Monday/ the Supreme Court rules, finally 😡

From the Washington Post staff:
Former presidents are immune from prosecution for their official actions taken while in the White House, but they don’t have immunity for unofficial acts, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.
“A former president is entitled to absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within his ‘conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority,’ ” the ruling says. “There is no immunity for unofficial acts.”
It seems highly unlikely that the 45th president will go to trial on charges of trying to subvert the 2020 election before voters cast ballots in this year’s presidential contest, in which Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee.

So .. what is an ‘official act’, and what is not? The Supreme Court did not say and Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged it could raise “difficult questions.”

The reality is that this Supreme Court with its three Trump-appointed justices has already provided de facto immunity for Trump prior to the November election. The Court dragged its feet as long as it possibly could, before issuing this ruling, thereby delaying the start of Trump’s other three criminal trials (the Jan. 6 case, the documents case, and the Georgia election interference case) by at least six months.

Cartoon by Dennis Goris @DennisGoris on X.

Thursday/ guilty on all counts 👨‍⚖️

A jury in Manhattan convicted Mr. Trump of 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, a crime that under New York State law carries a possible sentence that ranges from probation to four years in prison.
-Reported by William K. Rashbaum for the New York Times, May 30, 2024

Artist John Cuneo’s “A Man of Conviction”, artwork that will appear on the cover of an upcoming The New Yorker magazine.

So Trump is now a convicted felon.
His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jul. 11, four days before the start of the Republican convention.
(Will the Republican Party nominate a convict for President?)
Even if Trump is given jail time (possible* but not likely), his lawyers will keep him out of jail by starting a lengthy appeals process, and posting bail money.

*His Secret Service detail will go to jail with him, basically. They are required by law to protect him 24/7.

Graphic by the Washington Post showing the dates and types of business records that Trump used to defraud the American people in the 2016 election.
As for calling it a ‘hush money trial’ : it was actually an ‘election fraud conspiracy trial’, which is why the falsification of these business records were charged as felonies.

Monday/ another day in court 👨🏽‍⚖️

Reporting from Jonathan Alter, Contributing Opinion Writer for the New York Times:
At the end of the day, the judge asked Josh Steinglass of the prosecution team how much longer he expected the D.A.’s case to take.
When Steinglass said “very roughly” two weeks — to May 21 — I saw Trump raise and lower his arms in exasperation, like a 6-year-old told to clean up his Legos.
Then he went into the hallway and whined to reporters, “I thought they were finished today.”
Trump never thought anything of the kind.
He’s a caged animal (to use his word for immigrants) and wants out ASAP.
Good luck with that.

Donald Trump’s son Eric watches his father speak to the media at Manhattan criminal court on Monday.
[Picture by Brendan McDermid/Pool/Reuters/AP]
From the Washington Post: New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan made it clear to Trump that his 10th gag order violation — which he ruled on at the start of Monday’s court session — was going to be the last that would result in only a fine. “Going forward, this court will have to consider a jail sentence. The last thing I want to do is put you in jail.”

Wednesday/ we see what you’re doing, Supreme Court 🔥

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to decide whether former President Donald Trump can claim presidential immunity over criminal election interference charges, adding a new hurdle to a trial taking place.

The court said in a brief order it would hear arguments and issue a ruling on the immunity claim. In the meantime, the case is on hold, meaning no trial can take place.

The order said the court would hear the case, which could take months to resolve, the week of April 22. That timeline allows for a ruling by the end of the court’s regular term in June, which is faster than is typical when the court hears arguments but not as fast as prosecutors wanted it to be.
– Lawrence Hurley writing for

