If Judge Gorsuch was surprised (and ‘demoralized’) by Trump remarks, where has he been hiding for the past year?

February 9, 2017

It seems strange to say the least that a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court would turn around and criticize the president who selected him. But if the nominee, federal judge Neil Gorsuch of Colorado really believes that remarks impugning the integrity and professionalism of the judiciary were “disheartening” and “demoralizing” it seems if the man has any integrity himself he ought to step down. But I have to admit that might not be good because we might get someone of a lower caliber (from what little I have read, Gorsuch has a good, albeit conservative, record and is considered a fair-minded jurist).

But really, he ought to step down. And one has to wonder what he was thinking — well except lifetime job and status — for ever accepting the nomination from President Trump. He could have hardly been surprised by Trump’s outbursts at the judiciary, unless he had been hiding under a rock for the past year or so.

And maybe all of this is some kind of political trick, either conceived or at least taken advantage of by the Trump administration. The remarks were said to have been made by Gorsuch in a “private” meeting with Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a Democrat. But conveniently, a spokesman for the administration confirmed them on the agreement that he would not be quoted by name. So the administration obviously wanted the remarks to get out it would seem. Makes the judge look independent and might sway some reluctant Democrats in the Senate to vote for confirmation. A super majority in the senate, 60 votes, is needed should the Democrats filibuster, unless the Republican majority decides to repeal the unlimited debate rule — a move called the “nuclear option”, which Trump has advised them (told?) to do.

It’s all quite bizarre.

Meanwhile the circus continues and Washington gets nowhere in the business of running the country and looking after the people who it is supposed to be serving.

p.s.

The idea that Gorsuch’s misgivings might be a ploy was not an original with me. It was in the news. Actually when I first read about his remarks, I thought, as Trump himself might put it, “this is HUGE!”.

AND ONE MORE THING:

Apparently from reading the news today Sen. Blumenthal was correct in his quotations of what Judge Gorsuch said, even though President Trump brought up the fact of Blumenthal’s credibility problem — that is that the senator at one time claimed he did military service in Vietnam. In fact, he did not. He did serve in the Marine Corps reserves, it  has been reported. While I think that in this case that has nothing to do with the current controversy, I do have to admit anyone who would tell such a lie, in general, has a credibility and integrity problem. Blumenthal reportedly apologized for his Vietnam lie, but if he had any self-respect he would have done the honorable thing and resigned from public service. I have no quarrel with anyone who skipped Vietnam service — only with those who claim they served or who become chicken hawks on war policy after dodging service. About his lying:  sometimes it is characterized as him saying that he was a Vietnam vet instead of being a “Vietnam era” vet. No he clearly said he was a Vietnam vet. I supply this link to a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0h2qKE69Jg

 

 

 

 

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Supreme Court nominee a constitutional originalist; okay but this is not 1788…

February 1, 2017

Supporters of President Trump wanted him to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court with a jurist who would strictly adhere to the Constitution and not read into it things that are not there, who would not engage in so-called judge-made law via court decisions, that’s what they would tell you. They want “strict interpretation”.

So with that in mind, I guess, our new president on Tuesday evening officially announced his choice for the replacement of the late conservative justice Antonin Scalia. He now goes before the Republican-dominated U.S. Senate for confirmation.

He is Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Denver.

The following excerpt from a story in the New York Times might best describe the nominee’s legal philosophy:

“Ours is the job of interpreting the Constitution,” he wrote in a concurrence last year. “And that document isn’t some inkblot on which litigants may project their hopes and dreams.”

Now, on the one hand, I have to find it positive that a Supreme Court justice has respect for the Constitution, but who would say otherwise? But that document is not somehow self-interpreting. It takes legal scholars to explain much of it — things can be read in more than one way. Devoutly religious people don’t agree on what the Holy Bible says.

While we certainly would not want our justices to stray so far from the intent of our Founding Fathers that the framework they set forth was totally unrecognizable, things have changed since 1788, the date the Constitution was ratified by the then 13 states.

