Posts Tagged 'Supreme court'

I’m Available

As long as the Republicans have decided to close their eyes, ears and mouths when it comes to even considering a Supreme Court replacement for Scalia, I’d like to apply for the job.

It makes no sense to me for the Black Guy to nominate a truly qualified person since the selection would be sentenced to the bowels of an already constipated Senate.  And the nominee would be also be harming his or her chances at some other important job.  Like Postal Commissioner or Surgeon General, guys who have a lot of impactful things to do.

So, since I have no desire to shred envelopes or tell people to quit drinking good vodka, I hereby throw my hat into the ring. I’ve got very little to do for the next ten months so I can devote my full attention to filling the vacancy created by Scalia’s timely departure.

And I have no baggage to bring to the Court. I’m not an attorney, know next to nothing about the law and have, as evidenced by my blogs, no axe to grind with anyone. My last brush with the law was a parking ticket thirty years ago, so vetting by the FBI should take less than a day.

If I am nominated and confirmed, I promise to emulate the way some others behave on the highest bench in the land. In particular, I will refrain from opening my mouth in open court, thereby eliminating any possibility of shaming myself or causing embarrassment to my colleagues. This has worked well for at least one member of the court who has, it is said, been present but silent for more than two decades.

Actually, what with the ease of communicating electronically, I can stay home, listen to the proceedings with my stereo headphones and then vote by pressing a button, just like many of our Congressmen or Senator Rubio.

My nearly four score age is a plus too. Already living on borrowed time, an accelerated departure is probably in the cards as a result of the stress I will be under deciding the fate of others. Forget about the lack of impunity or accountability enjoyed by the sitting justices. Being Jewish, I bring a boatload of guilt to the job, sure to make my life a living hell. So, I’m probably up for a short, quiet, no waves tenure that’ll probably be over before The Donald squats in the Oval Office.

On the rare occasions that I will be present in the courtroom, I promise to bring a stoic, judicial appearance that will bring confidence to my colleagues and to those presenting arguments to the Court. Nodding knowingly at the right moments and curling my lip when appropriate will enhance my stature with others.

Depending completely on my law clerks to form my opinions will be standard operating procedure. After all, who knows the law better, an old guy like me or someone fresh out of law school angling for a future zillion dollar job with a multi-national law firm.

So there you have it. A no-risk solution to a problem that everyone thought was a Constitutional crisis. I’ll even buy my own lunch.

I hope that the Black Guy and the Kentucky Colonel are reading this blog. You guys know how to reach me. But don’t take too long. I expect to soon hear from The Donald about the job of Attorney General.

Hobby Lobby and the Supremes

It was Tuesday, about a week before the Supremes were scheduled to release their much-anticipated opinion about Hobby Lobby’s refusal to pay for contraceptives.

Justice Roberts had just strolled into the exclusive coffee nook provided to the Supremes and was feeling pretty good about the decision to rule in Hobby Lobby’s favor.  Hoping for a quiet cup of double latte, the Justice sat alone at the table and waited for the delivery of the welcome beverage and a few moments of silence.

The nook door opened and there was Justice Scalia.  He lifted his skirts and sidled over to occupy the seat across from Roberts.  A look of “do I really need this” flashed across Robert’s face only to be replaced by a sense of resignation.

“We showed those three broads who’s boss, didn’t we Johnny?” Scalia said with bravado.  “You’d think that sissy-pants Breyer would wise up and switch to our team before he ends up on the losing side of any case that even remotely smacks of religious rights.  It’s a man’s world and that’s the way it’s gonna stay.  As long as I can keep twanging Thomas’s strings and Alito keeps fingering his crucifix during oral arguments, our side is going to last a thousand years.  You should excuse the obvious comparison.”

Deprived of tasting his latte by being drawn into this conversation, Roberts cautioned “Look Tony, I had all I could handle convincing that switch-hitter Kennedy to see it our way.  He kept ranting about what might happen when other fanatics brought their own religious rights to court.  Like refusing to pay for blood transfusions, vaccinations, and sex change operations.”

“And, that cockamamie add-on language he forced on me that makes the ruling only apply to closely held corporations.  Only a moron would buy that one.  How am I going to tell DuPont or the Koch Brothers that they don’t have a right to bring their religious beliefs to court when I already told them they are a “person” and can spend as much goddamn money on elections as they like?”

