In a development that got lost in all the jabber about the Nevada caucuses, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor used a dissent in a case that highlighted one of the worst ideas ever to slime its way out of Stephen Miller’s twisted mind to call out her Republican colleagues for being Republican hacks. Back in August, the administration* sought to limit immigration through something called the “public charge” rule. In brief, this means that someone can be denied the right to come here if that person could potentially take advantage of our pathetically shabby social-safety net. Resistance to this idea was loud and immediate. People pointed out that this was exactly the argument the government had used to send Jews who were fleeing Hitler back to Europe.
…Make no mistake. In this dissent, Justice Sotomayor is calling out the new 5-4 conservative majority—which includes Chief Justice John Roberts—for being White House errand boys. This is an astonishing development. You simply do not ever see this kind of attack on the Court’s objectivity from inside the temple. And the hell of it all is that she’s right. There was no reason for the Court to act so precipitously on this noxious principle except to do the White House’s bidding, and, by doing the White House’s bidding in this way, the 5-4 majority submarined the authority of the appellate system all the way down through the federal judiciary.
There was a time when I actually believed that Roberts cared enough about the institution over which he presides that he never would let it become an adjunct chop-shop to a criminal enterprise. Madame Justice Sotomayor just told me how wrong I was. I stand corrected.
The New York Times editorial board sat down with Presidential candidate1 Andrew Yang.
He makes an interesting point about the Supreme Court, I agree with the premise, why not have more Justices?
A lot of the legislative actions, you need a bit more time and a bit more buy-in from Congress, but at the Supreme Court level, I would consider appointing more justices if it was necessary to safeguard women’s reproductive rights.
Kathleen Kingsbury: You mean, you would in addition to the nine that we already have?
In addition to the nine we already have. I believe that — so if you look at the Constitution, there is nothing there that stipulates the number of Supreme Court justices. We’ve had fewer than nine, we’ve had more than nine. I think that appointing new justices would be helpful on several levels. It would help depoliticize the process, at least marginally, because if you have 17 justices and one steps down, then it’s not as much of an earthquake. Well, right now we we’re hinging our laws on the health of an octogenarian.
It would literally be rational for us to all just to follow Ruth Bader Ginsburg around and just scrub any door knob she touches.
You know what I mean?
Jesse Wegman: You remember what happened the last time a president tried to do this, right?
Yeah. And I think in some ways, there’s some positive lessons to be drawn from that time, because there were some significant accomplishments during that era.
We need to modernize the court. Lifetime appointments might have made sense at one point a long time ago, but when the Constitution was drafted, people did not live as long. And also, people stepped down from the Supreme Court for any of a range of reasons. They did not wait until they were at death’s door. This is not a way to run a 21st-century society.
We should have 18-year term limits, increase the number of justices, make it so it’s predictable that you lose an election, the other party might get one or two justices, and then we don’t need to literally be monitoring the health of our justices. Or, the most ridiculous thing is you’re literally looking at the age of the person you’re appointing being, “Ooh, this person will be there for 30, 40 years.” What kind of system do you want where you’re having a society decide 30 years ago what women’s rights are today? Doesn’t make any sense.
Before President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, he had a lot of debt. In May 2017, he reported owing between $60,004 and $200,000 on three credit cards and a loan against his retirement account. By the time Trump nominated him to the high court in July 2018, those debts had vanished. Overall, his reported income and assets didn’t seem sufficient to pay off all that debt while maintaining his upper-class lifestyle: an expensive house in an exclusive suburban neighborhood, two kids in a $10,500-a-year private school, and a membership in a posh country club reported to charge $92,000 in initiation fees. His financial disclosure forms have raised more questions than they’ve answered, leading to speculation about whether he’s had a private benefactor and what sorts of conflicts that relationship might entail.
During his confirmation hearing last week, he escaped a public discussion of his spending habits because no senator asked about it. But on Tuesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent Kavanaugh 14 pages of post-hearing follow-up questions, many of which involved his finances. On Thursday, Kavanaugh supplied answers, but he dodged some of the questions and left much of his financial situation unexplained.
