Contempt of Court

In criminal cases, there is a doctrine called the “fruit of the poisonous tree” under which the government is prevented from offering evidence of a crime if the path to obtaining that evidence began with illegal conduct by the government.

The rule applies even where subsequently obtained evidence unquestionably proves that the defendant is guilty. The rule is intended to assure that prosecutors follow the requirements of the Constitution while investigating crimes. The integrity of the judicial process is given greater weight than the need to see individual defendants punished for their crimes.

The Supreme Court of the United States, constituted through fraud, has itself become the poisonous tree.

This week’s cascade of 6–3 opinions based on ideological/theological grounds should put an end to any pretense of fairness with this Court. The Court has:

  • Opened opportunities for religious schools to obtain direct tuition funding by taxpayers;
  • Limited the right of states to regulate permits to carry guns outside the home;
  • Overruled Roe v. Wade¸ paradoxically insisting that regulation of women’s right to reproductive choice can only be left to the states.

The fact that every one of these decisions was decided on a 6–3 ideological split suggests that, to put it delicately, “the fix is in.” This Court has been engineered by the right-wing Federalist Society and its invisible backers.

Mitch McConnell committed a videotaped robbery of a Supreme Court seat in broad daylight.

When McConnell refused to hold hearings on Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, the roots of the poisonous tree were planted. McConnell’s mumbled pretext of not moving on nominations within a year of a presidential election proved to be outright fraud when he strong-armed Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination on the eve of the 2020 election.

McConnell did it because he had the numbers in the Senate. The legitimacy of this Court’s decisions should be judged accordingly. Just as ill-gotten evidence is given no effect in a criminal trial, this fraudulently engineered “supermajority” should likewise be rendered a nullity.

This Court has shown no respect for precedent in tossing aside Roe. The theocratic, arch-conservative decisions rendered by the Court this week should be promptly abandoned and reversed as soon as structural integrity is restored to the Court.

Illustration, Barry Blitt

There are other reasons to discredit this Court. Many people have commented about the deceptive testimony each of the Trump appointees gave concerning their alleged respect for the precedential value of Roe v. Wade. Various senators (Collins, Manchin) are now wringing their hands complaining that they were misled by the nominees. Kavanaugh’s appointment, to say the least, is still under a cloud left by a perfunctory investigation into his alleged abuse history.

Frankly, the substantive arguments in each of these cases mean almost nothing. When conservatives pretend that it’s reasonable to let citizens of each state decide abortion regulation, they ignore the fact that through voting restrictions and gerrymandering, they’ve already disenfranchised many of the women who will be most affected by states’ laws. More to the point, the “democratization” of letting the voters decide matters of personal medical choice presupposes a level of government intervention which conservatives supposedly abhor. This is religious dogma elevated to legal pretext.

The point is that these decisions are being rendered by an illegitimate Court. These cases should have as much precedential value as a doped athlete’s playing stats or a jury verdict rendered by a corrupted panel.

Fixing this imbalance can only be achieved by adding new justices to the Court. Impeaching Justices Thomas and/or Kavanaugh would require conviction by 67 senators. That’s unattainable, and it’s currently the only way a Justice can be removed. The Court either needs to be increased in size or some method needs to be created for relegating older justices to non-voting senior status so that new seats can open up.

There should be no patience for the argument that tampering with the structure of the Court will only bring reprisals when the Republicans have the reins. The Republicans have already tampered; Democrats cannot be expected to simply lick their wounds and hope for better weather.

This Court, coupled with an autocratic president like Trump or DeSantis, would assure the transition of our tenuous democracy to outright fascism.

Voting is our only option.

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