GA. Democratic Lawmaker Drafts Her Own Testicular Bill In Response To GOP Anti-Abortion Law

I actually had another post on the schedule for this afternoon, but I saw this one by Gronda late last night (early this morning) and couldn’t resist sharing it with you! Thanks, Gronda, for the much-needed smile! 😊

Gronda Morin

I couldn’t resist sharing the following piece in full as it just hit home for me. A Democratic Georgian female legislator has obviously reached her limit in having to fight off GOP’s attempts to to control the lives of women’s bodies. She has decided to return the favor to her male colleagues who seem to be overly obsessed with women’s private parts as they attempt to draft new more restrictive anti- abortion laws, with her own legislation that she has introduced to restrict men’s testicular activities.

Image result for Read the ‘testicular bill of rights,’ one lawmakers answer to anti abortion legislation GEORGIA’S STATE HOUSE

Here’s the rest of the story…

On March 12, 2019, Laura Clawson of the Daily Kos penned the following report, ‘Georgia Democrat responds to anti-abortion bill with ‘Testicular Bill of Rights’

“Georgia Republicans are at it again, trying to control women’s bodies through the law—but this time, state Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick is replying in kind with her “Testicular Bill of Rights” showing…

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The Supreme Court Has Lost Its Way …

The Supreme Court, the branch of the federal government that is supposed to be most independent, that is intended to hold the executive and legislative branches accountable, has made two major decisions today that indicate they have fallen and landed squarely in the camp of Donald Trump.  I am beyond disappointed … I am incensed, and I see our rights as citizens of this plutocracy going down the drain. supreme court justices


Supreme Court revives Trump’s transgender military ban

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to go ahead with its plan to restrict military service by transgender people while court challenges continue.  The court split 5-4 in allowing the plan to take effect, with the court’s five conservatives greenlighting it and its four liberal members saying they would not have.

Until a few years ago service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender. That changed under President Barack Obama. The military announced in 2016 that transgender individuals already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly. And the military set July 1, 2017 as the date when transgender individuals would be allowed to enlist.

Trump, of course, had to undo that, for two reasons:  a) it was a decision made during the Obama administration, and Trump has a goal to undo every single thing Obama did, and b) because Donald Trump and his supporters are homophobic bigots.  There is no viable reason to ban transgender people from the military, and this decision does not reflect the feelings of the majority in this nation!

Supreme Court returns to gun rights for 1st time in 9 years

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will take up its first gun rights case in nine years, a challenge to New York City’s prohibition on carrying a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun outside the city limits.  The court’s decision to hear the appeal filed by three New York residents and New York’s National Rifle Association affiliate could signal a revived interest in gun rights by a more conservative court. The case won’t be argued until October.

New York’s ordinance allows people licensed to have handguns to carry them outside the home to gun ranges in the city. The guns must be locked and unloaded.  The city residents who filed suit want to practice shooting at target ranges outside the city or take their guns to second homes elsewhere in New York state.  The city’s top lawyer, Zachary Carter, urged the court to reject the case, arguing that the restrictions allowed New York police to reduce the number of guns carried in public.

Just about the last … the very last … thing we need in this country is an expansion of 2nd Amendment ‘rights’!  The NRA has already nearly ensured that gun deaths in the U.S. will continue to be the highest per capita on the globe.  What do we want … are we shooting for some sort of record here … “let’s see if we can top last year’s gun deaths”?


Both of these issues are beyond merely concerning on their own merit, but the even greater concern is the trend that is appearing.  It is a trend we all feared when first, Neil Gorsuch, then Brett Kavanaugh were seated on the Supreme Court.  It is deeply disturbing that the Supreme Court appears to be making decisions strictly along partisan lines rather than considering issues on Constitutional merit.  The real concern, however, lies on the path ahead.  There are two prior Supreme Court rulings that ultra-conservative republicans, evangelicals, Trump’s base, want to see overturned:  Roe v Wade, and Obergefell v Hodges.  The first guarantees a woman the right to make decisions about her own body, her own life.  The second guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.  Both were long, hard-fought battles and are, in short, about human rights … civil rights.

In addition to those, it is highly likely that the Supreme Court will soon be asked to hear cases involving gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement.  Our constitutional rights … all of them … may be in jeopardy if the Court cannot manage to overcome it’s partisanship.  After Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation, Chief Justice John Roberts, in an effort to quell growing concerns of partisanship on the Court, made the following statement:

“… We do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle, we do not caucus in separate rooms, we do not serve one party or one interest. We serve one nation. And I want to assure all of you that we will continue to do that to the best of our abilities, whether times are calm or contentious.”

