Opinion: Justice Ginsburg Hammers Republicans and Supreme Court Majority for Denying Democracy and Reality

A friend of mine who runs his own small law firm texted me the other day after the financial relief package aimed at helping small businesses stalled in the Senate. Worried over his dwindling ability to keep and compensate his employees, he blamed the Democrats and declared he’s voting for Trump. The Democrats showed themselves, once again, to be “out of touch,” he felt, with the reality of American lives. read more

John Roberts Rebukes Schumer For Bogus “Threatening Statements” Against Gorsuch, Kavanaugh

Chief Justice John Roberts has rebuked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for “threatening statements” against two conservative justices.

“Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous,” Roberts said, adding that the justices “will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”

Roberts’s comments came after Schumer, standing outside the Supreme Court, said Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh would “pay the price” if they fail to uphold abortion rights as the judiciary takes up June Medical Services v. Russo, which considers the constitutionality of a law requiring doctors to possess admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 minutes of their abortion clinics.

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Schumer said to a crowd of abortion-rights advocates. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

Schumer was soon criticized by Congressional conservatives, including Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Steve Scalise (R-La.).

🚨 UNHINGED → Schumer threatened conservative justices Kavanaugh & Gorsuch on the steps of the Supreme Court:

"You have released the whirlwind & you will pay the price. You won't know what hit you."

Enough. This rhetoric has dangerous consequences. Where's the media outrage? pic.twitter.com/SiGNHxG0iX read more

Kavanaugh’s First Day Marked by Protests

By Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Brett Kavanaugh spent a collegial first day on the bench as a U.S. Supreme Court justice on Tuesday that contrasted sharply with the venom of his confirmation process, taking an active role in arguments alongside his eight new colleagues.

Kavanaugh, a veteran of such proceedings after 12 years on an influential U.S. appeals court, looked at ease as he asked several questions during two hours of lively oral arguments involving a federal sentencing law for repeat offenders.

It seemed like business as usual in the ornate courtroom, three days after Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Republican-led Senate despite being accused of sexual assault by a university professor named Christine Blasey Ford. Appointed by President Donald Trump, Kavanaugh’s confirmation cemented a conservative majority on the court that could last for years.

Kavanaugh took his seat at the right end of the courtroom’s mahogany bench – the location assigned to the court’s junior-most member – and wore traditional black robes like the other justices. Retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, the 82-year-old jurist who Kavanaugh replaced, was in the courtroom, as were members of the new justice’s family.

With police standing by, a small group of protesters demonstrated outside the courthouse, holding signs saying “Shame” and “He sits on a throne of lies,” while chanting, “This isn’t over, we’re still here.” With courtroom security tight, there were no disruptions by protesters during the arguments, as there had been during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.

Chief Justice John Roberts formally welcomed Kavanaugh, 53, to a court that now has five conservative members and four liberals.

“We wish you a long and happy career in our common calling,” Roberts told Kavanaugh, who could serve for decades in the lifetime job.

The bitterly divided Senate voted 50-48 on Saturday to confirm Kavanaugh, with just one Democrat supporting him. Kavanaugh’s confirmation gave the Republican president a political victory ahead of crucial Nov. 6 congressional elections.

Kavanaugh was Trump’s second selection for the nation’s highest judicial body, following conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch last year.

Kavanaugh posed questions to lawyers in both cases before the court, his first one coming about 20 minutes into the arguments.

At one point, Kavanaugh could be seen having a lighthearted exchange with liberal Justice Elena Kagan, seated next to him. At another point, liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor appeared to pinch Gorsuch, sitting next to her, to playfully illustrate her point about what constitutes a violent act. Gorsuch responded with a faux grimace of pain.

Tuesday’s cases involved the 1984 Armed Career Criminal Act, a “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” criminal sentencing law that boosts prison sentences for people who are convicted of crimes involving guns if they previously have been convicted of certain other crimes.

The cases, involving a Florida robbery and burglaries in Tennessee and Arkansas, challenged the types of crimes that qualify as violent felonies under that law and can lead to 15-year mandatory minimum sentences.

Roberts prompted laughter when he described asking his law clerks to try to grab a dollar bill from his hand to determine if that constituted a violent act.

“I’m not saying nobody could do it … but it requires a lot of force, more than you might think,” Roberts said.

Based on Tuesday’s arguments, defendants could win in both cases, with liberal justices likely to be joined by some conservatives in the majority. Kavanaugh appeared less sympathetic to the defendants than Gorsuch.

ENVIRONMENTAL CASE

Kavanaugh had served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington since 2006.

Before Tuesday’s arguments, the justices turned aside appeals of a 2017 ruling authored by Kavanaugh while on the lower court striking down a 2015 environmental rule imposed under Democratic former President Barack Obama regulating a potent greenhouse gas linked to climate change.

The justices privately made the decision to reject the appeals by an environmental group and companies that supported the regulation before Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and announced the action on Tuesday.

