My New Favorite Judge

Would be Bush 41 appointee Richard Kopf*, a member of the Federal District Court bench for in Nebraska.

Why?

Because of this:

In the Hobby Lobby cases, five male Justices of the Supreme Court, who are all members of the Catholic faith and who each were appointed by a President who hailed from the Republican party, decided that a huge corporation, with thousands of employees and gargantuan revenues, was a “person” entitled to assert a religious objection to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate because that corporation was “closely held” by family members. To the average person, the result looks stupid and smells worse.

[h/t Talking Points Memo]

William_Hogarth_004

Judge Kopf elaborates:

To most people, the decision looks stupid ’cause corporations are not persons, all the legal mumbo jumbo notwithstanding. The decision looks misogynist because the majority were all men. It looks partisan because all were appointed by a Republican. The decision looks religiously motivated because each member of the majority belongs to the Catholic church, and that religious organization is opposed to contraception.

Kopf adds both in a disclaimer both truthful and politic that he is not saying that the majority in the Hobby Lobby decision were actually driven by the considerations that it really really looks like they were.  But the point is made — and he adds the equally valid observation that there was no actual necessity for the Supremes to take the case in the first place.  Such judicial passivism, he says, would have been better than this result.

In that context, the good jurist has the temerity to offer advice to his betters:

Next term is the time for the Supreme Court to go quiescent–this term and several past terms has proven that the Court is now causing more harm (division) to our democracy than good by deciding hot button cases that the Court has the power to avoid. As the kids say, it is time for the Court to stfu**

To which I say, Amen and Amen.

*As the TPM piece linked above reports, Kopf achieved a measure of — fame is not quite the word — notice for an earlier blog post advising young women lawyers how to dress for court.

**I do love the link that Judge Kopf kindly provided for his less internet-meme-familiar readers to that last term.

Image:  William Hogarth, The Court, c. 1758.  You’ve seen this one before, I know.  I generally try to find a new image for every post, but this one so perfectly captures the contempt I feel for the current Court that I just keep coming back to it.  Sorry.

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74 replies
  1. 1
    What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    I think the country would be much better off if they replaced the current Supreme Court with The Supremes.

  2. 2
    What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    I think the country would be much better off if they replaced the current Supreme Court with The Supremes.

  3. 3
    amk says:

    burnsey will be burning today?

  4. 4
    Someguy says:

    Get the Catholics off the Court. It’s clear that a religious test has been applied in Republican appointments. It’s time to un-do that wrong.

  5. 5
    trollhattan says:

    Wow. Somebody’s not getting invited to Nino’s swim party anytime soon.

  6. 6
    Librarian says:

    Actually, to compare today’s Supreme Court to the 18th century British courts is an insult- to the 18th century British courts.

  7. 7
    trollhattan says:

    @Someguy:
    Truly believe they should have recused themselves, the lot. They’ve demonstrated an inability to distance themselves from church doctrine.

  8. 8
    Citizen_X says:

    @amk: He will certainly harrumph loudly here about the inferiority of Judge Kopf.

  9. 9
    Anya says:

    Judge Richard Kopf speaks the truth.

    I am still trying to comprehend the level of moral corruption of the Roberts court. These five justices are shameful ideologues. Are they so committed to ideology that they don’t care about the long term damage they are doing to the credibility of the court?

    I become angry every time I think about the alternative. If Gore was president we would’ve had two sane justices instead of these horrible, corporatist justices. I want to punch an asshole every time I hear someone say: “the two parties are the same.”

  10. 10
    danielx says:

    You’ve seen this one before, I know. I generally try to find a new image for every post, but this one so perfectly captures the contempt I feel for the current Court that I just keep coming back to it. Sorry.

    Don’t be. If you slapped a powdered wig on Fat Tony Scalia*, he’d look exactly like that dude in the foreground.

    *The Finest Legal Mind Of The Fourteenth Century.

  11. 11
    Brian R. says:

    Hey, remember when John Roberts promised everybody that he saw himself as an umpire, someone who would make decisions according to the established laws and never ever never become a bad old “activist judge”?

    I wonder whatever happened to that guy?

