U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered a strong warning to the American people and a strong rebuke of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the newest far right wing Justices on the Trump-shaped conservative-majority Court in a blistering but brilliant dissent handed down Thursday.
Justice Sotomayor warned this newly-constructed Court, unevenly weighted with six justices (ranging from highly conservative to far right wing religious extremist,) is “willing to overrule precedent without even acknowledging it is doing so, much less providing any special justification.”
That warning is similar to those posed by legal experts from the left who were extremely opposed to then-President Donald Trump’s final Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. Justice Barrett’s judicial opinions made clear she will not honor precedent, known as stare decisis. Without that legal guardrail many decidedly settled law targets of conservatives, from the right to choose an abortion to the right to marry, could be struck down by the “Trump Court.”
The case Justice Sotomayor used to deliver her warning and her criticism of Justice Kavanaugh, is Jones v. Mississippi. It centers on a 15-year old boy who murdered his grandfather, claimed self defense, and was sentenced to life in prison. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled life in prison for minors convicted of “non-homicide crimes” constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, unless that minor has been found to be “incorrigible,” or unable to be rehabilitated. (The ACLU’s position is regardless of the type of crime, life in prison for minors is cruel and unusual.)
On Thursday Justice Kavanaugh, who himself has a history of disturbing acts in college, as his confirmation hearing proved, wrote the 6-3 majority opinion in which he upheld the lower court ruling that the defendant was rightly sentenced to life in prison despite no finding of whether or not he is able to be rehabilitated.
“How low this Court’s respect for stare decisis has sunk,” Justice Sotomayor warned.
“Not long ago, that doctrine was recognized as a pillar of the ‘rule of law,’ critical to ‘keep the scale of justice even and steady, and not liable to waver with every new judge’s opinion,'” she wrote, citing Kavanaugh’s own opinion in a previous ruling.
“Now, it seems, the Court is willing to overrule precedent without even acknowledging it is doing so, much less providing any special justification. It is hard to see how that approach is ‘founded in the law rather than in the proclivities of individuals,'” she added, again using Kavanaugh’s own words against him.
She called the ruling a “contortion” of previous rulings, and writes: “As this Court has consistently reiterated, ‘a departure from precedent demands special justification.'”
“The Court offers no such justification today. Nor could it,” she charged.
“Instead of addressing these factors, the Court simply rewrites Miller and Montgomery,” she observes, naming the two cases that provide the precedent today’s ruling effectively overrules, “to say what the Court now wishes they had said, and then denies that it has done any such thing.”
Slate’s legal expert Mark Joseph Stern calls the ruling in the case “barbarous,” Sotomayor’s warning “ominous,” and her criticism of Kavanaugh “one of the most savage passages she has ever written.”
One last thing I want to say about the Supreme Court’s terrible decision in Jones v. Mississippi today: The defendant was 15 at the time of the crime. 15 years old. And the Supreme Court has allowed him to be condemned to die behind bars. It’s barbarous. https://t.co/XS5CPsa2In
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) April 22, 2021
University of Michigan Law School Asst. Professor Leah Litman:
Justice Sotomayor brings the “stare decisis is for suckers” point home: “How low this Court’s respect for stare decisis has sunk.” pic.twitter.com/91GYxkbRyo
— Leah Litman (@LeahLitman) April 22, 2021
The U.S. Supreme Court has now made emphatically clear it is an activist court and “settled law” is fair game.
Civil rights activists, and the American people who value their rights, consider yourselves warned.
Image via Shutterstock
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.
NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.
Fetterman Vows to GOP ‘Jagoffs’ He Will ‘Save Democracy by Wearing a Suit’ but He Has Two Conditions
Amid several days of right-wing, Republican, and Fox News outrage targeting U.S. Senator John Fetterman after Senators were told they may now wear casual attire on the floor, the Pennsylvania Democrat is promising to “save democracy by wearing a suit,” but he has two conditions.
Senator Fetterman stands at least six feet eight inches tall and weighs in at 270 pounds, according to The Washington Post, which attempted this week to debunk right-wing conspiracy theories that he has a “body double.”
