Open Thread: SCOTUS End of Term Releases

This is an open thread focused on Supreme Court orders and decisions released this week, the final week of the court’s term.

Check these Twitter accounts for more updates and analysis:

SCOTUS updates: https://twitter.com/USSupremeCourt – Updates

SCOTUSblog: https://twitter.com/SCOTUSblog – Analysis

Steve Vladeck: https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

Chris Geidner: https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

If you want to suggest any other Twitter accounts to follow for SCOTUS news and analysis, please share in comments.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the day progresses.

All comments related to the House January 6 Committee hearings should be shared in those dedicated threads, not here

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

Comment policy

Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

~ ~ ~

28-JUN-2022

Ardoin, LA Secretary of State, et al. v. Robinson, Press, et al.

Certiorari Granted

Stay granted 6-3 by SCOTUS, essentially fucking over Black voters in Louisiana for this mid-term election by way of the shadow docket.

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29-JUN-2022

Oklahoma, Petitioner v. Victor Manuel Castro-Huerta

5-4 decision, Kavanaugh majority opinion, Gorsuch with dissent

Blackhawk’s next tweet encapsulates much of the problem with this particular SCOTUS iteration:

This court is not legitimate because it fails to recognize previous SCOTUS decisions, undermines fundamental human rights, and tears at democracy, while re-colonizing Native American nations without the express approval of U.S. legislature, or the re-colonized by nation, or by bodily autonomy.

It is a superlegislature supplanting the role of the legislative branch while frustrating the executive branch’s ability to fulfill functions outlined in legislation.

Given what it has already done this term, what are the odds this same court further destroys the executive branch’s long-recognized functions in its last decisions on West Virginia v. EPA and Biden v. Texas this term?

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29-JUN-2022

Le Roy Torres, Petitioner v. Texas Department of Public Safety

5-4 decision, Breyer majority opinion, Kagan concurring, Thomas dissent

SCOTUS finds in favor of U.S. veterans’ rights. Texas agreed upon becoming a state that its sovereignty was subordinate to federal policy; this will tweak the noses of Texas secessionists.

The disturbing part of this decision:

It’s as if the four dissenters don’t realize they’re arguing against their own legitimacy. If federal law isn’t supreme, why is their court supreme?

Or is that the point, they’re making yet another argument for states’ rights?

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Open Thread: SCOTUS Release Day 2 of 2

This is an open thread focused on Supreme Court orders and decisions expected to be released today, Thursday June 23, 2022.

Check these Twitter accounts for more updates and analysis:

SCOTUS updates: https://twitter.com/USSupremeCourt – Updates

SCOTUSblog: https://twitter.com/SCOTUSblog – Analysis

Steve Vladeck: https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck/status/1539971356204212226 – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

Chris Geidner: https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner/status/1539971614690840576 – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

If you want to suggest any other Twitter accounts to follow for SCOTUS news and analysis, please share in comments.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the day progresses.

All comments related to the House January 6 Committee hearings should be shared in those dedicated threads, not here

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

Comment policy

Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

~ ~ ~

 

Open Thread: SCOTUS Release Day 1 of 2

This is an open thread focused on Supreme Court orders and decisions expected to be released today, Tuesday June 21, 2022.

More will be released on Thursday, June 23.

Follow Chris Geidner for SCOTUS news:

Check these Twitter accounts for more updates and analysis:

SCOTUS updates: https://twitter.com/USSupremeCourt – Updates

SCOTUSblog: https://twitter.com/SCOTUSblog – Analysis

Steve Vladeck: https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck/status/1539244516615540736 – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

Chris Geidner: https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner/status/1539239966911471616 – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

If you want to suggest any other Twitter accounts to follow for SCOTUS news and analysis, please share in comments.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the day progresses.

All comments related to the House January 6 Committee hearings should be shared in those dedicated threads, not here

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

Comment policy

Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

~ ~ ~

 

Alito’s Horrifying Opinion

1. The only really important point in this post.

It is crucial to remember that this disgusting diatribe is the real opinion of Alito and his co-conspirators. They intend to force you to submit to this power grab and all the sickening changes it makes in our democracy. To them the opinions, the morals, and the sense of civic virtue of the vast majority of Americans are meaningless. Only they and their tiny minority are right.

The formal opinion may be substantially different in form, maybe even to some extent in substance, but this is the unvarnished opinion of Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Barrett and possibly Roberts. Do not be fooled by a milder version of this screed. Do not forget they will happily hand you over to the Red State version of the Inquisition.

2. Alito is a bad judge.

Alito’s draft is an attack on judging as a human intellectual activity. It’s an assault on the very nature of good judging. In the less important part of this post, nearly unimportant, I explain my thinking on this point.

