The Supremes Swing to the Right

We’re The Supremes!

The Supreme Court handed down their last decisions dealing crippling blows to the reproductive rights of women and labor unions. Liberals are taking some small comfort in a blistering 35-page dissent by Justice Ginsburg’s but the reasoning of the losing minority of a Supreme Court decision matters only for a day or so and then it belongs to the legal scholars and history books.

The Hobby Lobby case got all the ink and headlines because it’s a horrible slap at women and their reproductive rights, but the conservative majority stuck it to labor unions too. If these two traditionally Democratic voting blocs still want to sit on their hands (and wallets) after the gut punches Roberts and company handed them, they deserve whatever dark plans the Republicans have in store in for both of them should they retake the Senate and hold the House.

While today’s pair of horrible decisions might seem like distinct issues, in fact they are both part of a larger war on women and workers.

The absurdity of the Hobby Lobby decision (only contraceptives are exempted for religious beliefs because of sluts) is obviously part of the Republican war on women, but it is also very much a war on the poor. An IUD costs about a month’s worth of wages at the minimum wage. If an executive can’t get birth control because her employer gets too hot and bothered thinking of her having sexy time, she can afford it on her own. A Hobby Lobby floor worker? Probably not. For women workers at closely held corporations, this decision will be devastating.

The Harris case is specifically about home care workers in Illinois. Who are home care workers? Women. Poor women. Lots of African-Americans, lots of Latinos, lots of undocumented workers. Home care workers are a major emphasis for SEIU right now; a close friend of mine has spent over a decade on a campaign to organize them in one city alone. Harris threatens all of this. But moreover, it shows how little Alito and the boys care about rights for women wherever they are. It’s hardly coincidental that this case comes down the same day as the contraception mandate. The Court evidently believes that the home is not a workplace, but of course it is a workplace, especially if someone is getting paid to do work. That it is women working in the home, as it has always been, just makes it easier for conservatives to devalue that work.

Of course, it’s about more than just working women and it opens the door for Alito and Roberts’ continued desire to mandate the New Gilded Age, so no doubt we will see new challenges to public sector unionism that will probably reach the Court in 2016 or maybe 2017 at the latest. I am not a legal expert, but my guess as to why Abood wasn’t overturned entirely is that there wasn’t 5 votes for it yet.

Regardless, both of today’s decisions are very much about keeping working women without power both on the job and at home.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court justice.

“What? Me Retire?” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also, when we hear in 2016 that both parties are the same because of [insert pet issue here] and therefore vote for vanity third party candidate, let us remember this day and these decisions. If you think Strip Search Sammy Alito and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are the same, you might want to rethink your positions.

Indeed.

What matters most and in fact the only thing that matters to those disappointed, dismayed and disgusted with how the Court came down in these cases is Justice William Brennan‘s Rule of Five where Brennan would hold up five fingers to his clerks and say, ”Five votes can do anything around here.”

Brennan was a prophet and the Roberts Court is the proof of it.

From 1801 to 1940, less than 2 percent of the Supreme Court’s total rulings were resolved by 5-to-4 decisions. Since then, more than 16 percent of the Court’s rulings have been decided by “minimum-winning coalitions.” In the two most recent Courts, more than a fifth of all rulings were decided by 5-to-4 votes.

Scholars consider these narrow decisions the most political. Research indicates that 5-to-4 rulings are the most likely to be overturned by later Courts. They carry the same legal authority as more unanimous opinions — but not the same moral authority. In this vein, the one branch of government designed to be above partisanship echoes the rise in hyperpartisanship seen throughout Washington.

The Roberts Court has decided more cases by a 5-to-4 ruling (about 21.5 percent) than any Court before it, though only by a narrow margin. The previous Court, led by William Rehnquist, decided 20.5 percent of its cases by this minimum coalition. That rate, however, represents roughly twice the share of 5-to-4 rulings in the Stone Court, during World War II. And the Stone Court had more than three times the rate of 5-to-4 decisions of any Court prior.

Roberts noticed the trend early in his term. “I do think the rule of law is threatened by a steady term after term after term focus on 5-4 decisions,” Roberts told The New Republic’s Jeffrey Rosen in 2006. “I think the Court is ripe for a similar refocus on functioning as an institution, because if it doesn’t, it’s going to lose its credibility and legitimacy as an institution.”