  12. 12
    JPL says:

    Your boss should not make your health care decisions.
    The Supreme court will further weaken ACA, when they hear challenges to the D. C. court on subsidies. The only people who deserve special consideration are corporations. (That sentence will only make sense to the Supreme Court.)

  13. 13
    danielx says:

    @trollhattan:

    Wow. Somebody’s not getting invited to Nino’s swim party anytime soon.

    Not all that much of a loss; at least he’ll be spared the image of Scalia in Speedos.

  14. 14
    Roger Moore says:

    @trollhattan:

    Somebody’s not getting invited to Nino’s swim party anytime soon.

    Given that attending his swim party might involve seeing Scalia and Thomas in swimming attire, that seems like a positive outcome.

  15. 15
    Belafon says:

    @Brian R.: He knows how he’d help his favorite baseball team win.

  16. 16
    Amir Khalid says:

    Kopf is an unfortunate surname for an eminently sensible man whose first name is Richard.

  17. 17
    trollhattan says:

    @danielx: @Roger Moore:
    Special feature: tire swing is set afire.

  18. 18
    Morbo says:

    That isn’t a very good first name/last name combination, though, is it?

  19. 19
    Belafon says:

    @danielx:
    @Roger Moore:
    LGF includes the seconds on the comment times.

  20. 20
    trollhattan says:

    @Amir Khalid: we call him Judge Head.

  21. 21
    Belafon says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    @Morbo:
    And again.

  22. 22
    Ruckus says:

    @danielx:
    I think you are giving tony too much credit.
    First, giving him a mind. Pretty sure that’s a reach.
    Second, didn’t the inquisition bypass the courts and just take it upon themselves to take what they wanted(power)? So he may have been a part of it(of that I’d say about a 99% probability) but taking any judicial notice? I don’t think so. Of course that seems to be his style today, no judicial notice, all partisanship politics.

  23. 23
    scav says:

    So Moses went up unto the mountain and received the Ten Articles of Incorporation and the Baby Jebus went into the temple and chided all the closely-held money-changers for not imposing righteousness upon the multitudes.

  24. 24
    dedc79 says:

    How did Hogarth manage to capture Scalia and his smug, contemptful and bloated face so accurately a full two centuries before he was even born?

  25. 25
    cmorenc says:

    @Anya:

    I become angry every time I think about the alternative. If Gore was president we would’ve had two sane justices instead of these horrible, corporatist justices. I want to punch an asshole every time I hear someone say: “the two parties are the same.”

    Every time a Nader-in-2000 voter retorts, with petulant indignity, that “it wasn’t our fault that Gore lost / didn’t run a good-enough campaign”, I’m reminded of the frequent reaction of players on either Columbia or Brazil in last Saturday’s WC quarterfinal whenever a foul was called against them: throwing up their hands, expression of smug “WHO…ME?” incredulity in their face and eyes at the injustice of an innocent wrongly accused of mugging an opponent’s ankles and legs. I didn’t do nothin’ wrong, ref!

  26. 26
    Cervantes says:

    @danielx: Yes, but!

    Hogarth does convey a certain amount of contempt. If his judges seem too fatuous to do much harm, however, I recommend Guayasamín’s Lagrimas de Sangre. Some might balk at taking Guayasamín slightly out of context here but the connection is more than literal and he would not have minded.

    Anyhow, thanks, Tom. Had not seen Kopf’s latest.

  27. 27
    Belafon says:

    @scav: I’m pretty sure Scalia yelled “You lie!” when the nun talked about the money changers.

  28. 28
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Cervantes: Nice. In the repertory. Thanks.

  29. 29

    @dedc79: We’ve always been ruled by Scalias, if by other names.

  30. 30
    Roger Moore says:

    @Ruckus:

    Second, didn’t the inquisition bypass the courts and just take it upon themselves to take what they wanted(power)?

    The Inquisition bypassed the civil court system, but the whole point of it was that the Church had the power to run its own, parallel court system to find and deal with people who broke Church law. Just as clergymen were supposed to be outside civil law and only punishable by ecclesiastical courts. I think a lot of the really crazy religious fanatics want to return to the days of churches being powers unto themselves and completely outside of civil law.

