Justice Alito inflames the Progressives with his fiery speech

 

Twitter was aflame last night. A whole lot of Progressives got their knickers in a knot over the speech given by Justice Alito at the Federalist Society. Usually the speeches are not taped, but because of Covid we have the opportunity to be able to view it.

I have a short clip, a transcript as well as the full video of his speech. Take heart fellow patriots. If not now, sometime over the weekend do check out the full speech to warm the cockles of your hearts.

“This speech is like I woke up from a vampire dream,” University of Baltimore law professor and former federal prosecutor Kim Wehle wrote. “Unscrupulously biased, political, and even angry. I can’t imagine why Alito did this publicly. Totally inappropriate and damaging to the Supreme Court.”

Without saying the words “court-packing,” Alito warns about Democratic efforts to “bully” the court with threats to “restructure” it. Tells a story about a foreign judge threatened with death if he didn’t rule for the government, Stern, Salon’s legal writer writes.

As the speech wrapped up Stern observes, “Alito is done. That was easily the most political speech I’ve ever seen delivered by a Supreme Court justice. Wow. Same-sex marriage, guns, abortion, contraception, persecution of the Federalist Society … he really squeezed it all in there. Yikes.”

Alito also gave a regular lament from legal conservatives, complaining that law schools are hostile to those with right-of-center political views and others whose beliefs go against the majority viewpoint.

“Unfortunately, tolerance for opposing views is now in short supply in many law schools and in the broader academic community,” the justice said. “When I speak with recent law school graduates, what I hear over and over is that they face harassment and retaliation if they say anything that departs from the law school orthodoxy.”

Alito didn’t hold back on other controversial subjects, even suggesting that the pressure Christians face surrounding their religious beliefs is akin to the strictures the U.S. placed on Germany and Japan after World War II.

“The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty,” Alito said, insisting that such an observation was transparently true. “The Covid crisis has served as a sort of constitutional stress test and in doing so it has highlighted disturbing trends that were already in evidence before the pandemic struck.”

“One of the great challenges for the Supreme Court going forward will be to protect freedom of speech. Although that freedom is falling out of favor in some circles, we need to do whatever we can to prevent it from becoming a second-tier constitutional right,” he said.

From Reason:

Usually, Justice Alito prohibits his remarks to be recorded, so Zoom has some perks.  He talks about COVID and religious liberty, the freedom of speech, the Second Amendment, and “bullying” of the Supreme Court by U.S. Senators. I ran the video through the Otter transcription service.

For the transcript go to Otter transcription

Associate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito criticizes the left in speech given at the Federalist Society. Religious liberty and COVID-19 restrictions were some of the issues.

A short clip:

 

 

Here is the full speech.

Address by Justice Samuel Alito

 

 

The swamp is not a bit happy.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her lack of respect for our constitution

For those interested in a postscript to one of the most dangerous times of our Republic, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Obama administration were prepared to sell out America to world government. Her view of our constitution should be a warning of what the coming election could bring us. More Supremes of her persuasion, and a government that has lost its respect for our constitution. From an earlier post:

Recall Justice Ginsburg has fired the latest salvo in the ongoing debate about the Court’s use of foreign and international law sources in constitutional adjudication.   On Friday, she gave a speech to the International Academy of Comparative Law at American University, entitled “A decent respect to the Opinions of [Human]kind”: The Value of a Comparative Perspective in Constitutional Adjudication.  Not surprisingly given her earlier opinions, Justice Ginsburg comes out strongly in favor of the Court’s use of foreign and international law materials to interpret U.S. law, including the Constitution.

She begins with an historical defense:

From the birth of the United States as a nation, foreign and international law influenced legal reasoning and judicial decision making.  Founding fathers, most notably, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, were familiar with leading international law treatises, the law merchant, and English constitutional law.  And they used that learning as advocates in legal contests . . . . The law of nations, Chief Justice Marshall famously said in 1815, is part of the law of our land.  Decisions of the courts of other countries, Marshall explained, show how the law of nations is understood elsewhere, and will be considered in determining the rule which is to prevail here.  Those decisions, he clarified, while not binding authority for U. S. courts, merit respectful attention for their potential persuasive value.

