Notes On The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ethics Train Wreck

To remind regular readers who may have forgotten, and newer readers who have not taken the time to review the list of Concepts and Special Terms (Shame! SHAME!!!), ethics train wrecks are “chains of unethical conduct created by a central unethical action. As the event becomes more complex and involves more participants, it becomes increasingly difficult to sort out right from wrong, and all parties who become involved with the episode in any way are at risk of engaging in unethical conduct themselves, intentionally or inadvertently.”

In no particular order:

  • It’s not called The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ethics Train Wreck for nothing. The individual responsible for this ethics train wreck is, aptly enough, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was irresponsible for her to stay on the court well past her shelf date, as it is irresponsible for any judge to deny the unavoidable effects of age on their acumen and ability. This would have been true if she were completely healthy, but the Justice had cancer, and that also had to sap her energy.

This was arrogance, and any harm to the nation that comes from her refusal to retire ten years ago is part of her legacy.

  • Everyone is a hypocrite. If Mitch McConnell is a hypocrite for treating the SCOTUS nomination by a sitting Republican President differently from his treatment of a Democratic President’s nomination under similar circumstances,  so are Democrats for insisting that he should again do what they claimed was unconscionable in 2016, because this time they think it will benefit them.

Althouse points out: “The strongest argument for Trump to go right ahead and immediately nominate someone is that President Obama made a nomination in the election year of 2016 when Antonin Scalia died. Obama’s nominee was not confirmed, but that was because the GOP controlled the Senate. There was nothing about Obama’s lack of support in the Senate that made him more willing to put forward a nomination in an election year. He made the nomination in spite of the lack of support. Why should Trump refrain when he has Senate support?”

Oh, you know: Because he’s different, and what other Presidents do or did is automatically outrageous when he does the same thing.

  • The two female Republican Senators who are seeking to block whoever President Trump nominates by refusing to vote to confirm her or him are just showing logical and political weakness. “Fair is fair,” as Senator Murkowski said, is grandstanding nonsense. Democrats howled that it was unfair for Republicans to not hold hearings on the Garland nomination, but now it is fair to be unfair again? No matter how often mothers tell their children that two wrongs don’t make a right, the children still grow up without absorbing the principle.

I assume Maine’s Senator Collins is signaling her vote to avoid having to make a choice that will cost her support whatever she does. That’s not exactly courageous leadership.

  • Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

For the record, there is no question that Justice Scalia is a far, far more legally and judicially significant and influential Justice than Ginsburg, and I’m sure she would have agreed.

  • Is there any legitimate argument which political party and which side of the ideological spectrum now supports violence rather than peaceful democracy? Reza Aslan was the host of a CNN series. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the International Qur’anic Studies Association. He is a professor of creative writing at University of California, Riverside and a board member of the National Iranian American Council .  Here’s what he tweeted:

  • How could anyone be shocked or surprised at this? It was delusional. I pretty much assumed that Ginsburg was likely to drop dead any day. She was 86 years old, she had one of the most deadly cancers, it had returned after being in remission, and she had other health issues as well. These videos of people screaming and crying like this was some monstrous trick of fate are hilarious.

I consider this Ethics Train Wreck as a byproduct of The Great Stupid.

  • Chuck Schumer tries to be cute, ends up looking foolish. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” Schumer tweeted. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”  See, that’s almost word for word what Mitch McConnell said as his rationalization for torpedoing Obama’s nomination of Judge Garland. Brilliant!…except that a). Schumer was vocal about how wrong McConnell was b)He was right then, so he can’t be right now, and c) McConnell was describing a different situation, since we were certain to have a “new President” after the 2016 election.

Mainly, however, the argument was and is dishonest. The public elected a President to appoint SCOTUS justices throughout his term in office, just as it elects a President to discharge other duties. That was true of President Obama, and it is true of President Trump.

“I believe that the president should, next week, nominate a successor to the court. I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day. Democrats and Joe Biden have made clear they intend to challenge this election. They intend to fight the legitimacy of the election. As you you know Hillary Clinton has told Joe Biden ‘under no circumstances should you concede, you should challenge this election.’ and we cannot have election day come and go with a 4-4 court. A 4-4 court that is equally divided cannot decide anything. And I think we risk a constitutional crisis if we do not have a nine-justice Supreme Court, particularly when there is such a risk of … a contested election.”

