Thursday Reads: SCOTUS=American Taliban

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American Taliban

Good Day, Sky Dancers.

As far as I’m concerned, the most important story today is that the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court is signaling the approaching death of reproductive rights for American women. I was so angry that I couldn’t sleep last night, and I’m not thinking too clearly this morning. As I’m sure you know, the Court allowed the insane Texas abortion ban to take effect around midnight on Tuesday, without explanation or comment. Late Wednesday night, the court released the justices’ opinions. The New York Times summarized all of them: Supreme Court, Breaking Silence, Won’t Block Texas Abortion Law.

The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent.

The majority opinion was unsigned and consisted of a single long paragraph. It said the abortion providers who had challenged the law in an emergency application to the court had not made their case in the face of “complex and novel” procedural questions. The majority stressed that it was not ruling on the constitutionality of the Texas law and did not mean to limit “procedurally proper challenges” to it.

But the ruling was certain to fuel the hopes of abortion opponents and fears of abortion rights advocates as the court takes up a separate case in its new term this fall to decide whether Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to the procedure, should be overruled. It also left Texas abortion providers turning away patients as they scrambled to comply with the law, which prohibits abortions after roughly six weeks.

The “conservatives” were too cowardly to explain their votes, but the other four justices filed dissenting opinions

“The court’s order is stunning,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”

“The court has rewarded the state’s effort to delay federal review of a plainly unconstitutional statute, enacted in disregard of the court’s precedents, through procedural entanglements of the state’s own creation,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “The court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women, but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law.”

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that he would have blocked the law while appeals moved forward.

54c8b036fb764f80403fcfd33e35bd8bec-texas-abortion-ban.rsquare.w1200“The statutory scheme before the court is not only unusual, but unprecedented,” he wrote. “The legislature has imposed a prohibition on abortions after roughly six weeks, and then essentially delegated enforcement of that prohibition to the populace at large. The desired consequence appears to be to insulate the state from responsibility for implementing and enforcing the regulatory regime.”

The chief justice underscored the tentative nature of the majority’s ruling. “Although the court denies the applicants’ request for emergency relief today,” he wrote, “the court’s order is emphatic in making clear that it cannot be understood as sustaining the constitutionality of the law at issue.”

Justice Elena Kagan criticized the court’s practice of deciding important issues in rushed decisions without full briefing or oral argument — on what Supreme Court specialists call its “shadow docket.”

“Today’s ruling illustrates just how far the court’s ‘shadow-docket’ decisions may depart from the usual principles of appellate process,” she wrote. “That ruling, as everyone must agree, is of great consequence.”

“Yet the majority has acted without any guidance from the court of appeals — which is right now considering the same issues,” she wrote. “It has reviewed only the most cursory party submissions, and then only hastily. And it barely bothers to explain its conclusion — that a challenge to an obviously unconstitutional abortion regulation backed by a wholly unprecedented enforcement scheme is unlikely to prevail.”

“In all these ways,” Justice Kagan wrote, “the majority’s decision is emblematic of too much of this court’s shadow-docket decision making — which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent and impossible to defend.”

“Today’s ruling illustrates just how far the court’s ‘shadow-docket’ decisions may depart from the usual principles of appellate process,” she wrote. “That ruling, as everyone must agree, is of great consequence.”

“Yet the majority has acted without any guidance from the court of appeals — which is right now considering the same issues,” she wrote. “It has reviewed only the most cursory party submissions, and then only hastily. And it barely bothers to explain its conclusion — that a challenge to an obviously unconstitutional abortion regulation backed by a wholly unprecedented enforcement scheme is unlikely to prevail.”

“In all these ways,” Justice Kagan wrote, “the majority’s decision is emblematic of too much of this court’s shadow-docket decision making — which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent and impossible to defend.”

d9d58583-0b79-4b7c-a049-b373e5393510-RBB_Texas_rally_for_life_65707Justices Breyer and Kagan joined Roberts’ dissent, and Breyer also wrote his own dissent. Zoe Tillman at Buzzfeed News: 

Breyer — who has spent the past year fending off calls from the left to step aside and let President Joe Biden appoint a successor while he has a Democratic majority in the Senate — wrote that it was true that the lawsuit raised difficult threshold questions about how this type of case could be handled by the courts. But he wrote that there had to be a way for courts to deal with an imminent violation of a party’s legal rights.

“There may be other not-very-new procedural bottles that can also adequately hold what is, in essence, very old and very important legal wine: The ability to ask the Judiciary to protect an individual from the invasion of a constitutional right — an invasion that threatens immediate and serious injury,” Breyer wrote.

Amber Phillips at The Washington Post: What to know about the Texas abortion law.

The law, which was passed in May and went into effect Wednesday, says that any pregnancy in which a heartbeat is detected cannot be aborted. That effectively means if you’re six weeks pregnant, you cannot have an abortion in the state of Texas, because that is around when most fetal cardiac activity can be detected. (Doctors opposed to this legislation say that is misleading language, and that the fluttering detected isn’t always necessarily a heartbeat so early in a pregnancy.)

The law makes no exceptions for rape, sexual abuse or incest.

The law does something else novel: It effectively incentivizes the public to police abortions. It allows people — anyone living in the state of Texas — to sue an abortion provider or anyone else they suspect is “aiding and abetting” abortions after that six-week mark. And the law sets a $10,000 award for any successful lawsuit to stop an abortion.

Taken together, those decisions allowed Texas lawmakers to essentially end abortions in their state, abortion rights activists say.

210831-MJF-texas-abortion-tase_jigpixOn the SCOTUS decision:

The court announced that a five-person conservative majority had decided to let the ban stand. The court’s most conservative justices, including the three President Donald Trump nominated, such as Amy Coney Barrett, decided to let the law stand. In a one-paragraph statement, these justices said there are “serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law,” but indicated that the way the law was set up, the court is unsure how to stop if from going into effect.

The three liberal justices, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., dissented. Roberts said he would stop the law from going into effect because it is so novel and far-reaching.

The justices didn’t say anything about whether the statute is constitutional. They just said it will stay in place while that question is litigated.

That was an unexpected move that could signal the court is ready to strike down Supreme Court precedent created nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade that guarantees a woman access to abortion services in the first half of her pregnancy before the fetus would be viable outside the womb,said Lisa Soronen, executive director of the State and Local Legal Center, which supports municipalities in cases before the Supreme Court.

