Oh we are quaking in our boots over here, wanking motion.
Last week, your beloved Wonkette received a very serious letter accusing us of ALL THE LIBELSLANDER.
Remember the CARES Act PPP loans for "small businesses" that ended up going to major corporations and Trump sycophants who gave lots of
speech money to various Republican assholes?
Well, back in April of 2020, Doktor Zoom wrote this lovely piece about how hotel mogul and Trump donor Monty Bennett was the largest recipient of funds from CARES Act's Paycheck Protection Plan, getting $96 million for his business empire from the Small Business Administration. Oh, and he did this while laying off 95 percent of his staff. NBD!
I think I love you
Is it okay if I call you Monty and Steve? I'm gonna call you Monty and Steve. Before we move on, I would just like to take a moment to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this beautiful, beautiful gift. I also have a question.
You presumably came to our website at least once, to read all of the mean, true things you complain about in your letter. So you should have at least some concept of Wonkette's tone.
Even without doing a cursory google to see how we might respond to letters such as this, did the words "Streisand Effect" really never once come to mind?
But, again, thank you. Truly. Last week was a very hard week and I was in great need of a little comic relief. And a defamation accusation containing such gems as the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of "sleazy" was exactly what I needed.
You may not know this about me, Monty and Steve. But responding to these kinds of threats and lawsuits is actually one of my favorite things.
So what are you so afraid of?
From your letter, it appears Monty is upset that we were mean to him. While that's sad for Monty, I recommend he start his quest for redemption by acting like a decent human being, not threatening mommyblogs with bullshit lawsuits.
But let's not speak only in generalizations. Let's get into the specifics of your letter. Because I always love me a good dictionary definition!
The article states that Mr. Bennett "exploit[ed] the 'small' business loan program" and that his actions were "sleazy as fuck." According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "sleazy" is defined to mean "sordid, corrupt, or immoral."
I prefer Merriam-Webster, personally, but you do you. I'm a little sad you didn't also give us a definition of "as fuck" to accompany it, though.
As I once helpfully pointed out to one Mr. Bob Murray, you can't sue someone for telling you to eat shit, and you can't sue someone for calling you "sleazy." That's called an opinion, and it is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. As I also helpfully explained to Mr. Murray (along with some illustrative photographs), truth is an absolute defense to a claim of defamation. Unfortunately, I do not have any artwork to use here, but I do really enjoy the part of your letter where you tell us that our reporting was correct, but defamatory nonetheless.
The PPP loans obtained by hotel properties within Ashford's portfolio were obtained lawfully and in a manner contemplated by provisions of the CARES Act. The article acknowledges the legality of the loan applications but falsely implies that there was some corruption in the loan application process.
Defamatory implications! And we apparently did a lot of them!
The article falsely implies that there was some deception in the loan application process.
Just to clarify: We implied no such corruption in the loan application process, and we implied no deception in the loan application process. Former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, though, got very GRR MAD that large huge HUGE corporations such as yours were taking advantage of it — or "exploiting" it, as is the definition of "exploiting" per the Commie Girl Industries Inc. dictionary and probably some others. And indeed, you were eventually shamed into returning the money, because it was not the intent of the program, even if it was allowed! Is that our fault? Maybe!
I find it truly fascinating that the letter
you sent us refers to Monty's business empire as "the Ashford portfolio," but you would like to make sure we affirmatively note that companies named things like "Ashford, Inc." and "Ashford Hospitality Trust, Inc." are, technically, separately and legally distinct entities. (Separate and legally distinct entities that are all run by Monty, here, but we are sure that, too, is just a coincidence.) So, sure, WE RETRACT AND ARE HEARTILY SORRY. We good?
Oh! And it appears we were supposed to predict that, at some point after our post was published, Monty would be publicly shamed into returning the PPP loan money and rehiring some people?
Further, Ashford subsequently returned all of the PPP loan funds and rehired many furloughed employees.
You are also perturbed that we wrote about how Monty "had to console himself with some great big bonuses, plus huge dividends from his preferred stock" while laying off almost all of his staff. But we clearly never should have said such a thing, since, as you point out in your letter, "Mr. Bennett's dividends from Ashford, Inc. were decreased as a result of the pandemic." (Emphasis yours.) We really should have noted that Monty became slightly less filthy rich as a result of the pandemic and paid himself a measly $950,000 salary and $2.3 million bonus last year. He paid himself LESS "bonus" — generally considered to be appropriate compensation when a corporation is doing well, not "suffer[ing] enormous financial losses" as you, yourself, describe it — while laying people off and taking PPP loans. Congratulations, Monty. You're a prince.