Prove that to us, please, Chief Justice.

Farewell Last Bastion of Justice

Barring anything significantly changing, Brett Kavanaugh will likely be confirmed to the United States Supreme Court, despite having lied under oath, despite having taken off the mask and shown himself to be a man possessed of a whiny and cruel temperament, and despite the numerous allegations of sexual assault.  Even if the democrats win every possible seat in the Senate next month, and even if there is a democratic majority in the House of Representatives come January, Brett Kavanaugh will not be impeached in 2019.  That said, let us for a moment look beyond the three-ring circus that this confirmation process has become and address something even more significant:  The U.S. Supreme Court itself.

In February 2017 I wrote a piece titled The Supreme Court – Our Best Hope which I began with

“Now that Congress has ‘fallen into line’ and is pandering to Trump’s every whim, licking his boots and kissing his posterior, there is one last bastion of justice remaining:  the United States Supreme Court.”

This was a time just before Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, when I hoped that the three oldest Justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Anthony Kennedy would be able to hold on and keep working for a few more years.  It was a time when I still believed Donald Trump would be gone from office within a year.  It was a time when there was still hope that our nation would be turned around before any lasting damage took place.  It was a time, apparently, when I was still wearing my rose-coloured glasses.

The intention of the framers of the U.S. Constitution was that the Supreme Court would be above partisan politics.  Surely, they realized that every man, even Supreme Court Justices would have their own set of beliefs, their own ideologies, but when they are sitting on the bench, they are expected to set aside their personal feelings and make decisions according to their interpretation of the Constitution based on the facts at hand.  It is an idealist philosophy, and hasn’t always been strictly followed, but by and large it has worked well.  This is how we saw Roe v Wade passed in 1973 with only two dissenting opinions:  Byron White and William Rehnquist.  The court deemed abortion a fundamental right under the United States Constitution, a ruling that has seen controversy since its birth, but that has not been successfully challenged, nor should it be.

This post is not specifically about Roe v Wade, but rather I use it as an example of how the Supreme Court is supposed to function.  A look at the justices in 1973:

Harry Blackmun – appointed in 1970 by Republican President Richard M. Nixon, became one of the more liberal justices on the court.

William Brennan – appointed in 1956 by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a recess appointment, became known as the leader of the Court’s liberal wing.

Lewis Powell – appointed in 1971 by Richard M. Nixon, was a conservative, but known for compromise and often was the swing vote.

Thurgood Marshall – appointed in 1967 by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, was the first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court.  Marshall was a former Civil Rights activist, and expectedly his views were liberal to the extreme.

Warren Burger – appointed in 1969 by Richard M. Nixon, Chief Justice Burger was a conservative, but voted as a liberal when he felt it was right.

William Douglas – appointed by Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939, Douglas was primarily a liberal and a strict literalist in terms of interpreting the First Amendment.

Potter Stewart – appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, was firmly a centrist, often a swing vote.

William Rehnquist – appointed in 1972 by Richard M. Nixon, was a strong conservative.

Byron White – appointed by Democratic President John F. Kennedy in 1962 was neither liberal nor conservative, but by his own admission was a fact-based justice.

Nixon, a republican, had appointed four of the nine justices on the court when Roe v Wade came up for consideration, and Eisenhower had appointed two.  It is worth noting that all nine justices were males. Six justices had been appointed by republican presidents, only three by democrats, and yet legalized abortion became the law of the land.  This is what is meant by a court that rises above partisanship.  This is how it is supposed to work.  This is how ‘justice’ happens, folks.  It does not happen when a president appoints justices solely because he expects them to vote according to his wishes every time!

The Supreme Court has most always been looked upon with respect and dignity.  Historically, it has been a place where a lay person feels they should whisper, so as not to waken the ghosts of the many great men who have passed through its halls.  Once Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, that dignity will be gone, for he brings baggage that will soil the landscape, that will remove much of the honour that was brought by some of the greatest judges the nation has known:

  • John Marshall, Chief Justice 1801-1835
  • Earl Warren, Chief Justice 1953-1969
  • Louis Brandeis, Associate Justice 1916-1939
  • William Brennan, Associate Justice 1956-1990
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Associate Justice 1902-1932
  • John Marshall Harlan, Associate Justice 1877-1911
  • Hugo Black, Associate Justice 1937-1971

And many other fine men and women.  The dignity, the non-partisan justice of the court will be another bastion of our democratic process gone.  When Senator Jeff Flake commented the other day that there is no value in reaching across the aisle to work toward compromise solutions, we knew Congress was no longer accountable to We The People.  If Brett Kavanaugh is allowed to take his place on the Supreme Court, then the court will no longer belong to We The People either.  Both Congress and the Court will have become a tool of the madman in the Oval Office.

