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 Book: The Most Dangerous Branch

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PostSubject: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Sun Sep 16, 2018 7:40 am

My next reading project is David Kaplan's exhaustively-researched brand new (Sept 4, 2018) examination of the current Supreme Court. It's getting good reviews. It looks like he calls them out for being the most activist court in history, making law where none exists, changing public policy when they can, and being a dysfunctional court where ideology trumps reasoned discourse, where consensus is a thing of the past, where instead of arguing the points of law and their rulings' possible effect on the country the justices make political points by refusing to hear opposing arguments and instead write up a lot of dissents.

I'm hoping the book will answer several questions I have about the Court:
  • What was the reasoning (if any) behind the single most inexplicable ruling in history, Citizens United vs. US?
  • How was Anthony Kennedy tricked into retiring when he was still healthy and active?
  • Why is Clarence Thomas still on the bench?
  • What is the basis of the enmity between Chief Justice John Roberts and the newest Justice Neil Gorsuch?
  • Why did Sandra Day O'Connor leave the Court in 2005 at age 75 after only 25 years?
  • Are the Justices at all concerned about balance on the court anymore?
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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:02 am

13% of Americans believe Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court.
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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:52 pm

Neil Gorsuch’s writings specifically outline his desire to reverse as many as possible of the New Deal policies put in place by Roosevelt 1934-1939 to successfully overcome the, and prevent another, Great Depression.

These include:

  • Social Security
  • HHS (descendant of FSA)
  • SEC
  • FHA
  • anti-monopoly legislation
  • anti-discrimination legislation in hiring and housing

His goal, apparently, is to cause or at least not prevent a recurrence. This period -- from 1918 to 1929 -- is the period which Trump refers to (obliquely) in his "Make America Great AGAIN" slogan.
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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:06 pm

It wasn’t until 1803 that the Court, Under Chief Justice John Marshall, took upon itself the power to strike down legislative or executive actions if they deemed them unconstitutional.
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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:36 pm

Roger B. Taney, The Chief Justice Of SCOTUS who authored Dred Scott vs. Sandford in 1857 which held that Negroes were property not people, was married to Anne Phoebe Charleton Key, sister of Francis Scott Key who wrote “The Star Spangled Banner.”
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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:39 am

In a chapter entitled “The Runaway Court,” Kaplan accuses SCOTUS of overreach in Roe v. Wade. The narrow Texas statute under review did not require such a sweeping Court decision, one that invalidated laws in 46 states. The basis Justice Blackmun used in his opinion — privacy — did not logically support his decision (Ginsburg is on record as saying “equal protection” would have been a better basis). Kaplan dates his characterization of SCOTUS as “activist” to this decision.

When Roe is overturned next year it’ll be interesting to see if (or how) it is reintroduced and under what basis.

And it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes.

I would expect it’ll take a Court at least 5-4 female, and legislatures of similar makeup.
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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:47 am

During the Gore v. Bush recount fiasco in Florida, one of Bush's personal attorneys was sent to Florida to encourage a speedy certification rather than another recount.

His name was John Roberts.

He was later rewarded for his efforts.
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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:55 am

At one point in the recount, one of the counties in Florida reported a vote tally for Gore of minus 16,000 votes.

This, apparently, was not as worth investigating as the hanging chads.
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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:25 am

The post-Sandra Day O’Connor Court is the first US Supreme Court IN HISTORY to have not a single member who has ever been elected to anything.  They are widely viewed as being the most clueless ever of the effects of their rulings.

And the first not to care.
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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:51 am

If Roe v. Wade (1973) was the first instance of the Court overstepping its domain, then Gore v. Bush (2000) was exponentially worse, with the Court breaking its own rules and precedents to insert itself into a simple political process with no legal question to be decided.  The federal overruled the state Supreme Court (for reasons other than law), which is both against their charter and against conservative principles.

But Sandra Day O’Connor wanted to retire to take care of her ailing husband, and she didn’t want a Democrat nominating her replacement.

Scalia and Thomas had wanted to certify the election before ANY recounting had been done.
Justice Paul Stevens wrote:
Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear.  It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.
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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:12 pm

NoCoPilot wrote:
When Roe is overturned next year it’ll be interesting to see if (or how) it is reintroduced and under what basis.

