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Balls And Strikes


You can tell a lot about a justice by the company they seek out after hearing a directly relevant case:

In the past week, judicial-watchdog groups have raised alarm over the meeting of two Supreme Court Justices, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh, with Brian Brown, the head of the anti-L.G.B.T. group National Organization for Marriage. Brown tweeted a picture of himself with the Justices on October 29th, three weeks after the Court heard arguments in what are probably the most consequential L.G.B.T.-rights cases ever to come before the Court—and arguably the biggest cases of the year. (N.O.M. has filed an amicus brief in these cases.)

Two days after Brown’s tweet, the nonpartisan organization Fix the Court published a blog post titled “What Were They Thinking? Justices Again Fail a Basic Ethics Test.” On Wednesday, Aaron Belkin, an activist, academic, and director of the group Take Back the Court, wrote an open letter asking the two Justices to recuse themselves from the case. “Posing for photographs with the president of an advocacy organization that has filed briefs in matters pending before the court makes a mockery of Chief Justice Roberts’ assertion that a judge’s role is to impartially call balls and strikes,” Belkin wrote. “If you refuse to recuse yourselves, this incident will further illustrate the urgent need for structural reform of the Supreme Court in order to restore a Court that understands its role is to protect individual rights and our democracy.”

Take Back the Court, which advocates expanding the Supreme Court, among other things, is a fairly radical organization. But Belkin’s letter actually understates the case, making it sound as though the problem with taking a meeting with Brown is that he believes that L.G.B.T. people are not entitled to protection from employment discrimination, which is what’s at stake in the pending cases. In fact, it’s worse than that. Brown thinks that L.G.B.T. people should not exist. I know this because he told me.

So they’re doing exactly what they were put on the Court to do, then.

As bad as the coverage of the Kavanaugh nomination sometimes was, the parade of “Sam Alito, apolitical moderate” articles that occasioned his nomination was some really wild stuff.

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