Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Sid Salter: What's Next for Supreme Court?

After the national fabric was almost rent in twain during the bitter fight over the confirmation of now Associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, what next for the U.S. Supreme Court? The short answer is judicial business as usual.

Many in the media have falsely interpreted the growth and scope of the #MeToo movement in America as a signal that both the political and judicial processes associated with the selection of Supreme Court justices have somehow changed with the same fierce speed with which the national culture now regards men who used power or position to abuse women.

Kavanaugh has been sworn in to a life term on the court. While there are partisan rumbles and threats of additional investigation of the lurid allegations against Kavanaugh and political saber-rattling of a potential congressional impeachment attempt down the road, the fact is that no Supreme Court justice has ever been successfully impeached in the nation’s history.

Associate Justice Samuel P. Chase – the only Supreme Court justice to face impeachment – was impeached by the House in 1804 and acquitted by the Senate in 1805. History recorded the impeachment attempt – led by President Thomas Jefferson – as a largely partisan effort to eliminate a political enemy that failed in a rather spectacular fashion. That failure went a long way toward protecting the nation’s highest court from such efforts.

Kavanaugh’s nomination was confirmed by a razor-thin 50-48 vote of the U.S. Senate, a vote marred by protests both in the Senate chamber and outside the U.S. Capitol Building.

But impeachment of a Supreme Court justice is an onerous and difficult business. First, a majority of the U.S. House must approve an impeachment indictment and then a two-thirds majority of the U.S. Senate must convict for the Supreme Court justice to lose their office.

That’s the political bar that must be cleared. The legal test is a more difficult one of convincing members of the House and Senate that a justice is guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors” – the definition of which is vague in the extreme. Suffice to say that the Congress can define “high crimes and misdemeanors” as they wish – but the want of a Senate supermajority to convict makes achieving that difficult if not impossible absent a criminal conviction or an inarguably impending conviction.

Short of congressional realignment, neither the narrow margin of Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation nor the depth of partisan anger and vitriol against him over the allegations lodged against the jurist seem particularly threatening to his lifetime tenure on the high court. Justice Clarence Thomas, now 70, took his seat on the Supreme Court bench in 1991.

Partisans on both sides of the Kavanaugh confirmation battle pointed to similarities and parallels between the paths of the two judges to the Supreme Court. Following his appointment by President George H.W. Bush and a bruising Senate confirmation hearing that focused on sexual harassment allegations from former employee Anita Hill, Thomas was confirmed by a 52-48 majority. Thomas now is the high court’s senior member.

Likely the answer to the question of “what next for the Supreme Court” is more complex and nuanced. For all the rhetoric, angst and anger over the allegations from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and others against Kavanaugh, there remain three bedrock issues that rise to review by the high court that inflame political passions in Democrats and Republicans alike – abortion, guns, and the death penalty.

Proponents of gay rights and LGTBQ issue argue that their concerns have begun to displace the death penalty in that judicial pecking order. Separation of powers issues – in these hyper-partisan times, are also top shelf concerns.

With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg now 85 years old, perhaps the more cogent question is whether the vicious battle waged over the Kavanaugh nomination by President Trump will become the new normal? Trump’s first high court nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, attended the same Jesuit prep school as Kavanaugh but did not face any allegations of sexual misconduct.

Gorsuch was confirmed by a vote of 54-45 by essentially the same U.S. Senate that gave Kavanaugh at 50-48 nod.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Dee Ray said...

Not sure where Salter gets his definition of impeachment. Chase was indeed 'successfully impeached'. He was impeached by the House, which is where impeachment occurs. And if he was impeached, which he way, then the impeachment can be nothing other than successful.

While he was not 'convicted' by the Senate, he was certainly impeached.

Using Salter's logic, Bill Clinton was not 'successfully impeached'. Impeachment stands alone. He was.

Anonymous said...

When was the last time a president put THREE on the court?

Anonymous said...

Reagan appointed four.

Anonymous said...

Sid's writing has gotten pitiful. While he had a nice flow going through most of the article, the end was a jumbled mess. It reminded me of some of my English Comp. papers in college where I'd gotten a really nice start on my work, put it aside for a while, and then had to scramble to add enough words at the very end to meet the minimum word/page requirement before the submission deadline. Sid, you should be better than this by now.

Anonymous said...

Let’s ask Hollywood if it’s ok to impeach him. I’m sure the cast of SNL will gladly give us some good advice along with Taylor Swift. Maybe even Len Dunham can tell how she molested her sister and said that it’s ok to do that if you think like the dems do.

Anonymous said...

To me, rather than guns and death penalty, the main question is whether we, as a society, are going to continue to let fathers get away without supporting children. Whether we are going to continue letting pedophiles run loose and keep our children fenced in. Whether we are going to keep paying those who exaggerate sexual or racial harassment because it is cheaper than going to court. Or whether we will accept that some men (and sometimes women) have very sick attitudes toward their sexual proclivities. That many of both sexes exploit the system for personal monetary gain. People who touch children improperly need to know there are severe consequences - be it sexual or violence. Same for power or force over women. The legal system has lost all balance. The foster home situation is not working well for children. Our entertainment has gone to the dogs and many in society are sick. We need to return to civilized behavior and deviant behavior having consequences.

Anonymous said...

So can the two partisan hacks that Obama appointed be impeached...if so let's roll ! Just kidding of course. The left in this country is no longer "liberal" or "Democratic". They are a socialistic movement whose goal is to destroy the constitution and eventually the country and rebuild it as a third world socialist regime. Keep your powder dry boys.