Cruz is fearmongering, and I suspect he knows better. In some ways, an 8 member Court without Ginsburg is safer than a 9 member Court with her. Ginsburg, remember, wanted the flawed chad-counting in 2000 to go on indefinitely, with a Constitutional crisis looming. One thing we know, or should, is that John Roberts is a pragmatic conservative. If the only way to avoid a Constitutional crisis is to vote with the conservative bloc, he will do it. This is a 5-3 Court now, instead of a 5-4 Court.

  • Looks like the public has more integrity than the politicians…On the topic of whether hearings should be held before the election on Trump’s nominee, a poll result from Marquette:

65 thoughts on “Notes On The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ethics Train Wreck

  1. Ethical Train Wreck: “Chains of unethical conduct created by a central unethical action. As the event becomes more complex and involves more participants, it becomes increasingly difficult to sort out right from wrong, and all parties who become involved with the episode in any way are at risk of engaging in unethical conduct themselves, intentionally or inadvertently.”

    The very VERY cool thing about your (blogspot), and your general ideas, is that you establish this base from which to work.

    In my case, it has opened up the entire issue to an examination of causation.

    Our very present is a ‘train-wreck’!

    • This Just In!

      A knocking sound and plaintive cries have been heard inside RBG’s casket. “I’m not dead! Let me out! I still have work to do!” are reported to have been heard by mourners (who had been singing both Imagine and Amazing Grace un-ironically).

  2. Sorry, Jack. Have to disagree with you about RBG even though I did not agree with her reasoning in several of her dissents. Maureen and I met her a year ago, and observed her during 2 mock trials at Shakespeare Theatre over the last 3 years. Quiet, but sharp, witty, clever, and incisive. Yes, she has serious health issues but methinks that she was mentally capable of the job. Therefore, are you practicing age and health discrimination?

        • She fell asleep in Melwaukee as well as in the House and on the bench at the court?

          Marquette’s long ago gone around the social justice bend. Al Maquire would have something apt to say about that. Ironic that Judge Barrett is an ND Law grad and former prof and a likely Trump nominee given ND Law has abandoned its conservatism of the ’70s and gone full social justice. I wouldn’t be surprised if ND Law tries something stupid like revoking her degree if she’s put on the court. The nut job who dreamed up the 1619 Project while working at the NYT got her undergrad degree at ND. To think that Ronald Reagan was the speaker at my 1981 ND Law graduation. Depressing.

          • Heh! That there’s some damn fine $#!t, OB; better’n I expected.

            As a U.W. Alum (GO BADGERS) who was raised by two (2) U.W. Alumni to despise Marquette (BB, mostly), I will dispute your maligning University’s largely respected poll.

            And you’re a Golden Domer?

            5th generation Irish neighbor/pal-o-mine played football (QB) for them back in the late 60’s.

            • Dennis Szot? Sandy Bonvechio? Bill Zloch? Tom Schoen? Coley O’Brien?

              Yes. Just a Single Domer. Undergrad was my only non-Catholic schooling. Although I ended up at ND rather than the University of Miami because Mrs. OB got a job in South Bend. But my mother did have a cousin named Julian who was a priest and taught at ND until he married a nun. Oops.

    • FDR was pretty sharp too up to the end, but he was going to be dead before then end of 1945. It was wrong for him to run then, even under those unique circumstances. RBG stayed on the court for one reason, to deny the GOP a role in choosing her successor and to guard Roe v. Wade, the numero-uno important decision of the court as far as feminists are concerned. However, she also over-estimated both her own importance and her staying power.

      If she was wise, she would have stepped down in 2013, at the age of 80, WELL past the point when most people retire, when Obama could have named her successor and a Democratic Senate would have confirmed that person, who would have been, as she was, a reliable vote on the left (which is her main claim to fame on the court). However, she banked on the Senate not flipping and on a HRC victory. She lost. The choice was either leave the court and almost certainly have someone more conservative appointed, or stick it out and hope for a Democratic win in 2018 (didn’t happen in the Senate), or a Democratic sweep this year (if it happens, she won’t see it).

      She could dissect arcane legal arguments with most of the best of them, but she couldn’t grasp the simple wisdom of “you got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” She didn’t walk away, and now the rest of us have a big mess to deal with.

      • This is exactly right. She gambled and the Democrats lost.

        This is just one reason why the Democrats have got to stop making Roe v Wade their hill to die on. Those young people crying over her death aren’t crying for her; they’re crying because they just knew she’d hold out until Joe Biden took office, then she’d resign and he would appoint a good young woke minority female to the Court in her place. They truly believe their hopes and dreams of a utopia where women can murder their unborn babies with abandon were within their grasp and that now Trump will turn the U.S. into “The Handmaid’s Tale” with one stroke of a pen.

