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The whiny core of Trumpism

Few Trump White House members have survived the administration’s tumult as well as Peter Navarro. The economics professor and failed California political candidate is officially the director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy; unofficially, he has elbowed his way into the government’s coronavirus response. As The Post reported earlier this month, two coronavirus-related contracts Navarro championed are under internal scrutiny, yet his position appears to remain secure because of “his one true ally: President Trump.” That should be no surprise: When you strip away the glitz that inherited money can buy, Navarro embodies the whiny core of Trumpism.

From the moment Navarro appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, it was clear he hadn’t agreed to this question-and-answer session to actually answer questions. When host Jake Tapper opened by inquiring about the administration’s response to the West Coast wildfires, Navarro had other priorities in mind. “Before we get started … I would really like to congratulate President Trump on being nominated for the peace prize, the Nobel Peace Prize,” he said, before rattling off a list of the president’s groundbreaking work like “relative stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

Tapper steered the interview back to the fires, and specifically their relationship to climate change. It was an obvious question, since as Tapper pointed out, Navarro co-wrote a paper 20 years ago that called climate change “one of the most important environmental problems of our time.” So, asked Tapper, “is anyone at the White House listening to you on this issue?” Navarro stammered, “Look, I’m not — that’s not my expertise, Jake. And, really, I came here to talk about a lot of things. … That was the last on my list.” Yes, the wildfires that have burned millions of acres of land and killed 33 people at last count were the last thing this White House wanted to discuss.

Instead, Navarro urged Tapper turn to the revelations from Bob Woodward’s new book, a request the host was only too happy to oblige. Tapper played two clips, the first a recording of Trump telling Woodward on Feb. 7 that the coronavirus is far deadlier than the flu, the second a video of the president then saying the opposite to CNN’s Sanjay Gupta later that month. “He was misleading the American people, why?” asked Tapper. First, Navarro tried to change the subject to giving the president credit for the China travel ban, claiming Trump was “called a xenophobe and a racist by Joe Biden … who later had to apologize.” When Tapper jumped in to point out neither of those allegations were true, Navarro replied, “Well, you’re wrong.”

And then it became clear why Navarro was so eager to talk about the coronavirus: “On Feb. 7, President Trump talks to Woodward. What happens on Feb. 9? This is the most important thing. A memo — I write a memo that goes out to the task force here that basically outlines President Trump’s strategy for dealing with the virus.” Yes, Navarro wanted to defend something as indefensible as the White House’s pandemic response because he wanted to highlight his contribution.

Nevertheless, again and again Tapper tried to get Navarro to answer the question. Again and again, Navarro dodged. Finally, when Tapper said, “He was not honest with the American people,” Navarro snapped, “You’re not honest with the American people. CNN is not honest with the American people.” At that point, Tapper ended the interview. “I would just like to remind the American people watching,” said Tapper, “that the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, and the United States has more than 20 percent of the world’s coronavirus deaths. That is a fact. It does not matter how many times he insults CNN.”

Superficially, Navarro’s appearance was another television interview gone off the rails — uncommon, but not unheard of. But what makes the wreck instructive for understanding the Trump era is Navarro’s combination of schoolyard insults with demands for credit for faux accomplishments. It mirrored his boss. Trump, because of his office and his inherited wealth, has been able to dress up that combination in all sorts of gild and glitz and yes-men. But take all that away, and you’re left with an angry man wanting everyone to know he won the nonexistent “Bay of Pigs” award. When Trump was a wannabe mogul, that sort of thing was funny. Now, it’s just sad.


I think Barr’s actions described here may be a violation of the Hatch Act.


This is a must read, even if it’s only Trump adjacent.

The Intercept Promised to Reveal Everything. Then Its Own Scandal Hit.

The Intercept scrambled to publish a story on the report, ignoring the most basic security precautions. The lead reporter on the story sent a copy of the document, which contained markings that showed exactly where and when it had been printed, to the N.S.A. media affairs office, all but identifying Ms. Winner as the leaker.

On June 3, about three weeks after Ms. Winner sent her letter, two F.B.I. agents showed up at her home in Georgia to arrest her. They announced the arrest soon after The Intercept’s article was published on June 5.

“They sold her out, and they messed it up so that she would get caught, and they didn’t protect their source,” her mother, Billie Winner-Davis, said in a telephone interview last week. “The best years of her life are being spent in a system where she doesn’t belong.”

