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How The Supreme Court Is Enabling GOP Authoritarians

A new analysis is explaining the disturbing circumstances surrounding the overturning of Roe v. Wade and how the U.S. Supreme Court has morphed into an entity actively working toward authoritarianism.

In a new op-ed published by The Guardian, Jill Filipovic —author of the book, The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness—offered an assessment of the message being sent with the Supreme Court's rollback of the 1973 landmark ruling.

Filipovic began with an overview of the previous presidential elections and how Republican presidents were elected in the first place. She noted that the most recent ones managed to win only by way of the Electoral College; not by popular vote. That stipulation suggests the presidential election was determined by a minority as opposed to the opinion of most Americans who voted.

Subsequently, those Republican presidents elected by the minority, are the ones responsible for stacking the courts with conservative judges and officials who typically lean to the far right.

"Of the nine justices sitting on the current court, five – all of them in the majority opinion that overturned Roe – were appointed by presidents who initially lost the popular vote; the three appointed by Donald Trump were confirmed by senators who represent a minority of Americans," Filipovic explained. "A majority of this court, in other words, were not appointed by a process that is representative of the will of the American people."

She went on to rehash the circumstances of SCOTUS Justices Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett's appointments to the high court. "Two were appointed via starkly undemocratic means, put in place by bad actors willing to change the rules to suit their needs," she wrote. "Neil Gorsuch only has his seat because Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, blocked the ability of Barack Obama to nominate Merrick Garland – or anyone – to a supreme court seat, claiming that, because it was an election year, voters should get to decide."

She added, "Then, Donald Trump appointed Amy Coney Barrett in a radically rushed and incomplete, incoherent process – in an election year."

As a result of court stacking, far-right judges have "stripped from American women the right to control our own bodies" and Filipovic has highlighted the problematic and contradictory aspects of it.

"They have summarily placed women into a novel category of person with fewer rights not just than other people, but than fertilized eggs and corpses. After all, no one else is forced to donate their organs for the survival of another – not parents to their children, not the dead to the living. It is only fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses that are newly entitled to this right to use another’s body and organs against that other’s will; it is only women and other people who can get pregnant who are now subject to these unparalleled, radical demands."

Filipovic also noted that it raises a compelling fundamental question.

"This raises a fundamental question: can a country be properly understood as a democracy – an entity in which government derives its power from the people – if it subjugates half of its population, putting them into a category of sub-person with fewer rights, freedoms, and liberties?"

According to the latest disturbing trend, Filipovic explained why the answer appears to be "no."

"The global trend suggests that the answer to that is no," she wrote. "A clear pattern has emerged in the past few decades: as countries democratize, they tend to liberalize women’s rights, and they expand abortion and other reproductive rights. Luckily for the women of the world, this is where a great many nations are moving."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Senate Republicans Promised ‘Respectful’ Jackson Hearings — They Lied

Senate Republicans have spent the last several weeks promising to teach their Democratic colleagues how to fairly and respectfully treat a U.S. Supreme Court nominee chosen by a president of the opposite party. They have spent the first days of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation hearings doing exactly what they vowed not to do.

Justice Stephen Breyer announced his pending retirement in January. President Joe Biden named Jackson to replace Breyer, whom she clerked for, making Jackson the first Black woman to be nominated to the high court in U.S. history. Senate Republicans — still angry that some past GOP presidents' nominees had been opposed by Democratic senators over their extreme views and allegations of sexual predation — used the opportunity to relitigate 35 years' worth of grievances by promising to set a higher standard this time.

"The nominee, the Senate, the Court, and the American people all deserve a process that is free of the embarrassing antics that have become the Democratic Party's routine whenever a Republican president nominates a new Justice. The baseless smears. The shameless distortions," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on March 1.

"I'm going to listen to the hearings. And by the way, she'll be treated much better than Democrats typically treated Republican nominees like Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh," the Kentucky Republican told CBS News on Sunday. "It will be a respectful, deep dive into her record, which I think is entirely appropriate for a lifetime appointment."

On Monday, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), also called for "a thorough, respectful process."

"We will conduct a thorough, exhaustive examination of Judge Jackson's record and views. We won't try to turn this into a spectacle based on alleged process fouls," he insisted.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) promised the hearings "won't be a circus."

"There won't be any questioning of where you go to church, what kind of groups you're in in church, how you decide to raise your kids, what you believe, and how you believe in God. Nobody's gonna do that to you. And that's a good thing," Graham vowed on Monday. "The one thing I can promise you: You will not be vilified, you will not be attacked for your religious views."