Here’s a summary of Alito’s opinion, selected sentences from the beginning of the opinion.

1. And in this case, 26 States have expressly asked this Court to overrule Roe and Casey and allow the States to regulate or prohibit pre-viability abortions (my numbering and paragraphing).

2. In defending this law, the State’s primary argument is that we should reconsider and overrule Roe and Casey and once again allow each State to regulate abortion as its citizens wish.

3.The Con­stitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, in­cluding the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s his­tory and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.”

4. Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences.

Therefore they reverse Roe v. Wade and while they’re at it, they reverse Casey v. Planned Parenthood; and say that the standard for review of a state law concerning abortion is whether there is a rational basis for the law.

Here’s a summary by Jeanne Suk Gerson in the New Yorker, laying out the general form of the argument.

Let’s begin with this question: at this time two years was there a Constitutional right to an abortion as set out in Roe and Casey? The answer is clearly yes. The proof is that courts enforced it, and people complied. It can’t possibly be that Alito’s decision, in whatever form it is finally rendered, makes it so that there was never a Constitutional right to an abortion. The Constitution is what five people say it is. The majority in Roe and Casey both said there is a Constitutional right to an abortion, and so it was.

Lots of SCOTUS cases are wrong at least to a large number of people. Why is it necessary to overrule this one? Why not leave it in place, even if Alito and his allies don’t like the reasoning. Alito doesn’t address that question. Stare decisis and reliance on precedent are crucial elements in judging. They give stability to our law.

Consider, for example, Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education. In overruling Plessy, the Brown Court found that separate schools for White and Black kids seriously damaged Black citizens in ways that didn’t exist at the time Plessy was decided. Changes in society were so great that separate was inherently unequal by the time of Brown. Therefore it was necessary to overrule it.

How does Alito explain why Roe should be reversed? This is all I can find:

Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences.

Overturning Roe will also have terribly damaging consequences. A good judge would address this plain fact.

One possible answer is that Alito is a true believer in originalism, a theory created by conservatives to combat the Warren Court’s “liberal” decisions. He believes that there is a True Constitution from which all law springs. That law is encapsulated in the public meaning of the words in the Constitution as they were understood at the time of adoption. Alito and his colleagues are guardians of that True Constitution, and it’s their sworn duty to insure that it is not distorted by bad cases. Using that theory, Alito can and must speak truth about the Constitution, regardless of the consequences. As he puts it:

The Casey plurality was certainly right that it is important for the public to perceive that our deci­sions are based on principle, and we should make every ef­fort to achieve that objective by issuing opinions that care­fully show how a proper understanding of the law leads to the results we reach. But we cannot exceed the scope of our authority under the Constitution, and we cannot allow our decisions to be affected by any extraneous influences such as concern about the public’s reaction to our work. That is true both when we initially decide a constitutional issue and when we consider whether to overrule a prior decision.

“Proper understanding”? Concerns about “the public’s reaction”? His “work”? For Alito judging isn’t about people, or society. Real judges don’t act like that. Let’s see what traditional jurisprudence says about judging.

In a paper titled Logical Method and Law (1924) the American pragmatist philosopher John Dewey describes good judging. He quotes Oliver Wendell Holmes from a paper on agency law in The Collected Legal Papers, p. 50.

… the whole outline of the law is the resultant of a conflict at every point between logic and good sense — the one striving to work fiction out to consistent results, the other restraining and at last overcoming that effort when the results are too manifestly unjust.

Dewey’s pragmatic theory is that the act of thinking only occurs in the face of doubt. At that point we are forced to proceed to inquiry. Over centuries of trial and error that continue to the present, we human beings have developed ways of investigating and collecting information, evaluating it, checking and rechecking, and ultimately forming conclusions. Then we observe the results and make adjustments to achieve our goals in the best way possible, knowing that we cannot be sure we are right. This method, more fully developed in other writings, applies to solving the problems presented to judges.

I read Dewey to say that judges should start with inquiry, and collect the facts in the messy circumstances of the case before them. As they do so they reach tentative conclusions about the best solution to the problem presented. Then they consider the general legal principles which might act premises for forming a conclusion that will be best for the case in front of them. He thinks inquiry is a logic of consequences, not antecedents. Once the consequences become reasonably clear, it is possible to consider relevant general principles. The selection of the relevant premises becomes crucial only at that point. We’ll see that when we see the dissents which we can expect from three members of the Court.

Then the judge writes down an explanation based on the general principles and tries to justify the decision. This logic is different from the logic of inquiry and the formation of conclusions. It is designed to appear as impersonal as possible while being persuasive. That’s why formal syllogistic logic is the model for many opinions. It conceals the messy process of inquiry, and it hides the uncertainty which has to exist in all really hard cases.