Like all truly great defamation threats, your letter also includes one of my favorite tropes: not just a retraction demand, but a demand to say ... some random other shit.
My clients further demand that Wonkette affirmatively state the truth about Mr. Bennett and Ashford, which is that they acted lawfully and ethically in obtaining PPP loans after having suffered enormous financial losses during the pandemic, that none of the PPP loan funds were retained by Ashford portfolio properties, and that Mr. Bennett's compensation decreased as a result of the pandemic.
Since Monty is known to pay conservative outlets to be nice to him, I guess it tracks that he thinks he can just bully or pay everyone off. But "ethically"?! SERIOUSLY?! ("After The Times presented evidence that [Bennett] directly ordered articles [contrary to Bennett's spokeswoman's flat denial], lawyers representing [the rightwing "news" publisher Brian] Timpone sent The Times a cease and desist letter, demanding that it not publish the information." It's what's called "the kicker": a vividly outrageous scene to end your story on a WTF note. And Timpone's lawyers apparently didn't threaten to SLAPP the New York By God Times about anything in the Times's extremely damning story — other than their client's relationship with Monty Bennett.)
Oh, Monty and Steve. You know what? I'm going to put this in a way you might understand. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "ethical" as "conforming to accepted standards of conduct." So we respectfully decline.
Thanks but no thanks
Thank you again for your correspondence dated August 25, 2021.
Despite our disagreements, I'd like to acknowledge that I very much appreciate a comment at the end of the letter, where you say you "trust" that we "understand the seriousness of this matter."
We do understand the seriousness of this matter. We absolutely do. We know all too well about the scourge of frivolous litigation clogging our courts that seeks to do nothing more than stifle free speech. People who use the American legal system to silence others just because they don't like what they say are abhorrent and should be ashamed of themselves. This is an epidemic among the mega-rich and rightwing politicians, and it must be stopped.
As for your demand that we "retract and/or correct" some of the very BESMIRCH STATEMENTS we published about Monty, I believe we gave it the appropriate level of seriousness.
Oh, and is this the right place for a reminder that your proposed lawsuit would involve digging into Monty's reputation? Since he's claiming we damaged it with our besmirches? That does sound fun for me, but maybe not so much for you. (And how is that SEC investigation going, by the way?)
Anyway, guys, I appreciate you. I do. But I think you could both really benefit from a primer on defamation law and the First Amendment. May I suggest taking a look at
this legal brief written by a very smart lady with the initials JLC?
Again, thank you for your letter. I mean that.
For more snark and First Amendment lessons, follow
Jamie on Twitter!
Every part of SB 8 is a parade of horribles, and they like it like that.
Welcome to Gilead.
Two days ago, because this is the Bad Place, a Texas law banning basically all abortion and deputizing abortion bounty hunters went into effect.
I am not exaggerating when I say SB 8 is the most batshit, psychopathic, sexist law I have ever seen actually take effect. And I used to work at the ACLU of West Virginia — I have seen a lot of shit!
All abortions after six weeks — or two weeks after the first missed period, if you are completely regular with your periods — are now illegal in Texas. And, just in case destroying people's lives wasn't enough, anyone can sue anyone who may have possibly thought about helping someone get an abortion. (Really, you can be sued for intending to abet an abortion that does not take place.) And, like SER and Robyn already told you, this week, the Supreme Court essentially overturned Roe v. Wade in secret. First, by failing to act. Then, by acting in the worst way possible.
I'm not sure if "misogyfascist" is an actual term, but I've decided to roll with it.
It's all bad.
Earlier parts of SB 8 get into the whole "heartbeat" thing. But, for the purposes of this post, here's the most relevant section:
Sec. 171.208. CIVIL LIABILITY FOR VIOLATION OR AIDING OR ABETTING VIOLATION.
(a) Any person, other than an officer or employee of a state or local governmental entity in this state, may bring a civil action against any person who:
(1) performs or induces an abortion in violation of this subchapter;
(2) knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion, including paying for or reimbursing the costs of an abortion through insurance or otherwise, if the abortion is performed or induced in violation of this subchapter, regardless of whether the person knew or should have known that the abortion would be performed or induced in violation of this subchapter; or
(3) intends to engage in the conduct described by Subdivision (1) or (2).
Let's get something straight: There is no part of this law that isn't sadistic, psychopathic, and dumb as hell. And absolutely none of it would be acceptable under any circumstances. But what it actually does is so much worse than it even sounds, if you read most of the press coverage of SB 8.
