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Bombshell report deals another blow to the Supreme Court’s reputation



By Mary Zeigler  — Culled from the CNN

The Supreme Court’s reputation was already in question when The New York Times released an exposé over the weekend about another alleged breach at the high court.

Earlier this year, there had been revelations that Ginni Thomas, a conservative operative married to Justice Clarence Thomas, repeatedly urged former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Some legal experts suggested that Clarence Thomas should have recused himself from cases involving the 2020 election, but he did not. (In a statement before meeting with the January 6 committee, Ginni Thomas said she never discussed her campaign activities regarding the 2020 election with her husband.)

In May came the unprecedented leak of a full draft of an opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization dismantling federal protection of abortion rights.

The Dobbs leak set off an internal investigation — which is still ongoing — and reportedly poisoned the atmosphere at the court; another round of leaks soon followed around the possibility that some wavering had occurred from within on overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights case.

The leak prompted fierce criticism, especially from within the court. Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the Dobbs majority, recently called the leak a quote, “grave betrayal,” in an appearance before the conservative Heritage Foundation, suggesting that it put the lives of some of the high court’s conservative justices at risk.

By the end of the summer, it seemed that two things were true. First, this series of revelations had wreaked havoc on the court’s public image, convincing many Americans that it was a profoundly partisan institution.

And, second, members of the court’s conservative supermajority did not much seem to care.

Just look at what happened with Dobbs: Despite months of controversy and plummeting poll numbers, the court released an opinion reversing Roe that was functionally identical to the one leaked in May. Alito, author of the Dobbs opinion, even dropped in a paragraph about the court’s legitimacy, suggesting that it was not his job to worry about what the American people think.

This latest bombshell about anti-abortion groups allegedly getting tipped off in 2014 about a yet-to-be-released blockbuster ruling will test if the justices have to care about the court’s legitimacy after all.

The New York Times reported that the Rev. Rob Schenck, a former anti-abortion activist, had spent years seeking influence at the Supreme Court, developing a network of top donors and court insiders. Schenck alleges that his sources formed close relationships with Thomas, Alito and Justice Antonin Scalia — bonds so close that one couple allegedly received a tipoff about the result in a major case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., at a dinner with Alito and his wife.

The Hobby Lobby case involved a challenge to the so-called contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which required employers to cover all female contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The owners of some for-profit businesses argued that these forms of birth control were actually abortion-inducing drugs — and that forcing employers to cover them violated employers’ rights.

According to the Times, Schenck said he was told that the employers would win the case from a conservative donor who had close social ties to Alito and his wife — and that Alito had written the majority opinion.

Schenck wasn’t present when his sources allegedly received news about the ruling, but several acquaintances report his telling the same story about the 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, the Times reported. Schenck’s emails from 2014 and beyond also reinforce that he had some kind of inside information about the case and expected his side to win it, according to the Times.

In a statement the Supreme Court provided to CNN on Saturday, Alito called the tipoff allegations concerning the dinner conversation “completely false.”

In an interview with CNN, the donor cited by Schenck also denied allegations of receiving information about the Hobby Lobby ruling, though she admitted that she and her husband dined at Alito’s home.

But this report is the last thing the court needed with its approval ratings already at an all-time low.

It hasn’t always been this way. In the 1970s, Americans’ trust in government institutions shattered in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and revelations about then-President Richard Nixon’s involvement in Watergate, a break-in to the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and subsequent cover-up. But the Supreme Court long seemed to be an exception.

On former President Donald Trump’s watch, that view was to change dramatically. Trump kicked things off by promising not just that his nominees would be conservative originalists but that they would guarantee the reversal of Roe.

With three Trump nominees on the court, the justices delivered the most conservative wins since 1931, according to an NPR report, citing statistics compiled by professors at Washington University and the University of Michigan.

And it wasn’t just the number of wins — it was how far to the right the court moved. The justices opened the door to displays of religious faith from public school teachers and coaches, and an expansion of public funding for religious schools.

The court also hamstrung the Environmental Protection Agency and cast doubt on the power of other agencies, created a super-right to bear arms that would make it hard to pass any gun regulations and eliminated the right to abortion, even rejecting the argument that abortion restrictions constituted sex discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause — a claim that neither the petitioners nor the respondents in the case had raised.

The message was clear: The court’s conservative majority was here to stay — and making no apologies for the revolution it was working in the law, no matter how deeply unpopular it was becoming.