Failing to protect an anonymous leaker is a cardinal sin in journalism, though the remarkable thing in this instance is that The Intercept didn’t seem to try to protect its source. The outlet immediately opened an investigation into its blunder, which confirmed the details that the Justice Department had gleefully announced after it arrested Ms. Winner. They included the fact that The Intercept led the authorities to Ms. Winner when it circulated the document in an effort to verify it, and then published the document, complete with the identifying markings, on the internet.



From Facebook Dan Rather’s feed

Dan Rather

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There’s no vaccine for climate change.

This thought ricochets as I hear from friends and see the pictures out west of huge swaths of our beautiful, beloved country beset by flames. Fresh air is a precious commodity in any time, but especially in a moment where being outdoors is to hold on to some faint wisp of normalcy in our pandemic lives. And now, the air is dangerous. Meanwhile hurricane season is still here, temperatures fluctuate by huge margins, and the news from around the globe of sinkholes in Siberia, dying coral, disappearing species, and on and on, shows a world that is sick and hurting. And the evidence points to things getting worse.

If the coronavirus is a test run for how we as a species, and particularly as a country, deal with the challenges of our natural world, well there is no other conclusion than that the portents are worrisome. The same ignorance, selfishness, short-term thinking, corruption, and other destructive forces that have made the coronavirus worse than it had to be are at play with the climate crisis.

But here’s the thing. It is bad. It can get worse. But we also have it in our power to mitigate the damage, to be resourceful, empathetic, and creative. This is what this election is about. Will we succumb to stupidity or build on science and ingenuity? Will we be problem makers or problem solvers? As I said earlier, there is no vaccine coming for climate change. But we know that we can do a lot better. And if we unleash the power of the human mind on a path of knowledge, buoyed by an awareness of our basic human needs and challenges, then we make more progress than we may imagine is possible.

Over the course of my life, I have seen many times when the depths of crises have been underestimated. I have seen bungling and malevolence. I have seen violence and tragedy. But I have also seen common action, when it was unexpected. I have seen breakthroughs when none were imaginable. I have seen human beings be forces for goodness and justice as well as selfishness and evil. This is a moment of reckoning to be sure. But that makes it a moment of promise as much as of peril. We have a lot that is broken. And that means that the demand for new solutions, built from optimism and determination, is great. When I look around today, I see many people eager to pitch in to help.



Slow recovery for the nation from the dreaded Covid-19 with no end-date specifically is quite a huge lump to take considering the fact we have spent half the year just going in circles. At least Dr. Fauci has the wisdom to tell it like it is…a long, arduous, unexpected and unwanted stall out to life as we know it.

And an election to pin more hopes on…

Turtle and the hare…not the one who comes in first who wins the race.

NYTimes: Stop Expecting Life to Go Back to Normal Next Year

It is completely understandable that many are tiring of restrictions due to Covid-19. Unfortunately, their resolve is weakening right when we need it to harden. This could cost us dearly.

The unrealistic optimism stems in part from the fact that people have started pinning their hopes on a medical breakthrough. There have been promising developments. Remdesivir holds potential for those who are hospitalized. Convalescent plasma might do the same. Antibody treatments might improve outcomes for some or prevent infections in those at highest risk.

But most cases don’t benefit from these treatments. Further, none of these therapies can prevent infections or hospitalizations on a broad scale. The concern over an unflattened curve isn’t just about death, although that’s certainly a concern. It’s also about an overwhelmed health care system where so many beds are filled that we can’t get care for the many other conditions people experience. Untreated or undertreated heart attacks, strokes, cancer and more will also cause a spike in morbidity and mortality.

Americans are also overestimating what a vaccine might do. Many are focusing on whether approval is being rushed as a campaign ploy, but that’s almost beside the point. It seems likely that a vaccine will be approved this fall and that it will be “effective.” But it’s very unlikely that this vaccine will be a game changer.

All immunizations are not the same. Some, like the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, provide strong, nearly lifelong benefits after a few doses. Others, like the influenza vaccine, produce limited benefits that last for a season. We don’t know yet where a coronavirus vaccine will fall, although something along the lines of a flu shot seems more probable. We don’t know how long whatever immunity it provides will last. We don’t know whether there will be populations that derive more or less benefit.

