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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: john roberts

Sadly, The Supreme Court Is Even More Corrupt Than You Know

Question: How many legs does a dog have if you count the tail as a leg? Answer: Four — calling the tail a leg doesn't make it one.

Likewise, calling a small group of partisan lawyers a "supreme" court doesn't make it one. There's nothing supreme about the six-pack of far-right-wing political activists who are presently soiling our people's ideals of justice by proclaiming their own antidemocratic biases to be the law of the land. On issues of economic fairness, women's rights, racial justice, corporate supremacy, environmental protection, theocratic rule and other fundamentals, these unelected, black-robed extremists are imposing an illegitimate elitist agenda on America that the people do not want and ultimately will not tolerate.

Indeed, the imperiousness of the six ruling judges has already caused the court's public approval rating to plummet, to a mere 38 percent, an historic low that ranks down there with former President Donald Trump, and threatens to go as low as Congress.

This has led to a flurry of officials attesting to the honesty and political impartiality of the reigning supremes. Unfortunately for the court, these ardent defenders were the six culprits themselves.

The "integrity of the judiciary is in my bones," pontificated Neil Gorsuch, who now stands accused of having lied to senators to win his lifetime appointment.

"[We are not] a bunch of partisan hacks," wailed Amy Coney Barrett, a partisan extremist jammed onto the court in a partisan ploy by Trump in the last few hours of his presidency.

"Judges are not politicians," protested John Roberts, who became chief justice because he was a rabid political lawyer who pushed the Supreme Court in 2000 to reject the rights of voters and install George W. Bush as president.

As many of its own members privately admit, Congress has become a pay-to-play lawmaking casino — closed to commoners but offering full-service access to corporate powers.

But the Supreme Court is another government entity that's even more aloof from workaday people — and it has become a handmaiden to the corporate elites trying to increase their dominance over us. The six-member right-wing majority on this secretive powerhouse now routinely vetoes efforts by workers, environmentalists, students, local officials, voters, and all others who try to rein in corporate greed and abuses.

Appointed for lifetime terms, the members of this autocratic tribune take pride in being sealed off from democracy, even bragging that they make rulings without being influenced by special interests. But wait — in makeup and ideology, today's court majority is a special interest, for it consists of corporate and right-wing lawyers who've obtained their wealth and position by loyally serving corporate power. And far from now being isolated from moneyed elites, the judges regularly socialize with them and attend their closed-door political meetings.

There's even a special little club, called the Supreme Court Historical Society, that frequently reveals the cozy, symbiotic relationship that exists between today's judicial and corporate cliques. Such giants as Chevron, Goldman Sachs, AT&T, and Home Depot pay millions of dollars to this clubby society, gaining notice by and the appreciation of the Supremes. And, yes, these special interest gifts to the court are gratefully accepted, even when the corporations have active cases before the court, seeking favorable rulings from the very judges they're glad-handing at society soirees.

Of course, the judges insist there's no conflict of interest, because this access to them is "open to all." Sure — all who can pay $25,000 and up to get inside! Yet the clueless judges wonder why their credibility is in the ditch. Remember, in America, The People are supreme! We don't have to accept rule by an illegitimate court.

For reform, go to FixTheCourt.com.

To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Evangelical Leader Says Justice Alito Leaked Supreme Court Decision

Rev. Rob Schenck has written a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts informing him that Justice Samuel Alito leaked the outcome of a critical 2014 Supreme Court ruling that gifted corporations with religious rights and allowed them to deny health care to employees. The revelation of Alito’s leak in that case adds weight to the likelihood that he also leaked the draft text of the decision destroying the right to abortion under Roe v. Wade.

Schenck is an evangelical minister and author who was told in advance about the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby after a friend of his dined with Alito. According to the letter, after learning of the pending ruling, Schenk was able to use the information to prepare material and statements in advance for when that ruling was announced. He even contacted the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, before the ruling was released, to let them know how it was going to go.

Rev. Schenck wants Chief Justice Roberts to keep that in mind when searching for who leaked a draft version of Alito’s Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization of Jackson opinion.

Considering there may be a severe penalty to be paid by whoever is responsible for the initial leak of the recent draft opinion, I thought this previous incident might bear some consideration by you and others involved in the process.

The leak of the draft decision in Dobbs was more than just a breach of Supreme Court tradition and security. By putting out a version of the opinion that was incredibly harsh, and which went far beyond the limits of what many had expected in the ruling, that draft put a stake in the ground that may have forced even conservative members of the Court to move faster than they had wanted in completely demolishing Roe and the entire concept of privacy rights.

Many have suspected that this is exactly why the leak was made in the first place; not to warn people about what was coming, but to put conservative members of the Court into a position where they either signed on, or were marked out as traitors to the anti-abortion cause. In short, there was a lot more to gain for Alito to have leaked the decision he wrote, than for any of the more moderate members of the Court to have made the text available before the justices made their final decisions.

As The New York Times reports, both Dobbs and the Hobby Lobby case were “triumphs for conservatives and the religious right.” Not only did the Dobbs decision shatter a right that had been in place for 50 years, and repudiate the ruling of that past Court, but the Burwell case elevated the religious rights of corporations above those of employees. It continued the wall of protection that corporate owners enjoy, but allowed their religious preferences to leak through that wall so that they could refuse to include, not just abortions, but even contraceptives in their health care plans. It was one of a string of rulings that have made corporations into ungovernable super-citizens.