The Supreme Court should have stayed out of this one. They were given an opportunity by Special Prosecutor Jack Smith in December to weigh in, but they declined. NOW they jump in— all in for Trump. That is what it looks like.
There is a striking difference between Trump’s (civil) trials in New York State, and the criminal trials he faces in Federal Courts. He was already found guilty in the NY Civil Fraud Trial, and the NY Hush Money Trial is coming up (for crimes committed in the run-up to the 2016 election!).
The most important one of the federal cases— the Dept. of Justice Jan. 6 coup trial— is now almost certain to start only after July. It very well may not be completed by the time the 2024 election takes place, with Trump as the Republican candidate.
With the benefit of hindsight, the DOJ’s bottoms-up approach for doling out justice for the January 6, 2021 events, was the wrong one.  Yes, by 2024, more than 1,200 rioters had been charged, and more than 460 imprisoned. They should have started at the top, though. Indictments against Trump were only filed in August of 2023.
[Screenshot from The Beat by Ari Melber, from the MSNBC TV channel]

Monday/ an unusual request

Two weeks ago, Judge Chutkan rejected Trump’s sweeping claims that he enjoyed “absolute immunity” from the election interference indictment because it was based on actions he took while in office.
Trump appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
He also asked Judge Chutkan to freeze the election interference case in its entirety until the appeal was resolved.

Meanwhile, the months are rolling by and March 2024 (the trial’s originally scheduled start) will be here before we know it. The primary elections will be in full swing, and if the trial’s start date is pushed out just a few months, that could have a very big impact on the primary elections. (Voters will not be reminded of the Jan. 6 coup plotters and the role that Trump played in fomenting violence).

So Special Counsel Jack Smith is working tirelessly to get the March 2024 trial to start on time.

Adam Liptak and Alan Feuer writes for the New York Times:
Jack Smith, the special counsel prosecuting former President Donald J. Trump on charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 election, asked the Supreme Court on Monday to rule on Mr. Trump’s argument that he is immune from prosecution. The justices quickly agreed to fast-track the first phase of the case.
Mr. Smith’s request was unusual in two ways: He asked the justices to rule before an appeals court acted, and he urged them to move with exceptional speed.
“This case presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy: whether a former president is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office or is constitutionally protected from federal prosecution when he has been impeached but not convicted before the criminal proceedings begin,” Mr. Smith wrote.

Monday/ he was racketeering in Georgia 🩻

“We hear they’re shredding thousands and thousands of ballots,” Trump said on the call.
“Mr. President, the problem you have with social media, they — people can say anything,” Raffensperger replied.

Defendant Donald John Trump lost the United States presidential election held on November 3, 2020.
One of the states he lost was Georgia.
Trump and the other Defendants charged in this Indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump.
That conspiracy contained a common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity in Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the State of Georgia, and in other states.
– Introduction of the indictment against Trump and 18 others brought in Fulton County, Georgia

And there it was, late Monday night— the fourth indictment, long expected, and a sweeping one, that documented all that Trump and his allies did in Georgia to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election results there.

Fulton County district attorney, Fani T. Willis, has extensive experience with bringing racketeering cases, and 18 other conspirators were charged along with Trump.

Infographic by the Washington Post.

Thursday/ the arraignment 👩‍⚖️

Judge Upadhyaya arrived for the hearing 14 minutes late — creating long periods of awkward silence and pen-twiddling as Mr. Trump and his team sat across from equally antsy prosecutors.
– Reported by the New York Times

Trump appeared in federal court in Washington D.C. today for his arraignment.
He pleaded ‘not guilty’ on all four counts of the charges against him.

The magistrate judge said the prosecutors should file recommendations for the trial date and length in seven days, and that the Trump team should respond within seven days after that.
The first hearing before the trial judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, is scheduled for Aug. 28.

This trial with its 4 charges is likely going to take precedence over the other trials (for two indictments with 74 more charges, so far 😱) that Trump also faces.

That’s Special Counsel Jack Smith on the far left (the prosecutor for the United States Government and We The People).
Trump stands in his signature red tie with his lawyer John F. Lauro to his right.
Judge Moxila Upadhyaya (on the far right) oversaw the proceedings. 
[Courtroom sketch by Bill Hennessy for PBS NewsHour]

Tuesday/ the third indictment 🗽

More history in the making— the indictment for Trump’s crimes (OK, alleged crimes at this point) after the 2020 presidential election, was returned by the grand jury in the District of Columbia today. 