“The justices know that this Texas law violates Roe v. Wade. They all know that,” she said. To keep the law in place, “that still doesn’t overturn Roe v. Wade, it just makes a really big statement about what they think of it.”

Phillips notes that other Republican-controlled states are likely to quickly pass similar laws effectively banning abortion. Read about it at the WaPo link.

Joan Biscupic at CNN: In the shadows: Why the Supreme Court’s lack of transparency may cost it in the long run.

Supreme Court justices tout judicial integrity and the importance of public confidence in their decisions, but the court’s midnight silence Tuesday while letting a Texas law that curtails abortion rights take effect — followed by a midnight order Wednesday — offers the latest and most compelling example of its lack of transparency and the cost.

The justices’ secretive patterns have gained new attention as confidence in all government institutions has waned. Witnesses before a bipartisan commission set up by President Joe Biden to consider court revisions — most visibly, the options of term limits and the addition of more seats — have targeted the justices’ secrecy and how it contributes to public distrust of the high court, along with the lopsided advantage the court gives to some litigants.

Such lack of transparency is only part of the context behind the Supreme Court’s silence in the closely watched Texas case. The emboldened conservative majority already is poised to reverse or at least undercut Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that declared women’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy. The court announced last spring that it would take up in the 2021-22 session a dispute over Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks. The Texas law goes much further, making it illegal to terminate a pregnancy when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which may be typically around six weeks.

Both laws sharply conflict with Roe v. Wade, which forbade states from interfering with a woman’s abortion decision before the fetus would be viable, that is, able to live outside the womb, at about 22-24 weeks.

The justices have made plain their concerns regarding public mistrust and misunderstanding of the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts regularly declares that judges differ from elected lawmakers, and Justice Stephen Breyer protested in a speech at Harvard last spring that they should not be regarded as “junior-varsity politicians.” Breyer cited the court’s long-standing preservation of abortion rights as evidence of its nonpartisan, nonideological character.

Separately last spring, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch emphasized in a joint appearance, advocating civics education, the deep reasoning that underlies their opinions. They criticized those who would look only for a bottom-line judgment.

Yet no judgment — or word of any sort — came late Tuesday night, with the clock ticking, anxiety rising among both sides in Texas and a national audience watching.

Read the rest at CNN.

More opinions:

Gail Collins at The New York Times: Texas Is Trying to Overturn Roe v. Wade All by Itself.

Mark Joseph Stern at Slate: The Supreme Court Overturned Roe v. Wade in the Most Cowardly Manner Imaginable.

Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: Opinion: Texas shows us what post-democracy America would look like.

Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: Republicans Are Giving Abortion Opponents Power Over the Rest of Us.

Any man who expresses “concerns” about women in Afghanistan needs to explain why they aren’t concerned about women in Texas and ultimately the entire U.S. Or they need to STFU!

Hang in there Sky Dancers!!


Tuesday Reads: The End of Roe?

Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Good Morning!!

Today I want to follow up on what Daknikat wrote yesterday about the Supreme Court and abortion rights. Thanks to all the Bernie Bros and Hillary Haters, we ended up with Donald Trump in 2016, and he was able to appoint three right wing nuts to the Supreme Court.

We could have had the first woman president, and she could have nominated three liberals to the court. But misogyny and anti-Clinton propaganda won Trump enough electoral votes to take the White House even though he lost the popular vote. Now women will face the consequences.

 

Mark Joseph Stern at Slate: The Supreme Court Is Taking Direct Aim at Roe v. Wade.

On Monday morning, the Supreme Court announced that it will reconsider the constitutional prohibition against abortion bans before fetal viability. This decision indicates that the ultra-conservative five-justice majority is prepared to move aggressively against Roe v. Wade rather than tinker around the edges of abortion rights. The court will take on state laws that seek to outlaw abortion at early—and perhaps all—stages of pregnancy. It seems likely that the justices took this case for the express purpose of overturning Roe and allowing the government to enact draconian abortion bans that have been unconstitutional for nearly half a century.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that SCOTUS took up on Monday, is not a subtle threat to Roe. It is, rather, a direct challenge to decades of pro-choice precedent. In 2018, Mississippi passed a law forbidding abortions after 15 weeks. This measure had two purposes: to restrict abortion, yes, but also to contest Supreme Court precedent protecting abortion rights. In Roe and later decisions—most notably Planned Parenthood v. Casey—the Supreme Court held that the Constitution forbids bans on abortion before the fetus has achieved viability. Since there is no doubt that, at 15 weeks, a fetus is not viable, even with the most heroic medical interventions, Mississippi’s law was clearly designed as a vehicle to let SCOTUS reevaluate (and reverse) Roe.

The lower courts understood this plan. Judge James Ho, a very conservative Donald Trump nominee, all but endorsed it when the case came before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Ho urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe—while acknowledging that, as a lower court judge bound by precedent, he could not uphold Mississippi’s abortion ban. Now the justices have vindicated Ho by accepting Mississippi’s invitation. (The court will hear arguments in the case next fall and issue a decision by the summer of 2022.) It is not difficult to guess what will happen next. But it is worth pointing out three reasons why the Supreme Court appears poised to seize upon Dobbs to eviscerate the constitutional right to abortion.

How do we know the conservatives on the Court are planning to reverse Roe v. Wade?

First, there is no split between the lower courts on the question presented in Dobbs. The Supreme Court typically takes up cases that have divided courts of appeals so the justices can provide a definitive answer that applies nationwide. Here, however, no court has claimed that, under current precedent, a state may outlaw abortions at 15 weeks. Even Ho had to admit that binding precedent “establishes viability as the governing constitutional standard.” There is no reason for the Supreme Court to hear Dobbs unless it wants to abolish this standard, which has been the law of the land for almost 50 years.

Abortion by Anil Keshari

Abortion by Anil Keshari

Second, Mississippi gave the justices several options for a more limited ruling; its petition to the court included a question that would’ve let the court modify the standard for abortion restrictions without overtly killing off Roe. But the justices rejected that alternative and agreed to consider the central question in the case: “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”

This action suggests that the conservative majority is no longer interested in gradually eroding abortion rights until they are, in reality, nonexistent….

