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Republicans Attack Trump For Repeating Republican Orthodoxy

[ 167 ] June 6, 2016 |

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The Donald is upset that Republicans are criticizing him for making racist comments about a federal judge:

Donald Trump said Monday it was “inappropriate” for Newt Gingrich to demand he drop the subject of an American judge’s ethnicity and start acting like “a potential leader of the United States.” But Trump did not comment on the other Republican leaders’ unanimous call for him to lay off the jurist, a sign that the GOP presidential candidate doesn’t want to blow up the fragile truce he has struck with them.

And, you know, Trump has a point. Not because his comments about Curiel aren’t racist — they certainly are. But it is fair to wonder when his arguments somehow became taboo within the Republican Party.

You may remember, for example, the discourse surrounding the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. Her formal credentials were impeccable, essentially identical to Sam Alito’s. And, yet, Republicans routinely described her as “unqualified” because her background meant that she couldn’t be an impartial judge. A particularly common talking point was to compare Sotomayor (Princeton, Yale Law, more than two decade’s worth of experience as a federal judge) with Harriet Miers (SMU, no judicial experience, no experience as a prosecutor, holder of elected office or legal scholar, favorite justice was either Warren Burger or Earl Warren, she’s not sure) because they’re both women and therefore presumptively equally unqualified.

I’m also old enough to remember the National Review‘s chief legal affairs writer arguing that a judge should recuse himself from hearing a same-sex marriage case because he was gay.

In other words, Trump probably got the idea that only straight, conservative white men could be truly impartial judges from…listening to how Republicans talk about judges. No wonder he thinks the circular firing squad is unfair.

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  1. Ana_filth says:

    See also: Black people being removed from juries with black defendants (only white people can be impartial in these cases, amirite?). And how black people always “overreact” whenever an innocent black person gets gunned down by police — don’t they know that how white people react is the correct, impartial way to do it?*

    *: I actually heard Mark Davis (AM Radio guy taking over for Bill Bennet or Hugh Hewitt) explicitly say this, and no one remarked on it.

    • postmodulator says:

      Anyone who thinks white people are calm and measured on the subject of cops has never been in the room with me after two J&Bs with ginger ale.

    • Dilan Esper says:

      To this day, I have conversations with white non-lawyers in California who still want to talk about OJ Simpson when they find out I’m a lawyer. (Never mind that other than a few weeks representing Sara Jane Olson, I’ve never worked on a criminal case.)

      And they ALWAYS talk about the racial composition of the jury. They really do believe that a white jury is a “normal” jury and that any judgment by a jury full of minorities is suspect.

      I mean, Simpson’s guilty and if you want to talk about why he got off, you can talk about the LAPD crime lab or Mark Fuhrman or the stupid glove demonstration or 100 other things. But to many white people, even in liberal California, there’s simply no justice when the tribunal isn’t white and male.

      • efgoldman says:

        Never mind that other than a few weeks representing Sara Jane Olson, I’ve never worked on a criminal case.

        Holy shit, Dilan, really? You must have been straight out of law school and still in legal diapers!
        Oh, wait, checking I see she wasn’t actually arrested until 1999 (thanks, google and wiki).
        Still, it’s got to be a fascinating and probably weird story. Can you tell us?

        • Dilan Esper says:

          The judge in her case slapped a gag order that was really overbroad on her and her lawyers. It was so overbroad that it would have literally prohibited her from standing on the steps of the courthouse and saying “I’m innocent”.

          She was represented by Shawn Snider Chapman (now Shawn Holley), who needed a First Amendment specialist to get the gag order lifted. I was brought in and was successful.

      • CrunchyFrog says:

        But to many white people, even in liberal California, there’s simply no justice when the tribunal isn’t white and male.

        Yep. Just like they showed in the first Rodney King trial. Oh. Wait.

    • DAS says:

      Black people being removed from juries with black defendants (only white people can be impartial in these cases, amirite?).

      I actually was on a jury in a trial with a black defendant. None of the blacks who were called into voir dire actually made it onto the jury: it was an all white jury. In the South. For a black defendant accused of a sexually based offense, with the victim being a white woman.

      I have been told, however, that it wasn’t necessarily the prosecution that wanted an all white jury. The prosecution had a pretty strong case (I am not sure how I would have voted*, though — I was an alternate, so I didn’t get to be part of the deliberations). I’m trying to figure out how to exactly put this in English, but the thinking would be that African-Americans would find the defendant to be such a shanda fur the white people that they would have no hesitation to vote for conviction whereas a white (liberal) sitting on an all white jury in the South with an African-American defendant accused of sexually assaulting a white girl would be a little hesitant to vote for conviction knowing how similarly composed juries in the region have railroaded innocent African-Americans in the past.

      * the defendant’s version of events was highly improbable but possible. But it did leave a doubt in my mind as to the guilt of the defendant. I am not sure if the doubt in my mind was reasonable, however, given the improbability of things happening exactly as the defense said they did. At the very least, I felt I was in no position to assess the veracity of the evidence, and would have liked some scientifically tested information about what people can and cannot remember while high on marijuana. It didn’t help that the police didn’t dot their ‘i’s or cross their ‘t’s with the investigation.

