In January, a reporter contacted the nascent Biden campaign to request an interview. She wanted to ask the former vice president about lingering criticisms that were bound to come up on the trail: how, as a senator, he failed Anita Hill; his lead role in the 1994 crime bill; his vote for the Iraq war; his mixed record on abortion rights; his handsy ways; the hot mess that is Hunter.
And that little girl was me.
Maureen Dowd, Kamala Shotguns Joe Sixpack.
Many—not all, but many—of our country’s plutocrats have signed on to an overarching strategy: manipulate the system so they stay in power and enforce their will, no matter what the majority want.
To that end, they have employed a variety of tactics. Today, I have addressed three of them.
The Gerrymander Gambit:
When You Control the Legislature, Use Contemporary Software to Draw Districts So That You Always Win (or So You Think)
As explained in more detail in the post, this gambit is alive and well. But I think this particular glass is at least half full.
The Abortion Gambit:
Make Sure the Plutocratic Party Gets the Votes of the Most Strongly Anti-Abortion Voters
The Undercount-the-Brown-People Gambit:
Make Undocumented Families and Mixed Status Families Scared Shitless to Fill Out the Census Form
The undercount-the-brown-people gambit appears to be in deep doo-doo.
When the Supreme Court heard oral argument, back in April, in the census case (Department of Commerce v. New York), a lot of people thought the Fab Federalist Five were going to swallow—hook, line, and sinker—the government’s argument that they wanted to ask about citizenship in order to enforce the Voting Rights Act. Undercounting brown people? Why, heaven forfend! (See, e.g., Argument Analysis: Divided court seems ready to uphold citizenship question on 2020 census.)
But, as a famous fictional character pointed out, the courts read the newspapers. And the newspapers said that the argument in favor of the citizenship question was bullshit. And that this was not just suspected bullshit, but palpable, provable bullshit. And that Wilbur Ross was a liar and the truth was not in him. And that anyone who pretended to believe Wilbur Ross was exposing himself to an indelible charge of rampant hypocrisy.
Justice Roberts got the memo. Along with the four progressives, he wrote a part of the opinion saying, fairly politely, that Wilbur Ross is a lying liar with his pants on fire.
And what of the remaining four members of the Fab Federalist Five?
Justice Alito, writing for himself along, penned an abstract, verbose, legalistic argument, the gist of which is the claim that the decision of the Secretary of Commerce is not subject to judicial review. That approach allowed the good justice to avoid expressing any view about whether the Secretary of Commerce is in fact a lying liar whose pants are aflame.
Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch joined in a different, convoluted argument authored by Justice Thomas, based on the assumption that Alito might be wrong—the inclusion of the citizenship question might be subject to judicial review—but that, to make a long story short, the Secretary had proffered some valid reasons justifying the question, and the Court should bloody well ignore any other evidence of whether he was a lying liar.
Anyway, Justice Thomas added, the fact that the district judge had put together a whole bunch of evidence showing that Wilbur Ross couldn’t tell the truth if it bit him in the ass just went to show the judge’s wicked, partisan prejudice.
Not exactly a full-threaded defense of Wilbur Ross’s veracity, was it?
The Bottom Line?
First of all, to state the bleeding obvious, it’s interesting that there are limits to how far the Court, as presently constituted, will go to stack the deck blatently in favor of the plutocracy.
This is good news, or at least qualified good news.
Secondly, the various opinions, taken together, are an interesting commentary on the limits of bullshitting as a legal strategy.
A core tactic of the plutocracy is to string along the highly Catholic and extremely evangelical portion of the population by getting them to vote for the plutocratic candidate, in hopes of getting five or more justices who will overturn Roe.
Well, guess what, now we have five justices beribboned with the Federalist Society Seal of Approval.
And, guess what, twice this term they have passed up an opportunity to overturn Roe.
In Box v. Indiana, decided May 28, the Supreme Court took a pass on deciding whether the appellate court was wrong to overturn an Indiana law that would have prevented mothers from aborting their Downs Syndrome fetuses. In Harris v West Alabama Women’s Center, decided yesterday, they elected not to hear an appeal from an Eleventh Circuit decision overturning a 2016 Alabama law purporting to forbid a commonly used method of abortion.
