Chief Justice John Roberts and five of his fellow Federalist Society F**kwads infesting our Supreme Court must increasingly be feeling like the guy in the title picture. Only actually sitting on the barbed wire which is smeared in feces and all manner of stuff locked up in the biohazard containment room up at Ft. Meade.
We already knew Clarence Thomas had been having himself a merry old lavish SCOTUS career accepting graft from a billionaire benefactor. (And to a lesser degree his best bud Sammie the Scuz Alito too) Oh how little did we know. Sure, we expected there was more but oh my is it turning out to be quite the truckload of corruption. Personally I still think there’s a lot more out there, and a truckload will wind up being a trainload but we’ve already got plenty.
No other federal judge or court in the federal system operates free from a requirement to adhere to a defined as in written down set of ethics rules/standards. SCOTUS hold itself above such mundane things. For most of my life the Chief Justice has been a GOP appointee and… well you know what that means. Powerful people, and especially conservative ones believe rules are for other people but that THEY are ‘special” and can ignore them, or change them when inconvenient. Or in the case of SCOTUS simply refuse to have any rules to have to bother with ignoring or changing in the first place.
Even after the debacle of the Bush v Gore decision SCOTUS remained the institution that held the highest level of trust/approval with the American public. When, at a fairly young age Roberts was nominated and confirmed as Chief Justice he had dreams of being a legend (in a good way) in the history books. An early product of The Federalist Society he was steeped in their philosophy of using federal courts, especially SCOTUS to bypass Congress and the laws they pass to impose a conservative imprint on America. But unlike say the anti-abortion movement they wanted to fly under the radar. To not do too much too fast and go attracting notice to their conservative Judicial Activism. Like those who aspire to and hold power in China, they thought and acted in the long-term.
Roberts tenure had been marked by incremental change with few exceptions. Sometimes of course there was something bold, when circumstances presented too good an opportunity to pass up. The rise of the Tea Party and the prospect of creating gerrymandered GOP majorities in Congress and statehouses led to Citizen’s United for example. Still, for the most part Roberts had presided over a steady whittling away at rights, and a set of rulings that favored the rich and corporations over the masses. Just as the Federalist Society had planned when they set about their insidious work. Roberts got to do what he wanted, which was what his Federalist Society pals who’d installed him and others into their positions wanted and try to shape that legacy he so craved.
Legislate from the Supreme Court, usually incrementally but not always when certain opportunities were to golden to pass up, and count on other news overwhelming too many questions for a long enough time that the American people would get what was going on.
The plan hatched back in the 1980s even accounted for some setbacks, and certainly over time as he became the “swing vote” on the Court Justice Kennedy caused some but these Federalist Society bastards are as wily as they are evil. Kennedy actually provided some cover for their long-term goals! Still, after his surprise resignation (and it was a surprise – he’d even hired clerks for the summer and the upcoming regular term) I came to believe they found and were sitting on a way to force him out. McConnell’s willingness to blow things up and hold open a seat that would have been filled by Merrick Garland and the surprise “win” (due to the EC) of Trump.
Gorsuch got on the Court maintaining a 5-4 (with the 5 all being Federalist Society disciples) majority but forcing Roberts into the “swing vote” role, one he didn’t want and he was less prone to do the right thing on cases than Kennedy. However, Kennedy suddenly was forced out and Trump got a second pick. Brewski Brett made it onto the Court and now the Federalist Society had SIX adherents and could start doing more damage more quickly. Which they did. Still, Roberts who was obsessed with his legacy tried to rein in the excesses although not all that successfully. Then Ruth Bader Ginsburg answered the despicable wishes/prayers of conservatives and died just in time they could shove ANOTHER Federalist Society disciple on to the Court and all bets were off.
It hasn’t been Roberts’ Court since and he knows it.
He suffers at night and I imagine often, lamenting what’s happened and what’s to come and that the legacy he’d envisioned and worked so hard to lay down for historians is going to be very, very different. Oh, he’ll be remembered. Just not in a good way!
