The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Justice’

THE BALL’S IN YOUR COURT

February 5th – a date that shall live in historical importance.  Sure, you’re probably thinking that we finally had a Super Bowl (LI) that was truly exciting.  Those who were either emotionally or financially involved had a real gut gripper.  But what most of us forgot or never knew as they were glued to their hi-def TV’s was that something even more significant was unveiled on an earlier February 5th.  The year was 1937.

In the sixth of his Fireside Chats (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s equivalent of President Donald J. Trump’s Twitter account), President Roosevelt unveiled his proposal for increasing the size of the number of siting Justices on the Supreme Court to as many as fifteen.  The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 as the proposed legislation was officially known, was Roosevelt’s response to the Supreme Court’s striking down as unconstitutional several initiatives that had been implemented as part of FDR’s New Deal.

For every living American, having a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices seems as though nine is the sacrosanct number for the membership of the high court.  But while the Constitution required the creation of a Supreme Court, it left to the Congress the authority to determine the number of members of that august body.  Originally, the number was set at six by the Judiciary Act of 1789.  Considering that there was essentially no body of law yet written by the Congress, that seemed like more than a reasonable number of Justices and that remained the size of the court until Congress increased its number to nine in 1869.

Given the vastness of the body of law which has been promulgated, I believe that a strong argument could be made for increasing the number of Justices to more than it’s present size, perhaps eleven.  And I would urge President Trump and the Congress strongly to consider legislation which would accomplish that end.  Concurrent with the increase in the court’s size, I would also urge that a term limit of twenty-five years or age 75, whichever comes later, be imposed on any new Justices who were appointed.

There is little question in my mind that the judiciary at all levels has become highly politicized.  Increasing the number of Supremes would reduce the amount of pressure which any specific Justice might feel in evaluating and making their rulings.  And lest anyone suggest that this would merely be a ploy by the Trump administration to gain leverage in the court, I would urge the Congress make this change effective January 1, 2021.

This is perhaps the most apolitical suggestion that can be offered to make our Supreme Court more judicial.  None of us can predict what political philosophy will have the ascendance years from now.  So new appointees would reflect the spirit and mood of the country as expressed in the person whom we would then elect President and to the Senate.  Having a defined and limited term, political pressure such as was applied to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire during the Obama presidency would be nullified. But most importantly, this should free the then sitting Justices to do their duty in an unbiased manner without feeling as much political pressure as now exists.

 

 

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PARDON ME

It should come as no surprise to regular readers that I’m not a fan of Hillary Clinton.  For more than twenty-five years I’ve thought of her as the potentially most dangerous politician in America.  Nothing has happened in those two and one half decades which has caused me to change my mind on that subject.

On the contrary, White Water, the cattle trading scheme, Vince Foster – well, those are child’s play compared to her irresponsible handling of national security and the corruption attached to the Clinton Foundation which would be revealed if a truly objective investigation were to be conducted.  Of course, we all know that will never happen under the current administration.

Given my view, you might be surprised that I believe that, if President Obama doesn’t beat him to the punch, President-elect Trump should offer a deal to Ms. Clinton which would include a full presidential pardon.  Shocking, you say?  Maybe not so much.

In defending my position, let me first say that I believe Clinton is guilty as sin – in numerous different matters.  Perhaps that is inherently obvious – otherwise why would we even be talking about pardoning her?  Nor do I believe that she has experienced  any great moment of contrition which would warrant absolution in a moral or religious sense.  I think that if she were to review her past deeds, the only remorse that she might be feeling is that she got caught with an insurmountable amount of evidence suggestive of her guilt, too much to spin or lie away this time.

In an election that was heavily weighted in her favor; the benefits that she inherited as a Democrat because of the electoral map; the one-upsmanship afforded her in her primary contest by the DNC; the adulation of her by the media and the opprobrium heaped on her opponent by them; despite all that, she was up-ended by a political outsider and put the much vaunted expectation of our having our first female president on the back burner – at least for now.