Alito reportedly leaked the ruling on the Hobby Lobby case to a small group of supporters and religious rights advocates. However, the leak of the Dobbs opinion was made to the public, dropping like a bombshell into national politics when it was published in full by Politico. In September, Joan McCarter reported that the leak of the draft Dobbs opinion was still being investigated, but Justice Neil Gorsuch revealed that the outcome of that investigation might “not be made public.” Which would seem to limit the possible consequences of the leak to something less than a slap on the wrist. That there has been no announcement of findings seven months after the opinion was released makes it seem more likely that no public report is forthcoming.

By releasing his information concerning Alito and making public his letter to Roberts, Schenck, who was not supportive of the outcome in Dobbs, would seem to have returned at least some pressure for Roberts to treat the leak with the serious attention it deserves.

This wasn’t just a betrayal of the Court’s security, it was a deliberate effort to manipulate the outcome of a decision still in progress. If Alito actually used this leak to strong-arm other justices into signing onto his extremist position … surely that’s something the public should know. And if the Court decides to hand down no punishment for this, that’s also something the public should know.

Another reminder of just how leaky the Roberts court has been.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

The Rot In The Supreme Court Goes Well Beyond Clarence And Ginni Thomas

More than a decade ago, Ginni Thomas’s political activities drew scrutiny to her more public husband. More to the point, the failure of that husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to declare decades of his wife’s income from that political activity drew attention, resulting in him revising 20 years’ worth of financial disclosure forms. That included $686,589 she earned between 2003 and 2007 from the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.

It also included her work at Liberty Central, a conservative “political education” group she co-founded in January 2009. It ceased operations in 2012. The timing of the organization’s existence is critical, because its primary mission seemed to be opposing President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Ginni Thomas wrote an article for the organization’s website in 2010 declaring that the new law was unconstitutional. Guess how hubby Clarence voted on that in the Supreme Court? That was in 2012, when one tenuous vote from Chief Justice John Roberts saved the ACA, and when Liberty Central disbanded.

Fast forward 10 years and the Supreme Court code of ethics, transparency, and disclosure that good government groups have been clamoring for has yet to be enacted, and Clarence and Ginni Thomas are in the news again because she helped try to overthrow the government. Thomas reportedly told the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection that “she has ‘never’ spoken to her husband about pending cases before the Supreme Court, calling it an ‘iron clad rule in our home.’” Maybe she also never told him about all the money she was earning from conservative groups thanks to her proximity to a Supreme Court justice.

The Thomases are the most enduringly egregious examples of why there needs to be not just an expansion of the Supreme Court, but real reforms that include finally making the court comply with a code of ethics—just like every other branch of the judiciary is compelled to do. But the Thomases are definitely not the only Supreme culprits in fishy spousal entanglements.

Meet Jesse M. Barrett and Jane Roberts, spouses to Justice Amy Coney Barrett and Chief Justice John Roberts, and subject to a deep investigative dive by Politico

Jesse Barrett’s law firm, SouthBank Legal, just happened to expand from its South Bend, Indiana, base to Washington, D.C., a year after his wife reached the Supreme Court. His specialties are “white-collar criminal defense, internal investigations, and complex commercial litigation.” His firm of fewer than 20 lawyers has clients in “virtually every industry,” including “over 25 Fortune 500 companies and over 15 in the Fortune 100.” Chances are pretty darned good that at some point, a case involving one of those companies has come before the Supreme Court.

But we don’t know, because Barrett doesn’t have to disclose any of her husband’s clients in her disclosure documents, much less recuse herself in any of those cases. Politico reports that in her most recent disclosure, she redacted the name of her husband’s firm. On his law firm bio Barrett says he has “tried several dozen federal cases to jury verdict and has handled numerous appeals, including successful arguments in state and federal appellate courts.” So his own work, and his firm’s, could definitely come before the Supreme Court. But in those appellate courts, every judge is going to know who is arguing in front of them: a Supreme Court justice’s husband, just one wrinkle in the complicated judicial ethics/spousal debate.

In 2007, Jane Roberts quit her job as a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman to become a legal recruiter—a headhunter for law firms. John Roberts became chief justice in 2005. The other Roberts in now managing partner at the Washington, D.C., office of Macrae, a firm which exists for the purpose of placing high-powered attorneys with high-powered firms. “Macrae knows law firms,” their website boasts. “Their practices. Their geographic markets. Their cultures. Our passion built an inclusive transatlantic network to identify optimal affinities.”

It’s a lucrative business. Politico reports that “A single placement of a superstar lawyer can yield $500,000 or more for the firm.” A superstar lawyer and a high-powered law firm can only be helped by having that connection made by someone in such proximity to real power. The guy who hired Jane Roberts for her previous job admitted it freely, telling Politico that they wanted the benefits of having the wife of the chief on their staff because “her network is his network and vice versa.”

Robert does list the name of her company on his disclosures, but not the lawyers and the firms she’s worked with, “even though her clients include firms that have done Supreme Court work, according to multiple people with knowledge of the arrangements with those firms,” Politico found in its investigation of Supreme spouses and ethical conflicts.

Politico contacted both Barrett’s and Roberts’ firms, and heard back from a Supreme Court spokesperson in the case of Barrett: “Justice Barrett complies with the Ethics in Government Act in filing financial disclosure reports.” Which is the crux of the problem: She’s complying with the Swiss cheese of judicial ethics requirements, and taking full advantage of all the holes.

Pushed further on the broader question of disclosures by justices of their spouses work, the spokesperson pointed to a statement the court issued in 1993, rejecting the idea that there could be any kind of conflict of interest for a justice in a spouse’s work.

“We do not think it would serve the public interest to go beyond the requirements of the statute, and to recuse ourselves, out of an excess of caution, whenever a relative is a partner in the firm before us or acted as a lawyer at an earlier stage,” the seven justices who adopted the policy declared. “Even one unnecessary recusal impairs the functioning of the court.”

