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Lawlessness is never more arrogant, dangerous, and inexcusable than when it occurs from the courts: The very institutions we depend upon to be guardians of our rights in the face of official crime, corruption, overreach, and malfeasance.  We depend on them to protect us from capricious, arbitrary, and malicious prosecution; to uphold our rights at criminal trial and in considering lawsuits; and most importantly, to be jealous defenders of the Constitution when the interests of power are at odds with it.  But when the highest court in our system of government is itself capricious, arbitrary, and malicious in its "interpretations" of the Constitution in order to serve power; when it fabricates doctrines out of thin air to reach predetermined and nakedly partisan conclusions; when it makes plain its intention to take away the fundamental rights of Americans in order to further enrich and empower those already gorged on privilege and impunity; that is a court - and more precisely, a set of individual judges - at war with their own jobs.  And therefore those jobs must be revoked.

What would it take to support impeaching a judge, if not this?  And this?  And this?  Or, in a lower court example, this?  What level of outrage is enough of a shock to break the bubble of Stockholm Syndrome denial that seems to envelope us when addressing the rot on the court?  At what point is a legal ruling not a legal ruling by an officer of the court, but simply an abuse of power by an individual who is wielding a judgeship as a weapon against the law?  

To deny that the above are examples of that, one would have to deny that such a thing is even possible.  One would have to hold that judges are not merely interpreters and reconcilers of laws to which they are subject, but that they are "lawgivers" in the premodern sense of Roman magistracy: A hierarchy of judicial dictators who could rule with absolute impunity on matters brought before them on any basis they pleased.  Accusing a magistrate of breaking the law in a ruling would be moot because their rulings were the definition of law unless one were a higher magistrate.  The only thing - the only thing - that kept magistrates in check from below was the rage of the mob, which could be wielded against them by their political enemies if their decisions too flagrantly attacked the people over whom they presided.

We have a different tradition in modern democratic civilization: One where laws are not embodied in the personal opinions and arbitrary will of judges, to be pruned or ignored however it suits them to do so, but a received body of principles and requirements that they are obligated to uphold and reconcile.  The chief discretion on their part is in establishing priorities and methods to do so, but this discretion is not boundless: There is no point at which the discretion of a Child Protection officer allows them to place a child in the custody of a recidivist pedophile; no point at which the military discretion of a Commander-in-Chief allows them to order torture; and no point at which the discretion of a Supreme Court Justice allows them to arbitrarily smash generations of civil rights enforcement law and clear the way for naked voter suppression just to improve Republican election results amid changing demographics.  

It is not within the discretion of an office to use it for purposes contrary to the obligations of that office, nor is it merely an expression of "opinion" to say that the above examples would be urgent grounds for removal from the given position.  While it is true that in the case of the courts, there is no precedent of removing judges for abuse of power, that fact is exactly why we find ourselves in this unprecedented situation of having judges at open war with the Constitution.  The closest analogous situation was in the 19th century, and even that did not approach these circumstances because decisions like Dredd Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson were in alignment with the Constitution, but simply a morally bankrupt, Pharisaic interpretation of it.  

The recent VRA ruling is fundamentally different.  It is not merely a morally bankrupt defense of a preexisting circumstance, but a radical abrogation of the plain fact of the post-Civil War Constitution giving the Legislative branch the authority to pass appropriate remedies to protect minority voting rights, and also generations of established case law going back to the 1960s.  It is not merely an "originalist" or literalist reading of the Constitution, but a frontal assault on it and fabrication of nonexistent doctrines to enable attacks on long-established rights of a quarter of the American people.  

In other words, we are in the midst of an unprecedented Constitutional crisis where we have a Supreme Court majority at war with the very laws it is tasked with interpreting and reconciling, and they are now operating as Roman magistrates rather than American justices, ruling however they want (not according to defensible analysis of law) to achieve partisan ends.  If that is not an impeachable offense; if that does not urgently demand establishing some basic accountability to the law on the courts, then nothing is or ever can be, and we are ruled by Roman Law rather than the US Constitution.