There are four charges in the indictment (see below).
Trump’s co-conspirators are not identified by name in the indictment, or charged for now, but it appears Rudolph W. Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Trump lawyer John Eastman are among them.

Special Counsel Jack Smith is seeking a speedy trial, with just 18 months to go to the 2024 election.
Is all of this still not enough to disqualify Trump with Republican voters?
What will happen if Trump is found guilty in October 2024 .. and then appeals his conviction (as he is sure to do)?
We don’t know but boy, are we going to find out.

The four charges in the Jan. 6 indictment. Some of these crimes carry prison sentences of up to 20 years: a life sentence for a 77-year old criminal.
Trump’s ‘Fight like hell’ speech on the Ellipse on Jan. 6 is not listed as a specific charge (for say, incitement to violence). The indictment notes that Trump’s lies about the 2020 election outcome are protected by the First Amendment, but that his other actions to conspire and subvert the outcome went way beyond that and constitute crimes.
[Infographic by the New York Times]

Tuesday/ on indictment watch— again 💣

The former president may soon receive his third criminal indictment.
It’s been at least 10 days since he had received a target letter from Special Counsel Jack Smith.
(In the classified documents case, the indictment followed 10 days after the target letter.)

A person receives a target letter when a U.S. attorney has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime.
This target letter, for attempts to invalidate the 2020 election results and stop the transfer of power to President Joe Biden, reportedly cites three statutes:
—a charge pertaining to deprivation of rights,
—conspiracy to commit an offense against or defraud the United States, and
—tampering with a witness.
Let’s roll.

Just one of several AI-generated pictures of the Republican Party 2024 front-runner and Now Criminally Indicted Threat To Democracy getting taken down by dragnet of officers. Yes, this scene is unlikely to play out in reality, but as a metaphor we can all hope that it is accurate. We need democracy to survive, after all.
[Posted by Eliot Higgins @EliotHiggins on X* under the caption ‘Making pictures of Trump getting arrested while waiting for Trump’s arrest’.]
*Twitter. Twitter is now X, a rebranding effort by owner Elon Musk that many say is doomed to fail.

Thursday/ who gets in— and how? 👨‍🎓

I’m still reading up about it— the US Supreme Court’s ruling today that effectively overturned decades of affirmative action precedents for admitting students to higher education.

David French writes in a NYT opinion piece titled ‘Harvard Undermined Itself on Affirmative Action’:
To understand why Harvard lost — and why race-based affirmative action in public colleges and federally funded private schools is now unlawful — it’s necessary to understand two key facts about the case. First, the evidence is overwhelming that Harvard actively discriminated against Asian applicants. As Chief Justice John Roberts notes in his majority opinion, a Black student in the fourth-lowest academic decile had a higher chance of admission to Harvard than an Asian student in the top decile.

Former President Barack Obama denounced the Supreme Court decision, while acknowledging that “Affirmative action was never a complete answer in the drive towards a more just society” in a blog post today.
Mr. Obama is pictured here in 1990 at Harvard Law School.
[Photo Credit: Joe Wrinn/Harvard University, via Getty Images]

Thursday/ consequences ⚖️

Stealing top secret documents from the White House (‘willful retention of national defense secrets’ is the charge, reportedly) and lying about it, bring consequences.
As simple as that.
This guy is continuing to making history— in a very bad way.

Friday Jun. 9  The DOJ unsealed its indictment of Trump today.
Prosecutors are charging Trump with 37 felonies, including 31 counts under the Espionage Act of ‘willful retention’ of classified records.
The charging docket also says that on at least two occasions, Trump showed classified records to visitors without security clearances at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey — including the map of a military operation to a representative of his political action committee.
[Information from]

Reporting from the online Washington Post tonight.
Every little thing is not ‘Breaking News’ as the cable news networks like to call it, but this certainly is. Trump himself broke the news, actually, writing on social media that he has been summoned to federal court on Tuesday in Miami.

