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OPINION

Sonia Sotomayor Rips Brett Kavanaugh With Warning New Justices Are ‘Willing to Overrule Precedent’

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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.”

University of Michigan Law School Asst. Professor Leah Litman:

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

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OPINION

‘Great Humanitarian’: Caitlyn Jenner Decimated for Complaining Homeless People Are Forcing Private Plane Owners to Move Away

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Caitlyn Jenner‘s interview on Fox News’ “Hannity” was so damaging she’s getting decimated for her remarks on transgender girls in sports, “forest management,” taking credit for California Governor Gavin Newsom loosening COVID restrictions, and for claiming there is absolutely nothing President Joe Biden has done for American workers.

But the one segment of her interview with host Sean Hannity that’s getting the most attention is her comments about people living in California who are experiencing homelessness.

For those who haven’t yet heard, Jenner is running as a Republican to unseat Governor Newsom, a Democrat, in California’s recall election later this year.

She’s made many missteps but Wednesday night’s remarks were the worst to date.

Here’s how she described the issue of Californians experiencing homelessness, after 15 months of a global pandemic that has hit people in the Golden State especially hard.

“My friends are leaving California,” she told Hannity. “Actually, you know what, [at] my hangar, the guy right across, he was packing up his hangar and I said, ‘where are you going?’ And he says, ‘I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona, I can’t take it anymore. I can’t walk down the streets and see the homeless.'”

“I don’t want to leave,” Jenner added. “Either I stay and fight, or I get out of here.”

What Jenner is saying is she wants to fight people who are homeless. She’s not saying she wants to make the lives of all people in California better, including those who are experiencing homelessness. She’s not saying she has a way to get more people more jobs, improve California’s economy so there’s a good-paying job for everyone, and people who are without homes and jobs can be taken care of or go back to work so they can care for themselves and their families.

No, Jenner is going to fight people who are homeless and if she can’t get rid of them, she’s going to give up and “get out of here.”

Because that’s leadership?

Here’s how people are responding:

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OPINION

Liz Cheney Blasts Trump and Warns ‘His Language Can Provoke Violence Again’ in New WaPo Op-Ed

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Embattled Republican House Caucus Chairwoman Liz Cheney is determined to not give in to far right extremism, even if it costs her her job in GOP Leadership.

At issue: Cheney, a hard core conservative who voted with President Donald Trump 92.9% of the time, is now fighting for her political life because she refuses to lie about the 2020 election and say the Trump won.

That’s literally the reason House Republicans are about to vote her out of leadership, for telling the truth. If there’s one message Republicans are sending, it’s that governing, policy, and improving the lives of the American people are distractions: all they care about is power.

Cheney, whose views are likely abhorrent to many Democrats, is setting the bar for what it should mean to be a member of Congress – when it comes to the very basic expectations we all should have of our elected leaders. Or, as Cheney herself just called it, “the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process,” in a just-published Washington Post op-ed.

“In public statements again this week, former president Donald Trump has repeated his claims that the 2020 election was a fraud and was stolen,” Cheney begins. “His message: I am still the rightful president, and President Biden is illegitimate. Trump repeats these words now with full knowledge that exactly this type of language provoked violence on Jan. 6. And, as the Justice Department and multiple federal judges have suggested, there is good reason to believe that Trump’s language can provoke violence again. Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work — confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this.”

Cheney is correct, and while she does not mention it, this was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s great goal when he attacked the U.S. election of 2016.

“The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution. In the immediate wake of the violence of Jan. 6, almost all of us knew the gravity and the cause of what had just happened — we had witnessed it firsthand,” she added.

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OPINION

Signorile: The Extremist Attempt to Rewrite the US Constitution

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Travis Waldron of HuffPost spoke with me about a long-time radical right-wing effort and how it’s “close to coming true”

This article first appeared in Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter. To see the article in its original location or to subscribe, click here.

HuffPost reporter Travis Waldron wrote a story this week about the alarming attempt by some right-wing radicals to rewrite the Constitution by triggering a provision in Article V of the Constitution that allows a constitutional convention to be called if 34 states demand it.

With states increasingly controlled by Republican legislatures and governors, the possibility is more real than ever. Still, Waldron points out, there’s been pushback or indifference by some Republicans, including by some Trump loyalists. (And a constitutional convention has also been something some on the left have advocated for in the past as well.)

But at a time when an authoritarian former president who incited an insurrection is leading the Republican Party — a man who would certainly support an effort to take away freedoms and protections in the Constitution, including around speech and equal protections — I think we all agree anything can happen.

Listen to the interview and read the entire article at The Signorile Report.

 

Image by Kim Davies via Flickr and a CC license

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