We contemptuously reject any suggestion of a "Divine Right of Kings" on the part of the Presidency to order torture, fabricate intelligence, and conspire to wage murderous wars of aggression, and say "Duh!" to the statement that these would be impeachable abuses of power.  We laugh at the notion - also introduced by this Supreme Court majority in the Citizens United decision - that bribery is a legitimate exercise of free speech by citizens and a lawful exercise of legislative discretion by the bribed.  And yet somehow there is still a fear of acknowledging that judges - like any other officers of law - can be guilty of exceeding and/or abusing their power in the course of exercising it.  Somehow, because the challenge of holding judges accountable to the laws they are charged with interpreting and reconciling is so large, some would rather not face it.

Well, I'm here to tell you that there isn't really much of a choice in the matter.  You will face it one way or another.  The current Court majority is relatively young, and their pattern of lawless, arbitrary, abusive rulings is only escalating with time.  Every time the American people overcome the Court's previous outrages in order to disobediently elect Democrats, they swoop into action to add yet another lawless obstacle in the way of American democracy.  And it will not stop until they succeed at making democracy functionally impossible or until we impeach them.  There will be no retirements among the majority during a Democratic administration, and both Citizens United, rulings upholding gerrymandering, and the VRA ruling were calculated to maximize the likelihood of any given election winding up in favor of the Republicans - and don't bet they're done yet.  

They can keep this going forever.  They can strike down any statute they don't like, decide any disputed election in favor of the Republican without fail, uphold any voter suppression policy undertaken by states, and "interpret" into nonexistence any pro-democracy Constitutional Amendment that somehow magically passes through this Spartan phalanx of arbitrary rulings.  In other words, they have this process locked down air-tight.  I repeat: We do not have the option of allowing this to continue.  The answer to the Constitutional ground beneath our feet being yanked away is not "dance faster."  We must wake up from the sleep of denial and defeatist complacency and take the oh-so-radical position that the authority of judges stems from the law, not the other way around.  There is no "Divine Right of Judges."  

The law belongs to all of us, the nation is ours, and to the extent Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy have repeatedly proved themselves at war with both on behalf of their partisan agenda, we can and must declare their ruling on VRA invalid and demand their removal from the bench.  Ditto the lower-court tyrant who tried to stop the 1st Amendment from being used as a defense in the felony trial of the guy who chalked criticism of Bank of America.  Ditto any judicial tyrant who places themselves and their personal agendas above the laws that grant them conditional authority.

The first step is simply acknowledging the plain truth of what is going on, and saying "Enough is enough!"  Toward that humble beginning, join me in signing the Change.org petition condemning the VRA ruling as invalid, asking the President and Congress to do the same, and demanding the impeachment of the Supreme Court Justices responsible.  While decisions like this are allowed to stand and proliferate, anything else we accomplish can be brushed away like so much dust by a lawless and arbitrary court.  Be part of the solution: Admit the problem and take a stand while you still can.

Progress on the petition has been inching forward toward the magic number of 100 signatories, at which point...something or other will happen, I suppose.  I'm not sure - let's find out.  (No spoilers on that please!)  We're at 71 signatories right now, so we only need 29 more before it reaches whatever the next level of relevance is.  These are humble beginnings, folks, but every avalanche begins with a single fleck of dust.  We don't know where this is headed, if anywhere, but we're going to state the truth and see what can be done.    

In the meantime, enjoy these video clips of the Court majority discussing their reasoning in the VRA ruling:

John Roberts:

Antonin Scalia:

Clarence Thomas:

Anthony Kennedy:

Samuel Alito:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldpotsmuggler

    Sign the petition to demand a law-abiding Supreme Court.

    by Troubadour on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 08:43:38 AM PDT

  •  To play Devil's Advocate-- (0+ / 0-)

    What did the people on the other side say about Brown v Board?  And what have they said about the Obamacare and DOMA decisions?

    It seems to me that while this court has been more nakedly partisan that at any other time in its history, elements of it have always been there.  There have always been factions and differing schools of legal thought that are expressed on the court.

    Let's hope Reid gets the backbone to allow Obama's nominees to be confirmed and that we continue to have Democratic Presidencies in the future.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 09:06:34 AM PDT

    •  To play Devil's Advocate to the Devil's Advocate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi

      what did Republicans say about ACORN?  That it was trying to rig elections.  What did the Axis Powers in WW2 say about Allied war crimes?  That we were bloodthirsty monsters slaughtering innocent people by the bushel.  You see what I'm getting at?