Monday/ on indictment watch 👁️

Word is that Trump is about to be indicted for the classified documents he took to Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House.

Here’s Andrew Weissman* on Twitter today.
*Attorney and professor, an Assistant US Attorney from 1991 to 2002, where he prosecuted high-profile organized crime cases.


Trump’s team of lawyers were seen today visiting the offices of Special Counsel Jack Smith. The speculation (a certainty looking at Weissman’s tweet) is that the Trump lawyers were given a final opportunity today, as a courtesy, to try to argue why Trump should not be charged.

A subpoena for the documents and an FBI search at Mar-a-Lago last summer resulted in the return of only some of the documents.
We already know from published reports that deception and actions on the part of Trump and his collaborators followed, obstructing the return of the rest of the documents.

Tuesday/ the long arm of the law👮

More than two years out, convictions and sentences are still getting handed out for the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Eduardo Medina writes for the New York Times:
Mr. Grider, who operates a vineyard in Central Texas, pleaded guilty last year to entering a restricted area and unlawfully parading at the Capitol, his lawyer said. He went to trial on seven other charges, including civil disorder and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., convicted him on all counts.
On Tuesday, Judge Kollar-Kotelly sentenced Mr. Grider to six years and 11 months in prison and ordered him to pay $5,055 in restitution and an $812 fine.
In March, Judge Kollar-Kotelly said in court that videos of the episode had clearly demonstrated “how Mr. Grider put himself at the center of this conflict, steps away from some of the most violent, lawless and reprehensible acts that occurred in the Capitol on that day.”
She then asked: “How close can a person be to unquestionably violent and completely unacceptable lynch-mob-like acts of others, and still claim to be a nondangerous, truly innocent bystander?”
Mr. Grider’s lawyer, Brent Mayr, said in an interview on Tuesday that his client “truly regrets his actions on Jan. 6 and apologizes to his family, his community and, most importantly, his country.”
But he added that they were “deeply disappointed that his sentence is significantly longer than others who did so much worse than him.”
“He did not assault any officers, much less threaten anyone with any violence before, during or after that day,” Mr. Mayr said. “The disparity in this sentence is very, very disappointing to us.”

Thursday/ photos and art 🤹

WASHINGTON— A celebrity photographer won a copyright case over Andy Warhol’s use of a picture she shot of Prince for a magazine, in a Thursday Supreme Court decision narrowing the “fair use” rights of artists and writers to build upon existing works to create something new.
– Jess Bravin reporting for the Wall Street Journal

The US Supreme Court ruled today by 7-2 that Andy Warhol’s 1981 artwork of Prince (using a photo) infringed on the photographer’s copyright.  The majority argued that Warhol’s print was merely a derivative of the photo and not transformative. Oh.

Pictures from today’s Wall Street Journal, with an excerpt of Jess Bravin’s reporting.

Friday/ ‘an insult to the judicial system’ ⚖

So it is true. How could it not be?
The President that was an insult to the American presidency, had appointed three Supreme Court justices. Now these justices issue rulings that are insults to the American people, and the judicial system.

Below is the full text of the opinion piece published today by the New York Times Editorial Board.

Even if we knew it was coming, the shock reverberates.

For the first time in history, the Supreme Court has eliminated an established constitutional right involving the most fundamental of human concerns: the dignity and autonomy to decide what happens to your body. As of June 24, 2022, about 64 million American women of childbearing age have less power to decide what happens in their own bodies than they did the day before, less power than their mothers and even some of their grandmothers did. That is the first and most important consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday morning to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The right-wing majority in Friday’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — which involved a Mississippi law that banned most abortions after 15 weeks, well before the line of viability established in Roe and Casey — stated, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

The implications of this reversal will be devastating, throwing America into a new era of struggle over abortion laws — an era that will be marked by chaos, confusion and human suffering. About half the states in the United States are expected to enact laws that restrict or make abortion illegal in all or most cases. Many women may be forced by law to carry pregnancies to term, even, in some cases, those caused by rape or incest. Some will likely die, especially those with pregnancy complications that must be treated with abortion or those who resort to unsafe means of abortion because they can’t afford to travel to states where the procedure remains legal. Even those who are able to travel to other states could face the risk of criminal prosecution. Some could go to prison, as could the doctors who care for them. Miscarriages could be investigated as murders, which has already happened in several states, and may become only more common. Without full control over their bodies, women will lose their ability to function as equal members of American society.