Because of all these unknowns, we will need to continue to be exceedingly careful even as we immunize. Until we see convincing evidence that a vaccine has a large population-level effect, we will still need to mask and distance and restrain ourselves. Too many of us won’t. Too many will believe that the vaccine has saved them, and they will throw themselves back into more normal activities.


A message from Dan Coats, former head of DNI and someone who left the administration frustrated with the actions of the President and speaking out today to ask for a bipartisan committee to over see the elections. He has said very little so far publically, and this maybe one of his first rebukes of the President and Congress in general.

No member of Congress could have any valid reason to reject any step that could contribute to the fundamental health of our Republic.”

If we cannot find common ground now, on this core issue at the very heart of our endangered system, we never will.”


What’s at Stake in This Election? The American Democratic Experiment

Congress should establish a bipartisan commission to monitor voting and ensure that laws and regulations are followed.

By Dan Coats

Mr. Coats served as the director of national intelligence from 2017 to 2019.

We hear often that the November election is the most consequential in our lifetime. But the importance of the election is not just which candidate or which party wins. Voters also face the question of whether the American democratic experiment, one of the boldest political innovations in human history, will survive.

Our democracy’s enemies, foreign and domestic, want us to concede in advance that our voting systems are faulty or fraudulent; that sinister conspiracies have distorted the political will of the people; that our public discourse has been perverted by the news media and social networks riddled with prejudice, lies and ill will; that judicial institutions, law enforcement and even national security have been twisted, misused and misdirected to create anxiety and conflict, not justice and social peace.

If those are the results of this tumultuous election year, we are lost, no matter which candidate wins. No American, and certainly no American leader, should want such an outcome. Total destruction and sowing salt in the earth of American democracy is a catastrophe well beyond simple defeat and a poison for generations. An electoral victory on these terms would be no victory at all. The judgment of history, reflecting on the death of enlightened democracy, would be harsh.

The most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate. Electoral legitimacy is the essential linchpin of our entire political culture. We should see the challenge clearly in advance and take immediate action to respond.

The most important part of an effective response is to finally, at long last, forge a genuinely bipartisan effort to save our democracy, rejecting the vicious partisanship that has disabled and destabilized government for too long. If we cannot find common ground now, on this core issue at the very heart of our endangered system, we never will.

Our key goal should be reassurance. We must firmly, unambiguously reassure all Americans that their vote will be counted, that it will matter, that the people’s will expressed through their votes will not be questioned and will be respected and accepted. I propose that Congress creates a new mechanism to help accomplish this purpose. It should create a supremely high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission to oversee the election. This commission would not circumvent existing electoral reporting systems or those that tabulate, evaluate or certify the results. But it would monitor those mechanisms and confirm for the public that the laws and regulations governing them have been scrupulously and expeditiously followed — or that violations have been exposed and dealt with — without political prejudice and without regard to political interests of either party.

Also, this commission would be responsible for monitoring those forces that seek to harm our electoral system through interference, fraud, disinformation or other distortions. These would be exposed to the American people in a timely manner and referred to appropriate law enforcement agencies and national security entities.

Such a commission must be composed of national leaders personally committed — by oath — to put partisan politics aside even in the midst of an electoral contest of such importance. They would accept as a personal moral responsibility to put the integrity and fairness of the election process above everything else, making public reassurance their goal.

Commission members undertaking this high, historic responsibility should come from both parties and could include congressional leaders, current and former governors, “elder statespersons,” former national security leaders, perhaps the former Supreme Court justices David Souter and Anthony Kennedy, and business leaders from social media companies.

This commission would be created by emergency legislative action. During that process, its precise mandate, composition, powers and resources would be defined. Among other aspects, the legislation would define the relationship between the commission and the intelligence and law enforcement communities with the capability necessary for the commission’s work. And it would define how the commission would work with all the individual states.

Congressional leaders must see the need as urgent and move quickly with common purpose. Seeking broad bipartisan unity on such an initiative at such a fraught time goes against the nature of the political creatures we have become. But this is the moment and this is the issue that demands a higher patriotism. No member of Congress could have any valid reason to reject any step that could contribute to the fundamental health of our Republic. With what should be the unanimous support of Congress, the legislation must call upon the election campaigns of both parties to commit in advance to respect the findings of the commission. Both presidential candidates should be called upon to make such personal commitments of their own.

