Renowned presidential historian, Michael Beschloss, on the Supreme Court


Your choice: Read, listen…and weep

I was plotting out a new, important story at the same time I was watching Joy Reid’s show, “The Reidout” on MSNBC. One of Joy’s guests was presidential historian, Michael Beschloss. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Beschloss, he’s a treasure…an historian with the uncanny ability to take on complex historical issues and make them easily understandable, even to those, who like Sam Cooke, “don’t know much about history. 

The segment that caught my eye on Reid’s show dealt with the tyranny of today’s Supreme Court. Along with two other commentators, Beschloss articulated what many of us already know, in a clear, but unfortunately, chilling, way.

I’ve included the entire 7-minute clip in this post. If you don’t have 7-minutes to spare, I’ve also transposed some of Beschloss’ key points. Either way, I’d expect you to be as chagrined at his comments as I was.

Joy: “[the Supreme Court] is sort of on the verge of at least trying to rapidly repeal all of the 20th century progress for everyone else.

Beschloss:  The right has been trying to do this for years. It’s been trying to rollback the progressive reforms of the Earl Warren court from the 1950s to the 1970s. They’ve been desperate for this;  they finally got it.  And you know the other thing Joy is, look at the justices we’re talking about. If the Democrats had won the presidency in 2016 there would be a strong liberal majority; we wouldn’t be having this segment. We could talk about something else.

The other thing is, this is a court that one-third of the nine justices [have been] appointed by one Donald Trump. Every single one of them has a shadow.

The first one – the first justice that was appointed and should have been appointed and confirmed in 2016 should have been Merrick Garland. That was a stolen seat. McConnell and Republicans refused to confirm him and as a result we have Neil Gorsuch.

Seat number two.  Anthony Kennedy was on the court. His son was a banker for Donald Trump at Deutsche Bank. By reports, the son was an accessory that Trump used to persuade at Anthony Kennedy to leave the court. That’s how we got Brett Kavanaugh.

Vacancy #3:  Being an election year of 2000, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, many people said, follow the precedent that was established by Abraham Lincoln…the similar situation [in] 1864. Wait for the new president to be elected and then go through this. Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell refused to do that; they rushed through Amy Comey Barrett. So as a result of all of these things we’ve got instead of a liberal majority, we’ve got a strong conservative majority and a majority of three justices who are pretty predictable how they’re going to vote on these issues.

Did someone say, “elections have consequences?”

One last thing. The piece I was working on before I watched the Reid/Beschloss interchange is alluded to at the end of the video clip. Another hint: “Since 2014, he (Beschloss) has been chair of the annual Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards.”

See you tomorrow.

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

5 thoughts on “Renowned presidential historian, Michael Beschloss, on the Supreme Court

  1. Republican chicanery! More like deliberatel’y loading a machine gun to take to a duel. The fix is in! To my mind, it is time to move the Supreme Court out, and bring is a different kind of court, where places on a judicial panel are earned through a history of practical and unbiased decisions, NOT by political parties.
    There may be nine justices on the present Supreme Court, but that does not mean justice will be served.


    1. Your insightful comments are always welcome. Now, if you can devise a way to “move the Supreme Court out…” I think you’d have a lot of support down here. I’m listening.


      1. Not being an American, and therefore not truly understanding everything about the way the Supreme Court is supposed to work, my own thought is to let them go on thinking they are the most important Court in the land, while actually giving that power to a new court of actual non-political unbiased judges who have proved themselves. I only say this because I understand the SC judges are appointed for life, and none are likely to stop living soon, so you are stuck with them UNLESS they re willing to retire. (Can they retire?) Doesn’t really matter, the Trump appointees aren’t about to give up their cushy jobs even when they know they don’t deserve them, and the “liberal” judges can’t retire in present circumstances because that might mean ending up with 9 “conservative” judges!
        IF THIS WERE HAPPENING IN RUSSIA, OR NORTH KOREA, you can bet anti-government judges would disappear, never to be seen again. But I am not advocating lining up the whole court in front of a firing squad, that wouldn’t be allowed! (I am a pacifist! Really!) But it would allow Americans to start over, and get it right this time…


      2. Sorry if this answer seemed flippant in any way. I had a bad day, andI was tired when I wrote it, straight from the top of my head. See my answer belie, please, after a good night’s sleep. Again, my apologies, it was howI was feeling at the time.


      3. Hey, Ted,
        Instead of just taking on SCOTUS, can I make a suggestion that takes on your entire legal system, and challenges the American belief (mine also, but not in the same way) that all people are created equal? For this discussion I am concentrating of criminal courts. Other courts should have to be changed also in some fashion.
        1. Change the line in the Constitution to all “people” are created equal. Since people includes both women and men, in fairly equal numbers, every jury should be half male and half female. The reasoning is that the jury should reflect what is normal in society.
        2. America is a melting pot. There are 5 main human races on this planet (red, black, yellow, brown, and white, with many subraces, but for purposes of a bit of brevity, we will treat each racial colour as a whole, kinda), and all 5 races are represented In all facets of daily Ametican life. Therefore, every jury empanelled anywhere hould include a woman and a man of each race, so that everyone has at least one representative of their gender and race who can relate to some part of their humanity, with input from each other races and genders also represented. This gives 10 jurors to start. The defendent then gets one more juror of his or her race and gender. If there is one victim involved (or one main victim), that victim also gets one representative of their race and gender. If there are multiple victims, or multiple defendents, we can say for certain everyone is represented by at least one person similar to them in some way.
        3. There are too many religions (or non-religions), social classes, sexual orientations, age divisions, etc., to make sure of exact representation, but every effort should be made to include AT LEAST one religious person, one non-religious person, one heterosexual male, one heterosexual female, one other-sexual female, one other-sexual male, etc etc etc so that the jury is a real cross-section of American society. This is supposed to be the basis of the American way of life, therefore EVERY JURY should reflect all these things in some way, shape, or form, to the best of the Court’s ability. (SCOTUS could be increased to 10 judges, with each major category having to be represented also! As it stands SCOTUS has NEVER represented a cross-section of American society, and this is just wrong in so many many ways!)
        The purpose of this is to stop lawyers from over-influencing the choosing of jurors to try to get a favorable decision FOR EITHER SIDE.
        4. In a 12 member jury, do not require a 12 member agreement. There are too many hidden biases in every person–not any one is totally without some kind of invisible thought pattern–and make a 75% agreement (or some such number from 8 -10 jurors, to agree to a verdict. This also takes away the power of one or two individual jurors from affecting a verdict because they are consciously biased for or against a victim or defendent.
        5. No judge should represent a defendent or victim entirely either, racially and genderly. Given the parameters set above, a particular race and gender should not be being judged by that same race and gender. There should be AT LEAST one difference, but both differences would be even better.

        I hope I have outlined at least something that can be used as a starting point, and setting an achievable goal. I could go on but I am pretty sure you understand what it isI am getting at. The present American system is badly broken, and is in need of immediate repair. I have only taken up two basic factors–race and gender–but there are so many things to be considered.
        I guess the big thing I am wanting to change is to remove as much bias as possible from the legal system, because that is to me the biggest problem there is. I use the Rodney King trial as my biggest motivator, and while there are some cases where non-biased decisions do prevail, they are not the norm. (And I am looking ONLY at the American justice system. All legal systems in the world are just as badly flawed in some way, but that is for another time and place.)
        Thank you for asking. I hope I have given you something worthwjile to ponder.


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