The insult of Friday’s ruling is not only in its blithe dismissal of women’s dignity and equality. It lies, as well, in the overt rejection of a well-established legal standard that had managed for decades to balance and reflect Americans’ views on a fraught topic. A majority of the American public believes that women, not state or federal lawmakers, should have the legal right to decide whether to end a pregnancy in all or most cases. At the same time, Americans are weary of the decades-long fight over abortion, a fight that may feel far removed from their complex and deeply personal views about this issue.

The court’s ruling in Dobbs invites years of even more fractious and protracted legal conflict. By giving state legislatures the power to impose virtually whatever abortion restrictions they please, some will now enact outright bans on abortion. Dozens of cases challenging those laws could soon start making their way through the courts and, almost certainly, to the Supreme Court.

The justices in the majority claim to be playing an impartial role in this decision. “Because the Constitution is neutral on the issue of abortion, this court also must be scrupulously neutral,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a concurring opinion. And yet, as the three dissenting justices pointed out, “when it comes to rights, the court does not act ‘neutrally’ when it leaves everything up to the states. Rather, the court acts neutrally when it protects the right against all comers.”

Friday’s ruling was written by Justice Samuel Alito. It was joined by all the other Republican-appointed justices, although Chief Justice John Roberts tried to have it both ways, joining with the majority to uphold the Mississippi law in Dobbs even as he wrote separately to say he would not have overturned Roe and Casey altogether out of a respect for precedent.

The dissent, signed jointly by the three justices appointed by Democrats, took apart the majority’s attempts to justify its rejection of established precedent and even questioned the Republican-appointed justices’ claims to neutrality. The right to abortion, the dissenters noted, was established by one ruling a half century ago, reaffirmed by another 30 years ago, and “no recent developments, in either law or fact, have eroded or cast doubt on those precedents. Nothing, in short, has changed.”

Nothing, that is, other than the makeup of the court. This is the sole reason for Friday’s ruling. As the dissenters rightly put it, “Today, the proclivities of individuals rule.”

The presence of these individuals on the court is the culmination of a decades-long effort by anti-abortion and other right-wing forces to remake the court into a regressive bulwark. This has never been a secret; and with the help of the Senate under Mitch McConnell, former president Donald Trump and allies in the conservative legal movement, they have succeeded.

The central logic of the Dobbs ruling is superficially straightforward, and the opinion is substantially the same as the draft Justice Alito distributed to the other justices in February, which was leaked to the press last month. Roe and Casey must be overruled, the ruling says, because “the Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” including the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of due process. While that provision has been held to guarantee certain rights that are not mentioned explicitly in the Constitution, any such right must be “deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition.”

By the majority’s reasoning, the right to terminate a pregnancy is not “deeply rooted” in the history and tradition of the United States — a country whose Constitution was written by a small band of wealthy white men, many of whom owned slaves and most, if not all, of whom considered women to be second-class citizens without any say in politics.

The three dissenters in the Dobbs case — Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — called out the majority’s dishonesty, noting that its exceedingly narrow definition of “deeply rooted” rights poses a threat to far more than reproductive freedom. The majority’s denial of this is impossible to believe, the dissenters wrote, saying: “Either the majority does not really believe in its own reasoning. Or if it does, all rights that have no history stretching back to the mid-19th century are insecure.”

