Friday, February 19, 2016

Replacing Scalia - No time for Pretending

Note To Obama:
"Don't Wait, Don't Deal and Don't Cave"

There is absolutely no possible reason to even imagine that the Senate's mood offers any reason to offer a "moderate" candidate. The GOP Senates' long knives are already drawn.

They've sharpened them up, and they've already put on the blindfolds for the hearings. It won't matter whom you send.

More importantly, the Americans don't want a moderate. The Americans are sick and tired of taking a deep sigh and groaning in despair every time the news broadcasts the "latest Supreme Court decision."

Stay true to yourself. If this "turns out bad," we will simply be getting what we deserve because we set it up this way. If the outcome is painful enough, at some future date we may even realize what we have been doing.

Not Particularly Mourning the Not-So-Dignified Departure
 of the Not Particularly Dignified Associate Justice
The details -- if there are any -- remain unimportant.

MeanMesa is, indeed, sorely taxed when faced with any genteel inclination to engage in any effort to dignify this dead man's life -- at least not beyond the very common effort to acknowledge the fact of sharing of the planet with him. In MeanMesa's view, Antonin Scalia's style of "juris prudence" could elicit only the very lowest level of merit enjoying that, admittedly, already heavily soiled distinction. 

Bury him, and forget him as quickly as possible.

There is not a chapter in the biography of Scalia which might command any particular dignity, grace or sorrow. These "excluded chapters" include the entire account of both his rise to such high office and his conduct while occupying it.

Obama murders Scalia
[Screen shot/fB]
The predictable right wing drivel appearing immediately in the comment sections of the various, hate blogs" and wing nut chat rooms may, actually, represent the most revealing legacy in evidence as the man's work while living. An endless number of these comments very comfortably espouse the proposition that the Associate Justice was murdered by Obama. These paranoiac snippets should not surprise anyone -- they amount to nothing more than a tasteless, breathless repetition of the internet "indictments" attributing the demise of hate-blogger, Andrew Breitbart, to the hands of the same President. [What Really Killed Andrew Breitbart? ALTERNET]
suspiciously well funded "

With this agonizingly durable Justice now permanently "set aside" from the annals of Supreme Court history there is little to be gained by posting an overly generous history of the incredible damage to the "rule of law" Scalia wrought in the historical sense. However, in the day to day affairs of the Court, the impact may be interesting.

First, any decisions currently pending in the Court bearing Scalia's signature influence are invalidated immediately. Not even SCOTUS opinions can revisit the living from "beyond the grave." Such products may be re-considered by the eight survivors or simply "returned" to the same lower courts which had already demonstrated their inability to resolve them.

Why the Oligarchs and Neo-Fascists Loved Antonin
What's not to love? The price was ALWAYS right!
This also happens to be the reason they don't want a Democrat on the Court.
Too expensive.

A quick review of Scalia's "past work" as a SCOTUS gives us a clue as to the man's favorite "impact target areas." Not mentioned in the perhaps "over generous" NPR article [following] is, of course, Scalia's participation in the most scandalous -- not to mention the most murderous -- Supreme decision in the history of the country -- Bush v. Gore [Bush v. Gore - THINKPROGRESS]. The "W" racked up over a million and a half corpses before he left office in disgrace. The cases noted in the article are collected from a more recent list of "billionaire friendly" Roberts Court decisions in which Scalia played his role.

No, they're not JUST-THUGS, they're JUST-ICES. [image source]

In fact this unusually "non-damning" selection betrays NPR's infectious, ideologically tainted PR image these days. MeanMesa has posted the idea many times -- the billionaires could care less about gay marriage, abortions, ISIS or infrastructure. Their "well monied" interests in such things focuses on a single ambition. These are the issues which will turn out zombie-like GOP voters who will self-righteously be gripping the voting lever in one hand while desperately clutching their Bibles in the other. There are enough self-identified, hateful "evangelicals" to pump out a sizable pile of ballots.

Pay attention to the specific issues resolved in each of the Scalia supported decisions listed below.

Close Cases Affected By Scalia's Vote

Eyder Peralta

[Excepted. Visit the original article here - Scalia's Footprint - NPR]

1. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission:

The 2010 decision restructured the campaign finance landscape. According to SCOTUSblog, the court decided that the "government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they may seek to persuade the voting public through other means, including ads, especially where these ads were not broadcast."

2. Hollingsworth v. Perry:

In this case, the Supreme Court sidestepped a big, broad decision on gay marriage. The majority opinion drew an unlikely coalition — Scalia joined Chief Justice John Roberts and the more liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan — saying that petitioners did not have standing to challenge a lower court ruling that struck down Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative that made same-sex marriages illegal in California.