  31. 31
    gwangung says:

    @cmorenc:

    Every time a Nader-in-2000 voter retorts, with petulant indignity, that “it wasn’t our fault that Gore lost / didn’t run a good-enough campaign”, I’m reminded of the frequent reaction of players on either Columbia or Brazil in last Saturday’s WC quarterfinal whenever a foul was called against them: throwing up their hands, expression of smug “WHO…ME?” incredulity in their face and eyes at the injustice of an innocent wrongly accused of mugging an opponent’s ankles and legs. I didn’t do nothin’ wrong, ref!

    To a greater extent (IMAO), if neo-Naderites want a better choice in candidates, NOW is the time to start pushing for one. Find one and promote them. I think the Dems would support someone more progressive than Hilary Clinton if they pushed one now.

  32. 32
    skerry says:

    This will make wingnut heads explode.

    In a new court filing, attorneys for two Guantanamo Bay detainees have invoked the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which allowed certain corporations to ignore the Obamacare contraception mandate if their owners object to it on religious grounds.

    Slippery slope much?

  33. 33
    Alex S. says:

    Personhood of a corporation must lead to a legal contradiction down the line, for example, the corporation consists of people and is a person itself, and, I don’t know, some taxes then are basically taxing the same thing twice or something like that. (Though in that case, the Supreme Court would just declare a certain tax to be unconstitutional.)

  34. 34
    Origuy says:

    I did a search for other paintings of judges; I found this one of the punishment of a corrupt judge:

    The Flaying of Judge Sisamnes – Judgment of Cambyses

    It might be a little harsh, but this court probably wouldn’t see it as cruel and unusual, if it weren’t applied to them.

  35. 35
    Cervantes says:

    @danielx: Re Scalia being “The Finest Legal Mind Of The Fourteenth Century” … he wouldn’t even have been in the top five hundred!

    Just in the Western canon alone there’s John Wycliffe, who would have wiped the floor with Scalia and his sophistries in service of injustice.

    On the other hand I do agree that he belongs in the Dark Ages, preferably in chains and pilloried. If only we could send him back.

  36. 36
    Cervantes says:

    @gwangung:

    To a greater extent (IMAO), if neo-Naderites want a better choice in candidates, NOW is the time to start pushing for one. Find one and promote them.

    Yes.

    Other than that, though, the 2014 elections should be enough to occupy progressives for now.

  37. 37
    SRW1 says:

    OMG, in the good old days the Eminence Noir on SCOTUS could have had that judgeling disembowled and quartered for their amusement. What has the world come to?!

  38. 38
    different-church-lady says:

    Kopf adds both in a disclaimer both truthful and politic that he is not saying that the majority in the Hobby Lobby decision were actually driven by the considerations that it really really looks like they were.

    If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, and has feathers like a duck, and eats like a duck, and shits like a duck, and fucks like a duck, and has “THIS IS A DUCK” written on it in permanent wide-point neon Sharpie…

  39. 39
    Alex S. says:

    @Cervantes:

    And don’t forget Ibn Khaldun!

  40. 40
    NonyNony says:

    @skerry:

    This will make wingnut heads explode.

    Wait – the military is preventing prisoners from praying?

    WTF? How is that even legal?

    Oh. Right. Gitmo.

  41. 41
  42. 42
    Seanly says:

    @⚽️ Martin:

    I love the Twitter commenter who can’t see the similarity…

    Some people are blind to things right in front of their face. When we invaded Iraq & there was a lot of insurgency, some coworkers were mad about the Iragis fighting back. I mentioned that maybe they loved their country & were fighting Americans despite not liking Saddam. I saw that in the same vein that my coworkers would’ve taken up arms & fought against invaders even if they didn’t like the government. Went right over their heads…

  43. 43
    WereBear says:

    @Seanly: None so stupid as those who will not think.

  44. 44
    Belafon says:

    @⚽️ Martin: I can’t look at the picture right now, but is this the one of the two women with guns and holy books?

  45. 45
    Ken says:

    I’m hoping this is the start of a trend. The ideal end of the trend would be conversations like “Hi, Sam? Sam Alito? Look, I know it’s two AM – what? Gee, three AM your time? Sorry – anyway, I’m on the Sixth Circuit and I’ve got a case where someone’s claiming a religious exemption from a generally-applicable law, and since you said that you weren’t laying down any general principles and future claims would have to be individually considered, I wanted to get your opinion on this one.”

