At the end of January a right wing think tank closely aligned with the Trump administration, the Heritage Foundation, held a panel designed to further marginalize LGBT people, including, especially, transgender people. Andrew Sullivan’s support of those concepts in his February 1 article makes their claims all the more stunningly offensive. This guest post by a noted veteran LGBT activist explores and debunks these attacks on LGBTQ people.
Jan. 28, 2019, Heritage Foundation, Washington DC: Four self-defined feminists present on a panel entitled “The Inequality of the Equality Act: Concerns from the Left.” Featured speakers: Jennifer Chavez, lawyer and board member of the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF); Kara Dansky, lawyer and Board Member of the Women’s Liberation Front; Hacsi Horvath, adjunct lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco and formerly identified as transgender; Julia Beck, lesbian and producer of Women’s Liberation Radio News and former member of Baltimore’s LGBTQ Commission. The panel was moderated by Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation.
From the Heritage Foundation description of the event:
Who could be against a law that promises equality and bans discrimination? Parents who’ve already experienced grief, despair, and witnessed medical harms as they attempted to get help for their gender-confused children. Medical experts concerned about how adding “gender identity” into civil rights law would cause physical and psychological harm. People who have transitioned, and then detransitioned, concerned with what this ideology will do to children. Lesbians who have been punished for having the audacity to say that men are not women. Radical feminists concerned that nearly all sex-segregated spaces, colleges, sports, dormitories, and women’s rights in general will disappear if “gender identity” becomes a protected class and the dangers this poses to women and girls.
Please join us for a panel discussion featuring speakers from the political left as they share their stories of the harmful consequences of what will happen if “gender identity” ideology is enshrined into U.S. civil rights law.
The Heritage Foundation? Concerns from the Left? It is confounding that anyone who calls themselves “left” would align with the Heritage Foundation. This organization’s track record is littered with dog whistles, bare-toothed vicious attacks, and rhetorical defecatory missiles launched to damage second, third, and fourth wave feminism; gay liberation and contemporary LGBTQ equality movements; sexual freedom and bodily autonomy/sovereignty movements; and any movement or theory that threatens or critiques male supremacy, patriarchy, and the subjugation of women and children.
What is the common thread uniting the very powerful US right wing political and propaganda machines and the relatively small sector of women who have come to be known as TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists)? Both seem to believe the freedom to self-define one’s gender and one’s sexuality is a seek-and-destroy operation to crush categories of “men” and “women.” Further, TERFs believe these freedoms to be an attack on “homosexuality” and/or lesbianism. Their new organizational ally, the Heritage Foundation, has never defended homosexuality, or gay rights, although it is deeply invested in protecting and defending traditional definitions of “men” and “women” cuz social fabric shredding. Voila! This newly minted partnership will work night and day to defeat The Equality Act, which seeks to extend non-discrimination protections to persons based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
And now, this partnership of truly odd bedfellows has been joined by Andrew Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic, long-time conservative gay commentator/pundit, and now, apparently, a defender of real men’s man. In an article published in New York Magazine on Feb. 1, 2019, entitled “The Nature of Sex,” Sullivan gathers his estimable analytic acumen to consider the destruction of homosexuality and the end of categories man/woman and categories boy/girl. He argues that these categories are under serious attack by the simple, if insistent, expressions of freedom of self-definition by persons whose sex at birth does not align with their own experience of gender. A man/boy likely engages in a years-long personal process to transition from category man/boy to category woman/girl, seeking to quell their own gender dysphoria, or the what/when/how of their discomfort or distress about the internal conflict over one’s at-birth assigned gender and the gender lived in real time. And please understand: the movement bullhorns obsessing about the dissolution of categories of sex and gender care very much more about the category man/boy transitioning to the category woman/girl than they care about the reverse.
The fevered fears of Chavez, Dansky, Horvath, Beck and the Heritage Foundation, and now Sullivan and the Canadian Sky Gilbert, flow from these tenets of faith, theory, and politics:
1. Biology is destiny. No, really. Forget about second wave feminist’s bold claim that women would not be automatically consigned to birthing rooms and kitchens based on their sex. Forget about those peculiar, minor, and (they hope) forgotten indigenous cultures that engaged in biology-busting recognitions and honoring of individuals whose lives were not defined by category man/boy or category woman/girl and whose lives were rich, full, and flourishing in a special category and roles all their own. The TERFs and the Heritage Foundation have given full throated endorsement to the old – very conservative — saw: it is biology that must be and is the controlling definition of category man/boy and category woman/girl lest sexual, social, and cultural chaos overtake us. See Sullivan here. Just as second wave feminism analyzed “biology is destiny,” gender identity transitioning challenges the notion that each of us can only be defined by the sex assigned us at birth and all the concomitant social expectations attached to that assigned at birth sex. This so-called “natural law” has been contested for many decades and remains contested now.
