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Wed Feb 20, 2019, 09:18 AM

Sen. Whitehouse: There's a 'Crisis of Credibility' at the U.S. Supreme Court


Sen. Whitehouse: There's a 'Crisis of Credibility' at the U.S. Supreme Court
The Roberts Court has shown an "undeniable pattern of political allegiance," the U.S. senator from Rhode Island says.
By Sheldon Whitehouse | February 15, 2019 at 02:50 PM


“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Chief Justice John Roberts declared last fall in response to President Trump’s jab at an “Obama judge.” In spite of my distaste for Trump’s attacks on our judiciary, on this one, the facts are with Trump.

As a former U.S. attorney and state attorney general, I have spent my share of time in the courtroom before state and federal judges whose commitment to neutral principles and fairness made even losing parties respect their decisions. Today, that confidence is undermined by the Roberts Court’s undeniable pattern of political allegiance. Under Roberts, justices appointed by Republican presidents have, with remarkable consistency, delivered rulings that advantage big corporate and special interests that are, in turn, the political lifeblood of the Republican Party. The “Roberts Five” are causing a crisis of credibility that is rippling through the entire judiciary.

Several decisions have been particularly flagrant and notorious: Citizens United v. FEC wrongly held that unlimited special-interest spending couldn’t corrupt, or even appear to corrupt, American politics, unleashing torrents of corruption and public disdain. Shelby County v. Holder wrongly declared racism over, disabling key sections of the Voting Rights Act and prompting a surge of racist state voting legislation. District of Columbia v. Heller elevated as constitutional doctrine a Second Amendment argument once described by a former chief justice as a “fraud.” After a bald invitation from a Republican appointee, right-wing lawyers rushed to lose cases in lower courts so a friendly Supreme Court majority could deliver a blow to the labor movement in Janus v. AFSCME.

Dig a bit, and a pattern emerges far worse than just that handful of bad decisions. Since Roberts ascended to chief justice in 2006, the court’s bare 5-4 majority of Republican appointees has delivered such rulings not three or four times, not even a dozen or two dozen times, but 73 times in civil cases. There are 79 5-4 decisions with no Democratic appointee joining the majority since Roberts became chief justice; and 73 of them implicate issues important to powerful Republican political interests. The score in those 73 cases for the big Republican interests is 73-0. On this Republican judicial romp, the Roberts Five have been cavalier with any doctrine, precedent or congressional finding that gets in their way.

The 73 decisions fall into four categories: First are decisions to help the Republican Party and its donors in politics, suppressing votes, buying influence, sowing fear, and gerrymandering. Second are decisions that make it harder for regulators and juries to hold corporations accountable. Powerful interests muscle their way around Congress; they hate uncaptured government regulators and courtrooms where they have to be equal before the law. Third are decisions to restrict civil rights and condone discrimination, reflecting the worldview that corporations know best, that courts have no business remedying historical discrimination and that views and experiences outside the white, male, Christian mainstream of the Republican Party merit lower legal standing. Fourth are decisions that have given straight-up political victories to the right-wing base on issues like abortion, guns and religion—achieving by judicial fiat what Republicans couldn’t accomplish through the legislative process.

The court’s so-called conservatives often abandon conservative judicial principles to reach the desired outcome. Republican appointees routinely assure senators at their confirmation hearings that they will simply “call balls and strikes,” and “follow the law of judicial precedent.” Yet doctrines about modesty, stare decisis and respect for the judgment of elected majorities evaporate in these cases. Even the pet doctrine of originalism is ignored when inconvenient. These decisions are only conservative in that they benefit powerful conservative interests.

more...

https://www.law.com/nationallawjournal/2019/02/15/sen-whitehouse-theres-a-crisis-of-credibility-at-the-u-s-supreme-court/?fbclid=IwAR3AZEfLaKEAcRn0wPSTOZSP7r7mJ20gSoEis65xr1lUe-A54toqS_fBj8Y&slreturn=20190120080941