In other words, the court is not going to stop at abortion. If you think that’s hyperbole, consider Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in Dobbs, in which he called for the court to reconsider other constitutional rights that Americans have enjoyed, in some cases, for decades — including the right to use birth control, the right to marry the person of their choosing and the right of consenting adults to do as they please in the privacy of their bedrooms without being arrested and charged with crimes. These rights share a similar constitutional grounding to the now-former right to abortion, and Justice Thomas rejects that grounding, calling on the court to “eliminate it … at the earliest opportunity.”

This position may not command a majority of justices today, but six years ago, few people thought Roe v. Wade would be overturned. Brett Kavanaugh, during his confirmation hearing in 2018, said Roe v. Wade “is important precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times.” He added: “Casey specifically reconsidered it, applied the stare decisis factors, and decided to reaffirm it. That makes Casey a precedent on precedent.”

Yet he voted to overturn two rulings that have led to more equality, more dignity and more freedom for millions of Americans. To dismantle these and other advances, the majority on this Supreme Court has demonstrated its disregard for precedent, public opinion and the court’s own legitimacy in the eyes of the American people. We will be paying the price for decades to come.

Tuesday/ ‘the Supreme Court might never recover’

From news website Axios: an assessment of the ideological scores of the nine Supreme Court justices. (Note: Justice Stephen Breyer will retire soon, and the Court will at long last get its first Black female justice, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson).
SO. If you lean liberal or progressive (you want to make progress with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in your country), you want at least 5 justices on the left. We are short by two.

The current U.S. Supreme court is already considered by many (and by me), as unrepresentative of the majority of Americans.  (An immoral, criminal con man —that had become President with an assist from Russian bots on Facebook⁠— had appointed three of the current nine Supreme Court justices).

And now it’s clearer than ever that the six conservatives on the Court plan to overturn Roe vs. Wade (the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, with a 7-2 majority, in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.)

Here is what the Washington Post’s Editorial Board wrote today.

The Supreme Court might never recover from overturning Roe v. Wade

By the Washington Post Editorial Board

On Monday, Politico published a draft of a Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling declaring that the Constitution guarantees Americans the right to end their pregnancies. The court later confirmed that the document, written in February, is genuine, but emphasized that it is not the court’s final word. We hope not. If the justices embrace the sweeping document, they will deal a grievous blow to freedom in the United States — and to the legitimacy of the court itself.

Such a leak from the court’s typically tight inner sanctum is itself astonishing. The court works on trust among justices and staff, so that the justices can deliberate frankly. Whether the document leaked from a conservative justice’s chambers, in an effort to lock in the support of others on the right for its far-reaching language, or from a liberal’s, in an effort to mobilize outside pressure against such a ruling, the leak represents a dire breakdown in norms and another dramatic sign of the court’s political drift.

But the draft ruling’s dreadful reasoning and extreme potential consequences are far more concerning than what the leak says about the court’s internal dynamics. Written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the document would declare Roe “egregiously wrong,” obliterate its guarantees of reproductive choice and empower lawmakers to abridge at will this long-held right.

The court’s legitimacy rests on the notion that it follows the law, not the personal or ideological preferences of the justices who happen to serve on it at any given time. Americans rely on the court to exercise care and restraint against making sharp turns that might suddenly declare their everyday choices and activities unprotected or illegal. Over the course of nearly half a century, the court not only issued Roe but upheld its bedrock principles against later challenges. Throughout, the original 1973 decision enjoyed broad and unwavering public support. What brought the court to its current precipice was not a fundamental shift in American values regarding abortion. It was the shameless legislative maneuvering of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who jammed two Trump-nominated justices onto the court.

In his draft, Justice Alito points out that the court has overturned many cases in the past, including the atrocious Plessy v. Ferguson, which permitted racial segregation. But the court has never revoked a fundamental constitutional right. Overturning Plessy expanded liberty. Overturning Roe would constrict liberty — and be a repugnant repudiation of the American tradition in which freedom extends to an ever-wider circle of people. By betraying this legacy and siding with the minority of Americans who want to see Roe overturned, the justices would appear to be not fair-minded jurists but reckless ideologues who are dangerously out of touch and hostile to a core American ethic.