3. Glossip v. Gross:

Amid a rash of botched lethal injection cases, the Supreme Court took up a case challenging the constitutionality of the drug cocktail used by Oklahoma. In 5-to-4 decision in 2014, the court decided the cocktail did not violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and usual punishment.

4. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores:

In a case that challenged the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby, saying family-owned and other closely held companies can opt out of the mandate if they have religious objections to it.

5. Town of Greece v. Galloway:

The question before the court for this case was whether a town in upstate New York was violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution when it opened its meetings with a prayer. By a narrow margin, the court decided the town was using prayer for "permissible ceremonial purposes," not as an "unconstitutional establishment of religion."

6. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes:

In 2011, the Supreme Court threw out the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in American history.

As NPR's Nina Totenberg wrote at the time: "The issue before the Supreme Court was whether female employees as a group could be certified as a single class, suing Wal-Mart at a single trial. Lawyers for the women introduced evidence showing that female employees held two-thirds of the lowest-level hourly jobs at Wal-Mart, but only one-third of the management jobs, and that women overall were paid on average $1.16 per hour less than men in the same jobs, though the women had more seniority and higher performance ratings."

A federal judge had certified the class, but Wal-Mart appealed all the way to the Supreme Court and won.

What this "Latest Torpedo" Might Sink for the Oligarchs
Cruel Destiny. The billionaires invested a lot
 to get these cases this close to the "pay out."
There are no other interests left to protect or defend.

In 2000 the billionaires got a chance to "taste the Florida candy" at the end of their unquestionably very most favorite election of all time. Before this all these plutocrats had never even imagined that they could snatch the Presidency if they just greased the right palms and sat in the right offices, but, suddenly, there it was. Not a single one of them has had a wet dream about anything else since.

Unhappily, another one of these embarrassingly "pregnant moments" could be approaching the Republic at this very moment. If the 2016 election results roll in as a tie on the evening of November 8, there is more than a fleeting possibility for the eight surviving Supremes to be deadlocked in a 50%-50% split, ushering in another agonizing Presidential theft like the one in 2000. [The Supremes Find Themselves in an Awkward State AGAIN - Maddow]

In the meantime all those tasty "in progress" cases which were being prepared for final decisions are spontaneously igniting in the "in boxes" of the remaining Supremes. The "final destination" for those cases is currently at the tender mercy of a Constitutional crap shoot.

On The Docket, In Limbo: 
Scalia's Death Casts Uncertainty On Key Cases

Ron Elving

[Excepted. Visit the original article On the Docket - NPR]

These include cases that test abortion-access restrictions in Texas; the right of public employee unions to collect mandatory dues; two cases of conflicting rights involving religious liberty; the means by which population is defined for political purposes; and the legal enforceability of President Obama's executive actions broadening a program of deferred deportations for certain immigrants.

Most Supreme Court cases are not decided by the minimum majority of 5-4. But many of the most significant cases in recent years have come down that way. That includes recent landmark cases invalidating parts of the Voting Rights Act and weakening campaign finance laws. In those cases, Scalia's vote was crucial to the victory of the court's conservative bloc.

Now, with Scalia gone, any case in which his vote would have been decisive will be left in stalemate, and the last ruling by a lower court will remain in force. Usually, that lower court in question will have been one of the 13 federal circuit courts of appeal. It will be as if the Supreme Court had simply allowed the appeals court ruling to stand and never taken the case in the first place.

De-Presidentializing the Lame Duck Obama
Even the screams of the NAZIs sound a little hollow at this point.
Nonetheless, words count -- especially these two.

Plenty of "mouth junk" has been "hitting the media" about what might be coming next, but let's just focus in on a couple of things.

The oligarchs have obviously ordered their Congressional servants to begin an unusually frantic political attack on the President. The main "theme" is that there are all sorts of reasons -- thousands and thousands of them -- for Obama to NOT move ahead with the process of filling the Supremes back up to a full quota. At the first hint of an approaching shortage of these "thousands and thousands of reasons," the billionaires' obedient hate radio servants are commanded to immediately replenish the supply.

Most of the effort so far has amounted to the anticipated, meat handed Rush Limbaugh style of barely disguised racism, but a couple of the bedraggled voices are actually spouting content which MeanMesa suspects is "just a little too complicated" for the hill billies and bigots in the GOP's trailer park base.

