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Robert Barnes reports in the Washington Post:
“It was the ninth-grade commencement address for the Cardigan Mountain School, an elite boarding school for boys grades six through nine. Sitting up front under a large white tent as John Glover Roberts Jr. took the stage was graduating student John Glover Roberts III.
. . . .
Roberts’s commencement address was not publicized in advance, but it was recorded by the school, uploaded to YouTube and is slowly gaining attention. Several readers emailed the link to me. One person wrote, “I’m a Democrat and I can’t stand the guy’s views, but I was in tears.”
There is nothing about the Supreme Court or the law in the short speech, although each graduating Cougar received an autographed, pocket-size Constitution along with his certificate.
Instead, the address was personal, understated and popular probably because it touched on universal themes, such as a parent’s worry about whether he or she is making the right decisions for their child.
Driving through the gates after leaving a student at Cardigan, Roberts said, parents travel a “trail of tears” to an “emptier and lonelier house.”
Roberts is considered one of the Supreme Court’s better writers, and his public addresses show a quick wit and professional timing. He first asked the Cardigan students to turn and applaud their parents and others who had guided them.
He joked that he would later be able to report that his speech was “interrupted by applause.”
Success, he reminded them, comes to those who are unafraid to fail. “And if you did fail, you got up and tried again. And if you failed again, you got up and tried again. And if you failed again — it might be time to think about doing something else.”
Roberts said commencement addresses customarily wish graduates success. He thought it better for them to experience challenges.
“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly,” Roberts said, “so that you will come to learn the value of justice.”
Betrayal “will teach you the importance of loyalty.” Loneliness will instruct people not to “take friends for granted.” Pain will cause someone “to learn compassion.”
“I wish you bad luck — again, from time to time — so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life,” Roberts said. “And understand that your success is not completely deserved, and that the failure of others is not completely deserved, either.”
A commencement speech is supposed to offer “grand advice,” Roberts said, so his first was to recognize the exalted perch from which they started — a school with a 4-to-1 student-teacher ratio, where students dine in jackets and ties, and tuition and board cost about $55,000.
Through his son, Roberts had come to know many of the students, he said, and “I know you are good guys.”
“But you are also privileged young men, and if you weren’t privileged when you came here, you’re privileged now because you have been here,” Roberts said. “My advice is: Don’t act like it.”
He urged them, at their next school, to introduce themselves to the people “raking the leaves, shoveling the snow or emptying the trash.” Learn their names, smile and call them by name. “The worst thing that will happen is you will become known as the young man who smiles and says hello,” he said.
“You’ve been at a school with just boys. Most of you will be going to a school with girls,” Roberts said.
“I have no advice for you.”
In his speech, Roberts quoted Socrates and, not surprisingly, he ended it with the words of “the great American philosopher, Bob Dylan.”
Roberts has quoted Dylan in judicial opinions, and he’s not alone. The New York Times a few years ago noted a study that found Dylan the most-quoted songwriter in judicial opinions, and said Roberts had “opened the floodgates” by quoting the Bard of Minnesota in a 2008 dissent.
The song he quoted at the commencement speech was “Forever Young.” Roberts is an unusual parent. Now 62, he and Jane married rather late in life. Their contemporaries are welcoming grandchildren, while they have two high-schoolers, Jack and his sister Josephine.
“May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young.”
The wishes expressed by Dylan for his son, Jesse, are “beautiful, they’re timeless, they’re universal,” Roberts said.
But the phrase that gives the song its title and refrain — forever young — is unrealistic, the chief justice said. It can’t come true.
“That wish is a parent’s lament,” he said.”
Read the full report at the link.
I agree with some of the Chief Justice’s opinions, others not so much. Gosh, I have to wonder why all of his jurisprudence doesn’t show the same empathy, humor, understanding of the “underdog,” and acknowledgement of the role of privilege in our society (which is often mistaken for “pure merit” by the “privileged”) as demonstrated by this speech. Just look at the number of GOP politicians and even judges today who use their privileged positions to “dump on” the less fortunate rather than compassionately addressing their problems. At the same time, many of these same individuals use their their own privileged positions to further enrich the privileged and further empower the powerful at the expense of the rest of society. Go figure.
Robert Barnes reports for the Washington Post:
“CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — With legal challenges to the Trump administration’s initiatives multiplying in federal courts, new Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch extolled the virtues of judicial independence and praised a legal system in which “government can lose in its own courts” Friday night.
It was the first public appearance off the bench for President Trump’s choice for the high court, who joined Justice Stephen G. Breyer at the Harvard Marshall Forum. Both are former Marshall scholars who did graduate work in the United Kingdom, and spoke at an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of George C. Marshall’s plan to rebuild Europe after World War II.
