Supreme Court/Amy Coney Barrett/Winning?

From a Google Image Search –

America has watched this battle for control of the Supreme Court for at least the last decade. Every time someone said that the court was in play for Republicans, that they wanted to own the Supreme Court, people with plenty of chops and oodles of historical political perspective disagreed. The Court is not political they would say. Americas have always revered the Supreme Court, although not always the decisions of the high court. We used to at least want to feel that our Supremes were above politics. 

However, a number of things have happened to disabuse us of that notion. The confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas with the disrespectful treatment of Anita Hill reminded women that men were firmly in charge. Clarence Thomas’s hearing was contentious and a preview of the incivility in store in our politics. After that things evened out a bit with Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan proving that the rabid movement to turn the court to the right was not yet in full swing. The problem the GOP had was that the full pathway designed to keep a minority party in power had not been finalized. Citizens United (2010) gave away the game. Corporations (like those owned by the Koch brothers) could contribute unlimited money to election candidates without revealing the source of the money. Huge win for Republicans. The drumbeat to move the Court to the right got stronger. In 2016 McConnell blocked Obama’s nomination of Merrick Gardner. But Obama was a popular president and he had added two women to the court during his two terms, both leaning left, but not extreme.

Republicans appear to have gotten desperate since Trump was elected. They know that they are a minority party. They have resorted to tactics that are less than savory and that walk all over Constitutional lines. The Court overturned the preclearance section of the voting rights act. This has allowed many creative attempts to suppress Democratic voters, a clear violation of the intent of the voting rights act as many Democratic voters are African American. These actions have echoed the strategies white slaveowners used on freed slaves to prevent them from voting – poll taxes, making polling places scarce for black folks – requiring literacy tests, except now they tried to require voter ID’s and not allow students to vote from college, and vet fewer, harder to reach polling places, thus stirring up racial tensions. Now Republicans have moved on, with the help of Trump, to undermining the US Mail, inviting Trump fans (including militia members) to become ersatz “poll watchers,” and demonizing mail-in voting. 

So, when the Republicans decided to fill the seat on the Supreme Court with a haste that bordered on disrespect for longtime, well-loved Ruth Bader Ginsburg, only 30 days out from an election, they suddenly and brazenly decided to not only nominate a new justice but approve her. They grinned and did this even after telling Obama that they would not put his nominee, Merrick Garland through the system because March was too close to the election in November of 2016. They have held on to the US Senate for way to long. It has given them a ridiculous sense of entitlement and they enjoy flaunting their power. For the most part they have used their power to block everything except stuffing the courts with Conservatives. And they are thrilled with themselves and crowing. They obviously don’t feel that they have had too much winning.

So that brings us to the hearings this week on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. Another woman on the Supreme Court should make women feel like celebrating. But, although she won’t tell us anything about how she will rule on any topic, we can read her body language, we can read the difference between the way she responds when Democrats are interviewing her and when Republicans are apologizing for the way Democrats are interviewing her, and when Republicans are heaping praise on her ability to raise seven children and practice law as a law clerk for Justice Alito and then as a judge (for only 3 years). She makes Republican (and Evangelical) men sigh, so brilliant, so submissive, so much the antithesis of feminism. But, we women who do not wish to move backwards in time, are not convinced that she will be an advocate of the rights of women, which now need to support working women. (She actually seems a bit creepy.)

What led me to say creepy? Barrett refused to answer questions about the Constitution and implied that the entire document was open to interpretation by the Court. To her, nothing counted as settled law except Marbury v Madison and Brown v The Board of Education.

Ever since the pill, and Roe v Wade, women have understood that there was strong opposition and that it was based in religion. We wanted to feel that our hard-won rights, along with that boost from science, were safe, because our nation is supposed to keep religion out of our government, but the opposition has grown more and more powerful. Peaceful protest wouldn’t suffice. Even more violent, terrorizing behaviors did not suffice. Republicans and Evangelicals began to believe that the only way to make America a “moral” nation according to their apprehension of morality, was to organize a coup. And in case they lost the Presidency they would have at least accomplished a coup in the courts where judges have lifetime appointments. 