After quoting from Paquete Habana, Ginsburg turns her attention to the hostility to both foreign and international law on display in the U.S. Senate during Elena Kagan’s recent confirmation hearings (e.g., including the Senator who indicated he was “troubled” that Kagan “believes we can turn to foreign law to get good ideas”).  She contrasts these exchanges with The Federalist’s use of the law of nations and both positive and negative examples from abroad to defend the Constitution.

In terms of her own views, Justice Ginsberg did not mince words:

On judicial review for constitutionality, my own view is simply this:  If U.S. experience and decisions may be instructive to systems that have more recently instituted or invigorated judicial review for constitutionality, so too can we learn from others now engaged in measuring ordinary laws and executive actions against fundamental instruments of government and charters securing basic rights. . . . The U.S. judicial system will be the poorer, I have urged, if we do not both share our experience with, and learn from, legal systems with values and a commitment to democracy similar to our own.

And the rest of the speech continues in a similar vein, with Justice Ginsberg raising and then contesting the views of foreign/international law opponents (including Justice Scalia, Judge Richard Posner, and Professors Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule) while citing a series of “examples” of recent cases where the Court reached a decision with the aid of foreign and international law sources (e.g., Atkins v. Virginia, Lawrence v. Texas, Boumediene v. Bush, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and, of course, Roper v. Simmons).

The most interesting part of the speech was Justice Ginsburg’s list of other sources besides foreign and international law that are appropriate for constitutional adjudication:

Judges in the United States, after all, are free to consult all manner of commentary — Restatements, Treatises, what law professors or even law students write copiously in law reviews, and, in the internet age, any number of legal blogs.  If we can consult those sources, why not the analysis of a question similar to the one we confront contained, for example, in an opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the German Constitutional Court, or the European Court of Human Rights?

Read more

For more see an earlier post as well:

Washington Examiner:

Justice Department attorneys are advancing an argument at the Supreme Court that could allow the government to invoke international treaties as a legal basis for policies such as gun control that conflict with the U.S. Constitution, according to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

“If the administration is right, the treaty power could become a backdoor way for the federal government to do everything from abolishing the death penalty nationwide, to outlawing homeschooling, to dramatically curtailing the states’ rights to regulate abortion,” she told the Washington Examiner.

Their argument is that a law implementing an international treaty signed by the U.S. allows the federal government to prosecute a criminal case that would normally be handled by state or local authorities.

That is a dangerous argument, according to Cruz.

“The Constitution created a limited federal government with only specific enumerated powers,” Cruz told the Washington Examiner prior to giving a speech on the issue today at the Heritage Foundation.

“The Supreme Court should not interpret the treaty power in a manner that undermines this bedrock protection of individual liberty,” Cruz said.

In his speech, Cruz said the Justice Department is arguing “an absurd proposition” that “could be used as a backdoor way to undermine” Second Amendment rights, among other things.

Keep reading…

From an earlier post done in October, 2013

Ted Cruz: DOJ argues that International Treaties can trump Constitution

Other than that all is well in the swamp.

Supreme Court ruling coming up could cause election chaos

 

The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments soon in Colorado’s “faithless electors” case, after the state in October appealed a federal court ruling that said that presidential electors could back whichever candidate they choose no matter the popular vote of a state.

Is an Electoral College elector required to vote who their State voter’s elect? An interesting Supreme Court case coming up that will test the meddle of our Supremes. The main issue here is that some states are trying to force electors to vote based on totals outside their states. That is what the states must be blocked from doing.

In 2016 we had wayward electors and a Colorado appeals court ruled in their favor. Twenty-two States support the Colorado ruling. Thus the Supremes now will decide the fate of our Republic.