        • And, to reiterate an incredibly obvious-but-lost-on-the-progressives refrain:

          Roe v Wade is 90% likely, NOT GOING ANYWHERE

          In the off chance it does get overruled, Abortion is STILL legal until 50 individual states have 50 individual conversations, where there’s a 90% likelihood most states will pick something favorable or at least tolerant of parents offing their unborn children. There may be a handful of states who take up the absolutist banner.

    • But that is not the issue. She fell asleep during oral arguments. Several of her opinions in recent years were sloppily argued. She was a more rigid ideologue as she passed 80. She engaged in unprofessional public statements that she never would have made when she was in top form.

      The question isn’t whether an aging jurist is still relatively sharp, or sharper than an average judge. The issue is whether she was as capable as she was when she was appointed and at her prime, and the answer is almost certainly no, and its wrong for her to assume otherwise even if she happens to be a one in a million case. Aging is real, cognition is affected, and a responsible individual in a highly challenging position accepts that.

      It is like baseball. A superstar with a consistent .850-950 OPS is signed to a long-term contract at 27. By 32, he’s declining, as 99.9 % of players do. By the time he’s 38, the 80s in baseball years, that one-time superstar has a .750 OPS. He still has flashes of brilliance, perhaps, but he is being paid as a superstar, and he’s not anymore, though he will often still be treated like one in his place in the line-up, etc. The difference is 1) we have stats to show decline in baseball players, and 2) judges aren’t the unique commodities that players are. There are a lot more than 9 judges, in their primes, capable of being SCOTUS justices. An ethical Justice accepts the ravages of time, and lets one of them take over.

      Scalia did the same thing, and Rhenquist, and Marshall, and Douglas.

      • As do too many superstar athletes, too many lawyers (and jurists and politicians) don’t know when to retire. It’s just too obvious to even argue about. It’s ego but also greed and refusal to let go of power and the limelight. But in any event, it’s irresponsible and unethical.

      • And, speaking of Albert Pujols, he just passed Mays to be alone at 5th in the home run derby. He hit two home runs the other night against the Rangers.

        I don’t know if he’ll get to 700, though. He has one more year on that 10 year contract with the Angels and I doubt if he’s hit 38 home runs by then. We’ll see what happens.

  3. “This was arrogance, and any harm to the nation that comes from her refusal to retire ten years ago is part of her legacy.”

    Amen.

  4. You may be right about Roberts, but I’m not as sanguine. His “pragmatic” votes and decisions, while admittedly carefully argued, have been profoundly disappointing to those who’d hoped for more conservative jurist. I hope the outcome of the presidential election is quickly and abundantly clear, and the Supreme Court is able to stay out of it altogether. In the meantime, Trump and the GOP shouldn’t bank on a presumed 5-3 advantage with the Democrats doing all they can to undermine the integrity of the vote in advance.

    • I’m with you on Roberts, Kyjo. He seems to view his role as the placater of the left. That is, any time the court is set to do something truly conservative, he rights the ship and steers it back into acceptable lefty waters so as not to antagonize the left and have them say the court has made itself illegitimate by not doing the left’s bidding. He’s essentially a swing vote. He’s not a reliable conservative vote. I’m not a fan. He strikes me a essentially gutless, an accomodater. He’s always hoping for peace in our time with the left, but the left is implacable.

      • I was amazed by his argument that the ACA’s individual mandate was actually a tax. He argued intelligently and almost persuasively; it’s just that he was wrong. If anyone can make the liberal bloc’s case compelling, it certainly seems to me that he is more than capable. I would like to think that Jack is correct, that Roberts would be the 5th vote with the existing conservative bloc on the court in the event of a contested election. I just don’t trust that he will be.

    • You mean her alleged commandment that Trump not replace her? Hah. Hilarious. Who cares what she wanted? She also wanted to live forever and stay on the court forever. Sorry Charlie. That’s not how it works in the real world outside your fevered brain.

      • Amen. Just watched Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Schumer drumming-up a frenzied mob for “their side” on CNN.

        Right next to the lectern (podium?), stood a poster of RBG with her now immortal commandment superimposed over her image. As if I was shocked – SHOCKED – that Schumer would say “Everything is on the table.” Obviously, for his “inclusive” gang, he is including the Constitution – every word and nuance of it.

      • Yes you did. And it would be admissible to prove… what exactly? That that’s what her dying wish was? As opposed to having another bowl of soup?

  5. I love the nefariousness of the DNC signaling as a reaction to the GOP nominating and confirming another justice before the election that once they gain power they’ll ram through statehood for DC and for Puerto Rico and pack the Supreme Court with additional justices.