To see how Dewey’s thinking works in practice I turn to a modern thinker and appellate judge, Richard A. Posner. In a paper titled Pragmatic Adjudication Posner writes

But if his definition is rewritten as follows-“a pragmatist judge always tries to do the best he can do for the present and the future, unchecked by any felt duty to secure consistency in principle with what other officials have done in the past” — then I can accept it as a working definition of the concept of pragmatic adjudication.

He explains that the function of precedent is to provide the current judge with information and principles that might be helpful in deciding the current case. The point is that precedent does not supply Judges with a single answer to the determination of the proper rule to govern the case before them. Judges should consider sources that help understand the wisdom of the possible rules. The role of the judge is to end the fiction when it conflicts with good sense.

That’s what Alito doesn’t do. In this opinion, the question is whether Roe and Casey should be reversed. But Alito doesn’t explain why overruling Roe and Casey is better than leaving them in place even though the reasoning in his view is flawed.

Let’s grant for the sake of argument that Roe “had damaging consequences”, which Alito asserts as a fact with no evidence. It also caused heart-burstingly wonderful outcomes for millions of living women and their families. Why doesn’t Alito consider that benefit? He doesn’t explain why reversing Roe and Casey is the best outcome for the present and the future; in fact he says that isn’t relevant.

In my jurisprudence, he would at least address it. In his, it’s irrelevant, trivial, meaningless. For me and the majority of Americans, Alito’s originalist fiction imposes an unjust outcome with no explanation. It can only be a political act, an act of power.

=====
Here are a few of the essays I read on the draft opinion.

Rebecca Traister

Ian Milheiser

Alex Parene

Jessica Valenti

Molly Crabtree

Zachary Carter

Melissa Murray and Leah Litman

Barry Friedman,Dahlia Lithwick, and Stephen I. Vladeck

Six Weeks: The Tactics of Sammy Alito’s Abortion

Last night, Politico published a February 10 draft opinion in the Dobbs case, authored by Sam Alito, that overturns Roe and Casey entirely. I’ll leave it to experts to analyze the opinion. For my purposes, it matters only that it is legally and historically shoddy (meaning, Alito didn’t even care about making a convincing argument before taking away constitutional protections), and that it would also permit states to roll back protections for gay rights, contraception, and privacy generally.

I’d like to talk about tactics.

This leaked draft opinion, while not unprecedented, is almost that momentous. But the leak of the draft will in no way affect abortion access after June in any case. Since the oral argument, there was never a doubt that Casey, at least, was going to be effectively overturned. The only suspense, then, and now, concerned the scope of rights the Supreme Court eliminated and how John Roberts will vote.

The most hackish five justices support the Alito argument. And — in CNN reporting that is almost as important as the Politico leak — John Roberts would have voted to uphold Mississippi’s sharp restrictions on abortion in any case.

CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer Joan Biskupic reported late Monday that Chief Justice John Roberts did not want to completely overturn Roe, meaning he would have dissented from part of Alito’s draft opinion, likely with the top bench’s three liberals.
That would still give the conservatives a 5-4 majority on the issue.

Roberts is willing, however, to uphold the Mississippi law that would ban abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy, CNN has learned. Under current law, government cannot interfere with a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy before about 23 weeks, when a fetus could live outside the womb.

CNN’s report suggests this leak more likely came from Roberts’ chambers than the most likely other source, Stephen Breyer’s. The most logical explanation for the leak is that Roberts is trying to get his colleagues to adopt a less radical opinion. And if that’s the purpose, it might have the desired effect, both by making it clear what a shit-show the original Alito opinion will set off, but also by exposing the opinion itself to the ridicule and contempt it, as written, deserves.

But that doesn’t change the fact that in one way or another, the national protection for access to abortion is gone by the end of the SCOTUS term next month.

So those who support equality for women (and LGBTQ rights, and privacy generally) should consider this leaked draft as an opportunity to use the next six weeks — assume the final opinion will be released in mid-June — to lay the groundwork for what comes next. Symbolically, those who support equality for women (and LGBTQ people) now have about as long as many states will permit abortions to do something to protect the right to abortion (and to marry who you love) going forward.

It’s not clear how overturning abortion access or the early release of this opinion will affect politics going forward. I can certainly see it driving the plurality of Republicans who support such a radical stance. I can also see this decision being decisive in defeating some anti-choice Senate candidates and maybe, because this was released before the run-off, the remaining anti-choice Democrat, Henry Cuellar. Gavin Newsom has already talked about adding abortion to California’s constitution, and California might not be the only such state. Perhaps it is not too late to find a way to put reproductive rights on the ballot as a referendum (though I assume it is). Certainly, this is way to make abortion support a litmus test for state-wide elections.