That was back when 80% of the population had at least some confidence in the Supreme Court, and 47% had a great deal/quite a lot of confidence in it. Now 68% express some degree of confidence, but just 25% say a great deal or quite a lot, and 30% of people now have very little confidence in it. That might be because the modern Supreme Court has done little to show that it’s anything but a partisan political entity intent on imposing its out-of-the-mainstream will on the American people.

The arrogance the court showed in 1993 is still on display today. Earlier this year, Barrett participated in an interview with Fred Ryan, former Politico chief executive officer and current publisher of The Washington Post. He asked about the potential for conflict with her husband’s work, and Barrett said that it wasn’t the court that had to change, but public expectations.

“But you know, I think we’re living in a time when we have a lot of couples who are both, are working, and so I think that the court and, you know, society has to adjust to expect that,” Barrett said. Asked about whether the court should adopt some guidelines to address the problem of spousal conflicts, she blew the question off. “I don’t think most of the spouses would be very happy about those guidelines,” she answered. “Certainly when I try to give my husband guidelines about what to do and not to do in the house even that doesn’t go over very well.”

That kind of arrogance and untouchability makes trusting the justices to do the right thing difficult. As does the work of the people they share their personal lives—and finances—with. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) puts it succinctly: “The ethical rot at the court continues to spread, and public faith in the court erodes along with it.”

“The questions about financial conflicts of interest are one area of concern among many. There’s also the flood of dark-money influence bearing down on the court, from the nameless donors behind judicial selection to the orchestrated flotillas of anonymous amici curiae lobbying the justices to the spate of partisan decisions handing wins to corporations and big donor interests,” Whitehouse said.

After the last term of absolutely trash decisions out of the court (with the next term promising more of the same), the other two branches of government need to get serious about fixing it. That means imposing a code of ethics and expanding the court.

Good judges are more important now than ever. In some states, judges are on the ballot this November. Tune in to The Downballot to listen to Justice Richard Bernstein talk about what being on the Michigan Supreme Court has been like, and how his re-election campaign is shaping up.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Supreme Court Leak Curtailed Roberts' Effort To Moderate Dobbs Ruling

When the U.S. Supreme Court voted, 5-4, to overturn Roe v. Wade with its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Chief Justice John Roberts was the only Republican dissenter. Roberts joined the other Republican-appointed justices in voting to uphold the restrictive Mississippi abortion law that was examined in Dobbs — that part of Dobbs was a 6-3 ruling — but he opposed overturning Roe. And according to CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic, Roberts tried unsuccessfully to get some of his fellow Republicans to join him in voting not to overturn Roe.

“Chief Justice John Roberts privately lobbied fellow conservatives to save the constitutional right to abortion down to the bitter end, but May’s unprecedented leak of a draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade made the effort all but impossible, multiple sources familiar with negotiations told CNN,” Biskupic reports. “It appears unlikely that Roberts’ best prospect — Justice Brett Kavanaugh — was ever close to switching his earlier vote, despite Roberts’ attempts that continued through the final weeks of the session.

New details obtained by CNN provide insight into the high-stakes internal abortion-rights drama that intensified in late April when justices first learned the draft opinion would soon be published. Serious conflicts over the fate of the 1973 Roe were then accompanied by tensions over an investigation into the source of the leak that included obtaining cell phone data from law clerks and some permanent Court employees.”

In 2018, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a pro-choice Republican, drew a great deal of criticism from abortion rights defenders when she announced that she would be voting to confirm Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Collins insisted that Kavanaugh considered Roe v. Wade “settled law,” but in Dobbs, Kavanaugh ultimately joined four other Republican-appointed justices in voting to overturn Roe: Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Donald Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City has argued that Kavanaugh and Gorsuch should be impeached because they lied about their position on Roe during their Senate confirmation hearings. According to AOC, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch “lied under oath” about where they stood on Roe.


Biskupic explains, “Multiple sources told CNN that Roberts’ overtures this spring, particularly to Kavanaugh, raised fears among conservatives and hope among liberals that the chief could change the outcome in the most closely watched case in decades. Once the draft was published by Politico, conservatives pressed their colleagues to try to hasten release of the final decision, lest anything suddenly threaten their majority. Roberts’ persuasive efforts, difficult even from the start, were thwarted by the sudden public nature of the state of play. He can usually work in private, seeking and offering concessions, without anyone beyond the Court knowing how he or other individual justices have voted or what they may be writing. Kavanaugh had indicated, during December oral arguments, that he wanted to overturn Roe, and CNN learned that he voted that way in a private justices’ conference session soon afterward. But the 2018 appointee of former President Donald Trump, who had been confirmed by the Senate only after expressing respect for Roe, has wavered in the past and been open to Roberts’ persuasion.”

Abortion rights defenders feared the worst in the Dobbs case. And their fears were confirmed on May 2, when Politico published Alito’s leaked majority draft opinion in Dobbs — one in which he declared that Roe had been wrongly decided by the Burger Court back in 1973. Then, on June 24, the Court announced its final decision in Dobbs, overturning Roe after 49 years, setting off massive protests all over the United States.

“The final decision flouted the Court’s traditional adherence to judicial restraint and precedent,” Biskupic observes. “Polls show public approval of the Court falling significantly, as the decision has been regarded as a product of politics rather than neutral decision-making. Roberts’ efforts directed toward Kavanaugh and to a lesser extent newest conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett were anticipated. Some anti-abortion advocates and conservative movement figures had feared that Roberts would sway either Kavanaugh or Barrett from the draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that was an all-out rejection of Roe and women’s privacy rights.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Fresh Supreme Court Leak Reveals Roberts' Role In Abortion Decision

There's now another big leak from The United States Supreme Court, and this one's being unapologetically linked to the court's conservative wing. The Washington Post has a new story in which multiple sources describe how Chief Justice John Roberts was planning to further carve away at Roe v. Wade by giving the court's approval to the Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks, but wanted to dodge overturning Roe completely.