We don’t have slavery anymore. Women have the right to vote. Okay, those facts are the result of amendments to the original document. But it is no longer legal to make black people attend schools separate from white people. A historical high court ruling once held that it was completely permissible to force black people to use separate public facilities, the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine (Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 US 537 (1896 but then a half century later  came another court decision (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) and it was held separate was not equal, therefore discrimination was held to be illegal. Of course not everyone agreed with that, particularly in the Jim Crow South, but overall public attitudes had changed (of course racism, like cockroaches, survives, and knows no geographical boundaries).

At one time it may have seemed perfectly right that women could not vote. It was a cultural thing. Heck, it has been written that the framers did not even envision common people who were not property owners voting. Attitudes on that changed.

It seems strange that a learned person would think that a constitution, which is a framework, not an actual statute or code section, would be interpreted 100 percent the same when society has moved from horse and buggy to space travel and from men in charge and women tied at home to the stove and babies to workers in the labor force and CEOs of corporations and leaders in governments of the world.

Yes, we still need to adhere to the basic principles of the Constitution and perhaps rely more on amendments than court decisions to enact changes, but in the end, as I stated before in this post, the Constitution is no more self-interpreting than the Holy Bible. And I realize that there are those who claim that the Bible is clear in everything it says and there can be no alternative interpretations. I can’t argue with anyone like that, except to say, no I’m right and you’re wrong, case closed.


Wednesday’s high court hearing on Obamacare about politics more than law…

March 4, 2015

I want or wanted to write about the latest challenge to Obamacare, presented in a Supreme Court hearing today, and I at times past had thought I would have liked law school, but this has me wondering about that because I cannot seem to get a handle on this case, at least not in the legal context, other than it involves the seemingly literal interpretation of one clause standing alone in a voluminous statute vs. interpretation of the clause within the whole context of the law itself.

But what I do understand is the fact that the case is really just a continuing political struggle between those who believe in some form of universal health care on the grounds it benefits society as a whole and, too, is morally correct and those who apparently believe otherwise.

And more to the point, this is a political struggle between Democrats who tend to support all types of social programs to help the populace and Republicans who are somewhat less inclined to do so but who at the same time would support using public tax dollars to subsidize private capital (and I realize what I just wrote seems partisan on the liberal side of the equation, but I only mean to say we’re talking more of a political struggle here than prudent public policy).

—————–

And while going back over what I posted I read portions of the Supreme Court transcript from today (Wednesday, March 4, 2015) and got tired of wading through the legal gibberish and word play — I mean I know this is how law is decided, but  it seems to have little to do with coming up with policy to do good for the American people — form without substance.

But it occurs to me that perhaps what might result from this is that the high court will once and for all clear the challenges to the health care law and let it succeed or fail on its own. It seems doubtful to me that even this court with its conservative majority would end up handing down a ruling that would throw the whole system into disarray and cause trouble for all parties involved: supporters, opponents, and even the indifferent. I think a ruling is expected in June. Don’t know what the outcome will be of course…

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If it were only the fact that one clause, a few words, was sloppily written, it could be amended. But the opposition, all Republicans (isn’t that correct?), would rather gut the law. They do not believe in universal health care but rather health care for those who can afford it (and who thus “deserve it”).

Surprisingly, the conservative Chief Justice Roberts saved the day for Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) in the last challenge, disagreeing with his conservative colleagues on the bench.

This time around his position is reportedly unclear because he had virtually nothing to say. However, conservative Justice Kennedy (who has a history of going between the conservative and liberal sides, a swing vote) seemed to indicate, according to reports, that he might not go along with the plaintiff’s arguments challenging Obamacare. No one knows what is in his mind, or course.

The troubling thing in all of this is the fact that history so far has shown that Republicans as a whole have no desire to implement any type of health care program (except of course Romney did on the state level but opposed it on a national level, but conservatives don’t trust him anyway). Obamacare opponents have presented no credible alternative plan that I am aware of.

I personally continue to think it would have been wiser to expand Medicare to cover those who could not be insured otherwise due to economic inability.

And I have little patience for those who simply just wait for something bad to happen to them with the idea that if worse comes to worse they can check into an emergency room and the taxpayers will foot the bill but in the meantime pay nothing. Someone has to pay for them.

I also think it is important for health care consumers to have to pay something or sacrifice something — you need to have some “skin in the game”, otherwise you tend to waste vital and scarce resources.