By the end of the summer, the court’s reputation had taken a nosedive, but the conservative justices hardly seemed to care. They seemed convinced that they truly were insulated from the will of the people.

It’s true that the justices hold lifetime appointments — and that no justice has ever been successfully removed through impeachment. But historically, there were other ways to hold the court accountable — threats to strip the court of jurisdiction, changing the number of justices or even just ignoring the justices’ rulings.

The current conservative majority seems poised to continue making major changes. The court could end affirmative action, further gut the Voting Rights Act, give state legislatures the power to upend federal elections, further curb the power of the EPA and allow religious business owners to refuse service to LBGTQ customers.

The New York Times article on the court’s alleged leak will deal the court’s reputation another blow. Americans want the court to be above partisan politics (less than 20% polled recently by Pew think that the court should bring their political views into decision making), but a growing number of voters think that the court is a partisan institution.

Now, it seems the justices are not just delivering policy wins to one side of the aisle but have developed inside relationships with conservative organizations.

At a minimum, doing so creates a horrible impression for Americans promised that the justices will be neutral arbiters of the law. At worst, it’s a sign of deep corruption. (The Code of Conduct for United States Judges provides ethical guidance for lower court judges but specifically does not cover Supreme Court justices.)

The court seems convinced that it can continue on its current trajectory no matter how unhappy Americans are. If that’s true, Americans will lose trust in yet another institution, and the court will lose touch with the will of the people.

Both of those things would be dangerous for American democracy. And so, for everyone’s sake, we have to hope that there is some accountability for the court after all.

Mary Ziegler is the Martin Luther King Jr. professor of law at the University of California, Davis and author of the book “Dollars for Life: The Anti-Abortion Movement and the Fall of the Republican Establishment.” The views expressed here are her own. Read more opinion on CNN.

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Anthony Obi Ogbo

The Mugshot Comedy Drama— Donald Trump, GOP Celebrate Ignorance



“The scepter of criminal law is permanently blind to human compassion, emotions, or interests. Making Trump and his cronies pay dearly for their crimes is justified, at the least, in terms of deterrence and retribution,” —Anthony Ogbo

Thursday, former President Donald Trump was booked on charges that he conspired to overturn the results of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. His mugshot quickly turned into a piece of illustrious image canonized by the rightwing media and glorified like a martyr of political persecution. In less than two hours after Trump’s booking, his mug shot was already a hot cake.

His joint fundraising committee sold T-shirts, mugs, beverage coolers, bumper stickers, and other merchandise featuring his booking photo.

There were also reports that Trump and his team literally strategized on how to turn this historically horrible event into an image-hyping and money-spinning bonanza. They had a discussion as to what the mug shot would look like. Trump reportedly wanted to look “defiant” to justify his claims of a politically motivated witch-hunt. In fact, in a fundraising email, Trump said he “walked into the lion’s den with one simple message on behalf of our entire movement: I will never surrender our mission to save America.”

So, what exactly are Trump and his Republican Party devotees celebrating? – Conspiring to attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election? Criminals should not be celebrated!

Charges against Trump are very serious. He was indicted on 13 counts of criminal felonies, including an alleged violation of Georgia’s Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Rico). The racketeering charge alone carries a maximum 20-year jail sentence; making false statements carries a penalty of between one to five years in prison or a fine, and a person convicted of first-degree criminal solicitation to commit election fraud will face between one to three years in jail. The charges revolve around Trump’s and 18 co-defendants’ efforts to overturn the will of the voters and interfere with the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Therefore, it might be a self-damaging miscalculation if Trump and his team believe these charges would help his campaign. It is understandable that the MAGA confederacy stands behind his transgressions, but America thinks otherwise. For instance, a new POLITICO Magazine/Ipsos poll provides some negative figures likely to take a toll on his general election prospects. The findings are not encouraging at all on his part

    • Most Americans believe Trump should stand trial before the 2024 election
    • About half of the country believes Trump is guilty in the pending prosecutions
    • A conviction in DOJ’s 2020 election case would hurt Trump in the general election
    • Half of the country believes Trump should go to prison if convicted in DOJ’s Jan. 6 case
    • Fifty-nine percent of respondents — including nearly two-thirds of independents — said that the Justice Department’s decision to indict Trump in the 2020 election case was based on a fair evaluation of the evidence and the law.