  2. ExpatJK says:

    In other words, Trump probably got the idea that only straight, conservative white men could be truly impartial judges from…listening to how Republicans talk about judges

    Now, now. They are not necessarily the ONLY source of this idea. However, he’s probably surprised that his cruder, more open phrasing is generating a blowback that earlier approaches didn’t.

  3. Boots Day says:

    Sotomayor was also attacked as an affirmative action entry at Princeton – even though Sammy Alito had gotten into the same school at a time when he didn’t have to compete against any applicants of the opposite gender.

    It’s funny how it’s not affirmative action when all the openings are reserved for white males.

    • NonyNony says:

      It’s funny how it’s not affirmative action when all the openings are reserved for white males.

      I mean, to be scrupulously fair, “all the openings are reserved for white males” is pretty much why Affirmative Action had to be implemented in the first place…

    • The Concerned Alumni of Princeton were very concerned about the injustice of having to compete against 100 percent of the population rather than, say, 43 or 44. Because that means lowered standards!

    • MattT says:

      I’m pretty sure he was there after Princeton was coed. It’s just that, as noted above, he was openly against this policy. Obviously, this has no bearing on how he might rule on future cases involving discrimination, and how dare you suggest that advocating for discrimination means that he is actually in favor of discrimination.

      • howard says:

        he was there when it was going coed (specifically, he was in the class of ’72 and it went coed in ’69).

        there were some true bitter-enders at several of the elite new england colleges about going coed and alito was one of them.

    • TribalistMeathead says:

      Oh, plenty of people who are opposed to affirmative action will also note that they’re also opposed to legacy admissions. It’s easy to do when there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that the latter will be eliminated by any institution, let alone across the board.

      • Dilan Esper says:

        It is a cheap point, you are right, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an outrage. Unfortunately neither liberals nor conservatives have any interest in actually moving legislation to ban legacy preferences, and that sucks because they should be banned.

        • TribalistMeathead says:

          I think the real issue is “no college or university currently utilizing legacy preferences wants to see their donations from alumni dry up.”

          • Dilan Esper says:

            Of course. The reforms will never come from the colleges. That’s why they have to be banned legislatively.

            And especially if we are going to continue to have affirmative action. Because basically the way the current system works, an unconnected poor white is placed in a really bad spot when applying to college– he’s held to the highest standards to get in while not only do deserving minority applicants get in ahead of him, but also undeserving rich whites whose daddies donated to the school.

            • Aimai says:

              How would you ban it legislatively, in a private college?

              • Dilan Esper says:

                Just create a civil cause of action against any educational institution or admissions officer who gives any preference or takes into account either donations or prior family members’ status as alumnae when determining college admissions.

                Then it would work just like any other discrimination claim against a university. If someone was suspected of doing it, the plaintiff would get discovery just as people challenging affirmative action programs do now.

                • vic rattlehead says:

                  I’m sure you could easily find a federal nexus given all the federal $$$ flowing to colleges and universities. No one wants to lose those sweet sweet $$$$$$ flowing in from the DoE. Oh and kiss tax exemption goodbye. Etc.

            • AMK says:

              ….also undeserving minority applicants. Arguably the biggest beneficiaries of the current system are the children of affluent black and hispanic families, who can check the unrepresented minority box and have parents who can play the game with the SAT tutors, admissions consultants, donations, social networks etc…

              Of course, nobody wants to play the “deserving” game as pure “meritocracy”, least of all the conservative CAP types and legacies. Even the most liberal college administrations at elite schools do not want to have Asian kids making up 80% of the incoming class.

            • Cassiodorus says:

              As an “unconnected poor white,” and a male one at that, who attended an elite college, let me say that I don’t need your assistance. Our country has a long and shameful history of racial discrimination. I, as a poor white kid, had a lot of advantages African-American peers did not have. We don’t need to get rid of affirmative action to help the likes of me.

              • Dilan Esper says:

                Did I say anything about getting rid of affirmative action in the post you are responding to?

                It isn’t about “assistance”. It’s about the fact that legacy preferences discriminate against people who are actually disadvantaged.

                • Cassiodorus says:

                  You did, but you seem to imply legacy admissions and affirmative action are comparable when they’re really not.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  I did not, and I actually said that the beneficiaries of affirmative action were more deserving than the beneficiaries of legacy preferences, but the result of it was a double whammy for disadvantaged whites.

                  (Having said that, as President Obama said, not all beneficiaries of affirmative action are disadvantaged at all. It’s ridiculous that his kids get any sort of a racial preference, for instance.)

        • efgoldman says:

          neither liberals nor conservatives have any interest in actually moving legislation to ban legacy preferences

          Could they, against private institutions, though? Or would it be valid, as several other things (Title IX) are, by the “federal dollars” standard.

    • los says:

      what? when were those Italian papists allowed to be “White”?
      Dear Lord, I warned you that the turn of the century would bring the end times, didn’t I?
      /s

  4. brad says:

    I just hope Newt hasn’t damaged his standing as the frontrunner for Trump’s VEEP.
    I mean I hope this is a wedge between them that will prevent such a powerhouse ticket from being a reality. I truly fear the charisma and moral authority of Trump/Gingrich 2016. As a liberal I would be so very mad and scared.

  5. LosGatosCA says:

    Trump is more restrained than a certain Republican senator in their leadership – John ‘ Judicial free fire zone’ Cornyn – 2nd Amendment solutions before they became popular.

