Glenn K. Beaton is a writer and columnist living in Colorado. He has been a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, RealClearPolitics, Powerline, Instapundit, American Thinker and numerous other print, radio and television outlets.
In a case argued at the Supreme Court this week, a Colorado website designer appealed a decision from lower courts requiring her to create wedding websites for gay couples in violation of her religious belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. The Court is likely to reverse the lower court decision, and allow her to decline to create such websites.
The liberal minority on the Court and the liberal media argue that such a decision will lead to a new Jim Crow era where the providers of public accommodation are allowed to refuse services to people on the basis of their sexual preferences or skin color.
That argument is incorrect and probably not even sincere. Here’s why.
The First Amendment of course prohibits the government from banning speech. Less recognized is that the First Amendment also prohibits the government from compelling speech. That means it’s unconstitutional for the government to prohibit you from voicing support for gay marriage and it’s equally unconstitutional for the government to require you to voice such support.
The Supreme Court on Monday considered the arguments of Harvard and the University of North Carolina justifying their racial discrimination in admissions. The schools will probably lose.
The schools argue their racial discrimination (they refuse to call it that, of course) is just one of many factors they consider in admissions. But the data show it’s by far the most important one. For example, at UNC a white person with a given set of test scores, grade point average and other factors, with 10% chance of getting admitted, would have a 98% chance with the same qualifications if he were black.
At Harvard, the case was brought by an Asian student group. The data show that at Harvard an Asian needs an SAT score about 400 points higher than a black person with comparable other qualifications. That 400-point difference is huge. It’s the difference between an excellent student with a score of 1500 and an average one with a score of 1100, or a good student with a score of 1200 and a poor student with a score of 800.
The Supreme Court’s abortion decision was leaked before being issued, apparently in an effort by the liberal wing of the Court or their clerks to pressure the majority to reverse themselves. The Chief Justice in a rare press release condemned the leak, as did other conservative justices (no liberal justice did) and promised an investigation by law enforcement.
That was five months ago. If the investigation concluded that it’s impossible to identify the leaker, we’re entitled to see the report. If the investigation did successfully identify the leaker, we’re entitled to know who it was.
But we’ve heard crickets. The Chief apparently decided it was more important to just move on than to bring the matter to light. The leak damaged the Court badly enough, he may have concluded, and he doesn’t want to damage it even more by identifying the leaker – something that would cry out for an impeachment of a Supreme Court Justice.
If my theory is correct that the Chief is protecting a liberal Justice of the Court (I doubt he would go to such lengths to protect a mere clerk of a liberal Justice) then a storied institution charged with administering justice at the highest level in the land is consciously shirking its duty to administer justice in its own institution – in the interest, ironically, of preserving its status as an institution of justice.
With this on my mind, a headline in the Washington Post last week caught my eye. In their news pages – not their opinion pages – a story appeared under the headline “Supreme Court term begins amid questions about its legitimacy.”
Ah, I thought, WaPo is exploring this same story that is on my mind – that the Court is covering up the identity of the leaker to avoid a bloody judicial impeachment and Constitutional crisis.
I was wrong. The “legitimacy” issue in the WaPo story was that the Supreme Court had ruffled liberal feathers lately with decisions they don’t like. For example, the Court stated that abortion is not in the Constitution and therefore is not a matter for judges to decide, and that the power of administrative agencies is limited to what Congress delegated to the agency.
Democrats don’t like these decisions, both because they don’t like the particular results and because, more broadly, they don’t like shifting power back to the people. Democrats favor policies that are to the left of the people. They can’t enact such policies democratically because they would get voted out of office, and so they let unelected judges and administrative agency bureaucrats do their dirty work.
Leave it to the Democrats to charge that judges risk their legitimacy not by seizing judicial power, but by relinquishing it to the people and the people’s elected representatives.
Put this in historical perspective. For two generations, up until a few years ago, the Court was issuing decisions that I didn’t like. For that, however, I never questioned whether the Court was legitimate. I simply questioned whether its decisions were correct.