Justice Alito complained in his draft that Roe failed to produce a “national settlement of the abortion issue” but only “enflamed debate and deepened division.” That exaggerates the extent to which the obstreperous minority of Americans who oppose Roe reflect the nation as a whole. A Post poll found just last week that Americans support upholding Roe by a 2-to-1 margin. For most people, Roe is a workable standard on a fraught issue; absent a clear understanding about when life begins, and with the moral implications surrounding that question far from settled, the Constitution’s guarantees of personal autonomy demand that pregnant people be able to make the difficult decision about whether to end their pregnancy according to the dictates of their own conscience.

It is Justice Alito’s proposed decision that would further divide the country, starting in nearly every statehouse. Yet the greatest casualties would not be the court as an institution or the nation’s already toxic politics. It would be pregnant individuals suddenly stripped of a right they had been guaranteed for almost half a century. Wealthy people would be able to cross state lines to end their pregnancies. (Although some states are already trying to outlaw that practice, as well.) Poor people would be forced either to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, with all the health consequences and risks that entails, or to seek illegal abortions that could endanger their lives.

Justice Alito’s draft claims that the court’s ruling would not imply that other constitutional rights, such as same-sex marriage or access to contraception, are in jeopardy. But given the brazen abandon with which he would discard abortion rights, his assurances ring hollow. He would inaugurate a terrifying new era in which Americans would lose faith in the court, distrust its members and suspect that what is the law today will not be tomorrow. They would justifiably fear that rights will be swept away because a heedless conservative fringe now controls the judiciary.

“The republic endures and this is the symbol of its faith,” Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes said as the cornerstone was laid for the Supreme Court Building in 1932. The court’s conservative majority appears to be on the verge of abandoning justices’ sacred charge to stand firm for individual rights.

Saturday/ no vax, no play

From Yahoo Sports:
The Victoria state government allows medical exemptions for people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last six months. That’s why Djokovic received a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open. The event is hosted in Victoria, one of six states in the country.
Border authorities, however, did not accept Djokovic’s previous COVID-19 diagnosis as an acceptable reason for a medical exemption, leading to Djokovic being detained and his visa being canceled.

My opinion: Djokovic should just go home. Bye-bye.

Reported by Tennis Channel: in spite of testing positive on Dec. 16, Novak ‘No Vax’ Djokovic attended public events— sans mask— the very next day and the day after that.  I think he is obnoxious, and I am indifferent to his self-inflicted dilemma.

Mon 1/10 (reported by @MetroSport on Twitter):
Judge Anthony Kelly declared that the government’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa was ‘unreasonable’ on the grounds that he had not been given time to speak with his lawyers or representatives from Tennis Australia after being detained, and overturned the cancellation.

That means that the judge’s call hinged on a technicality, concerning the way in which the border force implemented the rules, rather than an outright declaration that Djokovic should have been completely free to enter the country all along.

Now the ball is in the court of Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, who must decide whether to personally intervene and cancel Djokovic’s visa himself.

Fri 1/14: Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel his visa was announced at 6 pm Melbourne time. Djokovic’s legal team is challenging the decision.

Sun 1/16: The Australian Federal Court upholds Hawke’s decision to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa. The court panel returned their unanimous decision just a day before the World No. 1 was set to play his first match of the Australian Open. Djokovic will now be deported and will not compete in the tournament.

Friday/ National Absurdity Day came a day early

I see tomorrow is National Absurdity Day.
All right/ whatever .. but can anything that happens tomorrow be more absurd* than today’s Rittenhouse verdict?

wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate.
“the allegations are patently absurd”
arousing amusement or derision; ridiculous.



The Rittenhouse trial was about the events in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August last year.

From Wikipedia:
On August 25, 2020, during the unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, fatally shot two men and wounded another during three confrontations.
Rittenhouse had armed himself with an AR-15 style rifle and said he was in Kenosha to protect a car dealership from being vandalized and to provide medical aid.