The Supreme Court's other conservatives, however, essentially told him to pound sand. They wanted a full end to Roe, which is Justice Alito got the plum role of writing a hard-edged, theocratic-premised decision declaring federal abortion rights to be dead based squarely on the premises of his own personal religion and the rantings of an infamous 17th century misogynist and witch hunter.

This is not new news: That Roberts was not on board with the full ramifications of what the Alito wing of the court is pressing for was evident from Alito's draft opinion, which would not exist if Roberts was in the majority because Roberts would never have assigned the most controversial decision of his tenure to the archconservative crackpot Alito to begin with. Alito is known for authoring spite-riddled opinions riddled with dishonesty and omissions to get to his desired end point, which is often simply a long-winded declaration that my personal religious beliefs are supreme and your religious traditions are invalid. He is the voice of the reactionary Republicanism that justifies coup attempts and declares that laws mean different things based on whether a Republican or a non-Republican will be inconvenienced by them. An extremist, through and through.

What's more interesting is that now the court is leaking again, and this time it's quite obviously an intentional leak by conservatives to either prop up Roberts' fast-eroding dignity or to further brag of the conservative wing's willingness to erase Roe outright.

"But as of last week, the five-member majority to strike Roe remains intact, according to three conservatives close to the court who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter," reports the Post. Oh, so now numerous people "close to the court" are leaking information about the court's private deliberations and politics—and we're even allowed to know that it is in fact "conservatives" close to the court who are doing the leaking.

"A person close to the court’s most conservative members said Roberts told his fellow jurists in a private conference in early December that he planned to uphold the state law and write an opinion that left Roe and Casey in place for now. But the other conservatives were more interested in an opinion that overturned the precedents, the person said."

That's a pretty huge leak! (In the before times, it would have been considered such an abhorrent breach of current deliberations that the Post would seek out a conservative crank like Michael Luttig to moan about the "historic" and "tragic" breach of the "confidential deliberative process"—which the Post does, at the end of the piece, so Luttig can say those things about the original Alito leak but not this one. Conspicuously: Not this one.)

So now we've got a whole set of conservatives privy to the court's internal deliberations who are all coming out at once to assert that Roberts wanted to again sabotage Roe by chipping away at its foundations, allowing Mississippi to enact an encompassing 15-week ban despite Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but he was unanimously rejected by the court's other conservatives who all voted to erase Roe entirely.

The motive that comes easiest to mind, when wondering why so many people close to the court are willing to leak deliberations to the press even as John Roberts orders an investigation into the leak of the Alito draft, is legacy-polishing. Roberts may be pressing this new leak himself, in an attempt to distance himself from the extremists and signal to Republican powerbrokers in the Senate and elsewhere that no, he indeed tried to stop his fellow conservatives from doing the most election-rattling thing, and he is still committed to his own brand of judicial activism that knocks away precedents incrementally rather than all-at-once. It is an approach that has allowed Roberts to claim plausible deniability even as the extremism of the opinions themselves keep getting ratcheted up, and one that has damped public anger at his party's reactionary actions by premising each one on an assortment of caveats that muddle the true scope of the outcome.

In this scenario, it's Roberts who is pressuring his allies to leak to the press for entirely self-serving reasons. He's long been devoted to preserving the alleged independence and dignity of the court—even as Republican presidents and senators stuff his court with new members who don't give a damn about those things but instead were chosen for their willingness to embrace extremist opinions—and could be pushing this story as pushback to calls to expand the court, impose term limits, or make other reforms to bring the court into something even vaguely resembling the modern era.

But that's a pretty weak reason for once again shattering the supposed all-important prohibition against leaking internal court decision-making, and there's another possible motive for the leak, from other possible leakers. It is possible the Alito draft was leaked by some conservative close to the court, perhaps some conservative anti-abortion extremist and activist who is married to one of the most conservative justices and who has already shown a willingness to break the laws in any manner the extremists desire, or maybe even not that person, and it is possible that this new leak featuring multiple "conservative" court sources is a simple case of bragging.

The court's most extremist members won, and there's not a damn thing anyone on the court or off it can do about it, and because of that one of the defining culture wars of the last half century is about to be "won" by its devoted soldiers. It doesn't require much imagination to believe that the court's conservatives have been bragging mightily among themselves and to their allies about this outcome, and it doesn't require much imagination to believe that those to whom they've bragged are even now gearing up for very gaudy victory celebrations.

So yes, perhaps those allied with the court's most reactionary justices would be quite happy to leak to the press that John Roberts tried everything in his power to keep the extremists from taking the "boldest" possible action, and not only did the reactionaries reject him, the group even assigned the ever-nasty Alito to write the nastiest majority opinion he and his clerks could muster.

We now know for a fact that multiple "conservatives" close to the court are leaking like the Moskva. Will condemnations again roll in? Will Roberts launch a second investigation to parallel the first?

Well, no. But we still know that it's court-connected "conservatives" doing the leaking because that's how they're willing to identify themselves to us. We just don't know whose boots they're trying to polish by doing it.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Rick Scott: 'Sunsetting' Medicare And Social Security Will Save Programs

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said Sunday that his party's plan to make Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security expire every five years was the best way to "preserve" the vital entitlement programs.

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Scott was asked about his controversial 11-point "Rescue America" plan for a potential 2023 Republican majority in Congress.

