Archive for the ‘Justices’ Category

A possibly-obvious preamble: other parties, including Democrats, are also inconsistent and shift priorities based on opportunism. The main thrust of this article is that Republicans are much more consistently opportunistic, to the point that the only reliable party platform it has consistently held in the past few decades is to simply obstruct the Democrats. 

An old example that I can bring to bear is how the party that is most beloved by the National Rifle Association supported and passed gun control legislation under Reagan, when he was governor of California. What on earth would cause this? Because disarming politically active minorities was a bigger priority than their sacred second amendment rights. And before anyone dismisses the Black Panther Party as a violent extremist group, which is how it was painted in mainstream media, it bears noting that most of their fears turned out to be correct: it turns out the police were unfairly targeting black people and the federal government was illegally monitoring them

Even before that, the Republican party’s Southern Strategy was only opportunistic. Before the party leadership to make it an issue because they realized it could drive a wedge between southern voters and the Democratic party, Evangelicals favored abortion rights for women. The Southern Baptists, the largest evangelical organization in the US,  passed resolutions to that end at their Conventions of 1971, 1974 and 1976. However, once the party saw the opportunity, evangelical organizations pivoted and made it a political issue

Despite being the laissez-faire party of economic and personal liberalism, Republicans started and supported the War on Drugs as a way to control minorities during the war and civil rights protests of the 1970s. And not necessarily because they were racist – merely politically convenient

More recently, before the health care framework was implemented in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, it was originally concocted by the very conservative Heritage Foundation and then adopted by Republican then-governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. And while I’ve criticized the legislation before (let’s face it, it’s a gift to the private health care insurance industry to require folks to carry health care insurance), taking it down now has become merely a battle-cry for Republican leadership, even though they decided not to do anything about it when they held both houses in Congress and the Presidency.

Perhaps most recently, the Republican senate majority leader Mitch McConnel, as well as many other Republican Senators, had championed the idea of not even considering presidential appointees to the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, during the last year of their term. This was called the Thurmond rule, after the Senator who blocked president Lyndon B. Johnson’s appointment of Justice Abe Fortas as Chief Justice. Oddly, the Republicans only seem to apply it when the president is a Democrat, if at all.

Famously the party of fiscal responsibility, The Republican presidencies have consistently seen increases in the government’s debt, the debt-to-GDP ratio, and economic recessions. To the point where president Trump was not only outspending prior presidents before the Coronavirus epidemic, but even used the epidemic to pass a $1.2 trillion bill while refusing any oversight on it. Further, they’ve perpetrated the myth that lower taxes (the purple line in the graph below is the top income tax rate, and the blue line is the effective average corporate tax rate) boosts the economy, even though it has no impact on median wages or employment (the red line in the graph below).


Of course, no party can stay in power without voter support. Again, like the other main party, the Republican party’s messaging has a significant impact on its supporters. However, it is either more effective, or the supporters have similarly malleable positions on policy, depending on whether their party favors or opposes it at any given point in time. For example: 

I’d love for this observation to age horribly, or even be inaccurate, because I personally espouse many of the ideologies that Republicans have occasionally espoused, and have frequently voted for Republicans. But, as of late 2020, it seems very much to be the case that obstructionism is the only ideology the Republicans consistently espouse. 

Podcast Listener Predicts Future

Posted: August 3, 2016 by Nazim in Justices, Moral High Ground


A short while ago, Lane of Philadelphia asked if there were situations in which the Supreme Court would not be able hear a case due to conflict of interest. Well, it just happened in Nevada. So, Lane, what’s next? Lottery tickets? Sports betting? Being Biff?

To present both sides of the issue, “In 1800, just a decade after the court was founded, so many of its justices were out campaigning for John Adams that the opening of the court term had to be delayed.” Article at Politico.

WHAT HAPPENED:  After a long trial about a topic that doesn’t matter for purposes of this summary, a civil jury returned with a verdict that was objectively wrong.  The judge, who is tasked with supervising these types of things, only realized the mistake after letting the jury leave the courtroom.  To avoid having to do the trial all over again, the judge brought the jury back in the room, corrected their mistake, made sure they didn’t talk to each other, and then asked them to amend their verdict.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  Jurors are preserved in such a way that any nominal form of contamination of the jury process usually results in a mistrial.   Although this judge attempted to fix the problem, the appellant in this case feels like any dismissal should result in a new trial.

WHAT IS THE RULING:  This case is not yet decided.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS:  The only thing this case will decide is whether or not a jury can be saved after jury dismissal.  One side feels like it should be a balancing test that considers actual prejudice, whereas the other feels like we should have a bright line rule.  The only people this really affects in a broad way is judges, who both cause this issue and would have to fix this issue.

ROOT FOR DIETZ IF:  you like burning money.