Certainly, this decision raises the stakes of Brett Kavanaugh’s lies in his confirmation and Clarence Thomas’ implication in his wife’s participation in a coup attempt.

Democrats are talking about abolishing the filibuster to pass abortion rights, but there’s no indication they have 51 votes to pass it. Maybe this would change things?

But there are other ways to mobilize what is a solid majority (including most large corporations) in the United States to undercut this decision, and possibly to change the tenor of politics in this country. Americans believe that women and gays (at least) should be treated as equals. A radical minority disagrees.

Use the next six weeks to figure out how to isolate them as a radical minority.

Update: Noted that this opinion will just end national protections on abortion access.

Update: Roberts is ordering an investigation, suggesting he is not aware of the leaker’s identity. Others have made persuasive arguments that this is from one of the radicals, attempting to keep the five vote majority.

SCOTUS Is Changing The Definition Of American Citizenship

In this post I discussed the Republican plan to rig SCOTUS by selecting SCOTUS nominees who would reliably vote their way on issues important to their base and their donors. They’ve succeeded. In this post I give a brief sketch of their goals for each group, the means of enforcement, and the impact on the nature and benefits of American citizenship.

1. Donors. There is an oligarchy inside our democracy, as I have been saying for over a decade. It dominates the Republican donor class. Oligarchs want the freedom to do anything they like with their money and the assets they control. They want the freedom to do whatever they think will make them richer. And they really hate the idea of taxation and all forms of redistribution of wealth. Their current goal is to weaken the ability of the federal agencies to regulate, because that reduces the value of their assets.

The first steps were legislative. The Administrative Procedures Act governs the way agencies make rules. Republicans and corporatist Democrats fiddled with it to make it harder for agencies to act quickly, and to increase the cost to the agencies of rule-making. Then the Office of Management and Budget was added as an additional check closer to the President.

Until recently the primary use of the courts was delay. Corporations and their front groups challenged every rule they didn’t like. Courts took these filings seriously, and allowed lawyers to spend years in costly litigation. Gradually courts created a new layer of rules that brought delay and increased costs of regulation. But even that wasn’t enough.

Right-wing lawyers have been arguing that there is no Constitutional basis for administrative agencies, and thus no basis for rules made by agencies. This led to the non-delegation doctrine which limited the power of Congress to delegate authority to agencies. The current version is called the major questions doctrine, which says Congress has to be very specific about what it delegates if there is a big effect. It essentially gives SCOTUS the power to overrule any agency action it doesn’t like by saying Congress wasn’t explicit. As an example, SCOTUS used the shadow docket to strike down a CDC rule extending the nationwide moratorium on evictions in Alabama Assn. Of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Services, link here. The Court said the cost to landlords was so great that Congress had to explicitly give the agency poser to make such broad rules.

We get a similar result in National Federation of Independent Businesses v. OSHA. In another case on the shadow docket, a 5-4 majority declared that the number of people affected by a workplace safety requirement that people be vaccinated or tested weekly was really big, and only Congress could make such a big decision.

And who gets to decide if a decision is too big? Not Congress. Not the President. Not the elected representatives of the American people. Nope. SCOTUS gets to decide. In these cases the big beneficiaries are the donor class and the anti-vax Trumpists.

2. The religious fanatics. During the pandemic SCOTUS gutted the CDC rules on attendance at super-spreader events, asserting that Churches had to be treated like grocery stores. Here’s a more neutral discussion on ScotusBlog. These cases were also part of the general attack on agency rules dealing with the death and misery caused by Covid.

Of course, for the religious fanatics, the most important cases are attacks on Roe v. Wade. In the first set of cases, SCOTUS just couldn’t figure out how to stop that blatantly unconstitutional Texas bounty law. So they left it in place, seriously impacting abortion clinics in Texas.

The frontal assault is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which seeks to limit abortions to 15 weeks, or to get rid of Roe altogether. The case was argued late last year. Here’s a summary from SCOtUSBlog. A decision is expected in June, 2022, and everyone expects a big loss for citizens.

3. Cementing the outcome. It would be possible to get different outcomes if Congress actually represented the will of the majority. To make sure that doesn’t happen, state legislatures draw districts that favor the party in power in the state. In Rucho v. Common Cause, a 5-4 majority of SCOTUS said that partisan gerrymandering “is incompatible with democratic principles”, but sadly courts can’t do anything to protect democracy.

Even racial gerrymandering is fine because it’s always too close to an election, as the Court held in a bunch of shadow docket cases involving obviously racially gerrymandered districts. Here’s a discussion of the problem.