Third, and relatedly, Barrett’s impact on this case cannot be understated. Just last summer, the Supreme Court struck down laws targeting abortion clinics in Louisiana by a 5–4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberals (with qualifications) to affirm the bottom-line rule that states may not place an “undue burden” on the right to abortion before viability. Less than three months later, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, and Trump put Barrett—a foe of abortion rights—in her seat. By doing so, Trump shored up a far-right five-justice majority that, by all appearances, is committed to ending Roe.

Greg Stohr of Bloomberg via The Washington Post: 

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard multiple cases in recent years from states trying to narrow the right to have an abortion, one of the nation’s most contentious issues. The next case is more sweeping than most. With its newly strengthened conservative majority in place, the court has agreed to hear Mississippi’s bid to ban abortion in almost all cases after 15 weeks of pregnancy. That could mean overturning, or at least gutting, the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide….

The Roe v. Wade decision established that the decision to terminate a pregnancy was a woman’s choice to make in the first trimester, and that the state could regulate abortions only later. In the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case in 1992, the Supreme Court revisited the timing issue, saying women have the right to abortion without undue interference before a fetus is viable — that is, capable of living outside the womb. The court didn’t pinpoint when viability occurs but suggested it was around 23 or 24 weeks. In 2018, the Mississippi legislature voted to outlaw most abortions after 15 weeks. The ban, which makes exceptions only in cases of severe fetal abnormality or major health risk to the mother, was challenged by the state’s only abortion facility, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and deemed unconstitutional by a federal district judge and federal appeals court. The state of Mississippi appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that viability is “not an appropriate standard for assessing the constitutionality” of abortion laws….

From Ireland--Detail from a marching banner for the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment Banner, by Alice Maher, Rachel Fallon and Breda Mayock. Photograph by Alison Laredo, Courtesy the artists

From Ireland–Detail from a marching banner for the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment Banner, by Alice Maher, Rachel Fallon and Breda Mayock. Photograph by Alison Laredo, Courtesy the artists

Three appointments to the court made by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, have given it a 6-3 conservative majority. And Trump’s last two appointees, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, replaced justices who supported the core right to abortion. If Kavanaugh and Barrett are willing to back Mississippi, abortion opponents might not even need the vote of the sixth conservative, Chief Justice John Roberts….

A decision throwing out the 1992 viability standard could immediately mean tighter abortion restrictions in a number of states. The Guttmacher Institute, which monitors and advocates for abortion rights, counts 16 states that have attempted to ban at least some abortions before viability but have been stopped by a court order.

Leah Litman and Melissa Murray at The Washington Post: Opinion: The Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority is about to show us its true colors.

On Monday morning, the court agreed to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy — a case that poses a direct attack on the constitutional right to abortion.

The decision to take the case was unsurprising. President Donald Trump vowed to appoint justices who would overrule Roe v. Wadethe 1973 decision holding that women have a constitutional right to obtain abortions. With Trump’s three historic appointments to the high court, all that opponents of Roe needed was the right vehicle. The Mississippi case gives them just that. It will be heard in the court’s term beginning in October….

It would not be unthinkable for this Supreme Court to use the Mississippi case to jettison Roe and Casey. Although stare decisis and its principle of respect for settled precedents has long been a hallmark of U.S. law, this court has in recent years refused to be bound by established precedents.

Last year, Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, two of Trump’s appointees, cast votes to overrule a case that had invalidated a pair of abortion restrictions. The term before that, in another case, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the court was duty-bound to overrule precedents that were “demonstrably erroneous.” In other writings, he has railed against Roe and Casey as perversions of constitutional law. And the court’s newest member, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, has, in her academic writing, indicated that she shares Thomas’s ideas about precedents and abortion rights.

Untitled No. 5, Abortion Series, 1998, Paula Rego

Untitled No. 5, Abortion Series, 1998, Paula Rego

Even in cases where the court has not overruled past decisions, it has gone to herculean lengths to limit prior cases, broadly refashioning entire areas of law without explicitly overruling the decisions undergirding those doctrines. And this approach might be what lies ahead for abortion.

Rather than overruling Roe and Casey, the court might say that viability is no longer a meaningful marker for determining when a state may restrict a woman’s right to choose — a decision that would be as consequential as scuttling Roe itself. It could allow states to restrict access to abortion at any point during pregnancy, sharply curtailing reproductive rights as lower courts reconsider the constitutionality of bans on abortion after 12 weeks, 10 weeks or six weeks of pregnancy. Under Roe and Casey, courts easily found all such laws unconstitutional because they prohibited abortions before viability. If the court erases viability’s significance, many abortion restrictions once easily struck down will pose more difficult questions for reviewing courts.

Read the whole thing at the WaPo.

According to The New York Times, anti-abortion activists are celebrating: ‘A Great Sense of Inspiration’: Anti-Abortion Activists Express Optimism.

Anti-abortion activists across the country expressed optimism on Monday that they might be on the cusp of achieving a long-held goal of the movement: overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that extended federal protections for abortion.

The Supreme Court announced on Monday morning that it would consider in its next term a case from Mississippi that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, with narrow exceptions….

It is the first abortion case under the court’s new 6-3 conservative majority, and activists expressed hope that this case would be the one to remove federal protections for the procedure. Such a ruling would give the right to regulate abortions at any point in pregnancy back to the states, many of which in the South and Midwest have imposed tough restrictions.

“There’s a great sense of inspiration across the country right now,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. “This is the best court we’ve had in my lifetime, and we hope and pray that this is the case to do it.”

In a statement, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, a national anti-abortion organization, called the court’s move “a landmark opportunity to recognize the right of states to protect unborn children,” and noted that state legislatures have introduced hundreds of bills restricting abortion in this legislative season.

At The Daily Beast, Emily Shugerman writes that Biden is being criticized for not doing enough to protect abortion rights: Abortion Is on SCOTUS’ Radar—and Biden Is Getting Heat.

Abortions rights advocates cheered when Joe Biden was elected, heralding his win as a “seismic shift” and a “welcome change.” Now, with the nationwide right to an abortion on the line, they’re getting a little impatient.