If we fail to take every conceivable effort to ensure the integrity of our election, the winners will not be Donald Trump or Joe Biden, Republicans or Democrats. The only winners will be Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Ali Khamenei. No one who supports a healthy democracy could want that.

Dan Coats was the director of national intelligence from 2017 to 2019. He served as a U.S. senator from Indiana from 1989 to 1999 and again from 2010 to 2016. From 2001 to 2005 he was the U.S. ambassador to Germany. Currently, Mr. Coats is a senior adviser with the law firm King & Spalding.


Wow. Trump’s lead nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, belongs to a religious group, the People of Praise, that many feel was THE inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”


The Great Liberal Reckoning Has Begun

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg concludes an era of faith in courts as partners in the fight for progress and equality.

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ends an incredible legal career, one that advanced gender equality and inspired millions. RBG, as she became popularly known, was, like Thurgood Marshall before her, one of the handful of justices who, through their work as lawyers fighting for justice, can truly be said to have earned their spot on the judicial throne. But the outpouring of grief that has followed her death is not just for the passing of a revered figure in American law but also for the end of an important force in American society: the liberal faith in the Supreme Court.

This faith is more recent than many people recognize. A century ago, the biggest critics of the federal judiciary were on the left, and for good reason. For most of its history, the Supreme Court was the most conservative of the three branches of government, consistently blocking, or at least delaying, efforts at social, political, and economic reform. From Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson , in which the Court upheld the subordination of racial minorities, to Lochner , which denied the government the ability to regulate much of economic life, the Court epitomized what William F. Buckley would later identify as the conservative credo: the impulse to “stand athwart history, yelling Stop.” By the Progressive Era and the Great Depression, it was widely held that the Supreme Court could only hinder, not help, the cause of reform.

But then, for a few decades, everything changed. The fundamental reason was politics: Over his 12-year presidency, Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed a record eight new justices, nearly an entire Supreme Court’s worth, two of whom—the liberal icons Hugo Black and William O. Douglas—served into the 1970s. The context changed as well: The federal government’s massive expansion during the New Deal and World War II transformed both elite and popular understandings of the Constitution. This change was so profound that Dwight Eisenhower, the first Republican president elected after FDR, appointed the two justices, Earl Warren and William Brennan, who would later lead the Court to its liberal zenith. These were the decades of Brown v. Board of Education , of the removal of religion from public schools, of the expansion of free speech and the rights of criminal defendants. In these decades the Court was a true partner in the political branches’ attempt to move the country forward.

Richard Nixon began the Supreme Court’s shift back to the right, appointing conservatives like Warren Burger, Lewis Powell, and William Rehnquist. Liberals still won a few important victories—most notably 1973’s Roe v. Wade —but since 1969 Republican presidents have appointed 14 justices. Democrats have appointed only four. The past half century of American constitutional law is defined, more than anything else, by this simple fact.

From today’s vantage point the fragility of the mid-century liberal judicial victories is abundantly clear. The Supreme Court repeatedly retreated from its promise of sweeping change. Brown repudiated the notorious “separate but equal” doctrine that justified Jim Crow segregation, but when, a year later, the Court was asked to enforce its initial ruling, it meekly held that southern states should desegregate public schools “with all deliberate speed.” Determined southern officials ran circles around cautious federal courts, and desegregation did not begin in earnest until the passage of federal civil-rights legislation in the mid-1960s. This story has played out over and over again. Criminal procedure has become steadily less friendly to criminal defendants over the past 50 years. And Roe ’s strict limits on government regulation of abortion were replaced by Planned Parenthood v. Casey ’s far laxer “undue burden” test, under which abortion rights have weakened to such an extent that many scholars view Roe as having already been essentially overruled.

While the Supreme Court was under-delivering on its promises, liberal elites were devoting much of their intellectual and emotional resources to the Court, hoping against hope that an appeal to the swing justice will eke out a 5–4 victory for this or that liberal cause. Lawyers and scholars spent a decade trying to bring Anthony Kennedy into the fold, citing his landmark rulings on gay rights and wartime civil liberties as evidence of an imminent conversion to the liberal cause. Yet all the while, Kennedy kept adding to his deeply conservative voting record, a legacy he made sure to preserve by retiring in 2018, thereby allowing a Republican to appoint his successor. Lately focus has turned to John Roberts, in the hope that his commitment to the Supreme Court as an institution will moderate his otherwise-conservative legal positions. And while Roberts, like Kennedy before him, has occasionally voted with the liberals—such as in upholding the Affordable Care Act and ruling against the Trump administration in several important cases last term—the Court’s march to the right continues.

