Court crisis

The six most dangerous people in the United States right now

The Supreme Court has been issuing incredibly bad rulings for two-plus years, but today's was the worst of the worst and has sent me into a fit of anger/frustration/(non-clinical) depression/outrage/terror/anxiety.

I was going to write a big screed about the indefensible and clearly unconstitutional "immunity" ruling but I find I can't focus my outrage into a coherent narrative in the time I have before I have to leave for umpiring. So instead I am going to quote Mary Trump, niece of the criminal ex-POTUS, who rightly is focused on preventing things from getting even worse.

The justices who are trying to make my uncle a king are traitors, equal to the traitors who attempted a coup against our nation and who have been spreading the Big Lie in order to undermine the American people’s faith in free and fair elections. With this immunity decision, they have launched an attack on our most important ideals. It’s a continuation of the 2021 coup attempt, and it’s the start of the next one, not just a rubber stamp for my uncle’s worst impulses and abuses but an open invitation for more .... This was an unjust and anti-democratic decision from a Court that no longer has any credibility and, apparently, no longer believes in its mission to uphold the Constitution. 

Six unelected people have stripped basic human rights from millions of women, destroyed the federal government, and made it almost impossible to hold Donald accountable while coming very close to granting him the powers of a king. It’s time for tens of millions of us to rise up and vote in unprecedented numbers. That’s how we tell the New York Times editorial board to fuck off. It’s how we increase the likelihood that Donald goes to prison or, at the very least, never gets near the levers of power again. And it’s how we start to take back our country from the corrupt traitors on the Supreme Court. 

This [SCOTUS] decision is the end of something and we have a choice: we can be demoralized and stop fighting, or we can use these horrific decisions as a rallying cry—because if we do nothing, the consequences will be swift and unthinkable. If we do nothing, Donald will win and that will be the end of the American experiment.  

So let’s get it together. If we want to save our country and our future and our children’s futures, we have to elect Democrats no matter what. 

This has all been worse than we thought it would be, but we now know it will absolutely get so much worse than we can imagine unless we own the fact that making sure American democracy survives is down to us and no one else.

This is DEFCON 1. SCOTUS is already doing what they can to implement Project 2025, just making shit up so violations of law and the very US Constitution—but only by the "right" people—is permissible.

The Roberts Court has stripped away reproductive rights from American women, stripped away regulatory authority from governing experts in any field, and declared Presidents are above the law so long as they can call their crimes "official." Not mentioned in Mary's great post is that the Court recently also legalized bribery of government officials, so long as the bribe comes after the favor as a "gratuity"; made it easier for frauds to be perpetrated on the Securities and Exchange Commission; stripped away portions of the Clean Air Act, thus allowing even greater pollution from corporate entities; allowed municipalities to criminalize homelessness; eliminated a ban on so-called "bump stocks" that convert guns into machine guns; and said states can gerrymander their Congressional districts as much as they like.

And that's just what I have off the top of my head.

The six justices appointed by Trump and by the Bushes are completely out of control, not even pretending anymore that they are not a subsidiary of the Republican Party, a Republican Party that has thrown its lot in with autocratic anti-American criminals. If we had a Congress without so many Republican enablers of this traitorous behavior, two of those justices—Alito and Thomas—would be impeached on monetary corruption grounds and a third—Chief Justice Roberts—for negligence as well as aiding and abetting criminality in several instances, not the least of which was the impeachment trials of Donald Trump which he presided over and completely abdicated his duties in. The other three are illegitimate based on (a) perjury in their confirmation hearings, and (b) their appointment by a criminal president.

The sooner any and all of these six people are removed from the Court the better. The sooner Congress and President Biden can expand the Court to match the number of circuit courts again the better.

Until then we're in big trouble.


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Quotes of the week

A few notes from over the last week or so. I'd been meaning to post longer bits about each of these, but time got away from me and, you know, there was stuff to do. Anyway, a few things I heard/read that deserve some repetition:

  • "I don't care about you. I just want your vote."  This was former president Cheeto Hitler in a rare moment of honesty, talking to the crowd at his hate rally in Las Vegas. The man cares about nothing other than power for himself and becoming a U.S. incarnation of Kim Jong Un.
  • "If the hood fits..."  So said David Ferguson on The Bob Cesca Show last Thursday. David was referring to Supreme Court "Justice" Samuel Alito's outrage, outrage! at being called a bigot. "I just can't with these people," Ferguson went on. "They're like, 'how dare you accuse us of being prejudiced! We just hate black people and queers.' I want to Psycho-shower these people."
  • “He can’t stand for 90 minutes, but he’s 100% able to be President? Have fun explaining that.”  That was alleged Congressman Josh Hawley (MAGA-MO) criticizing President Biden, thinking that the format for next week's scheduled presidential debate will have the candidates seated at a table and that said format was demanded by the president. I seem to remember President Biden standing for a long address at the House of Representatives a couple months back without any trouble. And guess what—standing is not a requirement to be President of the United States. Franklin Roosevelt held the gig for 12+ years without standing at all.
  • "Time never applied to Willie Mays the way it applies to others. He is like a Kurt Vonnegut character, unstuck in time, everything, everywhere, all at once, simultaneously the Say Hey Kid playing stickball in the streets of New York and the wizard outrunning baseballs soaring toward the gap at Candlestick Park, and the slugger tearing into baseballs as if it is something personal, and the legend launching a million memories and making parents and grandparents feel like children."  That's Joe Posnanski, remembering the great Willie Mays, who died yesterday at age 93.
  • And this, from satirist Andy Borowitz:
    THE OCEAN DEEP (The Borowitz Report)—Calling his longstanding fear of being devoured by them “delusional thinking at its saddest,” the world’s sharks issued a statement on Tuesday disavowing “any interest whatsoever” in eating Donald J. Trump.
       “Given his constant intake of Diet Coke and hamburgers, there is nothing to indicate that Trump would be anything resembling a nutritious meal,” the sharks’ statement read. “The very thought of biting into him is nauseating.”