After Abortion, by Zois Shuttie

After Abortion, by Zois Shuttie

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced it would take on a Mississippi case that has the potential to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision making abortion legal across the country. If that happens, nearly half of the U.S. would move to prohibit the procedure, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Advocates see the decision to take on the case as a massive threat to abortion rights—and one Biden may not be taking seriously enough.

“He turned his back on people who have abortions as soon as he got into office,” said Renee Bracey Sherman, executive director of the abortion advocacy group We Testify. “What happened this morning at the Supreme Court is what happens when you turn your backs on us and ignore the restrictions we’re facing every single day.”

Pressure on Biden to act more decisively began mounting April 29, when more than 140 organizations called on the administration to prioritize changes to U.S. sexual and reproductive rights law recommended by the United Nations. The day before, nearly 60 women’s rights organizations—including Planned Parenthood and NARAL, which spent tens of millions of dollars to help elect the president—sent a letter to the administration asking them to increase funding for abortion and remove “unnecessary barriers” to access.

“The Biden-Harris administration and Congressional leadership must prioritize these policies for women and women of color,” they wrote, in a letter calling for multiple changes on behalf of American women. “We need to build back better for women and create lasting political, social and economic change.”

Click the link to read the rest.

There is much more news, and I’ll post more links in the comment thread, but to me this is the biggest issue right now. Women are on the verge of losing the rights we have been fighting for since the late 1960s. 

As always, treat this as an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads: Trump and GOP Try to Destroy U.S. Democracy

“Yellow Cat Romps Butterfly” by Kim Hong-do (1745-1806)

Good Afternoon!!

I was so taken with the Korean folk art paintings that Dakinikat posted on Monday that I decided to focus on Korean cat art today. I hope these paintings will help you deal with today’s news, which is mostly stupid coup stories. Now that the Supreme court has rejected Trump’s last ditch effort to overturn the election results, he is melting down in even more embarrassing ways than ever. Will U.S. democracy survive? 

The New York Times: Supreme Court Rejects Texas Suit Seeking to Subvert Election.

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a lawsuit by Texas that had asked the court to throw out the election results in four battleground states that President Trump lost in November, ending any prospect that a brazen attempt to use the courts to reverse his defeat at the polls would succeed.

The court, in a brief unsigned order, said Texas lacked standing to pursue the case, saying it “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.”

The order, coupled with another one on Tuesday turning away a similar request from Pennsylvania Republicans, signaled that a conservative court with three justices appointed by Mr. Trump refused to be drawn into the extraordinary effort by the president and many prominent members of his party to deny his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his victory.

Korean folk art - Magpie and Tiger

Korean folk art – Magpie and Tiger

It was the latest and most significant setback for Mr. Trump in a litigation campaign that was rejected by courts at every turn.

Texas’ lawsuit, filed directly in the Supreme Court, challenged election procedures in four states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It asked the court to bar those states from casting their electoral votes for Mr. Biden and to shift the selection of electors to the states’ legislatures. That would have required the justices to throw out millions of votes.

Mr. Trump has said he expected to prevail in the Supreme Court, after rushing the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in October in part in the hope that she would vote in Mr. Trump’s favor in election disputes.

None of the three justices Trump appointed were willing to hear the case. But Republican support for Trump’s efforts have done permanent damage to our country. 

The New York Times: ‘An Indelible Stain’: How the G.O.P. Tried to Topple a Pillar of Democracy.

The Supreme Court repudiation of President Trump’s desperate bid for a second term not only shredded his effort to overturn the will of voters: It also was a blunt rebuke to Republican leaders in Congress and the states who were willing to damage American democracy by embracing a partisan power grab over a free and fair election.

The court’s decision on Friday night, an inflection point after weeks of legal flailing by Mr. Trump and ahead of the Electoral College vote for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Monday, leaves the president’s party in an extraordinary position. Through their explicit endorsements or complicity of silence, much of the G.O.P. leadership now shares responsibility for the quixotic attempt to ignore the nation’s founding principles and engineer a different verdict from the one voters cast in November.

Many regular Republicans supported this effort, too — a sign that Mr. Trump has not just bent the party to his will, but pressed a mainstay of American politics for nearly two centuries into the service of overturning an election outcome and assaulting public faith in the electoral system. The G.O.P. sought to undo the vote by such spurious means that the Supreme Court quickly rejected the argument.

Cat looking at butterlfly Byeon Sang-byeok, mid 18th century

Cat looking at butterfly, Byeon Sang-byeok, mid 18th century

Even some Republican leaders delivered a withering assessment of the 126 G.O.P. House members and 18 attorneys general who chose to side with Mr. Trump over the democratic process, by backing a lawsuit that asked the Supreme Court to throw out some 20 million votes in four key states that cemented the president’s loss.

“The act itself by the 126 members of the United States House of Representatives, is an affront to the country,” said Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “It’s an offense to the Constitution and it leaves an indelible stain that will be hard for these 126 members to wipe off their political skin for a long time to come.”

Read more at the link.

In response to the SCOTUS decision, Texas GOP chairman Adam West suggested that states that supported the lawsuit should secede from the union. Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a more rational response:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to reject the sham GOP lawsuit demanding that Electoral College votes in four states be overturned and awarded to Donald Trump:

“The Court has rightly dismissed out of hand the extreme, unlawful and undemocratic GOP lawsuit to overturn the will of millions of American voters.

“The 126 Republican Members that signed onto this lawsuit brought dishonor to the House.  Instead of upholding their oath to support and defend the Constitution, they chose to subvert the Constitution and undermine public trust in our sacred democratic institutions.

“The pandemic is raging, with nearly 300,000 having died and tens of millions having lost jobs.  Strong, unified action is needed to crush the virus, and Republicans must once and for all end their election subversion – immediately.”

Trump reacted by skipping last night’s superspreader White House Christmas party and proceeding to melt down on Twitter. He was at it again this morning. I won’t reproduce the tweets; you can read them on Twitter if you want to endure the idiocy.

8298e29df3d8f2e58b972a7aa85ee14dSome thoughtful reactions to  Trump and GOP attacks on democracy:

Tom McCarthy at The Guardian: After the fact: the five ways Trump has tried to attack democracy post-election.

Historians could mark 2020 as the moment when Republicans applied the same zeal they have used to attack democracy in advance of elections, through voter suppression and gerrymandering, to attacking democracy on the back end, by trying to deny and overturn the results.