In both of these cases, it will be noted, the Court was addressing old style anti-abortion legislation, of the regulate-abortion-to-death variety. They have not yet considered the new style legislation, that has become popular following the sanctification of Saint Brett Kavanaugh as the fifth Federalist Society justice and that dares the Supreme Court just to stop pretending that Roeis the law of the land. That said, either Box or Harris would have presented a golden opportunity for the Fab Federalist Five to overturn Roe, if they wanted to do so.
And let’s add one more salient fact, before engaging in a little speculation. In each case, Justice Thomas wrote a long dissenting opinion, damning to hell Roe v. Wadeand all its enablers. In each case, Justice Thomas’s opinion was joined in by … nemo, no one, nobody.
So, to review the bidding thus far: we know that Justice Thomas is willing and eager to overturn Roe—and appears to think the other members of the Fab Federalist Five are a bunch of wusses.
We may safely assume that Chief Justice Roberts, along with Justices Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh, very probably believe Roe was wrongly decided back in 1973. But we cannot presume they are willing to correct that perceived legal error—because, if they were, they would probably have done it this term.
Why not? Well, of course I don’t know, but I have to guess it’s because
- the regulate-the-hell-out-of-abortion approach has been working pretty well,
- overturning Roeoutright would engender holy hell, and
- the ensuing holy hell would, in a number of ways, threaten and prejudice the long term project of the Fab Federalist Five to make the country legally safe and enjoyable for plutocrats.
The net result, though, is that, once again, Lucy has pulled the football out from under the fetus people.
Once again, they have been suckered and played for fools.
And so, it’s possible that some of them will decide that voting for plutocrats in order to get more Federalist Society justices is not the world’s best idea.
One can hope.
In Rucho v. Common Cause, decided two days ago, the Supreme Court held that “partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.”
I wish to adopt the views eloquently and persuasively presented by Charles Lane in an article titled, Progressives should be glad they lost the Supreme Court gerrymandering case.
The nub of the matter is that I don’t trust the present Supreme Court majority—not for a New York minute do I trust them—to decide objectively how much sophisticated gerrymandering is OK and how much is too much.
Would they apply the same standard to Democratic gerrymandering in Maryland and to Republican gerrymandering in North Carolina? Do you really think they would? Would you like to buy a bridge in Brooklyn?
And another thing. Lane doesn’t mention this, but I will. Republicans gerrymandered the congressional House districts to a fare thee well, but we still won in 2018. Their software-driven efficient gerrymandering blew up in their faces.
Let’s win some more state legislatures and governorships in 2020, and then gerrymander the hell out of THEM!
In the U.S. in the 21st century, should anyone who enters without papers and doesn’t commit a crime be given a path to citizenship? Should all adversely affected by climate change be offered a path to citizenship if they make it to the border? Should every human living in violent, crime-ridden neighborhoods or countries be granted asylum in America? Is there any limiting principle at all?
I suspect that the Democrats’ new position — everyone in the world can become an American if they walk over the border and never commit a crime — is political suicide. I think the courts’ expansion of the meaning of asylum would strike most Americans as excessively broad. I think many Americans will have watched these debates on immigration and concluded that the Democrats want more immigration, not less, that they support an effective amnesty of 12 million undocumented aliens as part of loosening border enforcement and weakening criteria for citizenship. And the viewers will have realized that their simple beliefs that borders should be enforced and that immigration needs to slow down a bit are viewed by Democrats as unthinkable bigotry.
To begin with, is it your view that Sullivan has
- stated correctly—or misstated—the views of Democratic presidential candidates?
- stated correctly—or misstated—the views of progressives generally?
- stated correctly—or misstated—your own views?
And if you think anyone’s views have been misstated, what changes would be necessary to correct the misstatements?
And if you think that Sullivan’s summary is correct, then what effect do you think this issue will have on the 2020 election?
And are you prepared for a glorious defeat?
Or do you have a strategy for convincing a majority of people that you are correct?