    No, DNC, you can’t fool us, you’ve been openly talking seriously about doing those things for years since the revolution you were so sure would be finalized in 2016 didn’t happen.

    We aren’t stupid, we know you have plans to wreck the constitutional order of things to ensure your party rule for generations.

      • It may not have been in the past. It’s arguable. Now though, not. Is there any way those of goodwill and integrity can stop this madness ?

        • Did you type that with a straight face?

          Democrats have long floated the idea of DC and PR statehood, knowing both would gain 4 more automatic Democrat votes.

          Democrats have openly discussed abolishment of the Senate for lack of equal representation of people

          Democrats have often discussed packing the Supreme Court (long before RBG’s untimely passing) at least since FDR’s time (phenomenally there were enough Democrats with character back then…a fleeting quality among the Left these days…to oppose such a scheme)

          Democrats have floated abolishment of the Electoral College for multiple election cycles now

          Democrats has accelerated our plunge into this debacle with Bork.

          Democrats began going into depth maligning the character of nominees with Clarence Thomas.

          Democrats engaged in the worst possible smear campaign and order-destroying vitriol with Brett Kavanaugh.

          Democrats have openly refused the acceptance of elections since at least the year 2000, seeking to gum up the works in recounts and court cases.

          Democrats have advanced the end run around the Electoral College with the defiant “National Popular Vote” schemes in several states.

          Democrats have quietly supported the open violence seen in the streets as of late, only notionally condemning them when polls looked bad.

          Democrats have supported donations leading to bailing out rioters and putting them right back into the riot.

          Democrats have openly undermined local law enforcement by “throwing them under the bus” before any reasonable investigation into potential misconduct can occur.

          Democrats allies in Big Education have consistently attacked the 1st Amendment and Due Process

          Democrats allies in Big Media and Pop Culture have conditioned people to view the central government as the end-all and be-all of public policy.

          Democrats have engaged in rhetoric inspiring followers to attempt to murder and in some cases actually murder conservatives and conservative politicians while condemning less inciting rhetoric among conservatives.

          The side that YOU align with has actively sought to break or strain the system to a breaking point for *generations* and YOU have the damned gall to ask “is there anyone with goodwill and integrity to stop the madness”?

          The Republicans suddenly play hardball (still within the Constitution no less), and now YOU cry for good will and integrity?

          Get lost.

          • Democrats pursued a flakey impeachment for political purposes only and again are floating the idea of impeaching Trump for…using his Constitutionally defined powers.

            Democrats have sought to destabilize the integrity of elections by opposing voter ID and pursuing easily corruptible mass vote-by-mail harvesting schemes.

            Democrats broke the filibuster…one of the key means of ensuring the Senate provided a solid check against the House of Representatives.

          • Puerto Rico has rejected statehood several times. If it wanted to be a state, it would have been one by now. Having worked with all ends of the various Hispanic communities, I realize that the assumption that they are knee-jerk progressives is dead wrong.

  6. Looks like the public has more integrity than the politicians…On the topic of whether hearings should be held before the election on Trump’s nominee, a poll result from Marquette…”

    But, but…

    I saw on Mike Wallace’s son Chris’s show on Fox News that a FOX NEWS poll says (by the numbers) something like, “The American public trusts Joe Biden more than Donald Trump.”

    The BS just keeps getting more and more pervasive, thick, and stinky.

    I sure did get pissed off (I have to learn to control myself better, I know) when C. Wallace “thanked” (snarkily) Karl Rove for a “history lesson” as part of the same segment with Chris and a panel of three. (How Shannon Bream fits in with the guys, I’ll never know – but she is civil and reasonable, and of course blonde and easy on the eyes…you know, Fox News…)

  7. The Senate flipped R in the 2012 election. I think few people saw it coming as it was considered a long shot, and the republicans ran the table on every close race.

    She did have the opportunity to make a lame duck nomination though shorty after the election. Once the R senate was in session, another like her became harder.

    Something I’ve not heard mentioned is she also may have worried about who Obama would nominte. Neither of his picks were if anywhere near the caliber of Ginsburg and Breyer.

  8. ” It was irresponsible for her to stay on the court well past her shelf date, as it is irresponsible for any judge to deny the unavoidable effects of age on their acumen and ability. This would have been true if she were completely healthy, but the Justice had cancer, and that also had to sap her energy.”

    As I said repeatedly in comments on this site in the past.

    No need to repeat them now, as I consider speaking ill of the dead to be tacky. Sometimes necessary, but you’ve said it without tackiness so I don’t have to.