       The sharks said that Trump’s anxiety about being eaten by them demonstrates “an inflated sense of his appeal, to say the least.”
       “We thought the same thing when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claimed he was eaten by a worm,” the sharks wrote. “Why do these narcissists think they’re so delicious?”
       In perhaps their most withering comment, the sharks concluded, “We might consider eating Trump if the only other thing on the menu was Steve Bannon.”

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Anyone/everyone here watch The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu? (If you don't, you're missing out, it's excellent if scary.) You know the scenes that are flashbacks to the before-time, pre-Gilead, when things were incrementally sliding into theocratic fascist dystopia? We're on the cusp of living those flashback times for real thanks in very large part to our extraordinarily corrupt and willfully obtuse Supreme Court.

"Justice" Samuel Alito, third in seniority and first in fascistic ideology, brought us the latest SCOTUS ruling to roll back progress. Utterly ignoring the Reconstruction-era amendments to the Constitution, Alito declared for the Court that states can draw their district maps using racial demographics as their guide and it's just fine, so long as they put forth a "possible" claim that they're not using race as their "primary motivation" in their overtly-partisan redistricting agenda, and if a court rightly says "this is BS and violates the Constitution," just appeal it to the Supreme Court and they'll overturn that.

This is the latest in an apparently ongoing series of rulings SCOTUS has made to gut voting rights in this country and aid the modern Republican party in its efforts to disenfranchise, you know, "those people." In 2013, the Court delivered a ruling written by Chief "Justice" John Roberts that said the Voting Rights Act's key provisions were no longer necessary and struck them down, leading to a new wave of disenfranchisement legislating (the late Justice Antonin Scalia called the Voting Rights Act a “perpetuation of racial entitlement” during that case). In 2019, SCOTUS, in Alito's voice again, declared partisan gerrymandering didn't violate anything and could proceed without interference, placing limits on the challenges brought in the case ruled on this week that were still met.

Justice Elena Kagan delivered brilliant dissenting opinions in more than one of these cases. In the 2019 case, she wrote "If left unchecked, gerrymanders like the ones here may irreparably damage our system of government." She continued:

"The majority’s abdication comes just when courts across the country ... have coalesced around manageable judicial standards to resolve partisan gerrymandering claims. Those standards satisfy the majority’s own benchmarks. They do not require—indeed, they do not permit—courts to rely on their own ideas of electoral fairness, whether proportional representation or any other. And they limit courts to correcting only egregious gerrymanders, so judges do not become omnipresent players in the political process. But yes, the standards used here do allow—as well they should—judicial intervention in the worst-of-the-worst cases of democratic subversion, causing blatant constitutional harms. In other words, they allow courts to undo partisan gerrymanders of the kind we face today from North Carolina and Maryland. In giving such gerrymanders a pass from judicial review, the majority goes tragically wrong."

Similarly, Alito and company once more ignored the judicial standard of conduct in this week's ruling, specifically the principle that a lower court be overruled only in cases of "clear error." From Kagan's dissent:

"In dismissing [the lower court's] strong case, the majority cherry-picks evidence, ignores credibility findings, misunderstands expert views, and substitutes its own statistical theories. Its opinion gives not a whit of respect to the District Court’s factual findings, thus defying the demands of clear-error review.


"What a message to send to state legislators and mapmakers about racial gerrymandering. For reasons I’ve addressed, those actors will often have an incentive to use race as a proxy to achieve partisan ends. And occasionally they might want to straight-up suppress the electoral influence of minority voters. Go right ahead, this Court says to States today. Go ahead, though you have no recognized justification for using race, such as to comply with statutes ensuring equal voting rights. Go ahead, though you are (at best) using race as a short-cut to bring about partisan gains—to elect more Republicans in one case, more Democrats in another. It will be easy enough to cover your tracks in the end: Just raise a 'possibility' of non-race-based decision-making, and it will be 'dispositive.' And so this 'odious' practice of sorting citizens, built on racial generalizations and exploiting racial divisions, will continue."

