Some Good News to End This Week!

The Federal courts have worked diligently to make America great again and provided us with three items of good news to end this most infrastructure of weeks.

1:

2:

3:

Let’s all hope that next Infrastructure Week is as productive as this one.

Open thread!








“A question of judicial modesty”

Reuters says the Supreme Court justices “appear divided” as they hear arguments about whether Title VII protects gay and transgender employees from sex discrimination:

Kavanaugh said little to indicate how he might vote. Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who missed the opening day of the court’s term on Monday with an illness, was at the arguments but asked no questions, as is his custom.

The four liberal justices on the nine-member court signaled sympathy toward arguments that LGBT workers are covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as race, color, national origin and religion.

Some of the five conservative justices expressed reservations toward extending protection to gay employees. However, one of them, Justice Neil Gorsuch, asked questions of both sides indicating potential sympathy for the workers. When analyzing whether a person was fired on the basis of sexual orientation, Gorsuch said sex seemed to be a “contributing cause.”

But Gorsuch later in the arguments voiced concern that the court would be overstepping its role if it ruled in favor of gay and transgender workers instead of letting Congress legislate on the subject. Gorsuch warned of “massive social upheaval” that could result from such a ruling.

“It’s a question of judicial modesty,” Gorsuch said.

Weird how “judicial modesty” doesn’t forbid “conservative” judges from asserting control over women’s uteri, barging into LGBTQ folks’ bedrooms or rifling through their underwear drawers. There’s not a molecule of modesty in the whole bunch.

Open thread.








Cuckoos, Consuls and Courts

Imagine what a bottomless pit of pure, pulsating neediness you’d have to be to compose this tweet:

I’m not a medical professional, but I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that a person who thanks himself in the third person using his formal title is unwell. I guess we’re lucky Trump doesn’t have any pets to appoint to high office.

On the other hand, a horse, cat, dog or hamster would be infinitely more intelligent than this person, who is deputy communications director for the Trump 2020 campaign:

Flounder here is as dumb as his boss, who also admitted on camera that the case his administration’s lawyers have argued before the court is a pack of lies and that the census question is a power grab, which is 100% obvious to everyone.

To recap, we know the Trump administration wants to insert a citizenship question into the census to bolster the electoral fortunes of “Republicans” and “non-Hispanic Whites,” to quote the dead GOP gerrymandering guru who came up with the idea in 2015. Two Trump administration officials have already perjured themselves about the rationale behind the question, which should be a massive scandal, only the POTUS and the pack of grift-mavens surrounding him do so many crimes that the people in charge who aren’t part of the criminal gang just shrug them off now.

The GOP-heisted SCOTUS gave the Trump administration a huge gift by calling the rationale behind the question “contrived” rather than a pack of lies to advance the cause of white supremacy, which is what it undeniably is. The highest court in the land also green-lighted outrageously obvious cheating at the state level, basically telling a dwindling demographic to knock themselves out in their efforts to impose perpetual minority rule.

But Trump and Flounder aren’t bright enough to keep their big fat mouths shut, and I guess that’s good news? There’s a chance the rubble they’ve made of an institutional guardrail may prevent them from driving us all over the cliff after all. Or not. Gahhhh! It’s crazy-making.

****

A related but separate topic: yesterday, Joe Biden said in an Iowa Starting Line interview that he’d consider nominating Merrick Garland to the SCOTUS again if Biden is elected president. That would be an irretrievably stupid move since Garland is in the bottom half of his 60s and was only nominated as a consensus candidate in a failed attempt to head off McConnell’s theft of the seat. The other side doesn’t give a flying fuck about “fair” — see Garland, Merrick — so a 40-year-old ideological clone of RBG is what we nominate next time.

Anyhoo, Biden caught a lot of flak for that, but I thought this was actually the more interesting tidbit from the conversation:

“I think we should have been a whole heck of a lot harder on [Mitch McConnell],” Biden said when asked if there was anything he and President Obama should have done differently on the Merrick Garland nomination.

“I have pretty good relationships on both sides of the aisle,” Biden explained of his efforts during the Garland fight. “I’d say, what are you doing, you’re setting a horrible precedent here. And the answer was, I know Joe, but if I go, I’m in a red state, if I go ahead and just call for a hearing, the Koch Brothers will drop five, ten million dollars on my race. That’s nothing about political courage, it’s a reality.”

It is about political courage, but does this next bit indicate that maybe Biden finally fucking gets what we’re up against?

Biden suggested reforming campaign finance laws to allow for public financing of campaigns to reduce partisanship in judicial nominating disputes. But until that happens, he argued Democrats just need to fight these battles with a Republican Senate just as hard as the other side does.

“The strategy would be to go out and actually beat them,” Biden said of what he’d do as president if McConnell continued blocking judicial appointments, adding Democrats successfully brought that fight in the 2018 midterms. “We took the fight to them [in 2018]. In that case, it was about health care. We got to take the fight to them. Part of this is persuasion, as well. And that’s why I’m not giving up on the South.”

Persuasion tapped out in 2010. But I hope Biden talks some more about what goes on in the Senate and makes that central to the campaign. They all should — we have a senator-heavy race, and that could be an advantage if they use their sausage-making knowledge to emphasize the fact that the Koch Bros. and similar oligarchs have GOP senators’ balls in their grip.

The only way we can really pull this plane out of its nosedive is to take on the Republicans at every level, not after a Democrat is president but starting now, during the campaign. People need to understand that.








SCOTUS Open Thread

Sorry to step on Alain, but it looks like we need a SCOTUS open thread since we may be about to find out if the chief justice openly embraces partisanship in the service of white supremacy. I’m following along at SCOTUSblog.

ETA: The majority punts on partisan gerrymandering. Justice Kagan’s dissent: “the partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.”

ETA 2: Good-ish news on the census question? From SCOTUSblog: “The majority upholds the district court’s remand to the agency for further explanation of its decision.”

ETA 3: “The Chief Justice explains that, although it is fine when an agency has stated and unstated reasons for a decision — and fine with a new administration comes in with policy preferences — here, the only stated reason for the decision to add the citizenship question seems contrived.”

Ya think? It sounds like the Court Republicans are saying the rule change is fine, but the agency needs to come up with a less obvious lie to justify it.








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.