The woman who has accused President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault all but ruled out appearing at an extraordinary Senate hearing scheduled for next week to hear her allegations, insisting on Tuesday that the F.B.I. investigate first.
Speaking through lawyers, Christine Blasey Ford said she would cooperate with the Senate Judiciary Committee and left open the possibility of testifying later about her allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. But echoing Senate Democrats, she said an investigation should be “the first step” before she is put “on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident.”
Republicans signaled Tuesday night that they would not negotiate an alternative date and would go ahead with the hearing without her or declare it unnecessary if she refuses to appear, then possibly move to a vote.
Yes, much more important to speedily nominate Kavanaugh to a lifetime appointment than take a couple of days to investigate her claims and his counter-claims. The GOP motivation is transparent – make sure there is a conservative majority in the Supreme Court in the last few months before they lose their upcoming election. Disgusting.
Rule of law, ha.
Unfortunately, if Ms. Blasey doesn’t agree to the bullies’ terms, they will just skip the testimony part and go right to the vote, depending upon reliable Republicans like Susan Collins to vote Kavanaugh in.
In the letter to the Judiciary Committee, Dr. Blasey’s lawyers said that she has been the target of “vicious harassment and even death threats” since her name was made public on Sunday in an interview published in The Washington Post. Her email has been hacked, she has been impersonated online and she and her family have been forced to relocate out of their home, according to the lawyers, Ms. Banks and her partner, Debra S. Katz.
“While Dr. Ford’s life was being turned upside down, you and your staff scheduled a public hearing for her to testify at the same table as Judge Kavanaugh in front of two dozen U.S. Senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident,” the lawyers wrote to Mr. Grassley. The hearing “would include interrogation by senators who appear to have made up their minds that she is ‘mistaken’ and ‘mixed up.’”
If the Republican Party of 2016 were students of history, and not just do-nothing nihilists, they would vote on the new Supreme Court Justice within a day or two of Obama nominating him. Even if there were hearings to discuss the “fitness” of the candidate, the vote shouldn’t take more than a month. The NYT made a handy-dandy graphic for reference.
The Senate has never taken more than 125 days to vote on a successor from the time of nomination; on average, a nominee has been confirmed, rejected or withdrawn in 25 days.
But as we all know, the Republicans’ main gambit during the Obama administration has been “party over country”, as proven again and again and again by their actions of delaying the simplest action.
I bet you didn’t realize that the term of the president has been truncated, now it isn’t four years, but three years, per the GOP anyway.
So what to do? Sally Kohn argues Obama should make a recess appointment:
Article II, Section 2 of our Constitution reads: “Power to nominate the Justices is vested in the President of the United States, and appointments are made with the advice and consent of the Senate.” Last we all checked, President Obama is the President of the United States. Appointing a Supreme Court justice is his privilege and responsibility. Republicans, incidentally, are pointing to Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee who Senate Democrats successfully blocked. But Democrats didn’t announce, hours after the vacancy was created and before any names were floated, that they would unanimously block any justice Reagan would nominate. Their opposition was specifically limited to Bork. And when Bork was blocked and Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy, he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Today, Republicans haven’t declared their opposition to a specific candidate. They have declared their opposition to President Obama nominating anyone. So what are President Obama’s options? Since he has said he will nominate a justice to fill the vacancy and not bow to this ridiculous Republican temper tantrum, my sense is he has two realistic options. The first is to nominate a superstar moderate to fill the vacancy—someone it will be very politically hard for Republicans to oppose.
Obama’s second option is a recess appointment. It just so happens that the Senate is currently in recess until Feb. 22nd. While a Supreme Court ruling in 2014 constrained such appointments, the way Senate Republicans have taken this current break might make it possible for President Obama to legally make an appointment.…Obama has strong wind at his sails to do this, with McConnell and others already declaring their blanket opposition to backing any nominee, and I’m not gonna lie, it would be a really powerful “Fuck you” gesture to make to a Republican Party that has been nothing but problematically petulant since Obama took office.
