Fake News Conveniently Trivializes Supreme Court Ethics Violations

Supreme Court of the United States - Roberts Court 2022

Ah, the merry month of May — and US Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito once again faces questions relating to his ethics.

Well, no, not really. What’s under question is his “impartiality.” That’s a different thing entirely … and not really a thing at all.

Fake news item number one: Alito sold his stock in Anheuser-Busch InBev last year, at the same time the company found itself boycotted by “conservative” randos who objected to the company sending a special can of beer to a social media influencer “conservative” randos don’t like.  There’s no question of insider trading or anything like that involved. Alito took a loss on his Anheuser-Busch InBev shares. Maybe he did it because he agreed with the “conservative” randos, or maybe he just needed some quick cash. To the best of my knowledge, there are no cases before the court relating to the conflict between Anheuser-Busch InBev and “conservative” randos.

Fake news item number two: In early 2021, someone (Alito says it was his wife, not him) flew an American flag upside down outside the Alitos’ home. That’s a traditional sign of emergency or distress, and coming around the time of the January 6 Capitol riot and the inauguration of a new president, it seems to convey political overtones. But there’s no law against Supreme Court justices (or their spouses) having, and expressing, political opinions.

These two fake news items are fake news neither because they’re necessarily untrue nor because they may not reveal political opinions the public might not like. They’re fake news items because they’re silly and trivial distractions from Alito’s REAL ethics problems and those of his fellow justice, Clarence Thomas.

As revealed by ProPublica last year, both Alito and Thomas accepted (and conveniently “forgot” to report) bribes … er, “gifts” … from wealthy friends with business before the court they sit on.

In Alito’s case, an expensive charter flight to Alaska and a $1,000+ per day stay at a luxury resort seemingly sufficed to buy his (non-decisive — he was one of a 7-1 majority) vote in a case worth $2.4 billion to bribe-payer … er, “gift-giver” … hedge fund manager Paul Singer.

Thomas likewise accepted unreported “gifts,” loans, and sweetheart property deals from the deep pockets of plutocrats with cases before the court. And he also got some fake news cover-up action focused on his wife’s associations with the Cult of Trump.

It doesn’t bother me if Samuel Alito takes a loss on stock because he doesn’t like a company’s politics, or if his wife flies a flag upside down over a supposed argument with a neighbor.  Nor do I think it’s reasonable to expect Alito or Thomas to control their spouses’ actions just because those actions are or might be “political.”

It does bother me that the over-the-top whining about such things obscures the real story: These two Supreme Court justices put their jurisprudence up for sale and got caught doing it. They should have been impeached and removed by now.

The bribes, and Congress yawning instead of acting, are the real scandals.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter:@thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

Abbott Should Have Issued Imminent Threat Alert To Texans Along With His Perry Pardon

Widely circulating photo of Garrett Foster with his rifle in "low ready" defensive position just before his murder.
Widely circulating photo of Garrett Foster with his rifle in “low ready” defensive position just before his murder.

Last year, Texas governor Greg Abbott announced his plan to pardon a convicted, unrepentant murderer at the first opportunity. On May 16, Abbott fulfilled his threat, terminating Daniel Perry’s 25-year sentence and putting him back on the streets of The Lone Star State.

The occasion merits an Imminent Threat Alert concerning “imminent threats to safety or life” as codified in the US Emergency Alert System.

In 2020, Perry — after announcing his obsessive desire to murder protesters multiple times on social  media — ran a red light to put his car into the middle of a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters, then murdered libertarian activist Garrett Foster.

Perry later claimed that he acted in “self-defense,” even though he admitted in to police that Foster, who was carrying a rifle (as he was entitled by right to do), never pointed that rifle at him.

A jury didn’t buy the bogus self-defense claim, but Abbott saw an opportunity to “own the libs” by pleasing people who don’t like Black Lives Matter protesters. Hence the pardon.

So now Texans have a known and unrepentant murderer  loose among them, and those Texans have no reason whatsoever to believe that he won’t treat the pardon as license to murder again.

Fortunately, Texans also have a “stand your ground” law which, in theory at least, should protect them from Perry even more than it protected Perry (the assailant, not the victim, when he murdered Foster). It provides that “a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force.”

If you happen to see Daniel Perry approaching you on the street, what could possibly be more reasonable than to believe that a man who has murdered before, then received a pat on the back and a get out of jail free card from the governor himself, is about to murder you too … and to react accordingly?

The world would likely be a safer place today if Garrett Foster had been able to get his rifle up in time to defend himself from Perry. Texas would certainly be a safer place today if a soft on (Republican-base-pleasing) crime governor hadn’t turned Perry loose.

Be safe out there, Texans. Avoid Perry if you can. Put him down like the rabid dog he is if you must.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter:@thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

Just For the Kicks (or, Why I’m Still a Harrison Butker Fan)

Harrison Butker on the sideline of the AFC Championship in Baltimore on January 28, 2024. Public domain.
Harrison Butker on the sideline of the AFC Championship in Baltimore on January 28, 2024. Public domain.

It’s graduation time in America! By which I which mean: it’s “problematic” commencement speech time in America!

For a couple of days, the big story (if commencement speeches can really be said to constitute news)  was the Duke University student walkout on comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s talk, less because of anything he had to say than because they regarded him as too “pro-Israel.”

But, as we’ve seen over the last five years, the Kansas City Chiefs almost always find a way to win.

Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker’s speech at Benedictine College took place the day before Seinfeld’s outing, then methodically marched down the news cycle field to score.

While I’ve browsed an account or two of Butker’s speech — in summary, he seems to think women belong in the kitchen, LGBTQ people belong in the closet, and Joe Biden belongs somewhere other than in the White House — this is one of those rare opinion pieces where studying the material misses the point.

I don’t care what Harrison Butker thinks about politics. I don’t care what Harrison Butker thinks about religion. I don’t care what Harrison Butker thinks about women or gender and sexual minorities. I’d rather not even know what he thinks about those people and things.

Harrison Butker’s job involves kicking a football through a goalpost to score points in a game. He’s good at that. VERY good. He saved the Chiefs’ bacon in several games last season and kicked the winning field goal in Super Bowl LVIII, after a Super Bowl record kick (57 yards) earlier in the game. He boasts the second best career field goal percentage of any kicker in NFL history.

That’s all I want from the guy. If he runs around babbling nonsense at college graduates in the off-season, that’s his business, so long as he avoids injury and comes back this fall to kick more footballs through more goalposts.

I watch movies featuring actors whose politics and/or personalities I might find odious (Sean Penn, James Woods, and Kevin Spacey come immediately to mind). Why? Because I love good movies and great acting.

In the mid-1990s, I saw REM live in concert at Sandstone Amphitheater (now Azura) outside Kansas City. The band’s singer, Michael Stipe, vocally supported gun control, which I oppose. I bought the ticket and enjoyed the show anyway. Why? Because they were hands-down the greatest American band of the time, that’s why.

If I engaged with Harrison Butker on political or social issues,  I’d care about Harrison Butker’s deep thoughts on political and social issues.

But I engage with Harrison Butker as a Chiefs fan watching a Chiefs player kick footballs (and opponents’ rear ends). And he delivers the goods.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY