Donald Trump is freaking out over statements made by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ginsburg didn’t hold back during a New York Times interview published Monday. “I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” she said.
Trump, naturally, hopped on Twitter to complain.
Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot – resign!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 13, 2016
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called Ginsburg’s comments “out of place” during a CNN Town Hall on Tuesday.
But even after a wave of criticism, including from “liberal” outlets, Ginsburg refused to walk back her comments. On Monday, she called Trump a “faker.”
“He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego. … How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns? The press seems to be very gentle with him on that,” she said in her chambers.
The backlash over Ginsburg’s comments is not surprising, given Trump’s history of trying to de-legitimize the judicial system (especially when it applies to him). But his argument that Ginsburg’s comments disqualifies her from being an unbiased judge is a weak one: The ideological leanings of the justices are well known by not only their decisions (its kind of their job to give opinions), but also their public statements.
Unlike Ginsburg’s comments about Trump, justices have made plenty of statements in the past that relate directly to cases before them in the court.
Antonin Scalia was the poster boy for this behavior – the conservative legal icon frequently toured between law schools, book stores, and other gatherings, debating all comers on a wide range of topics. We knew how he felt about the death penalty, abortion and homosexuality:
“The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.” he said in 2012.
“What minorities deserve protection? What? It’s up to me to identify deserving minorities? What about pederasts? What about child abusers? This is a deserving minority. Nobody loves them.” he said in 2015.
Scalia’s defense of his homophobic remarks could easily be used to defend Ginsburg’s Trump comments — not that Ginsburg would use his argument, despite her storied, decades-long friendship with Scalia.
“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?” Scalia said in 2012 after a gay Princeton student asked him why he equated laws banning sodomy with laws that ban man-on-animal sex and murder.
Ginsburg herself has long been known for her frankness. Joan Biskupic, the journalist who reported Ginsburg’s statements on Trump, writes that, having met with her “on a regular basis for more than a decade,” she “found her response classic.”
I have witnessed her off-bench bluntness many times through the years. During 2009 oral arguments in a case involving a 13-year-old Arizona girl who had been strip-searched by school administrators looking for drugs, she was troubled that some male justices played down any harm to the student. “They have never been a 13-year-old girl,” Ginsburg told me. “It’s a very sensitive age for a girl. I didn’t think that my colleagues, some of them, quite understood.”
Earlier in 2009, she was being treated for pancreatic cancer yet made sure to attend President Barack Obama’s televised speech to a joint session of Congress, explaining that she wanted people to know the Supreme Court was not all men. “I also wanted them to see I was alive and well, contrary to that senator who said I’d be dead within nine months.” She was referring to Sen. Jim Bunning, a Kentucky Republican, who had said she would likely die within nine months from the pancreatic cancer. Bunning later apologized.
As the first Latina to reach the court, Justice Sonya Sotomayor fiercely defends her use of personal political reflection, based in experiences that she believes differ from those of the other justices, in her arguments. The issue of affirmative action is especially important to Sotomayor. In her 2013 memoir, she wrote:
“Much has changed since those early days when it opened doors in my life. But one thing has not changed: to doubt the worth of minority students’ achievement when they succeed is really only to present another face of the prejudice that would deny them a chance even to try.”
Sotomayor has taken this sentiment to the court. In her dissent on Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, she wrote: “Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, ‘No where are you really from?’”
Sotomayor’s opinion in a fourth amendment case on the validity of police stops was an explicitly political appeal. “It is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny,” she wrote in her dissent, on a case where a Utah man claimed he was unlawfully stopped by police. “For generations, black and brown parents have given their children ‘the talk’ — instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger — all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them.”
And besides: The Constitution does not prohibit Supreme Court Justices from expressing personal opinions.
Bloomberg‘s Noah Feldman offers Chief Justice John Marshall, who served as John Adams’s secretary of state while he was a chief justice, as proof that America’s founding generation was not “obsessed with the idea that justices have to be outside the reach of politics.”
Marshall, a loyalist of the Federalist Party, was understood to retain his beliefs while serving as chief justice subsequently.
Two of his most revered opinions, Marbury v. Madison and McCulloch v. Maryland, are historically incomprehensible except through the lens of partisan politics. In the first, he went to great lengths to embarrass the Jefferson administration by insisting that Marbury had a right to a justice-of-the-peace commission granted by Adams, before tacking back and holding that the law that would have allowed the court to force the delivery of the commission was unconstitutional.
In the second, he upheld the constitutionality of the Bank of the United States, originally such a fundamental partisan issue that it helped drive the creation of his Federalist and Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican parties.
Maybe conservatives shouldn’t argue about the integrity of the Court while in their fourth month of refusing to give it a ninth justice.
By: Germania Rodriguez, The National Memo, July 13, 2016
“The Stuff He’s Saying Is Just Incendiary”: Gary Johnson, Toughening Rhetoric, Says Donald Trump Is ‘Clearly’ Racist
Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson on Sunday went where Hillary Clinton has refused to go, saying Donald Trump is “clearly” racist.
“Based on his statements, clearly,” Johnson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I mean, if statements are being made, is that not reflective?”
Critics of Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — including some in his own party — have said that he makes racist statements, such as when he argued that a Hispanic judge is incapable of presiding fairly over a case involving Trump University. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) called that the “textbook definition of a racist comment.” But most have stopped short of declaring that Trump is racist.
Clinton, too, has distinguished between what Trump says and who he is. When MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked last month whether Trump is racist, this was Clinton’s response:
Well, I don’t know what’s in his heart, but I know what he’s saying with respect to the judge, that’s a racist attack. With the attacks on so many other people, he is calling them out for their ethnic background, their race, their religion, their gender. I don’t know what else you could call these attacks other than racist, other than prejudice, other than bigoted.
For Johnson, averaging about 8 percent in national polls, calling Trump racist represents a notable ratcheting up of campaign rhetoric. The mellow former governor of New Mexico said during a CNN town hall on June 22 that he did not plan to “engage in any sort of name-calling” aimed at either of the leading major-party candidates. His running mate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, called Trump a “huckster” at that event, though.
On Sunday, Johnson initially tried to focus only on Trump’s comments — specifically his recent statement that he is “looking at” replacing Muslim Transportation Security Administration agents with veterans.
“He has said 100 things that would disqualify anyone else from running for president, but [it] doesn’t seem to affect him,” Johnson said. “And just turn the page, and here’s the page turn: Now we have another reason that might disqualify a presidential candidate. That statement [about TSA agents] in and of itself — it really is, uh, it’s racist.
Johnson added that “the stuff he’s saying is just incendiary.”
“Incendiary, but do you think he himself is racist?” asked CNN’s Brianna Keilar.
At that point, Johnson said Trump “clearly” is.
By: Callum Borchers, The Washington Post, July 3, 2016
He can’t do it, Republicans. It’s time for you to admit that Donald Trump is incapable of even pretending to be an acceptable candidate for president. The question is which side of history you want to be on.
Are you going to stand with him as the balloons drop on the last night of the convention, knowing he shares neither your views nor your values? Are you going to work your hearts out this fall to put an unstable bully in charge of our national defense? Is party unity so much more important to you than trifles such as responsibility, duty and honor?
Leading Republicans should pay attention to what Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) told a reporter for the conservative Newsmax website: “What I am saying is Donald Trump can still get a vote from a lot of conservatives like me, but I would like some assurances on where he stands. I would like some assurances that he is going to be a vigorous defender of the U.S. Constitution. That he is not going to be an autocrat. That he is not going to be an authoritarian. That he is not somebody who is going to abuse a document that I have sworn an oath to uphold and protect and defend.”
Lee, who has not endorsed Trump, specifically mentioned “the fact that he accused my best friend’s father of conspiring to kill JFK” — referring to Trump’s scurrilous and unfounded charges about the father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) — and also Trump’s history of making “statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant.”
My only question for Lee is why Trump might still get his vote. I realize that Hillary Clinton is a Democrat, but no one has suggested that she might shred the Constitution or that she is a religious bigot. I thought the oath to “protect and defend” meant putting country before party.
To be sure, some leading Republicans are doing just that. Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, is one of the loudest and most consistent “Never Trump” voices. The Bush family, which incarnates the GOP’s recent history, is boycotting the convention. My colleague George F. Will, a principled conservative if ever there was one, said last week he had left the Republican Party because of Trump.
But most GOP luminaries are like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who has obvious reservations about his party’s presumptive nominee but supports him nonetheless. McConnell said this week that “people are looking for a level of seriousness that is typically conveyed by having a prepared text and teleprompter and staying on message.”
In other words, McConnell hopes Trump can at least pretend to be serious and stable long enough to make it through the general-election campaign.
Asked Wednesday if he agreed, Romney said no. “I think Mr. Trump has demonstrated who he is by virtue of what he said in the process to this point,” he explained. “What he says from this point forward may paper over that.”
I’ve had the same worry — that Trump would appear to be more statesmanlike and fool voters into thinking he had changed. With every passing week, however, I become less concerned about this scenario. Trump is who he is.
Every time Trump gives a prepared speech in which he manages to stay on message, drawing praise from the party establishment, he negates it by reverting to his old self. His address on foreign policy a couple of months ago, for example, was wrongheaded but basically mainstream. This week, however, he has been ranting about how the United States needs to use waterboarding and other torture techniques against suspected terrorists.
And you’re going to vote for this guy, John McCain? You, a former prisoner of war who was tortured by the North Vietnamese? You, the Senate’s most outspoken opponent of the practice?
McConnell said he hoped that Trump “is beginning to pivot and become what I would call a more serious and credible candidate for the highest office in the land.” Asked whether this was happening, McConnell replied, “He’s getting closer.”
But he’s not, and McConnell surely knows it. So does House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), who will preside over the convention at which Trump is set to be nominated. So do many Republicans who, when I ask them about Trump, either sigh, shrug or run away.
We are talking about the presidency of the United States, Republicans. You are about to nominate and support a man you know to be dangerously unworthy. Some loyalty.
By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 30, 2016
As a matter of procedural necessity, the effort to convince Republicans to push aside Donald Trump as their presidential nominee begins and ends with an initiative to change party rules that bind most delegates to the primary and caucus results. It will take one-fourth of the convention Rules Committee — 28 out of 112 members — to ensure a vote on an “unbinding” resolution on the floor after the convention has formally begun. A report in The Hill suggests Dump Trump members are not there yet and may never get there.
Kendal Unruh, a Colorado delegate leading the Dump Trump forces on the Rules Committee, only has 17 hard pledges of support for an “unbinding” resolution (though she claims additional “soft pledges”).
On a separate front, an anti-Trump delegate in Virginia has filed a lawsuit in federal court for relief from a state law that binds him to the primary results. Such laws affect an estimated one-third of the delegates. But as nomination-process wizard Josh Putnam persuasively argues, the suit, even if successful, does not do anything about state party rules that bind delegates independent of state laws or of national party rules. One reading of the situation is that delegation chairs are authorized to cast their state’s votes according to primary or caucus votes whether or not individual delegates consider themselves “bound.” And that could be a problem even if the Rules Committee revolt somehow succeeded and the convention voted to unbind itself.
All in all, it seems safe to say that something earth-shaking will have to occur in the larger political landscape to give the Dump Trump movement anything like real traction. As one of its warriors admitted to The Hill: “[Dump Trump needs] someone, somewhere, like [RNC Chairman] Reince Priebus or [Speaker] Paul Ryan or [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell to show an ounce of leadership if they’re to be successful. That’s been nonexistent so far.”
It’s hard to imagine all of that changing in less than three weeks.
By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 30, 2016
“The Day The NRA’s Gun Dam Began To Crack”: The Ongoing Holocaust The NRA And The Republicans Are Abetting
I couldn’t believe Wednesday night that some liberals were expressing indifference or even suspicion toward the House Democrats’ sit-in. I wouldn’t say this was all that widespread, but I did see it, and it was based on the fact that one of the bills they were demanding a vote on, the one banning people on watch lists from buying guns, is problematic from a civil-libertarian point of view.