My guess is that “No Drama” Obama won’t choose this path though, despite it being reasonable. I do hope Obama at least nominates a candidate in a week or so, and then consistently pushes the Senate to perform its “advise and consent” role. Lame-duck interm appointments and executive appointments may be frowned upon (for some reason), but Obama has more than 300 days left in his term! My understanding of lame-duck was it is from November of an election year to the next inauguration the following January.
Barack Obama – 49th Ward mural
Joan Walsh has more on that topic:
Leave it to Senator majority leader Mitch McConnell to defile Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s “originalist” constitutional legacy, when he’d barely been gone 24 hours. McConnell says President Obama can’t appoint Scalia’s successor; the choice must be left to “a new president,” although Obama has more than 11 months left in his term.
Thus did McConnell seem to unilaterally rewrite the Constitution to strip a year from the president’s final term. All 43 presidents before him had four-year terms (unless they died in office or resigned, of course), but when it comes to arguably the president’s most important job, McConnell would limit Obama to three years.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said in a statement Saturday evening. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.” Note to McConnell: A majority of the American people elected Barack Obama, twice. He is the first American president to get more than 50 percent of the popular vote, twice, since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is in fact our right to have a voice in the selection of a justice. Obama is our voice.
The sudden death of Justice Scalia creates an immediate vacancy on the most important court in the United States. Senator McConnell is right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. In fact, they did — when President Obama won the 2012 election by five million votes.
Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. I can’t find a clause that says “…except when there’s a year left in the term of a Democratic President.” Senate Republicans took an oath just like Senate Democrats did. Abandoning the duties they swore to uphold would threaten both the Constitution and our democracy itself.
It would also prove that all the Republican talk about loving the Constitution is just that — empty talk.
Historians of the future may very well date the decline of the American civilization to the outcome of this Supreme Court ruling. I’m actually not kidding: remember this phrase? Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. If the Roberts Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, they will have contradicted this amendment.
This week, the owners of two secular, for-profit corporations will ask the Supreme Court to take a radical turn and allow them to impose their religious views on their employees — by refusing to permit them contraceptive coverage as required under the Affordable Care Act.
The showdown will take place Tuesday when the Supreme Court hears arguments on two consolidated challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The owners of Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts-and-crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinetmaker, want to be exempted from the sound requirement that employer health plans cover without a co-payment all birth control methods and services approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
These companies are not religious organizations, nor are they affiliated with religious organizations.
How exactly will corporations practice their religion? Will this be a requirement on quarterly statements to Wall Street investors? Who decides which sect the corporation adheres to? Is it a shareholder vote? Set by the Board of Directors? By the CEO?
And what about the employees – are they automatically enrolled in whatever religion the corporation follows? What if the employee is a non-believer? Will they be fired? Burned at the stake? What about potential customers of religious-affiliated corporations? Will shoppers have to prove their loyalty to the deity-of-choice before being allowed to complete their purchase? to enter the establishment? What if a Mammon-worshipping Ohioan became president of a large news and entertainment conglomerate? Would he be able to forcibly convert his minions into evil creatures? Oh, wait, that already happened.
Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy
And another thing: there are all sorts of crazy commandments in the Christian Bible, can a corporation pick and choose which to follow? Maybe if they are granted this birth-control dispensation, they would also be required to follow all the rules suggested in Leviticus. Such as Leviticus 19:19
19:19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.
or Leviticus 25:24
25:23 The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.
Hmm, that might change Hobby Lobby’s real estate plans…
What Do You Do for Money?