You will find Fareed Zakaria’s column in The Washington Post to be of interest on this same topic.

Women’s ‘Rights’? HAH!

Way back in the beginning days of this nation, women were not allowed to own property, nor were they allowed to vote.  Women were basically considered, as were African-Americans, to be chattel, possessions. women-property-rightsGradually … and I do mean gradually, ever so s-l-o-w-l-y … women gained a few human rights, such as the right to own property (1848-1895) and the right to vote (1920 – 19th Amendment).  It would be 1963 before it was decided that women should receive equal pay for performing the same job duties as men.

Women’s rights has been every bit as much a struggle as were civil rights for African-Americans, albeit not as violent.  By the end of the 20th century, most would tell you that women were now fully equal in the eyes of the law to men, that the barriers for women’s equality had been removed.  Remember back in the 1970s, the advertisements for Virginia Slims cigarettes, whose slogan was “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!”? virginia-super-slims-advertisement1.jpgBut in this, the year 2018, I would argue that we’ve still got a long way to go.  Two issues prove my point.

The first, is whether a woman has sovereign rights over her own body, and anyone but a fool knows the answer to that is that ‘no’. There is a push today, mainly by the Republican Party on behalf of the evangelical Christians, to deny women access to both birth control and abortion.  Strange, don’t you think, that there is no hue and cry about men obtaining drugs such as Viagra, but women and birth control is a different matter.

In 1973, the issue of abortion was settled by the Supreme Court in the case of Roe v Wade, and it was ruled that a woman has the right to seek an abortion if she so chooses.  But the ruling has been the subject of much criticism by Christian churches, and in 2016, when Donald Trump was campaigning for the office of president, he appealed to the evangelicals by promising to appoint judges who would overturn Roe v Wade.

Furthermore, access to birth control has been challenged and although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that employer-sponsored health insurance must provide coverage for birth control, again the Christian groups stepped in and the courts have ruled against women’s rights.  Newly-minted Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is partly to thank for that one.

There is much, much more I could say about these assaults on women’s rights, but I want to move on to my second point, which is the one prevalent in today’s news, and that is the right of women to be respected, to be taken seriously, to not be turned into a sex object and the brunt of male perversity.

The subject, of course, is Dr. Christine Blasely, the woman who came forth to tell of the time, some 30+ years ago, that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a party.  I won’t re-hash the details, for you’ve heard various versions likely hundreds of times in the past week unless you’ve been in a coma.  But my point is the abysmal treatment Dr. Blasely has been afforded ever since she came forward.  She has been called a ‘liar’, it has been suggested that she made up the story at the behest of the Democratic party, and she has received death threats.

Donald Trump and the members of our not-so-illustrious congress have cast aspersion on this woman and attempted every trick in the book to browbeat and bully her.  And in so doing, they have set women’s equality back decades.  Rather than jump to claim she is lying, why didn’t those in charge of the confirmation hearings order an investigation to bring the event into the open, to put to rest any doubts?  Why?  Because they know.  Somewhere deep down, they know that she is not lying.  They know that their esteemed Brett Kavanaugh is guilty as charged.  They know that this will likely, if taken seriously, be the nail in the coffin of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.  And they know the price they will pay from the ‘man’ in the Oval Office if they fail to complete their mission of confirming Kavanaugh quickly before the democrats find their voice in November.

  • Senator Scott Newman: “Even if true, teenagers! Frankly, I don’t believe her.”
  • Kavanaugh spokesperson/activist Josh Marshall says it’s not clear that the incident was attempted rape as opposed to just “rough horseplay”.

Remember in 2016 when the Access Hollywood tape came out with Donald Trump making disparaging remarks about his treatment of women?  His defenders, despite evidence that he was indeed guilty of multiple cases of sexual abuse, brushed it off as only “locker room talk”.

Tell me, folks … if the tables were turned … if a female nominee were accused by a man of having groped him, attempted to disrobe him, and clapped her hand over his mouth in order to keep him from calling for help, would the senators be so glib?  I think not.  I think they would pretend to be horrified and decide early on that she was not qualified to sit on the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court.  But, the ‘good ol’ boys’ network is alive and well, and instead of horror, there is a wink-wink, a knowing smile, and ultimately a confirmation of a man with too little integrity.

But understand, please, that Dr. Blasely is not the first, nor will she be the last woman to be treated in such a manner.  Women throughout the ages have been disbelieved or expected to accept sexual abuse as their due.  Sure, we’ve “come a long way, baby”, but make no mistake … women do not have equal rights in 21st century America, and I despair that we ever will.

