Ginsburg and late-term appointments

My first thought upon learning of the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was probably like many others’: Damn, that sumbidg gets another appointment!

Conversation immediately turned to the late point in Trump’s term, and Mitch McConnell’s refusal to hold hearings on Barack Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland in the last year of his term, with 11-months remaining. With an election looming, McConnell argued, the American people should pick the president who will make the appointment; to act otherwise, McConnell claimed, would be an offense against the Constitutional intent.

Now, of course, he intends to ram-through whomever Trump appoints, and he has forgotten his “principled objection” to Obama’s appointment. This is incandescent hypocrisy, to be sure, but McConnell is a low and filthy character by even Congressional standards; and Republicans legislators, who are mostly whores and scared to death of a base that is salivating at the prospect of an anti-Roe justice, will follow his lead.

I regret that, according to the Supreme Court itself, Trump certainly does have the right to make a late-term appointment — McConnell to the contrary when the question concerned the president of the other party. Though Marbury vs. Madison is mostly remembered today because the case decision asserted the right of the Supreme Court to review Congressional actions, the fact is that the Court has addressed the issue at hand.

Adams had lost the U.S. presidential election of 1800 to Jefferson, and in March 1801, just two days before his term as president ended, Adams appointed several dozen Federalist Party supporters to new circuit judge and justice of the peace positions in an attempt to frustrate Jefferson and his supporters in the Democratic-Republican Party. The U.S. Senate quickly confirmed Adams’s appointments, but upon Adams’ departure and Jefferson’s inauguration a few of the new judges’ commissions still had not been delivered. Jefferson believed the commissions were void because they had not been delivered in time, and instructed his new Secretary of State, James Madison, not to deliver them. One of the men whose commissions had not been delivered in time was William Marbury, a Maryland businessman who had been a strong supporter of Adams and the Federalists. In late 1801, after Madison had repeatedly refused to deliver his commission, Marbury filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court asking the Court to issue a writ of mandamus forcing Madison to deliver his commission.

In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Marshall, the Court held firstly that Madison’s refusal to deliver Marbury’s commission was illegal, and secondly that it was normally proper for a court in such situations to order the government official in question to deliver the commission.

The court found other grounds for denying the commission, but upheld the midnight appointments.

A good case may be made for a Constitutional amendment settling this question once for all, and I would favor a cutoff; no appointment after the end of the full-term preceding an election, say (~ 6-months). But the only thing to prevent an appointment now is Republican embarrassment at their party’s hypocrisy, which is to say there is no barrier at all.

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Rebranding the SBC

W-a-a-a-y back in 2011, the Southern Baptist Convention confronted the fact that it has a branding problem. Thanks to Calvinist fundies like Albert Mohler, Boss Hogg-types like Richard Land, and opportunistic sexual predators like … well, on and on, it had gotten so bad that churches were actually changing their name to eliminate the word ‘Baptist.’

Deep thought culminated in this solution: Let’s call ourselves Great Commission Baptists! The idea created a week-long splash, and died. Now, the denomination’s head, J.D. Greear, wants to revive it.

Back in the dark ages, we appointed a name-change committee to see about the possibility of changing from being the SBC to something more reflective of who we had become – a nationwide Baptist convention. We ran into two problems.

  • All the good names had been taken. American Baptists. National Baptists. Conservative Baptists. I don’t think any of us wanted to go with trendy names like Converge.

  • The biggest obstacle was our founding charter from Georgia which locked us into the name SBC. I don’t remember all the ins and outs, but the only want to change the name is to nullify the charter and redo everything – costly and unwise.

So, what the name-change task force came up with was the idea of a moniker, a DBA that we could use. That motion was approved (in 2012, I think) and then it drifted into oblivion. No one followed up on it. Recently, a group of people began to advocate for using it and our president, J.D. Greear has seen the wisdom of it. That is his announced theme for 2021.

I share the view that the brand has gone bad, but am extremely skeptical that a new name will resolve anything; more likely, it will simply soil a second name.

After all, it’s going to be the same ignoramuses with shaky character sitting in the pews. Christianity is an innately degrading religion; you can shake your head, get all red-faced, and stamp your feet — but you can’t make that fact go away. Why, after all, does Christianity claim that you need salvation? Because you’re no damn good!

The Southern Baptists are the low end of that degrading religion — the most poorly educated, the most troubled, the most unstable relationships. If you take a look at any map of the distribution of virtually any family– or social-pathology that has a name, you’ll see that it invariably is most acute where the Southern Baptists are strongest. That’s not a coincidence; it is the direct and predictable consequence of the systemic degradation embedded within Southern Baptist culture.

Changing the name won’t change that.

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Endorsement of the day

Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.

The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people — because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment.

Scientific American

I know, I know … the people who most need to understand this don’t read Scientific American, don’t have much association with people who do, and would probably mutter something ugly about pointy-headed experts if they happened to hear about the endorsement. This is exactly why the rest of us should spread the endorsement far and wide — because educated Americans have got to get to the polls on November 3rd and put Trump out of office; it’s up to us.

There is now some speculation afoot in the opinion pages that evangelicals are abandoning Trump. I suppose that may be true of an honorable few, but I doubt that the numbers are very great because an appeal to common decency, or the chimera of Christian family values, is not going to move them; if those were actual living influences to evangelicals they would never have swarmed to Trump in the first place. Trump is the voice of their malice and resentments, and most consider themselves validated by his squalid behavior.

The great divide in American life is education — and now we know what an America governed by the beliefs and so-called values of ignoramuses looks like: it’s a bleakscape of death.


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Dismal theology-related tweet of the day

Remember: Y’all are no damn good, and you are even more no damn good if you get any fancy-pants ideas about improving yourself. Amen.

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Quote for the day

Mencken, thy hour has come.

Charlie Sykes, The Bulwark

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