Justice Ginsburg is 81. Stephen Breyer is 75. With the Court’s term over, the speculation will begin again will either one retire while President Obama and a Democratic majority are still in power? It’s doubtful for multiple reasons.

Neither Ginsburg or Breyer’s departure tips the Court’s ideological balance. But what if Antonin Scalia (78) or Clarence Thomas (66) were to get a sudden itch to go fishing’ or spend more time with their families? Or just leave the Supreme Court to try out for The View?

Okay. It’s not gonna happen. Scalia and Thomas will announce they’re secret lovers before ever they allow Obama to appoint their replacements.

But even if one of the Justices were to suffer an untimely demise, there’s no way a Republican-controlled Senate would allow Obama to tip the axis of power of the Court to the liberal minority.

This is the current membership of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Do you think there is anyone Obama could nominate Al Franken and Ted Cruz would both vote for?

As far as Brennan’s Rule of Five goes this is a battle the Left lost years ago and it may take many years before they begin to win any.

But the last people I want to hear from are the smug elitists and professional cynics who say “there’s no difference between the Democrats and Republicans.” Yeah, sure. Look at how the justices selected by Democratic and Republican presidents voted and tell me that one again.

Don’t tell me you’re appalled (or even surprised) by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority deciding corporations have more rights than women. Tell me what you’re going to DO about it. The first thing is to vote and keep the Senate in Democratic control. That is, unless you want Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling President Obama whom he will allow to sit on the Supreme Court when a vacancy opens up.

"Me?  And justice?  Now THAT'S funny!'

“Me? And justice? Now THAT’S funny!’

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Yes, Uncle Ruckus Thomas Still Hates Your Black Ass

“Paula Deen doesn’t like Blacks? Me neither!”

In my previous post I predicted two of the Supreme Court’s most important decisions would result as follows:  “affirmative action is further weakened and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is gutted.”

Turns out I was only half right.   Affirmative action lives, but only for now and the most important provision of the Voting Rights Act, Section Five, was curb-stomped by four White conservative judges and a house slave happier than Stephen in Django Unchained.

The Supreme Court punted the affirmative action case back down to the lower court, but made it clear the policy of considering race in college admissions is hanging by the thinnest of threads.    While Justice Anthony Kennedy is no fan of affirmative action, he’s not ready to provide the scissors that cuts it into shreds.

Clarence The Cruel Thomas has no such reluctance.   He’s ready to hack affirmative action into bloody chunks with a machete.    While the decision to return Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin  to the lower appeals court was 7-1 (with Justice Elena Kagan abstaining and Ruth Bader Ginsburg objecting), Thomas concurred with the majority, but wrote a separate 20 page opinion comparing affirmative action to slavery.

“Slaveholders argued that slavery was a ‘positive good’ that civilized blacks and elevated them in every dimension of life,” Thomas wrote in a separate opinion on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. “A century later, segregationists similarly asserted that segregation was not only benign, but good for black students.”

“Following in these inauspicious footsteps, the University would have us believe that its discrimination is likewise benign. I think the lesson of history is clear enough: Racial discrimination is never benign.  The University’s professed good intentions cannot excuse its outright racial discrimination any more than such intentions justified the now-denounced arguments of slaveholders and segregationists.”

“Although cloaked in good intentions, the University’s racial tinkering harms the very people it claims to be helping. 

   “The worst forms of racial discrimination in this nation have always been accompanied by straight-faced representations that discrimination helped minorities.”

The ULTIMATE affirmative action hire talks smack about the policy that put his incompetent ass on the Court. Pot calling kettle…

What’s the main argument against affirmative action? That it gives unqualified and unprepared Blacks an unfair advantage into jobs they would never qualify for based upon their individual merits?

Uncle Ruckus Thomas, shuffle on over!

“We wuz both cursed by this damn Black skin!”

With the case of Clarence Thomas being a notable exception. When Bush 41 put his name into nomination he said, “He was the most qualified man I could find” which was a total lie. Thomas wasn’t even the most qualified Black judge Bush could have selected. Thomas had kissed the right rings and they knew he was NEVER going to change or become an independent judge the way David Souter did.

