Posts Tagged ‘US Supreme Court’

Service of the Revival of Decorum–It’s Got My Vote

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Photo: youtube

The country has been through previous periods in which decorum went by the wayside for both irrational and worthy reasons—and it always recovered. Among obvious examples are Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy’s communist hunts combined with his vicious interviews seven decades ago and during the 1960s, citizens found a range of ways to protest, some unruly and alarming. [I didn’t mention wars and murders as the word decorum doesn’t apply.]

Photo: izquotes.com

Today many accept—even endorse–disruptive behavior by people at the highest levels, such as the president and the applicant for a spot on the highest court in the land. Plenty of citizens and Senators dismissed, excused and supported the frenzied conduct of the prospective judge last week in a performance that lacked judgment and dignity. Did they notice or is this standard behavior.

There was no excuse for it–life isn’t fair. Deal with it especially if you want to be a judge.

Benjamin Wittes, Editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution wrote in The Atlantic : “If I were a senator, I would not vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh.

“These are words I write with no pleasure, but with deep sadness.

“I would do it both because of Ford’s testimony and because of Kavanaugh’s. For reasons I will describe, I find her account more believable than his.

“I would also do it because whatever the truth of what happened in the summer of 1982, Thursday’s hearing left Kavanaugh nonviable as a justice.

“….. he delivered on Thursday, by way of defense, a howl of rage. He went on the attack not against Ford—for that we can be grateful—but against Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee and beyond. His opening statement was an unprecedentedly partisan outburst of emotion from a would-be justice……. His performance was wholly inconsistent with the conduct we should expect from a member of the judiciary.”

Photo: career-intelligence.com

“Kavanaugh blew across lines that I believe a justice still needs to hold.”

There seem to be as many voices accepting disorderly, inappropriate behavior as those who disapprove. Does this mean it’s OK to act similarly at all levels of our society? Is there a green light for job applicants to be snarky during interviews or is this a benefit of being in office and becoming a Supreme Court Judge? Will ordinary candidates for jobs big and small be selected if:

 

 

  • they smash back responses that mimic the interviewer’s question?
  • they fly off the handle if asked about a sensitive subject?
  • they make up information that is easily disproved for fear of what the truth might imply?

 

I’m a control freak. Rowdy, disorderly conduct by our leaders frightens me. I squirm watching the yelling and screaming that routinely takes place in the British Parliament.

I have every hope that sane and respectful conduct and moderate solutions will once again prevail here. I suspect that a majority of citizens agree. We’ve seen what chaos and disrespect is like. In future we will pick a president, Congressmen and women and Supreme Court judges who conduct themselves with decorum–in public at least. Do you agree?

Photo: summitkids.com

Service of Court Rulings that Thin Consumers’ Ability to Sue

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Photo: history.com

The California law suit against Bristol-Myers Squibb and the blood thinner Plavix involved almost 700 plaintiffs because the drug “allegedly created a substantial risk of heart attack, stroke and other injuries,” wrote Jess Bravin in The Wall Street Journal. But only 86 plaintiffs were from California and according to a new Supreme Court 8-1 ruling, only those cases can be heard in that state. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

Photo: drugsdb.com

“The ruling was one of a series this term limiting so-called forum shopping, where plaintiffs’ attorneys file suit in a state or federal court they believe will be sympathetic to their claims,” Bravin reported.

California’s Supreme Court argued that all should be considered because the claims were similar; Bristol-Myers Squibb sales reached $900+million in the state and the drug was sold around the country. Justice Sotomayor wrote: “There is nothing unfair about subjecting a massive corporation to suit in a state for a nationwide course of conduct that injures both forum residents and nonresidents alike.”

The winning argument went that “Companies have long complained that plaintiffs in certain cases seek out venues where they believe they are most likely to receive favorable rulings, even when the cases involved may have only a tenuous connection to the area.”

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Photo: biography.com

According to Bravin, Justice Samuel Alito wrote: “The nonresidents were not prescribed Plavix in California, did not purchase Plavix in California, did not ingest Plavix in California, and were not injured by Plavix in California. The mere fact that other plaintiffs were prescribed, obtained, and ingested Plavix in California—and allegedly sustained the same injuries as did the nonresidents—does not allow the state to assert specific jurisdiction over the nonresidents’ claims.”

Bravin added: “Consumers groups, however, have warned that cutting back too sharply on plaintiffs’ ability to sue could give big companies more ways to avoid responsibility for harm they cause.”

Had you heard of forum-shopping before? Do you agree with the Supreme Court—that the court in a state can hear only about plaintiffs from that state? Or does that help corporations “avoid responsibility for harm they cause,” that consumer groups fear?

US Supreme Court building. Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Service of Gray: Senate and the Supreme Court

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Black, white, gray

I was far stricter when young than I am now [though close friends and family might not agree]. Then I saw life as black and white, wrong and right, with little room for compromise. Today I can live with gray fairly comfortably on many subjects.

That’s why I’m surprised at the intransigence of Republican senators and their refusal to give Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland the courtesy of a hearing. Not all of these women and men are young—haven’t they learned anything in their years on this planet? What happened to the greater good and being strong enough to admit a mistake and change your mind and give the President respect and the judge a chance?

Child tantrumI find this heels-dug-deeply-in-the-ground stance, a child’s tantrum attitude of “we won’t recognize someone” [even if we respect him] conflicts with an easy-peasy nonchalance when it comes to what Supreme Court judges are allowed to do.

In “Scalia Was No. 1 on Court in Paid Trips,” Eric Lipton wrote “Among the court’s members, he was the most frequent traveler, to spots around the globe, on trips paid for by private sponsors.”

According to Lipton in his New York Times article, “Legislation is pending in the House and the Senate that would require the Supreme Court to create a formal ethics system, beyond the Ethics in Government Act, similar to the one that governs actions of all other federal judges. That system is known as the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.”

US Supreme Court in 1930

US Supreme Court in 1930

Lipton continued: “Chief Justice Roberts has argued that the Supreme Court, even though it generally abides by this judicial ethics code, is not obligated to do so. It restricts how much judges can be paid for private travel, and limits other activities outside the court, such as allowing private organizations to use ‘the prestige of judicial office’ for fund-raising purposes.”

Justice Scalia took 258 subsidized trips between 2004 and 2014, according to Lipton, who noted that he gave speeches, participated in moot court events and taught classes in Ireland, Hawaii and Switzerland to name a few places. When he died he was the guest of the owner of a company that had “recently had a matter before the Supreme Court.”

In addition, “Many of the justices are frequent expenses-paid travelers, a practice that some court scholars say is a minor matter, given that many of the trips involve public talks that help demystify the court. But others argue that the trips could potentially create the appearance of a conflict of interest, particularly when the organizations are known for their conservative or liberal views.”

So while the Republican Senators are avoiding the job they are paid to do—to select a Supreme Court Judge—do you think that at the least they should turn their attention to legislation that would require the court to create a formal ethics system?

Code of Conduct

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