2. TERFS argue If category man/boy is permitted willynilly to self-define into category woman/girl, category woman/girl will no longer exist as a legal term of art. Non- discrimination laws, they claim, will no longer be applicable to persons in category woman/girl because no one will be able to present and hold an un-challenged claim to the category. For those of us who lived through the 1970s nationwide political campaign to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, this particular feature of the nascent national political campaign to crush the Equality Act will ring bells in our memory banks. (See Eagle Forum/Phyllis Schlafly.) More recently, gender identity anxiety has arisen in opposition to anti-discrimination laws at the local and state levels, in fear of the presence of transgender people in restrooms appropriate for their current gender expression.
3. Further, if category man/boy can transgress without consequence category woman/girl, women-only and especially lesbian-only spaces will disappear. This argument is especially troubling because it falsely hoists enormous responsibility for disappearing lesbian spaces onto the shoulders of category man/boy >> category woman/girl. In reality, these spaces disappear because of women’s/lesbian’s relative lack of economic agency and access to money to operate those spaces; the phenomenon of online social and political spaces for women/lesbians; the welcomed- by-many emergence of cultural and political spaces for both lesbians and individuals category man/boy >> category woman girl who share a same-sex sexual orientation, or who may not share that but are glad to share space/time for political, social, and cultural gatherings. But what’s a contemporary lesbian separatist to do? How about some good old-fashioned organizing rather than laying blame on those who prefer different company and solidarity?
4. TERFs and the Heritage Foundation (and Andrew Sullivan and, the late Phyllis Schlafly) are not ready, willing, or able to acknowledge that category man/boy >>> category woman/girl persons are women. The best of it, from Sullivan, is that these persons are trans women and ought to be treated with respect, given support, and allowed to live in peace. The worst of it, from TERFs, Heritage Foundation and the late Phyllis Schlafly, is these persons are category men/boys from which there can be no exit, no escape, no freedom. TERFs and Sullivan each imagine—in mirror images of desperation–gender as colony like spaces that define people, who, if they decide to free themselves, become dangerous and threatening gender outlaws.
5. Now, about homosexuality, as sexual practice, not as cultural or social space, but about who touches whom, where and why and what kind of pleasures can ensue. Sullivan and Sky Gilbert, a Canadian playwright, filmmaker, and university professor (See Gilbert here), for their parts, are very super worried that category woman/girl >>> category man/boy persons will destroy (male) homosexuality as we know it.
Consider this fantasy (true story, told to me by a pal): What if, seeing across the room a superhot and handsome (H&H) man, a male person approaches to explore the possibilities of an assignation. The two proceed with flirtatious chat because H&H perceives category man/boy person hot and handsome, too. And both are horny. So, they repair to a home space after establishing HIV statuses and parameters of sex relative to that and other personal tastes. Male person, assigned male at birth and remains so, thinks H&H man is also straight up category male, because he has not said otherwise and besides which there is a telltale bulge in H&H’s jeans. They commence to more than chatting, moving right into pack and play. The bulge is not connected to H&H’s body and is, instead, a dildo. Male person is undeterred since H&H remains all he wants in a man that night; H&H is also undeterred and turns out to be a real pro with that packed rubber dongle.
For Sullivan and Gilbert, the above story might reveal duplicity, disappointment, derogation, and deflation of erection. Why? Because H&H isn’t really a man, assigned male at birth and remaining so. He is one of the escapees from the opposite category woman/girl. In this terror dream, escapees from the woman/girl colony space are threatening and dangerous because they pose as something they are not, pretend to have genitals they do not, has one too many holes down there, and cannot, for a “real man,” satisfy in a way that would be exciting and hot. Or, Sullivan and/or Gilbert maybe would give H&H a toss in the hay and next day, be singing a different tune about category woman/girl >>> category man/boy persons’ capacities to uphold and expand the experiences and meanings of homosex. End of fantasy scenario.
In addition to other misleading commentary in Sullivan’s New York magazine piece, he holds out that the Equality Act will include—gasp—gender identity, as if it has never been thought of before, as if gender identity non-discrimination is a shiny new object about which we know nothing. But that is not the case, not at all.