Take a look at (3) right there. Not only is actually having an abortion or helping someone have an abortion illegal; it's also illegal to even consider having an abortion or helping someone get one.
So not only does this law allow any random-ass piece of shit to file a lawsuit against any person with a uterus accusing them of having an "illegal" abortion. And not only does it also allow those psychopaths to accuse any doctor of performing an "illegal" abortion. It also allows them to sue literally anyone they think might have ever considered having an abortion, or might have considered helping someone have an abortion.
So under what is now CURRENT, EXISTING TEXAS LAW, abortion bounty hunting can be brought by, for example:
- Abusive men who claim their partner/ex wanted to have an abortion, even if they didn't go through with it.
- Rapists who feel like banding together to sue each other's victims and share the bounties.
- Any fucking random sadist with nothing better to do.
- Abortion funds, their employees, and the people who donate to them.
- A mom who helps her teenager get a legal abortion in another state.
- Uber/Lyft drivers who may have transported pregnant people.
- Alllllll the OB-GYNs.
- People who actually care about women and pregnant people.
- Literally anyone with a uterus.
It's also fucking absurd.
In addition to all of the terrible things this law allows, it is also written so poorly as to give us some amazing possibilities, that certainly must have been unintended consequences.
With that part in section 3, allowing people to target anyone who "intends to engage" in "aiding or abetting" an abortion, I can make a good-faith legal argument that any man who has even thought about having heterosexual sex, much less had heterosexual sex, or even — gasp! — unprotected heterosexual sex, has intended to engage in aiding and abetting abortion.
Some of the intended consequences are also great. The abortion bounty hunter can sue whomever he wants, in any county in the (very large) state, and the defendant isn't allowed to move it to a closer venue. And even defendants who win because they had absolutely nothing to do with "aiding and abetting" an abortion can't recover their costs and attorney's fees.
So, one may wonder, what is stopping people from clogging Texas's court system with cases alleging every legislator who voted for this abomination has intended to aid and abet an abortion? In the furthest county from where they live? And forcing them to pay for attorneys to defend the case?
Can we fucking do anything about this?
Yes! The real question is whether Democrats actually will do anything.
The thing is, there actually are a whole bunch of things Democrats could do. But the problem is, most of these potential solutions require thinking outside the box. And if there's one thing the powers that be in the Democratic Party love, it's archaic norms.
Decades ago, Republicans and Democrats were in a basement, sitting at a table, playing chess. Then, the Republicans doused the basement in gasoline and set it on fire. But the Democrats are still sitting at the table, yelling about the rules of chess.
Like Elie Mystal writes over at The Nation, "The only question is how far Democrats are willing to go to defend women's rights." And, frankly, you can sing all the platitudes you want — I'll believe it when I see it.
There have been a lot of great press releases about protecting abortion rights this week. And that's nice. I appreciate words of support, I do. But, unless you are on the front lines doing absolutely everything you can to stop this, you can shove your press releases up your ass.
Want a few free ideas, Democratic leadership? Here you go!
- Pass Women's Health Protection Act, codifying Roe, fucking yesterday.
- Expand the goddamn motherfucking Court and our circuit courts before our democracy crumbles as we all sit here watching.
- As Mystal suggests, use the doctrine of qualified immunity for good, for once. Make abortion providers federal officials — like vaccine distribution, but for abortion. They will have qualified immunity for all of their official actions.
- Make DC and Puerto Rico states. (Assuming PR wants to be a state, that is. I certainly wouldn't blame Puerto Ricans giving that one a hard pass.)
For her part, Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that she would be bringing the Women's Health Protection Act up for a vote when Congress returns. Awesome! But Congress is still chillin' until the end of the month. Shame on my fucking Congress for going on a two-month vacation without lifting a finger to stop this travesty, when we all knew it was coming
Yesterday, Biden, too, released a great statement. Noting that the Supreme Court had "unleash[ed] unconstitutional chaos and empower[ed] self-anointed enforcers to have devastating impacts" on people's lives, Biden directed the White House Counsel's Office and Gender Policy Council "to launch a whole-of-government effort" to respond to this decision. He asked the offices to "look specifically to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to see what steps the Federal Government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe, and what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas' bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties."
Good. Great! But, again, I'll believe there is real action coming just as soon as it happens.
What's happening in Texas right now is already destroying lives, we have known since May that this was coming, and my federal government did absolutely nothing to stop it.
I have nothing good to say about any of this.
Unless we're counting things like "Maybe SCOTUS will wait a few years before going full fetal personhood and banning all abortion nationwide?" and "Rich people will always be able to get abortions" as "good" now, I got nothin'.
