Trump’s SCOTUS pics are totally unfit
While Donald Trump has been announcing despicable choices for his cabinet and other high posts that could easily be top contestants for Keith Olbermann’s old Countdown feature: “Worst Person in the World,” there hasn’t been much talk lately about his likely choices to fill positions that could shape U.S. policy for decades after his administration is dust in the wind. Those choices are, of course, who he picks to be associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Since Trump isn’t about to send Merrick Garland’s name to the Senate for confirmation in two months, one court slot is immediately available. But given the age of some justices, Trump might wind up in a position to nominate as many as four new jurists to add to the court by the end of 2020. One or more of his nominees could still be sitting there when Trump’s grandchildren are old enough to run for president.
Last Friday, Tim Alberta at National Review reported that people allegedly in-the-know are convinced the president-elect’s top two choices to replace Antonin Scalia are the same two he first suggested last spring: William Pryor and Diane Sykes.
No surprise, these are also top choices of the right-wing Heritage Foundation. For anyone on the left who cares about civil liberties, civil rights, reproductive rights, environmental regulations and the rest of the panoply of progressive ideals, these two would be disastrous.
William Pryor’s record is replete with right-wing actvism. He has labeled the Roe v. Wade ruling the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law” and “a constitutional right to murder an unborn child.” In enacting FDR’s New Deal and other measures, the United States, Pryor says, has “strayed too far in the expansion of the federal government.” He says the federal government “should not be in the business of public education nor the control of street crime.” Indeed, he has a history of official support for states’ rights and an extremist view of federalism that several Supreme Court rulings have shot down.
From his judgeship on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, he ruled for the restrictive Georgia voter ID law, claiming that “racially disparate effects” are inadequate to prove a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. (The Supreme Court he would sit on has ruled oppositely.) In Kimel v. Florida Board of Regents, Pryor went a good deal further than the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling, arguing that Congress “had no power to legislate under the Fourteenth Amendment with respect to age discrimination because it was not concerned with a ‘suspect’ classification like race and national origin, a radical theory that would further limit Congress’s ability to protect individual rights.“
He has also attacked environmental protection laws, limits on privacy protection, and on the reach of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Diane Sykes—who, besides being on the Heritage Found list, is a favorite of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker—sits to Pryor’s right.
At the Wisconsin Supreme Court and later on the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, she frequently wrote various dissents in which she put the interests of business ahead of the interests of consumers and victims of discrimination. She argued for limits on corporate liability for defects in their products and urged overturning of a $1 million award for damages from defects and a $3.5 million judgment for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In a dissent she argued that a jury verdict should be upheld even though it was obvious one of the jurors did not understand English well enough to understand what was said in court or in deliberations. She took the outrageous view that a prosecutor should be legally shielded from a claim that he fabricated evidence that put a wrongly convicted man in prison for 17 years. She argued that a federal law barring ownership of firearms by people convicted of domestic violence is unconstitutional. All the other 10 justices on the 7th Circuit said otherwise.
Sykes wrote the 2-1 Circuit Court majority ruling to invalidate the contraception mandate of Obamacare, a 154-page decision that brought her some national limelight. She disagreed with the 10 other judges on 7th Circuit when she voted for the strict Wisconsin voter ID law despite its unfair impact on student voters.
She was also the sole dissenter on the Wisconsin Supreme Court when it ruled that evidence collected during the interrogation of a person who was not issued a Miranda warning must be excluded from trial. While she generally ignores the rights of the accused, as in the Miranda-related case, she backed a lenient sentence for two forced-birther protesters who had to be forcibly removed from blocking the entrance to a Milwaukee abortion clinic. And she lauded them for their “fine character” and expressed “respect” for the goals they hoped to achieve.
And she wrote that an anti-gay student group should be allowed to receive state funding and recognition even though it engaged in banned discrimination. Sykes even claimed the group had not discriminated because it allowed membership of gays who vowed not to be engaged in sex. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently ruled the other way.
These two would both be winners for those Americans who want to roll back the clock on a wide range of issues. And the rest of us would be losers.
Crafting a workable opposition to these two and other ultra-rightists whom Trump may nominate in the future should be, along with a dozen other issues, a top priority of the left.
(Originally appeared at DailyKos)