Scalia intoned “You worry too much Johnny.  None of our 5-4 decisions make much sense anyway.  And we’ve got a job for life.  So who gives a shit if most of the country either can’t figure out what we did or what it really means.  I’ve been pissing off people since 1986 when that bozo Reagan put me on the bench.  I’ve been here longer than any of you and I’m still having a ball.”

“So what if the only parties I get invited to are hosted by the Heritage Foundation, the American Family Association, and Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition.  Their money is good, the booze top-notch and the broads…oh the broads.  Crap, I could do this forever and, given that my healthcare is paid for 100% by the government, I probably will.”

“And so what if Hobby Lobby sponsored my last trip to the Bahamas?  I gave a rousing speech about religious freedom and how it trumps everything but gun rights.  They loved me.  Even invited me back this fall to talk about anything I wanted.  Maybe about why I think slavery was the best thing that happened to this country.”

“Ya know, Tony, someday we’re not gonna be in the majority.  The black guy or Hillary is likely to appoint someone who doesn’t see it our way.  I sometimes wonder if we shouldn’t be a little more cooperative and not so cocksure.  I don’t want to spend my later years writing dissenting opinions about women’s reproductive rights or new gun laws. And, since we’ve shown that we don’t give two shits about the court’s historical precedents,  I’d hate to see most of our opinions dumped on the slag heap of history by a bunch of left-wingers.”

Just then the door opened and Justice Thomas appeared.  “See that guy?” Scalia whispered.  “Nothing bothers him.  Last February it was eight years since Clarence asked a question from the bench during an oral argument.  He sits in his chair, leans back and stares at the ceiling like the answers are pasted up there.  His eyelids are heavy and he strokes his chin hoping to look more intelligent.”

“Johnny, you really need to be more like him. Don’t worry so much. I’ll handle the tough stuff, just like I’ve been doing for the last twenty-eight years.”

They should see how it feels

They need to know how it feels.

The Supremes, in a 5 to 4 decision, today opened the door to the unbridled conduct of religious prayer at government sponsored gatherings.

Five black-robed Christians, voicing their opinion through Justice Kennedy, said that the prayers offered at a Greece, New York town meeting were “merely ceremonial.”  Without any real meaning or importance, I suppose.  Sort of like the Pledge of Allegiance.  Or maybe the credits at the beginning of a movie. No big deal.

“Ceremonial prayer,” Kennedy wrote, “is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define.”  So it seems, according to the Justice, that people should be free to ignore the rule of law, and piss on their neighbors, if it offends their religious beliefs.  The Ayatollah is surely smiling.

The Greece, NY town officials took pains to note that they had tried, with little success, to find non-Christians, including atheists, to do the opening prayers. Obviously those officials haven’t a clue as to what an atheist is.  So rather than mothballing the religious invocations due to a paucity of Muslim, Hindu or Jewish religious leaders, they continued their usual practice unabated and with a distinctly Christian aura.

The two citizens who brought the suit against the town said, according to the Justice, that they felt excluded and offended.  Rising to his full height, Kennedy told them to suck it up and added “Adults often encounter speech they find disagreeable.”  Not in his court, I bet.

The Justice is also much too busy to spend any significant time deliberating over what is religiously offensive or what is merely ceremonial.  He whined “To hold that invocations must be nonsectarian would force the legislatures that sponsor prayers and the courts that are asked to decide these cases to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech…”  So let’s just pretend that the Constitution’s First Amendment doesn’t apply when government bodies pray.  There. Done. Next case.

I was reminded of the time that I took a business trip to Chicago where a next day meeting was scheduled at 9am on the Southside’s 71st and State streets.  Seriously misjudging my travel time from Chicago’s North Side (mostly white) to the South Side (nearly all black), I arrived at my destination an hour early.  Seeking a calming cup of coffee, I stumbled into the only restaurant open at that hour, a McDonald’s, and was greeted by a sea of black faces, all staring at me like I had just dropped into their midst from an alien ship.  I felt a heightened sense of exclusion but I also got some idea of what those people probably felt when the roles were reversed.