    I also have repeatedly said that Biden was past his use-by date in 2016. He hasn’t deteriorated since then, but hasn’t somehow done Ponce de Leon impressions, so in a vote between Biden and a Ham Sandwich, I’d be preparing mustard.

    It’s not a vote between Biden and a Ham Sandwich though, is it? Make of that what you will.

    • Which boils down to, “But TRUMP!” Or, “He’s NOT Hillary!” What’s the guy done that’s been so terrible? He got us out of the Paris Shakedown and the Iran non-deal.

  9. Ted Cruz bought a ticket with this intellectually dishonest statement:

    “I believe that the president should, next week, nominate a successor to the court. I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day. Democrats and Joe Biden have made clear they intend to challenge this election. They intend to fight the legitimacy of the election. As you you know Hillary Clinton has told Joe Biden ‘under no circumstances should you concede, you should challenge this election.’ and we cannot have election day come and go with a 4-4 court. A 4-4 court that is equally divided cannot decide anything. And I think we risk a constitutional crisis if we do not have a nine-justice Supreme Court, particularly when there is such a risk of … a contested election.”

    The only thing in that statement that I think was intellectually dishonest is this, “A 4-4 court that is equally divided cannot decide anything”. They can certainly make a decision if the opinions are 5-3, 6-2, or 7-1, the possibility of a 4-4 outcome is real but it’s only one possible outcome.

    Jack wrote, “Cruz is fearmongering…”

    On that point; Cruz repeating things that Democrats have openly stated as their opinions and intentions if Donald Trump wins reelection as reasons to make sure the Supreme Court has nine justices to be fully prepared is Cruz fearmongering? This isn’t Cruz spewing out some unsupportable conspiracy theory, these are real opinions and real political retaliation threats from Democrats. Cruz is proposing a reasonable plan as a result of the Democrats fearmongering. In my opinion, ignoring what the Democrats have been saying and not be fully prepared with a full complement of Supreme Court Justices knowing full well what the Democrats have openly saying is irresponsible. In this case, I think your labeling of Cruz’s statement as fearmongering is unwarranted.

    About Cruz’s opinion; as you already know I agree with it and have said basically the same thing. As deeply divided as our politics are right now and with the constant fearmongering political rhetoric that’s been emanating from both sides about the election and the knee-jerk reactions of the population in regards to the legitimacy of the election; if one side or the other doesn’t get their way an election related case before SOCTUS that directly affects the outcome of the election with a court that’s got less than nine members, I think it’s reasonably fair to honestly predict that that alone will likely create a Constitutional crisis, regardless of the numerical outcome of SCOTUS. Think about it; any “loser” in such a case will be able to claim that they were denied a hearing by a full Supreme Court and if the outcome of the election happens to depend on the outcome of a SOCTUS ruling then the loser will be enabled to claim that they were denied a full constitutional hearing and therefore the election is constitutionally invalid. It doesn’t matter one damn bit if the claim that the election is constitutionally invalid is not legally accurate, the political stage will have been set and a constitutional crisis will be upon us. This will not be a possibility if there are nine members on the Supreme Court.

    It’s my opinion that the Supreme Court of the United States needs to be fully prepared with nine justices going into this election. If we only have eight members on the Supreme Court going into this election then it’s my hope is that no case that’s directly linked to the outcome of the election gets to the Supreme Court.

    • Many crucial SCOTUS decisions, including Marbury vs Madison, have been made with one or more Justices not participating. It’s not a big deal, and pretending it is IS fearmongering—it’s appealing to ignorance.

      • Jack wrote, “Many crucial SCOTUS decisions, including Marbury vs Madison, have been made with one or more Justices not participating.”

        Not disagreeing with that point at all.

        We’ll just have to disagree on the rest.

        • Why wasn’t the fact that Justice Kagan would have to repeatedly recuse herself as a member of the Court ever even mentioned as a drawback to confirming her? This is such a routine occurrence that suddenly flagging it now as a harbinger of doom is incomprehensible to me, and I seriously doubt Cruz believes what he was saying.

          • I started to check how many times Justices have recused themselves in SCOTUS history. I didn’t have the time to track it down, but Justices recused themselves 180 times in the 2015 term alone, and that apparently wasn’t considered catastrophic or remarkable.

            It’s a contrived concern.