What about Matthew 6:1, which seems to directly contradict the Corporate Christians public gnashing of teeth:
6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6:3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
More from the New York Times Editorial Board:
There are several reasons why the court should find that the law does not apply, starting with the fact that secular, for-profit corporations are not “persons” capable of prayer or other religious behavior, which is a quintessentially human activity. Also, as an amicus brief filed by corporate law scholars persuasively argues, granting the religious exemption to the owners would mean allowing shareholders to pass their religious values to the corporation. The fundamental principle of corporate law is a corporation’s existence as a legal entity with rights and obligations separate from those of its shareholders.
Standing before the court, the residents’ lawyer, Douglas Laycock, suggested that a nonsectarian prayer would be satisfactory. Justice Alito wasn’t so sure.
“How could you do it?” Justice Alito asked. “Give me an example of a prayer that would be acceptable to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus … Wiccans, Baha’i.”
“And atheists,” Justice Antonin Scalia added. “Throw in atheists, too.”
Mr. Laycock reminded the justices that atheists were already out of luck based on the court’s prior decisions. Then, riffling through his documents, he suggested, “The prayers to the Almighty, prayers to the Creator.”
“To ‘the Almighty,’” Justice Alito said skeptically. “So if — if a particular religion believes in more than one god, that’s acceptable to them?”
Justice Scalia, often impatient in religion cases, couldn’t resist. “What about devil worshipers?”
Over the laughter of the courtroom, Mr. Laycock said meekly, “Well, if devil worshipers believe the devil is the almighty, they might be okay. But they’re probably out.”
And so it went, the justices trying in vain to determine what sort of prayer, if any, would be sufficiently nonsectarian, and who should be responsible for making that determination. None of them seemed to relish the idea of playing at prayer editor.
As the argument progressed it was increasingly difficult to discern any grounds on which to justify legislative prayer other than the fact that it’s something we’ve always done — which was the basis for the court’s ruling upholding such a prayer in the Nebraska legislature in 1983, when it last considered the question.
and the only real solution that comports with our secular Constitution: don’t allow government sanctioned prayers at all! Why is this a difficult concept?
But there is an alternative to “eliminating” prayer — a moment of silence, which is what the town of Greece did for years without complaint. It allows everyone to pray exactly as they wish; it even makes room for the atheists and devil worshipers.
For some — including several members of the current court — a “silence only” policy is surely a step too far. But it would be a reasonable compromise in a pluralistic society, and for justices who don’t want to become de facto prayer editors, it’s a bright line on an otherwise blurry canvas of conflicting tests and standards that have rarely satisfied anyone.
Don’t these fools read their own sacred texts? You know, the Constitution and its amendments? Like the first one!
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances
If the government sanctions a particular kind of prayer as being the “right kind” of prayer, who could argue with a straight face that this is not the government establishing a preferred religion? Only the Christian Taliban would be so bold. When is the last time you read about a city council mandating a Pastafarian chant before a city council meeting? Right, never. Only the Christians do this repugnant shit.
Somebody Please Tell This Machine I’m Not A Machine
Carl Esbeck is much more knowledgeable about the subject, and writes:
Can government knowingly take sides in a matter of religious belief or practice? More to the point, can government actively support a practice that is explicitly religious, such as prayer? This is the issue in Town of Greece v. Galloway as it ought to be framed.
Quoting with approval from Marsh v. Chambers, the Town’s main brief states that the purpose of legislative prayer is “[t]o invoke Divine guidance on a public body entrusted with making the laws.” The practice not only calls upon a God or gods, but to a Divinity interested and active in human affairs. Why else invoke guidance? This act of prayer is thus consistent with some religions but not others. Deists, for example, believe in an impersonal God. A policy of legislative prayer is doubtlessly taking a side, and no phony pluralism dressed up as “nonsectarian” prayer – a vague theism not actually practiced by anyone – can cover up that fact.
A related corruption is civil religion, the conflating of piety with patriotism. Civil religion is the confusion of religious faith with one’s love of country, an elevation of certain ceremonies, traditions, and habits of a nation to the level of the sacred. In Weisman, Justice Kennedy for the Court noted its false allure. After acknowledging the attempt by school officials to advance a “common ground” prayer, he said the Court’s precedents “caution us to measure the idea of a civic religion against the central meaning of the Religion Clauses . . . which is that all creeds must be tolerated and none favored. The suggestion that government may establish an official or civic religion as a means of avoiding the establishment of a religion with more specific creeds strikes us as a contradiction that cannot be accepted.”