The choice to focus on courts has had its most fateful results with abortion, in which the lion’s share of liberal organizational energy has gone into desperate, rear-guard defenses of judicially granted abortion rights. Despite the work of groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, anti-abortion-rights advocates have captured statehouses in red states and many purple ones, with one-third of the more than 1,000 abortion restrictions since Roe passed in just the past decade. Roe failed to create a durable political consensus in favor of abortion rights, as occurred over the same period in Western Europe, where abortion rights were secured by legislatures rather than courts. This failure has been one of the key criticisms of Roe from pro-choice advocates, and RBG herself criticized Roe ’s sweeping reach on these grounds in a 1985 essay, noting, “The political process was moving in the early 1970s, not swiftly enough for advocates of quick, complete change, but majoritarian institutions were listening and acting. Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.”

If the Supreme Court has proved itself, time and time again, to be unwilling or incapable of advancing the liberal conception of justice, why have so many liberals, for so long, let themselves be victims of judicial gaslighting? Part of it is that the Warren and early Burger Courts painted a vivid, alluring picture of what justice by judiciary could look like. And even if liberals understood, deep down, that those two decades were an aberration in American legal history, the Court has given them just enough victories since then to keep the dream alive. For lawyers and law professors, there is also the simple matter of professional vanity: If the Supreme Court is the vanguard of American justice, then judges, and thus the lawyers who argue before them and the scholars who analyze (and, when necessary, chastise) them, are the nation’s most important profession—the priests and elders of the civic religion that is American constitutionalism.

Fundamentally, though, many liberals loved the Supreme Court for the same reason they loved the law: a vision of universal harmony and justice brought about by reason and persuasion, not the brute forces of political power. Victory in the political arena is always incomplete and uncertain, not to mention grubby. Politics appeals to our baser instincts of greed and fear and competition—which, of course, is why it is so powerful. By contrast, law—whether through “neutral principles” or “reasoned elaboration” or elaborate moral theories, to name a few of the core organizing ideas of 20th-century legal theory—holds out the promise of something objective, something True. To win in the court of the Constitution is to have one’s view enshrined as just, not only for today but with the promise of all time.

But eventually liberals lost faith that the Court would interpret the Constitution in their favor. What started as a trickle of disillusionment grew throughout the 1980s and ’90s and became a torrent when Roberts became chief justice in 2005 and led the conservative wing to undermine a number of liberal legal priorities, from gun control to campaign-finance law to voting rights. Although many liberal lawyers still dutifully fight in federal court to protect rights where they can, they do so with the increasing understanding that they are simply delaying the inevitable. And legal scholars have gradually given up on the Court as a guarantor of constitutional values, advancing theories of popular constitutionalism or progressive federalism to serve as a counterweight to the Court’s conservative transformation. Whatever was left of the Court’s sacred aura as above partisan politics was ripped away by Mitch McConnell’s denial of a vote to Merrick Garland in 2016 and the bitterness of the confirmation hearings over Brett Kavanaugh two years later.

The clearest sign that many liberals are giving up their remaining idealism about the Court is that, for many moderate Democrats (not to mention those on the progressive left), court packing has gone from a fringe theory to not just a viable option but a moral imperative if Joe Biden wins in November and the Democrats take back the Senate. Court packing is straightforwardly constitutional—the Court’s size fluctuated before the Civil War, and its current composition of nine justices is set by statute. But adding justices in retribution for the perfidy of Senate Republicans would require taking a wholly instrumental view of the Court—just another veto point in America’s groaning vetocracy, a super-legislature subject to the same politics as Congress or the White House. It’s a truth that many historians and political scientists have understood for a long time but that many lawyers are only beginning to accept. And it’s a hard, disenchanting truth.