  46. 46
    Anya says:

    @⚽️ Martin: The only difference is one has political power while the other resort to terrorism to gain power.

  47. 47
    dedc79 says:

    @skerry: There is likely a tremendous (and depressing) amount of overlap between the people praising the SCOTUS decision in Hobby Lobby and the people who are terrified about Sharia Law conquering America.

  48. 48
    NonyNony says:

    @dedc79:

    There is likely a tremendous (and depressing) amount of overlap between the people praising the SCOTUS decision in Hobby Lobby and the people who are terrified about Sharia Law conquering America.

    Of course there is. Because it’s all about projection.

    They want a theocracy – it just has the be the right kind of theocracy. They’re terrified of a different theocracy.

    (I’m honestly surprised at how well the right-wing coalition of angry right-wing Fundamentalists and angry right-wing Roman Catholics is holding together. You’d think that some of the angry right-wing Fundies would put 2 and 2 together and realize that 5 Roman Catholics decided last week that the law of the Pope is the law of the land. A hundred years ago they would have gone apeshit – today they cheer on the coming theocracy because they still think it’ll be their theocracy when it’s all done. What a bunch of morons…)

  49. 49
    Roger Moore says:

    @dedc79:

    There is likely a tremendous (and depressing) amount of overlap between the people praising the SCOTUS decision in Hobby Lobby and the people who are terrified about Sharia Law conquering America.

    It’s very simple: they’re afraid of competition.

  50. 50
    dww44 says:

    @Belafon: Actually, if I had to pick the real baddie in this decision (other than Kennedy), it would be Alito. All one has to do is to remember his face in the SOTU annual gatherings since 2010. He came pretty darn close to Joe Wilson’s “You Lie” that year. His whole attitude is dismissive and disrespectful of this President. He apparently and wilfully has no intention of being a justice who actually weighs the facts and decides accordingly. He comes into a case with a predetermined opinion and outcome. So, I believe we can also fault Kerry for Alito’s presence on the Court.

  51. 51
    feebog says:

    Fat Tony can’t go face down in a plate of pasta soon enough for me.

  52. 52
    James E. Powell says:

    @Brian R.:

    I wonder whatever happened to that guy?

    He was lying then, he is lying now, and he is in fact a chronic and habitual liar.

  53. 53
    burnspbesq says:

    @amk:

    burnsey will be burning today?

    Beg pardon?

  54. 54
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    @feebog: I’ve been thinking on that…and then I thought, no, what I’d rather see is some horrendous scandal surface in which he cannot squirm out of…so that all of his time on the court is called into question…then he can go tits up.

  55. 55
    Roger Moore says:

    @TaMara (BHF):
    IMO, the tactically best one of the right wing 5 to get rid of would be Roberts. He’s the Chief Justice- though I’m tempted to use scare quotes around “Justice” when describing that group- and he has the longest expected remaining lifespan.

  56. 56

    @burnspbesq: They get confused when you don’t reflexively defend USSC. You’re either ‘with them’ or ‘against them’, and you’ve been put in the ‘with them’ category. You apparently are not entitled to your own opinions.

  57. 57
    Spike says:

    @Brian R.:

    He’s calling balls and strikes. Anything left of the plate is a ball. Anything over the left side of the plate is a ball. Anything down the middle is a ball. Anything over the right side of the plate is a strike. Anything between the right edge of the plate and the dugout on the first-base side is a strike.

  58. 58
    serena1313 says:

    What ought to be of a deeply troubling concern is that the 5 conservatives ignored medical science.

    Hobby Lobby argued that emergency contraceptives Plan B & Ella & two kinds of IUDs were abortifacients or caused abortions because they prevented the implantation of a fertilized egg.

    What the aforementioned actually do is prevent fertilization, not implantation. So no they are not abortifacients. This was all laid out in an amicus brief that was filed by a long list of prestigious medical organizations, professionals & researchers.

    Yet the 5 male justices just ignored it. So this is much much more than just appearances. I would think that alone would be enough to impeach those Justices. Of course that will never happen.

    Therein we are stuck with 5 anti-science, pro-religion and pro-corporate ideologues who serve on the Supreme Court making decisions based on religious beliefs and ideology.