He is known for wearing Carhartt sweatshirts and shorts more often than suits and ties, and after he was elected last year many in the media worried how he would transition to the more formal restrictions expected of sitting U.S. Senators. As it turns out there is no actual “dress code” that applies to Senators, and some, like Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), have taken advantage of that fact on occasion.
Ted Cruz came in t shirt and shorts and nobody said boo. pic.twitter.com/PSRqhKm48x
— Myron Nelson (@Myronnelson) September 19, 2023
Some, like one menswear editor, have taken the opportunity to mock other unique dress aspects of some political figures.
i hope republicans institute a stricter dress code
1. no low-rise pants with short jackets and insane shoes
2. no black dress shirts with light-colored ties; no suits without a jacket
3. no tan shoes with dark suits; no dress sneakers or “fun socks”
4. no scotch tape on ties https://t.co/rAMx7S8uia pic.twitter.com/AkXYfWkoQf
— derek guy (@dieworkwear) September 20, 2023
On Tuesday Sen. Fetterman mocked his detractors, including Fox News, which has aired at least several segments on his casual attire while suggesting the relaxed enforcement of the already non-existent “dress code” in the nation’s top deliberative body is an example of the “decline of standards in everything.”
One of Fetterman’s detractors has been having her own challenges this week: U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), caught vaping, taking photos, and allegedly engaged in sexual groping during a performance of a family-friendly musical.
In response to a Fox News social media post that claimed “People are furious after the Senate dropped its dress code requirement,” Sen. Fetterman said: “I figure if I take up vaping and grabbing the hog during a live musical, they’ll make me a folk hero.”
On Wednesday, Fetterman continued his colorful remarks, while mocking his critics – namely, House Republicans – who, he suggested, feel sweats are the end of the American republic.
The House is currently mired in “chaos,” a word Reuters, Fox News, MSNBC, The Hill, Axios, The Washington Post, and others have used to described the state of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s conference just eleven days before what appears to be a likely shutdown of the federal government. It appears less and less likely Republicans will be able to pass legislation that will keep the government open after September 30, and continue funding Ukraine’s defense against Russia.
“If those jagoffs in the House stop trying to shut our government down, and fully support Ukraine, then I will save democracy by wearing a suit on the Senate floor next week,” Sen. Fetterman wrote.
See the social media photos above or at this link.
‘Declaring the Office of Speaker to Be Vacant’: Reporter Finds Possible Gaetz Resolution in House Restroom
A reporter says he found a House resolution dated just days ago, with marks identifying it as from U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz’s office that would, if passed remove Congressman Kevin McCarthy from his elected role as Speaker of the House, according to New York Magazine.
Journalist Matt Laslo, who is also a former Johns Hopkins University professor and has bylines at Wired, Vice, Rolling Stone, and Raw Story, posted photos of the document (below) and wrote on social media: “Found on a baby changing table in restroom underneath House floor: ‘Declaring the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives to be vacant,’ from Rep. @mattgaetz, Sept. 15, 2023, 11:22am.”
There is no confirmation the document is authentic, and it could have been intentionally placed there by anyone, just so a reporter would find it, but even if drawn up or left as a joke it is yet another indication of the acrimony and hostility building among House Republicans over the likely impending government shutdown. On Tuesday, after a continuing resolution to keep the federal government running for another 30 days was scrapped, Fox News described Speaker McCarthy as being “in a bind as GOP factions, and factions within factions, [are] at loggerheads.”
As a condition of being elected Speaker, Kevin McCarthy agreed to allow any one member file a “motion to vacate,” meaning a motion to remove him as Speaker. It would require a vote in the House. In January NBC News reported it would require a simple majority vote to oust McCarthy under the rules he agreed to.
Last week Rep. Gaetz threatened to remove McCarthy.
“Because McCarthy probably has enough votes to survive any coup attempt, Gaetz’s threat is probably empty. But the method of the leak here is worth noting — either a brilliant or extremely dumb way to pass off information in Congress,” New York Magazine reports.
“Oh. My. God. The Republican House is in complete shambles. What a joke,” Sawyer Hackett, a Democratic strategist and Senior Advisor to former Obama Cabinet Secretary Julián Castro, wrote in response to Laslo’s post on social media.