The event was about as noncontroversial as it could be, even if one of the first questions to Gorsuch concerned a naked sex doll the future justice observed when he had tea with an Oxford dean.
Trump last week made good on his pledge to political opponents to “see you in the Supreme Court,” asking the justices to revive his plan to temporarily ban entry to citizens of six mostly Muslim countries. A string of judges and appeals courts have concluded the president’s executive orders have more to do with his campaign pledge to ban Muslims from entering the country than an immediate threat to the country’s security.
Trump has bitterly denounced those rulings, as well as a decision to stop his proposal to cut federal funds from cities that protect illegal immigrants. During the campaign, he criticized a federal judge who ruled against him in a suit involving his for-profit universities because he said the judge’s Mexican ancestry made him prejudiced.
Jeffrey Rosen, a legal scholar and writer who is also president of the National Constitution Center, did not ask Gorsuch and Breyer about those controversies or any matter before the court.
But Gorsuch and Breyer talked in broad terms about independence and respect for the judicial branch’s decisions.
Gorsuch said he is grateful for the tradition that “judges can safely decide the law according to their conscience, without fear of reprisal.”
It is a remarkable thing, he said, “that government can lose, in its own courts, and accept the judgment of those courts without an army to back up the judgments. Just nine old people in polyester black robes that we have to buy at the uniform supply store…that is a heritage that is very special.”
As he did at his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch downplayed divisive decisions and stressed unanimity and acceptance of court’s decisions. Only about 5 percent of cases are appealed, he said, and “our court” accepts only 80 or so a year, a relative handful.
“Nine justices appointed by six presidents over a 30-year period,” Gorsuch said. “And we’re unanimous about 40 percent of the time.”
Of course, it is the closely divided cases at the appeals courts and the Supreme Court that are its most important. But Gorsuch and Breyer stressed the independence judges have to make controversial decisions.”
Read the complete story at the link.
Even today, in the wake of tragedy in London, Trump couldn’t resist an inappropriate tweet taking a cheap shot at the U.S. Courts. Nor could he stop himself from trying to promote panic and throwing darts at the Mayor of London. He’s certainly the embodiment of the “Ugly American.”
One of the major differences between the U.S. and the many countries I dealt with on a daily basis over the past 21 years in various courts is the true independence of the Article III judiciary in the U.S.
By contrast, Trump’s demeanor, behavior, temperament, and the folks he surrounds himself with are very reminiscent of third-world dictators.
Robert Barnes reports in the Washington Post:
“The Supreme Court ruled Monday that North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature relied on racial gerrymandering when drawing the state’s congressional districts, a decision that could make it easier to challenge other state redistricting plans.
The decision continued a trend at the court, where justices have found that racial considerations improperly tainted redistricting decisions by GOP-led legislatures in Virginia, Alabama and North Carolina. Some cases involved congressional districts, others legislative districts.
The states contended that their efforts were partisan moves to protect their majorities, which the Supreme Court in the past has allowed, rather than attempts to diminish the impact of minority voters, which are forbidden.
But the justices declared that North Carolina had relied too heavily on race in its efforts to “reshuffle,” in the words of Justice Elena Kagan, voters in two congressional districts. They were unanimous in rejecting one of the districts and split 5 to 3 on the other.
“This is a watershed moment in the fight to end racial gerrymandering,” said former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr., who is part of a Democratic effort focused on redistricting. “North Carolina’s maps were among the worst racial gerrymanders in the nation. Today’s ruling sends a stark message to legislatures and governors around the country: Racial gerrymandering is illegal and will be struck down in a court of law.”
North Carolina leaders said the court had made the rules regarding redistricting even murkier. Lawmakers are required to consider race when drawing legislative lines so that minorities have a chance to elect candidates of their choice when the numbers are there. But the court has said racial considerations cannot predominate when drawing the districts.”
Racism is an obvious problem in the Republican Party and particularly in the Trump Administration. The GOP publicly denies racist intent while regularly practicing it to maintain and “fire up” their electoral base. At some point, actions speak louder than words.
Contrary to the disingenuous statements by GOP leaders in North Carolina that the Court’s ruling is “confusing,” former US Attorney General Eric Holder has succinctly stated it: “Racial gerrymandering is illegal and will be struck down in a court of law.”
While I haven’t always agreed with him, Eric is one of the brightest guys around. But, you don’t even have to be at his intellectual level to “get the message.”
