“Deportment evolved from the verb deport, meaning “to behave especially in accord with a code,”…”
A code is a system of laws; jurisprudence is the science of law, or a system of laws scientifically considered, classed, and interpreted;…”
What a wacky, wild and wicked week this was in the annals of American jurisprudence, in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and, more importantly, the ‘deportment of justice.’ It was the life altering, justice jarring kind of week that cries out for comment from a blog that prophetically advocates for justice for all God’s Creation and reiterates that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
In a decision on Thursday, the partisan right wing majority of Supreme Court Justices who are now in the driver’s seat of the SCOTUS bus, ushered citizens carrying a concealed weapon of death on their body to the front of their party bus. The decision overturned a New York state handgun law that placed strict restrictions on carrying concealed firearms outside the home. In the wake of recent mass shootings and as levels of gun deaths skyrocket in America as nowhere else on the planet, it paves the way for allowing almost any citizen to carry concealed guns in public places. It feels like we are continually stepping further back in time to the lawless era of America’s ‘wild west’ where every citizen was a ‘gun-slinger’ packing heat to defend against the bad guys in the black hats.
Speaking of stepping backwards in history, on Friday morning the conservative Justices in a 5-4 bombshell decision delivered the ‘Holy Grail’ to the Republican Party, the prize on which they have had their eyes fixed for decades. In a ruling so extreme that it allows only for the remote possibility of an abortion upon the deathbed of a pregnant woman, they threw women’s rights to determine the reproductive functioning of their own bodies under that same party bus. The ruling gave states the green light to ban abortion, thus overturning the half century old Roe v. Wade and more recent Planned Parenthood v. Casey, decisions that stopped states from banning abortion before the point of fetal viability.
Writing for the majority opinion, Justice Alito argued that there is no historical tradition in the United States of a right to abortion. Therefore, the absence of such protections undermines the Supreme Court’s conclusion 49 years ago that abortion rights were implicit in a constitutional right to privacy. The majority went on to say that their decision to overturn Roe does not mean that other court decisions grounded in privacy rights are in jeopardy. However, Justice Thomas struck a different tone on the ‘liberty bell’ when he wrote: “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.” He was referring to a 1965 decision finding a right to contraception for married couples, a 2003 decision that overturned criminal sodomy laws and a 2015 decision requiring states to recognize same-sex marriages. “We have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” he stated.
Consider also the fact that this ruling by the court does not yet mandate all states to create laws banning abortions; it simply allows for such laws. Nearly half of the states are on track for enacting such laws. As long as there are still ‘safe havens’ for women of means to receive safe and legal abortion procedures and/or abortion medication, then there is still higher hanging fruit yet to be picked.
There should be no doubt that the partisan party bus is still rolling. That fact was brought to the nation’s attention once again on Thursday afternoon when the bipartisan US House Select Committee to investigate the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol reconvened. It has been at work for nearly a year gathering information relevant to the insurrection, the plans leading up to it and the ongoing threat that the continued perpetuation of the ‘Big Lie’ of a stolen election presents to the functioning of our democratic republic. Thursday’s edition of the public hearing aired by most major TV networks (excluding FOX) focused on the former President’s relentless and perhaps criminal badgering and manipulating of the DOJ to legitimize his failing attempts to remain in power after losing what all courts and the DOJ deemed to be a fair and free election.
Perhaps the most damning testimony of the day came from former acting deputy Attorney General Richard Donaghue who quoted the former President. When the President was told that the Justice Department “can’t and won’t snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election,” his response was, “That’s not what I’m asking you to do. What I’m asking you to do is just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. who was leading the questioning then asked, “That’s a direct quote from President Trump?” “Correct,” Donaghue said. “That’s an exact quote from the President. Yes.”
Thursday’s riveting and revealing hearing concluded with the naming of multiple Republican lawmakers who had asked then-President Trump for pardons for their roles in the effort to overturn the 2020 election. The list included some of Trump’s closest congressional allies: Republican Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Perry and Biggs denied asking for a pardon.
What I deem as the overwhelming lack of ‘deportment of justice’ revealed this week is Troubling with a capital T. But for Americans who are also deeply troubled by the climate crisis and the Pandora’s Box of ills it spews forth, there is more frustration and anger yet to come. Enter the words ‘Republican Drive to Tilt Courts Against Climate Action Reaches a Crucial Moment’ into your internet browser of choice and you will be led to a New York Times article by Coral Davenport. The opening paragraphs read:
“Within days, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision that could severely limit the federal government’s authority to reduce carbon dioxide from power plants — pollution that is dangerously heating the planet.
But it’s only a start. The case, West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, is the product of a coordinated, multiyear strategy by Republican attorneys general, conservative legal activists and their funders, several with ties to the oil and coal industries, to use the judicial system to rewrite environmental law, weakening the executive branch’s ability to tackle global warming. Coming up through the federal courts are more climate cases, some featuring novel legal arguments, each carefully selected for its potential to block the government’s ability to regulate industries and businesses that produce greenhouse gases.”
The article goes on to describe how the legal cases are meant to hamstring the government’s efforts to meet the challenge of the climate crisis:
“Victory for the plaintiffs in these cases would mean the federal government could not dramatically restrict tailpipe emissions because of vehicles’ impact on climate, even though transportation is the country’s largest source of greenhouse gases. The government also would not be able to force electric utilities to replace fossil fuel-fired power plants, the second-largest source of planet warming pollution, with wind and solar power. And the executive branch could not consider the economic costs of climate change when evaluating whether to approve a new oil pipeline or similar project or environmental rule.
Those limitations on climate action in the United States, which has pumped more planet-warming gases into the atmosphere than any other nation, would quite likely doom the world’s goal of cutting enough emissions to keep the planet from heating up more than an average of 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with the preindustrial age. That is the threshold beyond which scientists say the likelihood of catastrophic hurricanes, drought, heat waves and wildfires significantly increases. The Earth has already warmed an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius.”
“If the Supreme Court uses this as an opportunity to really squash E.P.A.’s ability to regulate on climate change, it will seriously impede U.S. progress toward solving the problem,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University.”
While the Department of Justice (DOJ) has it’s work cut out for itself in dealing with the insurrectionists, from grass roots to those on high, the ‘deportment of justice’ by the Supreme Court majority remains on trial in the court of public opinion. According to a recent Gallup Poll, Americans’ confidence in the court has dropped sharply over the past year and reached a new low in Gallup’s nearly 50-year trend. Only twenty-five percent of U.S. adults say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court, down from 36% a year ago and five percentage points lower than the previous low recorded in 2014.
Keep your seat belts fastened and your motivation to seek the common good in high gear as the road toward justice gets even bumpier ahead.