We saw the proliferation of think tanks, institutes, committees, organized into a web of wealthy Americans who agreed with the Koch brothers. We saw the bonding of Catholics and Evangelicals. We saw the push to put prayer back in schools, to post the 10 Commandments in the halls of government, and to teach Creationism instead of evolution. Trump made promises to Evangelicals and he intends to keep them, not because he is a believer, but because he believes helping fill that seat on the court with a Conservative will keep him in office if the election is close enough to be referred to the courts as we saw in Bush v Gore. He thinks that the fix is in and that even if he loses the popular vote he will win the electoral college. Amy Coney Barrett, at the top of the list from the right-wing Federalist Society, is his backup plan. But after watching her careful responses, which offered little or no verbal information but plenty of nonverbal clues, the practically inevitable confirmation of Amy to the Supreme Court is deeply depressing if you are a woman in America, or indeed, if you use the ACA for your health care. If we don’t win this election in 2020 America disappears from the world stage and becomes something that seemed obsolete. America becomes a theocratic autocracy. Men continue to exercise dominance and the glass ceiling turns into another wall.

In case you think this is based on old information you need to read the article from The Washington Post with video from reporters who were in the room where it happened:

Paul Krugman on this subject in NYT 10.16.2020:

Gerrymandering Wins: Why the Supreme Court Decision Has Dangers for America

Most Gerrymandered Districts in America – From a Google Image Search – Washington Post

Gerrymandering Wins: Why This Decision Has Dangers for America

Today, 6/27/19 the Supreme Court passed on making a ruling on gerrymandering which has been practiced in a hyper-partisan extreme way by the GOP in recent years. Two especially egregious test cases had been brought before the court, North Carolina and Maryland. 

Today’s Washington Post gives us pertinent sections of  John Roberts’ argument in basically siding with the Conservatives by deciding not to make a decision about gerrymandering. WaPo says, “The Supreme Court’s conservatives decided Thursday that federal courts do not have a role to play in deciding whether partisan gerrymandering goes too far.” Roberts says, “ We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts. Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between two major political parties…” 

This is a big setback for Democrats who were hoping that someone could decide how much gerrymandering is too much. Gerrymandering is drawing voting districts that favor one party over another in an election. Extreme gerrymandering can guarantee that a minority party will always win. Both parties have used gerrymandering, which is done at the state level, and there have been times when gerrymandered districts were tortuously contorted, almost on a house-by-house basis. However gerrymandering is not considered part of fair governance and it does not honor everyone’s voting rights. For example, since the GOP sees minority voters as Democrats, they can engineer the boundaries of a district to exclude all minority voters. They may claim that this is strictly partisan, but since it robs minorities of voting power it is also racist.

There is a plan among Conservatives to use Article V of the Constitution to trigger a Constitutional Convention to amend the US Constitution so that it will more nearly conform with Conservative views. Two-thirds of the states must apply for such a convention. Through gerrymandering and the actions of the Conservative group ALEC that has actually dictated bills to state legislatures and then lobbied to get these bills voted into law, the Conservatives already have collected applications for a Constitutional Convention from 28 states. They only need 6 more states to make up the required number of 34. There are 6 more GOP states who have not applied for a Constitutional Convention so far. The two strategies, extreme gerrymandering and collecting states so that Conservatives can call a US Constitutional Convention, show a sophisticated kind of long range planning which could almost amount to a bloodless coup in which one party, the GOP gets to take over the US government and move it as far to the right as they wish. 

Since the court will not help overturn the gerrymandering that is most extreme it becomes even more important for the Democrats to win in 2020. If they win in a census year they may have some control over gerrymandering. However, since gerrymandering happens at the state level, and since Conservatives have won over so many states it may be too late to prevent a Constitutional Convention. A Constitutional Convention called by Conservative states could be a disaster for Democrats and for we the people given the partisan divide right now in America. 

Fortunately, the court also decided on this same day to deny the right to put a citizenship question on the census. A citizenship question, as evidence recently discovered proves, is another way the GOP is attempting to discourage minorities from voting. Since minorities often vote for Democrats and since minorities may be leery about answering a citizenship question, this could again suppress Democratic Party votes. President Trump, unhappy with the court’s decision about the citizenship question has asked if the census could be delayed until the court can be provided with better information. Has this ever happened before? Maybe. But the Supreme Court was never intended to do the bidding of a president.   

Citizenship Question on 2020 Census – Supremes Decide

Right now the Supreme Court is considering whether to allow a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, so it may be a bit late to express my deep concerns about the use of such a question during the tenure of this particular administration. Citizenship questions have appeared in the Census before, but not since 1960. Given the rabid attitudes about immigration expressed by Trump and backed up by his people (including the Republican Party) this is an especially fraught time to allow this question on this decade’s census. Undocumented people are basically being hunted down for deportation.

