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THOMPSON: What Trump has done to the American judicial system

September 30, 2019 - 12:00 PM



Nowhere is the Trump brand in more disrepute than the American judicial system. That’s saying something because the Trump name rests firmly - not on success as he would have everyone believe - but on a crumbling foundation of business failure after business failure after business failure.

Trump University. Trump Steak. Trump Airlines. Trump Magazine. Trump Vodka. Trump Mortgage. Indeed, his failures far outnumber his few successes…all financed largely by his father or funded as a result of his inheritance.

Trump’s core business - hotels, casinos and apartment buildings - lost more than US $1.1 Billion from 1985 to 1994. Trump’s losses in 1991 and 1992, according to the Internal Revenue Service, were more than twice as large as any other individual taxpayer in the United States.

Trump’s only competency is hype. The man lies…shamelessly. Who else could state as an apartment building with signage of his name was being taken down…that “things are great”?

So, it should surprise no one that he is claiming - lying - about naming the best people as judges in America’s courts. The facts clearly show otherwise. Thus far, Trump has appointed two U.S. Supreme Court judges, 43 appeals court judges and 99 circuit court judges. No one can argue quantity…it’s quality where he has failed…once again.

God help you if you ever stand before many of his judges…and expect anything resembling fairness and justice….and from far too many…even rational logic.

The facts speak for themselves. Trump’s choice of Brett Kavanaugh as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice should have made everyone’s skin crawl. But it didn’t. He had multiple, credible accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault and lied (again!) during his confirmation hearing.

Beyond the obvious character flaws of Kavanaugh, his legal record pales against other conservative judges. But, what caught Trump’s eye was the fact that in 2009 Kavanaugh said a president should be exempt from both criminal prosecution and civil suits while in office. Bingo! Suddenly, Kavanaugh was Trump’s boy.

The U.S. Code of Judicial Conduct, Rule 1.2, applies to all judges….and certainly should have to Kavanaugh. It states that a judge must “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.”

Despite Kavanaugh’s blatant failure to live up to that rule…save one Republican who did her job…every other Republican in the Senate confirmed Trump’s self-serving pick.

But, let’s slide down the food chain a bit and see what totally unfit judges are now deciding cases every day in America due to Trump’s incompetence and corrupt nature. Trump's choices for judges fit a pattern...87 percent white…78 percent male.

Trump picked Judge Leonard Steven Grasz for the U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit…even though the American Bar Association voted unanimously that Grasz was “not qualified.” Even so, every single Republican Senator voted to confirm.

Trump picked Judge Jonathon Kobes for the same 8th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals…again over the unanimous vote of the American Bar Association, who said Kobes was “unable to provide sufficient writing samples of the calibre required” for a circuit judge. All but one Republican Senator voted to confirm.

Trump picked Judge Kyle Duncan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, even after he lost an overwhelming clear case of voter suppression in North Carolina, appealed to the Supreme Court, and lost again. Further, he claimed the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized marriage equality raised “a question about the legitimacy of the court.” Once more, Senate Republicans voted in lockstep to confirm.

Trump picked Judge John Bush for a seat on the 6th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals despite his comparison of abortion with slavery, strongly disagreeing with same-sex marriages and mocking climate change and the Affordable Care Act. Again, Senate Republicans looked the other way and voted to confirm unanimously.

Trump picked Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the 7th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals because she considered Roe v. Wade an “erroneous decision” and called the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit “an assault on religious liberty.” Also, she admitted to pledging loyalty to People of Praise, a Christian group in which members are accountable to a personal adviser… a “head” for men and a “handmaid” for women. The group insists that men are heads of their wives and rule their families. Again, Republican Senators unanimously voted to confirm.

Trump picked Judge Wendy Vitter on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana…a woman who on many occasions in public meetings falsely linked abortion with cancer. Further, she supported putting a brochure in doctors’ offices that linked birth control to “violent death.” All but one Republican Senator voted for her confirmation.

I could go on and on…there are dozens more who are equally unqualified or unfit for office…yet now hold lifetime jobs as judges. If that doesn’t send chills down the spines of most Americans…you might ask why not?

There’s not enough room in this column to list all those appointed by Trump and tell why they are unqualified. If you Google search these folks…Howard C. Nielsen, Jr., Mark Norris, Stephen Clark, Matthew Kacsmaryk, Eric Miller, Don Willet, Allison Rushing Jones…all judges for life…you’ll come away asking, “Is this the best they can do?” and ”How did this happen?”

You don’t have to stretch your imagination to see that Donald Trump brings to the judiciary the same stench he brings to every other aspect of government and business that he touches.

Even when Democrats win the House, Senate and White House…they still have to counter a Trump-branded judiciary that is nothing short of incompetent. What real Americans…those who are true patriots and care about freedom and justice for all…must do is start selecting competent, qualified people.

How? The Judiciary Act of 1789 says Congress - the House and Senate - decides the number of judges in America…in every level of courts. When you have a corrupt president that is unbalanced…you counter his evil by expanding the numbers…add more judges to the Supreme Court (something that hasn’t been done in 150 years)…as well as circuit courts and appeals courts. Basically, dilute the injustice these folks are parceling out…and ensure the greater chance of real justice.

Constitutional hardball? Yes. Republicans have done it for decades…and worse. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said he was following tradition in tabling President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee because it was an election year. There was no tradition…six judges had been named previously in an election year.

Republicans in Congress and the White House are simply corrupt and will do anything to win…even un-American things. America’s president calls on foreign countries to help him stay in power…and Republicans just look the other way.

But Trump and Republicans have gone too far. They have pissed off more than Democrats…they have pissed off Americans…Independents and even some Republican voters. And there will be an accounting…starting in 2020. Meanwhile, the inevitability of impeachment draws nearer and nearer to Donald Trump's corrupt Oval Office.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.

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