There is no such thing as free health care. Someone pays for it.

So in summary, the current challenge, as the last one, is all politics and has little to nothing to do with constitutional or legal issues.

If congress as a whole was more responsible, it would have not passed such a complicated law which its members did not understand in full and at the same time would be ready to amend it if there are inadvertent errors in it.

In the end, though, voters may have to step up to the plate and make their desires better known.

Because they don’t, congress responds to the pressure of big money and special interest groups and lobbyists.

P.s.

I did not bother to summarize or brief the exact case in question here, although perhaps I should have. I may go into more of that with my opinions later, but for now the above seemed the important issue.

P.s. P.s.

Well I read paragraph after paragraph of the petitioner’s brief or whatever (the argument supporting the Obamacare challenge) and it just makes one’s head swim, or at least it does mine — and that is not to say there is no merit. So then what?

I mean what the challengers really want is to end Obamacare. So let congress do that legislatively (not that I would support that).

And I can’t seem to end this post because I failed in consolidating the issue into something understandable.

It does seem apparent that a lot of things were said to make the hard sale on the bill that ultimately became the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Opponents charge deliberate deception. They found a whole in the whole program via one clause and hope if interpreted their way it will in effect gut the whole program.

 

 

 

 


Latest high court ruling shows a problem with health insurance tied to work…

June 30, 2014

Note: I’ve dashed this off without really knowing the full extent of the latest high court ruling on Obamacare, that is exactly who it applies to, but I can revise later. The points I have below would apply anyway I think. Okay, now I’m reading that this was a narrow ruling that only applies to certain for-profit religious run or connected corporations. I’ll take the easy way out here and add this partially explanatory excerpt from an NBC News story: The U.S. Supreme Court, in a limited decision, ruled Monday that closely held, for-profit companies can claim a religious exemption to the Obamacare requirement that they provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives.

For-profit corporations — including Conestoga Wood of Pennsylvania, owned by a family of Mennonite Christians, and Hobby Lobby, a family-owned chain of arts and crafts stores founded on Biblical principles — had challenged a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

——————-

Now back to my own words:

For most working people it is a somewhat uncomfortable but accepted fact that employers pretty much run their lives — even more than government maybe.

They determine what days you work and how much you work, either not enough or too much, and how much you will get paid and therefore what kind of lifestyle you can live.

Now with the latest ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, employers have even more control, especially if you are female. Since so many people have their health insurance through their employment, employers can now decide whether you will have access to birth control. The court has in effect revised an Obamacare  provision requiring employer health plans to provide birth control provisions — in some cases (some) it can be ignored on religious grounds.

The controversy arises from the objection of employers who have religious convictions against birth control, as in God wants you to be fruitful and multiply.

I’m not sure but what I don’t agree with the court on this one — well actually now I have just hurriedly scanned the opinion and may change my mind. I mean you can’t just not follow the law of the land by claiming religious exemptions for things you don’t agree with, such as paying taxes. Anyway this all demonstrates a problem with having your health care dependent upon your place of work. Health care has come to be seen as a right and Obamacare seeks to implement that right. But why should employers be able to mess with that right? But then again why should employers be in the health care business anyway? I know it all began after World War II when employers in boom times were adding incentives to attract workers and health care was one of them.

But these days the world is more complex and health care has expanded so much and the costs are so high and the work place has changed — so many more women in the workplace for one thing — and the nature of work has changed. People are often forced to move from one job to another and unemployment runs high. It sometimes is difficult to have continuous health care coverage on the health insurance attached to work scheme of things.

And now if the employer can determine what you will be covered for and what not — really that is not practical or even right. But I agree I think that an employer should not have to violate religious convictions, except that maybe that is what the employer takes on when the employer hires from the general public who have First Amendment rights on religion.

And are we talking about employers as individual real people or the imaginary personhood of corporations? That is another subject. But from my limited understanding of constitutional law the personhood of corporations is merely a legal device to confer certain rights and protections in business dealings and should not be construed to confer all the rights upon a corporation  — which is nothing but a set of legal documents — that a real live human being has (except the majority on the high court and Mitt Romney believe corporations are “people too”). But like I say, that is another subject.

