Justice and Justices

March 13, 2014

There is a minor rebellion brewing in the Democratic Party over judges nominated for lifetime appointments to the federal courts. At first glance you would have to scratch your head over the nomination of Michael Boggs, a man with as despicable a history on civil rights as any Jim Crow era politician. This is Obama’s nominee? The constitutional law attorney, an African-American? That’s the best he can do? 

The fact is that he is one of four GOP nominees that Obama has had to accept in order to gain approval of numerous other nominees immorally (if not illegally) being held up by the GOP. It’s a devil’s bargain that should be resisted, even if it does mean that a crisis in the federal system results. Maybe I am becoming a nihilist, but it might be better to have no judges than prejudiced ones. It might be better to let the system break down in crisis than to compromise justice. The legislative branch is all but broken now, and the cancer that is the Tea Party conservative movement is metastasizing into the courts. Maybe it’s time to draw a line, and justice is a good place to start.    


The Times They Are A Changin’

November 5, 2008

Last night was such a beautiful affirmation of our country. Set in Grant Park, the place where, in 1968, the division and injustice of America was underscored, stood a real African-American who had just been elected the 44th President of the United States. Instead of a battle-zone with the lines of police and young people separated by flying rocks, bottles and tear-gas, there was a single, joyous crowd of over 500,000 people of every age, race and culture – a crowd so diverse that it could only happen in America.

Electing Barack Obama hasn’t changed anything (yet), but it has come to symbolize change and the unchangeable, the future and the past. It was a return to the past promise of an ideal of equality but left incomplete – “an uncashed check written in 1776” as Dr. Martin Luther King put it. It was a return to the past and future of promise as Barack Obama became the first to cash that check for all of us.

Last night was a return to the future because it not only re-affirmed national character, it also reaffirmed our future. The election results from last night were a sea change – a total repudiation of the politics of division and the empty promises of conservatives. We return to a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The true character of the American people, which had been obscured by the politics of fear and division, was rejected. Let me give you one example from my own State of Michigan.

Michigan citizens have suffered for years under a Supreme Court considered the worst in the Country. Elected with the massive monies provided secretly by corporations and funneled through the Chamber of Commerce, four judges, led by Chief Justice Clifford Taylor, repeatedly ruled against individuals in favor of their corporate sponsors; overturning jury verdicts, legal precedents and creating new laws [when Federalist judges do this they call it being a “Strict Constructionist”]. For the first time in Michigan history, a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (The “Sleeping Judge”) has been thrown out of office by the people he had victimized. Like voters in the national election, Michigan voters rejected the politics of fear and division. The new political road is one of unity and hope.

It’s good to be an American this morning.

History is being made all over the Country, by younger Americans, by a new America. Times are changing and like the old Bob Dylan song:

“Come mothers and fathers throughout the land,
And don’t criticize what you can’t understand.
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command.
Your old road is rapidly aging.
Please get out of the new one, if you can’t lend a hand,
For the times they are a changing.”


September 25, 2008

Is there anybody who doesn’t believe that if Barack Obama was white, he’d be ahead by 40 points?

Is there anybody who doesn’t believe or understand that this $700 billion bail-out is the biggest Republican tax hike in history?

Monday Moanin’ (A Day Late)

September 2, 2008

Last week was an historic week for politics. Obama’s nomination and speech on the anniversary of Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech was something I wish my parents, especially my father, were here to witness. My dad, Bernie, was a Harvard Law School graduate. Like Obama he was offered jobs at silk stocking law firms on Wall Street, but chose to come to Detroit and establish the second interracial law firm in Michigan.

My dad was a civil rights lawyer who went south as part of the Lawyers Guild during the most dangerous days of the Civil Rights Movement to represent the Freedom Riders who were being persecuted and prosecuted. I was just a boy when he would call home. I could hear the fear in my mother’s voice when she talked with him. Now I hear hope in the voice of an African-American (so much like my father) as he spoke to America – not as an African-American, but as an American.

When I was young, segregation was still the law in the South. In the last eight years moral evil is once again creeping into politics and into the law. I practice in the State of Michigan where a right-wing gang of four on the Supreme Court is intent on destroying the rights of all victims. Barack Obama now emerges as a symbol of hope that maybe, just maybe, we can right the ship.

There was another voice heard last week as well – the voice of cynical politics. I just want to hear Sarah Palin’s justification for being on a ticket with a man who opposes equal pay for equal work by women. Let’s not kid ourselves, Palin is there to capture the James Dobson’s of the party, you know—the hate mongers… the guys who condemn black teenage pregnancies.

Maybe it’s just me but, couldn’t you hear the voice of Slim Pickens as Palin kept mispronouncing the word “nuclear”. She kept pronouncing it as a “noo-ku-lar” proliferation. If Pickens was introducing Paulin as the VP choice, he might say:

“ Awwww, shoooot. Looky here boys. This little lady is always packin’ and as part-time mayor of Wasilla, Alaska she stood toe-to-toe with those gol-derned Roooskies and never lost an inch of American soil – and you know Russia is on the border of Czechoslovakia. So next time that ole wildcat Putin goes a’stompin’ and a’bombin’ those good ole boys down in Georgia you can bet yer bottom dollar I’ll be sendin’ her down South to kick some commie behind.”

There is a difference between historic achievement and historic cynicism. We should all judge McCain’s judgment and wisdom with his pick of Palin. Still, as I am fond of pointing out to my young lawyers, in the words of Paul Simon, “people hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.”