I’m certain that a number of the Justices must have thought “Well, if you don’t want to take part in the religious invocation, just leave the room and rejoin the party when we finish.  No harm, no foul.”  Sure.  I can just visualize the poor sap returning from the hallway and displaying himself as a blatant non-believer to those by whom he must be judged or with whom he must transact business.

As a Jew I feel highly offended by today’s decision.  But our long history of offenses is much too involved to cover in this miserable blog.  Nor can I begin to delve into the long list of offenses perpetrated by the religious majorities in other lands on religious minorities that did not share their point of view.

Today’s ruling diminishes, rather than enlarges, the concept of religious freedom because it restricts the right of the minority to be free of discrimination in a public setting.  Which is probably why the founding fathers decided to feature freedom of and freedom from religion in the First Amendment.  So my advice to the five black-robed Justices is to spend more time in the company of those who are different from themselves.  And see how it feels.

Is that Lou on the Bench?

I nearly fell out of my chair.

Browsing through the NY Times yesterday I stumbled across a link that promised to regale me with a dissertation about Antonin Scalia’s attitude toward gay marriage. Expecting some humorous reading on an otherwise dull day, I clicked on it and was presented with a photo that purported to be the renowned Supreme Court Justice standing at a lectern.

Scalia at lectern

But, instead, there before me was Lou Costello. Lou, the master of buffoonery. The guy whose “Who’s on First” routine caused all of us to stumble as we vainly tried to repeat that classic baseball conversation between Lou and his pal, Bud Abbott.

Checking my calendar, I confirmed that it was about a week too early to be an April Fool’s joke. Was it possible that the NY Times had made an error? Could the world’s greatest newspaper have published the wrong image?

And then I thought…what difference does it make? Those two clowns are interchangeable. Except that Lou doesn’t have a seat on the Supreme Court.

There’s little doubt about the way Antonin swings on the subject of gay rights. In his 2003 dissent from the Court’s overturning of Texas sodomy laws he said… Americans have every right to enforce “the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct” in order to protect “themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.” On this first day of Passover, I’m sure that had he been serving in Pharaoh’s court he would have condoned the enslavement of the Jews as being a lifestyle appropriate for both the Egyptians and those who they had enslaved.

Similarly, last month he voiced his displeasure with the Voting Rights Act. Specifically, he dismissed the entire document as a perpetuation of racial entitlement. I doubt that neither Daniel Day Lewis nor Abraham Lincoln would have been shocked by his astounding repudiation of the thirteenth amendment.

But I shouldn’t selectively pick on Justice Scalia. At today’s first day of arguments centered on the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, Justice Alito had this to offer…You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution, which is newer than cell phones or the Internet?

Justice Kennedy echoed these thoughts by expressing concern for the unknown impact of allowing same-sex marriage…We have five years of information to weigh against 2,000 years of history or more. There’s no point in rushing things, unless you are the discriminatee, not the discriminator.

Although Justice Thomas held firmly onto his avowed promise never to speak from the bench, I wonder what went through his mind when he thought about his wife, Virginia. A former aide to Dick Armey, a founder of Liberty Central, an advocacy group associated with the Tea Party, and coincidentally a white female. It was 1967 and Clarence was nineteen when the Supremes overturned state laws forbidding interracial marriage.

Perhaps gays and lesbians have not waited long enough. Perhaps they should retreat to public restrooms, back alleys and other clandestine hideaways. Perhaps they should wait while we further analyze the impact of letting two people who love each other do the same thing that other lovers do.

We’d be better off if Lou were on the bench.

Is Broccoli Like Healthcare?

We had an Ojai Library Foundation board meeting last night.  A dozen of us meet once a month to discuss the needs of the three library branches in the Ojai Valley and what we can do to make life a little bit better for them.  Looking around the table I realized that nearly all of us are old.  And, while besieged by the unrelenting ravages of a deteriorating body, we enjoy relatively decent health due in no small part to socialized medicine.  I’ve been a Socialist for almost seven years and I’ve got a red, white and blue card to prove it.  Carried in my wallet, all I need do is fumble through it, get past my AARP supplementary coverage card, the AARP drug card and my AARP membership card to find the holy grail of healthcare, my Medicare card.