      It was true that our courts have made rulings that were dubious from an originalist or literalist perspective, but they were never an attack on the rights of conservatives - they simply expanded people's rights in general.  We said women have a right to an abortion, not that the state has the power to force women to have abortions - that would be the analogy to the conservative judicial strategy.  They're making things up and ignoring the law to take away people's rights or clear the way for government institutions to do so.  

      There have always been factions and differing schools of legal thought that are expressed on the court.
      But they have all been grounded in some self-consistent model of law.  This situation is unprecedented in that there is no legal framework to things like Bush v. Gore, Citizens United, and the VRA ruling - it's just "Hmm, which one best serves the Republican Party?  That's the one I'm going to rule for."  It's not even ideological, because they use the exact opposite rationalizations as previous rulings when their prior reasoning becomes inconvenient.  It's just corrupt and lawless.

      Sign the petition to demand a law-abiding Supreme Court.

      by Troubadour on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 09:18:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can see Bush v Gore and the VRA as being more (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, grover

        in line with the Republicans, but CU goes to a deeper legal philosophy--the Chamber of Commerce philosophy:  Of, by, and For the Corporations.

        Of course, if I had Bill Gates money, and a huge corporation like Wal Mart or Monsanto with fingers in everything, and my Liberal values, I'd now be doing my best Mr Burns and using these rulings to destroy the Republican Party.

        Cos that's how I roll.

        "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

        by zenbassoon on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 09:22:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Corruption is not a philosophy. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chi

          And while there is a libertarian ideology that feeds into it, the fact is they only took up CU and ruled as they did on the timeline they did to affect the outcome of the 2010 election.  So it really is just arbitrary one-party rule over the courts.

          Sign the petition to demand a law-abiding Supreme Court.

          by Troubadour on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 09:26:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Such as the birth control mandate which they're (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour

            bound to take up this fall?  Did you hear about that ruling last night?

            "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

            by zenbassoon on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 09:30:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not familiar with it. What's the story? (0+ / 0-)

              Sign the petition to demand a law-abiding Supreme Court.

              by Troubadour on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 09:47:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The appeals court ruled in favor of Home Depot (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Troubadour

                The owners of that corporation sued because their "religious values" said they didn't want to provide the free birth control in their employees' health insurance policies the ACA requires and they didn't want to pay the fine.
                The appeals court said that the mandate was in violation of the owners' freedom of religion.

                "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

                by zenbassoon on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 09:53:37 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  There's at least some twisted rationale (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Chi

                  for arguing that, albeit obviously ludicrous.  But the VRA ruling lacked even the semblance of misdirection - it was basically "Because I said so."  The same was true of Citizens United and Bush v. Gore.

                  Sign the petition to demand a law-abiding Supreme Court.

                  by Troubadour on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 09:57:16 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  So we're going to demand impeachment (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Villanova Rhodes

                    Based in a handful of cases that span over 13 years that include justices that have retired and been replaced?

                    I presume you've done your due diligence and read every decision from this session and are prepared to tell us why we should consider members of this court corrupt?

                    Because as I finish reading up the decision, I see a mixed bag of decisions myself, some are very logical; a couple expand constitutional rights; several are distressing.

                    I don't see a lot of corruption. I think Supreme Court justices are idealogues.  I find one of them detestable.

                    But Supreme Court justices are given a lifetime term on purpose. They are supposed to be able to opine based in their years of education and experience.

                    They can be removed from office on impeachment for  treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

                    I think Justice Thomas' refusal to recuse of Affirdable Care Act was extremely questionable. But it didn't matter anyhow.

                    Otherwise, I don't see anything that rises to the level of an impeachable offense.

                    Bush v. Gore was an atrocity. Rehnquist is dead. O'Conner is retired. Stevens? Do you really plan to impeach the man who wrote the decisions in all three landmark gay civil rights decisions?

                    Scalia is a stalwart on 4th amendment rights.

                    That leaves Thomas.

                    Ok, impeach black dude.  That will go over well.

                    © grover


                    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

                    by grover on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 02:57:25 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  "Federalism" (and by Federalists in the case of at (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    least some of the Justices) continues to rear it's ugly head, and will continue to do so unless and until we achieve a Constitution which clearly has all vestiges of it erased. Valid intrepretational means exist for SCOTUS to move us beyond that illbegotten portion of our history, but, politically, we like are destined to continue "rule by the minority" until the majority finally sucks it up and demands control.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 10:17:19 AM PDT

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