That’s an important distinction. An incorrect decision still needs to be followed. An illegitimate decision, by implication, need not be. Roe v. Wade was an incorrect decision as a matter of Constitutional law, but conservatives never argued that it cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. They simply argued that it was incorrect, and so should be overturned. In the meantime, it was the criticized but undisputed law of the land.
The left plays by a different set of rules. People who disagree with them are not merely incorrect; they’re deemed illegitimate. If such people are students, they get booted out of school; if they’re parents at school board meetings, they get arrested and investigated by the FBI; if they’re professors, they get fired even if they’re tenured; if they’re opinion columnists like me, they get censored; if they’re speakers, they get shouted down; if they’re politicians, they get name-called “racists,” “deplorables,” and “semi-fascists.”
Nutjobs in the radical left hear these things and conclude, apparently as they are supposed to, that conservatives should be hunted down and eliminated – physically if necessary. Political violence is escalating. Most of it is against conservatives, and it’s rare to hear the left – or even mainstream Democrats – condemn it.
If the persons with whom the left disagrees happen to be Supreme Court Justices, their legitimacy, too, gets questioned – after their homes get marched upon and one of them is the target of an assassination attempt.
As bad as physical violence and threats are, the deliberate undermining of the authority of the Supreme Court is worse. We are careening over the guardrails and into the day when the left simply announces – in the guise of news stories in prestige newspapers and not just opinion pieces – something like “People question whether Supreme Court rulings should be followed.”
The editors and reporters at WaPo have crossed a line. The line they’ve crossed is not expressing an opinion with which I disagree. They have a right to their opinions, and I’ll fight to preserve their right to express them – even though they conspicuously don’t fight to preserve my right to express mine and in fact do whatever they can to censor mine.
Where WaPo starts to cross the line is where they express their opinion not in their opinion pages where opinions belong, but in their news pages.
And then WaPo gets way over the line with the substance of their opinion-in-the-guise-of-news. The substance of their opinion, expressed as news, is that the Supreme Court is illegitimate simply because the Court is issuing decisions that WaPo doesn’t like.
So, remind me: Who’s the threat to democracy?
Glenn K. Beaton practiced law in the federal courts, including the Supreme Court.
The old news of the leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion last May overruling Roe v. Wade has now been swamped by the new news of the Supreme Court’s final opinion a month later.
That final opinion, almost identical to Alito’s draft and joined by five of the nine Justices, held that Roe was wrong. As a matter of fact and law, the Constitution never mentions, alludes to, or implies a Constitutional right to abortion.
(Notice my use of the word “abortion” to identify abortion. Because “abortion” has a bad connotation, advocates of it seek to rebrand or euphemize the procedure with wooly obfuscation like “a woman’s right to choose” or “reproductive rights.” But “a woman’s right to choose” is ambiguous unless you think that abortion is the only thing women have the right to make a choice about. And “reproductive rights” is a deliberate misnomer, much like “Planned Parenthood.” This is not about the right to reproduce or become a parent, but the right not to.)
The Supreme Court’s decision returns the abortion question to the state legislatures elected by the people or the state constitutions enacted and amended by the people. The states are already going in different directions on the issue, as our system of Federalism permits and even intends.
This is a bad outcome only if you think that abortion is a moral wrong which, according to at least five unelected lawyers in black robes appointed for life, is barred sub silentio by the Constitution or you think abortion is a moral right that is granted sub silentio by that same Constitution.
I’m in neither camp. I’m instead in the camp that the Constitution says what it says and doesn’t say what it doesn’t say. I think this Supreme Court decision is not a bad outcome at all. Let the people and their elected legislatures puzzle out this philosophical, moral and religious – but not legal or Constitutional – issue. That’s what the Founders intended for such issues.
But there’s another question still unresolved. Who leaked Justice Alito’s draft opinion?