**  Here are links to two excellent timelines of the history of women’s rights, in case you’re interested:

Why God Is Laughing At Brett Kavanaugh And His Fellow Republicans

Much has been said and written about Brett Kavanaugh and his confirmation hearings in the past few weeks, much debate about his fitness (or lack thereof) for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. I have purposely avoided writing about Kavanaugh because I knew I did not have all the information needed to make an informed opinion, although I instinctively felt he was not a good candidate for the position. Friend Gronda has summed up nicely the many reasons that Kavanaugh should not be confirmed for the seat on the Court, and today I share her highly informative post. Gronda presents much information about Kavanaugh’s judicial history that I was not aware of, so please take a minute to read. Many thanks, Gronda!

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos bill clinton in impeachment daysRemember the gentlemen who went after President Bill Clinton tooth and nail for his sexual misdeeds when he presided in the White House. Well Judge Brett Kavanaugh was one of those players who relished pontificating on President Clinton’s lack of moral character. It was Mr. Kavanaugh who recommended to the Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr that he ask President Clinton questions about his sexual peccadilloes in the most salacious way possible.

Just read what the republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley stated for the record (below), as to why they voted to impeach President Clinton in 1996, and they are the same ones who are fast -tracking the confirmation process through the US Senate Judiciary Committee, for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become the next US Supreme Court Justice. Today, they are crying foul as a 51 year old woman is bringing a 36 year old of attempted rape allegation against…

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A Woman’s Right …

It is likely that the fight over the next Supreme Court nominee will boil down to a single issue:  abortion.  Some claim that the entire 2016 election was largely about the issue of abortion and a lead-up to this moment. Now mind you, the abortion issue as per the historic 1973 Roe v Wade decision, is far from being the only human rights issue that is endangered by the threat of yet another ultra-conservative ideologist on the Court.  Same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, freedom from religious mandates, immigration, and many other issues stand to be endangered.  I will deal with each of those in the coming week or two, but the initial fight will likely center around Roe and abortion.  As usual, I have a few thoughts on the matter …

The issue of abortion is … or at least ought to be … a personal one.  Roe v Wade was not about abortion as much as about the right of a woman to have a say about what happens to her body and in a broader sense, her life.  Now here’s the thing … if you are a religious person and believe that life begins at the exact moment of conception, believe that a fetus is a sacred being, that is certainly your right.  Nobody is trying to challenge your beliefs, nobody is trying to take away your rights, and nobody is ever going to force you to have an abortion!  Your right to give birth to as many children as you wish is safe.  BUT … the rest of us have rights also, and while we are carefully not trampling on yours, we ask that you not trample on ours.  Live and let live.  Women do not choose abortion lightly … it is an agonizing decision for each woman, and one that she will live with for her entire life.  Don’t make it harder for her with your holier-than-thou protests and denigrating remarks.  Just sit down and shut up.

Why do women choose to have an abortion?  In most cases it is because they are not able to take care of a child at this point in their lives.  The reasons may be immaturity, i.e. the high school girl who was careless and found herself pregnant while still a child herself.  Financial reasons are a major factor … consider the single-mother who already has 2-3 children and is struggling to keep a roof overhead and food on the table.  In some cases the mother’s health may be in danger.  The bottom line is that none of us are in that one woman’s shoes or can know what factors are driving her decision, and it is not our place to take the decision out of her hands, forcing her to possibly endure a lifetime of hardship.

One of the things that puzzles and annoys me most about this argument is that the anti-abortionists claim to feel a responsibility to the ‘life’ of a fetus, to give it an ‘opportunity’ to live, but then once a child is born, they wash their hands of it.  It is for this reason that you will not see me calling them “pro-lifers” as they call themselves, for they only advocate for a life for nine months, after which … “oh well”. Almost every person who is against abortion is also against their tax dollars going to help support that child, to ensuring it has medical care, a home, and food to eat.  They sniff loudly, turn their noses toward the sky and claim that the mother is simply too lazy and deserves no help.  It is rather akin to adopting a puppy to keep it from being killed, and then allowing it to die from neglect and malnutrition in your garage!  I have known people who did exactly that!

Those who would take away a woman’s right to choose are fond of saying that there is the choice to put the baby up for adoption.  Obviously none of these people have gone through the adoption process at any stage in their lives.  It is a long, arduous and often painful process, not to mention expensive.  Because of the cost, it generally turns out that children are not adopted by those who most want a child, who would be the best parents, but rather by those who have the single qualification of wealth.  I do note that there are exceptions.  Children placed for adoption often end up in the foster care system that, while the intent is noble, the actual implementation is a nightmare rather than a success story. Look up the statistics of children in the foster care system who are abused or neglected.

