Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson at the State of the Union address credit Jacquelyn Martin, Pool, Getty Images


Wednesday August 2, 2023

08.02.23Carlos Aguilar

Black judges presiding over Trump’s prosecution is poetic justice

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Judge Tanya S. Chutkan will preside over former President Donald J. Trump’s prosecution, credit Jose Luis Magana, Associated Press

On Tuesday, a few hours before the latest indictment of former President Trump became public, Vice President Kamala Harris was in Florida, addressing a room full of mostly Black women.

“Through your faith, you have helped to make real the promise of our founding principles, not just for some, but for all,” she said at the 20th Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Quadrennial Convention in Orlando. “And I’m here then to say, our nation needs your leadership once again.”

Then, her voice dropping with seriousness, Harris added: “In this moment, across our country, hard-fought, hard-won freedoms are under full-on attack.”

The vice president’s words now seem prescient. For those few hours later, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan — a woman who also has identified as being of Black and Asian ancestry — was randomly assigned to preside over Trump’s case, all but assuring a racist backlash.

Read the story on LA Times 

Justice Jackson is slowly beating conservatives at their own game

Speaking Of...

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson at the State of the Union address credit Jacquelyn Martin, Pool, Getty Images

During her confirmation hearing, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson associated herself with two methodologies, originalism and textualism, that are prized by the conservative legal movement. It was not a feint. With her first term wrapped up, it’s safe to say that Jackson really does have zero interest in the “living Constitution” sometimes associated with liberal judging. In place of lofty odes to the majestic generalities of the Constitution, the justice has consistently favored its original meaning and a statute’s plain text over other considerations. It’s a stark departure from her predecessor, Justice Stephen Breyer, who could not write in the originalist style to save his life. But was it effective?

In short: Yes, to a point. Jackson may have helped stave off disaster in a handful of key cases, steering the court away from hard-right results through tactical deployment of originalist and textualist arguments. Unlike Breyer, she expertly wielded the conservatives’ own tools against them. She spoke the language of the right to promote left-leaning principles. And from time to time, she beat the 6–3 supermajority at its own game.

Read the story on Slate

How can anyone trust a court that does not abide by ethics?

Say It Louder

Activists hold photos of US Supreme Court justices, credit Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

Erwin Chemerinsky is dean of UC Berkeley Law.

It was shockingly inappropriate for Justice Samuel Alito to express his view that it would be unconstitutional for Congress to require the Supreme Court to enact an ethics code. After the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill on July 27 which would mandate this, Alito immediately gave an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board in which he said that such a law would be unconstitutional.

A Supreme Court justice should not be expressing views about the constitutionality of pending legislation, especially when it’s about regulating him and his court.

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Say hello to the new Wisconsin Supreme Court

New Era

Janet Protasiewicz, left, celebrates with Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley before being sworn in as a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, credit Morry Gash, AP

Psychologists tell us that bad players engage in projection in order to shift blame for their own misdeeds onto others. That was certainly the case in the Badger State this week, when a spokesperson for the beleaguered Republican Party of Wisconsin tried to suggest that the ascendance of a liberal majority on the state’s Supreme Court— which was completed on Tuesday with the swearing-in of newly-elected Justice Janet Protasiewicz—would lead to “an era of hyper-partisanship brought on by Protasiewicz and her allies as they use the courts to implement their partisan policy agenda.”

In fact, the new 4-3 bloc on the highest court of the nation’s most contentious battleground state is in a position to finally bring an end to the era of extremism that kicked off more than a decade ago, when a conservative majority made the court an extension of rigidly right-wing Republican Governor Scott Walker. Throughout Walker’s eight-year tenure as a fiercely anti-union and pro-corporate governor, the court upheld even his most radical and lawless moves. And after Walker’s defeat in 2018, the court continued to do the bidding of the Republicans who control the state legislature—most recently by maintaining radically gerrymandered legislative district lines that tip the balance in favor of GOP candidates, and by regularly sustaining Republican assaults on voting rights and democracy itself.

Read the Story on The Nation