This will be a relatively short CSotD, but don’t be fooled, because the links truly matter and you’ll have plenty of reading.
First up is the new Supreme Court session which begins today, and Ann Telnaes lays out the issue with solid caricatures of the justices, putting the sure-fire conservatives in Spanish Inquisition Red, the three liberal justices in their proper gowns and Chief Justice Roberts as the Puritan swing vote, though “swing vote” seems pointless with five reliable conservative voices.
The matter of how reliable they are is in play. As she notes, Thomas seems solidly under the sway of his insurrectionist wife and stubbornly unwilling to recuse himself from cases involving former President Trump, as he demonstrated in January as the sole vote in favor of allowing Trump to withhold documents from the Jan 6 Committee.
She also quotes Samuel Alito, who staged a public hissy fit over criticism of the court, with, as Telnaes shows in their faces, a thinly veiled criticism of Justice Kagan’s remarks in particular.
Equally veiled is speculation that the leak of his preliminary opinion in Dobbs was intended to back Chief Justice Roberts into a corner and prevent him from lobbying other justices to help moderate the decision.
That may be speculation, but it’s hardly idle, and Telnaes’s pessimistic view of the coming session is solidly based.
CNN offers a definitive breakdown of the critical cases coming before SCOTUS that you really should read, which begins with an unpromising overview:
Chief Justice John Roberts is looking forward to the start of the Supreme Court’s new term on Monday, especially now that the public will be able to attend oral arguments in person and the metal barricades erected to ward off protestors on the plaza have been removed.
“I think the more normal the better,” the chief told an audience in Colorado last month.
Others are wondering what exactly “normal” means anymore, after last term when the court’s reversal of near 50-year-old precedent changed the landscape of women’s reproductive health, it cut back on the power of federal agencies, it cleared the way for new Second Amendment challenges and it inserted itself into the upcoming midterm elections.
As Bill Day suggests, there is a significant danger of America returning to Jim Crow days as the Court contemplates allowing racially-based gerrymandering to lower minority representation in Congress, as well as overturning the rights of universities to assemble a racially and ethnically diverse student body.
The Court will also contemplate enabling state legislators to overrule their own courts and state constitutions in order to alter the course of elections in a way they prefer.
At this stage, there seems little to be done from the outside but to watch, and to raise voices in hopes that public debate can sway the votes of one or two of the more moderate among those red-clad Inquisitors, though they certainly knew both public opinion and established precedent when they decided Dobbs.
We’re also marking the fourth anniversary of the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, and I wish I could agree with Michael de Adder‘s depiction of Mohammed bin Salman as a haunted, hunted killer.
Not that I doubt his guilt, but, rather, I doubt he’s in fear of being held accountable.
Khashoggi’s fiance, and his former editor, are determined to see MbS pay for the murder, but it’s not an easy goal.
Reporters Without Borders are equally appalled and angry over the killing, and the so-far empty attempts to achieve justice.
Those who ordered and oversaw the murder appear to have gotten off scot-free, while even the sacrificial pigeons set up by Saudi authorities may not have actually been sacrificed:
And MsB himself has just been named Prime Minister of the nation, which contradicts Saudi law but, as an article in the Guardian explains, seems an attempt to shield him under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, with US acceptance or rejection of that enhanced status the question currently being debated here:
Neither of these matters will be resolved soon, but they are very serious and whatever comes of them, however long the wait, the outcomes will be long-lasting for both the nation and the world.
Again, it’s important to follow today’s links. And to be vocal. And, of course, to vote in November.