Ten days ago Netflix released an excellent documentary called "Reversing Roe" which goes through the entire history of abortion in this country.  Prior to Roe v. Wade women were obtaining an estimated one million illegal abortions per year, often in unsafe conditions, sometimes from sympathetic OB-GYNs who were breaking the law, sometimes the more affluent women traveled to Mexico or Puerto Rico or Sweden for the procedure.  Since Roe, abortions have continued at approximately the same pace.  Just they've been much safer and more available to women with less means.

Prior to Roe, abortion was seen largely as a medical issue, and that was why the Court ruled to make them safe and legal.

After Roe, the evangelical right decided to take up abortion as one of "their issues" in order to advance a more conservative and religious agenda.  It was a cover issue, intended to be divisive, intended to stand in for a whole host of other moral issues.  In order to do this, they had to "de-medicalize" abortion and turn it into a moral issue.  They did this by inventing terms like "partial-birth abortion" (which is not a real thing) and mischaracterizing the abortion statistics.  "Abortion on demand" in their imaginations became a matter of convenience to women, regardless of the stage of their pregnancy.

In truth, 90% of abortions are performed in the first trimester, and 90% of the remaining 10% are performed early in the second trimester.  Only 1% are so-called late-term abortions, and they're almost always performed for severe medical deformities (the fetus is found to be defective, and will be born dead or die as soon as it is born).  The Christians took over the debate, changed the terms under which the debate rages, and got many state legislatures to impose restrictions based on falsities.

I think MOST people would be against "killing babies."

The point that's been lost -- and unfortunately even this program failed to bring it out -- is that first trimester (12 week old) fetuses are not "babies" yet.  They're cytoblasts.  The womb is the size of a lemon.  The fetus is 2" long.

A fetus isn't viable -- able to live outside the womb with the BEST of medical science -- until 24-25 weeks on average.  That's the beginning of the third trimester.... when less than 1% of all abortions take place.  And then only for medical reasons.  A woman who has endured 25 weeks (five months!) of pregnancy doesn't decide, suddenly, to request an abortion-on-demand because she's changed her mind.

I WISH THE FUCK the two sides of this contentious issue would bring the facts to the argument instead of arguing based on mistaken definitions.

Otherwise, when Roe is overturned, the courts will have to be careful to avoid conferring "personhood" on sperm and eggs.  50% (or more) of all fertilized eggs fail to implant.  Are these women, and all women who miscarry, to be charged with involuntary manslaughter?
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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Yesterday at 10:04 am

David Kaplan wrote:
Because it decides so few appeals, and because its rulings are the law of the land, the Court selects cases that will have sweeping applications.  One-off rulings like Bush v. Gore not only squandered the Court’s time, but opened it up to suspicion that decisions were driven by results. Announcing a profound change in the law that conveniently benefited Bush — and then disavowing the change — came across as unadorned favoritism. At whatever level of consciousness, the goal seemed to be to install a Republican in the White House, where for the next four years he could anoit the justices’ new colleagues. Bush v. Gore was the ultimate conflict of interest for the justices, in which the conservatives seemed to act to consolidate their 5-to-4 majority. This was the Court trying to pack itself.


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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Yesterday at 11:07 am

At the time the Bill Of Rights was written, there was no standing national army.  There were state militias whose job it was to protect settlers against Indians and encampments of foreign powers.  The word “militia” is mentioned four times in the Constitution and Bill Of Rights, And each time it refers to these state self-defense organizations.

Therefore the Second Amendment, which says “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state” must be interpreted as referring specifically to state militias.

The state militias still exist.  We call them The National Guard now.

Therefore the only people who are constitutionally allowed to own guns are members of The National Guard, and they must be “well regulated.”
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PostSubject: Re: Book: The Most Dangerous Branch   Yesterday at 2:35 pm

When Antonin Scalia died, the George Mason University law school, which was endowed by the NRA, was rechristened the Antonin Scalia School of Law.

Until somebody noticed the acronym would be ASSoL.  They changed it to Antonin Scalia Law School.
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