Antonin Scalia

The Donald Trump Show (American Distress)

Detail of image via Trump campaign.

“Yes, Antonin Scalia’s passing meant the Supreme Court was down one justice, but it doesn’t take a mathematician to know 3 + 1 does not equal 5.”

Steve Benen

The thing about politics right now is that everything is really, really depressing. I’m deathly sick of Donald Trump, yet the question persists: How did this happen?

Nor do I mean that in any context suggesting plaintive puzzlement. We all have a reasonable idea how the abdication of civic leadership in the context of public service struck the Republican Party so low after decades of pandering to ill-educated bigotry.

Donald Trump saying something stupid really shouldn’t be headline news. It shouldn’t be anything unusual. It shouldn’t be anything the rest of us have any reason to give a damn about. Then again, just how the hell did Republicans find themselves with Donald Trump as their presidential nominee apparent?

Oh, right.

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The Donald Trump Show (Pipe Bombs and Pussies)

Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This is an important rule:

• It is not always fair to blame a politician for the actions of supporters.

And this is the flip side:

• Sometimes it is exactly fair to blame a politician for actions of supporters.

But there is also this:

• This is the quality of mind that supports Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.

Or, as Ryan J. Reilly explained yesterday for Huffington Post:

A fanatical Donald Trump supporter, who was arrested by the FBI in Oregon this week after repeatedly threatening to kill President Barack Obama and federal agents, had multiple pipe bombs in his home, authorities alleged in court on Friday.

In one Jan. 31 Facebook post cited by the FBI, [John Martin] Roos referred to agents as “pussies” and wrote he would “snipe them with hunting rifles everywhere.” (Despite his threats to kill members of law enforcement, he also complained on Facebook earlier this month about the “liberal media … slamming police.”) In a post in November that was also cited by the FBI, Roos spoke out against accepting refugees and threatened to kill Obama.

John Martin Roos in detail of undated photo via Facebook.“Obama you goat fffing fudgepacker, the refugees are men of fighting age. Black lives matter! Sure we need someone to pick cotton and wash cars. Paris, burn diseased muslim neighborhoods to the ground and start over with human beings. Obama you are on a hit list,” he wrote in a post that appears to have been removed.

Beyond what was mentioned in the affidavit, Roos regularly posted on both Facebook and Twitter about his support for Trump and his hatred for Obama, who he called a “muslim faggot” and other derogatory terms. He indicated he wanted to kill Obama’s family and made other racist and sexist statements about Michelle Obama. He also made negative references to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, singer Beyonce, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and reporter Michelle Fields, and said he believed that the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was killed by Obama. He praised Ann Coulter and Stacey Dash, and posted several links to posts on Breitbart.com.

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Republican Justice (Maybe Mix)

Contemplation of Justice

Steve Benen, after reviewing the appalling stupidity of the Republican pitch against confirming a Supreme Court nominee, including their reaction to the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, found himself adding a postscript:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who just last week explicitly urged Obama to nominate Garland, said in a statement this morning that Garland’s nomination “doesn’t in any way change current circumstances” – which is to say, Hatch still supports his party’s blockade.

However, Hatch also added this morning, “I’d probably be open to resolving this in the lame duck.” Keep a very close eye on this, because it may prove to be incredibly important. As things stand, Senate Republicans don’t intend to reject Garland, so much as they plan to ignore him. His nomination won’t be defeated; it’ll simply wither on the vine.

But if Republicans fare poorly in November’s elections, don’t be too surprised if GOP senators declare, “Well, now that voters have had their say, we’re prepared to confirm Garland after all.”

The msnbc producer and blogger advises readers to, “File this away for future reference”, and it behooves us to do so. One of the blessings facing pretty much any president seeking a new Supreme Court justice, and especially Democrats as such these days, is that there is a plethora of qualified candidates. In the end, given all else, one wonders if perhaps the “moderate, inoffensive, broadly respected, 63-year-old white guy” is actually the sacrificial lamb.

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LePage on Obama on Scalia

Gov. Paul LePage speaks at the maine GOP convention, Sunday, 6 May 2012. (Detail of photo by Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo)

All things considered, this is actually not unexpected. Well, you know.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday added his voice to the ongoing debate regarding the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created with the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia last Saturday.

LePage sided with former governor and U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, saying President Barack Obama should nominate a replacement for Scalia.

“I’m a big constitutionalist,” LePage said. “If it’s in the Constitution, I think it means something.”

(Thistle)

That is to say, Governor LePage managed to get one rightα. Then again, this one is pretty easy.

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Your Headline of the Duh

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia testifies before a House Judiciary Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 20, 2010. (Detail of photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The headline from Roll Call we might file as obvious: “Supreme Court Vacancy Could Lead to Even More Gridlock”:

Republicans, including Cruz and Rubio on the Sunday shows, have cited the so-called “Thurmond Rule” in saying the chamber shouldn’t confirm any such nominees in the last year of a president’s term once the presidential race is underway. It’s named after Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., who chaired the Judiciary Committee from 1981 to 1987.