Those promises did not last very long.

On Tuesday morning, the Republican National Committee tweeted out a racist GIF with Jackson's initials replaced by the letters CRT, baselessly tying the widely respected appellate court judge to critical race theory, an academic framework used mainly in graduate schools to examine the history and structure of racism in the United States.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) focused not on her judicial record and views, but on asking her about critical race theory. He seized on her service on the board of a private school in Washington, D.C., that uses anti-racist books in its curriculum and went so far as to ask Jackson if she agreed with the idea that "babies are racist."

Days before the hearing, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) falsely accused Jackson of showing "a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes, both as a judge and as a policymaker." Hawley used his time Tuesday to grill Jackson about child abuse cases before accusing her of an "alarming trend of lenient sentencing in child pornography cases."

Despite a constitutional prohibition against religious tests for public office and his own promises not to ask about her faith, Graham himself demanded that Jackson tell him her religious affiliation, questioned how often she attends church, and asked, "On a scale of one to 10, how faithful would you say you are, in terms of religion?"

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) pressed Jackson to praise the 1991 nomination of Justice Clarence Thomas, an archconservative who was accused of serial sexual harassment, as a "historic event" worthy of celebration.

Grassley and several GOP committee members also quizzed Jackson on her policy views — matters they previously said were off-limits, as the judiciary does not make legislative decisions.

Despite the GOP's attacks on Jackson, polls show the public strongly supports her confirmation to the nation's high court. A Gallup poll released Wednesday found that 58% of Americans believe the Senate should confirm Biden's pick. That is the second-highest level of initial support of any nominee in the poll's decadeslong history.

Ignoring his stated plan not to focus on "alleged process fouls," Grassley and his colleagues began Wednesday morning's hearing by complaining about the way Democrats had handled the first day of hearings.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) then complained about the "inappropriate" and "abhorrent" way Democratic senators treated Donald Trump-nominated Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett during their Senate confirmation hearings before claiming, "I'm so glad that, for the most part, we've behaved in an appropriate manner here."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

‘No Principles’ Grassley Roasted For Hypocritical Attack On Judge Jackson

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, the seven-term Republican senior Senator from Iowa, promised his side would not turn Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson‘s Supreme Court confirmation hearing Monday “into a spectacle,” yet proceeded to do just that.

Republicans are vastly opposed to Judge Jackson, who, as many have noted, is not just more qualified than every Supreme Court Justice currently on the bench was when they were nominated, but more qualified than at least three of them combined.

Grassley, 88, running for re-election this year, is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Monday he delivered his opening statement, using it to promote his fictitious judicial theories, saying outright that he will use the hearing to determine if Judge Jackson subscribes to originalism – which only right-wing judges do.

Originalism” was created in the 1980s to turn the country back to the days of its founding. The Constitution was written as a living document, to be interpreted over the ages and amended as necessary. Grassley and most Republicans support this made-up theory of originalism.

He is being widely attacked for that and many other remarks he made.

“Never has an endless lecture from an impossibly boring man of no principles been so intolerable to listen to,” said professor of international relations, political scientist, and journalist David Rothkopf as Grassley spoke.

He added:

“Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley have already turned today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into a spectacle. For them, it’s a Day of Festivus to air all their hypocritical grievances about the past,” said CNN’s Keith Boykin.

The Nation’s Justice Correspondent Elie Mystal observed: “Grassley says Democrats voted against nominees that were ‘diverse racially.’ This is a good time to remind you that Donald Trump’s nominees were 85% white and 75% male and he’s the only president to not appoint a black male judge since Nixon.
The GOP is obsessed with identity.”


Reprinted with permission from Alternet

#Endorse This: Kimmel Rips Racist Republicans Over Jackson Hearings (VIDEO)

Republicans are always finding new ways to show they are intellectually and morally bankrupt cowards, playing to white nationalist rubes. So it's really no wonder that the Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson have produced several moments of clownishness and not-so-subtle racist jabs.

On last night's episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, host Jimmy Kimmel said that the hearings “give a number of our Republican senators a chance to compete in one of their favorite events: the subtle racism jamboree”.

Kimmel then called out South Carolina’s Senator Lindsey Graham, saying that the politician “expects to be called racist at these hearings”. Afterwards, he shared a clip of Graham’s “interesting” speech at the hearings, in which he expressly stated that nobody is going to equate Judge Jackson to Bill Cosby like Justice Brett Kavanaugh was.