          • Jack Marshall wrote, “Why wasn’t the fact that Justice Kagan would have to repeatedly recuse herself as a member of the Court ever even mentioned as a drawback to confirming her? This is such a routine occurrence that suddenly flagging it now as a harbinger of doom is incomprehensible to me…”, “Justices recused themselves 180 times in the 2015 term alone”

            That’s an interesting way to looking at this. Taking that another step further…

            On the one hand I couldn’t honestly imagine why any justice would recuse themself from hearing a case regarding something as important as affecting the outcome of a Presidential Election. Then on the other hand; as both Republicans and Democrats politize the Supreme Court every time a justice seat becomes open it’s as if these are partisan justices, so looking at it along those lines they should all recuse themselves because partisan politicians would be seen them as rendering judgements based on partisan politics not the law.

  10. Jack wrote, “Everyone is a hypocrite.”

    I completely agree. McConnel and the rest of the Republicans that approved of the political maneuver in 2016 were all dumbasses for not giving Garland the proper hearing and now they are all, we are all, reaping the consequences of that unethical choice in 2016. It’s very likely that we wouldn’t even be having this conversation right now if the Republicans hadn’t done what they did in 2016. Politics be damned; the Republicans were ethically wrong in 2016 and now everyone’s a damn hypocrite in 2020.

    • You open with “Everyone is a hypocrite” and then post an attack on only one side. You post doesn’t agree with your premise.

      I can play that game too. If the democrats had never set out to personally destroy Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavenaugh we wouldn’t be here today. At least the republicans didn’t set out to personally destroy Garland. You example would only demonstrate “Everyone is a hypocrite” if the republicans went ahead with a hearing, made up a list of lies about Garland, then voted him down.

      The Republicans are only hypocritical because they made up a lame “rule” to explain what they where doing when it was obvious to all what they were doing was no more than naked politics. Honesty would be “we did it because we could.” That’s the real reason last time and the real reason now. It should have been as simple as: elections have consequences, and we won.

      • Matthew B wrote, “You open with “Everyone is a hypocrite” and then post an attack on only one side. You post doesn’t agree with your premise.”

        I really don’t understand why you approached your comment in that way when my comment was clearly in agreement with the premise that Jack set forth that “Everyone is a hypocrite” and his basis for that argument was clearly spelled out in his blog post. As far as I’m concerned; my comment was a natural extrapolation of Jack’s position on the blatant hypocrisy being shown from Republicans and Democrats right now regarding President Trump nominating a new Supreme Court justice and what the Senate should do.

        For the record; President Obama properly did his constitutionally dictated duty in 2016 by nominating a Supreme Court justice to fill an empty seat on SCOTUS and President Trump should do the same. The differences and hypocrisy comes in how it’s handled by both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate.
        I heard the news at lunch time that the House might try to throw gas on the political fires by using House “arrows in their quiver” in efforts to literally obstruct the Senate from being able to do their job; does anyone else besides me recognize that that would be the House or Representatives intentionally abusing their power?

  11. From the NYT:

    When Senator Lindsey Graham joined a Republican blockade of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016, he went out of his way to frame his position that a confirmation to the court should never be allowed in an election year as principled, apolitical and utterly permanent.

    “I want you to use my words against me,” Mr. Graham said then, swearing that he would hold the same stance even if it meant denying a future Republican president the chance to confirm his chosen nominee.

    But less than 24 hours after that hypothetical became a reality with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, Mr. Graham, now the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, made a complete and brazen reversal. He promised that he would push forward immediately to confirm President Trump’s pick — seemingly unbothered by the obvious conflict between his position four years ago and his stance now.

    “I am certain if the shoe were on the other foot,” Mr. Graham wrote Monday to Democrats on the judiciary panel, “you would do the same.”

    Getting in his retaliation first.
    I think he may be right that the Democrats would have done the same. Or not. We’ll never know.

    I fear that there is no doubt now. The bounds of convention, politeness, tolerance have evaporated. Das bedeutet Krieg.

    I’m open to suggestions on how to avoid this.

    • I think he said something to the effect of his position having changed after the ridiculous treatment of Kavanaugh. Now we’re hearing about an additional impeachment? WTF? All bets are off on both sides of the aisle now, this is just about a struggle for power and the ability to grind those you disagree with into the dust.

    • Stop voting for incumbents! Demand better from your elected officials!

      Elected officials are not there for the purpose of representing the electorate, passing laws, and defending the constitution. They have effectively abdicated law-making to unelected bureaucrats who issue regulations by the train car load. Congress has the sole authority to coin money but the Fed is allowed unrestricted license to print trillions of dollars.

      In the last twenty years, what has congress accomplished of major benefit to the nation?

      America’s longest wars are the wars on poverty, drugs, gun violence, etc.

