SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

July 8, 2014

SCOTUS – uses bias not law

Much as we dislike Congress, SCOTUS is worse

The Leadership and the majority of SCOTUS no longer is worthy of American’s respect.  The highest court in our land has always enjoyed enormous, deferential respect and honor.    There is no question  that the IQ’s of them all (except Thomas of course who just takes up space, doesn’t render judgements or ever say anything, one guesses. . .because he is either unable to or has nothing to say because he isn’t a thinker),  is manifestly high — but is that enough?   It appears not!   Without commitment to truth and  fairness and to service dedicated to the highest good of all. . .there can be no evidence of ethical thinking or behavior.  Especially highly placed individuals do not warrant the  luxury nor security of a “Job for Life” when they clearly are not willing to DO  that  for which they were so chosen, but instead, seem to pursue personal, activist agendum.

One of the primary qualities which are sorely missing is a sense of decency.  This is extremely important  for what the Supreme Court does affects the lives and well-being of all people and our way of life, therefore, lacking this essential ability, one is not able to even distinguish the weight and heft of an idea in it’s full perspective and importance as it relates to all those lives which are impacted with every decision handed down.   The interesting thing about most of this is that a law degree isn’t a necessity in order to serve in SCOTUS.  Kinda mind-blowing, if you ask me;  but what is essential is a fine mind, capable of seeing all sides of an issue and weighing the various values;  a sense of proportion;  and old fashioned logic.    Most people can do this sort of thing without trying too hard.  

This Roberts Court has become so biased and narrow, dissecting extraneous aspects of many issues which should otherwise be rather simple – –  – it just shouldn’t be that hard or complicated — the way they can make it sound.  Maybe its what could be referred to as razzle-dazzle which can be a ploy to confuse, mislead and/or otherwise, hide the true or core issue. But the Roberts court isn’t serving the needs of the people, nor does it pretend that it is.  The die was cast the moment that Roberts became Chief Justice in 2005.  He has a masterful way of lying or using deception that was evident as he answered questions about Roe vs Wade. . . . ,  smiling obliquely, he responded. . .”It is established law!”  I know that was supposed to assure everyone that he understood — it WAS the Law, and it would ‘stand’.  . . did he forget? or was it all part of his plan from the git-go?  From what all are witnessing now, the answer is evident.  He may be one of the most powerful tools the Tea Party has today.

The way the candidates for the Supreme Court are interviewed seems farcical.  What kind of ethical platform allows for an individual to get away with lying or giving forth an  impeachable performance in his work ethic and not be held liable?  It is insanity.  No one should ever be given any kind of job for life!  One of the basic truisms of our world is that “everything changes,” nothing stays the same.  We should take a look at how and why that ever happened in the first place.  What ever the reason — IT SHOULD STOP NOW.. . .before we all have no reason to want to be alive.    This court is destroying almost everything our country held dear. . .  .  they intend to replace what it was with a total oligarchical system.     That corporations are people was catastrophic! And now corporations even have religious views and standards.    We simply can’t wait to see where it goes from here.  IT MUST STOP.  

The  court has some truly amazing individuals peopling it.  The Queen of anyone’s ball has to be Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  There was never, ever anyone bigger than, better than or brighter than this lady and I hope she goes til she’s 100.  Well, forgive me Ms Ginsburg,  our first lady Justice wasn’t too shabby either.. . and the reason for her leaving only further ensures her spot in history will never be shaken.  The “people’s judge,”  Sonia Sotomayor  is truly, one of us and shows it with heart, mind and actions.  She’s a total winner,  wouldn’t trade her for anything, she is irreplaceable. 

Because of Elena Kagan’s  background and smarts, was prepared to be so pleased with her.   But she is either a slow starter or — who knows why she doesn’t really seem to be as involved as I believed she would or could be.  Or why she finds it necessary to recuse herself from so much of the inner workings.  Wouldn’t want to be comparing her to Clarence Thomas, heaven forbid!  He by the way does not recuse himself from participation (whatever that might mean) when either He or his wife are intimately involved with one of the participants of a case or the issue somehow.  Happened time and again.  Many  are watching. 

Antonin Scalia is the  irascible charmer capable of great humor, but unfailingly brilliant and shoot from the hip forthrightness.  He is a clear thinker, and for that — to be admired.   Tho I often find it difficult to agree with his conclusions, he does not appear so rigidly opposed to openness and discussion.  In my opinion, Scalia would have made a far better chief justice than Roberts, and an easier pill to take for the masses.   

America has watched congressional interrogations since our beginning.  They can be brutal,  violatingly rude and unforgiving, and I believe for the sake of decency, shouldn’t be allowed to descend to such base levels.  There should always be respect and decorum.  Humans have a right to be treated fairly and with dignity.  The Obama presidency has struck new lows with naysayers calling our president a liar and worse.  But that is a whole other issue;  what I’m driving at here is why on earth doesn’t congress do it’s  due diligence in full discussion at these  interviewing interrogations of potential entrants to the supreme court?  Our country was stunned at the Clarence Thomas debacle with the Anita Hill accusations which were dismissed out of hand!   This gracious, lovely lady was doing her so-called duty to report what she knew to be strong character flaws in this man, experienced personally over a period of time wherein other lady co-workers also had complained.  He reportedly acted in an  obscene and persistent manner. 