That question is important. This unprecedented leak shook the Court to its marble foundations. In the context of the Supreme Court, the leak was far worse than Watergate in the context of the presidency or the Pentagon Papers in the context of the military. This breach of confidence undermined the Justices’ deliberations, reputations, and authority.
Chief Justice John Roberts recognized the cataclysmic nature of the leak. In a rare press release, he called the leak “absolutely appalling” and said he was turning the matter over to law enforcement.
That was a couple of months ago. Since then, crickets.
Several theories have been advanced regarding the identity of the leaker. The obvious one is that it was a law clerk for one of the three liberal dissenting Justices who hoped the leak would generate such an outcry that the majority Justices would back down. Indeed, there are several law clerks with a history of abortion advocacy.
But I doubt this theory that it was a law clerk. Ivy League law school graduates are a mercantile bunch. I doubt they would jeopardize a hard-earned and lucrative career for this political Hail Mary.
Another theory is that the leaker was one of the dissenting Justices who naively thought the same – that the leak would pressure at least one of the majority Justices to change his or her mind.
Yet another theory is from the reverse-head-fake-counter-flop school. It was one of the five Justices who joined the Court’s opinion overruling Roe. The theory is that one of the other four were wavering. The leaker strategized that the leak would lock that wavering Justice into his or her tentative position, because changing his or her vote after the leak would reflect badly on the size of his or her cojones.
No Supreme Court Justice wants to be shown to have little cojones. These people could make ten-fold their government salary in private practice. They instead chose black robes, an audience that stands when they enter the room, and a raised dais from which they look down upon and interrupt those rich lawyers who chose the money route, all because it says they have big cojones. Without the cojones perk, the job offers no rewards.
But I think this theory is too clever by half. I can’t imagine a Justice in the majority thinking, “Gee, so-and-so Justice is wavering. How can I lock that Justice in to the preliminary vote on the case? I know, I’ll leak the draft opinion, and so he/she won’t be able to change his/her mind without looking like a cojones-lacking Justice.”
And so, I think the second theory is correct. One of the three dissenting Justices leaked the opinion in the hope that the ensuing protests would pressure at least one in the majority to change his or her mind. That obviously didn’t work, and if anything it may have had the opposite effect.
I suspect that the status of the law enforcement investigation is as follows. Law enforcement has interviewed the thirty-some clerks and reviewed their phone calls and emails. They’ve been cleared, else we’d have heard otherwise by now.
That leaves the Justices.
I suspect that Roberts stopped the investigation before law enforcement interviewed the Justices and reviewed their emails and phone records. Because he doesn’t want to deal with what he knows the investigators would find.
Roberts has always been obsessed with the status and prestige of the Court, which is not a bad thing for a Chief Justice to be obsessed about. Indeed, he refused to join the majority opinion in this case – instead writing a separate opinion saying he wanted to uphold the Mississippi law limiting abortion to 15 weeks without outright overruling Roe – because he wanted to conserve the power of the Court by issuing a small ruling and not at big one.
That approach is defensible. Overbroad decisions have the effect of binding future litigants who have not had their day in court, based on hypothetical and un-litigated facts. To avoid that, courts usually issue rulings no bigger than necessary to decide the case in front of them.
I thought the Court would approach this case that way. Roe was bad law, but it was not necessary to outright overrule it in order to uphold the Mississippi law.
Now, again trying to conserve the Court’s status and prestige, Roberts probably believes that implicating a sitting Supreme Court Justice in a criminal leak would be even more destructive to the Court than the leak itself.
He may be right. But still, as Chief Justice, isn’t part of his job description to be the chief of justice?
One last morsel for thought: If the leaker was indeed a Justice, the liberal reporter at Politico who broke the story and published the draft opinion now has kompromat on her.
Glenn Beaton practiced law in the federal courts, including the Supreme Court.