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Reply Sen. Whitehouse: There's a 'Crisis of Credibility' at the U.S. Supreme Court (Original post)
babylonsister Feb 2019 OP
octoberlib Feb 2019 #1
Stargazer09 Feb 2019 #2
democratisphere Feb 2019 #26
Amishman Feb 2019 #3
onetexan Feb 2019 #10
Polybius Feb 2019 #14
Amishman Feb 2019 #16
onetexan Feb 2019 #17
Hermit-The-Prog Feb 2019 #11
aeromanKC Feb 2019 #4
Amishman Feb 2019 #6
Farmer-Rick Feb 2019 #8
Polybius Feb 2019 #15
Farmer-Rick Feb 2019 #25
Bluepinky Feb 2019 #19
JudyM Feb 2019 #20
Firestorm49 Feb 2019 #5
BadgerMom Feb 2019 #7
defacto7 Feb 2019 #9
brer cat Feb 2019 #12
archiemo Feb 2019 #13
JudyM Feb 2019 #21
bdamomma Feb 2019 #27
KY_EnviroGuy Feb 2019 #18
Myrddin Feb 2019 #23
KY_EnviroGuy Feb 2019 #24
JudyM Feb 2019 #22
jalan48 Feb 2019 #28

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 09:32 AM

1. Excellent article. I wish this was a WaPo oped.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 09:37 AM

2. Very interesting

Scary for our country, but definitely worth reading.

Thank you for sharing this.

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Response to Stargazer09 (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 21, 2019, 09:35 AM

26. We have become an all around scary country.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 09:48 AM

3. I see the court as 4-2-3 right now

4 blatantly Republican justices (Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Alito, Thomas)

2 largely independents (Roberts as independent but conservative, Breyer as independent but liberal)

3 generally Democratic justices (Sotomayor, Kagan, and RBG*)

*RBG is hard to pin down, she almost never breaks from rulings that are consistent with party beliefs but it's not clear if it is because she is partizan or just so progressive she doesn't cross over

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Response to Amishman (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 12:20 PM

10. isn't ironic the 3 women justices are the only liberals

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Response to onetexan (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 01:14 PM

14. Breyer is pretty liberal

I would love to have another like him.

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Response to Polybius (Reply #14)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 01:24 PM

16. Me too, he is liberal without being partizan

I appreciate that he does cross lines when he feels it is the correct interpretation of the law. Stokeling v. United States is a good recent example.

Unrelated but awesome, I'm so happy about the 9-0 ruling just handed down limiting asset forfeiture

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Response to Polybius (Reply #14)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 01:39 PM

17. good to hear, that would make it 4- 1- 4 then with Robert being the centrist

albeit Robert leans conservative. Long as it stays this way till the orange nut is out of office and Dems win the POTUS to appoint a replacement RBG (due to her health concerns and age, even though i'd love for her to remain there forever).

Here is the list by age. My concern is the 2 oldest are both our liberal judges. Much as i'd like Alito or Thomas to retire soon after the Idiot is out of office, i don't see that happening as they're 68 & 70 respectively.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (since 1993) 85
Stephen Breyer. (since 1994) 80
Clarence Thomas. (since 1991) 70
John Roberts. 64 (since 2005)
Samuel Alito. (since 2006) 68
Sonia Sotomayor. (since 2009) 64
Elena Kagan. (since 2010) 58
Brett Kavanaugh (since 2018) 54
Neil Gorsuch. (since 2017) 51

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Response to Amishman (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 12:22 PM

11. stats in article say 5-4

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 10:44 AM

4. 4 SCOTUS justices appointed by non popular vote Presidents

Illegitimate justices: Roberts, Alito, Gorcuch*, and Kavanaugh.

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Response to aeromanKC (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 11:09 AM

6. What does popular vote have to do with it?

Not understanding as nothing in this country is determined by a nationwide popular vote.

I can see possibly calling Trump's picks illegitimate based on Russia, but not getting the other two at all.

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Response to Amishman (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 11:29 AM

8. Well since the supremes picked W as our president

It is questionable that his picks are legitimate. Roberts and Alito would not be on the court if the last court had Not selected W as our president. So, in a way, the last court picked this court. A rather incestial result.

W lost the election...even in Florida....(but those supremes stopped the vote counting) then rigged the numbers in Ohio for a 2nd traitorous result.