From the ACLU web site:
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia all have such laws. Their protections vary. For example, Nevada’s law bans discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations like restaurants, hospitals, and retail stores; Maine’s law covers those categories plus access to credit and education.
At least 200 cities and counties have banned gender identity discrimination, including Atlanta, Austin, Boise, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, El Paso, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and San Antonio, as well as many smaller towns.
The governors of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania have issued executive orders banning discrimination against transgender state workers. Some cities and counties have also protected their transgender public employees through local ordinances, charter provisions, or other means. People discriminated against by public entities on the basis of gender identity might also be able to argue that the government’s action was unconstitutional.
As well, the Equality Act also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, which is included in a plethora of laws, policies, and court interpretations in 25 states in the US. The Equality Act would bind up this patchwork into a blanket of federal protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (See Movement Advance Project map.)
So, what were the four self-defined feminists doing at the Heritage Foundation? They want to make common cause with religious rightists, and conservative thinkers in order to attack and discredit the burgeoning freedoms of people to self-define their gender. As well, these women want to amplify their message by attaching themselves to the Heritage Foundation bullhorn. Jennifer Chavez at the Heritage Foundation panel said:
One of the significant differences between here and the U.K. is that there are journalists in the U.K. speaking out about [the issue]. And here there are journalists speaking out but not with the sort of national reach and name recognition that the journalists who are speaking in the U.K. have had and I think that has made a humongous difference. So, we need journalists to speaking about this and covering both sides of the story at least.
Here is the real rub for all of those who bleat about the faux dangers of gender identity non-discrimination protections. That train left the station, see above. For a seminal text on the topic generally, see Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity by the brilliant queer scholar Judith Butler (Routledge1990; second edition 1999).
More so, the reality train of people choosing to transition likewise pulled out 68 years ago, as per the first very public transition in the United States. From the web:
Christine Jorgensen (May 30, 1926 – May 3, 1989) was an American trans woman who was the first person to become widely known in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery in her 20s. Jorgensen grew up in the Bronx, New York City. Shortly after graduating from high school in 1945, she was drafted into the U.S. Army for World War II. After her service she attended several schools, worked, and around this time heard about sex reassignment surgery. She traveled to Europe and in Copenhagen, Denmark, obtained special permission to undergo a series of operations starting in 1951.
She returned to the United States in the early 1950s and her transition was the subject of a New York Daily News front-page story. She became an instant celebrity, using the platform to advocate for transgender people and became known for her directness and polished wit.
To all the TERFs, to Andrew Sullivan and Sky Gilbert and even to the late Phyllis Schlafly, you are late to the story and you (exception taken to Phyllis who is deceased) are welcome to join the millions of people who believe the Equality Act should be enacted into law forthwith. And, we invite you to embrace the not-new, not-shiny, not- dangerous idea that humans can be freed from the constraints of socially policed notions of gender. Welcome to the not-new world!
Sue Hyde serves as the Executive Director of the Wild Geese Foundation. She was director of the Creating Change Conference/National LGBTQ Task Force, 1994-2018. Hyde is the author of Come Out and Win: Organizing Yourself, Your Community, and Your World (Beacon Press, 2007). Hyde is a proud resident of the People’s Republic of Cambridge, MA.
© Sue Hyde, 2019
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Trump Spent 2020 Attacking Ballot Drop Boxes – but Now He’s Demanding They Be Deployed in Churches
Donald Trump laid the groundwork early in the 2020 election for his possible defeat by attacking voting by mail and ballot drop boxes, insisting they should be illegal while making clear if he lost the White House those proven safe and effective means of voting would be to blame.
But now, with a flailing 2024 campaign the failed ex-president who is under multiple investigations is demanding ballot drop boxes be deployed – but only in churches.
“Some states use ‘drop boxes’ for the collection of Universal Mail-In Ballots,” Trump tweeted in August of 2020. “So who is going to ‘collect’ the Ballots, and what might be done to them prior to tabulation? A Rigged Election? So bad for our Country. Only Absentee Ballots acceptable!”
That was just one of his many attacks on drop boxes.
“So now the Democrats are using Mail Drop Boxes, which are a voter security disaster,” Trump tweeted just days later. “Among other things, they make it possible for a person to vote multiple times. Also, who controls them, are they placed in Republican or Democrat areas? They are not Covid sanitized. A big fraud!”
The tweet was so false Twitter appended a warning label to it that reads: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity.”
Fast forward to now.