Thomas is an AA baby right down to his toes and he got a lifetime appointment to a job he wasn’t remotely qualified for.  He knows it and bitterly resents it.   But Thomas has spent 22 years making sure  the rest of Black America suffers for his humiliation.

“I was disappointed because what I think what the court did today is stab the Voting Rights Act of 1965 right in its very heart,” Congressman John Lewis explained to MSNBC. “It is a major setback. We may not have people being beaten today, maybe they’re not being denied the right to participate, to register to vote, they’re not being chased by police dogs or trampled by horses. But in the 11 states of the old Confederacy and even in some of the states outside of the South, there has been a systematic, deliberate attempt to take us back to another period.”

“And these men that voted to strip the Voting Rights Act of its power, they never stood in unmovable lines, they never had to pass a so-called literacy test. It took us almost a hundred years to get where we are today. So, will it take another hundred years to fix it, to change it?”

There are only eight years difference in age between Representative Lewis and Judge Thomas.  There is a yawning chasm between how the two men perceive where Black Americans were regarding racism and where they are.

Say bye-bye to early voting, same-day registration, and weekend voting and say hello to more voter I.D. requirements, more polling places closed in Black and Latino neighborhoods, long waits in long lines and every other restriction Republican-run statehouses can dream up.   It will start down South (and already has in Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and other states covered by Section 5), but will it be too long before it winds it way up to Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio as well?

I  hope all my good liberal/progressive friends who have been LOSING THEIR SHIT for the past few weeks over the NSA domestic surveillance and the theoretical threats to liberty and democracy are equally fired up over what a conservative cabal has done to turn not the clock, but the calendar back.  This is 2013, but the Court may just have decided the 2016 presidential election.  Hillary Clinton or any other Democratic contender will rue the day a right-wing majority of the Court decided they were tired of racism and declared it a thing of the past.   At least racism directed toward non-Whites.

My father was what Thomas thinks he is: a strong and proud Black man.   He despised Thomas for his slave mentality.   He wanted to take Thomas, Pat Buchanan, Robert Novak and all those other despicable right-wingers and beat all their asses with a baseball bat.

The house slave who Bush 41 selected to occupy the seat vacated by Thurgood Marshall, the iconic champion of Black progress and civil rights,  continued to mock his predecessor’s legacy in joining his conservative brethren on the Court to gut Section Five and throw his own people to the tender mercies of racist Southern politicians.

I knew this ruling by the Supreme Court was coming.   I fully expected how the vote would go.   But I still want to beat Clarence Thomas’ punk ass with a baseball bat.

Black robes, white hoods.

Black robes, white hoods.

Expect A Week of Joy and Pain from the Supremes.

We rule!

We rule!

We tend to forget how much the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court have on the lives of millions of Americans until they remind us all and this is going to be one such time.

This week the Court will hand down decisions on several cases of vital importance to the Black and gay community and depending on how they come down the rulings are likely to cause celebration in one community, consternation in the other and further resentment between the two groups.

Within days, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a series of decisions that could transform three fundamental social institutions: marriage, education and voting.

 The extraordinary run of blockbuster rulings due in the space of a single week will also reshape the meaning of legal equality and help define for decades to come one of the Constitution’s grandest commands: “the equal protection of the laws.”

If those words require only equal treatment from the government, the rulings are likely to be a mixed bag that will delight and disappoint liberals and conservatives in equal measure. Under that approach, same-sex couples who want to marry would be better off at the end of the term, while blacks and Hispanics could find it harder to get into college and to vote.

But a tension runs through the cases, one based on different conceptions of equality. Some justices are committed to formal equality. Others say the Constitution requires a more dynamic kind of equality, one that takes account of the weight of history and of modern disparities.

The four major cases yet to be decided concern same-sex marriage, affirmative action in higher education and the fate of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which places special burdens on states with a history of racial discrimination.

Aw man, voting rights is SO 1965….

However the majority of the Court rules will delight conservatives and infuriate liberals or delight liberals and infuriate conservatives.   There may be  a little something for everyone this week.

You should definitely expect if the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 are kicked to the curb (yay) but affirmative action is further weakened and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is gutted, in the aftermath there will be a furious firestorm of stories and commentaries playing up the “gays vs. Blacks” schism and how one group’s interests are being advanced while the other is being rolled back.

