the 53% of white women who voted for the serial sexual harasser, pussy grabbing adulterer that didn’t give them pause earlier. They will recognize that killing Planned Parenthood not only limits options for abortion but takes away the only source of Healthcare for an astonishing number of women, particularly in rural areas. The LGBTQ community will be reinforced in the knowledge that their hard-fought rights, many decided on the swing vote of Anthony Kennedy, are in jeopardy. Any Black people who hadn’t yet decided what it was they had to lose under a Trump administration will have noticed Trump and Jeff Sessions bringing back mass incarceration and expanding voter suppression. Hispanic voters will have noticed people that look like them having their children separated from their parents, some likely to never see them again. Muslim voters are now more than an ocean away from friends and relatives, they are separated by laws no less racially based that those that interred the Japanese during World War II while Germans and Italians with whom we were also at war, were affected in much smaller percentages. Young people will see that individual rights have been pushed aside for corporate rights and that they are doing worse than their parents as a result.

At Planned Parenthood, phones are already ringing off the hook because the man who promised he’d make overturning Roe v. Wade a litmus test when selecting a Justice, is preparing to do it again. He lived up to his promise on his first choice, Neil Gorsuch, and will no doubt do the same on his second. Hispanics who have traditionally not turned out at the polls in representative numbers will be there, perhaps remembering the cries of the children, calling for their mothers. Reliable Black people will be there again, hoping to get in line next to someone wearing a MAGA hat. Muslims will turn out, Native-Americans who don’t see the humor in “Pocahontas” being used to ridicule Elizabeth Warren about her lineage. And then the women, some of whom stood by while Republicans came for all the other groups, now see that Trump, and the Republican Party, have come for them.

While Democrat leaders are calling on deaf ears for “fairness.” Americans are mobilizing against a Court and a Republican Party gone too far. These will be votes against the Republicans as opposed to for Democrats and Democrats would do well to start standing for something as opposed to only being against Trump. Democrats and even the people may not be able to stave off the confirmation of the type of Justice many of us fear. They can take back control of the House and Senate and begin to legislate fixes instead of not doing their job which has been true for the past two decades.

The Democrat Party has an excellent chance to re-take the House of Representatives and in what originally looked like dire straits, have a better chance than before of controlling the Senate as well. In a new day without the filibuster. They can perhaps pay less heed to civility and more to the people. It will require less whining and more organizing. The upcoming elections will be won by getting out the vote and the people have been energized to a level not seen before. The leaders of the Democrat Party need to lead or get out of the way because the people are coming.

The Upside to the Nuclear Option

The Senate finally dispensed with their pretense of being a great deliberative body and openly became a hotbed of partisan madness no better than the House of Representatives. By going with “Majority Rule” instead of requiring 60 votes to close debate. They’ve encouraged President’s to now appoint less mainstream Supreme Court Justices and pander to their rabid bases.

Republicans point to the actions of Democrats when they controlled the Senate, getting rid of the 60 vote minimum for Federal and District Judges. They quickly forget that was a response to Republicans following Mitch McConnell’s promise to obstruct every action of President Barack Obama which became his mantra. After a year of begging Republicans to allow the President to fill the woefully depleted ranks of judges. Harry Reid led Democratic Senators to make that move. Republicans respond to that with, “Judge Bork” as if it was somehow a bad thing to block the extremist partisan jurist that he was. Look up his role supporting Nixon in the Watergate investigation and see for yourself.

There is a light in the distance as a result of this change. While Trump will get this appointment and possibly more during his term. The truth is that Democrat Presidents were never able to get approved anything other than a “moderate” judge who appeared close enough to Republicans in his/her views that they had no real problem. Republican Presidents appoint right wing judges who value corporations more than people.

When Democrats reclaim the Presidency again in 2020 or possibly sooner if the election proves to have been the result of Trump collusion with Russia. Democrats will be able to appoint Justices that can acknowledge the need for reform to our gun laws, respect persons over companies and not overturn Civil and Voting rights. There will be temporary pain but I chose to be hopeful about how it all turns out.

Featured Photo: slate.com

Bernie or Bust People… You’re Being Ridiculous

 

I enjoy talking/writing about politics and get most excited when interacting with people with opposing views. Even though I love a good argument. I rarely get into them with people who believe mostly the same as I because there is frankly no point. I’m going to make an exception for those who are still, “Bernie or Bust.” Especially the black ones, because I have a pretty good idea of what bust looks like.

I was minding my own business when a real life friend, tagged me to a Facebook conversation where he was once again. Chiding those who planned to vote for Hillary in this election. He said, “It’s an analogy of being forced to eat shit or doo-doo just because everyone else is doing it, when you can have a choice to have an apple.”

No! You don’t get to choose an apple. You might dream of an apple. Salivate about one in a Pavlovian sort of way but you’re not going to get an apple in this election. It’s Clinton or Trump.