On his social media platform Trump reposted a “truth” (the word Truth Social uses instead of “tweet”) from far-right activist, conspiracy theorist, and provocateur Jack Posobiec. Posobiec was “one of the most prominent promoters of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, that held that the Washington D.C. pizzeria Comet Ping Pong was really a front for a child sex dungeon run by Hillary Clinton. He even went to the restaurant to find out ‘what’s really going on’ there,” according to The Daily Beast.
“In 2017, BuzzFeed reported text messages suggesting that Posobiec held a ‘Rape Melania’ sign during an anti-Trump protest in an apparent attempt to discredit the protesters as insidious and deranged.”
Thursday, on Trump’s Truth Social platform, Posobiec wrote: “I don’t know who needs to hear this but Republicans should put ballot drop boxes in the back of churches in every state where it’s legal.”
Hours later Trump was all over the idea, demanding the Republican National Committee implement it.
“Best idea I’ve heard in a long time,” Trump wrote in all-caps, “put them all over the place. RNC, every Republican, get to work on this now!!!”
Democratic voting rights attorney Marc Elias’ Democracy Docket platform just last week reported that in 2020, “Trump first attacked mail-in voting itself, then tried to undermine the postal service’s ability to handle the volume of ballots. Soon after, he began to target drop boxes as well.”
As Trump learned, making it more difficult to vote is not a winning strategy, unless you’re highly unpopular and can block a significant number of your opponents’ votes while retaining your own, which he did not.
But the GOP sure tried.
“Republicans in many states soon followed Trump’s lead and began restricting the deployment of drop boxes even if the state had previously used them without controversy. [Ohio] Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) limited each county to a single drop box no matter how populous. Similarly, the Texas Supreme Court upheld Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) order limiting every county to a single ballot drop-off location — from Loving County (population of 64 people) to Harris County (population of 4.7 million people). In other states, Republicans moved to ban drop boxes entirely, and Missouri officials decided against deploying 80 boxes the state had already purchased,” Democrat Docket adds.
Meanwhile, Trump’s – or rather, Posobiec’s – strategy is clear: “Republicans should put ballot drop boxes in the back of churches,” because Trump thinks he still owns the Christian vote, despite attacking “disloyal” evangelical leaders just weeks ago.
But drop boxes are largely the purview of state election officials, and there would be a strong case to make again putting drop boxes only in churches. What about other houses of worship? And why just houses of worship – are they more secure than other areas?
Some might think it’s difficult to flip-flop on such a basic idea as drop boxes, especially if you went to court to void voters’ ballots that were deposited in them.
“In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign sued to invalidate the use of drop boxes in the primary election and prevent their use in the general election,” Democracy Docket adds. “Then after the election, Republicans pointed to drop boxes as a reason to question the results in a lawsuit filed in Michigan.”
Now that Trump has succeeded in ensuring Ronna McDaniel remains head of the RNC, this will be a test of his strength, or lack thereof.
Trump Vows to Use DOJ and Congress to Make Being Transgender Illegal While Promoting the ‘Nuclear Family’
As part of his 2024 campaign, Donald Trump is now declaring war against transgender people – especially transgender children – even vowing to use DOJ and Congress to make being transgender illegal under federal law, if elected President. He also promised to promote the “nuclear family,” an attack on same-sex couples and families. And he pledged to use the Dept. of Education to file federal civil rights charges against local school teachers who support transgender children – or even the very concept of being transgender.
In 2015, as his first presidential campaign took shape, Trump was falsely hailed by some LGBTQ Republicans as being “pro-gay.” In 2016, for a short while, Trump said transgender people should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate,” although less than 24 hours later he reversed course. But that same year he merged two powerful culture war issues, LGBTQ rights and illegal immigration, into a combined wedge issue to attack his Democratic opponent.
“Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs,” he tweeted.
It was a lie.
Fast forward to 2023.
Trump’s promise on Tuesday afternoon to attack transgender Americans, despite medical evidence and expert opinions to the contrary. go much further than any other national Republican’s, and it’s clear he had help creating these new anti-LGBTQ policies. Right-wing extremist media promoted the ex-president’s assault on this highly-vulnerable population almost immediately.
In his video he calls gender-affirming care “child sexual mutilation” and “left wing gender insanity,” suggesting transgender people did not exist throughout history, which is false.
“The left wing gender insanity being pushed in our children is an act of child abuse very simple,” Trump, in his unique oratorical style, begins in a nearly four-minute video posted on Rumble and on his Truth Social platform. “Here’s my plan to stop the chemical, physical and emotional mutilation of our youth.”
Nearly every major medical organization recognizes and supports gender-affirming care for children.