The end of the liberal love of the courts will not, of course, be the end of liberals’ fight over them. Liberals will continue to work to get their judges on the Supreme Court and the lower courts. They will champion court decisions that go their way and will explore limiting the judiciary’s powers when it rules against them. Liberals will, in short, act more like conservatives, whose disillusionment with the mid-century Court freed them to view the judicial branch as an instrument of political power and to be unembarrassed by an explicit effort to staff it with the ideologically reliable, just as political parties choose their candidates. This realpolitik approach to judicial nominations is the reason for the Republican Party’s stunning success in reshaping the federal bench, and it is one that liberals will have no choice but to adopt themselves if they want to fight back.

In time, liberals may yet win the battle over the federal courts, but any victory will be bittersweet, because in their hearts they will know that the lofty dream is dead. Law is no savior from politics; it is only a temporary reprieve from the struggle between powers over power. Battle is coming. The question is: Do liberals still remember how to fight? Because conservatives certainly do.

3 ways a 6-3 Supreme Court would be different

If the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is replaced this year, the Supreme Court will become something the country has not seen since the justices became a dominant force in American cultural life after World War II: a decidedly conservative court.

A court with a 6-3 conservative majority would be a dramatic shift from the court of recent years, which was more closely divided, with Ginsburg as the leader of the liberal wing of four justices and Chief Justice John Roberts as the frequent swing vote.

As a scholar of the court and the politics of belief, I see three things likely to change in an era of a conservative majority: The court will accept a broader range of controversial cases for consideration; the court’s interpretation of constitutional rights will shift; and the future of rights in the era of a conservative court may be in the hands of local democracy rather than the Supreme Court.

A broader docket

The court takes only cases the justices choose to hear. Five votes on the nine-member court make a majority, but four is the number required to take a case.

If Roberts does not want to accept a controversial case, it now requires all four of the conservatives – Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas – to accept the case and risk the outcome.

If they are uncertain how Roberts will rule – as many people are – then the conservatives may be not be willing to grant a hearing.

With six conservatives on the court, that would change. More certain of the outcome, the court would likely take up a broader range of divisive cases. These include many gun regulations that have been challenged as a violation of the Second Amendment, and the brewing conflicts between gay rights and religious rights that the court has so far sidestepped. They also include new abortion regulations that states will implement in anticipation of legal challenges and a favorable hearing at the court.

The three liberal justices would no longer be able to insist that a case be heard without participation from at least one of the six conservatives, effectively limiting many controversies from consideration at the high court.

A rights reformation

The rise of a 6-3 conservative court would also mean the end of the expansion of rights the court has overseen during the past half-century.

Conservatives believe constitutional rights such as freedom of religion and speech, bearing arms, and limits on police searches are immutable. But they question the expansive claims of rights that have emerged over time, such as privacy rights and reproductive liberty. These also include LGBTQ rights, voting rights, health care rights, and any other rights not specifically protected in the text of the Constitution.

The court has grounded several expanded rights, especially the right to privacy, in the 14th Amendment’s due process clause: “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This sounds like a matter of procedure: The government has to apply the same laws to everyone without arbitrary actions. From the conservative perspective, courts have expanded the meaning of “due process” and “liberty” far beyond their legitimate borders, taking decision-making away from democratic majorities.

Consequently, LGBTQ rights will not expand further. The line of decisions that made Justice Anthony Kennedy famous for his support of gay rights, culminating in marriage equality in 2015, will advance no further.

Cases that seek to outlaw capital punishment under the Eighth Amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishments” will also cease to be successful. In 2019 the court ruled that excessive pain caused by a rare medical condition was not grounds for halting a death sentence. That execution went forward, and further claims against the constitutionality of the death penalty will not.

Challenges to voting restrictions will likely also fail. This was previewed in the 5-4 decision in 2018 allowing Ohio to purge voting rolls of infrequent voters. The Bill of Rights does not protect voting as a clear right, leaving voting regulations to state legislatures. The conservative court will likely allow a broader range of restrictive election regulations, including barring felons from voting. It may also limit the census enumeration to citizens, effectively reducing the congressional power of states that have large noncitizen immigrant populations.

Birthright citizenship, which many believe is protected by the 14th Amendment, will likely not be formally recognized by the court. The court has never ruled that anyone born on U.S. soil is automatically a citizen. The closest it came was an 1898 ruling recognizing the citizenship of children of legal residents, but the court has been silent on the divisive question of children born of unauthorized residents.

The conservative understanding of the 14th Amendment is that it had no intention of granting birthright citizenship to those who are in the country without legal authorization.