Then there is the consideration that the world is already over-populated and it is simply unconscionable to bring into it another child that has an uncertain future.  The world’s population is growing by 1.1% per year, or approximately an additional 83 million people annually. From 2017 to 2050, it is expected that half of the world’s population growth will be concentrated in just nine countries: India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, the United Republic of Tanzania, the United States of America, Uganda and Indonesia (ordered by their expected contribution to total growth).

“Because of the abundance of our nation’s resources, we have long been careless about our level of consumption, but it is the precipitous rise in the U.S. population over the last four decades that has resulted in our outstripping of our national resources. We are living beyond our means and are doing so increasingly as our population expands. This is a serious problem with major implications for future generations.”Fairus

Still feel good about protecting that potential, as yet un-formed, unborn fetus?

At one point during Trump’s 2016 campaign, he claimed that women should be ‘punished’ for having an abortion.  Let me tell you something … women ARE punished for having abortions … they punish themselves every day for the rest of their lives!  We do not need the courts and law enforcement to add insult to injury, and we do not need the religious right to shame them.

If your religion teaches you that it is wrong to have an abortion, then fine, don’t have one.  But understand that not everybody ascribes to your religion. Understand that ours is a secular government and that our laws are not driven by the Bible, the Quran, the Vedas, the Torah or any other religious text.  Jews and Muslims do not eat pork, but they do not try to keep the rest of the nation from eating pork, nor do they lobby the government for laws to make pork illegal!  Realize, anti-abortionists, that your beliefs are not the only legitimate beliefs.

Groups on either side of the abortion debate are poised to spend big bucks … tens of millions of dollars … in advertising their position in the upcoming debate over the confirmation of a nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.   It is, without a doubt, the most watched issue of the day.  It is a sad state of affairs, if you ask me, that the law of the land will be determined for the next several decades based on a single religious group’s stance on a woman’s right to control her own body.  It shouldn’t even BE an issue!  It is not your right to choose for another.  It is not the right of the U.S. Supreme Court to tell me what I must do with my body.  We all need to understand that we do not live in a perfect world and that sometimes people make mistakes, but that they should not be forced by a group of nine men and women to have their lives ruined because of a single mistake.

I call on the U.S. Senate to block any Trump nominee for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court.  Every woman in this country stands to lose if they do not.  Every member of the LGBT community stands to lose.  Every Jew, Muslim, Hindi, atheist or agnostic stands to lose.  We the People stand to lose.

Three Events That Will Change The Face Of The Nation … Forever

I begin this post today with angst, with  trepidation, with a sense of impending doom, though I hope that doesn’t sound an overly dramatic statement.  Why?  For I did a coin toss to decide which of the very important, time-sensitive pending issues it was most important to tackle in this post, and I concluded that there are three issues that simply cannot be pushed aside even for a day.  And while I do not delude myself into thinking that my humble small blog is going to change the outcome of any of the three issues, I know I must try … I have to try, else I might just as well quit even writing this blog.  And so, I will either tackle all three in this single post, or if it becomes unwieldy, I will be putting out extra posts today.

What are the three issues?

  1. The Alabama race for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions
  2. The “tax reform bill” now being reconciled by Congress
  3. The increased attacks on Special Counselor Robert Mueller and his investigation

The Alabama Senate race is tomorrow, and although I have written several times before, I believe one final push must be made, a final attempt to awaken the voting public in Alabama to the evils of Judge Moore, who is, as I understand it, once again leading in the current polls.

The tax reform bill is being shoved, rushed, and pushed with no regard for accuracy or errors, no regard for outcomes, only regard for giving Donald Trump an empty shell of a “win” and pleasing the wealthy who would just as soon oppress the rest of us.

And as Bob Mueller and his team are getting closer to the truth, and as it becomes nearly impossible to keep details under wraps, Trump & Co. become increasingly panicked, and it is beginning to look very much as if we may end up with another Saturday Night Massacre in the very near future.

So, these three topics cannot be relegated to my “later this week” bin, but must be tackled today, These three things combined have the potential to set us on a very rocky path, one which leads in the opposite direction of what our Founding Fathers envisioned for this nation. If there is any hope that I can reach people who might just stop for a moment and think, then I must at least make the effort.  So, with a newly-opened box of Keurig coffee pods, 5 packs of cigarettes freshly rolled, and a box of tissues by my side, let us begin.


