Saturday, May 11, 2019

A Former Supreme Court Justice Worries about Democracy in America

Jess Bravin (2019, May 11-12). John Paul Stevens: A Former Justice Worries about the Court. The Wall Street Journal (weekend edition): C6

"I think there are things we should be concerned about, there's no doubt about that," he says, parrying requests for specifics. Eventually, he allows, "The president is exercising powers that do not really belong to him. I mean, he has to comply with subpoenas and things like that."


  1. If only it were that simple. As you know quite well the various Supreme Court Justices do not always agree and have not historically. What did Stevens think when AG Holder ignored a subpoena? and was held in contempt by Congress. I think the current House subpoenas are frivolous in nature. In any case the matter in question can be run through the Courts, but AG Barr will win at the Supreme Court, and Nadler is probably quite aware of it.

    I would like to know what Stevens thinks these powers are that do not really belong to the President. Certainly the courts have exercised powers that many do not think belong to them such as the legislative. Not being an attorney Trump depends on his attorneys to know what he can and can not do. Even if he were an attorney he would seek outside counsel.

    1. I have read four books by Akhil Amar, a Yale law professor, all treating the Constitution. He writes well and clearly though he is far more enthusiastic about democracy than I am and would prefer that the president be elected by popular vote. I on the other hand would like to see the 17th Amendment repealed.

      So when someone talks about powers of the Executive Branch I realize that nothing is so precise and defined as some would like to think.
      There are at least three distinct judicial positions. Liberals prefer the one where a judge or the justices can improve on legislation, can read the mind of the legislators and interpret the law as the legislators clearly meant? Yes, this does involve mind reading. Another excellent book is Reading The Law.
      Two and a half years after Donald Trump got elected; and the Democrats are still not sure. Meanwhile we may be headed to a war in the Middle East, one worse than all the others. Is now a good time to harass the President? A good time to distract him from imminent dangers? What are the odds that a False Flag might be pulled off by enemies of America? Would Israel do something like that? Of course if you believe the Official 9/11 hypothesis then just about any terrorist group could sink a naval ship with ease.

  2. Justice Stevens' interpretation of the Establishment Clause in effect establishes atheism by taking the hard position. I think the hard position has had a damaging effect on society. And it is rather hypocritical since the Justices open each session with the prayer, God save America!


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