Oh please. Do these people know history happening when they see it? The sit-in was about the two bills only in the most nominal sense. It was really about dead bodies. It was about the NRA and its stranglehold on their institution. It was about saying “enough.”
I wrote earlier this week that yes, the NRA won again on those four Senate votes, but “someday, this dam will break.” Well, it’s coming a hell of a lot faster than I thought it would. No, the dam isn’t broken—yet. That will still take a fair amount of time. But after Wednesday night, it’s now possible to see a different future, one in which the NRA is not all-powerful. It’s no longer crazy to think that its back can be broken.
Sure, there are serious civil liberties concerns about government lists. Here’s what the ACLU has to say about them. If you are a man with an Arabic name in particular, the risk of being put on one of these lists because of error or confusion is not inconsiderable. That has to be addressed, and a citizen has to be able to go to the government and demonstrate wrongful harm.
But everyone agrees on all this. As I watched the coverage Wednesday, every single Democrat I saw interviewed said as much. I wish I could retrieve for you what Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky told Chris Hayes late last night, but the video wasn’t posted on his site yet as I sat down to write. She said in essence: Of course, we all agree, fix the bill, build in an appeals process for individuals to challenge being put on the list. Given. In the meantime, actual dangerous people who deserve to be on that list can go buy assault weapons and mow down innocent people. Let’s stop that first, then we’ll fine-tune the bill.
What on earth is objectionable about that? Nothing. And anyway, the bill isn’t going to pass even if Paul Ryan does allow a vote. But it would have the effect of calling the Republicans’ bluff. That is, the standard Republican criticism of the bill has been precisely this civil-libertarian critique. So if the Democrats come to them en masse to say fine, we agree with you, let’s find a way to build in a workable appeals process, and the Republicans still vote against the bill, they will stand exposed, and everyone will know that civil liberty concerns aren’t what’s driving GOP opposition. Fear of Wayne LaPierre is. We all know this already anyway, but if there is a vote and they still vote against it, we’ll have proof.
Legislating is ugly business. The choices are usually between okay and not okay, or often between bad and much worse. You take what you can get. This is why the sit-in merits support and admiration (and if you really want to be a liberal who’s on the opposite side of the great John Lewis, be my guest). This is very different from the civil rights actions of the 1950s. Then, activists had a country to persuade; they had to move the mountain of public opinion. And so activists in Birmingham settled on segregated buses as the target that would tangibly and visibly make segregation stark for white Americans outside the South. They bided their time, deliberately chose Rosa Parks as the woman to do it, and slowly won public opinion over to their side.
But here, the public doesn’t have to be persuaded. It’s 80 or 90 percent on the Democrats’ side on guns. Even most NRA members support background checks, the subject of the other bill over which the Democrats staged their action. The boulder that has to be moved—or crushed—is the Republican Congress. So it’s up to congressional Democrats to make that fight, and they have to do it with the imperfect implements at their disposal, which means particular pieces of legislation that are bound to be deficient in one way or another.
And they’re finally making that fight. It was remarkable to see lawmakers holding those pieces of paper with the names of victims from Newtown and Orlando. That wasn’t about watch lists. It was about the ongoing holocaust that the NRA and the Republicans are abetting. It was all the more remarkable for the fact that it was done in an election year, when everyone’s supposed to be double-terrified of the NRA.
So the sit-in is ending as I write, on Thursday afternoon. But one of these days, the NRA will lose a vote. Two or three more Orlandos (which is of course two or three too many) will have the nation tearing its hair out. Democrats will finally stand firm, and enough Republicans from purple districts and states will defect. The stranglehold will end. And maybe in time, after LaPierre has gone off to whatever place eternity has reserved for him, the NRA will again become what it used to be, which is an organization that promotes reasonable Second Amendment rights but stops insisting that these death machines that were never intended to be in civilian hands deserve constitutional protection.
And when that time comes, historians will point to June 22, 2106 as the day the dam started to crack. I’m clear about which side I’m on.
By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 24, 2016