    ‘Unaccountable’ Judiciary Raises Ire
    By Charles Babington
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, April 5, 2005; Page A07
    Sen. John Cornyn said yesterday that recent examples of courthouse violence may be linked to public anger over judges who make politically charged decisions without being held accountable.
    In a Senate floor speech in which he sharply criticized a recent Supreme Court ruling on the death penalty, Cornyn (R-Tex.) — a former Texas Supreme Court justice and member of the Judiciary Committee — said Americans are growing increasingly frustrated by what he describes as activist jurists.

    “It causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority that they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions,” he said. Sometimes, he said, “the Supreme Court has taken on this role as a policymaker rather than an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people.”

    Cornyn continued: “I don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. . . . And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence.”

    I guess it’s just a matter of tone.

  6. Todd says:

    Seems some media types are starting to get hip to the the fact that Donald cannot stop the bleeding when things start to go bad during an interview. He consistently doubles down on the stupid.

    • NonyNony says:

      I think it’s more like the media are shifting from “it’s great ratings to see Trump beat up on the other Republican candidates” to “it’s great ratings to see Trump go off like Crazy Uncle Moe at the Thanksgiving dinner table when you poke him just a bit”.

      They aren’t really treating him like a political candidate – they’ve been treating him like a Sweeps Week ratings stunt all year. They’re going to go with the flow – whatever makes for “good television”. If anyone were still under the illusion that our corporate media overlords were interested in informing the populace of anything anymore this election season should really end that notion. (Sadly I doubt it will, but it should!)

      • jim, some guy in iowa says:

        “they’ve been treating him like a Sweeps Week rating stunt all year”

        and either he can’t figure that out or he thinks that’s a *good* thing

        • NonyNony says:

          I suspect he thinks its a good thing – it won him the nomination didn’t it!

          The man is an ego with a hairpiece. He knows he’s good for ratings – IIRC that was one of the many stupid things he said about skipping the Fox News debate and going off to do his Veteran’s scam for another network opposite the debate. He was “upset” that the networks were getting good ratings and making money off of him and weren’t giving him the respect he was due because of it. So he was taking his ball and going off to play with another network that would respect him more.

          He knows exactly what he’s doing – he’s in the middle of the biggest Reality Television Show he’s ever done. That’s how he’s going to play this until the general election too – he’s not going to change his “strategy” because he has no strategy. He’s just playing to the cameras and assuming that big ratings means big votes. What he misses is that a) many people in this country hate reality TV and b) even the ones who do like reality TV will tune in and hatewatch a heel that they want to see crushed. There are many people watching the Donald Trump Variety Election Season this year, but a whole lot of them are watching to see him get the comeuppance that he’s deserved since at least the 1980s (possibly earlier for folks who live in NYC even).

      • los says:

        it’s great ratings to see Trump go off like Crazy Uncle Moe at the Thanksgiving dinner table when you poke him just a bit
        Tickle me Trump blows verbal vomit. (interviewers need only remember to wear the hazmat suit)

        whatever makes for “good television”
        which was mutual (with Trump). Polititainment goes full circle? 1.5 circles?

      • efgoldman says:

        They aren’t really treating him like a political candidate – they’ve been treating him like a Sweeps Week ratings stunt all year.

        Hell, Les Moonves, head of CBS, said as much.

        “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” he said of the presidential race.
        [snip]
        “Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having right now? … The money’s rolling in and this is fun,” he said.

        “I’ve never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going,” said Moonves.

        “Donald’s place in this election is a good thing,” he said Monday at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco.

        “There’s a lot of money in the marketplace,” the exec said of political advertising so far this presidential season.

      • sharonT says:

        He’s like the “High Bateria Levels in Pizza Hut’s Ice Tea” story that a certain local news program runs during the May sweeps every year. Brings the ratings every time.

    • Aimai says:

      Yes. Isn’t it wonderful?

    • LosGatosCA says:

      I’m hoping at some point Trump goes into an alternate persona to get control of the interview.

      Interviewer: Hillary has called you thin skinned, temperamentally unsuited to be president.

      Trump: Well, she’s a disgusting, rape enabling, ugly, cold hearted b++++.

      Interviewer: That response would seem to reinforce her concerns.

      Trump: Sorry to interrupt, I’m John Barron and I’d like to clarify Mr. Trump’s statement. He’s a great gentleman who has great respect for all women, even if they may no longer be a 10, like Heidi Klum once was but no longer is.

      Interviewer (perplexed): I’m not following – did you just say your name is John Barron, Mr Trump?

      Trump/Barron: Actually my name is John Miller and Mr Trump has authorized me to speak on his behalf and let everyone know that ladies love Mr Trump. And he’s the most fit person ever to run for president. And when you consider Andrew Jackson once shot a man in a duel, that’s a significant accomplishment.

      Interviewer: Let’s make this clear for our viewers. There are two people on camera – me and you. And you are not Donald Trump – you are John Miller?

      Trump/Barron/Miller: That’s correct. Mr Trump had to step out for a few moments, he’ll be right back, but he wanted me to make sure you got all your questions answered.

      Interviewer: Thank you for you consideration. Is there any truth to the rumor that John Barron is being seriously considered for the vice presidential spot on the ticket?

      Trump/Barron/Miller: Very possible. He’s a great American, a great personal friend, and a person I happen to have a yooge amount of confidence in.

      Interviewer: Good luck to all of you.