"Two of the big points are, 'All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently, over half of Americans pay no income tax,'" host John Roberts pointed out. "It also says: 'All federal legislation sunsets in five years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.'"

"So, that would raise taxes on half of Americans and potentially sunset programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security," he continued. "Why would you propose something like that in an election year?"

Scott first dismissed the direct quotes from his proposals as Democratic "talking points."

Then he argued that talking every year "about exactly how we're going to fix Medicare and Social Security" would somehow keep the programs alive.

"No one that I know of wants to sunset Medicare or Social Security, but what we're doing is, we don't even talk about it. Medicare goes bankrupt in four years. Social Security goes bankrupt in 12 years," Scott predicted. "I think we ought to figure out how we preserve those programs. Every program that we care about, we ought to stop and take the time to preserve those programs."

Scott's plan would do the opposite of preserving the safety net. By making every single federal law expire every five years, his idea would likely paralyze virtually the entire federal government.

In recent years, Congress has struggled to agree on even must-pass legislation to continue funding the federal government. Scott and most other Republicans have voted against even paying the federal Treasury Department's existing debts and averting government shutdowns. With a five-year expiration date on every federal law, this would mean that, without a drastic change in his party's behavior, entitlement programs, civil rights laws, and even federal highway programs could simply cease to exist.

Scott's previous record when it comes to protecting Medicare is also questionable. According to PolitiFact, during his tenure running a hospital company called Columbia/HCA, Scott "oversaw the largest Medicare fraud at the time" in U.S. history.

Scott said his plan, which would raise taxes on more than 100 million American families, is a good idea.

"I'll put my record up against anybody on tax cuts. I cut taxes and fees 100 times as governor," Scott said on Sunday. "But here's what's unfair. We have people that don't — that could go to work and have figured out how to have government pay their way. That's not right. They ought to have some skin in the game. I don't care if it's a dollar. We ought to all be in this together."

His proposal to make everyone pay some federal income taxes would punish millions of retirees and low-income working families who make less than $28,000 annually, who already contribute revenue via payroll taxes, gasoline taxes, tobacco taxes, alcohol taxes, and other non-income tax forms of revenue.

And while it may not sound like a lot to charge all Americans $1 in income taxes, the Tax Policy Center notes that this "would effectively repeal refundable individual income tax credits" and could cost the poorest 20% of American families an average of more than $1,000 annually.

As the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Scott is a key member of the GOP leadership and is in charge of its effort to regain a majority in the 2022 midterms.

While many of the Republicans he's working to elect and reelect have been silent on the plan, several have endorsed all or most of it.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Fox News Replaces Chris Wallace With A Parade Of Partisan Misinformers


Fox News will reportedly replace Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace, who recently announced his departure from the right-wing propaganda channel, with rotating anchors from its “news” side. But most of these figures have extensive histories of pushing conservative misinformation.

On December 12, Wallace announced that he would be departing Fox News, to join CNN after 18 years of hosting Fox News Sunday, stripping one of the last veneers of respectability from the network’s blatant and deadly right-wing propaganda. According to The Wall Street Journal, “rotating anchors will fill in for Mr. Wallace until a permanent replacement is named, including Bret Baier, Dana Perino, Bill Hemmer, Jennifer Griffin and John Roberts.” NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik said Shannon Bream, Neil Cavuto, Martha MacCallum, and Harris Faulkner will also serve as rotating Fox News Sunday anchors.

But nearly all of these Fox personalities have proved that they’ll peddle misinformation to viewers on many topics.

Bret Baier

Baier has been the anchor of Fox News’ Special Report since 2009. He has regularly spread conservative misinformation on his program and in multiple Fox special documentaries. He pushed misleading information about a food assistance program and the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, and he falsely claimed just prior to the 2016 election that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was likely to be indicted.

More recently, over the past year -- among other things -- he has downplayed the threat of climate change, allowed a Fox contributor to repeatedly spread skepticism of COVID-19 vaccines, and downplayed both the January 6 insurrection and former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election:

  • Baier aired misleading graphs about fossil fuel prices to critique the Biden administration. To further the narrative that commodities prices have increased dramatically under the Biden administration, Baier aired graphs showing oil and natural gas prices from 2019 to 2021, a notably short snapshot in time. A 10- or 20-year graph would’ve shown a much more accurate picture that these energy prices have fluctuated a lot in the past. [Media Matters, 9/29/21]
  • During 12 years of Baier’s tenure, nearly 88% of Special Report’s climate segments either spread misinformation or perpetuated false or misleading narratives. [Media Matters, 6/16/21]
  • Special Report downplayed the United Nation’s sixth climate change report and turned to a climate science denier for commentary. On Baier’s show, Fox foreign affairs correspondent Benjamin Hall claimed in a report that “some experts have cast doubt” on the report’s “conclusions.” The “expert” Hall relied on was Steve Koonin, a theoretical physicist with no formal background in climate science and a frequent Fox guest who has used his controversial history within the scientific and political climate change community to contradict established scientific consensus. Baier’s program also allowed former Trump official Mike Pompeo to spin the Trump administration’s failures on climate change and misled viewers about support for clean energy investments. [Media Matters, 8/10/21, 4/23/21, 4/7/21]
  • Baier allowed a Fox contributor to spread skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines on Special Report. On Special Report, Fox contributor Ben Domenech referred to the COVID-19 vaccines as an “experimental treatment” and dubiously blamed mask requirements for some people’s hesitancy to get vaccinated. Baier then moved on to a related topic. In an earlier episode, Domenech denied that any Americans had died as a result of vaccine misinformation. [Media Matters, 7/19/21, 7/16/21]
  • Baier whitewashed Trump’s election lies while covering them. On July 12, Baier reported on Trump’s comments at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), during which he lied about the 2020 presidential election. Baier aired a clip of Trump’s lies without offering any context or pushback. Baier has also previously played a role in Fox’s promotion of Trump’s election lies, and he previously aired a misleading graphic comparing voting laws in Colorado and Georgia amid media coverage of Georgia’s new restrictive voting laws. Earlier in the year, Baier reported on former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell pushing election lies without noting Fox’s involvement in spreading those lies. [Media Matters, 7/13/21, 5/14/21, 4/7/21, 3/24/21]
  • A day before the January 6 insurrection, Baier claimed Democrats “did try to overturn an election” by impeaching Trump. [Media Matters, 1/5/21]
  • Baier downplayed the January 6 insurrection as it was happening: “It's not like it's a siege. ... It seems like they are protesting.” The next day, Baier downplayed Trump’s incitement to insurrection. [Media Matters, 1/6/21, 1/7/21]