Roy Moore … UNFIT to set foot in the Capitol

Tomorrow is the big day in Alabama, and it appears that, while some Alabama voters are … a bit disturbed over all the credible accusations by women who Moore almost certainly sexually abused from his position of power as District Attorney, they are by and large willing to either a) overlook and ignore Moore’s pedophilia and sexual abuse, or b) discredit the women who, as young girls, were too afraid to come forth and tell what Moore had done to them.

Note that the women, who do not know each other, tell basically the same tale of abuse and degradation, and they are credible.  Also note that there are no less than nine … nine … such women who suffered as teens at the hands of this so-called ‘man’ of power.  Note, too, that former deputy district attorney Teresa Jones, a former colleague of Moore’s, said that back in the day, it was common knowledge that Moore, then a district attorney in his 30s, dated high school girls.  The evidence that has mounted paints Moore as a sexual predator and a pedophile and is insurmountable.  Alabama voters must surely realize the truth!

As if that weren’t enough, there are, as I have written before, plenty of other reasons to believe that he is not senate material.  As a judge, he was removed from the judicial bench … not once, but twice!  Why?  For refusing to uphold the law that he was sworn to uphold.  For putting his personal ‘beliefs’ ahead of the law of the land.  Not once.  TWICE!  Roy Moore is a ‘man’ without values, a ‘man’ without a moral compass, a ‘man’ without a conscience.  And any … I repeat ANY … person who votes for him, is also a person without a conscience, but rather one who is casting their lot with the evil which they claim to eschew.

We all know that democrats stick together, and republicans even more so, right?  Well, it speaks volumes that Alabama’s other republican Senator, Richard C. Shelby, does not support Roy Moore’s candidacy.  When Moore asked Shelby, the state’s senior senator and fellow republican, for financial backing last month, Shelby’s response was …

“I told him he could raise it himself, you know, like I did, you know, like everybody else. He thrives on controversy, seems to me. And I think you can’t be a formidable, effective senator if you’re so controversial your colleagues avoid you, I think Alabama deserves better.”

It is equally telling that the Republican National Committee in Alabama withdrew their support of Moore, then suddenly, without explanation, returned it last week.  And most telling of all is that another sexual predator named Donald Trump has given his full support to this candidate.  This past weekend, Trump held a rally where he sung Moore’s praises, and then recorded a ‘robocall’ to rally Alabama voters to support a pedophile for Congress.

Okay, Alabamans, listen up!  What is your option?  A sane democrat, perhaps?  A man who is known for protecting civil rights.  A man who re-opened that infamous 16th Street Baptist Church bombing case from 1963 in which four young girls were murdered by KKK klansmen who were let off scot-free with a wink and a nod?

And meanwhile, Moore, like Mount Vesuvius, continues to spew lies.  He claims, with bumbling ineptitude, to not know these women …

“I do not know them. I had no encounter with them. I have never molested anyone. When I saw the pictures on the advertisements of my opponent, I did not recognize any of these people.”

“These people” were children, teenagers at the time, nearly forty years ago, so it stands to reason that Moore would not recognize them on sight. Moore admitted to Sean Hannity last month that he dated young girls years ago, yet claims that he does not recognize any of the women.

“I’ve stood up for moral values, so they’re attacking me in that way. When this race is over, on the 12th of December, it will be over. It’s inconceivable to think that someone would wait 40 years because they were embarrassed or ashamed or something, and then less than 30 days before the general election, come out and make allegations – and then appear on a political advertisement, when they’ve waited 40 years not to be embarrassed.”

And already, even before the election, he is giving us reason to believe that he has no intention of upholding the laws when he says …

“I would want judges who recognize that Roe v. Wade, although it has been around since 1973, is not the supreme law of the land because it contradicts the right to life given to us in our founding documents.”

Yes, Roe v Wade IS the law of the land, as the Supreme Court of the United States ruled it so.

Roy Moore places himself and his own personal religion before the laws of the nation, before the good of We The People.  If he wins this election, it says more about the people of this nation than it says about Moore or Trump.  It says that the people of this nation have lost their way, have forgotten, if they ever knew, what is truly important. If Roy Moore is elected tomorrow, Alabamans must hang their heads in shame and embarrassment.

Happy Birthday Justice Kennedy … PLEASE DON’T LEAVE US!!!

I have always believed that people should, if they wish to, be able to retire while they still have enough time and energy to do some of the things they always wanted to, whether it be to travel, take up golf, write their memoirs, garden, or just spend more time with their family.  I was fortunate to be able to retire early, actually did not have much choice, but it has worked out well for me and the family.  That said, here I am about to advocate that an 81-year-old man stay on the job for at least another 4 years!