All that brings me back to Thomas, and Alito too and Roberts sitting on high and haughtily imposing ethical standards on every federal judge below SCOTUS, he quietly resisted calls to establish an ethics code for himself and his fellow Justices. I’ve given it quite a bit of thought and come to this conclusion: Roberts might not have known the EXTENT of Thomas’ grifting but he knew more than a little! He knew some of those same people that were showing perks on Thomas, Alito and probably approaching Gorsuch, Barret and Kavanaugh. Not to mention in Kavanaugh’s case some major debt suddenly melting away without explanation suggests strongly he’s been bought too.
Given all that it shouldn’t be surprising that Roberts resisted setting down a formal, written ethics code that covered both gifts and recusals, with the latter including input from outside the august marble walls of the SCOTUS building. However I’ll bet he had multiple conversations with Thomas over time to “tone it the hell down!” Roberts knew damn well that IF some dogged journalists started digging there was a lot of “there” there and it would be a huge embarrassment for his beloved, and once respected SCOTUS. Thomas of course blew him off.
Even before this SCOTUS’ once excellent reputation and approval ratings in polling had tanked. It’s not coming back up anytime soon and I’ll bet even Leonard Leo, who still holds a lot of the Federalist Society (and related groups) strings has been giving Thomas unshirted hell. Let’s face it, while I’d bet everything we’re only seeing the tip of the Thomas iceberg (and who knows how big the shoe will be that drops on Alito?) ole Clarence has put a project that’s been four decades old and was working like a charm into jeopardy.
You don’t think for one second Roberts, his fellow GOPer Justices and the Federalist Society want Thomas to retire and fade away? Of COURSE they do but that presents a problem. A Democratic President gets to name his replacement, and McConnell’s having changed the Senate rules means that nominee will be confirmed. Suddenly 6-3 is back down to 5-4 and who knows what might happen? Alito could wind up being force out. Or one of the others might have to resign, or (not that I wish it on them) have heart attack and die suddenly next year.
Can you imagine Republicans howling in protest if, even as things have gotten to the post convention point Schumer looks GOPers in the eye and in nice Senator language says “Suck it a$$holes – payback’s a b*tch!” And rams home another Biden nominee. AND with four more years who knows? Another opening from the remaining Federalist Society f**kwads might happen. And “horrors” we have a SCOTUS with SIX Democratic appointees! Which would I might add be a lot more fair in that of the six Federalist Society GOPers on the Court, only Thomas was appointed by a President (Bush 41) who actually got the most votes of the American people! Think about that. If not for the EC, five of the Federalist Society groomed and approved Justices would be there stripping Americans of rights every chance they get.
Hence what I wrote in the first paragraph.
Oh how I’d love to be a fly on the wall of the SCOTUS conference room. They meet on weekdays in the mornings. What is said is and has been held in the highest level of secrecy. What little has been said outside, even to clerks it seems is that discussions are “open, mutually engaging and even cordial at times.” Like totally professional with even disagreements being completely respectful. And NO acrimony. Sure. Yank on the other leg – it’s got bells on it. Not that I don’t think discussions are more often that not as described, and that some unlikely friendships have developed (RBG and Scalia for example) but this is a new Court and with younger people who rose during a time of increasingly bare knuckled politics and make no mistake – the Supreme Court HAS become politicized.
Still, even his five cronies including Alito have to be irked at Thomas and have been for a while. The actions of his wife sure as hell have added to the “What the f**k is wrong with you Clarence” feelings and comments. Maybe Roberts starts out with a ten minutes of “let’s rain sh*t on Clarence and try and get it out of our system so we can get some work done. I don’t know.
What I AM however sure of is that Roberts and others are sitting in a very uncomfortable spot. A painful one in fact. And I don’t have a single ounce of sympathy for them. In fact, to get off I hope they have to pull themselves along that nasty barbed wire and cutting themselves up aplenty to get to a spot where they can safely get off.
In the meantime, we can entertain ourselves with this: Once upon a time a young and rising GOP (and Federalist Society) judicial star dreamed of being on SCOTUS, and maybe one day being Chief Justice even. He got his wish, and after going home from that big announcement at the WH he fell blissfully asleep with dreams (more like delusions of grandeur) of reshaping the law to his and his pals liking, and doing so in a way that would earn him a glowing portrayal in the history books.
Alas, as the title says he should have been careful what he wished for. He got his dream appointment and at a young enough age to have a real shot at fulfilling his conservative goals and doing so in a manner that would look good to historians.
Sometimes dreams turn into nightmares, and John Roberts is living one.