The Onion continues to be depressingly prescient, with a new post titled "New Texas Law Allows Private Citizens To Hold Pregnant Women Hostage Until Birth." And don't kid yourselves: That shit is coming next.
While our political and court systems continue to fail us, there are some amazing people in Texas fighting the good fight on the ground. Organizations like RAICES, the Texas Equal Access Fund, Frontera Fund, Jane's Due Process, and Fund Texas Choice are still working — and, in some cases, straight-up saying that laws like this one are "meant to be broken."
Now is a great time to donate to or volunteer with an organization helping people in Texas access the abortion care they need.
I have donated to a few Texas orgs and abortion funds this week. A few people have asked if I'm afraid of being sued. And you know what I have to say to that?
Bring. It. On.
Follow Jamie on Twitter, she has a lot more to say about abortion rights and misogyfascists.
'This lawsuit should never have been filed.'
"This lawsuit should never have been filed."
That is both a direct quote from and the basic gist of Judge Linda Parker's opinion in King v. Whitmer. This week, the universe was given the gift of Judge Parker's opinion yelling at Trump's krackhead lawyers for bringing a rotting squid carcass into her courtroom.
(Okay, that last part is paraphrasing.)
Last fall, Judge Parker drew the short straw and was assigned Sidney Powell and Lin Wood's Michigan case trying to overturn the election.
This lawsuit represents a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process. It is one thing to take on the charge of vindicating rights associated with an allegedly fraudulent election. It is another to take on the charge of deceiving a federal court and the American people into believing that rights were infringed, without regard to whether any laws or rights were in fact violated. This is what happened here.
And so, Parker ordered each plaintiffs' lawyer in this case to pay the State of Michigan and City of Detroit's costs and fees, and also take classes about how to be lawyers.
She also referred each lawyer — Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, Emily Newman, Julia Haller, Brandon Johnson, Scott Hagerstrom, Howard Kleinhendler, Gregory Rohl, respectively — to the disciplinary authorities where they're admitted to practice law. There, their licenses could be suspended or revoked. (Also known as "doing a Guiliani.")
They fucked around. Now they find out.
Remember last November and December, when a bunch of brainwashed grundles were telling anyone who would listen that Trump had actually won the election? Despite losing literally every swing state?
But here's the thing.
While there are many arenas—including print, television, and social media—where protestations, conjecture, and speculation may be advanced, such expressions are neither permitted nor welcomed in a court of law.
Dearest Sidney and Lin, you can go on Twitter and say alllllll the dumb shit you want. (Oh, sorry, Lin. I forgot you actually can't.) The First Amendment protects your right to spew cultish conspiracy theories in the marketplace of ideas! The First Amendment does not, however, give you the right to make shit up and abuse our court system with lawsuits trying to overturn a democratic election.
Of course, an "empty-head" but "pure-heart" does not justify lodging patently unsupported factual assertions.
This is not okay. The Court remains baffled after trying to ascertain what convinced Plaintiffs' counsel otherwise.
[S]ubjective belief that an event occurred does not constitute evidence that the event in fact occurred.
So. Were they wrong about the law? Yes.
Plaintiffs' counsel advanced claims that were not well-grounded in the law, as demonstrated by their (i) presentment of claims not warranted by existing law or a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing the law; (ii) assertion that acts or events violated Michigan election law, when the acts and events (even if they occurred) did not; and (iii) failure to inquire into the requirements of Michigan election law.
But were they wrong about the facts? Also yes.
Plaintiffs' counsel advanced claims that were also not well-grounded in fact, as demonstrated by their (i) failure to present any evidentiary support for factual assertions; (ii) presentment of conjecture and speculation as evidentiary support for factual assertions; (iii) failure to inquire into the evidentiary support for factual assertions; (iv) failure to inquire into evidentiary support taken from other lawsuits; and (v) failure to inquire into [their so-called expert's] outlandish and easily debunked numbers.
And lawyers are supposed to be better than this, you absolute wankers.
Indeed, attorneys take an oath to uphold and honor our legal system. The sanctity of both the courtroom and the litigation process are preserved only when attorneys adhere to this oath and follow the rules, and only when courts impose sanctions when attorneys do not. And despite the haze of confusion, commotion, and chaos counsel intentionally attempted to create by filing this lawsuit, one thing is perfectly clear: Plaintiffs' attorneys have scorned their oath, flouted the rules, and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way. As such, the Court is duty-bound to grant the motions for sanctions[.]
To the astonishment of absolutely everyone paying attention, Powell used her sanctions hearing to compare herself to Thurgood Marshall, and, in Judge Parker's words, "baselessly suggest" her dumbass suit was "akin to Brown v. Board of Education."