“There is no such thing as the Thurmond Rule,” Senate Judiciary ranking member Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. Leahy cited the Democratic-controlled Senate’s confirmation of several of Republican George W. Bush’s lower court nominees in September 2008 as evidence that there is no such tradition or rule.

Remember, when this stuff finally makes it ’round to the evening news, then the morning infotainment, that we’ve already heard it.

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Image note: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia testifies before a House Judiciary Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 20, 2010. (Detail of photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Dick, Jason. “Supreme Court Vacancy Could Lead to Even More Gridlock”. Roll Call. 14 February 2016.

Good Advice (Always Be Prepared)

Her plan is to penetrate us … (Detail of frame from FLCL episode 4, 'Brittle Bullet')

“To talk to the government, you fill out a form―getting married is no different. Until today, only marriages comprised of a “husband” and a “wife” were eligible to fill out the papers, so the forms will be gender coded. It can be an uncomfortable moment when you’re standing at the clerk’s counter, pen in hand, one looking over the other’s shoulder, and that’s the moment you have to decide which name goes over “husband” and which goes over “wife.” In advance, flip a coin, have a heavy talk, allocate a gender between the top and the bottom. But, work it out on the way. Our clerk in Toronto picked for us, and I still disagree with his choice.”

Coco Soodek

No, really. This is a moment to lighten up and enjoy that this is really happening. HuffPo blogger Coco Soodek offers some advice to red-state gay couples as they prepare to celebrate their love, and justice as well.

It’s almost enough to make me want to go get married, like in Kansas, or something. You know, just because.

And, no, nothing goes here about the sanctity of marriage. Rather, we might simply mutter something about how stupid the proposition of me getting married could possibly be, and still be making sense. But that’s the fun part; we wouldn’t have to fiddle around or flip coins over gender.

Good luck, everyone. And remember, we might chuckle at the thought of Justice Scalia insulting his own wife, but he does have something of a point. That is to say, you know, just not a useful one for a Supreme Court dissent. Still, though, I used to joke that all feminists were asking was that women be treated like shit in the same way as everybody else. And, you know, that’s kind of a joke we can make about gay marriage. What we won in Obergefell is the right to be just as miserable as our heterosexual neighbors. And, yeah, you know, don’t analyze that point too much; it’s a joke.

Be well, friends.

Congratulations.

And, you know, I owe generations who came before me an eternal debt. Thank you so much.

But, yeah. Here we are.

Stand. Speak. Love. Live.

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Image note: “Her plan is to penetrate us ....” Commander Amaro explains the trouble with Raharu. (Detail of frame from FLCL episode 4, “Full Swing”)

Soodek, Coco. “Open Letter to Same Sex People Getting Married in Red States”. The Huffington Post. 2 July 2015.

Prokop, Andrew. “Scalia’s same-sex marriage dissent blasts judicial ‘putsch,’ Ivy Leaguers, fortune cookies”. Vox. 26 June 2015.

Justice

People celebrate inside the Stonewall Inn, an iconic gay bar recently granted historic landmark status, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Today.

This is our honor.

• There is, of course, the decision itself: Obergefell v. Hodges (14-556)

• Or perhaps a headline: “Gay Marriage Supporters Win Supreme Court Victory”

• The author: “Kennedy: The Gay Marriage Justice”

• Another headline, this one somewhat overstated: “Texas Pastor Says He Will Set Himself On Fire In Protest Over Gay Marriage”

• Dissents or temper tantrums? “‘Ask the nearest hippie’: The conservative SCOTUS justices’ opinions on marriage equality are hilariously bitter”

• And why not ask a hippie? “We Asked the Nearest Hippie About Scalia: It Was David Crosby”

• Unfit for duty: “To avoid marrying gay couples, some Alabama counties have stopped marrying everyone”

• GOP presidential timber, part one: “Constitutional Remedies to a Lawless Supreme Court”

• Fifty-four years, cookie dough, and Stonewall celebrations: “From Ice Cream To Ian McKellen: Reactions To Same-Sex Marriage Ruling”

• GOP presidential timber, part two: “Jindal: ‘Let’s just get rid of the court'”

• GOP presidential timber, part three: “Scott Walker calls for Constitutional amendment to let states define marriage”

• What a real President of the United States sounds like: “Remarks by the President on the Supreme Court Decision on Marriage Equality”

I would at this time raise a glass to homophobic traditionalists from Sea to Shining Sea; without your dedicated, horrifying zeal, we might never have come this far. Indeed, your own cruelty and hatred shepherded this day.

Drink up, dreamers of hatred and supremacism; you’re running dry.

Then again, we also know you’re nowhere near finished, at least in your own minds. We’re here. We will hold the line. We know you’re targeting children, now, and we will hold the line.

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Image note: People celebrate inside the Stonewall Inn, an iconic gay bar recently granted historic landmark status, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

The Countdown: Weekend Edition

Contemplation of Justice

There are a few things here:

The Defense of Marriage Act decision overshadowed another 2013 case―Hollingsworth v. Perry―that could have determined whether states could ban same-sex marriage.

The case concerned a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment that barred same-sex couples from marriage. But Roberts, writing for the majority, dismissed the case, holding that the challengers did not have the legal standing to bring it to the court.