That is simplistic as well as flat-out wrong.  Marriage is not civil rights is not education.  Yet while the parts do not equal a whole, the perception that the Court favors one side’s interests over another will inevitably come up no matter how they rules.  Between the antipathy of the conservative wing of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Anthony Scalia and Clarence Thomas and swing vote Anthony Kennedy‘s indifference to civil rights it is almost a foregone conclusion the Court is going to serve up a big ol’ crap sandwich for the supporters of affirmative action and voting rights.

It isn’t that there will be any connection between the separate issues of marriage equality and protecting voting rights.   There isn’t and the Supremes don’t do “one for  you and one for me. ”   The Blame Game  will fall on the collective heads of the gay community because invariably some commentators will  designate them as  “winners” in DOMA and Prop. 8 are overturned  and  Blacks will be deemed “losers” if the issues of greatest concern to them are severely curtailed.   There  already exists resentment from some Blacks  over how the gay rights movement has appropriated the tactics and rhetoric of the civil rights movement for their own (and why not? It’s been proven effective and Gandhi never patented it to stop Martin Luther King for giving them an Americanized makeover).

Trust me when I say there will always be those who desire to keep tensions high between the Black and gay communities for their own reasons.  Reasons that include homophobia or racism.

I expect this week is going to be like the old R’n’B song: “Joy and Pain.”

The news channels will serve up team of their legal “experts” to identify the various winners and losers.   That’s fine if you want that sort of snap ESPN style analysis, but I don’t get much from watching Jeffery Toobin or Alan Dershowitz blathering about what the Justices really meant.   You don’t have to be an attorney or a pompous talking head to understand what is going on with the Supremes.  The SCOTUS Blog not only provides  live reporting of the Court’s rulings, it does so in (mostly) plain English

For a layman who has always been fascinated by the workings of the Supreme Court,  I appreciate that.   The expected screams of joy from one side and groans of anguish from the other will need no such translation.

The money isn’t as big as the Super Bowl but the stakes inside this building are a lot higher.

Should She Stay or Should She Go?

Liberals welcomed Ginsburg’s arrival on the Court but some worry she’s stayed too long.

The legal legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg may hinge on two  “20/20” questions only she knows the answer to.   Should she step down from the Supreme Court seat she’s held for 20 years while there’s a Democrat in the White House until 2016 and a Democratically controlled Senate for at least another 20 months?

If Ginsburg cares at all about her legacy, she should step down while there’s still an opportunity to be replaced by a like-minded justice. If she hangs on beyond 2013 the odds keep going up a Republican controlled Senate will turn back any successor they consider too far to the Left.

I’m not the only progressive checking out the calendar and worrying Ginsburg may hang around past President Obama’s term.  In an essay for Salon Jonathan Bernstein laid out the looming dilemma.

Retiring and giving up her final years on the nation’s high court is a lot to ask from Ginsburg, who has been a liberal hero for many years. But just as she was a liberal hero before serving on the Supreme Court, she can be a liberal hero again by leaving it.

This is all pretty straightforward. Ginsburg is 80. Her health is apparently fine now, although she’s a two-time cancer survivor. There’s every possibility she could not only continue in office beyond the Barack Obama presidency but that she could survive even eight years of a Republican in office after that, if that’s what’s in the cards.

And yet: “Every possibility” isn’t good enough. Ginsburg will turn 84 soon after Obama’s successor will be sworn in. Realistically, anyone planning for the future has to assume there’s a 50 percent chance of that successor being a Republican.

Moreover, the simple fact is that most Republicans will support a filibuster against any Supreme Court nominee. Right now, the 55 Democrats (including two independents who caucus with the Democrats) may be enough, combined with a handful of Republicans who are moderate enough or simply oppose knee-jerk filibusters, to get a nominee confirmed.

It’s only going to get harder, however. Next year is an election year, and Republicans fearing a Tea Party challenge will be even more reluctant to let the Kenyan socialist in the White House have a third Supreme Court nominee confirmed. And after that, the odds are pretty good that Democrats will lose ground in the 2014 elections and that they could even lose their majority in the Senate altogether.

And then every month that goes by brings us that much closer to January 2017 and makes it that much easier for Republicans to just implement a confirm-nobody strategy to run out the clock.

Polski: Thurgood Marshall

Marshall was replaced by Clarence Thomas, his polar opposite.

