“Justice” Neil Gorsuch of the United States Supreme Court wrote a dissent to a denial of certiorari. The Daily Appellate Report published it last Wednesday. The case of Trustees of the New Life in Christ Church v. City of Fredericksburg, Virginia highlights the ongoing dishonesty of the Supreme Court of the United States when it comes to the Constitution.
Since most of my readers are not lawyers, a quick explanation of certiorari. In our oligarchy, certiorari is a kind of petition to obtain permission to appeal a decision of a “lower” group of oligarchs to a “higher” group of oligarchs.
When someone loses an appeal where they believe the law is on their side, depending on the jurisdiction, or court, they can file an appeal to a higher court. But you cannot appeal to some courts — and the more dishonest the court, the more likely this is the case — unless they first give you permission.
Such is the case with the supremely dishonest court in the United States: the United States Supreme Court.
In order to get a case heard there, you first file a “writ of certiorari.” Essentially, you file a petition, asking the court for permission to present your argument.
When certiorari is denied, it means the court has decided your argument is not worth their time. And, thus, whatever the lower court decided, that’s what you’re stuck with.
What Separation of Church & State?
Gorsuch disagreed with the rest of the Court’s refusal to hear New Life in Christ.
Gorsuch’s dissent provides a summary of the facts:
[U]nder state law, a church may claim a “ministerial” residence exempt from taxes. … [T]he Storms’ home was the only residence the church sought to claim exempt. … [T]he home of a “subordinate” minister can qualify for the tax exemption too [sic]. [S]tate law does not supply a definition for the term “minister.” … [T]he City has argued that the church is not entitled to a tax credit because it misunderstands who qualifies as “minister” in its own faith tradition.
— Trustees of the New Life in Christ Church v. City of Fredericksburg, Virginia, 2022 DJDAR 622 (January 18, 2022)(internal citations omitted)
The government — that is, the City of Fredericksburg — has decided that it disagrees with the Church’s interpretation of Church rules. The Church says that, under its rules, the Storms are ministers. The City says that, under the Church’s rules, they are not.
The First Amendment Takes a Hit
Gorsuch makes the Supreme Court’s dishonesty clear. What the government did is not permissible under the First Amendment. Nor is this a new revelation to the government. Gorsuch notes:
The First Amendment does not permit bureaucrats or judges to “subject” religious beliefs to “verification.” About this, the Court has spoken plainly and consistently for many years. In Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for United States and Canada v. Milivojevich, for example, a state court conducted a “detailed review” before determining that a church’s decision was “not in accordance with the prescribed procedure of the constitution and the penal code of the Serbian Orthodox Church.” This Court reversed, explaining that such governmental intrusions into ecclesiastical questions are “impermissible.”
— Trustees of the New Life in Christ Church v. City of Fredericksburg, Virginia, 2022 DJDAR at 622-623
As Gorsuch points out,
The Framers of our Constitution were acutely aware how governments in Europe had sought to control and manipulate religious practices and churches. They resolved that America would be different.
— Trustees of the New Life in Christ Church v. City of Fredericksburg, Virginia, 2022 DJDAR at 623
Finally, Gorsuch writes that
Bureaucratic efforts to “subject” religious beliefs to “verification” have no place in a free country.
— Trustees of the New Life in Christ Church v. City of Fredericksburg, Virginia, 2022 DJDAR at 623
You will recall, however, that this is a dissent. That means Gorsuch — and the Church — is on the losing side in this particular abridgement of the First Amendment.
But the law is clear. The Church should have won. The Supreme Court should reverse. Instead, it allows the incorrect ruling to stand.
Inconsistency Enhances the Dishonesty
The Court’s dishonesty — called out here by Gorsuch — is, at least, consistent. Gorsuch’s is not.
So far Gorsuch and Kavanaugh have both been consistent votes in favor of police in cases involving the constitutional rights of criminal suspects and defendants.