Here is a list of five post-election attacks on democracy by Donald Trump and Republicans that were new in 2020 but might haunt elections for years to come. 

Here’s McCarthy’s list–read the article for details: 1) Especially reckless and sustained election fraud charges, 2) Political pressure on local elections officials, 3) External legal challenges to the certification of state election results, 4) Internal political challenges to the certification of state election results, 5) The president’s role.

McCarthy on Trump’s behavior:

Should a president of the United States, after an election, be calling up county election officials in charge of certifying the results? Should a president invite lawmakers weighing an intervention in their state’s certification process for lunch? Should a president call out the mob on Twitter against a local election official or a state secretary of state who has resisted his schemes?

Whatever damage US democracy has sustained in 2020, much of it traces back to the source, to a president who did not see anything wrong in 2019 with coercing a foreign leader to try to take out a political opponent, who made the fealty of state governors a condition of pandemic aid, and who now has twisted the arms of elected officials across the United States in an effort to subvert the will of American voters.

The role that Trump has played in attacking the integrity of the American system is the most outrageous and unprecedented of all the unholy perversions of democracy that 2020 has seen. Whether that role will be replicated or reprised in future White Houses, and in future elections, could make all the difference.

Painting of Cats and Sparrows, drawn by Byeon Sang-bteij during the late period of Korean Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910

Painting of Cats and Sparrows, drawn by Byeon Sang-bteij during the late period of Korean Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910

William Saletan at Slate: Trump Is Finishing Russia’s Smear Campaign Against America.

Donald Trump’s presidency has been a gift to Russia. He has undermined NATO, withheld military aid to Ukraine, and abandoned America’s commitments to democracy and human rights. He has excused Vladimir Putin’s crimes, yielded to Russian troops in the Middle East, and dismissed Russia’s 2016 election interference as a hoax. Now Trump has been voted out by Americans, but he’s still serving Russia. He’s devoting his final days in office—and suggesting he might devote his post-presidency—to a long-standing Russian objective: destroying faith in U.S. elections.

For weeks, Trump has rejected Joe Biden’s victory as a fraud. In interviewstweetsspeeches, and a campaign rally in Georgia, Trump has accused Democrats of using dead people, undocumented immigrants, and software to manipulate the outcome. These allegations aren’t just lies. They’re replications, almost word for word, of propaganda that was spread by Russia in the United States and adopted by the Trump campaign in 2016. Russia expected Trump to lose that election, and it planned to portray his loss as evidence that American elections were rigged, that the U.S. government was illegitimate, and that the United States wasn’t really a democracy. Now that Trump has lost to Biden, that campaign of slander is underway. But it’s not being driven by Russians. It’s being driven by Republicans.

Russia’s strategy is detailed in three reports: one by the U.S. Intelligence Community, another by special counsel Robert Mueller, and a third by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee. The ultimate goal of the operation wasn’t to elect Trump. It was to spread the idea that “U.S. election results cannot be trusted.” In 2016, Putin’s propagandists used fake Facebook pages and Twitter accounts (“Army of Jesus,” “Secured Borders,” “Tea Party News”) to plant bogus rumors of “voter fraud” in multiple states. They told the same horror stories and used the same trigger words Republicans use now: “rigged,” “dead people,” “illegal aliens,” globalist-controlled voting machines, “tens of thousands of ineligible mail in … votes,” and “voter fraud caught in Philadelphia.”

Trump and his followers parroted this propaganda during the 2016 campaign. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump retweeted fake “#VoterFraud” updates written by Russian operatives. Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, Michael Flynn, and other Trump campaign advisers also retweeted messages from the Russian accounts. When the Russians circulated a false rumor that voting machines were rigged against Trump, he repeated it on Fox News. After the election, when Russian front groups spread the word that “illegals” and “machines” had robbed Trump of the popular vote, he repeated that, too. “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” he declared.

There’s much more at the link.

CUL_Tiger_Persimmon_Body02Ryan Cooper at The Week: The Constitution has an answer for seditious members of Congress. Cooper notes that the pandemic is growing exponentially, while Trump and the GOP do nothing about it. At the same time Republicans supported Trump’s effort to overturn the election results.

In short, material conditions in this country have not been this bad since 1932 at least, and the political situation has not been this bad since 1860. The logical endgame of the rapidly-accelerating Republican attempt to destroy democracy while the country burns would be civil war — if it weren’t for the high probability that Democratic leaders would be too cowardly to fight.

But it’s worth thinking about what a party seriously committed to preserving democracy would do when faced with a seditious opposition party — namely, cut them out of power and force them to behave. Democrats could declare all traitors ineligible to serve in national office, convene a Patriot Congress composed solely of people who have not committed insurrection against the American government, and use that power to re-entrench democracy….

All members of Congress swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, which establishes a republican form of government. The whole point of a republic is that contests for power are conducted through a framework of rules and democratic elections, where all parties agree to respect the result whether they lose or win. Moreover, the premise of this lawsuit was completely preposterous — arguing in effect that states should not be allowed to set their own election rules if that means more Democrats can vote — and provides no evidence whatsoever for false allegations of tens of thousands of instances of voter fraud….

…this lawsuit, even though it didn’t succeed, is a flagrant attempt to overturn the constitutional system and impose through authoritarian means the rule of a corrupt criminal whose doltish incompetence has gotten hundreds of thousands of Americans killed. It is a “seditious abuse of the judicial process,” as the states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin jointly wrote in their response to Texas trying to steal their elections.

137837cc1c976c7b6ac3e2db96f77e4dThe Constitution, as goofy and jerry-rigged as it is, stipulates that insurrectionists who violate their oath are not allowed to serve in Congress. Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, written to exclude Confederate Civil War traitors, says that “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress … who … having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same[.]” How the Supreme Court ruled, or whether Republicans actually believe their lunatic claims, is irrelevant. It’s still insurrection even if it doesn’t work out.