Ms. Clinton proved herself to be an anachronism – and “The Times They Are A-Changing.”  Ms. Clinton, the champion of a higher minimum wage lost to Donald Trump, the champion of unlimited opportunity.  Clinton was supported by virtually all the self-styled elites.  Trump was enthusiastically embraced by people who were struggling to pay their mortgage because their jobs had been lost to Mexico.  Clinton espoused a policy of open borders while Trump promised an administration where law and an orderly immigration process would be restored.

So why a pardon for Hillary Clinton?  There are several reasons.

The first is that there really is nothing to gain other than retribution and a warning to others that unlawful behavior will not be tolerated and that nobody is above the law.  That is an important, no, that is the essential foundation of the American experiment and what differentiates us from virtually every other country.  But as you will see if you keep reading, we can make that point in a different way than by appointing a special prosecutor, spending countless hours investigating and arraigning Clinton and then trying and probably convicting her.

The second is that if, and I believe it is, President-elect Trump’s main focus to Make America Great Again, it is best to direct all his and Congress’ attention to getting the ball rolling on doing just that.  Let’s not get distracted by what will undoubtedly be spun as little more than partisan politics – although I believe that is a gross mis-characterization of  Clinton’s actions.

The third has been obvious to anyone who has watched the news on television in the week since the election.  This country is still obviously divided.  President-elect Trump is still being characterized as a “loose cannon,” a misogynist, unstable and hateful.  The presumed basis for the outrage is that he is not a legitimate president-elect as he did not win the popular vote.  If he had won both the popular vote as well as the Electoral College majority vote, I believe you would still have seen these protests.  Pardoning Clinton would go a long way to beginning a healing process, reuniting the nation and defusing the allegations about which these sorely misguided people are purportedly demonstrating.

If President Ronald Reagan was the “Great Communicator,” President-elect Donald J. Trump may well be called the “Great Negotiator.”  And here’s what I would advise him to negotiate with Clinton before giving her a presidential pardon.

First and foremost, Trump should require that in a press conference, she allocute to the real reasons that she chose to maintain an unsecure, private server despite the laws which should have prevented her from doing so.  That she allocute to whether all of the deleted emails were, in fact, personal or whether there were records that were deleted which should be part of the public record.  That she allocute to whether or not any of her decisions as Secretary of State were influenced because of donations to the Clinton Foundation.  Such an honest allocution would carry the same weight as a lengthy legal process and for those who blindly voted for her might give some reason for pause and reflection.

Second, I would ask her and President Clinton to forgo any pensions, Secret Service protection and any other benefits which are currently proffered on former presidents and politicians.  The Clintons have done very well for themselves since they left the White House.  Voluntarily stripping themselves of future benefices will hardly impose a financial hardship on the couple.

In my more Draconian moments, I would like to see Hillary Clinton voluntarily give up her U. S. citizenship and move to a foreign country where she might get a fresh start.  Brazil comes to mind.

By area, Brazil is only moderately smaller than the United States.  It has a multi-racial, multi-cultural population with lots of under served children – and taking care of children is a passion that Clinton maintains has been a focus of hers throughout her life.  Furthermore, it has elected a woman president (currently under indictment) – so if she wanted to revive her political ambitions, what more natural place than Brazil?

Furthermore, it is a welcoming country.  After WWII it took in a significant number of Germans, Japanese and Italians who may or may not have been involved in the Axis war effort.  The Israelis spent a great deal of time in the country ferreting out those who were members of the power structure of the Third Reich. This might be a community with whom Clinton could forge alliances. Whether husband Bill would choose to join her in exile would, of course, be up to the two of them.  Of course, this transplant to South America is more on my wish list than my must have list.

If Brazil doesn’t fill the bill for Clinton, an alternative might be Haiti.  Perhaps if she chose to live in Port au Prince, she might join in the search to find the fifteen million dollars that the Clinton Foundation allegedly gave to assist the earthquake victims there a few years back and which, by all accounts, is still missing.

In my view, this is a reasonable proposal.  But if you have a different view, I hope you’ll accept my apology with a heartfelt, “Pardon me.”

ZIMMER WHO?

For the entire duration of the trial of Public Opinion v. George Zimmerman it was impossible for me to look at Yahoo News without finding at least one update on what was happening in the Florida courtroom where Mr. Zimmerman was on trial for his freedom.  Generally, in Yahoo’s “Top Ten Trending Stories” there was some reference or other to the trial.