So to sum it up, I think health insurance tied to one’s work can be problematic.

P.s.

Here is a link to the ruling: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf

 


Chief Justice Roberts right (conservative right) on in cell phone ruling…

June 25, 2014

While I probably would not agree with much of what Chief Justice Roberts concludes in cases before the high court I thought his wording and thoughts were right on and clever in a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court that your cell phone data is protected and requires authorities to get a search warrant to view it:

The old rules, Chief Justice Roberts said, cannot be applied to “modern cellphones, which are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.” (Quote out of the New York Times)

We often think of conservatives as always being on the side of the police, that is to allow them to do anything they think they need to do to go after bad actors, even if it calls into question protecting the rights of all citizens from harassment and witch hunts and so on. But conservatives would tell you they are for upholding the fundamentals of our constitution.

Way to go conservatives (and progressives/liberals/moderates too).

And I think in the near future babies will be born with a chip inside them that is a combination cell phone and computer with access to the internet.


High Court reacts to shift in attitude, realizes public acceptance of gay lifestyle…

June 26, 2013

Writing off the top of my head after just reading the news about the historic Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage I would say the court has reacted to a shift in mood among our modern society towards homosexuality. Now the court may have had to hide behind states’ rights in part of its ruling, but really the majority realizes that social values change over time.

(And I read enough to realize that the high court still left room for the matter to come before it again in a slightly revised form.)

I’m not stating that I personally am for gay marriage or against it. In fact, I am neutral on the subject, except in the absence of a right to traditional marriage, I think it only practical and right that gay couples have a right to enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals. I had thought civil unions did that, except I did recognize that somehow they are not always equal to marriage in all jurisdictions.

As far as the religious aspect of it all, well religious people have a right to follow their own beliefs but they do not have a right to impose them on others. It occurs to me that they may just have to come up with a new term such as “religious marriage”, as opposed to civil marriage.

Now I don’t think it is a good idea for the government, at any level, to promote the gay lifestyle, but it has to recognize what is as it relates to guaranteeing equal rights.

People are born gay and cannot help it. That we know nowadays. Anyone reading this probably has a family member who is gay. And of course some of the readers are gay themselves (I usually just say homosexual instead of the euphemism “gay“, but gay as become the standard usage I guess).

I have taken quite a hiatus from this blogsite, but I thought this would be a good moment to re-enter the fray of public opinion and news commentary.

Hopefully I’ll have more later on this and other subjects. Not sure really.

P.s.

It’s ironic how states’ rights can be used in a liberal way, such as extending rights to gay people (or not too), or in the old, old conservative way in legalizing human slavery, as was done in the antebellum South (well actually in the Constitution too, but that is another point that confuses things here).


Pleasing to hear Obamacare upheld by the high court (even though I have been ambivalent toward it)

June 28, 2012

While I have been ambivalent about Obamacare, I found myself delighted at the word that a majority of the Supreme Court has today essentially upheld the law, to include the individual mandate.

This has to be a major victory for President Barack Obama, who made the law his signature piece of legislation for his presidency (thus far).

Now the Republicans are vowing to repeal it . It will be interesting to see where that gets them.

Seems like the Republicans would then have to explain why people should be denied health care. They’d almost have to come out and say, and some have, that if you cannot afford health care, that is your problem that you do not have enough money and cannot get insurance.

I understand the court held that the individual mandate was a tax and thus was in the purview of the federal government. That makes sense, and since taxpayers wind up paying for medical care for the indigent, especially via hospital emergency rooms, sometimes for things as minor as the common cold, but expensive nonetheless, it seems only logical that the government must raise taxes in some way.

My work duties in my real job and a low battery in this computer require me to leave it at that for now, but I am sure I will have more to add to all this soon.

ADD 1:

I found a power source and some time and hurriedly skimmed through the syllabus or summary of the court decision and offer this:

Just because you don’t agree with legislation on a partisan, ideological, philosophical, or even practical basis does not mean it is unconstitutional. And the Supremes via their arcane, dense and sometimes tricky language (sometimes a tax is a tax and not one at the same time) get to decide what is constitutional.

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CORRECTION:

In my original post I stated that Obamacare was passed when the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives. I was wrong.