In an extraordinary dissenting opinion, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rebuked her conservative colleagues for falling in line with President Donald Trump’s agenda instead of being loyal to the Constitution.
After stealing a Supreme Court seat in 2016 by blocking former President Barack Obama from filling the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) rushed to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the bench after Trump nominated him in 2017. Trump would go on to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the high court the next year after Justice Anthony Kennedy resigned under suspicious circumstances.
Thus, conservatives kept their majority on the court. But the five right-wing Justices are not even pretending to care about the Constitution anymore when they consider a case. In fact, they have made a habit of voting in lockstep with what Trump wants, culminating in his Muslim ban being upheld as well as his restrictions on transgender military service.
Even Chief Justice John Roberts proved himself to be a mere Trump lackey when he sat back and let Senate Republicans literally rig an impeachment trial right in front of him.
This abdication of judicial power continued this week when the conservative majority gave the green light to Trump’s new “public charge” rule allowing immigration officials to deny green cards to legal immigrants who would qualify for government aid programs.
Illinois and other states are challenging the rule, but Trump demanded the Court allow the rule to take effect anyway. And rather than anger Trump, they acquiesced to his will.
And by doing so, they handed Trump even more executive power and weakened the checks and balances and separation of powers that have been the cornerstone of our democracy for generations.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, however, is having none of it. In a stunning dissent, Sotomayor called out her conservative colleagues for weakening our judicial system, with particular focus on their quickness to permit executions to move forward even though a death row inmate may be innocent only to grant stays when Trump requests one.
“This Court is partly to blame for the breakdown in the appellate process,” Sotomayor wrote. “That is because the Court—in this case, the New York cases, and many others—has been all too quick to grant the Government’s ‘reflexiv[e]’ requests.”
“Perhaps most troublingly, the Court’s recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others,” she continued. “This Court often permits executions—where the risk of irreparable harm is the loss of life—to proceed, justifying many of those decisions on purported failures “to raise any potentially meritorious claims in a timely manner.””
“Yet the Court’s concerns over quick decisions wither when prodded by the Government in far less compelling circumstances— where the Government itself chose to wait to seek relief, and where its claimed harm is continuation of a 20-year status quo in one State,” she concluded. “I fear that this disparity in treatment erodes the fair and balanced decisionmaking process that this Court must strive to protect.”
Justice Sotomayor ends her statement by comparing the conservative justices’ reticence to grant stays in execution cases with their readiness to do so when the Trump administration comes asking. pic.twitter.com/I5q1sC54rA
— Steven Mazie (@stevenmazie) February 22, 2020
It may sound tame, but it’s really not. This is about as strong a rebuke as it gets in dissenting opinions. The conservatives on the court are doing Trump’s bidding, and that destroys any semblance of an independent judiciary.
Featured Image: Wikimedia