Just last August Dr. Moira Szilagyi, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the largest professional organization of its kind, said: “There is strong consensus among the most prominent medical organizations worldwide that evidence-based, gender-affirming care for transgender children and adolescents is medically necessary and appropriate. It can even be lifesaving. The decision of whether and when to start gender-affirming treatment, which does not necessarily lead to hormone therapy or surgery, is personal and involves careful consideration by each patient and their family.”
Trump is promising to make that care illegal, and to sign a federal law “establishing that the only genders recognized by the United States government are male and female, and they are assigned at birth,” and one “prohibiting child sexual mutilation.”
“On day one,” Trump declared, “I will revoke Joe Biden’s cruel policies on so called gender affirming care. Ridiculous, a process that includes giving puberty blockers, mutating their physical appearance and ultimately performing surgery on minor children. Can you believe this?”
Dr. Szilagyi spoke to that falsehood last year, writing: “Critics of our gender-affirming care policy mischaracterize it as pushing medical or surgical treatments on youth; in fact, the policy calls for the opposite: a holistic, collaborative, compassionate approach to care with no end goal or agenda.”
Trump also promised to “sign a new executive order instructing every federal agency to cease all programs that promote the concept of sex and gender transition at any age. I will then ask Congress to permanently stop federal taxpayer dollars from being used to promote or pay for these procedures and pass a law prohibiting child sexual mutilation.”
“In all 50 states it’ll go very quickly. I will declare that any hospital or health care provider that participates in the chemical or physical mutilation of minor youth will no longer meet federal health and safety standards for Medicaid and Medicare and will be terminated from the program immediately.”
Trump also promised to turn the executive branch into an anti-transgender machine for his personal political ends.
“The Department of Justice will investigate Big Pharma and the big hospital networks to determine whether they have deliberately covered up horrific long term side effects of sex transitions in order to get rich at the expense of vulnerable patients, in this case, very vulnerable. We will also investigate whether Big Pharma or others have illegally marketed hormones and puberty blockers which are in no way licensed or approved for this use.”
He also promised his “Department of Education will inform states and school districts that if any teacher or school official suggests to a child that they could be trapped in the wrong body, they will be faced with severe consequences including potential civil rights violations for sex discrimination, and the elimination of federal funding.”
Trump did not waver in using the full power of the federal government to target and attack transgender children and LGBTQ families, while using local school teachers to carry out his pogrom.
“As part of our new credentialing body for teachers, we will promote positive education about the nuclear family, the roles of mothers and fathers and celebrating rather than erasing the things that make men and women different and unique.”
“I will ask Congress to pass a bill establishing that the only genders recognized by the United States government are male and female, and they are assigned at birth. The bill will also make clear that Title IX prohibits men from participating in women’s sports and we will protect the rights of parents from being forced to allow their minor child to assume a gender which is new and an identity without the parents’ consent,” he said, appearing to correct himself by adding: “The identity will not be new, and it will not be without parental consent.”
“No serious countries should be telling its children that they were born with the wrong gender, a concept that was never heard of in all of human history, he declared, which is false. “Nobody’s ever heard of this, what’s happening today. It was all when the radical left invented just a few years ago, under my leadership this madness will end.”
Nearly every anti-LGBTQ claim Trump made in under four minutes is false or contrary to accepted medical and scientific studies and practice.
Another SCOTUS Scandal: Chief Justice’s Spouse Makes Millions Placing Attorneys at Top Law Firms That Argue Before the Court
The highly controversial and highly unpopular U.S. Supreme Court isn’t just facing a historic loss of confidence, it’s now facing yet another ethics scandal that is likely to lower even further public opinion of the far-right institution that in under two decades has seen its approval rating slashed.
Although it will not hear arguments, the issue before the Supreme Court and the American people’s view of it, is, should a Justice’s spouse – in this case the spouse of Chief Justice John Roberts – be able to make millions of dollars recruiting attorneys who are placed into top law firms that argue cases before it?
That’s the latest allegation, and already a spokesperson for the Court has issued a statement denying any ethical violations.
The New York Times reports that “a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts has raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice. Seeking an inquiry, the ex-colleague has provided records to the Justice Department and Congress indicating Mrs. Roberts has been paid millions of dollars in commissions for placing lawyers at firms — some of which have business before the Supreme Court, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.”
Jane Sullivan Roberts left a law firm where she was a partner after her spouse was confirmed as Chief Justice.