Democrats would have every right, both under the Constitution and under the principle of popular sovereignty outlined in the Declaration of Independence, to convene a traitor-free Congress (also including similar acts committed by Republican senators like Lindsey GrahamDavid Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and others), and pass such laws as would be necessary to preserve the American republic. That might include a national popular vote to decide the presidency, ironclad voting rights protections, a ban on gerrymandering either national or state district boundaries, full representation for the citizens of D.C. and Puerto Rico, regulations on internet platforms that are inflaming violent political extremism, a clear legal framework for the transfer of power that ends the lame duck period, and so on. States would be forced to agree to these measures before they can replace their traitorous representatives and senators. If the Supreme Court objects, more pro-democracy justices can be added.

Unfortunately the Democrats are probably too cowardly to take these necessary actions. Two more articles to check out along these lines.

The Hill: Democrat asks Pelosi to refuse to seat lawmakers supporting Trump’s election challenges.

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Chris Murphy’s surprise floor speech raises tough questions for Democrats.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a nice weekend, and please stop by and leave a comment if you have the time and inclination.


Friday Reads: Harvest of their Hands

Julien Dupre, circa 1880, In The Fields

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I hope you had a wonderful feast day!  It’s difficult for me not to think about how fortunate those of us with food and shelter are this year. I’ve watched the number of community fridges grow in my city and the food bank drive throughs are endlessly long. Unless Congress reups some kind of aid for those whose work and lives have been severely disrupted by Covid-19 we will continue to experience the kinds of things not really seen since the Great Depression.

Food Insecurity is on the rise.  Congressional Republicans seem completely disinterested.

Food insecurity appears to be on the rise across the country, worsened by the pandemic. Researchers from Northwestern University estimate food insecurity in America doubled in the first few months after the coronavirus arrived, and a recent CBS News poll shows more than one third of Americans are at least somewhat concerned they won’t have enough money for groceries in the next year. Errol Barnett reports on the growing need before the holidays.

I’d like to start by reminding everyone that some of the most essential workers in the country are Farm Workers.  No meal would be possible without them. Those of us of a certain age remember the work of César Chávez.  His Granddaughter,  Julie Chávez Rodríguez,, will now serve in the Biden Administration.

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday (Nov. 17) selected Julie Chávez Rodríguez, the granddaughter of farmworker icon César E. Chávez, to serve on his White House staff.

Rodríguez, 41, who was born in Delano, will serve as director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

As a senior adviser for Latino outreach, she is the highest-ranking Latina on the Biden campaign.

“I am proud to announce additional members of my senior team who will help us build back better than before. America faces great challenges, and they bring diverse perspectives and a shared commitment to tackling these challenges and emerging on the other side a stronger, more united nation,” said Biden in a press statement.

Rodriguez is expected to help Biden improve his outreach with the Latino population. More than 70% of Latino voters supported Biden, but he failed to garner as much support as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign in areas like Miami-Dade County and Texas border counties.

Harvest, 2015, Sunil Linus De , Kottayam

Ever wonder how that food gets to your table?  Here’s an interesting set of tweets compiled by Life Hacker to let you know “Learn How Farmers Produce Ingredients for Your Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes.”  The United Farm Workers sent these tweets with videos showing the food and a farmworker that harvests it for our use.

On Sunday, November 22nd, the United Farm Workers tweeted a call for requests: “Tell us your favorite Thanksgiving dish, and we’ll share some of what we know about the work behind the ingredients.” And after inviting people to participate, the dishes started coming in hard and fast.

In response, the UFW sent photos and videos with brief explanations, providing some details about the growing and harvesting process. For example, Brussels sprouts grow on a very tough, woody stem, and there are not one, but two ways to harvest cranberries.

These videos are really quite fascinating:  “Organizers are using mesmerizing video clips of harvests to advocate for better protections and pay.”

The thread blew up, garnering more than 50,000 likes in a couple of days. It’s full of mesmerizing videos of highly skilled agricultural workers tossing turnips, parceling parsley, and harvesting radishes, hands moving with impossible quickness, blades swinging fast enough to take off a less-skilled person’s finger.

Yet the images don’t just reveal the immense skill most of us take for granted: They also reveal the often dangerous conditions, and lack of compensation, that agricultural workers endure. Most farm workers are paid by piece rather than hourly, a few cents a bundle, meaning they need to pick quickly, in physically grueling conditions, to make above minimum wage. Almost a third of farm workers live in poverty, often in cramped, impermanent housing, with no ability to work from home. This has left agricultural workers particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.

“This has just been a brutal, brutal summer to be a farm worker,” says Strater. “We’ve heard so much about how their work is so essential—no matter what the cost you’ve got to keep it open, keep production running. But few people are thinking about the human cost.”

At one point earlier this year, following a particularly devastating outbreak, Strater found herself on the front lines. “It became my job to engage with the county coroner, and explain to these workers’ families why they weren’t even going to get their dads’ bodies back,” she says.

And then in late summer, when things seemed they couldn’t get worse, wildfires broke out on the West Coast. The fields were filled with a thick, dangerous coat of smoke. “There were farm workers working in the fields while their homes were burning,” Strater says.

Here’s just on example:

California accounts for 80 percent of the U.S.’s celery supply. Here, workers cooperate to harvest, process, and stack the long stalks in a few deft movements. According to Strater, celery juice can irritate exposed skin, so workers must completely cover themselves during the harvest—a difficult prospect in the harsh California heat.

There are a lot more to watch! Go to either of the above links or directly to the UFW’s tweet stream.

Dawn on the Farm, Rice Harvest , 1945, Thomas Hart Benton

We’ve said this a lot but read this  The Guardian article for more: “Putting Trump behind us is like exiting an abusive relationship: it takes time. Under Trump many had a ‘collective hypervigilance and anxiety of what he might do next’, experts say – so how do we unpack these past four years?

There are certainly many parallels between the end of Donald Trump’s presidency and a psychologically violent relationship. Think about the temper tantrums, the refusal to accept reality, mood swings, fear of reprisal and a sense of looming danger: all are hallmarks of controlling and abusive behavior.

Farrah Khan is a gender-based violence expert and member of the government of Canada’s Advisory Council on the Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence – and she echoes how Trump’s time in office has often mirrored domestic violence.

“Throughout his time in office, Trump would belittle communities, enact state violence through policies, act out in vengeful ways when he felt slighted and cut off access to supports or protections, isolating communities from each other,” she tells me. “I feel that under Trump many of us had a collective hypervigilance and anxiety of what he might do next. This has shown up in things like night terrors or constantly scrolling on social media for real or perceived threats from him to your community.”