  59. 59
    WereBear says:

    @serena1313: Yes. It’s like a million kinds of wrong.

  60. 60
    Phoebe says:

    Thanks for passing that along. I actually kind of loved this guy before — I may be the rare female lawyer in the demographic otherwise most likely to be offended who found the basis for his inadvertent lurch into Internet fame last year much less distressing than reports had given me to expect — and I think it says something for how refreshingly clear-eyed he is, and what a good writer he can be, that I recognized him from the excerpts you quoted alone.

  61. 61

    @serena1313:

    What ought to be of a deeply troubling concern is that the 5 conservatives ignored medical science.

    They didn’t ignore it. They crafted their opinion right around it. They never said ‘these things that are abortifacients’. They said ‘these things that they believe are abortifacients’. If you are a closely held company and believe that office chairs are abortifacients, then I think you can refuse to give your employees chairs by way of religious objection.

    So the test is not whether these things are narrowly contraceptives. The test is whether or not the court accepts your beliefs as honest. Apparently the Catholics take them as an honest belief, but don’t take the beliefs of other religions (the list of things they rejected) as either honest or valid or are willing to give the right to the employee in only those cases.

    Let a billion lawsuits bloom.

  62. 62
    Cervantes says:

    @⚽️ Martin:

    They get confused when you don’t reflexively defend USSC.

    The “they” in question is often confused, not only in the circumstance you mention.

  63. 63
    WaterGirl says:

    @Phoebe: Do you have a link to his previous article about how female attorneys should dress? I loved what he wrote here and it would be fun to see what he wrote before, even if it annoys me. He does have a very interesting writing style!

  64. 64
    WaterGirl says:

    @⚽️ Martin: Martin, is there any chance that this could be such a clusterfuck that the supreme court would have to walk back their decision? (she asked, hopefully)

    Edit: I am (obviously) not a lawyer, but this just screams “not equal protection under the law” to me.

  65. 65
    Suffern ACE says:

    @⚽️ Martin: Can we spread the rumor that the chemtrails contain abortifactorants?

  66. 66
    SFAW says:

    @Brian R.:

    I wonder whatever happened to that guy?

    It turns out that he when was using the term “stare decisis,” he wasn’t thinking of the Latin meaning, but rather the Wingnuttish meaning, which in English translates to “fuck the country, fuck the liberals, but thanks Ralph!”

    Or so I have been led to believe.

  67. 67
    jake the antisoshul soshulist says:

    As far as the illustration, the judge in the foreground does have a certain resemblance to “Fat Tony.”

  68. 68
  69. 69
    Cervantes says:

    @WaterGirl: This Court? No chance whatsoever, I would estimate.

  70. 70
    Kay says:

    George HW Bush was a big supporter of contraception when he was in the US House.

    Can you imagine a Republican being a “chief co-sponsor” of Title X now? It is unimaginable.

    “Broad bipartisan support” and signed by Nixon.

    Title X really IS free birth control, unlike health insurance which is employee compensation.

    http://www.prochoiceamerica.or.....-facts.pdf

  71. 71
    WaterGirl says:

    @Steeplejack (tablet): Thank you!

    @Cervantes: Those bastards!

  72. 72
    central texas says:

    Personally, regarding the 5 pretenders to the College of Cardinals, I prefer “esad”.

  73. 73
    gocart mozart says:

    The RFRA, as now interpreted by the SCOTUS, would seem to violate the 1st and 14th am. If you take Alito at his word, the Court will now have to pick and choose which beliefs are important enough to get a special exemption. This is in direct violation of the 1st am. The other option would be to give everyone who wants one an exemption and invite chaos. We will find out soon enough when a corporation claims the religious right to discriminate against gays (already in progress) Alito has already implied that Jehova Wittnesses shouldn’t get an exemption presumably because their beliefs about blood transfusions aren’t as good as Catholic belief about contraception.

    I’m almost looking forward to the oncoming legal clusterf*ck.

  74. 74
    smedley the uncertain says:

    @Cervantes: Thank you for La Grimas de Sangre. A brilliant piece of art.
    I had not seen that before and the ensuing search for the background gave me the back story. I don’t think I could live with the painting on the wall… It would simply make me even angrier every day.

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