But the scepter of criminal law is permanently blind to human compassion, emotions, or interests. Making Trump and his cronies pay dearly for their crimes is justified, at the least, in terms of deterrence and retribution. The law must act in full force, to deter prospective offenders from following Trump’s amoral and criminal standards. Besides, this process would enhance faith in law enforcement and the government that the criminal procedure is works effectively.

Finally, we must note that former presidents or top government officials are not Jesus. They are humans, and they are average citizens. From Jacob Zuma, a former president of South Africa; Silvio Berlusconi, former Italian Prime Minister; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and many others, top leaders who left office have been jailed or prosecuted in several countries — including in major democratic jurisdictions. The relevance is that the laws apply equally to all citizens. Donald Trump and his coup-plotting ensemble are no exceptions.

♦ Publisher of the Guardian News, Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is a visiting professor at the Texas Southern University. He is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News, and the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact:

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The “Food Not Bombs” Saga – Feeding the Homeless With Politics and Conspiracies



“It is unlawful to challenge a statute by arrogantly violating it. Moreover, it is insensitive to use the needy as a shield for a pugnacious political vendetta”

—Anthony Ogbo

So, this motorist wanted to drop a token for the panhandler. He stopped abruptly in the middle of a bustling intersection while the traffic light was green. This resulted in the near collision of multiple vehicles. Furthermore, he blocked a lane while the panhandler reluctantly walked up. It was a mess. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with giving to roadside beggars, but how, when, and where people do this matters—especially when it constitutes risks and lawlessness.

The above-referenced real-world analogy illustrates the over-published feud between the City of Houston and Food Not Bombs, a volunteer group that feeds the homeless. For the last 15 years, Food Not Bombs has been serving the homeless outside the Houston Public Library downtown, dishing out vegetarian meals four nights a week at this location by the corner of McKinney and Smith streets. However, on March 1, the group received a citation from the City of Houston for violating a city ordinance.

This ordinance was actually enacted in 2012 under the previous regime of Mayor Annise Parker. The law makes it “unlawful for any organization or individual to sponsor or conduct a food service event on public or private property without the advance written consent of the public or private property owner or other individual with lawful control of the property.”

Food Not Bombs is not permitted to hold its distribution outside the library. It might be understandable that the volunteer group may have initially violated this law because it was unaware of the regulation. But what might be underhandedly political is why they remained in that location, proudly collecting multiple citations from the city, shedding crocodile tears, and using them to generate cheap publicity and attention from the mainstream media.

Currently, Food Not Bombs spends more time documenting and litigating violation tickets than the very cause they are supposed to be undertaking. On August 3, eight of the 47 tickets were dismissed because the HPD officers that issued them did not show up for court. The group vowed to fight, but the city insisted on its enforcement. In its release, the city maintained that it “intends to vigorously pursue violations of its ordinance relating to the feeding of the homeless,” vowing to “refile cases dismissed without prejudice.”

From all indications, Food Not Bombs does not like this ordinance, but rather than challenge it lawfully, it chose a civil disobedience route. Even as the city offered it an alternate location less than half a mile away to hold their feedings, the group stubbornly decided not to move.

During an August 8 City Council meeting, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city doesn’t have an issue with volunteers feeding the unhoused population but does have a problem with it being at the Central Library. According to Mayor Turner, “Can we provide food for those who need assistance and also maintain the library for the greater community, even those who are homeless, to utilize those services? The answer is yes.… You just don’t have the right to choose where you want to be at the expense of everybody else in the city. So, the citations will continue because you can’t just do this and then try to engage in a PR campaign to make it seem like the city is being insensitive to those who are homeless. No, that is not the case.”

Mayor Turner was absolutely right about the intent. The whole thing is a PR operation by radicals hiding under a charitable cause to promote tasteless conspiracies against the local government. Only a fool will buy that theory – that the city is insensitive to the homeless. These laws are not meant to discourage or criminalize kindness but to protect general safety, and guarantee the rights of citizens against abuses by other people, organizations, and the government.

There are many ways to protest local ordinances, and trading a charitable cause for civil disobedience is not one of them. Justice is not stupid. Indeed, it is unlawful to challenge a statute by arrogantly violating it. Moreover, it is insensitive to use the homeless as a shield for a pugnacious political vendetta.

♦ Publisher of the Guardian News, Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is a visiting professor at the Texas Southern University. He is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News, and the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact:

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