ROOT FOR BOULDIN IF:  you would rather do something wrong once rather than re-do something a second time to make sure its right.

WHAT HAPPENED:  Defendant was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Pennsylvania.  Somewhere along the line, a Motion for Post-Conviction Relief was granted in favor of Defendant, staying his death sentence.  That finding was appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where it was reversed, thus reinstating the death penalty.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  As luck would have it, one of the Judges who reversed Defendant’s successful appeal used to work for the District Attorney in PA before being appointed to the bench.  While in his previous position, he was at least part of the decision to charge Defendant with death.  This potential conflict of interest is the crux of this case, where the Court has to determine whether or not this judge was biased enough to force recusal for Defendant’s appeal.

WHAT IS THE RULING:  This case is not  yet decided.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS:  There are potentially two different questions here that need to be asked.  (1)  Whether this particular judge should have recused himself on the appeal, and (2)  what are the rules going forward for judges in this position, because this judge is not the first or last person from the District Attorney’s Office to get appointed to an appellate court and hear a death penalty appeal.  Putting the specifics of Defendant’s case aside, this case could pass rules concerning under which circumstances judges should be recused based on previous work, which could affect death penalty appeals most specifically since they are both common and highly scrutinized.

ROOT FOR WILLIAMS IF: You are on-board with the “death by 1,000” cuts approach to dismantling the death penalty.

ROOT FOR PA IF: You watch Judge Dredd and think “maybe Stallone is on to something here…..”

Defendant (Owens) was charged and convicted of murder based on a suspicious eye-witness testimony and a ruling by the judge that was supported by flimsy evidence.  Defendant appealed through all applicable State Courts and was denied.  Defendant filed a motion for habeas corpus in federal courts and his motion was granted by the intermediate 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
While it is all fine and dandy that this particular defendant received a receptive audience in the 7th Circuit, there remains a problem in that there is no authority that actually grants the 7th Circuit the ability to grant this Motion.  It’s a classic case of common sense via court precedent.
This case is not yet decided.
If you extend the view broad enough, this case has fairly significant ramifications because it speaks highly to whether or not Courts should be more exact when it comes to flimsy evidence putting defendants in jail for life sentences.  If the 7th Circuit ruling is affirmed, it shows that the Court recognizes the current trend toward being more exact with criminal trials and gives appellate courts more authority to enforce that policy.  If the 7th Circuit ruling is reversed, well then nevermind back to business as usual.
Think martyrs are overrated.
Are a huge fan of middle management

This week covers Arizona Legislature v. Arizona Districting Committee & EPA v. Michigan (both pdfs), which are two cases where the political result of both did not mesh with Brett and Nazim’s view of the legal rationale in the Court’s decisions.  In addition, Brett and Nazim play a spirited game of F@#$, Marry, Kill with American past times and figure out what “Naziming” is.

…gerrymandering is named after Elbridge Gerry, a politician who I believe attended the constitutional convention. The reason it is called “gerrymandering” is not because his last name is gerrymander, but because his redrawn district looked a lot like a salamander, so they called it gerrymandering. Fun fact, the correct pronunciation of his name is “Gary”, so it is actually pronounced “garymandering”. However, I would stick to saying “gerrymandering” instead of “garymandering” because it makes you sound like a pretentious douche.

Ideological Leanings of Supreme Court Justices 1950-2011. Source: wikipedia (linked).

We’re running back the same sex marriage case to talk about the Oral Argument held on April 28, 2015.  Brett and Nazim discuss the nuances of oral argument, who should be panicking based on the judge’s questions, and which N’Sync member can be most associated to Justice Breyer. Libsyn link

Internet-Enhanced Annotations (which we do not endorse):

From Supreme Court sketch artist Arthur Lien, as posted to twitter that day (linked).

From Supreme Court sketch artist Arthur Lien, as posted to twitter that day (linked).

How Does Equal Protection Work?

Posted: March 15, 2015 by Nazim in Equal Protection, Justices

Brett and Nazim discuss the convoluted way that the Supreme Court evaluates Equal Protection Claims.  In addition to walking through the three major tests used by the Court, the primary cases discussed involve why Virginia Military Academy could not exclude women, and then UPS v. Young, which deals with pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Libsyn link

This woman has nothing to do with this issue, as far as I know. Source: US Veteran Affairs (linked).

This woman has nothing to do with this case, as far as I know. Source: US Veteran Affairs (linked).

Brett and Nazim continue to empty out the mailbag, discussing whether the Federal or State government could require mandatory vaccinations, the inner workings of the Supreme Court, and the difference between judicial interpretation of the law and judicial activism.  The last email also brings up the cases of Johnson v. U.S. and Whitfield v. U.S., where simple semantics could influence broader sentencing policy on guns and drugs. Libsyn link

Main Chamber of the US Supreme Court. Source: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Main Chamber of the US Supreme Court. Source: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.