Anthony-KennedyThe man is Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.  On July 23rd, he will celebrate his 81st birthday, and rumour has it that he is giving serious consideration to retiring in the near future.  Back in February I wrote a post  about this very thing, noting that in addition to Kennedy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (84) and Justice Stephen Breyer (78) were of an age to retire should they decide to do so.

Why does any of this matter?  Let us set aside the labels of ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ for the moment, and speak only of the issues and voting histories.  Kennedy has provided the swing vote in a number of cases in favour of human rights, civil rights, and social issues.  His was the vote that formed a majority in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, clearing the way for same-sex marriage.  The others were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law and the Constitution grants them that right,” Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion.

Kennedy voted to reaffirm the core holding of Roe v. Wade in 1992. According to Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. “Replacing Justice Kennedy with a Trump nominee would almost certainly sound the death knell for Roe, just as candidate Trump promised during the 2016 campaign.”

Which is not to say that I agree with all of Kennedy’s views.  He supported Citizens United, which as we now know was a horrible decision, he has voted for stronger gun rights, and in 2013 voted to strike down two key provisions to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, thus enabling more widespread racial discrimination in the voting process.  But overall, I believe he is a fair judge, an experienced judge, and I believe he will serve the rights of the people of this nation far better than anybody Donald Trump might appoint.

I am not alone in my opinion.  Comedian, actor, director and writer Carl Reiner (and father of Rob Reiner) penned a letter that ran in the New York Times Friday, 07 July, titled Justice Kennedy, Don’t Retire.  The letter begins …

Dear Justice Anthony Kennedy,

I would like to start with congratulatory wishes on your forthcoming 81st birthday.

As someone who has almost a decade and a half on you, I can tell you this: It may well be that the best part of your career has just begun. As a nonagenarian who has just completed the most prolific, productive five years of my life, I feel it incumbent upon me to urge a hearty octogenarian such as yourself not to put your feet up on the ottoman just yet. You have important and fulfilling work ahead of you.

When I turned 81, I had finished “Oceans Eleven” and was gearing up for “Oceans Twelve” while also writing another book, which led me to a cross-country book tour.

I know what it means to be your age. I know the problems that come with the journey. But these are not ordinary times, and you, sir, are anything but an ordinary man.

The country needs justices like you who decide each case with fairness and humanity, and whose allegiance is to the Constitution of the United States of America, not to a party line. You have always voted your conscience, and defended the rights and liberties of all our citizens.

I’m sure you’ve considered the various options, as we all do when we reach a certain age. After all, although our lives are different, I’m sure there are similarities. I get up in the morning, and if I’m not in the obits, I eat breakfast. You get up, meet with your clerks and engage with them in spirited discussion about the constitutional ramifications of the important cases at hand. I engage in spirited discussion with my publisher about the release order of my next three books.

You have lunch and I have lunch. You return to your chambers and I to my desk. At day’s end, you go home to ponder the important decisions you will be making tomorrow. I go downstairs and join my friend Mel in front of the television, and we ponder out loud how many steps Vanna White will take when walking over to the letter board tonight after leaving Pat Sajak’s side. (F.Y.I., it is usually six, sometimes seven, rarely eight, but never nine.)

Imagine if you retired from the bench. What would your days be like? Here’s a scenario: You revisit your carefree years, rent a red Volkswagen and travel through Europe, stopping in Paris for coffee and a croissant on the Champs-Élysées, then on to the Amalfi coast, where you’ll sail to the waterfalls of Marmorata and the Emerald Grotto.

How would you feel, while reading your newspaper, seeing a headline that read “Roe v. Wade Overturned”? Do you see how this could ruin a good meal? A good life? A great country?

I believe I’ve made my case. It’s now 1 a.m., and I am going upstairs to my computer to tweet out my thought of the day, because I can. I have the freedom to do that because of people like you who are committed to protecting our liberties and our Constitution.

I thank you, as all our fellow citizens will.

Respectfully,

Carl Reiner

Given the way Trump’s mind works, when it does, it is impossible to predict who he would nominate to replace Kennedy if he should retire, but most likely one of the remaining 10 from his ‘short list’ back when he nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace Antonin Scalia.  Among pundits, the most likely first choice appears to be Thomas Hardiman, a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who resides in Pennsylvania.