Ultimately religion does not exist to sustain the political order. It’s not a program for municipal improvement or to bless those who take up civic duties. When government uses religion as a tool to achieve its political goals, the danger to religion is that it becomes a courtier in the halls of State.
I hesitate to give Rick Perry any credit for this idea, as I doubt he could even spell Supreme Court, much less suggest changes to it. I do like the idea itself though, as reported by The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg:
A Constitutional Amendment creating 18-year terms staggered every 2 years, so that each of the nine Justices would be replaced in order of seniority every other year. This would be a prospective proposal, and would be applied to future judges only. Doing this would move the court closer to the people by ensuring that every President would have the opportunity to replace two Justices per term, and that no court could stretch its ideology over multiple generations. Further, this reform would maintain judicial independence, but instill regularity to the nominations process, discourage Justices from choosing a retirement date based on politics, and will stop the ever-increasing tenure of Justices.
This ingenious idea has been kicking around in legal circles for decades. It tiptoed into wider view (PDF) in 2002, via a Washington Post op-ed piece by two prominent law professors of opposite ideological and political leanings: Yale’s Akhil Reed Amar, a Democrat, a former clerk for Stephen Breyer, and a stalwart of the liberal American Constitution Society; and Northwestern’s Steven G. Calabresi, a Republican, a former clerk for Antonin Scalia, and a co-founder of the conservative Federalist Society. In 2006, Calabresi and his colleague James Lindgren fleshed the idea out in a long article in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. Justices would still get lifetime appointments. After their eighteen years with the Supremes, they could choose to serve on other federal courts, bringing their experience and, in some cases, their wisdom to the appellate bench. Even if they didn’t exercise that option, though, their salaries would continue for life. If a Justice died or retired before his or her eighteen years were up, a substitute would be appointed via the usual process—Presidential nomination, Senate confirmation—to serve out the remainder. The interim Justice would not be eligible for reappointment to the Supreme Court, but he or she would have the same sweet post-Court deal. And what lawyer wouldn’t jump at the chance to be a Justice of the highest of high courts, if only for a year?
The Amendment—call it the Perry Plan—would solve any number of problems. From 1789 through 1970, the average tenure of a Supreme Court Justice was about fifteen years. For Justices who have retired or died since then, the average tenure has been twenty-six years. This isn’t just an artifact of longer life spans. As the Court’s importance has grown—Marbury v. Madison made it the only one of the three federal command posts that is functionally sovereign, and the polarized gridlock of the elected branches has only made it more powerful—and as it has become more “political,” aging Justices have tended to hang on well into senescence, especially when the sitting President is of a different ideological persuasion. Presidents, for their part, seek to extend their influence into the far-distant future, by finding the youngest nominee they can get away with. (Another incentive: while younger is not always wiser, it does make for a shorter paper trail.) The prospect that a Justice will be handing down decisions for close to half a century turns confirmation fights into political Armageddons. The randomness of openings abets the now-or-never mentality. Richard Nixon named four Justices during his five years in the White House; Jimmy Carter, during his four years, named zero. The Perry Plan would change all that. Voters would know that every President, every two years, would get to nominate someone for the Court.
Jimi Hendrix made an appearance at the Supreme Court on Wednesday in an argument over whether Congress acted constitutionally in 1994 by restoring copyright protection to foreign works that had once been in the public domain. The affected works included films by Alfred Hitchcock and Federico Fellini, books by C. S. Lewis and Virginia Woolf, symphonies by Prokofiev and Stravinsky and paintings by Picasso.
The suit challenging the law was brought by orchestra conductors, teachers and film archivists who say they had relied for years on the free availability of such works.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. posed the general question in the case this way: “One day I can perform Shostakovich. Congress does something. The next day I can’t. Doesn’t that present a serious First Amendment problem?”
