CONTROVERSY AFTER CRUZ REMARKS: Sen. Ted Cruz’s suggestion that the Supreme Court could continue to function with eight justices confirmed a “Republican blueprint for a Hillary Clinton presidency” of obstructing and blockading federal judges, The Washington Times quoted Nan Aron, Alliance for Justice Action Campaign president, as saying. “This is the game plan now: kneecap the federal judiciary, shred the Constitution,” Aron said. “All those things Republicans said about letting the American people have a say in the next Supreme Court nomination? They’ve been exposed as the lies they were.”
Cruz’s remarks, following on the heels of a veiled threat floated and later walked back by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. (see Gavel Grab), ignited controversy. A Washington Post editorial said about Cruz, “Crudely, his message is: We lost the presidency, so let’s take our marbles and go home. Such thinking seems to come easily to the senator who led the 2013 government shutdown. But it runs against the oath Mr. Cruz took as a senator to ‘well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office.’”
The White House weighed in, according to The Associated Press: “Sen. Ted Cruz’s suggestion of an indefinite Supreme Court vacancy under a President Hillary Clinton raises questions about the credibility and integrity of Republicans who have said the next president should get to the choose who fills the vacancy, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday.” Politico discussed GOP divisions, noting that “Senate Republicans are choosing sides ahead of a brutal conflict over how to handle the lingering Supreme Court vacancy,” and that Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona had fired back at Cruz’s suggestion. “You won’t be surprised, I do not agree,” Flake said. “There’s a difference between what might be constitutional and what you could do politically and what you should do. And I think leaving a vacancy for up to four years is not why we’re here.”
Other related coverage and commentary included Dahlia Lithwick at Slate, “Eight Is Not Enough: Senate Republicans believe the Supreme Court will be just fine permanently operating one justice down; Here’s how John Roberts can talk sense into them”; Roll Call, “Republicans Split on Supreme Court Strategy in Lame Duck: Sen. Flake vows hearings, vote for Merrick Garland if Hillary Clinton wins”; and Eric Segall in The Los Angeles Times, “It’s the Supreme Court, not the Senate, that needs to do its job right now.”
GROPING ALLEGATION AGAINST SUPREME COURT’S THOMAS: The New York Times reported, “An Alaska lawyer has accused Justice Clarence Thomas of groping her at a dinner party in 1999, a claim that Justice Thomas called ‘preposterous.’” His confirmation fight 25 years ago included allegations by Anita Hill of sexual harassment. National Law Journal broke the latest news, and it reported today, “Anita Hill Calls for Investigation Into New Thomas Allegation” (article can be accessed by a Google search). AFJAC’s Aron was quoted in US News & World Report recently about allegations of sexual harassment against Donald Trump, which the article said were drawing some comparisons with the Hill episode in 1991 (see Gavel Grab).
MANDATORY ARBITRATION TARGETED: Arstechnica.com reported, “FCC imposes ISP privacy rules and takes aim at mandatory arbitration.” The article explained that the Federal Communications Commission “said it has begun working on rules that could limit the use of mandatory arbitration clauses in the contracts customers sign” with Internet service providers. You can learn more about this issue by reading the Justice Watch blog of our sister organization, Alliance for Justice.