The ruling left in place a lower court decision that had invalidated Proposition 8 and thus paved the way for same-sex marriage in California. Roberts’ lesbian cousin, who lives in California, sat in the courtroom during arguments in the Prop 8 case.

Few people predicted that the issue would return so quickly to the Supreme Court, but waves of lower court judges―sometimes citing Windsor―struck down the state bans.

Ariane de Vogue is not wrong. It seemed strange at the time; the Hollingsworth outcome was one of my anti-prophet moments. When the case was selected, I actually told a friend it wouldn’t make sense for the Court to take the case and then punt. And, yet, here we are.

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Morbid Hilarity (King v. Burwell Throwback Mix)

That King v. Burwell has even made it to the Supreme Court becomes even more of a mystery; the cynicism of the case is plainly apparent; even Justice Scalia is reduced to cheap politicking.

Perhaps, then, we ought not be surprised at Ian Millhiser’s report for ThinkProgress, which runs under the lovely title, “The Lawyer Telling The Supreme Court To Gut Obamacare Explained Why He Should Lose In 2012”, should surprise nobody:

On Wednesday, a lawsuit seeking to defund much of the Affordable Care Act appeared to hit a roadblock when Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed concerns that the plaintiffs’ reading of the law is unconstitutional. Though Michael Carvin, the lead lawyer challenging the law, attempted to extract himself from this roadblock, he quickly ran into an entirely different obstacle — his own past writings.

Attorney Michael Carvin, who argued King v. Burwell before the Supreme Court of the United States, 3 March 2015, on behalf of plaintiffs hoping to overturn the Affordable Care Act, in an undated photo.  (Image credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)Carvin claims, in a case called King v. Burwell, that Obamacare should be read to deny tax credits that enable millions of Americans to afford health insurance in states that elected not to set up their own health exchange (under the Affordable Care Act, states have “flexibility” to decide whether to set up their own exchange or to allow the federal government to do so). During oral arguments on Wednesday, however, several justices raised concerns about the catastrophic damage Carvin’s reading of the law could inflict on those states’ insurance markets ....

.... Carvin tried to downplay the risk that consumers would simply stop buying plans in the law’s health exchanges if the tax credits were cut off, claiming that these consumers would still be attracted to exchange plans by the fact that the exchanges offer “one-stop shopping” for people looking to buy insurance. He also claimed that Congress wasn’t worried about the risk of death spirals if the tax credits get cut off. According to Carvin, “there’s not a scintilla of legislative history suggesting that without subsidies, there will be a death spiral.”

But Carvin himself sang a very different tune three years ago. Indeed, Wednesday was not the first time he’s stood in the well of the Supreme Courtroom and asked the justices to gut the Affordable Care Act. Carvin was also one of the lead attorneys in NFIB v. Sebelius, the first Supreme Court case attacking the law.

In a brief filed in NFIB, Carvin explained that “[w]ithout the subsidies driving demand within the exchanges, insurance companies would have absolutely no reason to offer their products through exchanges, where they are subject to far greater restrictions.” And, contrary to his more recent suggestion that Congress never envisioned any danger if the tax credits are cut off, Carvin wrote in 2012 that “the insurance exchanges cannot operate as intended by Congress absent those provisions.”

In a subsequent brief, Carvin elaborated that “the federal subsidies are the incentive to participate in the exchanges, and without those subsidies, there will be no mechanism to sustain the exchanges.” He also seemed to contradict his central claim that different states are treated differently depending on whether their exchange is operated by a state or the federal government. The Affordable Care Act, according to the Michael Carvin of 2012, “enables uniform and acceptable federal premium subsidies”.

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The One About How Nine Justices Walk Into a Bar ….

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia testifies before the House Judiciary Committee's Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee on Capitol Hill May 20, 2010 in Washington, DC. Scalia and fellow Associate Justice Stephen Breyer testified to the subcommittee about the Administrative Conference of the United States. (Photo: Stephen A. Masker)

“Congratulations, Congress, you’ve literally sunk to the level of a punch line.”

Steve Benen

The proposition that Congress is a punch line strikes few as new material. Even the idea that a Solicitor General would take the shot is not so strange. Yet Steve Benen makes the point about Justice Scalia’s blithe view of the 114th Congress:

Scalia wasn’t kidding. “I don’t care what Congress you’re talking about,” he added. “If the consequences are as disastrous as you say, so many million people ­­ without insurance and whatnot – yes, I think this Congress would act.”

On a purely theoretical level, this is not ridiculous. Major new laws have routinely needed minor technical fixes for generations, and many of these corrections are intended to bring clarity to ambiguous phrases. Under normal circumstances, the King v. Burwell case wouldn’t even exist because Congress would have clarified the ACA structure years ago.

And, again in theory, if the Supreme Court were to decide in this case that the statute needs clarification, a sane, mature, responsible legislative branch would simply add a few words to the ACA law and ensure that consumers receive the same insurance subsidies they’re receiving now.

But that’s all the more reason to understand exactly why Scalia is wrong.

Perhaps it is Justice Scalia who is the punch line. Then again, neither is that news.

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