He said elsewhere, “I completely understand what you are saying and why others feel the same way. But that isn’t really voting if you are being forced to vote for someone who doesn’t and historically has created policy against your own people. Having a false choice is not a choice at all and I feel it’s disrespectful to the people that fought and died to give us the opportunity to cast a vote. By vote I mean to really express your beliefs and values without compromise or cohesion. Voting for bad people and policy has gotten us nowhere. We must be principled and disciplined and not view this as a fight or morals. We have to change now or we are dooming our kids to participate in the same flawed system.”

There’s a lot in there so forgive my lengthy response. You had, and took the opportunity to vote for the person who best matches your beliefs and values. He lost during the primaries. Because he’s no longer an option you appear to have decided to take your ball and go home as opposed to dealing with the remaining choices. Your supposition that it’s a “false choice” suggests that we’ll end up with the same approximate outcome without regard to the winner. In some elections, that might have been true. This time, you couldn’t be more wrong. Have you seen Trump and his, “Make America Great Again” motto? What do you think that means? Have you seen the Alt-Right cohorts of his? Bannon, Giuliani, Sessions, Gingrich, Ailes, Hannity; the list goes on. How is that going to turn out for America? Who in the Republican Congress will stand up to him? Even Ted Cruz sold out his wife and father when it seemed like his future reelection chances were sliding downhill. This is no false choice. And abdicating yours and encouraging others to do the same is being ridiculous as Sarah Silverman so astutely observed.

You alluded to Hillary having, “created policy against our own people.” I’ll assume you’re referring to the 70’s Crime Bill which as First Lady she certainly didn’t create but let’s assume she may have had some input. She spoke of some black gang members as being, “Super Predators.” She has some things in her history which should be considered. She also has a lengthy history on the right side of policy issues which should be considered as well and I have. That both Clinton’s helped implement policy (begun in the Nixon administration) that added to the mass incarceration rate of black people (as did Barack Obama in the stimulus package) is true. They saw it as a compromise with a Republican Congress who were determined to push something much harsher down our throats. The Crime Bill had the support of the Congressional Black Caucus and much of America. There were detractors at the time like Al Sharpton but there is plenty of blame to go around including every administration after Bill Clinton. Hillary now is pledged to continue efforts begun by President Obama to reduce mass incarceration and end profit motives for high prison populations. Trump is dedicated to flooding the inner cities with additional cops and throwing more minorities into jail as part of his “Law and Order” promise. This is part of your choice.

The system is flawed, agreed. It has been since the implementation of the Electoral College which is designed to favor small and rural states (read white people). It’s rigged with redistricting and gerrymandering. It’s rigged by voter suppression tactics. It’s rigged by the lack of protection of voter’s rights. The next President will likely make multiple Supreme Court nominations which will help determine whether the system stays rigged or whether it’s possible to offer protections and change. I think you know the kinds of nominations that President Trump would make. You spoke of “dooming the kids/” Throwing away your vote is a good start.

So for those of you who are still “Bernie or Bust,” what are you going to do? If you live in California or New York, Mississippi or Alabama, or any other state where your Presidential vote won’t make a difference. Feel free to make a protest vote, while continuing to fight for change. If you live in Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and others. Think real hard about what bust looks like? You just might help us all find out.

The Supreme Court: The Ultimate Protector of White Exceptionalism

” The Supreme Court has never met a Civil Rights Act it didn’t ultimately weaken or reject.”

 

 

In the last few days, we’ve seen a Federal Judge uphold the highly restrictive Voter ID laws in North Carolina and the Supreme Court let stand (for now) the restrictive Texas laws that were implemented the day after the Supreme Court gutted the Voter Rights Act of 1965.

I’m in the process of writing a book on-line about “The History of American (White) Exceptionalism” and what I learned that I didn’t know before was that the courts and most importantly the Supreme Court, has always done its best to protect white privilege at the expense of minorities. Congress passed a Civil Rights Act in 1866 which the Supreme Court later found unconstitutional. Another Civil Rights Act in 1871, again gutted by the Supreme Court. The Civil Rights Act of 1875… partially unconstitutional according to the Supreme Court. During 100 years of Jim Crow, the Supreme Court said nothing. They tempered Brown vs. the Board of Education with requiring implementation, “at all deliberate speed”. Meaning states could take as long as they want, which most of them did. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had no enforcement teeth but did provide the framework for the Voter Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The Supreme Court gutted the preventative portions of the 1965 Act and instead will wait until several elections are influenced by restrictive laws and perhaps then take a second look. The Supreme Court has never met a Civil Rights Act it didn’t ultimately weaken or reject.

The Supreme Court gave us Citizens United allowing unlimited anonymous corporate donations to influence our elections. Reworded, white businessmen will be able to influence elections far beyond their individual votes possibly could. Add to this redistricting and gerrymandering designed to give white people greater representation and control of state government and we have a mechanism for the white power structure to continue to reign long past its demographic decline would suggest.

It’s clear that the Supreme Court does not protect the interests of all Americans. Until its membership reflects the citizenry it will continue to mainly serve those that placed them there. The Court’s reliance on precedent gives them liberty to continue to do what they have always done which is to serve white people, with corporations and the rich at the top of the hierarchy. It’s time to consider televised proceedings, term and/or age limits and a selection process where approval is not dependent on the almost all-white Senate.