— Erwin Chemerinsky, Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights 219 (2021)
Gorsuch — pretender to the throne of First Amendment Supporter — can’t be bothered protecting other Amendments. But, to paraphrase what Gorsuch wrote in the New Life in Christ case:
The Framers of our Constitution were acutely aware how governments in Europe had abused the freedoms of citizens. They resolved that America would be different.
— Paraphrase of Gorsuch’s statement in Trustees of the New Life in Christ Church v. City of Fredericksburg, Virginia, 2022 DJDAR at 623
Back in the Preface of his book, Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights, Chemerinsky — who is a well-respected constitutional law professor/scholar, who has testified before Congress on constitutional issues, and fought cases in the dishonest Supreme Court of the United States — stated:
Today in the United States, much attention is focused on the enormous problems of police violence and racism in law enforcement, but too often that attention fails to place the blame where much of it belongs: on the Supreme Court.
— Erwin Chemerinsky, Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights at xi (emphasis added)
As Chemerinsky points out,
If police face no consequences for violating a person’s constitutional rights, those rights might just as well not exist.
— Erwin Chemerinsky, Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights at 184
As far as Gorsuch and his cohorts are concerned, those rights do not exist. What the Framers giveth — or, more accurately, recognize as “unalienable” — the dishonesty of the Supreme Court taketh away.
The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments: Already Gone
This is why police murder people with impunity. This is why they strip entire populations of what meager property or money they might have. This is why our courts — starting with our dishonest Supreme Court — say that you don’t really have the right to remain silent. Unless you speak the very magical words invoking the Fifth Amendment. Correctly.
Don’t bother to ask for your lawyer, dawg. That will not preserve your right to a lawyer, because a court has interpreted that as meaning you asked for a lawyer dog. And while you will get your day in court, your attempted invocation of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is, once again, defeated by a magic word. We allow drunken or sleeping or senile licensed individuals to practice law in our courts. But we only allow dogs to support children testifying about having been sexually-molested.
Similarly, the Supreme Court — and, by the way, “Justice” Neil Gorsuch carried the supreme court’s dishonesty ball in an opinion that said the Constitution does not require executions to be painless — has decimated the Eighth Amendment.
Supreme Dishonesty & the War on Our Constitution
Those who follow such things already knew the current court was comprised primarily of liars. All you have to do is remember that Chief “Justice” Roberts and “Justice” Kavanaugh both blatantly lied at their confirmation hearings.
Judges and Justices [sic] are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules, they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules, but it is a limited role.
— United States Courts, “Chief Justice Roberts Statement — Nomination Process,” excerpted from “Confirmation Hearing on the Nomination of John G. Roberts, Jr. to be Chief Justice of the United States,” Hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 109th Congress, U.S. Government Printing Office, pp 55-56 (2005).
The role is “limited” in Roberts’s imagination. Limited in the sense that these “justices” actually do make the rules: think Qualified Immunity. The Court overrode the Legislature’s 1983 legislation by creating a rule made by the “umpires” on the Supreme Court. Moreover, our dishonest Supreme Court’s entire program has involved dismantling the Constitution, undoing the rules, by making new rules.
Years after his confirmation, Roberts doubled down on his lie by claiming
We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.
— Washington Post Editorial Board, “Opinion: John Roberts said there are no Trump judges or Obama judges. Clarence Thomas didn’t get the memo.” (June 28, 2019)
We absolutely have Obama judges, Trump judges, Bush judges, Clinton judges. Ask Mitch McConnell.
Ironically, Kavanaugh, of all the “justices,” should favor rights for people accused of crimes. Oligarchs, however, ensure none can hold them to answer. There’s one set of rules for him, and another for the rest of the nation.
The Constitution doesn’t even factor in to that equation. No surprise, then, that having already decimated the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments, the Supremely Dishonest Supreme Court would turn its attention to the First Amendment.
Government of the People, by the People, for the People Perished
Allegedly, our government was constituted in our Constitution after ratification by “We the People of the United States.” Among other reasons for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” President Abraham Lincoln, at Gettysburg, renewed this national purpose, declaring,
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
— Abraham Lincoln, “The Gettysburg Address” (November 19, 1863)
A new birth of freedom. Liberty. A government of the people, by the people. for the people — not stopping and frisking and beating and shooting the people.