CASE IN POINT - Number One: 

With a thread of manipulated content descending like a horde of hungry locusts EVERY domestic media stream is now using a certain, specific verb:


"The President shall NOMINATE a replacement Justice for the Court."

This is NOT what the Constitution says. The Constitution says that the President will NOMINATE AND  APPOINT a replacement Justice for the Court.

Article Two of the United States Constitution requires the President of the United States to nominate Supreme Court Justices and, with Senate confirmation, requires Justices to be appointed. This was for the division of power between the President and Senate by the founders, who wrote:

"he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the supreme Court..."

CASE IN POINT - Number Two:

We can attribute point number two to a specific old white Senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch. Someone got a hold of Orrin to deliver the specific instructions to make sure this these words were published.


HATCH: Well, let's put it this way. The notion that lame duck presidents' judicial nominees should not be confirmed during an election season is a well-established rule, historically. And it was observed by both Republicans and Democrats. The Senate has never, in my review, 

allowed a term-limited president to fill a Supreme Court vacancy 

created this late in his term. In fact, the only time the Senate has confirmed the nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy created after voting began in an election year was in 1916. And that vacancy only arose because Justice Charles Evans Hughes resigned his seat on the court to run for president himself. And in this particular case, I think most every Republican has to feel like in this really robust election year with all the fighting and back and forth going on, that this is not the time to have a Supreme Court - a battle over a Supreme Court nominee.

Of course this is nonsense. If the Senator can't perform his memory functions any better than this, it may be time for "assisted living." Further, the old Senator isn't the only one who should be on the bus.

Why the Righties Are So Exercised
This poker game was such great fun while the deck was still stacked.

Still, even the spread of this more or less innocuous toxin through the air waves is enough to suggest how hopelessly desperate the denizens of the sold out elephant party have become. Although it may be madness to speculate about the November voting, MeanMesa can "take a crack" at it.

2016 Dreamin'
There may be as many as 20% of the electorate who blindly vote "R" regardless of any of the issues and absent any particularly relevant knowledge of any contemporary events. These would generally be many of the grumbling, persistent unemployables in the rust belt and the low education, disgruntled types who remain perennially susceptible to persuasion by the wing nut talkers because they haven't updated their ideology since the Cold War days and, finally, the low income bunch of right wing "dead enders" inhabiting the dismal, broken down, red state trailer parks and beer halls across the nation.

Additionally, somewhere in the neighborhood of another 10% of the electorate would be easily manipulated, single issue, post Biblical "evangelicals." These pious types would be joined by possibly another 10% of those we could classify as out right racists. We already know that the "bigot vote" will continue at about this same rate whether the last -- or next -- President promises to be white or black.

The Owners of the Republican Party have invested heavily in voter suppression focused on Democratic Districts, but MeanMesa anticipates the electoral reward for this effort to be only around 3%-5% at most. Gerrymandering has a direct effect on the resulting Congress once the election is over, but in terms of actively disenfranchising citizen voters in the Presidential vote, twisting election district boundaries doesn't exert that much influence.

As for gerrymandering's effect, we have lived in the chaotic wealth redistribution of a minority government since the redistricting frenzy of 2010. Not surprisingly, billionaire money applied to overwhelm state races [including the massive, painless campaign funding for primary challenges to the disobedient] has presently placed 31 red state governments entirely under the control of the oligarchs. The main mission in these unfortunate red states is to sustain minority control at least long enough for yet another opportunity to gerrymand in 2020 -- that is, to extend anti-democracy power for another decade to 2030.

The Republicans might actually be losing a few votes in such places because the state economies are almost uniformly all basket cases even though the process of actually reaching such a conclusion in the minds of voters may be asking too much from the illiterate hordes of the GOP's carefully crafted base.

If we all get busy, we can bail this thing out of the muck. Today's national "head to head" polls show Sanders defeating EVERY GOP candidate in the general.

Additional Reading

It's been a good long stretch since the Supremes have ruled to visibly serve the popular interests of the electorate. Even the rulings where the Court's question enjoyed overwhelming popularity -- for example the decisions upholding the ACA and marriage equality -- contained barely detectable "poison pills" cunningly woven deep in their fabric.

The blatant cynicism and arrogance, coupled with judicial deliberation of such poor quality as to belong in a parochial catechism class rather the the Supreme Court, has stripped all hope and expectation of a "better time" coming in the future. Happily, so long as many of the Constitution's provisions for self-governance remain in effect, we can solve this.

Here's one idea about exactly how we might do this from MeanMesa:

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