Crime Stories, part 2

For those of you there who may be further dismayed at our country’s descent into darkness via a few decisions by our current Supreme Court (a.k.a SCOTUS) this week, I offer a history lesson. Some of you may already know this lesson well. I suspect, however, that scores of the disenchanted, the disappointed, the dissenters to our current political landscape, a place that has become evermore surreal and sickening since November 8, 2016, that they really do…not…understand…how it happened. “It” being the aforementioned Supreme Court and its (for many) disturbing decisions.

First, current events. Then how this Court first got its malevolent majority mojo.

By a 5-4 vote this week, SCOTUS ruled that a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple has a constitutional right to take that stand. Dig into the Constitution if you want, and read the 5th and 14th Amendments, each of which limit the power of the federal government to discriminate. Apparently, the 5 justices who backed the baker, cannot read the English language in which the Constitution is written, especially that 14th Amendment. But the 9 members of the Court are free to “interpret” and so they can interpret that, in the case of the same-sex couple, discrimination against them is legit. The plaintiff’s will have to find a baker who is not bothered by same-sex marriage which, a few years back, SCOTUS ruled was constitutional. The irony, eh?

Also, by a 5-4 vote, SCOTUS ruled in a case that argued the state of Texas had “gerrymandered” legislative districts to—again–discriminate against the black and Hispanic voters in those districts. That 5-4 decision was that the plaintiffs couldn’t prove that discrimination was intended by the re-drawing of said legislative districts, in spite of the evidence to the contrary. Thus, Texas, and by logical extension, all states that wish to gerrymander may do so, even when there’s a clearly a discriminatory agenda in the details of the legislation. Discrimination? Hey, what discrimination? Interpretation! You say potato, I say po-TAT-o. You say Tomato, I say to-MOT-o…

SCOTUS, also by a 5-4 vote, voted that “crisis pregnancy centers” in California–as alleged in the lawsuit against them–were deceptively luring pregnant women potentially seeking an abortion (the right to which was declared constitutionally legal by a SCOTUS vote of 7-2 back in 1973) into their bait-and-switch, anti-abortion facilities, there to be…well…told who knows? Abortion is sin. It’s murder. It’s against all that the invisible guy in the sky  (who apparently floats around, invisibly? Who is everywhere and nowhere? Yeah him. Her. Whatever. Just trust what we’re saying, because we damn sure can’t prove it). The plaintiff’s wanted these centers to at least clearly identify as anti-abortion proselytizing centers, so that those women in “crisis” would get objective, professional reproductive health advise. But SCOTUS by that same ONE VOTE majority ruled that such a bait-and-switch was legit. They’re just exercising their 1st Amendment right to Freedom of speech. Who’s discriminating?

Then today, SCOTUS ruled–do I have to even have to point out the vote score?–5-4 that our current POTUS’s (or for those of a certain mind, our DOTARD or Small Hands, or Pussy Grabber, or Xenophobe. Misogynist. Racist. Scatterbrain. Con man. Nit Twit-in-Chief) travel ban on people seeking to enter the U.S from Yemen, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Iran and Venezuela was also not discriminatory, especially against Muslims, in spite of five of the seven countries being predominantly Muslim nations. North Korea and Venezuela, seemingly are included as “window dressing”. POTUS prejudiced against a particular religion? That’s a mis-reading of the ban said those same 5 Justices. Never mind that POTUS has characterized Mexicans and other Hispanic peoples south of our border as “drug dealers and rapists”.  What has that dubious, sweeping, line of ad hominem attack reasoning against a particular people have to do with anything in this decision? He’s protecting our borders. Discriminating unfairly? Hey, nothing to see here say the SCOTUS 5. Nothing discriminatory as far as we can tell.

So, who are these 5 Discrimination? What discrimination? Justices, as  opposed to those other 4 Supremes who have vigorously dissented the outcomes in all the above noted cases? Well, they are all males of the species: John Roberts. Samuel Alito. Anthony Kennedy. Neil Gorsuch. All of those guys are white. But they have a minority member among their conservative ranks, that being Clarence Thomas.

Ah, Clarence Thomas. Which brings to my mind, how this ongoing 5-4 conservative majority on the Court started. He was appointed to replace the retiring Thurgood Marshall, also an African-American. George H.W. Bush nominated him. Marshall, unlike the current 5 members who seem to be unable to find discrimination imbedded in all the above noted recent decisions, built a towering legacy as a fighter for racial equality, and as such certainly knew discrimination–particularly of the racial kind–when he saw it, smelled it and lived it. H.W., who is still wheeling around as a 93-year-old ex-Prez, in nominating Thomas back in July of 1991, made one of the most cynical, spiteful decisions possible. How so? Marshall: a pillar of sound reasoning and fairness who was a role model for using whatever influence he had to make life better for all people, but especially those that needed help the most. And you might recall our country’s era of so-called Jim Crow laws, and the “separate but equal” doctrine that essentially skirted around that 14th Amendment as far as–what else!–discrimination. Marshall could be counted on to vote against discrimination when it (often) reared it ugly mug during his time as a Justice.