Rittenhouse had been pursued by a group that included Kenosha resident Joseph Rosenbaum, who was unarmed.
After armed Racine resident Joshua Ziminski fired a shot into the air, Rittenhouse turned towards Rosenbaum, who lunged at him and tried to take his rifle.

Rittenhouse fired four times at Rosenbaum, killing him. Rittenhouse then ran down the street while being followed by a crowd of around a dozen people.

He tripped and fell to the ground after being hit in the head, then fired twice at a 39-year-old man who jump kicked him, his shots missing both times.
While Rittenhouse was still on the ground, Silver Lake resident Anthony M. Huber struck him in the shoulder with a skateboard and attempted to take his rifle.
Rittenhouse fired at Huber once, fatally striking him in the chest. When West Allis resident Gaige Grosskreutz approached Rittenhouse while pointing a Glock pistol at him, Rittenhouse shot him once in the right arm.

Public sentiment of the shootings was polarized and media coverage both polarized and politicized.

Rittenhouse was charged with two counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide, two counts of reckless endangerment, one count of unlawful possession of a firearm, and one count of curfew violation.
Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the unlawful possession charge and the curfew violation during the trial, which began in Kenosha on November 1, 2021.
It ended on November 19 when the jury found him, by unanimous agreement, not guilty of all the remaining charges.

I see legal scholars are not surprised by the verdict.
That does not make me feel better. A 17-year old illegally bought a legal (why? WHY?) AR-15 assault rifle. Brings it across the Illinois-Wisconsin state line to a volatile protest. Gets in trouble and kills two people with it. Innocent because he ‘defended’ himself?
[From the New York Times online]

Tuesday/ guilty on all charges

Today’s verdict isn’t ‘justice’ .. but accountability is a first step to justice.
– Keith Ellison, Minnesota Attorney General

That a family had to lose a son, brother and father; that a teenage girl had to film and post a murder, that millions across the country had to organize and march just for George Floyd to be seen and valued is not justice. And this verdict is not a substitute for policy change’.
– Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district

I was watching the announcement of the verdict on live television today.
Man! Don’t mess this up for all of us! I thought of the jury.

The guilty verdict of former police officer Chauvin is a relief, but a very rare outcome. In many other egregious cases over the last 20 years, the law enforcement officer had come off scot free.

Sentencing is in 8 weeks, and the remaining officers (Lane, Thao, and Kueng) charged in the death of George Floyd, will be tried together on August 23.

All of this made me think back to the verdict in the OJ Simpson trial, in October of 1995. I had arrived on the shores of the United States that February. My coworkers and I, at Anheuser-Busch in downtown St Louis, MO, rushed down to the lobby to see the announcement on television. That jury handed down a verdict that dismayed many people, but the majority of African Americans supported it. They saw Simpson’s acquittal as a victory in a legal system that systematically discriminates against them.

Tuesday/ a pivotal moment for law enforcement in the United States

The State of Minnesota vs. Derek Michael Chauvin case, related to George Floyd’s death while in custody of Chauvin, started on Monday. It will go on for several weeks.

Ex-police officer Chauvin (he was fired) faces three very serious charges:
Second Degree Murder, Unintentional (up to 40 years in prison if found guilty),
Third Degree Murder (up to 25 years), and
-Second Degree Manslaughter (up to 10 years).

The city of Minneapolis has already settled a wrongful death civil suit with the family of George Floyd for US$27m, the largest such settlement in the state’s history.

Given that, is it still possible that Chauvin can be found ‘Not Guilty’ on all three counts? Well: even under very unfavorable circumstances, police officers have not been indicted, let alone convicted of murder, in the past (see the case of Breonna Taylor).

This could be the landmark case that changes that, though.

Here are the jurors (their names are not known), selected from a pool of some 400 people. As always, every juror must agree to a guilty verdict on a charge, to find the defendant guilty on that charge — a high bar.