Category Archives: Courts

I Have a Dream….

My dream is that Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Republican Leader of the Senate, solemnly announces that he has received from the House of Representatives Articles of Impeachment of Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, and that as detailed by the Constitution and the rules of the Senate he is turning the gavel over to the Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, who will preside (Article I, Section 3, Clause 6).

Roberts then administers to the Senators the required special “oath or affirmation” required by the Constitution and specified in the rules of the Senate:

”I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of ____, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.”

Senate Impeachment Rule XXV

At this point Chuck Schumer of New York, Democratic leader of the Senate, expressing a sense of moral outrage he has never before shown in public, makes a motion, rising to object to the seating of Senators McConnell and Lindsay Graham, Republican of South Carolina, as jurors due to their false swearing of the oath.

A hush falls over the Senate. And all eyes turn to Justice Roberts.

There is no question that Schumer would be correct in alleging that McConnell and Graham, at a minimum among the Republican senators, will have lied when they swear to God that they will, sitting now as jurors, do “impartial justice.” McConnell has repeatedly stated that he is working to guarantee an acquittal for Trump. In an interview with Fox host Sean Hannity he said, “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel,” and, “There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.”

Graham is even more blatant, saying in front of any camera available that his mind is made up, as he told CNN, “I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here,” Graham said, adding, “This thing will come to the Senate, and it will die quickly, and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly,”

If Schumer, or any other senator, has what it takes to offer my dream motion, it will put the Chief Justice on the hot seat. It is true that the ultimate power to set the rules of the impeachment trial rests not with the Chief but with the Senate itself and, as McConnell loves to repeatedly observe, he controls the 51 votes needed to win any vote.

But as I read the rules, before it comes to a vote, John Roberts will first issue a ruling. Make no mistake, Roberts is a conservative Republican right to his core. But unlike most of his right wing brethren Roberts also has a sense, if not for fairness, than a sense for history. History of the Supreme Court to be sure. But also for the history of justice in America. Robert might, just might, make the proper ruling. Anyone sitting on a jury who announces a verdict before the trial has begun, gets to go home early.

It will not be hard for the Republican senators to vote against my dream motion. But if Roberts has first ruled in its favor, it will be harder.

In my dreams.

 

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L’état n’est pas Donald Trump

L’affaire Trump has entered a new stage. In a scathing eight page letter to Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, White House counsel Pat Cipollone declared that Donald Trump “cannot participate” in the House’s impeachment inquiry, complaining the “inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections.”

The Trumpies of course love the letter even though it reads like Trump himself sketched it out, filling it with his long list of lies and manufactured grievances, and then handed it to Cipollone. I can imagine Cipollone struggling to take out Trump’s usual adjectives like, “lil’ Adam Schiff,” and adding some legalese. The resulting argument would get a failing grade in anyone’s first year Constitutional Law course.

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Again With the Guns

I have now learned that a great way to increase the amount of public participation on your blog is to talk about guns. The feedback on my last post set a record.

I have also learned that having a reasonable debate on this subject is pretty much impossible. There is so much disinformation out there that people involved in the discussion seem to be speaking different languages.

Part of the problem is that there really is, as I noted in the last post, not a lot of good data on the effects of gun ownership and gun regulation. I know that sounds crazy and I have to tell you, as one who believes in making informed data driven judgments it is very frustrating. But it is true mostly because the government, which funds much of the academic research in the United States, has for years forbidden the organizations responsible for public health and safety to fund studies into the causes of death by gunfire. That leaves us arguing, for example, on the effectiveness of the assault weapons ban which expired in 2004. 

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Journalism? When Pigs Fly!

I could never have anticipated this post. In fact, I can see myself sitting in my journalism class alongside my friends, Marc, Mark and David, Alanna and Lori, and my professors, Isaacs, Patterson, Wood and Friendly. What I wonder, would have happened if I had predicted that 45 years later I would write, and publish where anyone in the world could see it, a commentary containing a reference to a “dick pic”? Never have received my degree, probably.

For those of you who have been on the far side of the moon, shielded from any electromagnetic radiation emanating from earth, a quick recap. Jeff Bezos, who the style books demand must be referred to as, “Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world,” on first reference, woke up one morning to find himself on the front page of the National Enquirer.

bezos-enquirer-div

One generally finds the Enquirer at the supermarket checkout, where it might come in handy if the store is out of toilet paper. This issue featured the details of Bezos’ impending divorce, along with pictures of Bezos and a woman, not his wife, who he was reportedly seeing.

In spite of the headline, I am not going to argue that this report is not journalism. The press has a special place in the history of the United States. It is the only occupation specifically protected by the Constitution. The framers who wrote that document knew exactly what they were doing. They had employed the press to spread the word, sometimes false, about British abuse of colonialists. That helped fan the flames of insurrection. In fact, I’ve often thought the British might have won the Revolutionary War if they had just confiscated every printing press in America.

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Justice Kavanaugh

It’s Justice Kavanaugh now. Damn it.

Not that there was really any suspense. The Republican take-over of the federal courts has been a decades long project and, as usual, the lackluster resistance of the Democrats has been powerless to stop it. It does not matter that Americans, by a 51-41 percent margin, disapprove of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Americans preferred the Democratic candidate for president in 2016. A lot of good that did her.

I can hear it now. Even from some friends and relatives. “You’re just a ‘g d’ east coast liberal Democrat.” And then there’s, “Elections have consequences.” Thank you Lindsey Graham. First of all, I’m from Chicago. Not even close to either coast. Second, I was born into a very Republican family and I have voted for many Republicans over the years. But the Republicans I respected are either dead, retired, or primaried out of office. What’s left is a group of people who see politics as a blood sport where winning is everything. People for whom cooperation is anathema and no tactic out of bounds on the road to victory.

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