Noncitizens may also find themselves with fewer rights: Many conservatives argue that the 14th Amendment requires state governments to abide by the Bill of Rights only when dealing with U.S. citizens.

In any case, individual rights will likely be less important than the government’s efforts to protect national security – whether fighting terrorism, conducting surveillance or dealing with emergencies. Conservatives argue that the public need for security often trumps private claims of rights. This was previewed in Trump v. Hawaii in 2018, when the court upheld the travel ban imposed against several Muslim countries.

Not all rights will be restricted. Those protected by the original Bill of Rights will gain greater protections under a conservative court. Most notably this includes gun rights under the Second Amendment, and religious rights under the First Amendment.

Until recently, the court had viewed religious rights primarily through the establishment clause’s limits on government endorsement of religion. But in the past decade, that has shifted in favor of the free exercise clause’s ban on interference with the practice of religion.

The court has upheld claims to religious rights in education and religious exceptions to anti-discrimination laws. That trend will continue.

A return to local democracy

Perhaps the most important ramification of a 6-3 conservative court is that it will return many policies to local control.

For example, overturning Roe v. Wade – which is likely but not certain under a 6-3 court – would leave the legality of abortion up to each state.

This will make state-level elected officials the guardians of individual liberties, shifting power from courts to elections. How citizens and their elected officials respond to this new emphasis is perhaps the most important thing that will determine the influence of a conservative court.


Yes, Putin is given a pass on everything from this administration.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

It is now an established fact, confirmed by laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden, that Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union. The powerful poison, which has been used in at least one previous assassination attempt against foes of the Russian regime, was this time employed against a domestic opposition leader who operated openly to expose corruption and challenge the Kremlin. It requires a serious response.

In the face of Kremlin stonewalling, many questions remain unanswered and are likely to remain so. Chief among them is whether President Vladimir Putin ordered or approved the attempted assassination. Then there is the fact that once again, the victim survived the attack, and the nerve agent was identified. Mr. Navalny had been flying home from Siberia to Moscow when he was stricken. Did his poisoners want him to perish on the way, as the timetable of the attack suggests, and want to cover up the reason? Or was it their intention to convey a brutal warning of what happens to those who challenge the Kremlin?

Mr. Navalny may have survived largely because of the pilot’s alacrity in landing and getting him to a hospital. The government later allowed him to be taken to Germany for further treatment. Once they heard of his collapse, Mr. Navalny’s colleagues quickly collected what they could from his last hotel in Siberia and got the evidence to Germany, where traces of Novichok were found on a water bottle.

Whatever the full story, the Russian government’s contemptible posturing as an aggrieved victim of unfair suspicions only intensify the need to demand a reckoning from the Kremlin**. Mr. Putin knows what happened, or he can find out, and if he continues to hide behind glaringly phony denials and ridiculous accusations, he only strengthens the suspicion that this was a deliberate, state-sanctioned hit.** He had the greatest motive, means and opportunity.

Even if it was an operation ordered at some lower level, the attack on Mr. Navalny breaks new ground. Ranking assassinations according to degrees of infamy may seem frivolous, and attacking two former Russian double agents residing in England, Sergei Skripal and Alexander Litvinenko, by nerve gas or radiation, is hard to exceed in brazenness.

But Mr. Navalny was not a former spy. He was by far the best known and most visible of Mr. Putin’s political opponents. His exposés of official corruption — most famously of the extravagant properties owned by the former president Dmitri Medvedev — were widely circulated, detailed and credible. Those who tried to kill him had to know, and not care, that the attack could be seen only as an attempt to silence a strong and effective political voice.

Even more appalling was their deployment of a banned chemical weapon on Russian soil against a Russian politician. The perpetrators knew that Novichok had been identified in the attack against Mr. Skripal and that its use was a violation of international law. Russia is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and after Germany established that Mr. Navalny had been poisoned, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons issued a statement that under the convention, “any poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is considered a use of chemical weapons.” At the very least, that obligates Russia to establish how a known nerve agent came to be used in the center of Russia.

Mr. Putin must believe that there is not much the West can do that it hasn’t already done by way of sanctions. President Trump, for reasons that remain one of the top mysteries of his administration, has largely closed his eyes to Mr. Putin’s serial transgressions, whether it’s meddling in American elections, annexing Crimea or stonewalling on the poisoning of dissidents.