One of the most common ways an abuser exerts control is through isolation, cutting their partners off from the support of their communities and loved ones. Through his most despicable policies on issues like race, immigration and LGBTQ+ rights, it can be argued thatTrump has pitted Americans against each other, sowing discord and creating rifts that push his supporters further from their family and friends.

For years, Trump has managed to isolate his most fervent followers from reality, creating a parallel Maga world where Covid-19 is little more than a hoax, mail-in ballots don’t count (unless they do) and behind every pizza place lurks a pedophile ring. And like many coercive partners, Trump refuses to let go.

Like many, Khan’s immediate reaction on election night was one of suspicion and worry. She wrote that the “most dangerous time in a violent relationship is when you leave”. She’s still concerned that Trump’s violent rhetoric is escalating rather than declining. “As someone that works daily with survivors of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence, I know that the risk of violence is often highest during the period of separation. People who cause harm will use anything available to them from coercive threats, lies or pleading to force the partner to stay,” she says.

Those are hardly words normally ascribed to the transition of power from one US president to the next, but prescient given the lengthy and increasingly futile legal battle Trump continues to wage in hopes of denying the reality of his loss and his increasingly tenuous grip on power. In a recent Guardian article on his increasingly unhinged behavior, Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota said: “This behavior is even more erratic than usual and he has retreated. He has put himself in a form of psychological isolation. His emotional state is clearly abysmal.”

The Harvest, 1883, Camille Pissaro

The Pope wrote a blistering Op Ed in The New York Times that seemed pointed towards Trump and his cronies.  It seemed prescient given that five pseudo Catholics on the Supreme Court Basically just voted against his advice.  “Pope Francis swipes at groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions in NYT op-ed.”  This is Joseph Choi’s take from MSNBC.

In the article, the pope talked about the ways in which his own personal health crisis helped him to understand how science is used to help people recover.

At 21, the pope had part of his lung was removed.

“When I got really sick at the age of 21, I had my first experience of limit, of pain and loneliness. It changed the way I saw life. For months, I didn’t know who I was or whether I would live or die. The doctors had no idea whether I’d make it either. I remember hugging my mother and saying, ‘Just tell me if I’m going to die,'” he wrote.

“I have some sense of how people with Covid-19 feel as they struggle to breathe on a ventilator,” he added.

According to Francis, two nurses – Cornelia and Micaela – helped him survive, adding that “They taught me what it is to use science but also to know when to go beyond it to meet particular needs. And the serious illness I lived through taught me to depend on the goodness and wisdom of others.”

The pope lauded doctors and medical workers who continue to take care of the sick during the pandemic, stating that they understand that “it is better to live a shorter life serving others than a longer one resisting that call.”

“That’s why, in many countries, people stood at their windows or on their doorsteps to applaud them in gratitude and awe. They are the saints next door, who have awakened something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching,” he added.

However, the pope swiped at groups who have insisted that measures put in place to stem the spread of the pandemic are an attack on their personal freedoms.

“Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate,” he writes.

Vincent Van Gogh – The Harvest,1888

Justice Sotomayor–also Catholic–delivered an eloquent clap back on the decision that basically puts religion above the law. “In Covid-19 regulations case, Sotomayor dissent claps back at Supreme Court majority. The high court’s ruling, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, will “will only exacerbate the Nation’s suffering.”

Sotomayor, the nation’s only Latina Supreme Court Justice and a native New Yorker, was not having it.

“Free religious exercise is one of our most treasured and jealously guarded constitutional rights. States may not discriminate against religious institutions, even when faced with a crisis as deadly as this one,” she wrote. “But those restrictions are not at stake today.”

In her dissent, in which she was joined by Justice Elena Kagan, she wrote: “Justices of this Court play a deadly game in second guessing the expert judgment of health officials about the environments in which a contagious virus, now infecting a million Americans each week, spreads most easily.” The Court had rejected challenges to similar measures in California and Nevada earlier this year, and she saw no reason for its apparent change of heart. The Court’s ruling, she noted, “will only exacerbate the Nation’s suffering.”

As the Court has increasingly shifted to the right, Sotomayor has emerged as its strong progressive voice. She has taken aim at what she saw as improper actions by the Trump administration, as well as what she considered improper behavior by the Court itself.

In her dissent in the Covid-19 restrictions case, Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Andrew M. Cuomo, Sotomayor took aim at Gorsuch’s comparison of New York’s treatment of religious institutions to liquor stores and bike shops. In the latter venues, she reasoned, people do not gather inside for more than an hour to sing and speak to one another.

Sotomayor brushed aside allegations that Governor Cuomo had made anti-religious statements, which would mean that his coronavirus orders be subjected to strict scrutiny by the Court. Just a few years ago, she pointed out, the Court declined to consider President Trump’s remarks and comments in its evaluation of the so-called “Muslim Ban,” limiting immigration from Muslim-majority countries. In her opinion in the DACA case earlier this year, she likewise noted that the majority did not give weight to Trump’s comments (about Mexicans) in that decision, either.

So, that’s it for me today.

We’re still here together. Let us know how you’re doing!  We are a community that cares about each other!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: This and That about #KavaughLies

Image result for historical images US supreme courtIt’s another Monday Sky Dancers!

And, we’re hearing more about the how Brett Kavanaugh was given a lot of special treatment on his short path to a seat on SCOTUS. This is from WAPO and it’s an opinion piece by Jennifer Ruben: “This is the Kavanaugh mess we feared”. The big question is will this make one damned bit of difference?

In September 2018, I warned about the abbreviated FBI investigation into allegations that Brett M. Kavanaugh engaged in sexually aggressive behavior: “If Democrats retake one or both houses in November, they will be able to investigate, subpoena witnesses and conduct their own inquiry. The result will be a cloud over the Supreme Court and possible impeachment hearings … Kavanaugh has not cleared himself but rather undermined faith in the judicial system that presumes that facts matter.”

And sure enough, two New York Times reporters have found multiple witnesses to the allegations from Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself during a dorm party at Yale. One newly discovered witness had information concerning yet another, similar event. That witness, Max Stier, is the chief executive of Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan group that, among other things, tracks nominations and confirmations. According to the Times report, he brought the information to the Senate Judiciary Committee (Who? Who knew about this?) and to the FBI. (I have relied on him for expertise about the federal government and found him to be scrupulously nonpartisan and honest.) He might have been a compelling witness. The New York Times now reports that the woman involved in the incident Stier witnessed does not remember it.