 

What states can do, is decide if they are winner-take-all states, split vote states, or perhaps even vote by district states. Take Maine in 2016 and why Trump decided at the last moment he would try and snag a delegate or two.

Maine is one of only two states (Nebraska is the other) that doesn’t divvy out its electoral college votes on a winner-take-all basis.

Maine and Nebraska have adapted a different approach. Using the ‘congressional district method’, these states allocate two electoral votes to the state popular vote winner, and then one electoral vote to the popular vote winner in each Congressional district (2 in Maine, 3 in Nebraska). This creates multiple popular vote contests in these states, which could lead to a split electoral vote.

Most states are winner-take-all, and in that case an elector can be fined for not voting they way the most voters in the state want. If a state wants to be able to split their votes, they can do that too, and the electors are free to vote based on the result in their district. But in all these cases the electors are voting based on the will of those within their state. That is the purpose of elections, to represent the will of the people in each state.

There will be “chaos” in the 2020 presidential election if the Supreme Court decides that states cannot require Electoral College electors to vote for the candidate their voters select, warns an analysis by two legal scholars.

“The timing could not be worse,” wrote Paul M. Smith and Adav Noti, both of the non-profit Campaign Legal Center, which filed a brief in support of states in two cases.

In the two cases – Chiafalo v. Washington and Colorado Department of State v. Baca – a designated Electoral College elector chose not to vote for the candidate that earned the most popular votes in the state. The electors were replaced and were sued.

According to the Constitution, voters in presidential elections actually choose a preferred slate of electors rather than a candidate.

And they would be targeted by people with nefarious goals, warned Smith and Noti.

“Here’s the scary part: Of the four most important federal anti-corruption laws, not one covers presidential electors,” they wrote. “Electors can accept unlimited amounts of money in connection with their official duties. And they don’t even need to tell anyone.”

Historically, the writers acknowledge, “most electors have been faithful to their states’ voters, even when not legally required to do so.”

Colorado appealed a lower-court ruling that favored elector Michael Baca. The court concluded the state’s presidential electors are not required to follow state rules and vote for the presidential candidate who received the most votes in the state.

“One of the purposes of the Electoral College is to prevent a demagogue from taking office,” Baca said, referring to one of Alexander Hamilton’s contributions to the Federalist Papers. “And that’s what I tried to do.”

Twenty-two other states have expressed support for Colorado’s ruling.

The Associated Press reported there were 10 faithless electors in 2016, with four in Washington state, a Democratic elector in Hawaii and two Republican electors in Texas. Democratic electors who said they would not vote for Clinton were replaced in Maine and Minnesota.

H/T: WND

The Framers left the door open for various election frauds by allowing States to determine various iterations of how an election for national offices can be carried out. This one could be a doozy.

Other than this, all is doing well in the swamp.

 

The Pincer movement against the Supreme Court

 

What a coincidence that just a few weeks ago Supreme court Sotomayor attacked her fellow judges who are conservatives. Now the latest with the unthinkable. Chuck Schumer goes on a rampage.

But then again, I don’t believe in this kind of a coincidence.

All of our institutions are under attack, it would only seem reasonable that making sure there is a lack of respect for the Supremes would be the next blow to our institutions.

After all they want the lack of respect for the rule of law and those who enforce it.

Threats. Violence. Taking away rights. Rejecting God. This is the left. This is socialism. And this is what you are choosing if you vote for the left whether you think so individually or not.

 

Imagine any US Senator threatening a Supreme Court Justice? Same unhinged Schumer who said Intel officials ‘have 6 ways from Sunday at getting back at you’! Every time you think Dems can’t go lower, a new day dawns & they sink even lower!

Flashback:

But then again it has to be endless attacks.

 

 

Other than that all is well in the swamp.

Supreme Gorsuch sides with the left in latest ruling, Ginsburg sides with Consevatives

 

Supreme Gorsuch sides with the left in a decision handed down yesterday. This after his decision a week or so ago Supreme Gorsuch sides with Liberals again on Indian hunting case

Not to worry, the case went 5-4 saved by the bell no less than by Ginsburg.