Why should she stay? She’s been there 20 years already. Or do you want her to repeat Thurgood Marshall‘s mistake by hanging on too long and letting a Republican president appoint her replacement?

I’ve never understood why these Justices hang on to the bitter end. They live in Washington and they’re political animals: Ginsburg knows she’s more likely to be replaced by someone closer to her ideologically if Obama has Patrick Leahy running the Judiciary Committee instead of Charles Grassley.

An appointment to the Supreme Court is a lifetime gig, but why wait until you’re almost dead to step aside gracefully.   It’s not as if Ginsburg will out-wait Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas to see who steps down first.  Those two bastards would sooner eat their feet than allow Obama to pick their replacements.  Unless they drop dead during oral arguments (and as Thomas rarely speaks or asks any questions, who’s gonna notice if he does?), it’s Ginsburg at the top of the chart of associate justices most likely to call it quits.

It sounds cold to suggest Ginsburg exchange her robes for  slippers and morning television, but if she’s replaced by another Thomas as Marshall was she might have wished she retired a year earlier than later.

I’m a political animal too. Holding on to the bitter end is not a good way for a Supreme Court Justice to go out.   Ginsburg is serving a lifetime appointment and as long as her health holds up and her mental facilities are sharp (as lawyers who  are subject to her questioning during oral argument before the Court can attest to) she shouldn’t be badgered into leaving before she’s ready to go.   The way most of the Justices ignore the media and decline to do interviews it is unlikely Ginsburg pays much attention to the angst of progressives.

Ginsburg and her colleagues on the Court serve lifetime appointments to insulate them from political pressure.  That doesn’t mean when they choose or don’t choose to step aside doesn’t have major political impact.

Whether Ginsburg decides to stay or go, this woman who is small in stature will have a huge impact on the future direction of justice in America.

Ginsburg is a little lady who has a big impact.

The Biggest Bigot Ever to Sit on The Supreme Court

“Can I drive you home, Miss Daisy?”

The United States Supreme Court is the third branch of the federal government and historically the most mysterious to the typical citizen. Most can’t name more than a few of the nine justices and fewer truly understand how important they are to their lives. Every so often a decision is handed down that is so momentous only someone stuck in a cave can go unaware of its significance.

The Court attracts the best and the brightest of legal minds like a Oliver Wendell Holmes, William O. Douglas and Felix Frankfurther. There have been 112 men and women appointed to the highest court in the land, and once you get past the best and brightest you have the pretty good, just okay, and the staggeringly mediocre.

Then there are the special cases. The justices that are downright terrible and grossly incompetent.

Cue up Uncle Clarence Thomas. But before we got to #106, we had a real winner in Number 66, James Clark McReynolds.

Even Thomas might be floored by how foul a piece of crap McReynolds was. He authored no major decisions and is best known for being such an unlikeable bastard when he died not one of his colleagues on the Court bothered attending his funeral.

Appointed by President Woodrow Wilson McReynolds served on the Court for 26 years and while he worked with three other conservative justices to foil and block many of Roosevelt’s New Deal, he was a raging douche who went out of his way to be nasty, rude and bigoted even to his colleagues on the bench.   He pointedly refused to speak to Justice John Clarke because he was “too liberal” or Louis Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo because they were Jewish.   He refused to pose for the annual Court picture with Brandeis posed next to him in seniority and would not sign opinions authored by Brandeis and would leave the justices conferences when he would speak.

One miserable, rotten human being right down to his socks.

When President Herbert Hoover was considering Cardozo, McReynolds and two other justices asked Hoover not “to afflict the Court with another Jew.”  When Cardozo was nominated the rabid anti-Semite from Kentucky reportedly said, “Huh, it seems that the only way you can get on the Supreme Court these days is to be either the son of a criminal or a Jew, or both.”

McReynolds had plenty of contempt left over from hating Jews to letting Blacks know exactly what he thought of them.  He hated having to serve with Jews on the Supreme Court, but he didn’t even try to mask his contempt for Blacks.  The American Spectator revealed how intemperate the judicial temperament of McReynolds was provided an opportunity to express it.

Arrayed behind the raised bench, the nine Justices peer down from their lofty, high-backed leather chairs, their black robes distinct against crimson drapes trimmed with gold.