John Roberts

Roberts joined the channel in 2011 after leaving CNN and currently co-anchors the daytime Fox program America Reports. During his time at Fox News, he has provided cover for Republican politicians, even incredulously claiming during the 2016 election cycle that Trump had “become a champion” for the LGBTQ community. And in 2021, Roberts misled about President Joe Biden's policies, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, and voting rights and immigration:

  • Roberts described the news of Biden signing a law that supports law enforcement and the Justice Department giving a grant to hire more police officers as an “amazing … reversal by Democrats” on “this whole defund the police movement,” which Biden never supported. In fact, the grant was part of a campaign promise by Biden to provide funds for hiring and training more police officers. [Twitter, 11/18/21, PolitiFact, 8/5/20, U.S. Department of Justice, 11/18/21]
  • Roberts has both spread vaccine hesitancy and blamed it on Democrats. In a tweet he later deleted, Roberts wrote of former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s death: “The fact that Colin Powell died from a breakthrough COVID infection raises new concerns about how effective vaccines are long-term.” Robert did not mention that Powell had a serious underlying health condition. Months earlier, Roberts had blamed Democrats for “a lot of vaccine hesitancy in the United States.” [Media Matters, 10/19/21, 7/23/21]
  • Roberts pushed the lie that migrants don’t show up to their immigration court hearings. In a conversation with his co-anchor Shannon Bream, Roberts agreed with her assertion that most undocumented migrants fail to show up at their court hearings. In fact, by some measurements, as many as 81% of families attend all their hearings, with the rate reaching 99% for families with legal representation. [Media Matters, 9/22/21]
  • Roberts pushed a ridiculous spin of Biden’s leaked phone call with the former Afghanistan president. Roberts pushed a dishonest spin of a phone call that Biden had in July with then-President Ashraf Ghani, discussing ideas for the government of Afghanistan to survive against the Taliban’s takeover of the country. Roberts joined other Fox personalities in comparing the call to Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president -- a real political scandal in which Trump had threatened to withhold military aid from Ukraine unless its government acted as a political tool against Trump's own domestic opposition. [Media Matters, 9/2/21]
  • Roberts pushed dishonest talking points about Texas’ voter suppression bills. In June, Roberts joined other Fox hosts in pushing dishonest talking points about Texas’ bills to make voting more restrictive by incorrectly comparing the proposed restrictions to voting conditions in Delaware. [Media Matters, 6/2/21]
  • Roberts pushed a blatant lie that Biden wanted to ban hamburger consumption, before airing a correction that blamed graphics and script. Roberts distorted a University of Michigan study that showed reducing meat consumption could lower greenhouse gas emissions to falsely claim Biden’s climate plan included limiting Americans’ meat consumption. He opened a segment on the topic by declaring: “Say goodbye to your burgers if you want to sign up for the Biden climate agenda. That’s the finding of one study.” The segment included chyrons such as “Bye-bye burgers under Biden’s climate plan,” “Study: 90% of red meat out with Biden climate plan,” and “Biden’s climate plan burns all-you-can-eat burgers.” Roberts later issued a correction, blaming “a graphic and a script” for the error. [Media Matters, 4/26/21]

Martha MacCallum

MacCallum joined Fox News in 2004 and is currently the anchor and executive editor of The Story. During her time at Fox, she has become known for regularly adopting Republican positions on the topics she covers. In 2021, MacCallum has attacked vaccine mandates; and programs for feeding children at school; and spread election lies:

  • MacCallum suggested that COVID-19 vaccine mandates could “ruin” the U.S. In a September 30 interview with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, MacCallum said: “If you designed a way to sort of ruin the United States, right, you'd go after the economy with this terrible virus that has killed so many people. … Then you get a vaccine. Then you make people — you mandate it and then you've got those same teachers and health care workers and the border patrol backing out of their jobs.” Earlier in the year, she cast doubt on the efficacy of masks in an interview with Brett Giroir, former assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services. [Media Matters, 9/30/21, 3/9/21]
  • MacCallum attacked school lunch programs. MacCallum said: “One of the things that kills me is that now, you know, there's a free lunch program in New Jersey. And it's for everyone. … So, those kids are all going to grow up thinking, well, school lunch is free, right? And then God help the person who comes along and tries to take that away. … Once that happens, right, once it's baked in there -- never going to end.” [Media Matters, 9/30/21]
  • MacCallum pushed baseless suggestions that the California recall election outcome could be “fraudulent.” During a September 14 interview, MacCallum cited candidate Larry Elder’s suggestion “that there might be a fraudulent outcome to this election” and asked her guest, “Do you think that there is anything to not trust in this system?” [Media Matters, 9/14/21]
  • MacCallum allowed a Republican lawmaker who voted against certifying the election to lie about the House investigation of the insurrection on Fox News Sunday. When MacCallum was guest anchoring Fox News Sunday on July 25, MacCallum failed to question Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) about his support for overturning the 2020 presidential election results. Instead, she allowed him to falsely blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for the breakdown in security on January 6. And as Trump’s supporters were ransacking the Capitol building on January 6, MacCallum said it was “a huge victory” for them because “they have disrupted the system in an enormous way.” [Media Matters, 7/26/21, 1/6/21]
  • MacCallum suggested that a New Jersey town removing holiday names from a school calendar is leading us down the path of communist China. [Media Matters, 6/14/21]
  • MacCallum argued that the Trump administration’s policy of taking children away from parents who crossed the southern border without authorization was “more humane” than the Biden administration policy of not deporting children who crossed the border. [Media Matters, 3/22/21]