Just to put the icing on the cake, let us not forget back in February our star

John Roberts Joins Liberals in Blocking Louisiana Abortion Law

I wouldn’t get too excited that Roe v. Wade will be overturned anytime soon.

Neil Gorsuch

 

The best part is that moribund Ginsburg sided with the Conservatives on Monday in this latest case. Who knows, in the end we may be more than happy to prop her up after our conservative “Stars” sell us out once more.

 

 

The Supreme Court on Monday found that a criminal defendant can be sentenced for violating his supervised release, even if the release expires while he is incarcerated ahead of facing new charges.

The justices, divided in the 5-4 decision, ruled against Jason Mont’s argument that a district court shouldn’t be able to charge him for violating his release because the term had expired at the time of the new sentencing.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sided with conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh in the majority. Justice Neil Gorsuch joined liberal Justices Sonia SotomayorStephen Breyer and Elena Kagan in opposing the decision.

Supreme Gorsuch sides with Liberals again on Indian hunting case

 

Another disappointing ruling by our changed latest Supreme Gorsuch. One can only imagine where this will lead in other Indian cases if the USA is bound to treaties written centuries ago. Better yet, apparently the issue had been ruled on before. So much for “settled Law.” Even better, wait until we have to give back much of the Southwest to Mexico.

 

The four dissenting justices said the majority was ignoring a clear precedent — a similar case in 1895 involving the same treaty language and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

 

Wyoming can’t abrogate an 1868 treaty with the Crow Tribe just because it was signed before Wyoming officially became a state, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a case breathing new life into American Indian-U.S. relations.

The ruling contradicts a century-old high court precedent and could guarantee American Indians’ hunting rights on some federal lands.

“Indian Portraits” by miracc is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The case was brought by Clayvin Herrera, a member of the Crow Tribe, whom Wyoming charged with offseason hunting in 2014 after state officials discovered him and other tribe members hunting bull elk on the Big Horn National Forest, discarding the bodies and taking the heads for trophies.

Mr. Herrera argued he was permitted to hunt on the land, citing the treaty that guaranteed American Indians “the right to hunt on unoccupied lands of the United States so long as game may be found thereon.”

Crow leaders signed the treaty in 1868, handing over roughly 30 million acres to settlers while retaining about 8 million acres.

Lower courts agreed, but the justices, in a 5-4 ruling, sided with Mr. Herrera on Monday, saying the treaty is good law. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, sided with the court’s four Democratic appointed justices.

Read more

 

Thanks WhatFingerNews for the coverage! A great site for all the news.

John Roberts Joins Liberals in Blocking Louisiana Abortion Law

 

Mark Levin tweets:  John Roberts is a disgrace. Another in a long line of lawyers who deceived the Republican presidents who appointed them.

Chief Justice Roberts votes w/ four liberal justices to apply a 2016 precedent from which he had dissented.

Add Jeff Sessions. Gone but not forgotten. His Justice Department refused to prosecute the sale by Planned Parenthood of aborted baby parts. Congressional criminal referrals from Committees last I read have still not been acted upon by the DOJ. Yet his department went after the sale of illegal Eagle Parts. Here is what is said about the Eagles:

In the illegal eagle trafficking cases, U.S. Attorney Seiler accused the defendants of a lack of reverence for the eagles – a national symbol.

‘‘There was no cultural sensitivity,” he said. “There was no spirituality.’’

 

WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court stopped Louisiana from enforcing new regulations on abortion clinics in a test of the conservative court’s views on abortion rights.

The justices said by a 5-4 vote late Thursday that they will not allow the state to put into effect a law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in putting a hold on the law, pending a full review of the case.

President Donald Trump’s two Supreme Court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were among the four conservative members of the court who would have allowed the law to take effect.

Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion in which he said the court’s action was premature because the state had made clear it would allow abortion providers an additional 45 days to obtain admitting privileges before it started enforcing the law.

More at the  Washington Times

From Bunkerville July, 2017 –

DOJ indicts 15 in ‘Chop Shop’ for eagles, fails to charge against sale of baby parts

In this grisly story, we learn that the DOJ apparently is more concerned about the sale of illegal bird body parts than parts of aborted babies even thought they are ten times more valuable:

The Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) has yet to respond to letters from the chairs of congressional committees that made criminal referrals regarding allegations that Planned Parenthood and its partners in the biomedical procurement industry profited from the sale of the body parts of aborted babies.

 

In a stunning contrast, however, the DOJ has indicted 15 individuals for illegally trafficking the body parts of eagles and other migratory birds.

In April, following a two-year undercover operation known as Project Dakota Flyer, the U.S. Attorney’s office in South Dakota announced the indictments of 15 individuals for illegally trafficking eagle body parts.

The indictments in the eagle body parts trafficking cases are based on “the sale and purchase of wildlife with a market value in excess of $350,” while the CMP videos and the congressional committees showed StemExpress to be selling the body parts of aborted babies from Planned Parenthood for prices in excess of $500.

In one exhibit, the House Select Panel’s investigation highlighted the fees paid for the baby body parts by the procurement businesses to the abortion clinics, and then the fees charged by the procurement businesses to their customers for those same parts.

“The records subpoenaed by Congress show Planned Parenthood making ten times more money off of baby body parts than the amounts that got the eagle traffickers indicted, and companies like StemExpress sell aborted baby body parts from Planned Parenthood at prices far higher than the eagle body parts traffickers are charged with,” Daleiden explains to Breitbart News.

In the illegal eagle trafficking cases, U.S. Attorney Seiler accused the defendants of a lack of reverence for the eagles – a national symbol.

‘‘There was no cultural sensitivity,” he said. “There was no spirituality.’

From Bunkerville:

DOJ indicts 15 in ‘Chop Chop’ for eagles, fails to charge against sale of baby parts

 

Supreme Court’s Decision To Duck a Foie Gras Case – End of Food Freedom?

 

First they came for our toilets. Then our shower heads. Then our lightbulbs. Now they implement a foie gras ban. There really isn’t any limit to how much our newly minted legislators and generation Z’s now want to get their hands on our food supply. Oblivious to the cost of of their demands. Apparently the Supremes have little taste for the case as well.

foie gras definition is – the fatted liver of an animal and especially of a goose usually served as a pâté.

Setting aside the debate regarding the method used to develop the fatted liver, when and where will it stop in regulating raising livestock? Free range chickens only? Pork, Beef. How about farm raised fish?

 

 

 

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it would not (yet) hear an appeal in a case challenging California’s unconstitutional and much-reviled foie gras ban. The case will now head back to U.S. District Court.

The Supreme Court’s decision is a temporary setback for foie gras producers, chefs, and others fighting the law. They’ve vowed to continue their efforts.

Michael Tenenbaum, who represents the plaintiffs in the case, told me this week that he and his clients look forward to proceeding with the case and that they’re confident they will prevail.Meanwhile, though, restaurants and others in California that serve foie gras could face fines of $1,000 for any violation of the law.

….

Culinary leaders—from California chefs to French foie gras producers—are aghast.

Those interested in learning more may do so by reading the April column on the amicus brief, the brief itself, and other earlier columns on foie gras over the years.)

“We noted in our brief that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison opposed bans on various types of foods and liquors as ‘lunacy’ and ‘despotic,'” says Manny Klausner, a former editor of Reason, a Reason Foundation co-founder and board member, and attorney who joined me on the Reason/Cato amicus brief. “The Supreme Court’s denial of cert. is a sad occasion for those who support Free Minds and Free Markets.”