The surest sign of European anger would be cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a gas conduit from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. But the project is nearly completed, and Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, is reluctant to take a step that would be costly for Europe and that would look like bowing to threats from the Trump administration, which has demanded cancellation of the pipeline.

Yet, as Mr. Putin looks intent on spending the rest of his life at Russia’s helm and displays ever less concern for human rights or the rule of law, it is incumbent on the West to hold him accountable for murdering or trying to murder anyone he finds troublesome. A state prepared to use banned chemical weapons against its own citizens is a danger and threat to the rest of the world as well, and that must be made clear and unambiguous also to Mr. Putin and his co-conspirators.


The revelations are not surprising but they are coming fast so close to the election. Thanks.

I spent over 300 mornings in the Oval Office briefing the president and his senior staff. I had the privilege to manage, edit and deliver the president’s Daily Brief a summary of the most timely and critical intelligence threats to the U.S. from 2010 to 2014.

As a Deputy on the National Security Council, I spent over 1,000 hours in the White House Situation Room providing the intelligence assessments which informed critical U.S. national security policy decisions — including the raid that rendered justice for the victims of 9/11.

Since I have been eligible to vote, I have never registered with a political party. I remain an independent with a history of voting for candidates I believe in — I focused on their policy and not their party. Before this election, I have never spoken out for or against a candidate for any office.

But I can be silent no longer.

In the summer of 1976, I was 14 years old and new to Colorado, my father took command of the Western Region’s National Guard. I enrolled in the brand-new Smoky Hill High School on what was then the far eastern boundary of Aurora. As a military brat, I was accustomed to moving around and not putting down roots — but as readers will know well, Colorado has a way of pulling on your heart and it became home. It remains so as my family spends as much time as possible in our Dillon residence.

Upon graduating from Cornell University, I joined the intelligence community as an analyst during President Ronald Reagan’s increasing investments in defense — a buildup that culminated in the collapse of the Soviet Union by the end of the decade. In my nearly four decades of service, I had the privilege of serving under six presidents — four Republican and two Democrat. The constant across all of those administrations was the oath I took to “protect and defend” the Constitution against “all enemies — foreign and domestic.”

I know what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of our government — intellectual curiosity, the strength of moral purpose and a commitment to selfless service. Broadly speaking, I can personally attest that Americans were very well served by those they elected to fill critical national security positions.

There is one important exception to that statement — our current president.

I have briefed him up close — and I have seen and felt the effect of his faults on our nation’s security. Out of respect for the confidential nature of Oval Office conversations, I will not provide details. Suffice to say that the person you see presiding over COVID-19 press conferences is the same one in the privacy of his office. He has little patience for facts or data that do not comport with his personal world view. Thus, the conversations are erratic and less than fully thoughtful.

While it is natural for there to be tension between the intelligence community and senior policymakers, President Donald Trump’s decision to rely upon the word of dictators like Vladimir Putin is an unprecedented betrayal of his oath to the Constitution. Our current president bases his decisions on his instincts, and his instincts are based upon a personal value proposition — what’s in it for me?

As a Commander in Chief, President Trump comes up tragically short. He fails to protect our soldiers when bounties are placed on their heads by his friend Vladimir. And not only does he not respect their service, but President Trump also belittles combat heroes who were taken as prisoners of war.

As a nation, we were fortunate that a true crisis did not occur during his first three years in office.

Then 2020 happened. This has been an unprecedented year for which many of us were not prepared. In moments of crisis, the American people demand — and deserve — a leader who will put the country first. Full stop. Because the reality and the science of COVID-19 conflicted with his personal views, President Trump knowingly downplayed the pandemic.

This is not about the economy, taxes, health care or any other normal ballot considerations. This is about American lives unnecessarily lost. This is about businesses unnecessarily closed. This is about being guided by service to all Americans. This is about centering decisions on a higher morality. President Trump’s actions — and inaction — demonstrates that he is not concerned about any of this.

And as damaging as his faulty leadership has been, four more years would be devastating.

We must elect a thoughtful, moral, responsible, respectful leader on Nov. 3. Our current president is not that leader.

Robert Cardillo retired as the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency after 36 years of public service that also included serving as deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Acting J2 — a first for a civilian — in support of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.




From former Supreme Court Associate Justice, John Paul Stevens.