Today, George Zimmerman didn’t make it to that list.

Being adjudged not guilty certainly has its benefits – although I wonder if there are many who feel this was a miscarriage of justice and who intend to rectify that by personally executing their own form of justice on the now-acquitted Mr. Zimmerman.  Those who hold to that opinion are precisely the people who exhibit the same sort of primitive behavior of which Mr. Zimmerman was accused – and found not guilty.

Needless to say, first in the fray to continue the persecution of Mr. Zimmerman were some notables who are as far to the left as one can maneuver while still remaining on planet Earth.  Al Sharpton expressed his outrage and planned on demanding that Atty. Gen. Eric Holder (himself a man of tarnished scruples) pursue a Civil Rights suit against Mr. Zimmerman.  And, it wouldn’t be a good fashion show without a few white models thrown in the mix so Elliott Spitzer (an attorney who swore to uphold the law and broke it by consorting with prostitutes illegally), had his moment to opine over the “miscarriage of justice” that took place in Florida.

As God is my judge, I don’t know how either of these men, if they have a shred of morality left in their souls, can look at themselves in the mirror and say the things that they say.  If I had either of their track records to my credit I would be looking for the deepest cave in which to hide and pray that no one would ever find me.  The shame of having to face another human being would be more than I could handle.  But I guess we’re all different – or I suppose that’s what “diversity” is all about.

In a recent post I said that I would lay odds of ten to one that Zimmerman would be found guilty – not based on the evidence but on the basis of the kangaroo court of public opinion.  Obviously, I was wrong – but beyond that – (I’ve been wrong many times in my life) – I was shocked, stunned and amazed by the verdict.

Frankly, I was agnostic on the whole trial and never watched one second of it – in the same way I never watched any of the O. J. Simpson trial for the murder of his wife and Ronald Goldman.  I don’t find courtroom melodrama particularly interesting and I have better uses for my time.

But now that the trial is over and the verdict has been rendered, I wanted to sit back and analyze why my belief that George Zimmerman would be convicted was incorrect.  So today I did a little digging and a little thinking.

At some point in the past, I had read that Trayvon Martin who was presented as a candidate for “Choir Boy of the Year”  had a rap sheet.  I easily found that he had been suspended from his high school three times – and, in fact, was on suspension when the tragic incident occurred.  This third suspension apparently stemmed from his violating his school’s “zero tolerance” policy for substance abuse.  Apparently a marijuana pipe and drug residue were found in his possession.

Now much has been made of whether Zimmerman actively “stalked” Martin or whether Martin was the aggressor.  And more has been made of the fact that if both men acted more rationally perhaps this entire sad event might have been avoided.  That second statement is probably true.

But what if Trayvon Martin, in light of the fact that he apparently used marijuana at least occasionally, were under its influence the night he died?  That might account for his acting in a way that George Zimmerman found threatening.  Of course, that is pure speculation – but the thought might have occurred to the jury members as they deliberated Mr. Zimmerman’s fate.

But here are the two reasons that I believe that Mr. Zimmerman – at least based on the evidence presented at the trial – is innocent:

First, the jury, despite all the publicity of this trial and all the pressure they must have felt, rendered their verdict quickly.  I would have expected that a quick verdict would result in Mr. Zimmerman’s incarceration.  That suggests to me definitively that the jurors believed that the prosecution had failed to make their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Second, the reaction to the verdict was predictable with calls for vigilante justice from certain elements in American society.  I cannot believe that these six women, were unaware that would be the reaction if they found the defendant not guilty.  And that their own safety might well be threatened by those same individuals.  Rendering a verdict of guilty would have been the easy and safe thing for them to do.  Instead they chose to do the difficult and courageous thing.

None of us will ever know what happened the fateful night that Trayvon Martin died.  But what we do know is that a fair trial of the accused was conducted and the jury found him not guilty.  If we believe in the rule of law, each of us needs to accept that and move on.

Otherwise, we follow the same hateful path that organizations such as the KKK walk.

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