In the amicus brief and elsewhere—including this O.C. Register op-ed last year—It was argued that the implications and reverberations of the foie gras case extend well beyond foie gras and could ensnare almost any conceivable animal product, including beef, pork, and chicken.

The concerns expressed then are even more apparent today given that the Supreme Court—also this week—rejected challenges to two separate animal-rights laws in Massachusetts and California that, just like the foie gras ban, serve as unconstitutional impediments to interstate commerce in animal products. (The laws, while different from one another, restrict the ability of farmers to cage egg-laying hens and other livestock.)

Interfering with interstate commerce is exactly what these laws intend and what they do. Consider that a poll (much touted among animal-rights groups) last year found nearly half of respondents want to ban slaughterhouses and so-called “factory farming.” A full one-third of Americans, the poll claims, want to ban all livestock farming. Period. A ban on livestock farming would mean that nearly all animal-derived foods—from prime rib to pork chops, bacon, and chicken McNuggets—would disappear for good.

But there’s more. With the foie gras ban and the Massachusetts and California animal-rights laws allowed to stand—for now, at least—there is little doubt that other U.S. states where livestock farming and exports of animal products play a leading economic role will find creative ways to retaliate against California and Massachusetts. Animal rights supports might not like these laws so much.

Lawmakers in a state impacted by California’s animal-rights laws, say, might pass a law that says all eggs sold in their state may come only from caged hens. (Any old justification would do, but let’s go with the food-safety argument that they’re more hygienic than eggs from free-roaming chickens.) Such a law would effectively spell the end of California egg exports to that state. More at Reason

 

Chief Justice Roberts will allow Ginsburg to decide cases as long as she has breath

 

Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts is giving Ginsburg a pass unimaginable. The most important court in the land will find its oldest member, who cannot even remain awake at the State of the Union addresses, will be allowed to decide cases from home. Unable to participate in the questioning of those that appear before it, she will simply read transcripts. No doubt her student interns will be filling in for her, prepping her in retaining her radical agenda. In other words, as long as she has breath she will remain on the Court. It was reported that she cast the last vote while under heavy sedation from her hospital bed. Where is the reporting on this?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was on Monday missing supreme court arguments for the first time in more than 25 years, as she recuperates from cancer surgery last month, the court said.

Ginsburg was not on the bench as the court met to hear arguments. It was not clear when she would return to the court, which will hear more cases on Tuesday and Wednesday and again next week.

 

Chief Justice John Roberts said in the courtroom that Ginsburg would participate in deciding the argued cases “on the basis of the briefs and transcripts of oral arguments”.

More at the Guardian

Despite that participation, Ginsburg was not expected to be able to ask questions Monday. That is significant, since Ginsburg is one of the court’s most consistent questioners. Last term, Ginsburg spoke at least once during every oral argument, according to an analysis by Empirical SCOTUS, one of only three justices to do so.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reportedly voted against President Donald Trump’s proposed asylum restrictions from her hospital bed, where she was recovering from lung surgery.

NBC News and NPR reported that Ginsburg cast the vote during her stay at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where she is recovering after two nodules were removed from her lungs.

“Unfortunately, lung cancer is usually caught in an advanced stage after it shows symptoms, after it has already spread to the lymph nodes and elsewhere, and by then it’s only curable in a small minority of cases,” Dr. John Heymach, chairman of thoracic, head and neck Medical Oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, told NBC News on Friday.

“It’s possible, without knowing the specifics of her case, that early detection because of those broken ribs saved her life,” said Heymach.

She has slept through many of the State of the Union speeches. from some years ago. Here is one of her excuses. Too much wine. Cute.
At a panel discussion on Thursday, Ruth Bader Ginsburg talked about nodding off during the State of the Union speech
.
Then we have this special moment.

As Pope Francis rose to address the assembled members of Congress and the justices of the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s head dropped and her eyelids closed in a repeat performance of January’s State of the Union address.

And just like the time before, it didn’t go unnoticed and people took to social media with their observations, including one that summed it up pretty well: “What an embarrassment.”