The initial NYT times story has triggered a flurry of calls for Kavanaugh’s impeachment. The article from VOX is from Tara Golshan and sums up the areas where he’s had truthfulness issues..

Democrats called for an investigation into Kavanaugh’s “truthfulness” during the confirmation process, but got nowhere.As new information — and another allegation — comes out, there have been renewed calls to reopen investigations into the Supreme Court justice.

Kavanaugh’s truthfulness has repeatedly come into question

Even before Saturday’s report, there were a lot of discrepancies in Kavanaugh’s story — especially when it came to Ramirez’s allegation.

During the confirmation process, an NBC report detailed communication between Kavanaugh, his team, and college friends to rebut Deborah Ramirez’s claim that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at Yale, before she had come forward with allegations in an article in the New Yorker.

NBC’s reporting was in direct contradiction to Kavanaugh’s testimony, in which he angrily denied the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct brought against him and said he learned of Ramirez’s claim through the original New Yorker story:

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): When did you first hear of Ms. Ramirez’s allegations against you?

KAVANAUGH: … In the New Yorker.

HATCH: Did the ranking member [Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)] or any of her colleagues or any of their staffs ask you about Ms. Ramirez’s allegations before they were leaked to the press?

KAVANAUGH: No.

However, two friends of Kavanaugh’s — Kerry Berchem and Karen Yarasavage — were in contact with the Supreme Court nominee and his team, according to text messages obtained by NBC:

In a series of texts before the publication of the New Yorker story, Yarasavage wrote that she had been in contact with “Brett’s guy,” and also with “Brett,” who wanted her to go on the record to refute Ramirez. According to Berchem, Yarasavage also told her friend that she turned over a copy of the wedding party photo to Kavanaugh, writing in a text: “I had to send it to Brett’s team too.”

In an interview with Republican congressional staff two days after Ramirez went public, Kavanaugh said he had “heard about” Ramirez calling college friends about the alleged incident. It’s not clear if he had heard about that after the allegations went public.

These text messages detailing Kavanaugh’s knowledge of Ramirez’s allegations aren’t the first time his truthfulness has come into question. Here are five other instances where discrepancies in Kavanaugh’s testimonies have been raised.

1) Kavanaugh’s drinking: The Supreme Court nominee has been adamant that while he enjoys beer and perhaps at time drank “too many,” it was never to the point of passing out, blacking out, or even causing slight lapses in memory.

His characterization of drinking has been denied by multiple friends and past roommates, as Vox’s Emily Stewart explained. He grew “belligerent and aggressive” as a drunk, according to Chad Ludington, one of Kavanaugh’s former classmates.

Liz Swisher, another former Yale classmate, recounted to CNN of Kavanaugh’s drinking: “There’s no problem with drinking beer in college. The problem is lying about it.”

Image result for historical images US supreme court

First photograph of the U.S. Supreme Court, by Mathew Brady, 1869 (courtesy of National Archives).

From the LA TImes: “New reporting details how FBI limited investigation of Kavanaugh allegations.”

The other allegation, previously unreported, came from Washington lawyer Max Stier, who told Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) that he witnessed Kavanaugh exposing himself to a different female classmate during their freshman year.

Both Kavanaugh and the woman were heavily intoxicated at the time, according to Stier’s account, as described by people familiar with the contacts between him and Coons and others who have spoken with Stier since Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

The woman in that case, a friend of Ramirez, has denied that she was assaulted, telling friends she has no memory of such an incident. According to Stier’s account, the woman was so inebriated at the time that she could easily have no memory of it.

Coons sent Wray a letter on Oct. 2 — four days before the Senate voted on Kavanaugh — naming Stier as an “individual whom I would like to specifically refer to you for appropriate follow up.”

The FBI never contacted Stier. The bureau also did not interview other classmates who said they had heard at the time of either the incident Stier reported or the one involving Ramirez.

Stier has declined to comment publicly on the allegation. He wanted his account to remain confidential, both for the sake of the woman, a widow with three children, and for his own professional considerations.

Stier founded a nonpartisan, nonprofit group to promote public service roughly two decades ago. Before that, he was a lawyer at Washington’s Williams & Connolly firm, where he worked with the team that defended then-President Clinton. Several Republican commentators on Sunday zeroed in on that part of his resume to discredit his account as partisan.

During the hearings, Kavanaugh stated under oath that he was never so drunk that he would pass out or forget what he’d done while intoxicated. A number of former classmates who knew him said they were sufficiently upset by that statement, which they considered untruthful, that they contacted the FBI. None received responses from the bureau.

Image result for historical images US supreme court

Sandra Day O’Connor being sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice by Chief Justice Warren Burger, with her husband, John O’Connor, 9/25/1981. (National Archives Identifier 1696015)

So, the usual suspects have lined up to either defend the feckless Kavanaugh.but it appears the calls for impeachment may not go any where at all.  From Politico and Kyle Cheney “Judiciary chairman throws cold water on Kavanaugh impeachment. Jerry Nadler says the committee is too busy ‘impeaching the president’ to consider investigating the Supreme Court justice.”

The House Judiciary Committee is too tied up with “impeaching the president” to take immediate action on a potential investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Monday.

“We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now and that’s going to take up our limited resources and time for a while,” Nadler said on WNYC when pressed by host Brian Lehrer.

The House Judiciary Committee is too tied up with “impeaching the president” to take immediate action on a potential investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Monday.

“We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now and that’s going to take up our limited resources and time for a while,” Nadler said on WNYC when pressed by host Brian Lehrer.

Image result for historical images US supreme courtThere just appears to be no depth of depravity to which all of Trump’s appointments can find themselves. And the worst thing?  They don’t ever seem to be held to account in a manner consistence with justice.

Trump and every one that surrounds him engage and scandalous, illegal behaviors and the system props them up.  The Republicans in their search for white male hegemony that only recognizes women and minorities that are enablers must be dealt with at the ballot box and in the committees of the House of Representatives.

Are we woke enough to get this done?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?