Anonymous said...

Ronald Reagan got one in his first term (O'Connor)and two in his second term (Scalia & Kennedy).

Anonymous said...

I can't help but enjoy the irony that those who love to hate northeastern prep school ivy leaguers don't realize who they are trusting.
Just like the sons of Kluxers and Nazis could don suits and learn better grammar and avoid sounding threatening, the rich boys could get" preacher hair
" and learn to say what the good old boys want to hear.

Some of you thought you had them fooled but Now the party of the wealthy have a lock on all three branches of government and you'll get to keep just the amount of money they think will keep you placated.

Anonymous said...

If Trump is going to have a chance at 3, someone better die pretty quick. Once the Dems seize control, they aren't appoving anything he does.
They have galvanized the base for sure but women and independents don't want anymore of Trump or Republicans.

Anonymous said...

... independents don't want anymore of Trump or Republicans.

Keep telling yourself that.

Anonymous said...

I’m really enjoying this winning that’s happenong. When have we ever had this much prosperity in our nation? And please don’t say when Abe, JFK or Carter was president. It is against the democratic philosophy to have a robust economy where everyone can thrive. I’m enjoying it very much and I’ve even added 15 tractor trailers to my fleet. Unheard of during Obama’s Administration.

Anonymous said...

Women don’t want anymore of Trump and Republicans?

I am a woman, a highly educated professional, who will never vote for a Democratic Party candidate again.

If Kavanaugh had been nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court before Gorsuch, what would the Democrats have done to destroy Gorsuch?

Who would have been Gorsuch’s Christine Blasey Ford?

Because you know, the Democrats would have found one.

Anonymous said...

" ... rent in twain ..."

Now THAT'S some writin' right thar!

Anonymous said...

Kavanaugh lied to Congress. He should be impeached along with the serial liar who appointed him.

Anonymous said...

Every one knows women in Missippi don't matter, I had a dad tell me yesterday that when his daughter got pinched on the butt at Madison Central, that he could empathize with the kid who did it,that showed me how low you guys on the right have gone.

Anonymous said...

It’s pretty clear that the court will continue to to the bidding of the mega donors. The Koch brothers plan is in full force and getting force fed to the religious right. They are going to keep slowly unraveling the constitution until their final vision is achieved.

Anonymous said...

What's next for Supreme Court? Same ole thing. The Supreme Court will be what it's always been, a political football. A small bunch of lawyers whose role in the grand scheme of things is to find legal justification for the general direction their supporters want the country to take. "Supporters" can include a wide and varying group since these legal wags no longer need political favor to maintain their lifetime jobs. Very few of them are truly legal scholars, or scholars at all. They don't have to be. They occupy one of the very few powerful positions in this world in which a man can be an unassailable functional moron for the last 40 years of his life and yet be under the greatest public scrutiny for some binge he might have had in high school. Like the rest of our judicial system it is the biggest joke in the world yet deadly serious. It deserves to have a man of Trump's "character"
put his stamp on it!

Anonymous said...

Sid is the only journalist I know who can make paragraphs out of one sentence consisting of seventy words. I learned in school that a paragraph, must, first of all, consist of several sentences.

Sid's English Comp teachers are rolling over in their graves.

Anonymous said...

The stock market dropped over 800 points, investors see it's all smoke and mirrors.

Anonymous said...

2:08 has it right and said it well. I too am a woman and I will vote
Republican. To try and lump all women is a ridiculous notion and really a put-down to female intelligence.

Anonymous said...

The Democratic Party has finally unfurled its flag. Their mission and objective to pirate the Constitution and entire political system was revealed to the general public during their assault on Kavanaugh and the SCOTUS confirmation process. The public has now seen the true colors of the Democratic Party, with its "win at all costs" objective, demonstrating their lack of integrity, core values, civility or the ability to be an honest participant in our society which commands that its rules and laws be followed. The motives and tactics of democrats generally, and women in particular, were just exposed and took a giant step backwards in public opinion. The backlash against democrats will be like a tsunami.

Anonymous said...

At least Kavanaugh got a hearing and a vote. I suppose you think it was fine for the Republican leadership to deny Merritt Garland a hearing.

Anonymous said...

8:53, uhhhhh, I assume that you must mean "Merrick" Garland, but you just aren't educated well enough on his name or the facts. But, I really can't say that I'm surprised because most liberals don't know what they're talking about. First, although the Republicans played procedural politics to delay a vote on Garland, the Republicans did NOT smear the reputation of Merrick Garland like the Democrats smeared and defamed Brett Kavanaugh's name and reputation. Second, even if the procedural delay (permitted by the rules) in Merrick Garland's nomination process was not undertaken in good faith by the Republicans, it would NOT justify the Democrat's intentional lying, defamation and smear job of Brett Kavanaugh. I guess that liberals never learn that two wrongs don't make one right.

Anonymous said...

@3:12, thanks for the spelling tutorial. Several points. First, the Republicans did not delay a vote on Garland, they blocked a hearing and a vote. Second, the Democrats did not smear Kavanaugh. They and the FBI investigated the sworn complaint of Dr. Ford. In the end, there was no corroborated evidence either way, and Kavanaugh tarnished his own reputation with his childish rants about the Clintons, pay back, etc. Finally, I agree nothing justifies lying. I only wish you could convince Trump that is the case. His record with the truth is indefensible.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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