Rising to his feet to begin his presentation is attorney Charles Hamilton Houston. Houston is one of America’s more brilliant members of the bar. Educated at Amherst College, where he was the class valedictorian, he had gone on to graduate cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he served on the law review. Today, the historic courtroom is hushed, with all eyes on Houston as he begins to speak.

Suddenly, silently, without a word, there is movement from the bench.

Justice James Clark McReynolds swivels his chair, turning it around 180 degrees. And keeps it that way. There is a moment of stunned silence as the recognition dawns on McReynolds’s fellow Justices, headed by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes. So too is there a jaw-dropping understanding in the rest of the ornate, historic chambers as everyone else realizes the import of what has just occurred. The Justice is now staring steadily at the curtains, the back of his tall chair quite deliberately, ostentatiously, and literally turned to Houston.

There was a reason.

Charles Hamilton Houston was not just one of America’s leading attorneys this November day in 1938. He was also a black man. And Mr. Justice McReynolds, a Tennessean, graduate of Vanderbilt and the University of Virginia Law School, a onetime law professor, a political progressive appointed in 1914 by the progressive hero Woodrow Wilson, is both a racist and a vehement anti-Semite.

McReynolds has no intention whatsoever of giving the black lawyer addressing the Court this day the slightest recognition. Why? Because James McReynolds — like the President who appointed him — judges people by race. He is, as is Wilson, a rabid white supremacist and a segregationist.

Houston, Justice McReynolds has a problem with you.

Indeed, when Chief Justice Hughes, a Republican appointed by President Herbert Hoover, later hands down the decision validating Houston’s argument and putting the first crack in Plessy by insisting on Gaines’s right to attend the school (which Gaines never did) McReynolds will write the dissent. True to the racial beliefs he shared with the President who appointed him, McReynolds insists that the “best interests” of Missourians are served by “separation of whites and Negroes in schools,” his racist values deciding his vote in one of the most important legal cases of the decade.

So too was McReynolds’s racism in play in Powell v. Alabama. This case involved nine young black men known to history as the “Scottsboro Boys.” Charged with the rape of two white women in 1931 Alabama, the defendants were provided with a lawyer only as the trial was literally about to begin. The trial lasted barely one day, at the end of which all but one of the young men were sentenced to death. The conviction was upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court. Now a civil rights cause receiving massive publicity across the nation, the case was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Hughes (Wilson’s opponent in the 1916 presidential election who campaigned on a platform pledging “the protection of every American citizen in all the rights secured to him by the Constitution”), ordered a new trial, siding with the black teenage defendant, “Ozie” Powell, and the Scottsboro Boys. The Court noted the “hostile” atmosphere that had prevailed in denying the defendants appropriate counsel, that blacks had been kept from the jury, and that the trial itself was neither fair nor impartial for racial reasons. In short, the Scottsboro Boys had been denied due process under the 14th Amendment. McReynolds dissented of course, tartly saying he did not see that a new trial was necessary.

Settling into the Supreme Court’s barber shop for a hair cut from the longtime black barber, a man named Gates, McReynolds decided to talk of Howard University, the famous black university in the District of Columbia. Said Justice McReynolds: “Gates, tell me, where is this nigger university in Washington, D.C.?” According to an account later provided by another Justice: “Gates removed the white cloth from McReynolds, walked around and faced him, and said in a very calm and dignified manner, ‘Mr. Justice, I am shocked that any Justice would call a Negro a nigger. There is a Negro college in Washington, D.C. Its name is Howard University and we are very proud of it.'”

James McReynolds would have despised serving on the Court with the likes of Clarence Thomas, but even a dead old segregationist would approve of how relentlessly Thomas has worked to be as unjust as possible to Blacks.

As hostile as McReynolds was to the Scottsboro Boys, Thomas has been similarly hostile to Black prisoners whose cases reach the Supreme Court as the cases of Juan Smith and John Thompson will demonstrate in the last installment.

The Damage One Ignorant Negro Can Do: A Hate Story in Three Parts

“No suh. I don’t know who stole the last big piece of chicken.”

All I cared about was finding answers, no matter who had them. When, later on, I began to associate with conservatives, it was because their ideas were closer to mine than liberals’ ideas, not because I saw myself as one of them. I’d already noticed that it was liberals, not conservatives, who were most likely to condescend to blacks, but I assumed, like the good radical I once was, that liberals and conservatives were simply two different breeds of snake, one stealthy, the other openly hostile.