Supreme Dishonesty & the War on Our People
But if there’s one thing that conservatives — and particularly oligarchs — really hate, it’s liberty. Police can’t stop free people willy-nillly, without probable cause, whilst they walk down the streets. Cops can’t threaten free mothers with potential death by electrocution for interfering when those sons are being held face down, cuffed, and at gunpoint.
Of note, by the way, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa — yeah, they all came out to try to tell the cops the boys were just walking home from grandma’s house — were all white. Yes, the inherent racism of police disporportionately affects people of color. But the sweeping power our dishonest Supreme Court has given to officers to stop anyone, anytime, anywhere, without any reason, should concern even those who agree with police racism.
This is why I say our dishonest Supreme Court has dismantled our Constitution. And not just the so-called Bill of Rights.
Long ago — at least when a farmer was told he couldn’t grow his own wheat on his own land to feed his own animals, if not sooner — our dishonest Supreme Court ruled our limited government should have nearly-unlimited powers. In place of a government of the people, by the people, for the people — enjoying the freedom conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal — our dishonest Supreme Court has reconstituted the United States as an oligarchy.
And the only limit on the government power is that the nine members — nine rulers of our more than 300 million citizens — on our dishonest Supreme Court reserve the right to cancel legislation, particularly legislation that supports citizen rights, and limits police power.
It’s Twisted Tolkien: Nine Ringwraiths to corrupt the Constitution. They comprise One Dishonest Supreme Court to rule us all. One Court to find our rights, One Court to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
And, thus, us.
Power Abhors Freedom
A lot of people agree with the Supreme Court’s shredding of the Constitution. Our unalienable rights seem to them mere technicalities. Those rights must be cabined because, read as written, they sometimes prevent the police running roughshod over “criminals.” To fix that, our dishonest Supreme Court reconstituted them such that now the police can run roughshod anyone, anywhere, anytime, in any way.
And the only limit on the power of our government is that it cannot pass laws — like 42 USC 1983 — that would punish police who run roughshod over us by violating the original Constitution, or breaking our laws. When they tried, our dishonest Supreme Court invented qualified immunity: a legal, practical, and moral failure. It did so to give police an unfettered hand at behaving as if the Constitution of the United States does not exist.
Now comes a new dishonest Supreme Court “justice,” one of the newer of the High Oligarchy, the Council of Nine, the One Court, crying because this time, the Court is turning its back on one of the few surviving unalienable rights. Having played his own dishonest part in dishonorably dismembering the rest of the Constitution, he cries for the soon-to-be-dead-and-gone First Amendment.
The truth is, Benjamin Franklin predicted all this, in a sense.
The executive will be always increasing here, as elsewhere, til it ends in a monarchy.
— Benjamin Franklin, quoted in Gillian Brockell, “‘A republic, if you can keep it’: Did Ben Franklin really say Impeachment Day’s favorite quote?” (December 18, 2019)
Thus does our Constitution become ever more vestigial: With the help of a dishonest Supreme Court.
After Utah v. Strieff officially stripped Americans of the last remnants of Fourth Amendment protection. As with Gorsuch, we got more whiny dissenting “justices.”
The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights,” [“Justice” Sotomayor] wrote, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong.”
— “Justice” Sonya Sotomayor, quoted in Matt Ford, “Justice Sotomayor’s Ringing Dissent” (June 20, 2016)
But, to paraphrase “Justice” Sotomayor,
We are no longer citizens of a democracy but the subjects of a carceral state, just waiting to be catalogued.
— “Justice” Sonya Sotomayor (paraphrased here by me), originally quoted in Matt Ford, “Justice Sotomayor’s Ringing Dissent” (June 20, 2016)
And these “justices,” having played their parts in the destruction of the Constitution, have no right to cry over the coffin until they play their part in the Resurrection.