Read more

Supreme Court Endorses Political Corruption

 

High Court Endorses Political Corruption

By Mustang

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts was underwhelming in his acceptance of the so-called Obama Healthcare Plan. It is a tax, he said, and the federal government is permitted under the Constitution to tax the bejesus out of the American people. Well, no conservative he, and I personally think he was stretching a bit to find that the ACA was constitutional. It was, after all, far more than a tax. I conclude that Judge Roberts, like everyone in congress who voted for it, never read the law before he made his decision. Well, what did we expect? He was a Bush appointee.

But Roberts really outdid himself in the McDonnell Decision.

One may recall that while serving as Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell solicited a fifty-thousand-dollar loan from Jonnie R. Williams. He then texted an aide about making damn sure that Williams got the meetings he wanted with Virginia state officials. McDonnell didn’t stop there. He also accepted as a gift a Rolex watch, a $20,000 loan, and the payment for the catering bill for his daughter’s wedding. Mrs. McDonnell (Virginia’s first lady) was the individual who suggested to Williams that her husband needed a new watch —and, presumably, a Timex wouldn’t do. Well, and while she was at it,

Maureen could use a new wardrobe totaling $20,000. Considering all of Mr. Williams’ gifts, the McDonnell’s accepted $175,000.00. Most of us would conclude that there may not be a clearer case of political corruption: facilitating access to state officials in return for a very large chunk of change and a few trinkets. It sounds corrupt to me.

But this isn’t how Chief Justice Roberts viewed it.

The court ruled that the Virginia jury was wrong to think that Governor McDonnell’s actions constituted “official corruption.” The McDonnell conviction was overturned —and in the process, the Supreme Court established a new standard for determining the government corruption —a standard so narrow that it will, in the future, be difficult to convict any but the most incompetent of our politicians.

While an official act can still be illegal, the definition of that term has been excessively broad. Something as commonplace as an executive turning to an aide and telling him or her to make something happen or accepting a check and then having a quiet word with government regulators, or even a suggestion to subordinates that a door ought to be opened for an influence-buyer does not, in and of itself, represent an official act.

No, of course not.

Chief Justice Roberts opined that an official act “must involve a formal exercise of governmental power that is similar in nature to a lawsuit before a court, a determination before an agency, or a hearing before a committee.”

What?

Right —in the absence of a gavel, there is no bribery or corruption. I’ll call this the smoking gavel rule. Roberts said that bribery is “the kind of thing that can be put on an agenda, tracked for progress, and then checked off as complete.”

Well, I suppose the court is at least consistent. In the Citizens-United case, the court allowed rich people to purchase politicians. Now they are able to purchase office-holders as well. One pundit suggested that the high court was worried that if the McDonnell conviction was upheld, all of our politicians would begin to live in a state of fear (as opposed, to say, strutting around like the arrogant asses they are), sure that almost anyone could go to prison for being corrupt. God forbid that should ever happen.

Justice Roberts wrote, “Conscientious public officials arrange meetings for constituents, contact other officials on their behalf, and include them in events all the time.” If McDonnell’s conviction was upheld, it would “cast a pall of potential prosecution over these relationships.” He added, “officials might wonder whether they could respond to even the most commonplace requests for assistance, and citizens with legitimate concerns might shrink from participating in democratic discourse.”

Has America’s high court come to accept the premise that corrupt politics is simply how politics is done? It is certainly true that trading cash, favors, trips to Europe, expensive gifts and gifts of underage prostitutes is a common occurrence in our government today. Interestingly, during the court’s deliberations, it accepted a number of amicus briefs from White House lawyers who argued that the business of politics, as we know it, would be disturbed if the McDonnell decision were upheld. What White House lawyers? I don’t know their names, but it was during the Obama administration.

Bottom line: influence peddling as a form of corruption has been upheld by the highest court in the land. To everyone imagining that the Supreme Court was our last hope for a just America —think again.

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