    • vic rattlehead says:

      He’s like a dumbopheliac. Some people can clot the stupid after a dumb comment, but the Donald dumbsanguinates.

  7. Bijan Parsia says:

    Ok, what the heck was the whole Miers deal? I mean, she tried to pull a Cheney (head of the search committee finds, SHOCKINGLY, that they are the best candidate), but why did Cheney (or Bush) go along with it?

    She was so fundamentally unqualified that the Senate Republicans were embarrassed by her. She just didn’t know constitutional law at all. (AFAICT, she was otherwise competent. But…c’mon:

    In an unprecedented move, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy also requested that Miers re-do some of her answers to the questionnaire submitted to her by the Committee, noting that her responses were “inadequate”, “insufficient”, and “insulting” because she failed or refused to adequately answer various questions with acceptable accuracy or with sufficient detail.[29] Miers also privately expressed a belief in the right to privacy to the pro-choice Arlen Specter, only to later deny that she had communicated that position.[30] Her answers also included an error on constitutional law where she mentioned an explicit constitutional right for proportional representation; though many court rulings have found that legislative and other districts of unequal population violate the equal protection clause, the right to proportional districts is not explicitly mentioned in the United States Constitution.[31]

    After Miers failed in these private meetings, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Sam Brownback began drafting a letter asking the President’s office to turn over legal memoranda and briefs Miers had written for Bush, in order to elucidate her views on political matters.[32] Brownback and Graham knew the memos were protected by executive privilege, that the White House was not required to turn them over, and that Miers could refuse to deliver the memos and then ostensibly step down on principle.[32] Miers would later use this request as part of a face-saving exit strategy for stepping down. In her letter withdrawing her nomination, she pointed to the senators’ request for confidential documents as potentially damaging the executive branch’s independence.

    You know there’s problems when you can’t fake the take home exam!)

    • djw says:

      Why was an incompetent horse lawyer in charge of FEMA? Cronyism.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        The fact that Paul’s TNR article about Michael Brown has vanished is almost as tragic as the disappearance of the Poor Man’s archives.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        Well, I guess.

        But I mean, the high saliency of a Supreme Court nominee seems to be a big difference.

        I guess postmodulator’s point hold: checked out and not bright. It “worked” before (with Cheney) why not again?

        But that is a big ole sign of how broken the executive branch was during Bush. Jaw dropping.

        • djw says:

          I think it’s worth keeping in mind that while he in many ways governed like and ideologue, and surrounded himself with ideologues, there’s a good case, bolstered by Bush’s post-presidency, that Bush was just too disinterested in politics to be much of one himself. I think cronyism is a more primary impulse for him (that his cronies are also generally conservative ideologues often made it hard to tell the difference.)

          (and, yes, very very broken.)

          • Rob in CT says:

            “not very bright” and “lazy” are also hard to tell apart.

            I clear the not-very-bright bar, but I’m far, far too lazy to be Preznit. Where I Preznit, I’d fuck up a lot, even though I’d feel obligated to try much, much harder than I’d want to. Not ’cause I’m dumb, ’cause I’m lazy.

            • postmodulator says:

              I suppose I’m both bright and motivated enough to be president. I’m disqualified based on both physical appearance and on my past experimentation with drugs. Maybe my future experimentation with drugs, if this summer goes well.

              • DAS says:

                Past experimentation with drugs is disqualifying for the presidency? Somebody didn’t send the memo to GW Bush.

                • postmodulator says:

                  I think the argument is that a small amount of experimentation with drugs is not disqualifying. But, well…

                • efgoldman says:

                  Past experimentation with drugs is disqualifying for the presidency?

                  If anything, it should be required. How could any sober, sane person want that job?

          • NonyNony says:

            there’s a good case, bolstered by Bush’s post-presidency, that Bush was just too disinterested in politics to be much of one himself.

            I think that this is exactly correct. Bush clearly did not like politics. He wasn’t interested in policy and he wasn’t interested in deal-making. The part he liked was campaigning. He was really good at campaigning and it was pretty clear to me watching him in 2004 and really paying attention that it was something he actually enjoyed doing. He liked going out and giving speeches and having people cheer for him, and he liked chatting with people and being all folksy. He also apparently liked doing the fundraising circuit and pressing the flesh with high dollar donors. In a lot of ways he was the exact opposite of his father – HW Bush clearly hated campaigning but seemed to enjoy the day-to-day work of politics. I suspect the thing that disappoints W the most about his post-presidency is that he doesn’t get to go out and do those kinds of fundraisers anymore (or at least as often as he could had he been a successful president).

            There’s an alternate universe where W became the head of the RNC instead of running for President himself and is probably still doing really well with it.

            • Lee Rudolph says:

              There’s an alternate universe where W became the head of the RNC instead of running for President himself and is probably still doing really well with it.

              Alternate-universe Charles P. Pierce is really pissed that he can’t use the kenning “obvious anagram W”.

            • Boots Day says:

              The way I would phrase it is that Bush was very interested in politics – in winning elections and fighting his enemies and gaining power – but had zero interest in government.

              • NonyNony says:

                The way I would phrase it is that Bush was very interested in politics – in winning elections and fighting his enemies and gaining power

                I don’t even see that. I think Bush was very interested in winning elections and that was it. He was only really interested in fighting enemies in terms of winning elections, and he didn’t actually seem all that interested in gaining power – it’s what made him such a useful tool for Cheney and Rumsfeld and others who really were interested in gaining power but couldn’t win an election to save their lives.