“Mrs. Roberts, according to a 2015 deposition,” The Times reports, “said that a significant portion of her practice was devoted to helping senior government lawyers land jobs at law firms and that the candidates’ names were almost never disclosed.”
Documents in that case “list six-figure fees credited to Mrs. Roberts for placing partners at law firms — including $690,000 in 2012 for one such match. The documents do not name clients, but Mr. Price recalled her recruitment of one prominent candidate, Ken Salazar, then interior secretary under President Barack Obama, to WilmerHale, a global firm that boasts of arguing more than 125 times before the Supreme Court.”
That case involves “a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts,” Kendal Price, a 66-year-old Boston lawyer, who “has raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice.”
“According to the letter,” sent by Price to DOJ and Congress, which the Times reports it obtained, “Mr. Price was fired in 2013 and sued the firm, as well as Mrs. Roberts and another executive, over his dismissal.”
The Times cites two legal experts, one who sees no ethical concerns with the situation, and one who does.
But critics are expressing great concern over this latest ethics issue, as they have been for years.
Doug Lindner, Advocacy Director for Judiciary & Democracy for the League of Conservation Voters, pointing to the Times’ report, remarked: “Another day, another ethics concern about another life-tenured conservative justice on the most powerful court in the world, which has no binding ethics rules.”
Indeed, the lack of a Supreme Court code of ethics has been repeatedly condemned for years, including by some of the nation’s top critics.
On Sept. 1, 2022, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin tweeted out her opinion piece: “Ginni Thomas pressed Wisconsin lawmakers to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory .. just another insurrectionist.”
Norman Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor for the Atlantic, responded:
“Another reminder of how unethical is Justice Clarence Thomas, while Chief Justice Roberts turns a blind eye and continues to resist a code of ethics for a Supreme Court now distrusted by a majority of Americans. This defines the Roberts Court.”
The following month Ornstein slammed the Roberts Court once again.
“It is a stain on the Supreme Court that Chief Justice Roberts refuses to support a Judicial Code of Ethics, and stands by silently while Clarence Thomas flouts ethical standards over and over and over,” Ornstein charged.
Less than one month later he again unleashed on Roberts.
“Roberts is culpable,” he tweeted. “He has resisted over and over applying the Judicial Code of Ethics to the Supreme Court. This is Alito’s court, and it is partisan and corrupt.”
Ornstein is far from the Court’s only critic.
“If Chief Justice Roberts really wanted to address Supreme Court ethics, he would have immediately worked to implement a Code of Conduct after Clarence Thomas failed to recuse from cases involving January 6th despite having a clear conflict of interest,” the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington tweeted a year ago in May. The following month CREW published an analysis titled: “Chief Justice John Roberts is wrong: the American judicial system is facing a major ethics crisis.”
Meanwhile, in late November Politico reported that Democrats in Congress were outraged at the Roberts Court.
“Two senior Democrats in Congress are demanding that Chief Justice John Roberts detail what, if anything, the Supreme Court has done to respond to recent allegations of a leak of the outcome of a major case the high court considered several years ago,” PoliticoJosh Bernstein reported, referring to the leak of the Dobbs decision that overturned the Roe v. Wade decision – itself a massive ethics crisis for the Court.
“Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) are also interested in examining claims about a concerted effort by religious conservatives to woo the justices through meals and social engagements. They wrote to Roberts on Sunday, making clear that if the court won’t investigate the alleged ethical breaches, lawmakers are likely to launch their own probe.”
Whitehouse and Johnson “also criticized the high court’s response to a letter they sent Roberts in September, seeking information about the court’s reaction to reports in POLITICO and Rolling Stone about a yearslong campaign to encourage favorable decisions from the justices by bolstering their religiosity.”
Nothing has changed.
When the Roberts Court earlier this month announced its lengthy investigation did not find the draft Dobbs decision leaker but also did not include the Justices themselves, Stokes Prof. of Law at NYU Law School Melissa Murray, an MSNBC host, tweeted, “This is a Roberts Court leitmotif–The Chief loves to handle things–even big things–in-house. Ethics issues? No need to get involved, Congress. We’ll sort it out ourselves. Leak needs investigating? No need to call in an actual investigative body, the Marshal will handle it.”
Pulitzer prize winning New York Times investigative reporter Jodi Kantor, pointing to how the Justices were not thoroughly investigated during the leak probe, in earlier this month said: “Last week the court released statements that confirmed the gap between how the justices and everyone else were treated.”
“The whole situation amplifies a major question about the court: are these nine people, making decisions that affect all of us, accountable to anyone?”
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