One guy who is unlikely to get the message is current US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He has pledged to “back off” of the DOJ’s aggressive stand in protecting minority voting rights, developed under AGs Holder and Lynch, and instead to defer to racist state legislative actions designed to dilute or discourage minority voting. Not surprisingly, this happens most often in the GOP controlled areas of the South.
Liz was right!
Robert Barnes writes in the Washington Post:
“Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said Wednesday he had grave worries about “prosecutorial abuse” if even a minor lie in the application process means the government can later strip a naturalized immigrant of her citizenship.
As the issues of immigration and deportation take center stage under the Trump administration, Roberts and other Supreme Court justices seemed hesitant to give the government unfettered power to remove naturalized citizens from the country.
The case involved a Bosnian native, Divna Maslenjak, who was criminally prosecuted for lying on her application about her husband’s military service. She was deported by the Obama administration, which held the broad view that any misrepresentation — whether relevant or not — was enough to give the government the right to consider revocation.
“It is troublesome to give that extraordinary power, which, essentially, is unlimited power, at least in most cases, to the government,” Roberts said. Because it would be easy in almost all cases to find some falsehood, the chief justice said, “the government will have the opportunity to denaturalize anyone they want.”
Roberts, who regularly warns about the discretionary power of prosecutors, and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy added a moment of drama to a lively hearing that was the Supreme Court’s last scheduled oral argument of the term.
They were not persuaded by Justice Department lawyer Robert A. Parker’s assertion that other safeguards are built into the system and that government lawyers had little reason to search through the millions of files of naturalized citizens to find trivial reasons to prosecute. Even denaturalization, Parker said, only returns a person to the status of lawful permanent resident and allows reapplication.
. . . .
Some justices noted that the statute does not specifically require that. “It seems like, linguistically, we have to do some somersaults to get where you want to go,” said Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who testified during his recent confirmation hearings about sticking closely to the text of statutes.
And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Maslenjak’s misrepresentations appeared directly relevant to her application. She lied about what her husband was doing in Bosnia, Ginsburg said. “Under what circumstances would that be immaterial?”
. . . .
The case is Maslenjak v. United States.”
Robert Barnes writes in the Washington Post:
“Everyone agrees that Jae Lee pleaded guilty to a drug charge and now faces deportation to South Korea because of bad lawyering.
The Tennessee restaurateur, who came to the United States as a child in 1982, was told if he took the plea he’d serve a year in prison. But his lawyer Larry Fitzgerald told him there was no chance that a longtime legal permanent resident like him would be deported. Fitzgerald was wrong.
But does Fitzgerald’s mistake make any difference if the evidence against Lee was so strong that he almost certainly would have been convicted had he rejected the deal and gone to trial? As the appeals court that ruled against him noted, he would still be deportable.
The Supreme Court struggled with the issue Tuesday. Does Lee deserve a second chance, because of his lawyer’s mistake, to either seek a plea deal that would not result in his deportation or roll the dice with a jury and hope that somehow he is not convicted?
The answer could be important, as the Trump administration promises a new vigor in deporting immigrants convicted of crimes.”
The Justices appeared to be sympathetic to Mr. Lee. But, that might not be enough to add up to a victory for him.
Robert Barnes writes in the Washington Post:
“The gun was fired in the United States. The bullet stopped 60 feet away in Mexico — tragically, in the head of a 15-year-old boy named Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca.
Border patrol agent Jesus Mesa Jr. pulled the trigger that day six years ago in the wide concrete culvert that separates El Paso from Juarez, Mexico. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will consider whether the Constitution gives Hernández’s parents the right to sue Mesa in American courts for killing their son.
The case comes amid a time of increasing tension and controversy over how this country polices the daily churn along the border, where essential international commerce takes place alongside narcotics trafficking and human smuggling.
Courts have struggled to deal with the national security and foreign policy implications of the case, and the Supreme Court’s precedents.
U.S. Border Patrol agent shoots Mexican teenager near border Play Video0:17
In 2010, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa Jr. shot and killed 15-year-old Mexican national Sergio Hernandez while Hernandez was playing in a culvert separating Juarez, Mexico, from El Paso, Tex. A witness recorded the incident on their cell phone. (Outreach Strategists, LLC)
If Hernández had been killed inside the United States, then the case could proceed. Or if he had been a U.S. citizen, it would not have mattered that Mesa was on one side of the border and he was on the other.
But the courts so far in Hernández’s case have said the Constitution does not reach across the border — even 60 feet — to give rights to those without a previous connection to the United States.”
The case is Hernandez v. Mesa, and either way the Court decides, it’s likely to play an important role in the effort to enhance U.S. border enforcement.