Altogether, that amounts to over 20 million dead black babies since Roe v. Wade. To put that number in perspective, the number of unarmed blacks killed by police in that period is a few dozen – amounting to something like 0.0002% of the number aborted.
Over a third of the black population of America has been lost to abortion. If the dead black babies were placed head to toe, they would stretch from coast to coast. If they were buried in a cemetery at standard densities, the cemetery would be about 20,000 acres or 31 square miles.
But of course, they’re not buried in cemeteries. They’re disposed of as medical waste in incinerators or landfills. That’s right, dumps. We often dispose of aborted babies in dumps. Even the murdered Jews at Auschwitz didn’t share a trench with garbage and racoons.
Where’s Black Lives Matter on this genocide? They make an extravagant living pretending to grieve the death of a career criminal, drug addict, wife beater and arrest resister. But if black lives truly matter to them, why don’t they even blink an eye at 20 million dead black babies?
Not that I have anything against such a person. Some of my best friends are autistic, and most of my readers are. They’re probably also transsexuals or have at least thought about it (it is sort of weirdly interesting from an anthropological perspective, sort of like Neanderthals and dinosaurs). And cocaine can’t be any worse than, say, instant coffee, Australian wine or transsexualism.
As for being black, anyone with half a brain identifies as such. Because these days that will get you admitted to medical school (many college applicants do in fact falsely claim to be black) and appointed to the Supreme Court. It also gets you immunity against prosecution for slapping anyone you damn well please at any time you damn well please, and perhaps shooting them too. Soon, it might also get you some reparations green.
Politically motivated leaks are no big deal in today’s partisan politics. But something happened today that is utterly unprecedented.
A draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked. To my knowledge, this has never happened before. Arguably, it constitutes a crime – a theft of federal property. Even if not, it’s a shocking breach of ethics.
The leak was obviously by one of the three Justices in the liberal wing of the Court, or one of their 10-12 clerks who have access to the internal deliberations of the Court. It was presumably for the purpose of ginning up a public outcry to pressure one or more of the majority justices to change his or her mind.
Ketanji Brown Jackson made a promise in her Supreme Court confirmation hearing this week before the Senate.
KBJ is the person whom biologist Joe Biden assures us is “a black woman” in accordance with his earlier promise to nominate a person of that sex and color as a great act of noblesse oblige for which he, as a non-black non-woman, we think, should be honored in history, especially in view of his dementia. Surely he’ll now join Barack Obama, Al Gore and Yassar Arafat in receiving a Nobel Peace Prize. I wonder if he’ll deposit the check into that joint checking account he shares with Hunter.
We have to take Joe’s word for KBJ’s sex and color. Since she’s not a biologist, KBJ herself is unable to confirm that she’s a woman and it’s not clear whether she’s able to confirm that she’s black.
The White House last week leaked word of Justice Stephen Breyer’s imminent retirement. The leak forced Justice Breyer to accelerate his plan to the following day, rather than waiting until the end of the Supreme Court term in June, as typically happens.
Accelerating Justice Breyer’s plan was not an incidental outcome of the White House leak. It was the intended outcome.
And it worked, for a moment anyway. Attention has been diverted from Joe Biden’s ongoing bungling of Ukraine, the economy, COVID, the border, Afghanistan and his plummeting poll numbers, by a renewed focus on his campaign promise to nominate a black woman for the next Supreme Court opening.
Indeed, the very next day Biden repeated that promise. He explicitly stated that he would replace Breyer with a black woman. Anyone not a black woman need not apply for the job.
Joe Biden announced on the campaign trail a couple of years ago that he intended to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court. He re-affirmed that intention today in the wake of Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement announcement.
It’s not that Biden has a particular nominee in mind who just happens to be a black woman. No, it’s that being a black woman is the main criteria.
This is not unprecedented for Biden. In the Democrat primaries, he announced he intended to choose a woman for his running mate. And then he did. We got Kamala Harris, who is reasonably qualified for the job – if the only qualification is being a woman.