                Yeah the Bush years are all about the expansion of the power of the Executive Branch, but if you look at W he never really seemed able to use that expanded power for himself – it was all people around him using it to their own advantage. Especially Rumsfeld and Cheney. I don’t think W cared one way or the other about much of anything that went on other than how it was going to impact the next election. When he actually tried a few times to exert his own presidential muscles on his own behalf he got smacked down hard – the Harriet Meiers kerfuffle, for example, was all about him trying to push his choice onto the Senate and them pushing him back. Because he wasn’t good at that part of the job and wasn’t really all that interested in it.

                • CP says:

                  Isn’t this also the model of how Republicans like their administrations to be run in general? A grinning, friendly, not-too-bright amiable dunce to be the public face of the enterprise, who leaves the actual governing to long-term insiders and their corporate/lobbyist partners? Reagan basically operated this way as well, and I can only assume that this is why we don’t hear much about most Gilded Age presidents.

                • Boots Day says:

                  it’s what made him such a useful tool for Cheney and Rumsfeld and others who really were interested in gaining power but couldn’t win an election to save their lives.

                  You may be right. Consider Rove in this same group – my presumption during the Bush administration was that Rove was there to expand the president’s power, but in retrospect, he may have been more of a free agent, working solely to expand his own power.

                • vic rattlehead says:

                  Are there any bright Republicans capable of being elected President anymore? Seems the last one was really Nixon. Not that I think Bush I was dumb, but I think Nixon was sharper all around, especially politically.

                  I mean, I’ll stipulate that Ted Cruz is pretty bright, but he makes Nixon look like Cary Grant.

                • efgoldman says:

                  I think Nixon was sharper all around, especially politically.

                  Every bad thing that anyone ever write or said about Tricksie Dicksie Nixie is true, and then some, BUT before Barack Obama he was possible the most skilled politician of my lifetime. That’s why Watergate and all the associated scandals were such a surprise: Nobody could believe that a politician that skilled could get involved directly in shit like that, or allow his people to in such a way that it could be traced back to him.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              I think that this is exactly correct. Bush clearly did not like politics. He wasn’t interested in policy and he wasn’t interested in deal-making. The part he liked was campaigning.

              I think he liked ceremony, not all aspects of campaigning. Mission accomplished and all that.

            • vic rattlehead says:

              Although if Donald Trump wins this November (*shudder*), we’ll all be pining for Bush. So he may well get his wish. He’d be the real winner in the unfortunate event of a Trump Administration. In the long run, perhaps the only winner.

              Actually I suspect that if Trump wins, Bush will supplant Nixon as the Last Liberal President™. I mean in the alleged “minds” of the halfwits who currently call Nixon that.

              My god that is a terrifying thought.

      • junker says:

        Now I’m hoping Bojack Horseman season 3 will feature an incompetent horse-lawyer.

      • sibusisodan says:

        incompetent horse lawyer

        When it comes to horse lawyers, the surprise is not it is done badly, but that it is done at all…

    • postmodulator says:

      I think Dubya was pretty checked out of the presidency by that point. He knew everyone hated him, he was just running out the clock, he liked Harriet Miers personally, why not get her a lifetime sinecure? You’d think the successful plaintiff in Bush v. Gore would think the Supreme Court was an important thing, but he was, if you recall, not very bright.

      • Crusty says:

        I think this is correct and also that cronyism and giving out jobs to people he liked was how Bush operated and not only was that how he operated but that he thought that that was the best possible way to operate. God wouldn’t have made him a Bush if that’s not how you’re supposed to do things.

        • Captain Oblivious says:

          Being on the receiving end of cronyism was how C-Plus Augustus (h/t Uncle Charlie) got into an Ivy League school, how he got to dodge the draft how he go to play AWOL from the reserves, and how he got to run an MLB team.

          • ColBatGuano says:

            Yeah, for W, cronyism is how the world worked. Your golf buddies give you stock tips, your dad calls a guy about a job and the family name gets you into the college of choice. He was just carrying on a long and proud tradition.

      • CP says:

        Still brighter than his brother.

      • vic rattlehead says:

        Actually I disagree. It seems to me that Bush learned precisely the right lesson from Bush v. Gore. It doesn’t take a genius to engage in that kind of chicanery (is that ridiculous “the counting of votes that are of questionable legality does in my view threaten irreparable harm to petitioner [Bush], and to the country . . .” quote engraved on Scalia’s tombstone? It should be). I think he was well aware of the utility of having simpatico hacks on the Court. I guess he just wasn’t bright enough to realize that a bright, well-credentialed hack would serve his/Republican purposes much more effectively.

    • Alex.S says:

      Harry Reid told Bush that she’d be fine as a nominee.

    • Dilan Esper says:

      This is going to sound weird, but you really don’t need to know constitutional law to be a Supreme Court justice.

      Of course, some of the best of them (such as Brandeis) were experts, but someone like Warren, though competent, knew a lot less constitutional law than someone like Frankfurter or Scalia did and it didn’t hurt him at all, because the major skills of the position are (1) the political ability to round up votes and form consensus and (2) the legislative ability to formulate workable legal rules that can be applied by lawyers and justices.