CNN’s Melanie Zanona responded, “omg.”
Punchbow News cofounder Jake Sherman offered the most dramatic yet noncommittal response:
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) September 19, 2023
See the social media post and photos above or at this link.
‘I Dress Like He Campaigns’: Fetterman Smacks Down DeSantis Amid Sweeping Right Wing Attack on His Attire
U.S. Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) is striking back amid attacks on his iconically casual attire led by Republican lawmakers and Fox News.
Senator Fetterman, who often wears sweatshirts instead of suits, found himself once again targeted in the past few days.
“The Senate no longer enforcing a dress code for Senators to appease Fetterman is disgraceful. Dress code is one of society’s standards that set etiquette and respect for our institutions. Stop lowering the bar!” demanded U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).
Over at Fox News, co-host Greg Gutfeld, wearing a shirt, no tie, and sneakers, insisted “women know how to dress. They enjoy looking good,” while admitting, “men enjoy looking comfortable,” which is why “the dudes should stick to the suits.”
“This isn’t a poker game or a strip club,” he continued.
“It’s not going for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory,” Gutfeld added, lamenting the “decline of standards in everything.”
Co-host Dana Perino, presumably sarcastically, added: “You know, this happened in the fall of the Roman Empire. They let people wear togas everywhere. Next thing you know — no empire.”
Dana Perino on the Senate dress code change: “You know, this happened in the fall of the Roman Empire. They let people wear togas everywhere. Next thing you know — no empire.” pic.twitter.com/rZ6vUApDSm
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) September 18, 2023
Earlier on Fox News Business, Maria Bartiromo had told U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) there was a “cover up underway.”
“Chuck Schumer certainly didn’t consult with me,” Haggerty replied, discussing the new dress code.
“It’s just another step in the movement by the Democrats to ‘transform America,’ to take us to a different place, and to take us to a place that is much less respectful than we historically have been,” he claimed.
Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) attacks Majority Leader Chuck Schumer loosening the Senate’s informal dress code:
“It’s just another step in the movement by the Democrats to ‘Transform America’ … and to take us to a place that is much less respectful than we historically have been.” pic.twitter.com/XTtjbrhQGO
— The Recount (@therecount) September 18, 2023
And then there was Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, campaigning despite currently being behind Donald Trump by an average of 43.9 points, telling supporters that Senator Fetterman “has a lot of problems.”
“Let’s just be honest,” the governor said, “like, how he got elected, well – I mean, he got elected because they didn’t want the alternative but, um, he wears like sweatshirts and hoodies and shorts, and that’s his thing so he would campaign in that.”
DeSantis, wearing an outfit that is almost exactly a copy of Donald Trump’s regular red tie and blue suit, insisted America needs to be “lifting up our standards, not dumbing-down our standards.”
Senator Fetterman had a simple response: “I dress like he campaigns.”
I dress like he campaigns https://t.co/IXgGmIRNb4
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) September 18, 2023
Watch the videos above or at this link.
- News3 days ago
Pete Buttigieg Nails Trump for His Ugly Comments About Wounded Vets
- News2 days ago
‘Careening’ Toward ‘Risk of Political Violence’: Experts Sound Alarm After Trump Floats Executing His Former General
- News2 days ago
‘Poof’: White House Mocks Stunned Fox News Host as GOP’s Impeachment Case Evaporates on Live Air
- News2 days ago
‘It Won’t Fare Well’: Legal Expert Trashes Trump’s Hopes for ‘Hail Mary’ Appeal This Week
- News22 hours ago
House GOP Shutdown Demands Include Gutting Billions From Dept. of Education, Costing Over 200,000 Teachers Their Jobs
- News2 days ago
‘Height of Irresponsibility’: Top LGBTQ Civil Rights Group Slams House Republicans Over Shutdown and ‘Politics of Hate’
- News2 days ago
Trump Appears to Think Jeb Bush Was President: ‘He Got Us Into the Middle East’
- News2 days ago
‘Isn’t Glock a Good Gun?’ Trump Asks Before Saying He Is Buying One – Campaign Forced to Deny He Did