Another challenge to democracy is the idea that state legislatures can make election rules without the checks and balances of their state constitutions, including their governors and courts. This is called the independent state legislature doctrine. I love the idea that this garbage jurisprudence calls itself “doctrines”.

Each of these cases essentially means that we don’t live in a democracy, that the votes of millions of us don’t matter, and in turn, that government controlled by a minority of rich people and religious fanatics cannot be replaced by a majority of voters.

This may breing to mind the principle “one man one vote”, an idea laid out in Baker v. Carr, and the related cases of Reynolds v. Sims and Wesberry v. Sanders. Here’s the thing. Computerized map-drawing has made it so that everyone gets an equal vote, but some votes are more equal than others.

4. Citizenship. I went to law school in the early 70s, so most of the important cases we studied in Constitutional Law were Warren Court cases. I learned to think of them as giving practical effect to the rights and privileges of being a US citizen. For example, everyone has a right to counsel in a criminal case under the Sixth Amendment. Until 1963 everyone with money had that right, but those who didn’t have money didn’t have that right. Then in Gideon v. Wainwright, SCOTUS made that right a reality for every American. In the same way, everyone had a right not to incriminate themselves. That was meaningless until Miranda v. Arizona made it clear that people must be informed of their rights, including their right to have a lawyer present during interrogation.

Another group of decisions made it clear that there were limits on the ability of states and the federal government to control people’s private lives. Griswold v. Connecticut said states can’t regulate birth control for married people. Cases like this limited the ability of government at all levels to intrude on our private lives.

As a result we gradually gained a full panoply of rights as American citizens, rights which could not be infringed by federal, state and municipal governments.

In this post I cited constitutional scholars across the ideological spectrum saying that originalism and textualism were the conservative backlash against these and many other so-called liberal decisions of the Warren Court. The six conservatives now ruling over us plan to gut those decisions. They were all selected for that purpose. In the future, we will have very few meaningful rights as American citizens. The bulk of our rights will be set by states, many of which are gerrymandered so that a minority can decide what you can and cannot do.

That’s not my idea of America.

This Is Not How You Wield Power: Toxic Punditry’s Lack of Self Awareness

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This is complete and utter bullshit:

We all know asking Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself is merely pissing into the wind. Congressional Democrats are obligated to ask this of him but they know Thomas is corrupt and won’t give the demand a second thought.

What’s bullshit, though, is MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan and Ayman Mohyeldin ripping into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about a request by Democrats to Thomas for his recusal on cases related to the January 6 insurrection.

We all know as well the real problem is that Thomas should be removed from the Supreme Court. Pelosi was absolutely correct saying that Thomas should never have been approved as a SCOTUS jurist to begin with. His failure to report his spouse’s income appropriately — particularly Ginni Thomas’s income from her nonprofit — during the lead up to the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision was unacceptable, as was his meeting with the Koch brothers.

But the House had absolutely nothing to do with Thomas being approved in the first place. The Senate is responsible for review of nominees to the Supreme Court and their approval.

We all know, too, that the House may impeach jurists, but they cannot be removed without a two-thirds vote for conviction by the Senate.

And in this case, a Senate which is only nominally held by Democrats. They couldn’t convict and remove Trump twice after impeachment for the same reason — an inadequate number of Democrats in the Senate.

Where is this power that Hasan and Mohyeldin think Pelosi has as House Speaker when she cannot remove Thomas? Why are they insisting she launch a war she can’t win? (We can see how that works out for Putin in Ukraine.)

All these two boneheaded pundits (and others making the same argument like them) are doing is misogynist pontificating when they know it’s the Senate which can force the issue and only if there were two-thirds of the Senate willing to vote to convict Thomas for his continued corrupt practices.

Yet you don’t see pundits like Hasan and Mohyeldin going after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Nope.

Why is that?

~ ~ ~

They’re literally filling empty air time with useless crap which only serves to damage the public’s opinion of House Democrats — the portion of government which has most reliably served the needs of the people during the Biden administration while the Senate obstructs its efforts.

They’re directly contributing to and amplifying the same poisoning of public opinion already performed by right-wing media outlets Fox News, Newsmax, and OAN, grossly distorting the public’s perception of US government.

It’s right there in front of their noses and they don’t see it:

Hello, Sam Stein, who’s with both MSNBC and Politico? You’re not doing a very good job breaking through to the public if they believe the complete opposite of the truth.

Dan Froomkin elaborated on media’s failures with help from Dean Baker; public opinion about employment is particularly telling.

