Chief Justice John Roberts Moves Again Towards the Center


Supreme Court on 5-to-4 vote blocks restrictive Louisiana abortion law

By throwing his lot in with the Supreme Court liberals in yesterday’s 5 to 4 decision to block a Louisiana law that would have restricted access to a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion, Chief Justice John Roberts gave his latest signal, no doubt much to the dismay of conservatives, that he’s really not interested in having a court run on ideological guidelines.

It’s been long known that Chief Justice Roberts is more than well aware of history and how his role as chief justice will be viewed historically. The lyric from the musical Hamilton – “history has its eyes on you” – can be identified as the main theme for how Chief Justice Roberts sees his role. This seems to be especially true when it comes to long decided legal precedents. Roberts does not seem so interested in tossing the baby out with the bathwater just because the court seems less moderate and more right wing. In fact, you could describe the political views of the four very conservative justices as being more far-right than conservative.

This does not mean that Chief Justice Roberts will become the next David Souter on the court. Appointed by a conservative president, Souter went on to become one of the great liberal voices on the court during his tenure, much to the surprise and dismay of conservatives everywhere. Robert seems more headed towards the solid middle ground. He values balance more than anything else. If his court was to produce a long series of far-right decisions, it would be seen in the same ideological light as the liberal court of Earl Warren. Roberts does not seem interested in having a similar ideologically conservative label slapped on his tenure as Chief Justice.

As long as the current balance remains in the court, Chief Justice Roberts will play the role that Anthony Kennedy played for so long and Sandra Day O’Connor before him. While they tended to side with their conservative colleagues on most issues, they could not be counted on as a totally solid conservative vote and there would be times on certain important issues like reproductive choice or gay marriage when they would switch hats and vote with the liberal members of the court.

Conservatives, especially far-right conservative talking heads like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh, will be furious with Roberts because once again it looks as if their dreams of an overwhelmingly conservative court that will undo the progress that America has made in so many important issues will once again be put on the back burner. Roberts has already dealt with this with his vote on Obamacare and as we noted above, he cares more about the voice of history and he does with the voices of the far-right rabble.

For liberals, this also emphasizes the importance of the health of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the next two years. If Ginsburg were to die or be forced to resign because of health issues, Pres. Trump would no doubt appoint another far-right ideologically motivated justice that would swing the court very far to the right regardless of Chief Justice Roberts desire for more balanced court.

As an atheist, I don’t believe in prayer, but I’m superstitious enough to keep my fingers crossed that Justice Ginsburg will enjoy good health for at least the next two years and hopefully much longer. Chief Justice Roberts probably wishes the same.

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The Tediousness of Howard Schultz

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me…Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different. ”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

How shall I describe Howard Schultz? The coffee-serving billionaire who wants to be president.

Like his coffee, rather bland. Unprepared for the rigors of presidential combat. More than anything else, however, I find Schultz tedious. Here we go again, another member of the 1% who believes that being a member of the 1% qualifies him to be president.

He doesn’t seem to be able to make up his mind whether he wants to be a Republican or Democrat, so he settled on Independent without really understand what it means to be an independent. For Schultz, being an Independent means “Well, I can’t win the Republican or Democratic presidential nomination, but I want to be president, so I’ll just make up one of my own.”

When Schultz announced he’s thinking about running for president you can’t escape the feeling that he expected rose petals to be strewn in his path and distant trumpets to announce his arrival. He would be our savior from the calamity of both the mendacious and ridiculous Donald Trump and those crazy far-left Democrats. Instead, he was greeted with tough questions and more than a healthy dose of circumspection.

The Wall Street Journal opinion page, long a bastion of the very rich and their interests, claimed that Schultz was being “bullied.” No. He was just being treated like a man who would be king. Or president in this case. What Howard Schultz and the Wall Street Journal don’t seem to understand is that the media is no longer buying the “I’m very rich so I know how to run this country” scam, and have no intention of just going along for the ride.

Fool me once…

It is very true that, unlike Donald Trump, Howard Schultz really is an American success story. He came from a poor family. He didn’t have $400 million from his father. He had to borrow money and put himself deeply in debt to open his first coffee shop. He worked his way up until he became a multi-billionaire. One would think that this background of hard work and determination would help him identify with the many millions of Americans who live in economically depressed conditions. But Schultz has been so rich for so long it’s hard to connect him with the childhood background.

Like most of the very rich, Schultz really has no understanding of how America works these days. Except that the rules have been created greatly aid people like him. That’s why he had such a violent reaction against Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s idea about a 70% tax on the very rich. People like Howard Schultz.

The positions that he is taking on important issues indicate that he has no real plan for running for president other than he wants to be president. Like Trump, he wants us to believe that he alone can solve all our problems. Being very rich, he wants us to believe he knows all the answers and that being mega-rich makes him smarter than the rest of us. Oh, he would never admit that out loud, but his true inner feelings were betrayed by his defensive reactions to the quite legitimate criticisms he received this week.

My dad, who worked in politics for much of his life, used to tell me there was a big difference between running for election and governing. Anybody can run for an office, he once said to me, but very few people really know how to govern.

There have been very rich individuals who have been president in the past. Both Roosevelts came from a wealthy family. The Bush family has more than a little bit of money. The members of these families who did run for president, however, first gained extensive experience in government.

You can see this disparity in Schultz. He knows how to run for office – after all any American over the age of 35 can run for president. But does he really have any solid ideas about governing? For instance, his answer to healthcare problems? Get people to sit around a table and talk about it. His answer to poverty? Eliminating two of the most effective anti-poverty programs that exist in the United States. These are the answers of a very rich man who only knows the world of business, not a man who knows how difficult it is to govern.

I, for one, am not worried about Howard Schultz draining enough Democratic votes away to ensure the reelection of that other megarich moron Donald Trump. Americans saw Donald Trump for years on a terrible TV show which helped create the mythical and mistaken image of him as an outstanding businessman and leader. Trump knew how to cultivate the media. Howard Schultz? He doesn’t seem to understand how the media works, let alone how to cultivate it.

Another time, my dad told me if you get too full of yourself, and you want to see how much you impress people, go stick your finger in a bowl of water and see what kind of impression it leaves. I think Howard Schultz needs to do the same thing and then quietly go back to his double lattes and cake pops.

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