Then the chief justice, a pioneer in the citation of popular music in legal discourse, asked the question slightly differently, invoking Hendrix, the great rock guitarist, to test the limits of the government’s position. “What about Jimi Hendrix, right? He has a distinctive rendition of the national anthem, and assuming the national anthem is suddenly entitled to copyright protection that it wasn’t before, he can’t do that, right?”
The solicitor general, Donald B. Verrilli Jr., making his debut in the post, said there were good reasons to allow Congress to restore copyright protection to works that had entered the public domain, even at some cost to free expression by performers and others. Responding to the chief justice’s hypothetical question, Mr. Verrilli said that “maybe Jimi Hendrix could claim fair use.”
fair use since the Jimi Hendrix version alters the anthem a bit, but unfortunately, even fair use is a tenuous legal foundation these days. Just ask Scott Baio, or Shepard Fairey
Near the end of his argument in the case, Golan v. Holder, No. 10-545, Mr. Falzone returned to the chief justice’s reference to performers like Hendrix.
“There can’t be any doubt, as I think Chief Justice Roberts got at, that the performance has a huge amount of original expression bound up in it,” Mr. Falzone said. “It’s the reason it’s different to see King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Company; it’s the reason it’s different when John Coltrane plays a jazz standard.”
Almost twenty years after the notorious 1991 conformation hearing, Virginia Thomas – wife of ultra-conservative Clarence Thomas, and a notorious Rethuglican Tea Bagger herself – calls up Anita Hill out of the blue, and creepily demands an apology. If I was Ms. Hill, I would turn the message over to the FBI too, there seems to be a veiled threat contained therein. Maybe Ms. Thomas had a few too many limoncellos?
Andrew Gully, senior vice president of the Brandeis University communications office, confirmed that Ms. Hill had received the message and that she had turned it over to the campus department of public safety. That office, in turn, passed it on to the F.B.I.
ABC News quoted from the voicemail:
“Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginny Thomas,” it quoted from the voicemail. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. Okay have a good day.”
Ms. Thomas has long been active in conservative circles in Washington, and in the past year has rose to greater prominence as the founder of a new nonprofit activist group, Liberty Central, which opposes what she characterizes as the leftist “tyranny” of the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats.
Her activities with the group have raised questions of judicial ethics because the group, which pays her, has accepted large contributions from unidentified donors. She began the group with two gifts of $500,000 and $50,000 from undisclosed contributors, tax forms show.
It has been a long time since I revisited the facts of the contentious proceedings, but shouldn’t Justice Thomas be proffering the apology?
ABC has more:
Mark Matthews of [ABC] affiliate KGO learned about this and reached out to Virginia Thomas.
Thomas emailed him, saying: “I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get passed what happened so long ago. That offer still stands, I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same. Certainly no offense was ever intended.”
Hill tells ABC News: “Even if it wasn’t a prank, it was in no way conciliatory for her to begin with the presumption that I did something wrong in 1991. I simply testified to the truth of my experience. For her to say otherwise is not extending an olive branch, it’s accusatory.”
She continues: “I don’t apologize. I have no intention of apologizing and I stand by my testimony in 1991.”
If you hadn’t heard, the increasingly partisan U.S. Chamber of Commerce has become one of the biggest funders of attack ads against Democrats, thanks to generous contributions from Rupert Murdoch, and elsewhere…
The largest attack campaign against Democrats this fall is being waged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade association organized as a 501(c)(6) that can raise and spend unlimited funds without ever disclosing any of its donors. The Chamber has promised to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat candidates like Jack Conway, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jerry Brown, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). As of Sept. 15th, the Chamber had aired more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates alone, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project. The Chamber’s spending has dwarfed every other issue group and most political party candidate committee spending. A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding. And while the Chamber will likely assert it has internal controls, foreign money is fungible, permitting the Chamber to run its unprecedented attack campaign. According to legal experts consulted by ThinkProgress, the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations in American elections.