An additional 21 percent didn’t know one way or the other. Only 28 percent said, correctly, that jobs were created. Less than half of those — only 12 percent — knew that it was more jobs created than in any other year in history.

Similarly, only 19 percent said they thought the U.S. economy experienced more job growth than normal in the past year. The plurality – 35 percent – said they thought more jobs were lost than usual, which is of course spectacularly wrong.

Media figures go out of their way to make sure something looks like it’s on fire or bleeding, so much so that it’s a joke.

But sure, keep beating on House Speaker Pelosi because that will effect the change needed as will pissing into the wind.

~ ~ ~

A pre-print study found that it’s not solely the public at fault when it comes to misperception — it’s not purely partisanship which mis- or disinforms their opinions.

A key problem is the business model: audience members’ understanding and opinions could be shaped by exposure to media, if media bought their time.

Unfortunately, cable and broadcast news don’t pay their viewers. They rely on advertising and subscription volume; their programming becomes little more than reductive clickbait fighting for audience attention. They’ll run the inflammatory material which skews public opinion the wrong way because good news is boring.

It makes sense, and yet the answer to running content which is both more attention-grabbing and -retaining to viewers and the ethically responsible content to run is right there under their noses.

Assuming, of course, the media outlets aren’t forcing their pundit-anchor class to promote corporatism über alles.

Why aren’t programs like Hasan’s and Mohyeldin’s contacting every goddamned Senator and putting them on the record one at a time on camera about their position on Thomas’s failure to recuse himself and whether they would vote to convict him if impeached for abuse of his office as jurist?

I’d pay to watch them squirm. I’d pay to watch Senators’ chiefs of staff run away from mics to avoid answering.

I’d pay to watch them ask Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and Tommy Tuberville if Thomas should recuse himself on any lawsuit in which they may be named as co-conspirators because Thomas’s wife Ginni sided with Hawley and Cruz on overturning or obstructing the election…and was it obstruction of Congress or overturning an election in which they had been encouraged to participate?

That’d be Must-See TV.

~ ~ ~

The other person who gets off lightly all the damn time to the point every media outlet forgets he exists: Chief Justice John Roberts.

He’s the administrative leader of SCOTUS. Every decision made during his tenure will be attributed to the Roberts’ court.

Clarence Thomas’s unmitigated corruption including the damage to democracy Thomas’s role in Citizen United played is the product of Roberts’ court.

The lack of a self-imposed binding code of conduct is Roberts’ failure. Thomas’s refusal to recuse himself from January 6 cases which may be decided by SCOTUS is also his failure.

The lack of legislation requiring a SCOTUS code of conduct with adequate teeth to ensure enforcement is Congress’s fault, but primary responsibility is that of the Senate. In its absence Roberts could administer his court in a way which enforces judicial ethics.

Why wasn’t Roberts a subject of Hasan’s and Mohyeldin’s critique when Roberts clearly has the power to rein in corruption among his jurists?

~ ~ ~

But the real power to which Hasan and Mohyeldin deliberately turned a blind eye wasn’t Nancy Pelosi’s as House Speaker.

It wasn’t even Chuck Schumer’s, or John Roberts’ power.

That pre-print study says it’s their own. How convenient these media figures with a bully pulpit have a handy favorite punching bag to use as clickbait, redirecting attention away from their own failures as media figures with sizable audiences whose perception they shape.

By the way, you have power, too. You should be exercising it by calling your representative and senators and demanding legislation to implement a code of ethical judicial conduct for the Supreme Court (since Roberts appears unable or unwilling to produce one), and impeachment and conviction of Clarence Thomas for his lack of ethics as a jurist.

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Day Four — The Well-Qualified K. B. J.

[NB: check the byline, thanks. Update(s) if any will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

It’s the fourth and final day of U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings on the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Today’s hearing is in progress.

Today’s hearing consists of three remaining panels (Judge Jackson was Panel I):

Panel II

The Honorable Ann Claire Williams
American Bar Association
Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary

Ms. D. Jean Veta
American Bar Association
Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary

Mr. Joseph M. Drayton
American Bar Association
Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary

Panel III Majority

The Honorable Joyce Beatty
United States House of Representatives
State of Ohio – 3rd District

Ms. Risa Goluboff
Dean, Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law, and Professor of History
University of Virginia

Mr. Wade Henderson
President & CEO
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Mr. Richard B. Rosenthal
Captain Frederick Thomas
National President
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)

Panel III Minority

The Honorable Steve Marshall
Attorney General
State of Alabama

Ms. Jennifer Mascott
Assistant Professor of Law & Co-Executive Director
The C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

Ms. Eleanor McCullen
Anti-abortion activist

Ms. Keisha Russell
First Liberty

Ms. Alessandra Serano
Operation Underground Railroad

From the looks of the last three panelists, the GOP senators are continuing to play to the base by hammering Judge Jackson on abortion, religious freedom in public schools, and human trafficking. The last will likely fit with the crap Sen. Josh Hawley et al already tattooed about child pornography.