Kavanaugh is expected to push the court further to the right as he is replacing Kennedy, a conservative who sometimes voted with the liberal justices on key social issues such as abortion and gay rights.

His nomination had appeared safe until Ford last month went public with allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982 when they were high school students in Maryland. Two other women accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct dating to the 1980s.

Kavanaugh denied the allegations and during a Senate hearing accused Democrats of an “orchestrated political hit.”

He later expressed regret over some of his comments. But critics said Kavanaugh’s demeanor raised questions about his temperament and potential political bias in deciding cases.

At a White House ceremony on Monday night, Kavanaugh said he was starting his new job with “no bitterness,” seeking to be “a force for stability and unity.”

Trump on Twitter on Tuesday said he was “very proud” of Kavanaugh and his family, and disparaged the anti-Kavanaugh protesters.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Susan Heavey; Editing by Will Dunham)

Chief Justice Roberts Ignored Kavanaugh Perjury Complaints

Chief Justice John Roberts received more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints in recent weeks against Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice Saturday, but did nothing about them. According to the Washington Post, he “has chosen for the time being not to refer them to a judicial panel for investigation.”

Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (where Kavanaugh also serves as a judge) sent to Roberts a series of perjury complaints the court had received about Kavanaugh. The complaints began to coming in to the court about three weeks ago.

Henderson decided that the complaints were substantive enough that they should be sent to the Chief Justice and not to Kavanaugh’s fellow judges in the D.C. Circuit.

In a statement Saturday, Henderson said the complaints involved testimony given by Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation hearings. She wrote:

“Under the law any person may file a misconduct complaint in the circuit in which the federal judge sits. The complaints do not pertain to any conduct in which Judge Kavanaugh engaged as a judge. The complaints seek investigations only of the public statements he has made as a nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.” read more

Misspelled Tweet From Donald Trump Jr. Is a Call to War

To read what Donald Trump Jr. tweeted you’d think that he and his father had lost their battle to confirm right-wing Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

After Senator Susan Collins finished her speech on the Senate floor yesterday, announcing her support for Brett Kavanaugh, the president’s namesake son posted the following:

Trump supporters – The fight isn’t over. You better believe that Democrats are going to do everything in their power to impeach Kavanuagh from the Supreme Court if they take control of Congress in November.
This is war. Time to fight. Vote on Nov 6 to protect the Supreme Court!”

Trump supporters – The fight isn’t over. You better believe that Democrats are going to do everything in their power to impeach Kavanuagh from the Supreme Court if they take control of Congress in November.

This is war. Time to fight. Vote on Nov 6 to protect the Supreme Court! read more

Key senators criticize Trump for mocking Kavanaugh accuser

By David Alexander and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two moderate Republicans who could be pivotal in determining whether the Senate confirms U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh criticized President Donald Trump on Wednesday for mocking a woman who has accused the judge of sexual assault.

Senators Jeff Flake and Susan Collins were among the lawmakers who took issue with comments Trump made regarding Christine Blasey Ford, a university professor from California who detailed her sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh at an extraordinary Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week.

At a political rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night, Trump mocked Ford’s testimony about the alleged assault in Maryland in 1982 when she was 15 and Kavanaugh was 17.

Ford testified that she could not remember the precise date or location of the alleged assault, but offered a detailed account of the incident itself in which she said a drunken Kavanaugh pinned her down, tried to remove her clothing and covered her mouth when she screamed.

“What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know. Where’s the house? I don’t know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember,” Trump said in his imitation of Ford’s testimony.

“And a man’s life is in tatters,” Trump added.

Appearing on NBC’s “Today” show, Flake said that “there’s no time and no place for remarks like that, that discuss something this sensitive at a political rally.”

“It’s just not right. I wish he hadn’t … done it. I just say it’s kind of appalling,” Flake said of Trump’s comments.

Speaking briefly to reporters, Collins said, “The president’s comments were just plain wrong.” She did not respond when asked if his comments would affect her vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Trump’s fellow Republicans control the Senate by a 51-49 margin. That means if all the Democrats vote against Kavanaugh, Trump could not afford to have more than one Republican oppose his nominee, with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tie-breaking vote.

So far, no Republicans have said they would vote against Kavanaugh.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation this week after each senator is given a report on the ongoing FBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump’s nominee for a lifetime job on the top U.S. court.

The fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lifetime job on the top U.S. court comes against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement fighting sexual harassment and assault that has toppled a succession of powerful men.

Speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday, McConnell again took aim at Kavanaugh opponents.

McConnell said that there is “no chance in the world they’re going to scare us out of doing our duty. We will not be intimidated by these people. This is all part of the organized effort to delay, obstruct and intimidate, including those of us who will be voting this week.”

The fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination has unfolded just weeks ahead of Nov. 6 elections in which Democrats are trying to seize control of Congress from Republicans.

(Reporting by David Alexander and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurkley; Editing by Will Dunham and Paul Tait)