~ Clarence ThomasMy Grandfather’s Son (pages 107-108)

My dad told me there’s no difference between a black snake and a white snake. They both bite.

~ Thurgood Marshall at a press conference announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.

It’s said that hate is a wasteful emotion.  It’s said that hating someone is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.  It’s said that hating someone means renting space in your head and they probably don’t even know how much you hate them.

I accept all that to be true.  But I still hate Clarence Thomas.   I’ve done a good job of getting away from the days when I was quick to call someone an Uncle Tom.   Thomas has been a massive failure as a judge on the Supreme Court, but beyond that he’s not just bad; he’s evil.

My good friend, Denise Clay, the Mad Political Scientist and I had a Facebook debate where she asked me wasn’t I being a bit rough when I described Uncle Clarence Thomas as a “lawn jockey?”

My response is I’m just upset  EMERGE magazine beat me to it. I’d be a lot less hard on Uncle Thomas if he were a lot less hard on Black folks.

Two wrongs never make a right, Jeff…

Denise, EMERGE wasn’t wrong. Thomas has been a complete disaster. He’s the ultimate argument against affirmative action. An unqualified, unprepared bumbler who got his job only because Bush needed a Black conservative to replace Thurgood Marshall and Uncle Thomas was ready and on the case.

Calling people things like Uncle Toms, Lawn Jockeys and the like are dialogue stoppers.

Dialogue stoppers? I don’t WANT to dialogue with Uncle Thomas and his worthless ass. FUCK Clarence Thomas. I’d rather have a hardcore White conservative that hates Black folks like Scalia than a punk-ass sell-out like Thomas.

But you don’t neutralize him this way. You make him a martyr…which makes him stronger…

Fine. Let hit be a martyr. I don’t give a shit as long as he’s no longer on the Supreme Court making life hell for 36 million Black Americans, give or take a few conservatives.

I’m tired of hearing about how we need to reach out to Black folks who think and act like Uncle Thomas. Why isn’t HE reaching out to US? You never see Thomas go to a HBCU, an NAACP convention, or on Black oriented radio, television, newspaper or website trying to reach out to Black people. And you know what? YOU NEVER WILL.

“Every day we shufflin'”

Uncle Thomas doesn’t care what Denise Clay thinks. He damn sure doesn’t care what Jeff Winbush thinks. White people–specifically White conservatives–are the ONLY people he cares about. He cares very much about what they think. Why else would he throw his own sister under the bus for the entertainment of White conservatives? Thomas is whom we thought he was. A sell-out. A house Negro. A lawn jockey for the White Right.

And Ms Clay says calling him so shut down the possibility of dialogue. During WWII, did the French sit down to discuss their differences with Nazi collaborators? Clarence sleeps with the enemy. Literally, not figuratively.

Instead of playing Henry Kissinger with the low-life likes of Uncle Clarence, I opt for going Sgt. Vernon Walters from ‘A Soldier’s Story‘ on his ass:

“Them Nazis ain’t all crazy. Whole lot of people just can’t seem to fit in to where things seem to be going. Like you, CJ. See, the Black race can’t afford you no more. There used to be a time, we’d see someone like you singin’, clownin’, yassuh-bossin’… and we wouldn’t do anything. Folks liked that. You were good. Homey kind of nigger. When they needed somebody to mistreat, call a name or two, they paraded you. Reminded them of the good old days. Not no more. The day of the Geechee is gone, boy. And you’re going with it.”

Black people can’t afford self-hating, race traitors like Uncle Clarence Thomas no more. As someone who used to admire Malcolm X before he went mad and peddled his ass and soul, Uncle Thomas should understand how Malcolm warned us of Uncle Toms.

And calling him an Uncle Tom is a much better solution…

When he walks like an Uncle Tom, talks like an Uncle Tom, and acts like an Uncle Tom, it would highly inaccurate not to call Uncle Thomas an Uncle Tom.

Would you prefer I call him a duck?

Your desire to sit down and attempt to reason with an unreasonable man is charming and sweet and hopelessly doomed to failure. The problem is you think Uncle Thomas has a problem you can help him fix. He doesn’t think he has a problem. He thinks YOU do.