“Um thanks, I guess,” Kimmel responded. “I disagree, I actually think they should treat Ketanji Brown Jackson exactly like they treated Brett Kavanaugh. Interview every single person who’s accused her of sexual assault. Don’t stop, even though there are none. Do not stop.”

Judge Jackson will make history as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. Vice President Kamala Harris will be the deciding vote, therefore Democrats probably won't need any Republican support. However, that certainly won't stop the GOP caucus from spreading false equivalencies, outrageous lies, and racial jabs.

Watch the entire clip below:

Michael Hayne is a comedian, writer, voice artist, podcaster, and impressionist. Follow his work on Facebook and TikTok

Josh Hawley’s Vile Attack On Judge Jackson Blasted From Left And Right

As the Senate prepares to hold the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to be nominated to serve on the Supreme Court, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has falsely claimed that she has argued that certain child pornography offenders are "less serious."

On Monday, writing for MSNBC, commentator Steve Benen observed how these attacks are quickly backfiring on him.

"The GOP senator’s line of attack did not go unnoticed, but fact-checkers quickly dismantled Hawley’s nonsense. The Associated Press said the senator’s claims 'don’t stand up to scrutiny.' Fact-check reports from the Washington Post and CNN came to the same conclusion," wrote Benen. "Others were even more direct in their denunciations. Vox’s Ian Millhiser described Hawley’s attempted smear 'genuinely nauseating.' In National Review, a leading conservative publication, Andrew McCarthy concluded that Hawley’s allegation 'appears meritless to the point of demagoguery.'"

All of this is beclowning not just Hawley but the entire Republican Party, Benen claimed, in light of GOP leadership's promise to be more high-minded than Democrats supposedly were with the sexual misconduct allegations against Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh. "In reality, it’s rather easy to defend the ways in which Democratic senators handled the credible allegations surrounding Thomas and Kavanaugh. But putting that aside, the assurances about the GOP staying away from 'the gutter' and approaching Jackson’s nomination in a 'respectable' way look ridiculous in the wake of Sen. Josh Hawley’s attempted smear."

"But the fact remains that Senate GOP leaders have made no effort to follow Hawley’s lead; observers from the left, right, and center have been quick to shred his baseless smear; and by mainstream standards, Hawley’s attack backfired," concluded Benen. "The Missouri Republican meant to make Jackson look awful. He denigrated himself in the process."

You can read more here.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Difficult Balancing Act Of Ketanji Brown Jackson

In a brief mention in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Joe Biden described his Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson as a “consensus builder” and touted her support from the Fraternal Order of Police, before moving on to other topics.

That was understandable in a time of war and division, overseas and closer to home. But that doesn’t mean that Jackson’s spot is guaranteed. As she makes the rounds this week, visiting with senators from both parties, it’s a reminder of the tightrope she must walk, the challenges she must overcome even as the rules in this high-stakes game keep changing.

As an African-American woman who has achieved much, she’s proved she is up to the task.

Understandably, many Black women in America celebrated when Biden fulfilled his campaign promise and nominated Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court. She would be the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court, though there have been many who were deserving, one of the most obvious being the first Black woman appointed to the federal bench, Constance Baker Motley, whose life and work are chronicled in the new book “Civil Rights Queen.”

Black women formed a strong part of the coalition that put Biden in the Oval Office and have been stalwart citizens throughout American history, on the forefront of human rights, civil rights and voting activism through icons such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Dorothy Height and Shirley Chisholm and so many others who never received the recognition they deserved.

I have a hunch that if former President Barack Obama had nominated Jackson, who reportedly was on his short list, instead of Merrick B. Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the court, her almost-certain dis by Senate Republicans, led by then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, would have triggered a groundswell that would have carried Hillary Clinton into the White House.

Jackson, then and now, would have to be prepared for whatever might come her way during confirmation hearings, set to start March 21 before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

She’s already been subjected to a grilling from Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn. During her hearing last year for her spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Cornyn asked: “What role does race play, Judge Jackson, in the kind of judge you have been and the kind of judge you will be?”

Instead of rolling her eyes and asking if he’d ever asked that of a white judge looking for his approval, Jackson calmly answered, “I don’t think that race plays a role in the kind of judge that I have been and that I would be in the way you asked that question.” She added: “I would say that my different professional background than many of the court of appeals judges, including my district court background, would bring value.”

Cornyn still voted against her.