      Not saying I would have voted for Meiers’ confirmation, but it’s really not a disqualifier at all that a justice doesn’t know the holding of Brandenburg v. Ohio or Pierce v. Society of Sisters.

      • Denverite says:

        This. Does Miers really compare so unfavorably to Powell? Similar law school, similar legal practice career at similar firms, etc. And he was an OK — if not super impressive — justice.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        This is going to sound weird, but you really don’t need to know constitutional law to be a Supreme Court justice.

        That’s not weird. But you would think that one skill that *is* necessary is the ability to fake it sufficiency on the take home test.

        Yes, you’ll have clerks, but *still*.

      • vic rattlehead says:

        Maybe not, but there’s a difference between not being an expert and completely shitting the bed when asked a basic constitutional question.

        And I don’t mind a blatantly partisan justice (I’m a realist after all) so long as they’re a clear thinker and writer (we don’t need another Burger or Kennedy, no matter their politics). I think Brennan, while basically a liberal Alito (and though that sounds like an insult it’s really not intended to be), was a brilliant thinker and writer.

        • Dilan Esper says:

          It’s not really “great writing” that you want, or at least not in the way that people think about it.

          What you want is clear, workable rules. Brennan was very good at THAT. Whether his prose was sufficiently purple was neither here nor there.

          The basic function of the Supreme Court is to resolve disputes over the law that can’t be settled by the lower courts (intermediate federal appeals courts and state supreme courts). It can’t take a lot of cases (although it can take more than it currently takes, don’t get me started on that!).

          To settle those disputes, you need two things: one, opinions that at least five justices sign on to (thereby making law that can be applied in the lower courts) and two, clear legal rules and guideposts that lower courts can apply.

          That’s the real job of a Supreme Court justice. (Of course, ideology is important. But I’m talking about what separates the skilled justices from the reliable votes.)

          Kennedy is actually fairly good. He gets critiqued for his prose style, but he (like O’Connor before him) often times sets out a position quite clearly, and he’s definitely good at rounding up five votes. He’s not great, but he’s decent at the job.

          Warren and Brennan were two of the very best.

          The worst are the people who too often cause decisions to splinter because they refuse to compromise to try and get votes (Thomas, Black), and the people whose opinions are filled with reasoning that lower courts can’t really apply (since you guys are tired of my running argument with Scott about Douglas, I will mention McReynolds here).

          • Dilan Esper says:

            Oh, by the way, the best of the conservatives in terms of the actual job of the Court was probably Rehnquist. He was terrible in terms of results, of course, but he was very good, at least after he became Chief Justice, at getting 5 votes for his position and his opinions were extremely clear about the legal rules being announced.

            He, and not Scalia, should have been the conservatives’ hero on the Court. But the right wing falls for optics and loved Scalia’s talk radio style.

          • vic rattlehead says:

            Kennedy’s actually a pretty sloppy thinker and writer. If mentioning the standard of review is important to you, Kennedy sucks. For my money I think Roberts and Thomas are the most lucid.

    • efgoldman says:

      Ok, what the heck was the whole Miers deal?

      Could be worse. Word was that his next SCOTUS appointment was former AG (FIRE ALL THE HONEST US ATTORNEYS! FULL SPEED AHEAD!) Alberto Gonzales, who should have been disbarred for ethics violations and just for being stupid beyond belief.

    • vic rattlehead says:

      On paper she had decent qualifications. SMU is not exactly Harvard but Hugo Black went to Alabama, right?

      And White House Counsel is a real job. She may just have gotten it through her Texas political connections, but in theory at least it’s pretty legit.

      She really shit the bed though. But if you told me nothing else about a SCOTUS nominee besides the fact that they were White House Counsel I’d probably shrug and say you could do a lot worse.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        It was interesting to read the Wikipedia article. Apparently, she’d functioned more as a manager than a lawyer for a long time. Which is fine and requires skill, but may mean that you have to work a bit to look and sound right.

        • vic rattlehead says:

          And those people deriding her for the mere sake of mostly managing were extremely silly. You do need some legal acumen to manage a caseload and subordinate attorneys. A lawsuit is really just a project, and not every litigator is a good project manager. There are a ton of moving parts, especially in complex cases, and not everyone is adept at every single one. It’s a legitimate and important skill, especially at a big firm, but probably doesn’t translate well to being a Supreme Court Justice.

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            Well, I think all of those things would have been moot if she had put on a good show. I mean, on the one hand, putting on a good show on your written or oral questions does not, in itself, entail that you have any particular skill at being a SCJ. Otoh, that’s the hoop. If you are going to ignore it there better be some other magic going on.

      • tsam says:

        White House Counsel I’d probably shrug and say you could do a lot worse.

        Well, I’d be awfully apprehensive if they were counsel to an administration that normalized torture techniques we used to imprison people for–things we called war crimes until they wanted to do it.

        I suppose that doesn’t mean that any particular counsel didn’t dissent to the practice, but I’d certainly resign over it, or die like Ashcroft did.

      • efgoldman says:

        SMU is not exactly Harvard but Hugo Black went to Alabama, right?

        One of my uncles went to Boston U law on the GI bill without an undergrad degree (as you could, then), graduated, passed the bar, and had a nice little State Street practice for himself, which made him (and his family) quite wealthy.
        I’m not sire whether he ever argued a case in federal court, but he was admitted to the MA Supreme Judicial Court bar (quite prestigious in its own right) and argued appeals there. I think he may have been offered a (state) judgeship at some point, but probably couldn’t afford it.