      At the national level regardless of party, the majority of politicians have these priorities:

      • Win elections
      • Acquire power
      • Enrich themselves financially
      • Foment discontent in the electorate through wedge issues
      • Buy votes via income redistribution and pork

    • I’m open to suggestions on how to avoid this.

      You may wish to avoid whatever you’d hope to avoid, but you cannot avoid, and we cannot avoid, the *trajectory of the present*. By definition we are in an ‘ethical catastrophe’ and a ‘trainwreck’.

      It is better, it seems to me, to clarify the conditions of the war, but not to see it other than what it is. In the NYTs yesterday activists march through neighborhoods and tell people that if they do not come outside and *support* the cause (of whatever it is they are activists of) that they will come back and burn their houses down.

      We are in a culmination-period of what I might call the negative side of Liberalism. Tomislav Sunic if I am not mistaken, coined the term ‘liberal rot’. Things get to such a point where, it seems inevitably, there has to be a counter-movement. And there will be *clashes*.

      The Supreme Court (if I am not mistaken in this) has grown to have a determining influence it should not have in a Republic of this sort. The ‘activist Supreme Court’ has operated in radical fashion to further so-called ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’ objectives. But the moral question, and the ethical question, is has this resulted in *good*? And then what is good?

      The desire to place just one so-called conservative judge on that court seems to be a rectifying eventuality. So to ‘turn back the radical current’.

      You are not going to be able to avoid the consequences of the present nor to stop what is happening. So in a sense it is better and more realistic to take a side and prepare to fight.

  12. The definition of an ‘ethical train wreck’: “Chains of unethical conduct created by a central unethical action. As the event becomes more complex and involves more participants, it becomes increasingly difficult to sort out right from wrong, and all parties who become involved with the episode in any way are at risk of engaging in unethical conduct themselves, intentionally or inadvertently.”

    It is a hard thing to think about except perhaps in somewhat vague and general ways, but from a Catholic perspective I must think of the Four Last Things: Death, judgment, heaven, hell. In traditional Catholicism (traditional Christianity) these are not speculations but *real things*. Essentially, you either use your time and your activity in combination with your faith to secure your future either in a hell-realm or in a heaven-realm. The logic behind the theology can only be grasped and understood if one studies it, but it is a hard and cold logic and it does not have to do with *emotional feelings*. Yet we live in a time when sentimental reasoning, if I may call it that, dominates. The more that I research the more I understand (or believe I understand) how deadly is ‘emotional and sentimental thinking’.

    So it did occur to me to contemplate Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s present state and condition. Doing so, I realize that I am more of a ‘philosophical Christian’ than a truly bona fide believer. For example it is very hard for me to contemplate ‘hell’ as an eternal condition. Purgatory however makes a great deal of sense to me. And yet the very idea, or fact, of either heaven or hell is dependent on an absolutely non-sentimental understanding of ‘Justice’.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been an instrumental agent in creating the circumstances that have allowed for many many millions of child-murders. An entire *system* has been established where this is permissible and indeed is seen as a ‘good’. Maybe someone who had an abortion can find a way to resolve the guilt and the judgment for murder or for killing, but there is a heavier penalty for those who work to sponsor or to encourage sinful activity on a larger scale. This is where a truly *Christian perspective* and a *Christian activism* moves into a very difficult territory. For example, what will be the cost and who will pay the price for the entire phenomenon of an ‘abortion industry’? But then what about recent wars and the entire ‘Neo-Con Enterprise’ which has deceived so many people and resulted in *essential* murder of hundreds of thousands of people? What about those who establish pornographic enterprises because there is a great deal of money to be made there? It is when one contemplates *ramifications* and *consequences* that these issues and questions take on important meaning.

    The Bhagavad-Gita and Vedic theology (if that is the proper term, though perhaps metaphysics is a better term) spells it out with greater clarity. We find ourselves in this ‘material condition’ and what they call ‘the material entanglement’. Essentially, we have 2 choices and life is binary in the strictest sense. We will either act in accord with and in response to ‘the angelical’ — in relation to Divine promptings — or we will act in accord with and in response to Demonic promptings. The demonic in this metaphysics has a somewhat different overall definition, and of course the Vedics contemplate thousands and thousands and even millions and millions of *incarnations*. But the point? One either links oneself to the Divine which prescribes certain activities and *use of the soul*, on one ‘forgets oneself’ and sinks into ‘the material entanglement’. That *entanglement* is subtle but it is extremely powerful and captivating. Yet when you fall into it you do not realize what you are falling into.