The GOP will want to leave that shitty taste of zealotry and bigotry in the audience’s mouths as the hearings end. In other words, on brand for the GOP.

You can watch live feed at these sites (not the same links as yesterday’s as the previous links may lead to recordings previous days’ hearings):

Senate Judiciary Committee hearing feed

PBS Senate Judiciary Committee hearing feed on YouTube

C-SPAN feed via YouTube

You can also catch the hearings through these live Twitter threads:

Rewire News Group

Chris Geidner at Grid News

If you know of anyone else covering today’s hearing in Twitter, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

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Apparently these hearings weren’t really to determine a nominee’s qualifications for a lifetime appointment to SCOTUS or to ensure the public was informed. No, apparently the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings have been little more than social media opportunities, which Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) called out.


Sasse also expressed his concern about cameras in the court room, that “cameras change human behavior,” and yet the difference between the video above by C-SPAN versus this by CBS News below tells us cameras tell us things audio and written reporting don’t offer.


Or this photo by Los Angeles Times’ Kent Nishimura:

If you have a Twitter account, every once in a while for grins and giggles you should drop Sen. Ted Cruz (Senate account: @sentedcruz, personal account: @tedcruz) a tweet and let him know what you thought of his performance as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wholly visible on all sorts of cameras.

~ ~ ~

There may be more to come, watch this space for updates.

And Three More Things: Day Three — The Well-Qualified K. B. J. [UPDATE-1]

[NB: check the byline, thanks. Update(s) at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

It’s Day Three of U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s four days of confirmation hearings on the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Today’s hearing is already in progress.

Four. Long. Days.

Hearings which are half right-wing bloviating, achieving nothing to further the public’s interests. This is the fourth time this nominee has been through this tedious crap in her lifetime which should surely qualify as inhumane treatment and torture under UNCAT; it should also earn her a sainthood.

You can watch live feed at these sites (not the same links as yesterday’s as the previous links may lead to recordings previous days’ hearings):

Senate Judiciary Committee hearing feed

PBS Senate Judiciary Committee hearing feed on YouTube

C-SPAN feed via YouTube

Yahoo News (includes reporting)

You can also catch the hearings through these live Twitter threads:

Jennifer Taub

Imani Gandy at Rewire News Group 

BuzzFeed’s Zoe Tillman

Heaven help Judge Jackson get through the day without breaking a molar gritting her teeth.

~ 3 ~

Gallup took a poll ahead of these SCOTUS confirmation hearings as it has for past nominees. Judge Jackson has the highest approval rating apart from Chief Justice Roberts.


But do go on and attack her, GOP twits. Make asininely racist remarks about the nominee who has a higher approval rating than your party’s leader ever had as president. Let’s see how that pans out for you over the long run.

~ 2 ~

Meanwhile, outside the GOP’s shit show in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, another GOP senator was doing is share to push the nation back to the 1950s.

I don’t have words strong enough for this crap. He just called into question the legitimacy of a seated SCOTUS jurist’s marriage (Clarence and Ginni Thomas) as well as that of the nominee now being grilled.

This is so intensely personal for me; my parents’ marriage wouldn’t have been legal in some states back in the 1950s and I’d be illegitimate having been born before the unanimous SCOTUS decision in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967).

Braun’s states’ rights crap doesn’t target interracial marriage (which has broad support across the U.S.); it targets same-sex marriage and any other personal decisions which may require government-regulated services — like reproductive health. He was literally questioned about Griswold v. Connecticut immediately following the question of interracial marriage and he gave an equally unsatisfactory answer about that.

It’s not just Sen. Hairspray-Abuser-from-Tennessee Blackburn attacking the right to privacy necessary for birth control.

Braun has since tried to backpedal on this which means he’s merely taken off the hood he donned.


Except he really didn’t fully unwind what he said; he backed up over the body, and then rolled forward over it again by clarifying what he meant about states’ rights, and then claiming he didn’t understand the questions.

… The Times of Northwest Indiana reported that Braun “initially limited” his claim that the Supreme Court had usurped states’ rights over abortion in 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision. But when a reporter questioned him on other cases, including Loving v. Virginia, he reiterated his stance.

Braun later clarified his comments, saying in a statement that he “misunderstood” the questions. …

Sadly, he’s a senator until 2025. Indiana, you had better not forget this racist authoritarian crap come general election 2024. In the mean time Hoosiers should be lighting up his phone and telling Braun where he can stuff his racist states’ rights nonsense. Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or use Resist.bot.