Dana Perino

Perino was the press secretary for Republican President George W. Bush prior to joining Fox News in 2009. She currently co-anchors a news program for the channel with Bill Hemmer and co-hosts the opinion program The Five. She became known for her failed efforts to rehabilitate Bush’s record on terrorism while at Fox, most notably her incredible 2009 claim -- which she had to walk back -- that the U.S. “did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term.” During the past year, she continued to push misinformation about Democratic policies and priorities:

  • Perino bizarrely claimed windmills aren’t “green” because “you cannot recycle” wind turbines. [Media Matters, 10/21/21]
  • Perino misinformed about a proposed IRS reform to crack down on tax evaders. On October 1, Perino claimed Biden’s “new tax plan” has “a financial spying operation. The requirements mean that the IRS would track activities in every single American's bank account with at least $600, leading to concerns this could destroy financial privacy.” In fact, an expert explained that the $600 threshold would make it difficult for tax evaders to hide income across multiple bank accounts, and it would empower the IRS to more effectively target auditing toward those making a lot of money. It was also designed to protect privacy, not violate it. [Media Matters, 10/1/21, 10/8/21]
  • Perino interviewed disgraced author Steve Hayes about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and failed to note that Hayes was at the forefront of creating a discredited link between former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, which was cited by the Bush administration. [Media Matters, 8/18/21]
  • Perino blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Arkansas’ low COVID-19 vaccination rate. In an August 3 interview with Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Perino asked the governor if “confusion from the CDC ... frustrated your efforts” to increase vaccinations in his state. Perino also suggested that Biden’s mask wearing undermined faith in COVID-19 vaccines. [Media Matters, 8/3/21, 4/30/21]
  • Perino pushed Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) false claim that Biden had a “de facto child separation policy” at the southern border. [Media Matters, 3/22/21, PolitiFact, 2/25/21]
  • Perino helped gin up fake outrage over Democrats’ COVID-19 relief spending. Perino pushed a Republican demagogic talking point that the American Rescue Plan will provide stimulus payments to inmates in prison, without mentioning that this provision was also included in the previous COVID-19 relief packages passed under Trump. Perino showed mug shot images of a white-supremacist mass murderer and Boston Marathon bomber, saying: “They remain behind bars — but they’re going to get the money, anyway.” [Media Matters, 3/8/21]

Bill Hemmer

Hemmer co-anchors a morning news program on Fox with Perino, after he briefly anchored his own show in the afternoon. Like his former co-anchor Martha MacCallum, Hemmer has a history of pushing Republican talking points as facts, which he continued to do during the past year:

  • Hemmer spread a baseless anti-vaccine rumor about the California governor’s low public profile after his COVID-19 booster shot. According to Hemmer, “He got a booster shot two weeks ago, then he went out of — he was on camera for the booster shot, then he disappeared for two weeks, and we don’t really know why. But that was the first rationale we were given, is that it was Halloween.” [Media Matters, 11/10/21]
  • Hemmer invited a guest to attack a daycare chain over its “diversity, equity, and inclusion” plan. Hemmer and a guest mischaracterized KinderCare's “diversity, equity, and inclusion” plan, which includes reading multicultural books, as teaching kids as young as six weeks “they're an oppressor.” His guest claimed the daycare chain was “indoctrinating little children.” [Media Matters, 11/5/21]
  • Hemmer misled his viewers by characterizing the Department of Justice response to disruptions and violence at school board meetings as an attack on parents. While speaking to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Hemmer disregarded the context of the situation and asked, “Can you stop this move against parents?” [Media Matters, 10/8/21]
  • Hemmer dismissed concerns about climate change amid the destruction of Hurricane Ida. In September, Hemmer cut out of a news conference on the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in New York, saying, “ We're going to pop out of this. You know, it's turned political quite quickly. It didn't take long to put the focus on, quote-unquote, ‘climate change’ here in New York. In the meantime, though, we're dealing with at least 14 people who have died between New York and New Jersey based on the reporting we're getting now.” In November, Hemmer provided no pushback to a guest saying, “Climate change panic is so overblown that it is hyperbolic and silly.” [Media Matters, 9/2/21, 11/1/21]
  • Hemmer fear-mongered about terrorist groups crossing the border with no evidence. While discussing the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Afghanistan, Hemmer said, “The Taliban — Al Qaeda is devious. Who's to say that they're not already taking advantage of that? When a family from Ghana can walk across the border into Texas, sky is the limit here.” [Media Matters, 8/23/21]

Harris Faulkner

Faulkner anchors her own program, The Faulkner Focus, on Fox News and also co-hosts the opinion program Outnumbered. She has made some bizarre choices as an interviewer, such as the time she apologized to viewers for her co-hosts who interrupted Fox contributor Newt Gingrich’s anti-Semitic tirade against George Soros. And after a terrorist attack in which a Trump supporter mailed pipe bombs to Democrats, Faulkner partially blamed a Democratic member of Congress for it. In 2021, Faulkner supported Republican attacks on elections and voting rights and helped to push conspiracy-laden claims:

  • Faulkner praised the “very deep” analysis of a Fox host who said infrastructure bills are about “compliance” from “overlords.” On Faulkner’s show, Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Will Cain described the infrastructure bill as “a solution to the fear that [Democrats] peddled … for over 18 months, and what we get at the backend of this is a redrawn relationship — with our elites, with our overlords, with our government, and so what they ask for in the end really won't be our government.” Faulkner provided no pushback and instead praised his “very deep” analysis. [Media Matters, 9/30/21]
  • After Faulkner’s co-host said Biden's “puppeteer” made the decision to fire Trump appointees from military advisory boards, Faulkner asked, “Which marionette is it?” This rhetoric echoes messaging from the Trump campaign in 2020, some of which was antisemitic, that Biden is a “puppet” of the left. [Media Matters, 9/9/21, 9/16/20, 8/20/20]
  • Faulkner helped conservatives lie about Georgia’s election restriction law on the air. Fox contributor Newt Gingrich and Fox host Kayleigh McEnany both distorted Georgia’s election law and compared it to Colorado’s election laws after Major League Baseball decided to move its All-Star Game in protest. Faulkner provided no pushback to Gingrich and McEnany for their claims and later echoed Gingrich’s point. [Media Matters, 4/14/21]
  • Faulkner helped Trump lie about immigration and his own border policies during an on-air interview with him. During a phone interview with Trump, Faulkner and Trump attempted to pin blame on Biden for undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, through an alleged abandonment of key Trump policies. The pair claimed that Biden had repealed a specific Trump border policy, when in reality much of the policy remained intact. [Media Matters, 3/22/21]
  • Faulkner told Republican Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) that the effort to throw out election results “benefits everybody.” Johnson was speaking to Faulkner about his plan to contest the 2020 election results. In response, she said, “You know what's interesting? And I've had voters ask me this very question. I'll put it to you. If this were a situation where others were disenfranchised — and it weren't Republicans — what you're doing benefits everybody. Because you've got to take a look at those areas that are broken, so going forward everybody has more faith.” [Media Matters, 1/5/21]

Neil Cavuto

Cavuto anchors shows on both Fox News and Fox Business, and he is also a senior vice president and managing editor of business news for the network. He has demonstrated a clear bias in favor of corporate executives over the rights and welfare of workers and has repeatedly opposed unions and spread misinformation about minimum wage increases. In some of his 2021 coverage, Cavuto ignored his own network's role in lies about COVID-19 vaccines and the 2020 presidential election:

  • In an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Cavuto hid Fox’s role in pushing lies about Fauci and COVID-19 vaccines. During a December 3 interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, he and Cavuto worked to educate viewers about the need for COVID-19 vaccination. But Cavuto failed to point out that many of the narratives they were trying to dispel had been given a platform on his own network. [Media Matters, 12/3/21]
  • Instead of stating Biden was the legitimate president, Cavuto asked a guest: “In your gut, is Joe Biden the legitimate president of the United States?” During an interview with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson almost three months after Biden was inaugurated as president, Cavuto asked Carson “do you agree” with Trump and other Republicans that “the wrong person won the presidential election.” Cavuto later asked: “So, in your gut, doctor, is Joe Biden the legitimate president of the United States?” Cavuto never mentioned that Fox News had also extensively pushed this lie. [Media Matters, 4/21/21]
  • Cavuto criticized the passage of COVID-19 relief. Before Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, Cavuto claimed in February that the economy is doing so well, “we might not need it.” After it passed, he continued to spin the legislation as wasteful, saying: “Wall Street doesn't seem to care whether it's wasteful spending or not. Stimulus is stimulus, money is money. They seem to embrace it.” [Media Matters, 2/25/21, 3/12/21]

Shannon Bream

Bream anchors Fox News’ late night program Fox News @ Night, and prior to that, she was a Supreme Court correspondent for the network. Bream has a long history of amplifying anti-abortion lies. She has serially misgendered trans people, has attacked their rights, and has suggested businesses have a right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Bream has repeatedly hosted the anti-LGBTQ organization Alliance Defending Freedom. Bream's attacks on trans people continued in 2021:

  • Bream has repeatedly allowed guests to advocate for oppression of transgender people on her show. During March, Bream provided a platform to three Republican lawmakers who lied about the 2021 Equality Act, which aims to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) claimed that the Equality Act will “replace mom and dad with bureaucrats.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) made the absurd claim that “serial sexual predator Harvey Weinstein could transition to being a woman tomorrow, and the Equality Act would require the government to put him in a women's prison.” And Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) fearmongered that the Equality Act would “require our schools to expose girls in a junior high locker room to ... the penis of a boy who identifies as a girl.” On Bream's program, Fox reporter Trace Gallagher spread a pervasive right-wing lie that LGBTQ nondiscrimination measures will force doctors to perform “sex reassignment surgeries on minors.” [Media Matters, 5/11/21, 5/13/21]
  • Immediately following the January 6 insurrection, Bream hosted a Republican lawmaker who voted against certifying the 2020 election and responded approvingly to his proposed legislation to roll back voting access. On the night of January 6, Bream interviewed Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a lawmaker who had just voted to object to the electoral votes from Arizona, a state Biden won. When Banks said that he was planning to propose legislation to roll back voting access — such as banning all mail-in ballots — Bream responded approvingly, saying that Trump supporters had “a great deal of frustration” about the election. “And I think that's something that people across the political spectrum wants for Americans to have confidence in their elections,” she concluded. [Media Matters, 1/8/21]
Reprinted with permission from Media Mattters