So, W and Dick were illegitimate and Roberts and Alito, as their picks, are illegitimate too.....just pointing out known history.

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Response to Farmer-Rick (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 01:22 PM

15. They did indeed pick him, but Bush's two picks were after the 2004 election

There's no way to know for certain in Gore would have won reelection in 2004. A 16 year one-party run would be unheard of. Not sure who would have ran against Gore in 2004, probably McCain though.

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Response to Polybius (Reply #15)

Thu Feb 21, 2019, 09:29 AM

25. The 2004 was rigged by passing Ohio vote counts

To Chattanooga via RepubliCon computers and servers. (Later Corker Porker ran for the Senate and magically won though most No one ever heard of the contractor turned Mayor of Chattanooga.) Then low and behold W won Ohio.

The counts in 2000 had Gore in the lead. But the So called justices on the Supreme Court stopped the count.

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Response to Farmer-Rick (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 01:52 PM

19. Bush vs. Gore, worst Supreme Court decision in my lifetime.

The start of the rapid rise of the horrible mess we’re in.

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Response to Bluepinky (Reply #19)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 09:07 PM

20. Jaw-droppingly partisan.

Citizens United was wrongly decided too, as Whitehouse points out so well.

Their “conservative interpretation” BS is a kissing cousin to their “family values.”

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 10:53 AM

5. This should be on national news.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 11:25 AM

7. K/R

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 11:51 AM

9. Kick this...

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 12:43 PM

12. K&R

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 01:04 PM

13. I really appreciate Senator Whitehouse. I wish he was running for president.

He is passionate about the law, extremely intelligent and doing a wonderful job taking the court to task.

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Response to archiemo (Reply #13)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 09:08 PM

21. He has been a great asset, smart, lucid and a hard worker.

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Response to archiemo (Reply #13)

Thu Feb 21, 2019, 10:07 AM

27. I agree

he's my Senator, he is exceptionally intelligent, and is an advocate for Climate change.



Sometimes being a Senator is more gratifying than being President.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 01:51 PM

18. Another nail in the coffin of democracy.

It's happening here, Australia, the UK and others. Bit by bit invisible plutocrats are buying remnants of democracy world-wide and shredding our social fabric because they believe their wealth gives them the right to control everything. They have zero moral authority, but only monetary authority - a shift put into high gear by Citizens United, America's enamoration with consumerism and a new-found worship of a very evil Wall Street.

Many of us saw this cancer on our society metastasize with the dogma of Spiro Agnew, the false populism of Reagan and Republican co-opting of a sector of our churches. Those things shook me to my core but I felt our system of checks and balances would eventually counter-weigh those trends. I've been proven wrong.

We've lost most of our hard-earned old-fashioned common sense and humility gained from two world wars and the Great Depression. Now, we're to a point where too many Americans believe it's perfectly OK for politicians be plutocrats, to lie with every breath and that Trump surely is Jesus' long-lost secret brother.

I'm forever grateful for our Democratic politicians that still are public servants rather than servants of the wealthy. I feel very positive short-term by quite negative long-term.

Enough old-man rant for a cold, rainy Wednesday.....

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Reply #18)

Thu Feb 21, 2019, 06:04 AM

23. Rant, or not.

It was a very accurate portrayal of the decline in democratic values, even decency, in politics/ politicians over the last few decades.

In the Brit case, the rot bloomed under Thatcherism.

Well ranted, Sir!

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Response to Myrddin (Reply #23)

Thu Feb 21, 2019, 06:51 AM

24. Thank you, and we wish you the best with your Brexit ordeal.

I've given up on understanding it, but honestly feel UK leave-side citizens were conned into that vote by Cameron's plutocrats. Seems to me a long period of factual public education on the topic was in order prior to a vote of that extreme importance.

Unfortunately, the cat's out of the bag and whatever your outcome turns out to be, we all hope you folks recover quickly. You're long overdue a break from Thatcherism and extreme austerity!

........... ...........

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 09:10 PM

22. K&R.

Great article, babylonsister, thanks for posting it.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2019, 10:14 AM

28. "delivered rulings that advantage big corporate and special interests...."

That's what it's all about with the corporatists in our government.

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