  8. los says:

    Much of Trumpisms (though they fluctuate depending on the date and barometric pressure when Trump pronounces) are “establishment cuck orthodoxy”.
    I suspect that the “establishment cucks” are really P.O.ed only because Trump shanghaied the cuck base. Trump’s true sin is committing Coup d’Cuckservativism (Cuck D’etat?).

    Gotta Godwin?
    Donald Il Duce’s Cuck D’etat reminds me of Hitler stealing the street rabble from Germany’s industrialists, “heyyyy doooood, you weren’t supposed to do that. Those were our useful idiots…. but, hmm. BUT WE SUPPORT YOU ALL THE WAY!!!

  9. CP says:

    And, you know, Trump has a point. Not because his comments about Curiel aren’t racist — they certainly are. But it is fair to wonder when his arguments somehow became taboo within the Republican Party.

    I still think the short-lived bitching about Trump being pro-torture is the ur-example of this.

    Also, that entire speech Romney gave denouncing him. “He’s an unqualified plutocrat! He would pointlessly alienate our allies! He supports torture!” If you told me that the speech was a ploy, where he was pretending to denounce Trump but actually listing all these things to make him look good to the base, I might actually believe it. (Well, except Occam’s Razor points me towards “no, Romney is just a pompous ass with no self-awareness whatsoever.”)

  10. Aimai says:

    Thanks for putting up the picture of Sotomayor. It just makes my heart jump up to see her and to remember that she is on the Supreme Court.

  11. Alex.S says:

    The problem with Trump is that he’s not using dog whistles. Or walking around the racism by “I’m just raising questions”.

    In addition, Trump had two or three opportunities to walk back his criticism. He had already attacked Curiel for being “Spanish” in February. There were a few days after the recent attack on Friday where Trump could have recalibrated or changed his criticism. Instead, he embraced it, doubled down, all the metaphors.

    ——-

    What it really comes down to — Trump doesn’t have a person he’d listen to that can say “You need to fix this problem.”

  12. Linnaeus says:

    A relevant piece at The New Republic by Brian Beutler:

    Trump’s power as president to fill Supreme Court vacancies (which arise relatively infrequently) would accompany the power to fill scores and scores of other vacancies across the federal bench. That means more Judge Reed O’Connors, the GOP hopes and assumes, and more opportunities for a conservative Supreme Court to overturn liberal policy, whether on the basis of conservative theories of jurisprudence, rank opportunism, or thinly veiled bigotry.

    As horrified as Corker, McConnell, and other Republicans might be at Trump’s racial theory of judicial bias, they will tolerate it. Trump is a uniquely divisive major-party nominee, and his bid for the presidency is very likely to fail, but supporting him maximizes the GOP’s hope of reasserting dominance over the judiciary for another generation.

  13. shewasthenaz says:

    I was thinking about the gay judge in the same sex marriage case, too. Every Republican who speaks out about Trump ought to be asked whether they spoke up when these other situations occurred. And if not, why not?

  14. random says:

    Dunno if the above links include the original cover image that appeared on National Review’s “The Wise Latina” issue. But for pure race-baiting nastiness, that image that supposed adults chose to put on their cover is on-par with anything Trump’s ever said.

    • DAS says:

      Actually, to be perfectly fair to the GOP (which doesn’t deserve this fairness) this

      You may remember, for example, the discourse surrounding the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. Her formal credentials were impeccable, essentially identical to Sam Alito’s. And, yet, Republicans routinely described her as “unqualified” because her background meant that she couldn’t be an impartial judge.

      doesn’t quite capture the GOP objection to Sotomayor. The main thrust of the critique, as I remember it, was to latch onto Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” remarks as evidence that she would not be “objective”. One problem with the GOP critique is that wisdom is, in fact, something we want in a judge/justice. If all a judge needed to do was apply various rules to a particular case, we could save a lot of money replacing judges/justices with robots!

      Part of the problem with too many SCOTUS rulings is that they reflect a lack of judgement and empathy on the part of certain justices. What does an upper-class male judge know from being sick and unable to work (and hence unable to make ends meet) due to a problematic pregnancy? If the judge lacks empathy, he cannot make a fair decision because he doesn’t have a clue as to what the situation involves. And yet, such a know-nothing judge is precisely what the GOP would call “objective”.

      Sotomayor’s point, which the GOP could not stand, is that sometimes a judge with wisdom and insight into the challenges faced by people who bring cases even to the Supreme Court — who are not abstractions but people! — will make better decisions, all things being equal — than a justice who lacks such wisdom. OTOH, the GOP actively supports a judicial philosophy that says judges should lack exactly what we pay big $$$ for judges to have: judgement!