If past is prologue, Jackson’s interrogation will resemble the treatment of Sonia Sotomayor — who was questioned on her temperament by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, giving credence to anonymous quotes calling her “excitable” (translation, “hot-blooded”) — and not that of Amy Coney Barrett, who was gushed over as a “role model for little girls” by Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican from Texas.

And then there’s Brett M. Kavanaugh, who — in a performance that launched a thousand memes — did everything short of bursting a vein as he raged his way through his hearing but was never in danger of being labeled an “angry black woman.”

Work hard, study hard, go to an Ivy League school, and good things — like a Supreme Court seat — will come to you. Well, if you’re Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and almost every other judge on the Court.

In the case of Jackson, nominated to fill the seat of Stephen G. Breyer, the justice for whom she clerked, Graham dismisses Harvard and Harvard Law with a snarky comment that the “Harvard-Yale train to the Supreme Court continues to run unabated.” I do believe his votes have contributed to that train running for years.

But as many Black women have learned, those Ivy League bona fides, and more judicial experience than Roberts, Barrett, Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan had before they joined the court, won’t shield Jackson from the affirmative action label that’s already been tossed around.

What should be an asset — a background as a public defender and criminal defense attorney on a court pledged to treat all fairly — is framed as a liability by Republican lawmakers who should know that our justice system counts on the accused having representation. Is innocent until proven guilty still a thing? That’s something I might ask Sens. Cruz (Harvard Law), Josh Hawley (Yale Law) and John Kennedy (University of Virginia School of Law).

Isn’t following in the footsteps of the late icon Thurgood Marshall something to be admired? Jackson’s perceived balance might add needed perspective and burnish the reputation of a Supreme Court the American public increasingly sees as partisan.

Probably what’s most frustrating to many Black women watching this process play out so predictably is the flattening of Jackson as a complex and complete human being.

Njeri Mathis Rutledge, who, full disclosure, I know and work with, attended Harvard Law School with Jackson, and besides describing her as someone with “a next-level focus and drive” in a column in The Hill, wrote about Jackson as a person. “She had a big, beautiful smile and a joyful laugh. She was kind and down to earth. … Judge Jackson treats people with respect and is a good listener, which are crucial attributes to persuasion.”

All the warm and fuzzies that greeted adoptive mom Barrett during her elevation to the court may not be visited on someone at least as deserving and a role model for girls of all races, as well. I’d love to be proven wrong on that count.

Jackson has worked for justice, whether it’s by serving on a sentencing commission to reduce unfair disparities or being an advocate for those who truly needed her. Her own words, standing near the president who nominated her, give a hint to why she believes all that, and helping raise a lovely family, has been worthwhile.

After honoring Motley, with whom she shares a birthday, for “her steadfast and courageous commitment to equal justice under law,” Jackson said that, if confirmed, “I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the Constitution, and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation was founded will inspire future generations of Americans.”

While I cannot predict how her hearings will proceed, of one thing I am sure. Jackson will more than live up to the expectations many Americans are placing on her shoulders.

A lot of pressure? Yes. But this accomplished Black woman, relatable to many walking that same tightrope, is used to it.

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

'The Craziest Meeting’: When Clarence And Ginni Thomas Visited White House

A former White House aide for former President Donald Trump has revealed details about what she describes as "the craziest meeting" she'd ever attended.

According to The New York Times, nine former aides and advisors for the Trump administration recalled a meeting they attended that included U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginni. The conservative judge reportedly opened the door for his wife to share her opinions and grievances. One aide also detailed what transpired in the meeting that followed after lunch that day.

Times reporters Danny Hakim and Jo Becker write:

“'It was the craziest meeting I’ve ever been to," said a Trump aide who attended. "She started by leading the prayer." When others began speaking, the aide remembers talk of "the transsexual agenda" and parents "chopping off their children’s breasts." He said the president "tried to rein it in — it was hard to hear though," because throughout the meeting attendees were audibly praying.

Other details from the meeting have also been leaked. Per the report: "In the meeting, Ginni Thomas and other attendees also lamented that several conservative candidates to their liking had been stymied from assuming several roles, while advocating for the Trump administration's personnel office to be swept of 'Never Trump' Republicans."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Yes, Mitch, Black Women Are Americans Too

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was shocked and, indeed, insulted that anyone would ascribe even a hint of racist intent to his recent statement that divided the electorate into African Americans and Americans: “If you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”

On the one hand, that outrage was pretty rich coming from the man who treated the first Black president of the United States as an annoyance to be dismissed or ignored, especially when that president attempted to appoint a Supreme Court justice, one of the duties of — the president of the United States.

