Thursday, February 28, 2013

Women Justices Take on Supreme Court Bully

For some time I have argued that at least two of the U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas need to be removed from the Court.  In the case of Thomas, he violates the ethical conduct and financial restrictions that would have long ago caused a lower court judged to have been removed from the bench.  In the case of Scalia, the man has become increasingly insane and now doesn't even try to give the appearance of objectivity.  He makes his mind up before cases ever reach him and makes statements that would cause a lower court judge to be removed from cases if not the bench.  He's become an open bigot who is contemptuous of the religious freedom of others and who personifies the elderly angry white men who increasingly make up a majority of the GOP base.  Both men are harming the reputation and image of the Court.  Now, as a column in the Washington Post takes note, two women justices on the Court seem ready to confront Scalia and politely bitch slap him as he deserves.  Here are column higlights:

For a quarter-century, Antonin Scalia has been the reigning bully of the Supreme Court, but finally a couple of justices are willing to face him down.  As it happens, the two manning up to take on Nino the Terrible are women: the court’s newest members, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The acerbic Scalia, the court’s longest-serving justice, got his latest comeuppance Wednesday morning, as he tried to make the absurd argument that Congress’s renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 2006 by votes of 98 to 0 in the Senate and 390 to 33 in the House did not mean that Congress actually supported the act. Scalia, assuming powers of clairvoyance, argued that the lawmakers were secretly afraid to vote against this “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

Kagan wasn’t about to let him get away with that. In a breach of decorum, she interrupted his questioning of counsel to argue with him directly. “Well, that sounds like a good argument to me, Justice Scalia,” she said. “It was clear to 98 senators, including every senator from a covered state, who decided that there was a continuing need for this piece of legislation.”

Sotomayor is blunt and caustic, repeatedly interrupting. In an opinion this week, she harshly criticized a Texas prosecutor for a racist line of questioning. She has been on the interview circuit publicizing her memoir.

Kagan is choosier about when to interject herself, but she’s sardonic and sharp-witted. (“Well, that’s a big, new power that you are giving us,” she said, mockingly, when a lawyer tried to argue that the justices should overrule Congress’s discrimination findings.)

Both are more forceful than the Clinton appointees, the amiable Breyer and the frail Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The two new justices are sending a message to the court’s conservative majority: You may have the votes, but you’re going to have a fight.

Sotomayor allowed the lawyer for the Alabama county seeking to overturn the law to get just four sentences into his argument before interrupting him. “Assuming I accept your premise — and there’s some question about that — that some portions of the South have changed, your county pretty much hasn’t,” she charged. “Why would we vote in favor of a county whose record is the epitome of what caused the passage of this law to start with?”

Moments later, Kagan pointed out that “Alabama has no black statewide elected officials” and has one of the worst records of voting rights violations.

Scalia was not about to surrender his title of worst-behaved justice. He mocked the civil rights law as he questioned the government lawyer. “Even the name of it is wonderful,” he said. “The Voting Rights Act: Who is going to vote against that?” (Verrilli cautioned him not to ignore actual votes of Congress in favor of “motive analysis.”)

But Scalia’s mouth was no longer the loudest in the room. When the Alabama county’s lawyer returned for his rebuttal, he managed to utter only five words — “Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice” — before Sotomayor broke in.

What I also find disturbing is that Scalia - the son of immigrants who once were treated nearly as bad as blacks and Hispanics - has totally forgotten his own family's history and is now only too happy to support open discrimination against those who are different from his fellow angry white males.

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