~ 1 ~

I wish I could convey how deeply triggering and traumatic these confirmation hearings have been for BIPOC especially women.


What these hearings tell us is that the white cis-het minority in Congress which retains an illegitimate stranglehold on power demands that any and all competent BIPOC particularly women must submit to belligerence and abuse before they will be allowed to participate in this flawed democracy.

What we are witnessing is the re-normalization of overt racism and misogyny. Yet media has failed to punch up, instead punching down, reinforcing the normalization.


We’re constantly deluged by the left about the lack of accountability for the January 6 insurrectionists and seditionists, and yet the left fails to hold accountable the wholly integrated abusive racist and misogynist behavior the media augments in these same insurrectionists and seditionists.

The Venn diagram is a single circle and the media continues to treat the persons outside it as the objects to be despised and subjugated and oppressed.

The problem isn’t just the GOP senators or the media when constituents fail to do anything at all to express displeasure let alone organize effectively for change.

~ 0 ~

I may have more to add here as today’s hearing continues.

So long as I can keep my blood pressure under control, that is.

UPDATE-1 — 6:35 PM —

Senator Cory Booker saves this horrible day.

Stay strong, Judge Jackson. Like Frederick Douglass in his Fourth of July speech, leave off this process where you began — with hope.

Three More Things: Day Two — The Well-Qualified K. B. J.

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

It’s Day Two of U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s four days of confirmation hearings on the nomination of Judge Ketanji Jackson Brown to the Supreme Court. The hearing was scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. this morning; we are catching it here in progress.

You can watch live feed at these sites (not the same links as yesterday’s as the previous links may lead to recordings of Day 1):

Senate Judiciary Committee hearing feed

PBS Senate Judiciary Committee hearing feed on YouTube

C-SPAN feed via YouTube

Yahoo News (includes reporting)

You can also catch the hearings through these live Twitter threads:

Jennifer Taub

Imani Gandy at Rewire News Group

Amee Vanderpool

Brace yourselves for three more things.

~ 3 ~

Sadly, Senator Lindsey Graham unloaded his hypocritical faux-trage this morning. Ms. Phang expresses sentiments broadly shared about his performance.

Judge Jackson was eminently qualified three times but now suddenly unqualified based on the credentials which helped her earn her previous federal appointments?

Right-wing media outlet had assured their audience yesterday about these hearings:

Oh no, honey — these hearings won’t be a circus. They’ll be a live dramatic production.

What a pity there aren’t awards given for supporting actors in a nomination hearing production.

~ 2 ~

Senator John Cornyn can’t let Graham’s act go unanswered. Nope, he needed to go after the gays because as you have surely noticed our so-called traditional marriages have all ruptured since teh gays were legally able to marry.

Damn it all, I forgot to get a lawyer and divorce my spouse back in 2015 after Obergefell v. Hodges destroyed the institution of marriage between straight people.

SCOTUS didn’t make law though Cornyn wants the GOP base to believe it did.

But this isn’t just about individuals’ rights to marriage which Cornyn is fighting. It’s about individuals’ fundamental human rights of self-determination.

If you’re non-binary especially if you’re trans, you recognize the dog whistle Cornyn’s blowing

~ 1 ~

Meanwhile, the GOP predictably plays the racism card.

Unsurprising, really; the GOP has no real platform, no substance, no policies except thinly masked oppression of more than half the country who are not xenophobic cis-het white Christians. They’re clinging to the lessons their ratfucking forebears taught them:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “N*gger, n*gger, n*gger.” By 1968 you can’t say “n*gger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N*gger, n*gger.”

— GOP political consultant Lee Atwater in an interview with Alexander P. Lamis, c. 1981.

Instead of busing they now talk non-stop about critical race theory (CRT), how it’s being forced on them even though they can’t explain what it is or provide any evidence it’s part of K-12 public school curriculum (it’s not). They don’t shy away from states’ rights now, claiming states have the right to remove content from schools which makes white people feel bad.

It’s overt racism with the sheerest of veils.

The GOP is following the script laid out by Chris Rufo, the guy who created the influence operation built on the university-level coursework offered to law students in which the economics of race and its historic and contemporary affect on laws and democratic society are discussed.

Now CRT is the right-wing’s bogeyman. Rufo literally laid out the approach via Twitter last Thursday:

In short, it’s what the GOP now yells every time it wants to invoke a fear response from its white supremacist base: OMG CRT CRT CRT!!!

~ 0 ~

I can’t believe we have to wade through two more days of this racist and misogynist crap. Nor can I believe we still don’t know who owns beer-loving Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

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