Since all this is speculative, and we can hope that Kennedy will stick around for at least 4 more years, I won’t go into much background, but a few of Hardiman’s more notable rulings bear looking at:

  • In the 2008 case Busch vs. Marple Newton School District, Hardiman wrote an opinion in favor of parents who described themselves as Evangelical Christians and were barred from reading from the Bible during a kindergarten “show and tell” presentation.
  • In the 2010 case Kelly v. Borough of Carlisle, Hardiman ruled that a police officer had qualified immunity because there is no clearly established First Amendment right to videotape police officers during traffic stops.
  • In the 2016 case Binderup v. Attorney General which related to the issue of felons owning firearms, he ruled that “only dangerous persons which were likely to use firearms for illicit purposes” could be barred from owning firearms.

Let us just hope that Carl Reiner’s letter gives pause to any notions of retirement Justice Kennedy might have had!

The Supreme Court — Our Best Hope

scotus-2

Now that Congress has ‘fallen into line’ and is pandering to Trump’s every whim, licking his boots and kissing his posterior, there is one last bastion of justice remaining:  the United States Supreme Court. Last year, after the untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Republicans in Congress effectively blocked President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, by refusing to hold even preliminary confirmation hearings.  Thus, the position remained open when Trump took office, and it is now up to him to fill.  More about that in a bit.

scotusThe U.S. Constitution does not specify the number of Supreme Court Justices.  Article III of the Constitution established the Supreme Court, but left it to Congress to decide on the appropriate number of Justices.  The Judiciary Act of 1789 set the number at six: a chief justice and five associate justices. In 1807, Congress increased the number of justices to seven; in 1837, the number was bumped up to nine; and in 1863, it rose to 10. In 1866, Congress passed the Judicial Circuits Act, which shrank the number of justices back down to seven and prevented President Andrew Johnson from appointing anyone new to the court. Three years later, in 1869, Congress raised the number of justices to nine, where it has stood ever since. It has mostly worked well for 148 years.

Many of us are understandably concerned about the composition of the court these days.  There is already one vacancy for Trump to fill, a position for which he has nominated Neil Gorsuch.  But there are three other justices who are likely to retire from the court soon:  Justice Anthony Kennedy, a moderate-conservative who is 79, Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal who is 78, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also a liberal who will be 84 next month.  The problem arises when we consider the way these justices tend to vote. All three have voted consistently in favour of human rights, civil rights and social issues.  If Trump had the opportunity to fill all three of these positions, in addition to the one already vacant, the court would be comprised of 7 conservative justices and only 2 liberal-leaning.  This would spell disaster for the LGBT community, for African-Americans, for immigrants, for women … for all of us, really.

 

On a positive note, tonight I was reading about an interview Justice Ginsburg gave to the BBC this week where she said … well, I will let her tell you in her own words:

“I read the Washington Post and the New York Times every day, and I think that the reporters are trying to tell the public the way things are. Our legislature – which is the first branch of government – is right now not working. I am optimistic in the long run. A great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle. It is the pendulum. And when the pendulum swings too far in one direction it will go back. Some terrible things have happened in the United States but one can only hope that we learn from those bad things.”

Of the Women’s March on Washington, 21 January, she said:

“I’ve never seen such a demonstration – both the numbers and the rapport of the people in that crowd. There was no violence, it was orderly. So yes, we are not experiencing the best times but there is reason to hope that that we will see a better day.”

But the important part was …

“At my age you have to take it year by year. I know I’m OK. What will be next year? I’m hopeful however, because my most senior colleague the one who most recently retired, Justice John Paul Stevens, stepped down at age 90. So I have a way to go.”

ginsburgAt an appearance at George Washington University on Thursday night, Justice Ginsburg said, “we are not as mindful of what makes America great.”  So very true! Ginsburg stopped short of mentioning Trump or his policies directly, as she got into some hot water for that last year when she gave an interview critical of Trump and was taken to task for her candor:

“I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president. For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that. He is 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.”

I always did like this woman!  She sees clearly the damage that is being done by the current administration, sees the unwillingness of Congress to stand against Trump, and is determined to try to stay on the court a few more years.  Let us hope that Kennedy and Breyer will do the same.  Though Kennedy is considered a moderate-conservative, he leans toward liberal in most social issues, so even if Gorsuch is confirmed, as is expected, we should still have a fairly well-balanced court.  For now. At least well-balanced enough to keep from overturning such important issues as voting rights, same-sex marriage, and Roe v Wade, which Trump has sworn to see overturned after 43 years.

gorsuchAs for Gorsuch, I suspect he will be conservative on most issues, but then so was Scalia.  But like Scalia, he is known for also being thoughtful and fair, so if Breyer, Kennedy and Ginsburg are able to stay in good health and willing to remain on the bench for a few more years, we should be alright.  But if one dies, retires, or otherwise vacates, all bets are off.  At present, all hope for maintaining the civil and social rights we have fought so hard for lies in the hands of the Supreme Court.