Clarence Thomas? He has voted with the conservatives over and over, including decisions that make legal–what else?!–discrimination against–who else!?–mostly minorities. Look up his track record. He opposes affirmative action. Never mind that affirmative action aided his ability to get well-educated. It’s akin to climbing a ladder, then pulling that ladder up before it can help anyone else. I consider Thomas to be a disgrace as a member of SCOTUS, a fraud, someone who, at the time of his nomination hearing, was basically a SCOTUS wannabe without portfolio. Oh, and if you remember (and if you don’t check the record. It’s called history) he was accused by Anita Hill–an African-American woman– of having continually sexually harassed her when she was under his authority at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You’d think that his lack of credentials alone would have killed his chances of confirmation. When Hill (and other women who worked for him) came forth with their allegations, logic would have dictated the safe thing to do would be to vote him down.

Vote Clarence down? Hey, he played the race card when Anita’s testimony suggested his nomination was in trouble by accusing the Senate panel that would vote yea or nay on him of conducting “an electronic lynching”.

And it worked. He was confirmed in October of 1991. Why? Was the Senate composed of–as with our current edition of it–mostly see-no-evil conservatives? No, it was not. In fact, it was a Senate with 57 Democrats and only 43 Republicans. His nomination was dead meat, I thought back then. To be confirmed a SCOTUS nominee had to get at least 51 votes, even if it came down to a 50-50 tie, wherein the Vice President  would be the tie braking vote. But it didn’t come to that. No, not at all. 11 Democrats folded like a cheap tent when Clarence played that race card and voted to confirm him. Even 2 Republicans voted against him. Thus the final vote was 52-48 for confirmation.

Thanks a lot Democrats.  Then, and now. Thomas has been that 5th deciding vote in countless creepy SCOTUS decisions ever since. If he was given the boot, and with that huge Democratic majority in the Senate, you’d think a more qualified, dignified replacement for THURGOOD MARSHALL, a fellow DEMOCRAT,  could have been given a seat on that black-robed adorned bench.

But noooo.

To bring this Crime Story to its ugly  conclusion, recall that on February 13, 2016, one of the conservative Justices, Antonin Scalia, died in his sleep. At that time, our POTUS was one Barack Obama. The fall election was eight-and-a-half months away. Obama had a right and a duty to nominate a replacement. He wanted to do just that with Merrick Garland, considered a moderate politically. There was plenty of time for the Senate to have hearings, just as with Thomas, and give Mr.Garland an up or down vote. But Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, taking no chances, refused to allow Garland to have his hearing. It was an outrageous departure from tradition, if not a violation of the constitutional process for potential SCOTUS members. McConnell, as cynical as was H.W. in nominating Thomas to replace Marshall, was gambling that the next President would be a Republican. And at that time, it was not lookingngood for a GOP win.

Obviously, he gambled and won. Well, actually, the Republican didn’t “win” but was given the keys to the White House by the outdated electoral college, aided and abetted by the usual voter suppression practiced by the GOP (hey, remember, waaay up there in this posting, about the SCOTUS decision to permit the gerrymandering in Texas?) and some rather shady shenanigans by Robert Comey about those Clinton emails and…

…and all the rest.

So, while we who feel trapped in some twisted version of  political reality writ in mumbo jumbo, where up is down, bad is good, white and MALE is REALLY, REALLY good, we can look back to 1991, when a bunch of white Senators confirmed a black man to replace a much, much better black man. Yeah, they confirmed a black man accused of sexual harassment by a black woman. But never you mind. It wasn’t a #metoo back then.

Looking for whom to blame for this freak show? Yeah, certainly those racist supporters of DOTARD. The media. Oh the corporate media, who loved covering the reality show blowhard no matter how outrageous his antics. And also the lazy asses who didn’t vote at all. But I say the real blame can be placed at the feet of the Democratic Party. That Democratic dominated Senate of 1991. Unlike Republicans, who even when they don’t have actual numerical power, they still seem to run the show. Unlike Republicans who when they have it all do nothing but jam bad policy down our throats and do damage to our country and its status in the world these days; and we the people can just go fuck ourselves, especially those of color.

Well, there’s November elections coming up. Think we might throw the bums out? By that I mean, the Democrats. Oh, and the GOP too. Is that asking for too much? That would be asking for a revolution. Just saying…

See, I’m not discriminating against one political party over the other. They’re actually both pretty useless. And I have little faith in the American electorate making highly reasoned, discriminating choices for the better.

Whatever better might mean. Can we get even less “better” than we are today?

And what is good, and what is not good. Need anyone tell us these things?

It’s a crime the way some people haven’t a clue. A crime, I say.

 

 

 

 

 

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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One Response to Crime Stories, part 2

  1. The advent of authoritarianism. A servile SCOTUS as a willing tool of a dictatorial POTUS who is dismantling the government as he lines his pockets.

    Like

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