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Justice, Justice, Who's Got the Justice?
As the Court Formerly Known as Supreme begins rolling out its end-of-term decisions, I just have to refer you to the detail and wit of others.
Gonna start with the inestimable Dahlia Lithwick about the Boughts.
The new ProPublica reporting about Justice Samuel Alito’s fishing trip to Alaska in 2008 makes perfectly clear that the justice did exactly what the reporters said he did—accepted a free flight on a private jet and a stay at a private resort, organized by the Federalist Society’s judicial kingmaker, Leonard Leo, and funded by Leo’s billionaire big donors. Justice Alito knew perfectly well that such gifts were to be reported, because he had reported others. He also knew that his relationship with Paul Singer, the hedge fund magnate with business before the court, might require recusal. Nothing in that reporting was in fact undermined by the justice’s response to ProPublica in the Wall Street Journal. He took the trip. He just also determined that a private jet was a “facility” for purposes of hospitality, and apparently he had no idea Singer was behind the Argentine debt case heard by the court in 2014, even though my cats knew it.
Known for her serious court-watching articles, Miz Lithwick unleashes the full force of her pugilism here and none should miss it.
Then there’s Alexandra Petri at the Washington Post, who also has a convincing uppercut.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that an American billionaire, in possession of sufficient fortune, must be in want of a Supreme Court justice. Nothing seems to bring billionaires so much simple joy as having a personal justice to accompany them on yacht and fishing trips, flights on their private planes and jaunts to rustic lodges where the wine was certainly not $1,000 a bottle (in Justice Samuel A. Alito’s opinion). Instead of getting upset (which is unproductive and irritates the people who decide whether we can vote and control our bodies), we need to acknowledge that people who want their own Supreme Court justices are going to get them — if they are wealthy enough. Instead of pretending that a code of ethics can prevent this, let’s find a better system so we can end all this sneaking around.
After all, we live in a capitalist country. There is clearly demand for access to the Supreme Court justices; let us figure out how to regulate the supply. Let us create a marketplace where all can compete. It’s time we allow the sponsorship of justices!
And yesterday, the court nearly unanimously ruled that Texas and Louisiana had no standing to challenge the Biden administration about who should be deported.
The Biden administration policy says the Department of Homeland Security should prioritize arresting recent border crossers and immigrants who pose a fresh threat to public safety over the deportation of the millions of other noncitizens who’ve lived here for years.
Only the most owned Sammy Alito disagreed.
Current policies give our 6,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents the discretion to decide which unlawful immigrants pose the greatest threats to us, so they can be removed first. Makes sense to me.
Meanwhile, back at the House of Representatives, a food fight has broken out between two of its least representative members about who gets to impeach President Biden first.
Why? Who knows? What does it matter? Under the doctrine of legal originalism, such impeachments only require the phrase of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ to be cited. They never defined what the phrase actually means. We pay an enormous sum for this kind of performance art since everyone knows the Senate won’t convict Biden when there’s no evidence he’s ever broken any law at all.
How many jobs have you held where you weren’t required to do any constructive work at all? We now have a number of representatives who have never authored a bill or never gotten a bill they wrote passed. Yet they get paid pretty handsomely plus great healthcare and great retirement for life.
There oughta be a law……
Keeping current events in perspective:
After the well known Koch Brothers and their dark money funding networks designed to keep donor names and intentions secret, other men with extreme wealth are often mentioned.
Sheldon Adelson on the right and George Soros on the left are the other best known, though Soros’ open society donations aren’t really dark at all. His efforts to expand voting, boost media outlets and other initiatives well preceded the Citizens United ruling and aren’t restricted to the United States. He’s tried to expand strong, inclusive democracies in hundreds of countries across the globe and he’s always been very open about his efforts.
With one Koch brother and Adelson giving up the ghost in the past few years, there are a couple of high tech billionaires getting better known, but the name that keeps cropping up in reporting on dark money that’s pushing anti-tax, anti-regulation and anti-majority-voting measures and groups is Illinois billionaire Richard Uihlein.
From Brendan Fischer at The Guardian yesterday:
The Foundation for Government Accountability, a Florida-based group affiliated with the alliance of conservative thinktanks called the State Policy Network, has played a key role in recent efforts to raise the threshold for passing citizen ballot initiatives from a simple majority to a supermajority, and to make it harder to place measures on the ballot in the first place.
These efforts are designed to derail citizen-led ballot initiatives to protect abortion rights, raise the minimum wage or expand Medicaid. In effect, FGA and its allies seek to give 41% of the voting population an effective veto over the wishes of the other 59%.
In at least four states, FGA and its lobbying arm, the Opportunity Solutions Project, have lobbied or testified in favor of changing ballot initiative rules to enshrine minority rule, and in some cases have financed ballot committees advocating for those changes. FGA has also issued reports, legal memos, op-eds and polling that advocate for gutting direct democracy.
The latest fight is in Ohio, where Republican lawmakers last month passed a measure requiring future constitutional amendments to receive at least 60% support from voters – rather than a simple majority – and that would make it harder for proposed amendments to make it on to the ballot. Ohioans will now vote in August on whether to approve the higher thresholds.
The controversial plan is designed to derail an abortion rights initiative expected to be on the ballot in November.
Anytime efforts are made to require super majorities, the intent is obvious: blocking what the majority of citizens want.
Uihlein has invested $17.6 million in the FGA since 2014. He’s also invested tens of millions into his ‘Restoration of America’ network, a principal election denial conspiracy propaganda org. His aims appear to be blocking women’s health initiatives, Medicaid expansion, increases in the minimum wage… and majority will.
Sometimes I do run across interesting random info on the internet that’s easily verified.
Have a memorable weekend!
Randy Rainbow has a new vid.