This is just the latest abuse of power for partisan gain by the Roberts Court. It will continue, and continue, and continue until something is done.

We need Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress and in the White House. Only then will the bad actors perpetuating the ability of this lawless Supreme Court majority be circumvented and corrections can start to be made. Whether that comes in the form of impeachments of Alito and Clarence Thomas or expansion of the Court to 11 or 13 Justices or both or some other measure, the status quo cannot continue.

That way lies Gilead.


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Darrin Bell FTW



The genius behind Candorville cuts right to the heart of the matter.

I'm not sure what the green bottles signify. Any ideas? (UPDATE: Oh, are they spray paint cans, they've just retitled the banner? OK. Sorry, Darrin, it should have been obvious.)

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Supremely problematic

Bribes taken at the back entrance

As if we needed more evidence to support the idea, today's decision by the Supreme Court of the United States granting former president VonClownstick's request to an appeal regarding his claim of "presidential immunity" gives even more reason to believe the Court is corrupt and working in tandem with the Republican party and not in the service of the Constitution or the rule of law.

It's not a "win" for the former president in that all they've decided is to hear his appeal, not to necessarily agree with it, but it is a huge win for him in that it grants him at least two more months of delay in resolving this matter. The likelihood of his standing trial on this case—in case you've lot track, this is the Jack Smith/January 6th insurrection case, not the stolen documents case or the hush money case or the Georgia electioneering case or the civil fraud case or the suits against him from DC police or any of the other myriad court cases the guy's been up to his eyeballs in for his whole life—and a verdict being reached before the November election is now pretty remote.

The trial had been scheduled to begin next week, on March 4th. That won't happen now, as SCOTUS has suspended that until the outcome of its hearing the appeal, which won't happen until April 22nd. When they issue a ruling will come who knows how long after that. Quoting former US District Attorney Joyce Vance:

The case could have been handled much more quickly, especially because the issue before the Court isn’t difficult: either presidents can commit crimes to stay in office or they can’t. The timeline here was a choice, made by the Justices. They chose to give Donald Trump at least two more months of delay. We don’t know how a specific Justice votes on a cert grant. But we do know that at least five Justices voted to hear this case because while it only takes four votes to grant cert, it take five to grant a stay, and the Court’s order, continues the stay in the trial court while the appeal is underway.

It could be June or July before SCOTUS makes a call on this. A trial will take months. Election Day is immovable and doesn't care if a trial is over yet or not.

Clarence Thomas is corrupt. He's taken de facto bribes for decades and refuses to recuse when he's clearly got a conflict of interest in a case. Sam Alito has taken similar de facto bribes from people associated with the right-wing Federalist Society. Neil Gorsuch sold property to a lawyer with 22 subsequent cases before the Court (and no, he didn't recuse himself). Brett Kavanaugh somehow got confirmed by the Senate despite committing perjury in his hearings, having suspicious financial activity and very credible sexual assault allegations against him, and had eighty-three complaints of ethics violations levied against him for conduct in those hearings. Amy Coney Barrett, like Gorsuch, sold property to persons with business before the court and did not recuse; she also refused to recuse in a case involving the David Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group that spent "seven figures" lobbying for Barrett's confirmation by the Senate (AFP also lobbied for the confirmations of Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, who likewise refused to recuse). John Roberts' wife had a heavy financial interest in a case before the Court and Roberts was fine with presiding over it; he utterly failed to do his job in presiding over the Trump impeachments; and as the Chief Justice he has repeatedly claimed that everyone on his Court has behaved in an exemplary ethical fashion, declining to enforce any sort of ethical guidelines for the Court.

More important than any of that, though—but it is related—is that two-thirds of this Supreme Court has shown itself to be loyal to ideology, not law; Republican policy, not the Constitution.

They support states' rights until it conflicts with their ideology. They support legal precedent until it conflicts with their ideology. They support Constitutional principles—until they conflict with their ideology.

My favorite(?) example of a Justice's hypocrisy and obtuseness came when, in hearing the case regarding Colorado removing Trump from their primary ballot, Alito opined that a single state shouldn't have so much influence on who wins a presidential election. This was from a guy that worked on the Bush v. Gore case in Florida in 2000, a case where the Court completely improperly stepped in to halt a recount and declare that Bush won the presidency because of an incomplete ballot tally in one state.

If not for the presence of too many Republicans in the House of Representatives, Clarence Thomas, at least, would be looking at impeachment. (Personally, I think Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett should all be impeached, with the latter three being deemed to have been appointed by a treasonous president, but that's a pipe dream.) Gorsuch's seat was blatantly stolen by the Republicans when they refused to confirm anyone appointed by then-President Obama, giving his a uniquely tainted Justiceship.

There is so very much damage to repair from the Trump years, with correcting the Supreme Court near the top of the list. But to do it, we're going to need voters to step up and not only re-elect President Biden, but elect enough Democrats to the Senate and House to neuter the fascist plans of the now-authoritarian Republican Party.

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