In fact, neither the [Washington] Post nor the [New York] Times “refudiated” the ThinkProgress report. Both merely quoted Chamber of Commerce officials who only discussed the limited “AmCham” funds, only one of several avenues for foreign funding of the Chamber. Both articles recognized that there is no outside oversight of the Chamber’s money flow. “Money, however, is fungible,” the New York Times editorial board explained, “and it is impossible for an outsider to know whether the group is following its rules.” As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes, “The Chamber still hasn’t addressed in any detail the core allegation against it.”
Only Gillespie has made the “charge of illegal criminal activity.” Although it is illegal to solicit foreign funds for electioneering, the essential fact is that there are no disclosure requirements that provide oversight to know whether or not the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is obeying the law. The Chamber successfully lobbied to kill the DISCLOSE Act, which would have closed the loopholes opened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
This all stems from the Citizens United case, of course, which is going to upend politics even more in coming elections, tilt the balance even more towards the wealthy. Pathetic, but we are rapidly becoming a third world country, with crony capitalism, an eviscerated middle class, etc. etc., yadda yadda.
A few interesting links collected July 8th through July 15th:
CAFE MPG Standards and Driving – How CAFE rules will change the way we drive – Popular Mechanics – (Photo by swanksalot) The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations were recently stiffened by the largest degree in over two decades. Also, fuel-economy targets will be based on the car’s footprint—the area defined by multiplying the vehicle’s wheelbase by the track width—and every model must improve. It’s estimated that these changes will increase new-car fuel economy by about 24 percent by 2016. Here’s what automakers will do to get there.
LeBron James Is A Cocksucker – It doesn’t matter where he opts to go. If he goes to Chicago, he’s a cocksucker. If he goes to Miami, he’s a cocksucker. Even if he goes back to Cleveland, he’s a goddamn cocksucker. He’s a self-aggrandizing sack of shit, and ESPN is a bunch of pussy-whipped enablers for giving him a free hour of airtime
Kagan got “Nasty” – Elana Kagan filed an amicus brief arguing that 2 Live Crew’s album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be, which had been banned by a federal judge because of its sexual content, wasn’t obscene in part because no one could possibly be aroused by it. “Nasty does not physically excite anyone who hears it,” Kagan wrote, “much less arouse a shameful and morbid sexual response.” A higher court ultimately overturned the ban.
Virginia Thomas has proudly lent her name to the anti-patriotic, anti-American, anti-progressive Tea Party movement.
As Virginia Thomas tells it in her soft-spoken, Midwestern cadence, the story of her involvement in the “tea party” movement is the tale of an average citizen in action.
“I am an ordinary citizen from Omaha, Neb., who just may have the chance to preserve liberty along with you and other people like you,” she said at a recent panel discussion with tea party leaders in Washington. Thomas went on to count herself among those energized into action by President Obama’s “hard-left agenda.”
But Thomas is no ordinary activist.
She is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and she has launched a tea-party-linked group that could test the traditional notions of political impartiality for the court.
In January, Virginia Thomas created Liberty Central Inc., a nonprofit lobbying group whose website will organize activism around a set of conservative “core principles,” she said.
The group plans to issue score cards for Congress members and be involved in the November election, although Thomas would not specify how. She said it would accept donations from various sources — including corporations — as allowed under campaign finance rules recently loosened by the Supreme Court.
I cannot recall a similar public declaration of intent from the spouse of any Supreme Court Justice in our nation’s history. Can you? The equivalent would be if the wife of Justice Thurgood Marshall joined the John Birchers, or William Rehnquist’s wife started a local chapter of Sandinista National Liberation Front, or Justice John Marshall’s wife decided to hold a Friends of French Liberty soirée in her salon. None of these other things happened, but rules are always different for Rovian Republicans, aren’t they?
Under judicial rules, judges must curb political activity, but a spouse is free to engage.
