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David A. Schwinghammer

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Scalia and Thomas Vote to Deny Inmate Right to New Trial
By David A. Schwinghammer
Last edited: Saturday, January 28, 2012
Posted: Sunday, January 22, 2012

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Scalia and Thomas vote for political ideology over the right thing to do every single time.

The United States Supreme Court recently voted 7-2 to allow an Alabama death row inmate to appeal his conviction despite missing a deadline due to lack of legal representation. His lawyers had dropped the case without telling Cory Maples.

Guess who the two “no” votes were? You got it, Scalia and Thomas. In some respects this bodes well for the Health Care Act the Supreme Court will rule on later in the year. Usually, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, (S)alito, and Kennedy vote in lock step on anything that even remotely sounds like an ideologue decision. They were responsible for the egregious ruling allowing corporations (and unions) to form Super PACS, pouring even more money into national elections, money that could be used to actually pay corporate workers a living wage. (S)alito’s vote seems doubtful; he’s the one who threw the hissy fit during and following Obama’s State of the Union speech condemning the court decision on corporate political donations.

I have a long peripheral relationship with Antonin Scalia. I was a high school adviser for a school newspaper, and I was invited to attend his speech at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, one of the most elite small colleges in the Midwest. Anyway, we were allowed to ask questions after the speech and I asked about the Hazelwood case. Scalia ducked the question as the case was pending, and I believe he had not as yet been confirmed. This was a freedom of speech case involving high school newspapers. The principal of the school had taken it upon himself to delete two stories from an upcoming newspaper, leaving a large gaping hole in the paper. I read both stories and they were excellent. It was the subject of the stories that had the administrative hack anxious. One of them was about teenage pregnancy, the other about the effects of divorce on students. The court justified their decision allowing the principal to do what he did, claiming the school was the publisher and had the right to censor any story it chose. Scalia was worried high school students might promote marijuana. Yes, he actually said that. Prior review was back enough. The high school adviser had to submit students’ stories to the principal before publication. In other words they didn’t trust that radical hippy teacher to supervise his own students. Sure the stories were controversial, but in the real world that sells papers.

Then there was the “60 Minutes” piece. Leslie Stahl interviewed Scalia on camera, and he actually brought along his elementary school report card on which he got all A’s; he bragged about staying after school helping dust erasers for the nuns. I went to a Catholic elementary school for four years and a Catholic High School, and there was no way I was going to stay after school to dust erasers. That was for suck-ups. So . . . he was already catering to authority then, especially mean authority. Some of those nuns would be tried for child abuse these days. Leslie usually asks some tough questions, but it was all soft balls during the interview. She treated him like a fond old uncle. I got the feeling that was the deal in the first place. “Don’t try to corner me, or I walk off the set.”

This man might be the worst supreme court justice since Roger Taney, who ruled on the Dred Scott decision, unless you count his partner in crime. Clarence Thomas who once worked for John Danforth, senator from Missouri. Danforth, an Episcopalian minister, warned against the Republican party’s apparent plan to make evangelical Christians their political base, citing the First Amendment. Apparently Thomas didn’t hear him. Thomas once studied for the Catholic priesthood himself, until he heard a racial slur regarding the assassination of Martin Luther King and quit. That hasn’t stopped him from consistently ruling against his own people when I comes to affirmative action and other issues. Thomas also owes his career to affirmative action, his deciding vote limiting affirmative action akin to a teacher voting for Scott Walker who denied negotiation rights for teachers in Wisconsin. Thomas also refuses to recuse himself (so far) from the Health Care case coming under Supreme Court review, despite the fact that his wife runs a conservative “think” tank opposing the legislation. Unlike Scalia and Roberts, who come out firing questions before a lawyer has a chance to present his case, Thomas rarely asks a question. I would like to see statistics on how many times Scalia and Thomas have voted differently.

Then there’s the Anita Hill case, which may be an even more telling motivator to explain why Thomas consistently votes the way he does. Anita kept on working for Thomas despite the sexual harassment incident, something about a Coke bottle and pubic hair. Why didn’t she file charges before Thomas’s confirmation hearings? But how many women have put up with a boss chasing them around a desk because they have children at home and need the job, or because they need the job period? If this man is guilty of what she said about him, what kind of louse does this make him? What kind of psychological entity is he? How do you look at your face in the mirror in the morning when you shave? There’s only one word to explain it: sociopath. Scalia is in his seventies and has said he wants to retire. Ginsburg is about the same age and has had cancer. Will Obama get a chance to appoint the next judge? Somehow I doubt Scalia will give him the chance. There is, however, a very good chance that the next president will appoint a new judge. Don’t let emotion rule, or a single issue define your decisions when you go to the polls. As the harbor master during the recent ship sinking said to the captain who’d abandoned ship before all the passengers were off, “Get back on the ship, damn it!” 

If I had my druthers, I'd like to see all nine justices impeached. Scalia and his crew claim the other four are political judges and the three women and the "liberal" guy claim Scalia et. al are the ones being unduly influenced by ideology. We should be able to find nine judges out there who are
apolitical. Actually I know they're there. Eric Magnuson, former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and former law partner of conservative governor Tim Pawlenty who was appointed to the court by T-Paw ruled against his attempt to balance the state's budget using something called unallotment, which gives the governor the power to balance the budget during an emergency. The state was about a billion over budget, but it was no Great Depression or anything. The GOP immediately labeled Magnuson a political activist, despite his Republican background. T. Paw got even by appointing the most conservative tool he could find to the court when an opening became available. The dimmest among us ought to realize that the Constitutional division of power among Congress, the executive branch and the judicial was a check and balance system. They never thought a political activist judge was a possibility.  

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