Accurate Count

In a climate like this how can we expect an accurate count of the people living in America right now. Census information becomes part of our nation’s permanent record offering up useful data to citizens simply seeking to know about their ancestors. Often people want to know their family’s history so they can improve their understanding of potential health challenges. Bad records offer bad data. If citizens have family members living with them who are undocumented, which is quite a common thing, they may avoid the census to protect relatives and friends from deportation.

Implications for Voting Rights

Trump has long sought lists of all US voters. I do not think he has the purest of reasons for wanting this information. He believes that suppressing voters who might lean left is a perfectly viable election strategy and he can’t even process the loud cries of “foul”. For any Fox News viewers who might stumble into this article by accident, suppressing votes is not OK for any reason in our democracy/republic.

However, ever since the Voter Rights Act turned 50 and the Supreme Court allowed the preclearance section of the law to be vacated, the Republicans and Trump have weaponized election tools to suppress Dem votes. Trump was not around when districts were so drastically gerrymandered that there are whole districts which will always vote Republican. The new Census can be used to readjust boundaries of voting districts once again. Trump plans to still be in power to help the GOP plunder the vote even more effectively than they did after the last census. Democrats, including Obama, are fighting some boundaries where there was clearly almost house-by-house gerrymandering but it is a long slog through the courts.

In districts that leaned to the left Republicans could play with things like cutting back on voting days, taking away polling places, trying to stop churches from taking people on buses directly to polling places to vote, choosing polling places that were not on stops of public transportation leaving voters off with some distance to walk to get to their polling place. Republicans could conduct purges of voter rolls, removing people who had not voted in a while. Obviously sometimes it is necessary to purge people from voter rolls who have moved or are deceased, but you don’t usually lose your voting rights because you decide not to vote. In North Carolina one Republican candidate had his people go house-to-house collecting absentee ballots and offering to fill them in for the voter. His illegal ‘strategy’ was uncovered and he lost his election bid, but the things that Republicans try to suppress the vote are not just shenanigans, they are serious breaches of the laws of the US, and winking while people attempt to get away with them is damaging to the validity of our elections, already under attack by Russia and China.

So it’s easy to imagine that one reason Republicans favor a citizenship question on the census goes something like this, “most immigrants tend to vote for Democrats, by discouraging an accurate count of immigrants we can hurt the Democrat votes, all is fair in love and elections (except that is not true) and if we do this we the GOP can win in 2020.”

More Nefarious Purposes?

There is another problem with putting a citizenship question on the 2020 Census and the problem is that it is possibly motivated by fascism, not any democratic impulse. That list that Trump wanted of all voters was not forthcoming because it is un-American and invades our freedom. Now he is salivating at the thought of a list of all of the undocumented immigrants in America and not because they are voters. The GOP and Trump like to keep whispering (loudly) in our ears that undocumented people are voting illegally and I suppose a few who have fraudulent ID’s could go vote, but I doubt if the numbers are large as such people tend to hide, to not call attention to themselves by signing public registers, which voters are required to do. He also does this in case he needs to “prove” that an election is rigged, something he seems to worry about a lot, because he needs to win.

But the other reason Trump is gleefully anticipating a positive ruling by the Supremes is because then he would have a sort of ‘gestapo’ list of names and addresses of undocumented people living in America. I’m not sure why he thinks that people in hiding from an aggressive I.C.E. will answer the census accurately, but he wants to try, even at the risk of getting inaccurate census data that will misguide many national decisions over the next ten years. I hope the Supreme Court has not moved this far to the right and will give us a sensible ruling appropriate to these times when white supremacy is being used to whip up divisions in America.

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – Democracy Now!



The Supreme Court Horror Flick

horror flick 2 Freepik big

The day’s events have made many of us disconsolate and distraught all the way back to when Trump won the 2016 election, but for some reason the retirement of Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court tipped the scales towards grief, and a resignation to the reality of these destructive events. Until that point it seemed as if the damage could be easily undone if political attitudes shifted to the center, left, or even further left. Having a court that leans hard right for decades means that right wing extremists will continue to have a decisive edge far into the future. It means that we the people have a lot to lose.