  15. […] Moreover, do Trump’s smears of Judge Curiel differ all that greatly from Senate Republicans’ refusal to even hold a hearing for Merrick Garland for a Supreme Court seat that has been vacant nearly four months? Sure, nobody on the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling Garland a biased Mexican. But the baseless, one-sided campaign to discredit a respected federal judge they once praised as moderate and well-qualified is just as damaging as Trump’s personal vindictiveness. Consider McConnell taking to the airwaves to denounce Judge Garland as a dangerous pick. Or consider the pro-gun groups who have spent small fortunes to baselessly attack him as rabidly opposed to Second Amendment rights. Going after a sitting judge because you don’t like the groups he belongs to or the president who tapped him is not a blood sport for Trump alone. Think about what these vacancies mean for the judiciary. Then go back and reflect that Trump’s race-based attacks on Curiel sound awfully familiar to those of us who remember the attacks on Justice Sonia Sotomayor at her confirmation hearings. […]

  16. […] Moreover, do Trump’s smears of Judge Curiel differ all that greatly from Senate Republicans’ refusal to even hold a hearing for Merrick Garland for a Supreme Court seat that has been vacant nearly four months? Sure, nobody on the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling Garland a biased Mexican. But the baseless, one-sided campaign to discredit a respected federal judge they once praised as moderate and well-qualified is just as damaging as Trump’s personal vindictiveness. Consider McConnell taking to the airwaves to denounce Judge Garland as a dangerous pick. Or consider the pro-gun groups who have spent small fortunes to baselessly attack him as rabidly opposed to Second Amendment rights. Going after a sitting judge because you don’t like the groups he belongs to or the president who tapped him is not a blood sport for Trump alone. Think about what these vacancies mean for the judiciary. Then go back and reflect that Trump’s race-based attacks on Curiel sound awfully familiar to those of us who remember the attacks on Justice Sonia Sotomayor at her confirmation hearings. […]

  17. […] Moreover, do Trump’s smears of Judge Curiel differ all that greatly from Senate Republicans’ refusal to even hold a hearing for Merrick Garland for a Supreme Court seat that has been vacant nearly four months? Sure, nobody on the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling Garland a biased Mexican. But the baseless, one-sided campaign to discredit a respected federal judge they once praised as moderate and well-qualified is just as damaging as Trump’s personal vindictiveness. Consider McConnell taking to the airwaves to denounce Judge Garland as a dangerous pick. Or consider the pro-gun groups who have spent small fortunes to baselessly attack him as rabidly opposed to Second Amendment rights. Going after a sitting judge because you don’t like the groups he belongs to or the president who tapped him is not a blood sport for Trump alone. Think about what these vacancies mean for the judiciary. Then go back and reflect that Trump’s race-based attacks on Curiel sound awfully familiar to those of us who remember the attacks on Justice Sonia Sotomayor at her confirmation hearings. […]

  18. […] Moreover, do Trump’s smears of Judge Curiel differ all that greatly from Senate Republicans’ refusal to even hold a hearing for Merrick Garland for a Supreme Court seat that has been vacant nearly four months? Sure, nobody on the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling Garland a biased Mexican. But the baseless, one-sided campaign to discredit a respected federal judge they once praised as moderate and well-qualified is just as damaging as Trump’s personal vindictiveness. Consider McConnell taking to the airwaves to denounce Judge Garland as a dangerous pick. Or consider the pro-gun groups who have spent small fortunes to baselessly attack him as rabidly opposed to Second Amendment rights. Going after a sitting judge because you don’t like the groups he belongs to or the president who tapped him is not a blood sport for Trump alone. Think about what these vacancies mean for the judiciary. Then go back and reflect that Trump’s race-based attacks on Curiel sound awfully familiar to those of us who remember the attacks on Justice Sonia Sotomayor at her confirmation hearings. […]

  19. Matt McIrvin says:

    I remember seeing the whispering campaign against Sotomayor in action: comments at places like TPM from pseudonymous people claiming to be lawyers with unnamed highly-placed friends who had personal experience with Sotomayor and said, in candid comments purely off the record in unattributable fashion, that she was shockingly dim.

  20. Alex.S says:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-06-06/trump-orders-surrogates-to-intensify-criticism-of-judge-and-journalists

    When former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer interrupted the discussion to inform Trump that his own campaign had asked surrogates to stop talking about the lawsuit in an e-mail on Sunday, Trump repeatedly demanded to know who sent the memo, and immediately overruled his staff.

    “Take that order and throw it the hell out,” Trump said.

    Told the memo was sent by Erica Freeman, a staffer who circulates information to surrogates, Trump said he didn’t know her. He openly questioned how the campaign could defend itself if supporters weren’t allowed to talk.

    “Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks?” Trump said. “That’s one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart.”

    A clearly irritated Trump told his supporters to attack journalists who ask questions about the lawsuit and his comments about the judge.

    “The people asking the questions—those are the racists,” Trump said. “I would go at ’em.”

    Well… things are going to get more and more interesting in Trumpland.

    This is why it’s sticking with Trump more than other Republicans — they had surrogates and response teams and talking points. Trump is literally telling people to not do that and echo (and amplify) his attack.

  21. […] tirades. But Joe Scarborough notes that those same Republicans have already endorsed Trump, and Scott Lemieux reminds us that many of them used similar attacks during Justice Sonia Sotomayor&#8217…. Also, Josh Marshall explores Trump’s history of cheating in business deals and Jim Rutenberg […]

  22. drpuck says:

    It is a shame almost every Republican has but two feet, because the supply of fire is endless.

  23. Left of There says:

    I vaguely remember that in one of the minor litigations that was part of the 2000 Florida recount, the Bush campaign sought to disqualify the trial judge because she was African-American. But I may be misremembering, especially as I never see anyone else mentioning this when discussing the attack on Curiel. Anybody else remember this?

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