Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage. These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that. Even though there are always many more which I can't include. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."
I am going to simplify things for the Furies this week, because, expected to come up next week, there will begin the confirmation hearings for the position in the Trump administration which has the greatest potential to do the longest lasting harm to the American people. More harm, and longer lasting than Scott Pruitt? I hear someone ask. Yes. I am talking about Neil Gorsuch, the Resident's nominee to the Supreme Court.
Paul Gordon, for People for the American Way, has prepared a report on Judge Gorsuch. It's called "Real People, Real Lives: The Harm Caused by Judge Gorsuch." Now, I am sure that even a President who is himself a Constitutional lawyer will ask for recommendations when there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court to fill. That isn't a problem. This is a problem:
When Donald Trump was running for president, he outsourced his future selection of potential Supreme Court nominees to two right wing organizations, the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. They provided him a list of 21 people who were acceptable to them, Trump promised to select a nominee from the list they gave him, and they and their right wing colleagues agreed to support him. Neil Gorsuch was nominated as the product of this political arrangement.
Mr. Gordon, after this introduction, sets forth twelve cases actually decided by Judge Gorsuch during his tenure as a judge, and then ends with a conclusion. Here is his Table of Contents:
1 No Understanding of Sexual Harassment in the Real World
2 Medical Device Maker Pushes Misuse of Product
3 Gorsuch and Children with Autism
4 No Leave Extension for Leukemia Patient
5 Excessive Force
6 Worker Dies Due to Inadequate Training
7 Die or Be Fired
8 Defer to the Governor, Facts Notwithstanding
9 No Understanding of Another’s Perspective
10 Sex Discrimination
11 The Most Vulnerable
12 The Sixth Amendment: Undermining the Right to Counsel
That makes it sound like the report is practically a book. It isn't really. If you printed the whole thing out as a PDF, it would be 26 pages, or roughly 2 pages per case discussed. In 16 point type (you're used to seeing 12 point), with the chapter headings in 28 point, with a lot of space between them and the text before and after. So it's practically a walk in the park to read through (except for the ourageous results, which are hard on the blood pressure.) But I'll provide here a little information about a few of the cases whose nature is not obvious from the title.
In Chapter 5, for instance, titled "Excessive Force," the force in question was a taser aimed from about 10 feet away at the victim, who died of it. His bereaved parents brought suit against the City. Judge Gorsuch dismissed the case. made sure it did not even get to trial.
In Chapter 7, "Die or Be Fired," a trucker was hauling cargo in subzero weather, and his brakes froze. He stopped and reported the problem to the company, then waited for a repair person. Who did not show (may never have shown – it's not exactly clear who did come to do the repair.) The heater in his cab was not working, and, remember, this is subzero weather. After a couple of hours, he was numb and his speech was slurred. He called the company twice more, the second time to notify the company he was going to unhitch the cab and drive for help and return (already an iffy plan with the shape he was in.) The company told him not to leave the cargo (in the trailer with the frozen brakes. Right.)
He drove for help anyway, and returned within about FIFTEEN MINUTES with assistance. A week later, he was fired. For abandoning his cargo.
Fortunately this case did not end tragically, since the Labor Department found for him, and it was upheld upon Administrative Review in the Tenth Circuit. With Judge Gorsuch dissenting. The law, he said, protects a driver who refuses to drive an unsafe vehicle. It doesn't protect a driver who drives in a way he was instructed not to.
In Chapter 11, "The Most Vulnerable" applies to children with disabilities (and by extension to their guardians.) The case hinged on the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) requirement that before going to court, a claimant must have exhausted all IDEA administrative remedies. Simply put (and probably from a legal standpoint inaccurately), Judge Gorsuch's position was that if you get a school district to the point of agreeeing that your child has a disability (but won't do anything about it), you will never be able to exhaust administrative remedies, because you will have "settled." Gordon quotes another judge who explains how – um – against Congressional intent that is.
Dear Furies, I am not going to ask you to go after Judge Gorsuch. He ia a lost cause. No, instead I would like for Alecto to concentrate on all of the Democratic Senators and help them stiffen their backbones to filibuster and do whatever they can to prevent this confirmation. You can (and probably should) share this report with them and encourage them to ask hard questions in the hearings based on the stupidest of the decisions. Megaera and Tisiphone, I'd like for you to concentrate on the Republican Senators. If we can keep the Democratic Senators firm (I know, that's a big if – maybe Tisiphone should pick up Manchin), it will only take two Republicans to deny him confirmation.
Gorsuch is only 49. That is quite young for a Supreme Court Justice. He could be there for as much as forty years. I find that unthinkable. Ladies, best of luck.
The Furies and I will be back.
Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4041623