Roe V Wade

Everyone talks as if losing Roe v Wade, losing the right for women to control their own bodies is the only thing we stand to lose. And it is a big loss. Many have no memory of pre-Roe truths in women’s lives. Younger people have always had contraception. Abortion has always been an option. Without control of their own reproductive rights women’s lives will either cycle backwards into more archaic patterns or women may choose to rebel and practice sexual abstinence, at least in situations where pregnancy might result. This would all be life-changing for women and for men too.

Health Care

However Roe v Wade is not the only staple of modern American life that could be curtailed or overturned. Health care is being pared away by this administration. They are joyful at the prospect of ending coverage for people with preexisting conditions and replacing lifetime caps for coverage. They can make these changes without the court, but there will be no Supreme Court to rein them in. As state after state offers health care plans that are just grabs for consumer dollars, plans that offer no protection in the event that the insured actually gets sick, cases that go to the Supremes will uphold the insurance companies right to giant profits over the needs of ailing people every time.


There will still be Federal district courts and there are still liberals on those courts. They have been very helpful in stopping the most inhumane practices of an administration intent on racial cleansing through closing America off to asylum seekers. We are told that every one of these people seeking refugee status is telling a “fake” story and that they do not deserve our compassion. These people may actually be gang members coming to kill you in your beds, coming to rape your daughters. Fearmongering.

But, taking children away from parents is just a bridge too far. None of us signed on for this. The entire world, except for a few interested dictators, is aghast. Not saving data that would allow these children to be reunited with their parents is unimaginable. We knew mass deportation would feel Nazi-esque, but we were Trumped. He owns the levers of governance. This feels like we may be worse than that Hitler crew because we swore we would never, ever repeat those atrocities and yet we are well on our way. With a Supreme Court that is partisan and loyal to the President rather than the Constitution we could well uphold even worse behavior.


Some people, Trump’s people don’t seem concerned about these things. They seem to be happy with the idea of “white” America. However, mostly they seem to think that Trump is some kind of economic genius. They love the tax cuts. Why? They believe in the tariffs. Most economists are very worried about a trade war and think the tariffs will work against American business and trade. Trump and the GOP believe that there should be few to no regulations on businesses and corporations so they are throwing out decades of rules that helped end the worst practices of Capitalism. Unfettered Capitalism can be as brutal as it wishes. Trumpers love to see Trump dishing out restraints against China. But studies prove that endeavors that include only “yes” men (and this includes a one-sided Supreme Court) usually fail. Dissent is essential to the health of a business and, even more so, of a government.

Pollution and Climate Change

Donald Trump just made asbestos legal again. Since when did American laws respond to the whims of one, possibly nutty, man. He says that if we had used asbestos in building the World Trade Center those buildings would still be standing. And what he doesn’t say, because he doesn’t care, is that the workers would all be dead or dying of mesothelioma. He loves coal but people’s lungs don’t. He has a picture in his head of times when smoke was pouring into American skies and industry was booming along. All that matters to Trump and his people is money. There is a lot more to a society that functions well for all than just money. If people lose all their safety, their health, and their rights what will be left to make life worthwhile? The whole world of trade will just be one big company store. If the Supreme Court cannot rule against the administration when concerns are placed before it, or when the Court refuses to take cases so it will not have to buck the system, then there is no democracy, there is only the illusion of democracy.

Mueller Investigation

Perhaps we place too much hope in the possibility that Mr. Mueller will eventually reveal how corrupt our President truly is, perhaps even proving that he has dabbled in treason in order to “win”. But our concerns that the Supreme Court could take the sting out of this investigation in any number of ways adds to the difficulty of getting to the bottom of Russian meddling in American politics, of whether that meddling affected the outcome of the election, and whether or not Donald Trump played a role in the Russian behaviors in 2016. We are not really convinced by assurances that this will not happen from the current nominee

Foreign Affairs

For the most part I don’t think the Supreme Court rules on our role on the foreign stage. I don’t think they can insist that we stay in NATO or on the committees in the UN that we have recently resigned from (having to do with human rights) because that is a duty of Congress. But once again the dissent that exists in Congress is powerless right now to place restraints on a leader intent on running roughshod over our friends and allies and cozying up to authoritarians. It was demoralizing and embarrassing to watch our President’s behavior in Europe and in the UK this week. (He liked it better when they called it England – smack your head.)

As I prepare to watch America’s future unfold with this party and this President in control and swollen with the power of it all, I believe I will have to do it the way I watch a horror flick. I will have to place my hands over my eyes and peak out through my fingers every so often.