On the other hand, the Republican senator from Kentucky was just doing what a whole lot of Americans do: Treat “white” as the default and everyone else as someone or something “other,” and, by statement or inference, someone or something “less.”

Of course, McConnell being McConnell, he “misspoke” while explaining his stand against the shrinking voting rights of Americans who only began to fully share in the franchise after a law passed by Congress in 1965 — one that came only after fierce debate and the bloody sacrifice of civil rights workers.

It’s Black History Month, Senate minority leader. Read a book, watch “Eyes on the Prize,” examine your own party’s Southern strategy. And do it before bills that would ban teachers from talking about race in a way that could make anyone uncomfortable make their way through the legislature in your home state of Kentucky.

It could be any month, though, as the pending appointment of the next Supreme Court justice by President Joe Biden has ushered in yet another round of “Let’s pretend that all those white, male judges were perfect and perfectly qualified and these Black women on the short list with long résumés and years of experience could never measure up.”

Only white men on the Supreme Court, well, that was the way it was. If merit and good character were criteria, Black women — and representatives of Americans of every race and gender and creed whose fate has been decided by the highest court in the land — would have been appointed to the court long ago. But in those days, years, decades and centuries, the “white” was silent, and understood.

As it played out, the intentionally excluded were mere observers when the injustice the court sometimes meted out was cruel, and turned out to be so very wrong.

In one of the worst examples, the Court found 7-2 in the 1857 Dred Scott case, in the words of the majority decision written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, that Scott, as a Black man, “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” And using a states’ rights rationale so favored by succession advocates then and supporters of restrictive voting bills being passed in states across the country now, the Taney-led court ruled Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories.

Nearly a century later, in Korematsu v. United States in 1944, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Fred Korematsu — a son of Japanese immigrants and an American citizen who was born in Oakland, Calif. — for having violated an order to report to be relocated to an internment camp during World War II. Korematsu lived long enough for his courage to be rewarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President Bill Clinton.

There is no guarantee that a fairly assembled court would have rendered fair judgments. But who wouldn’t at least admit that a more representative Supreme Court, one that expands rather than excludes the list of eminently qualified candidates, is a good thing?

Well, that would be several Republicans looking to enrage a base that is threatened by any act that hints at racial progress and eager to weigh in on someone who has yet to be named. That is the point, really, as these premature commenters obviously see this “Black woman” not as an individual person but rather a vaguely threatening symbol.

I admit it can be tiring to those of us called to constantly prove or perform American-ness (or expertise, for that matter), defined by whomever is doing the asking, but it’s a ritual that’s as American as apple pie.

Unsurprisingly, count on Senate Judiciary Committee members Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, playing down to the crowd sizing them up as 2024 presidential material, to jump to the front of the ignominious line.

Hawley mumbled something about a “woke activist,” stringing together buzzwords sure to hit a nerve. I’m not sure why he would think Biden would use Hawley’s own strict litmus test when naming a justice, though the Republican from Missouri does think quite highly of himself.

Cruz, who also falls into that category, has managed to offend even some Republicans with his comment that Biden’s promise is “offensive.” And since the Texan never knows when to stop, he had to add that it’s “an insult to Black women.”

Of all the things Cruz has been called, I don’t believe “spokesman for Black women” has ever been one of them.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina sounded quite reasonable as he endorsed a representative Supreme Court, and judged one of the women on the list, South Carolina federal District Judge J. Michelle Childs, as “fair-minded, highly gifted” and “one of the most decent people I’ve ever met.” That doesn’t mean she or any candidate would get his vote. But the fact that his calm and common sense made headlines shows how far the base sentiment of his party has fallen.

Maybe Graham remembers that there was no such hand-wringing when the GOP’s secular saint Ronald Reagan promised during his 1980 campaign to appoint a woman to the high court and followed through. Reagan, of course, did not have to say she would be white.

The fulfillment of Reagan’s pledge, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, said she learned much from the court's first African American justice, Thurgood Marshall, with whom she served. Though they were far from politically aligned, when Marshall retired from the court in 1991, O’Connor said: “His was the eye of a lawyer who saw the deepest wounds in the social fabric and used law to help heal them. … His was the mouth of a man who knew the anguish of the silenced and gave them a voice.”

Amplifying rather than silencing a voice that might bring a different perspective to the highest court in the land is as American as it gets.

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call