Professor Hill was not a woman who desired attention called to herself and found the limelight a difficult thing to endure, but she felt compelled — it was the right thing to do based on the importance of this high office.  She has continued to lead a quiet, dignified life as a college professor, enjoying the adoration of her many students.  The outcome of all this was astounding with all the accusation left hanging in the air as he was approved to the bench.    He was not cleared or exonerated of these accusations         (this was not a trial), just a hearing.  So if facts and truth  are not sought out in these hearings, what’s it all about?     Blind-eyed Cronyism?  I’m saying – we ought to do a better job of who gets selected and appointed to these positions — AND they should be for a  set term, which may or may not be renewed.   And we should rightfully expect for the Justices to be participating in the process  or question why they are even on the Bench. 

I continue to read the various Commentator articles from reporters and others who question what is happening with  SCOTUS.  Many of them feel the shifting sands under their feet and don’t like it either.   So this one is  about a recent case ruling with regard to AEREO  which can have an effect for us all.  It’s tuff stuff and it bugs me,  as it shows where the interest is directed by our Courts.


Aereo ruling shows Supreme Court’s disconnection



Glenn Garvin

When the Supreme Court effectively outlawed the online TV service Aereo last week, the first temptation was to dismiss the ruling as the confused ravings of a bunch of old people confounded by this newfangled Interweb stuff. Sort of like Larry King’s famous confession a few years ago that he’d never been online: “What, do you punch little buttons and things?”

This interpretation was certainly bolstered by a question asked by Justice Sonia Sotomayor during oral arguments on the case about its possible ramifications for “iDrop in the cloud,” which might have been an addled reference to the Web data storage site Dropbox, or might have been the consequence of some missed meds the night before.

But the sad fact is the decision to shut down Aereo (which, indeed, suspended service a couple of days after the court’s ruling) is just the latest in a long series of protectionist moves by the federal government aimed at preserving monopolies in the TV business at the expense of viewers.

Ironically, for many years the primary target of the government attacks was cable TV, which the FCC forthrightly said it didn’t want “siphoning off” viewers from broadcast television. Using everything from restrictions on microwave relays to bans on original content, the government effectively stifled the development of cable for three decades.

Now, the target is a new approach that uses broadcast technology to rescue consumers from predatory cable operators. Aereo, which started up in 2012, offered itself as an alternative to the loony prices of cable TV: For $8 a month, customers got two dozen or so channels, mostly their local broadcast stations, and the ability to record them to watch at their leisure.

Aereo could provide its service so cheaply because it wasn’t paying the exorbitant so-called retransmission fees that the broadcast networks charge cable companies to carry their signal. Aereo is not a cable company; it picks up the broadcast signals from the air, via huge banks of tiny antennas at a central location, one antenna assigned to each customer.

  • Their signals are then stored on a server and relayed to customers via the Internet — instantly, if they want it; later, if they prefer to time-shift.
  • Aereo doesn’t do anything you couldn’t legally do at home by putting an antenna on the roof and hooking it up to a DVR. The company just performs those services for you with little muss, fuss or expense.

But “expense” is what the television and cable industries are all about. They’ve existed for decades in a cozy monopolistic co-dependency created by local governments, which in almost every town in America awarded one cable company an exclusive franchise in return for a cut of the swag.

The predictable result has been an ever-upward spiral of prices: The average U.S. household monthly cable bill is expected to hit $200 by the end of the decade.

  • With that kind of booty at stake, the television industry attacked Aereo with a vengeance. And last week, the Supreme Court agreed with the monopolists. Forget all those bothersome “behind-the-scenes technological differences,” wrote Justice Stephen Breyer in his majority opinion. If it kinda, sorta looks like a cable company, then we’ll treat it like one.
  • A dumbfounded Antonin Scalia, in dissent, accused the court’s majority of “guilt by resemblance,” which he warned will complicate decisions on new technologies for years to come.

First candidate: those cloud-based data storage services like the mythical iDrop that Justice Sotomayor mentioned. If you store movies, music or anything that’s been copyrighted in one of their accounts, by the standards of the Aereo decision, you are witnessing a “performance” every time you access your account, and the copyright holder could charge you for it.

  • To be fair, Justice Breyer wrote that cloud-storage services won’t be affected by the Aereo decision because, well, he says so. He didn’t offer a single shred of reasoning as to the difference. Then again, he didn’t offer any reason why Aereo is different than a host of other technologies that help you watch television.

If you use a rooftop antenna, why shouldn’t you have to pay CBS for the “performance” as it relays the signal down to your set? For that matter, why not pay CBS royalties for the set itself, which after all converts electromagnetic waves into images that are streamed to your eyes and ears. Isn’t that a performance, too?

I’m being facetious, of course. Sadly, Justice Breyer isn’t.

Glenn Garvin writes for The Miami Herald.


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