John Roberts says “Hold My Beer”

Justice John Paul Stevens:

District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized an individual right to possess a firearm under the Constitution, is unquestionably the most clearly incorrect decision that the Supreme Court announced during my tenure on the bench.

The text of the Second Amendment unambiguously explains its purpose: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” When it was adopted, the country was concerned that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several states.

***

That’s cold comfort. I have written in other contexts that an amendment to the Constitution to overrule Heller is desperately needed to prevent tragedies such as the massacre of 20 grammar-school children at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, from ever happening again. But such tragedies have indeed happened again. In the course of writing the chapter of my memoir that discusses Heller, on October 1, 2017, a gunman fired from the 32nd floor of a hotel in Las Vegas, killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 more who were attending an outdoor concert. I had not yet finished the chapter when another mass shooting occurred, this one involving the death of 26 people—including three generations of a single family—at a church on November 5, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. More shootings have happened since.

You ain’t seen nothing yet.








Team Broken Glass (Open Thread)

It’s safe to say the vast majority of folks who comment on this site aren’t big fans of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). I’m not either. During the 2016 campaign, I went from believing his candidacy would be a welcome opportunity to emphasize important issues like wealth inequality and the out-sized influence of wealthy donors on politics to wishing he’d shut the fuck up and concede the race already to blaming him in part for fracturing the party and contributing to Clinton’s defeat.

That said, if — dog forbid! — Sanders wins the 2020 Democratic Party nomination, hell yes I’ll vote for him. I would not only crawl over broken glass to do so, I’d swim through sewer pipes, climb a mountain of toxic waste, rappel down a cliff face made of rat shit and THEN crawl over broken glass to vote for Sanders.

Why? Here’s one reason: Trump was tacky and ghoulish enough to announce to cronies that he is “saving” a far-right religious nut judge named Amy Coney Barrett for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat.

Now, I hope that when Trump finally drops dead, Ginsburg attends his funeral wearing a red dress and a mysterious smile and then goes on to live for a thousand more years. But the fact is, we’ll be lucky to hold Trump’s SCOTUS picks to the two disasters he’s already placed on the court. Whoever wins in 2020 will probably get to choose at least one and possibly two.

In 2020, I hope to Christ it doesn’t come down to a choice between Trump or Sanders, but there’s a non-zero chance it will. Sanders, for all his myriad faults, wouldn’t appoint a Gorsuch, Kavanaugh or Barrett to the SCOTUS. Trump has/would. So yeah, Team Broken Glass. Any questions?








Manafort in for 7.5 years

Open thread








At Least This Debate is Forever Over

The one positive outcome of the ridiculously lenient sentence Manafort received yesterday is that it should forever end any fucking debate about whether or not our justice system is racist as fuck:

Judge Ellis is quite a piece of work. In 2009, when Democratic congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana famously got caught with 90-grand in cold, ill-gotten cash in his home freezer, Ellis threw the book at him, sentencing Jefferson to 13 years, the longest bid ever doled out to a congressman in a bribery case. Jefferson, it should be noted, was black.

It is. And it’s not just racist judges, because mandatory minimums tie the hands of fair judges. The end.








Paul Manafort Will Still Die in Prison

While everyone is correctly pointing out the terrible discrepancies in our criminal justice system, it is important to remember that Paul Manafort’s sentencing today is not the end of this story. Next week Manafort will appear before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Federal district court in DC. It was Judge Jackson who ruled that Manafort had, in fact, lied, obstructed, and witness tampered in regard to the Special Counsel, his investigators, and his prosecutors post trial and conviction in her court. And it is Judge Jackson who will sentence Paul Manafort next week. Unlike Judge Ellis, who is a well known crank and who, in a properly functioning political system with two actually functional political parties concerned about the general welfare, the rule of law, and the common weal, would have been removed from the bench a long time ago, Judge Jackson is considered to be a jurist who takes her responsibilities seriously. Do not expect Judge Jackson to be lenient. And don’t expect her to ignore actual facts to state that Manafort had previously led a blameless life. Do expect her to hand down a sentence with teeth in it. It is entirely possible that Judge Ellis departed from the sentencing guidelines because he knew Judge Jackson wouldn’t. Doing something like that fits with his history of contrarianism masquerading as jurisprudence. Regardless, Paul Manafort will die in prison. And we should all be thankful for that.

Open thread!