Before I became a Socialist, I got semi-annual notices from Blue Cross cheerfully announcing a ten or fifteen percent increase in my monthly premium.  These unwelcome messages were generally preceded by an introductory comment about the uncontrollable increase in the cost of medical care.  Never accompanied by a “gee, we’re sorry to do this to you” or “please accept our sincere apologies for dragging more money out of your pocket and into our bank account”, Blue Cross knew full well that I was a captive audience unable to thumb my nose at them, sentenced to eternal imprisonment in their clutches, afraid of losing my coverage, and then being denied reinstatement because of the dreaded pre-existing conditions monster.

When I had a boat, the usual joke was that the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life were the day he bought it and the day he sold it.  I think that the same applies to the day you become a Socialist, tear up your Blue Cross card and stuff your Medicare card in your wallet…except the happiness continues for the rest of your life.  Ah, Socialism.

We are now observing an historical battle between the forces of light and darkness.  Depending on your political persuasion you can be whichever you choose to be.  If you believe that it’s every man (and woman) for himself, that this country is based on hard work, the luck of the draw, fending  for yourself, and healthcare being like broccoli, then you can choose to consider yourself aligned with the forces of light.  But if you think every man (and woman) has an obligation to help those less fortunate, and that healthcare is not like broccoli, then you too can label yourself a member of the light force.  Sith or Jedi, it’s a matter of perception.

The Supreme Court is made up of the same sort of people, some say Sith, some say Jedi.  Their personalities, predilections and biases are there for all of the world to see.  And now we and they are once again facing a turning point in our country’s history.  Are we like broccoli or are we something else.? Are we like Scalia or are we like Ginsburg?  Are we like Thomas or like Sotomayor?  You know the cast.

Reading about the Court’s deliberations and listening to the talking heads is like watching a pro basketball game.  The home team is in the lead, then the visitors, then back again.  All the while you know that you can get up off the couch and do something more useful like grab a beer, because the outcome won’t be determined until the last two minutes of the game.

Frankly, I think the Court should dump the whole thing, not just the mandate. Then the Republicans can spend the rest of the campaign season explaining why 40 million Americans were deprived of healthcare, why the pre-existing condition monster was freed from captivity, why the richest 1% of the population continues to enjoy unprecedented tax breaks, and why they and us Socialists can have unlimited access to expensive drugs and unnecessary medical procedures.

But just remember this in November.  The most important thing a president can do is appoint a justice of the Supreme Court.  Congress can pass laws but only the Court can bless them.

Who me? Biased? Damn right.

So Jeff Beauregard Sessions, senator from the great state that’s a model for unbiased, let the chips fall where they may, equal opportunity says…You know Sonia, it’s really important that judges keep an open mind when it comes to applying the law.  You can’t let your upbringing, skin color or gender influence you.

I stare at the TV,  look around the hearing room, remember George Wallace, and try to imagine what’s going on in the minds of those sharing the spotlight with the senator from Alabama.

Sonia…You know Jeff, you’re a real jerk.  If you think that I’m not going to let my upbringing influence me, then you’re dumber than I think you are.  And if you’re doing this for the benefit of your constituents, then they should have found someone more credible than you, like Strom Thurmond.  Ooops, sorry.  He’s dead, isn’t he?

Jeff…If it was up to me I’d never let a woman on this court.  Especially one whose mother comes from a place where their only claim to fame is Roberto Clemente.  In fact, even though that Uncle Tom votes the way Scalia tells him, I’d kick his black ass off the court too.

Pat Leahy…Hey dip-shit.  You haven’t got a China-man’s chance of railroading this nomination.  If you want to make it sound like you’ve never heard of lynchings, segregated toilets, and Rosa Parks, go ahead.  And quit combing your hair over.

Sonia…Yes, you bet I meant it…in spades.  A Latina would make better decisions than old white guys whose only exposure to folks like me was when they asked “how much to clean my house…that much?”

Jeff…As soon as we kick Obama’s ass back to where he came from, we’ll get some real good nominees in this room.  Put here by our leader, the Snow Queen.  Folks who don’t make the law, but only follow orders.  Like Eichman and Mengele.

Pat…Must be getting close to lunch.  Won’t this guy ever shut up?  Doesn’t he know we got sixty votes?

Sonia…And another thing, white boy.  Those New Jersey firefighters.  One lousy vote by the Supremes and it would have gone in my favor.  And you’d be sitting here with your thumb up your fanny wondering what hit you.

Jeff…Wish I was in the land of cotton.




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