Really, this could be grounds for impeachment – Clarence Thomas is no friend to liberty, no friend to America, no friend to the Constitution if you want to get down to it. Justice Thomas has often skirted close to the edge of impropriety, and doesn’t believe in the concept of conflict of interest, or recusal. Recusal wasn’t mentioned in the 4,543 words1 comprising the Constitution of the United States after all, so why would a strict constitutionalist like Justice Thomas believe in it?
Virginia Thomas has long been a passionate voice for conservative views. She has worked for former Republican Rep. Dick Armey of Texas and for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank with strong ties to the GOP.
In 2000, while at the Heritage Foundation, she was recruiting staff for a possible George W. Bush administration as her husband was hearing the case that would decide the election. When journalists reported her work, Thomas said she saw no conflict of interest and that she rarely discussed court matters with her husband.
and of course, the rules of political engagement have recently changed:
As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Liberty Central can raise unlimited amounts of corporate money and largely avoid disclosing its donors.
Because of a recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, the group may also spend corporate money freely to advocate for or against candidates for office.
Justice Thomas was part of the 5-4 majority in that case.
including signatures, which is a stupid way to count, if you ask me [↩]
Wouldn’t this be funny, if the tobacco giants suddenly had to cough up $280,000,000,000? Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations sounds like an apt description of Altria and others, actually. Their business model was always pretty obvious: convince consumers that cigarettes weren’t all that bad for you, and especially that Brand A was better than Brand B.
The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Friday to review a 2006 federal fraud racketeering conviction against the tobacco industry and to authorize the district judge in the case to require tobacco companies to give up as much as $280 billion in “ill-gotten gains.”
In the 2006 decision, nine tobacco companies and two trade organizations were found to have deceived the public about the dangers of secondhand smoke and so-called light cigarettes, and to have manipulated the nicotine levels in cigarettes.
The companies “have marketed and sold their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs,” Judge Gladys Kessler, of the Federal District Court in Washington, wrote in a 1,653-page opinion after a nine-month trial.
The case was filed by the Clinton administration in 1999 under a civil statute normally used for organized crime.
Although the industry lost the case, it avoided crippling monetary damages. Judge Kessler had originally agreed to consider requiring the tobacco companies to give up profits if they lost the case, but she was overruled after the industry filed a pretrial motion with an appeals court.
iPad About « The New Adventures of Stephen Fry – I have always thought Hans Christian Andersen should have written a companion piece to the Emperor’s New Clothes, in which everyone points at the Emperor shouting, in a Nelson from the Simpson’s voice, “Ha ha! He’s naked.” And then a lone child pipes up, ‘No. He’s actually wearing a really fine suit of clothes.” And they all clap hands to their foreheads as they realise they have been duped into something worse than the confidence trick, they have fallen for what E. M. Forster called the lack of confidence trick. How much easier it is to distrust, to doubt, to fold the arms and say “Not impressed”. I’m not advocating dumb gullibility, but it is has always amused me that those who instinctively dislike Apple for being apparently cool, trendy, design fixated and so on are the ones who are actually so damned cool and so damned sensitive to stylistic nuance that they can’t bear to celebrate or recognise obvious class, beauty and desire.
Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com – Justice Alito's conduct and the Court's credibility – There's a reason that Supreme Court Justices — along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff — never applaud or otherwise express any reaction at a State of the Union address. It's vital — both as a matter of perception and reality — that those institutions remain apolitical, separate and detached from partisan wars. The Court's pronouncements on (and resolutions of) the most inflammatory and passionate political disputes retain legitimacy only if they possess a credible claim to being objectively grounded in law and the Constitution, not political considerations. The Court's credibility in this regard has — justifiably — declined substantially over the past decade, beginning with Bush v. Gore (where 5 conservative Justices issued a ruling ensuring the election of a Republican President), followed by countless 5-4 decisions in which conservative Justices rule in a way that promotes GOP political beliefs, while the more "liberal" Justices do to the reverse