    So how strange it is to think about Ruth Ginsburg’s ‘judgment’ and what price she will pay. It is not only her of course and it is all persons who have been and who are *complicit* in these doings. Here, in our present and on this plane of existence, her admirerers and her followers *celebrate* her life as if she was some sort of saintly person and as a ‘progressive social agent’. She worked for ‘the good’ didn’t she? She *benefitted* women. She *improved* society. She worked to advance the condition of women. She made things better *for all of us*. And yet it is possible that in some other plane, in some post-life life, she is being judged according to other criteria.

    There of course is the “essential problem’ of Christian belief. Because the question is What am I to live for? What am I to value? What will I tolerate and what will I condemn? What will I practice and what will I shun?

    The reason I find Jack’s definition of ‘trainwreck’ so interesting is because of what is obvious: all terrestrial life is in a sense (seen from a certain perspective that is) a ‘trainwreck’. What Jack does is to deal strictly within limited circumstances and I believe that he does this because he was trained as a lawyer. A lawyer can only consider what is most immediate and *relevant* to a case. No metaphysical speculations allowed! How could *further ramifications* even be contemplated since they are, at least to some degree, speculative?

    Yet the larger perspective is the one that has an importance and relevancy of another order. Because it is within the realm of the effect of causes, the results of actions, that the *meaning* of the present takes shape. Now what I suggest and what must be suggested is that the society we live in now, the civilization and culture we live in, does not ask for us to be either Christian nor even particularly moral beings. We are provided with ‘moral circumstances’ to which we give our assent without any real ‘moral work’. There is hardly anything that is not permitted. And no one can *see* any longer in terms of ‘forbidden behavior’. But let me suggest that with this and in this ‘the demonic’ has free rein to influence and also to capture our consciousness. That is to say, we fall easily into currents of behavior, we assume that everything is permitted and that there are, in truth, no consequences. The *nature* of this present, of the forces surrounding us any vying for control of our perception and our consciousness, is one of increasing unconsciousness, not of awakening awareness and concern.

    So, when one asks the question “How did things get to this point?” And what were the causes? How will one answer?

  13. An additional thought on the idea of ‘packing’ the Senate by admitting Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia as states.

    Jack covered part of this earlier when he brought up the fact that Puerto Rico’s citizens have always opposed statehood — they’ve held referendums in the past and statehood has always lost. I do believe that they have some say in the matter unless the Democrats believe they can force Puerto Rico to accept statehood (which is certainly possible).

    But what I am curious about in a legal sense is the District of Columbia. The Constitution specifically provided for the creation of the District (and, by the way, why didn’t that DC commission recommend changing its name so as not to honor that arch villain Christopher Columbus).

    Can Congress simply admit the District as a state? I’m thinking that that sort of action might require amending the Constitution — what do the lawyers here think? Does Maryland have any say in the matter?

  14. OK, writing the previous post caused another thought to bubble to the top:

    Here is the relevant portion of the Constitution:

    “The Congress shall have Power To … exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States.

    Let’s suppose the Republicans sweep the elections, have both houses and the presidency — not beyond the realm of possibility.

    What if the Congress asked, oh, Nebraska to cede them a 10 mile square district and build a new capital right in the center of the country?

    Brazil did it a while back, so there is a precedent. We could give Washington back to Maryland and let them try to govern it. How many of the Deep State bureaucrats would want to relocate to that despised ‘flyover’ country…

    The more I think of it, the better it sounds. Here are some pros:

    We would no longer have a national capital that was partly built using slave labor.
    Trump has energetically been reducing the regulatory state — this would help, I think.
    D.C. would flip from 3 solid blue electoral votes to either 3 red or at least a competitive race.
    There is tons of land out in Nebraska that could probably be had relatively cheaply.
    The District would be surrounded by people who are proud of their country.

    What’s not to like? Nebraska gave us William Jennings Bryan and Johnny Carson — don’t they deserve one itsy bitsy perk?

  15. Here is another reason to delay nomination and voting on the SCOTUS justice. It violates the Jewish High Holidays where Justice Ginsburg is lying in state.

    I am at a loss for a rejoinder.

    jvb

    • a) Time is of the essence — think Churchill’s notes ‘Action this day!’

      b)This is not Israel, Trump is not Jewish.

      c)I guess announcing the nomination on a low holy day (the Sabbath) is ok, but since they are going low Trump is not allowed to go High (holy day).

      d)The Supreme Court is not a Jewish institution, nor a Christian institution, it’s an American institution and we separate church and state. Even the Jewish church.

      I am sure others could go on.

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