On the Supreme Court Marshall defended Blacks. Thomas dogs out Blacks.

I just have a problem with the name calling. All it does is strengthen his position with the forces that want to do us in. Do I like this guy? No. He’s a bit of an ass. But Uncle Tom has a definite implication and I don’t think that I have the right to judge who is Black and who is not.

(I remember “A Soldier’s Story” too..)

Well, Niecey, I’ll put it like this. Many Black folks take offense to hearing the word “nigger” casually applied, but as Chris Rock put it, we know there’s a vast difference between how Black people and niggers behave, do we not?

It is undeniable there are Black people whose only purpose in life is to do dirt to other Blacks. Whether they were House Negroes giving aid and comfort to the White slave owners or the sell-outs that betrayed other Field Negroes who tried to rebel and escape their oppression, there have ALWAYS been Blacks happy to sell-out other Blacks just so long as they get over.

If you want me to lay out a case against Uncle Clarence Thomas and why I consider him a race traitor, sell-out, Uncle Tom House Negro who hates Blacks and loves Whites, I got no problem doing so.

Not that I’m trying to change your mind, but to make you understand I didn’t just wake up hating Clarence Thomas and everything he stands for. I’ve been hip to this head scratchin”, eye-rolling, chicken-n’-biscuit eatin’ Negro for some time,  long before George Bush desecrated the Supreme Court and mocked Thurgood Marshall by  replacing him with the Uncle Thomas shufflin’ minstrel show.

But talk is cheap.  I have my reasons to hate Uncle Thomas.  Very definite reasons and in my next post I’m going to focus on another member of the Supreme Court who is a worthy challenger to Thomas for the title of The Worst Justice Ever and may–operative word “may”–have hated Blacks even more than Thomas.

A Sista for the Supreme Court?

Judge Leah Ward Sears, young enough, smart enough and tough enough to be on the Supreme Court.

President Obama called the task of nominating a Supreme Court justice, “the most important job I have.”    That’s why the president needs to replace John Paul Stevens with someone who can serve as a counterweight to the Court’s  swing to the right.

That’s why President Obama needs to put Leah Ward Sears on the Supreme Court.

Judge Sears is the former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, a Black woman who has defended gay rights, is pro-choice and would be a liberal voice on the Court.  She’s also a friend of Clarence Thomas which means she would be hard for right-wingers to stick horns on her head as some sort of wild-eyed Lefty.

Sears turns 55 in June which makes her young enough to sit on the Supreme Court for 25-30 years.    Things will never get better for a strong progressive to get through the Senate during Obama’s remaining term.   Will the Republicans scream and shout that Ward is “out of the mainstream?”   Of course they will and what of it?    Who gets to decide what qualifies as being “in the mainstream?”   As Senator Lindsay Graham said during the Sotomayor hearings, “Elections have consequences.”    Obama won the last election and he needs to place people on the federal bench that reflect his beliefs, not that of the party that lost.

Long after Obama is out of office, the people he places on the federal bench will remain.   The choice of Sonia Sotomayor was a strong and principled one for Obama as it was time for a Latino representative on the highest court of the land.   Now it is time for him to make an audacious choice and choose a successor that will represent and defend the liberal perspective as solidly as Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas represent the conservative perspective.

The one thing Sears should not be seen as if Obama taps her for the Court is as the arch-enemy of Clarence Thomas.   Sears and Thomas are friends despite coming from two very different political perspectives.

There’s no doubt Obama will choose a qualified candidate, but  being qualified isn’t enough.   He needs to choose someone who has lived in the real world and has some understanding of how the law impacts upon ordinary people.   Too many judges live in a bubble where they are removed from that type of reality.    Phrases such as “mainstream” judges who “respect the Constitution” and “the best and brightest” are thrown around by conservatives who ignore the real-life consequences of the High Court’s dictates.

Too often “the best and brightest” has been a euphemism for “the most plugged-in and Whitest.” I’d love to see a sista get tapped for the job and let those old bastards like Jeff Sessions and Jon Kyl TRY to attack her.

Step your game up Mr. President.  Be bold and go with a choice that excites your base and dare the Republicans to filibuster a Black woman.   Choose Leah Ward Sears and put a sista on the Supreme Court.