"Yes, attorneys may and should raise difficult and even unpopular issues to urge change in the law where change is needed." But, umm, (andnoIcan'tbelievethisactuallyfuckinghastobesaid,) Sidney Powell, ain't you no Thurgood Marshall. As Judge Parker puts it,
Brown arose from an undeniable history during which Black Americans were treated as second-class citizens through legalized segregation in the schools of our country. In stark comparison, the present matter is built on fantastical claims and conspiracy theories.
Powell latched onto the Dominion plaintiffs' assertion that her allegations amounted to "wild accusations" and "outlandish claims" and therefore, she argued, "reasonable people would not accept" these alleged statements and allegations "as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by courts through the adversary process."
Turns out judges don't love it when you say "I was being such a moron that no one should have taken me seriously and it's your own fault if you did" about actual suits you filed in a court of law.
SHOCKED, I AM SHOCKED!
It is not acceptable to support a lawsuit with opinions, which counsel herself claims no reasonable person would accept as fact and which were "inexact," "exaggerate[ed]," and "hyperbole." Nor is it acceptable to use the federal judiciary as a political forum to satisfy one's political agenda. Such behavior by an attorney in a court of law has consequences.
Nor was the judge persuaded by Powell's argument that she was simply too careless and ignorant to figure out if "facts" were "true.
Plaintiffs' counsel may not bury their heads in the sand and thereafter make affirmative proclamations about what occurred above ground. In such cases, ignorance is not bliss—it is sanctionable.
Or, as I might put it, "You are dumber than an ostrich taint."
Some of the stupidest criminals in the world are working right here in America. I've always been very proud of that.
Pro-tip: try to live your life so a judge never has to tell you there's a difference between Telegram and federal court.
Plaintiffs' counsel's politically motivated accusations, allegations, and gamesmanship may be protected by the First Amendment when posted on Twitter, shared on Telegram, or repeated on television. The nation's courts, however, are reserved for hearing legitimate causes of action.
Sidney. Lin. Do you ... know what an attorney is? Neither I nor Judge Parker is convinced that you do.
Unfortunately for team squid, "I'm too dumb to live" does not insulate you from the consequences for your actions. If you don't believe me, just ask the anti-vaxxers currently dying of COVID.
Bring on the sanctions!
Sanctions are required to deter the filing of future frivolous lawsuits designed primarily to spread the narrative that our election processes are rigged and our democratic institutions cannot be trusted. Notably, many people have latched onto this narrative, citing as proof counsel's submissions in this case. The narrative may have originated or been repeated by Former President Trump and it may be one that "many Americans" share; however, that neither renders it true nor justifies counsel's exploitation of the courts to further spread it.
Now, the lawyers have to take at least twelve hours of "how to be a lawyer" classes, with at least six about election law and six about pleading standards. The judge anticipated these wingnuts would try to take continuing legal education courses taught by Larry Klayman at Trump University, and mandated they "be offered by a non-partisan organization" and "paid for at counsel's expense."
[T]his lawsuit was not about vindicating rights in the wake of alleged election fraud. Instead, it was about ensuring that a preferred political candidate remained in the presidential seat despite the decision of the nation's voters to unseat him.
Facts supporting the "Trump won" fever dreams are more elusive than literal kraken; giant squids with eyes the size basketballs are actually a real thing that exists.
As I have said a lot over the last several years: this may not be the worst timeline, but it certainly is the dumbest.
This court order could have straight-up quoted directly from Billy Madison and it would have made complete sense.
What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
But the judge's actual opinion is pretty great, too.
Here it is, for your viewing pleasure:
And did I say "Suck it, Sidney Powell"? Suck it, Sidney Powell.
Jamie is salty and snarky on Twitter, too.
Eight months and three sentences.
That's all it took for the United States Supreme Court to go from rubber-stamping every executive order to forcing the president to torture legal immigrants.
Last night, without a hearing or any semblance of an opinion explaining their actions, six Supreme Court justices upended American immigration policy and effectively said the Department of Homeland Security is legally required to torture legal would-be immigrants by caging them up in inhumane conditions in Mexico.
Their reasoning? Well, because Trump said so, I suppose.
Less than two weeks ago, a Trump-appointed judge issued an absolutely batshit decision in Biden v. Texas, a case challenging the Biden administration's refusal to keep asylum seekers from Central and South America in tents on the other side of the US-Mexico border.
And now, ignoring decades of precedent and its own decisions from the last four years, the highest court in the land has co-signed one of the dumbest decisions ever to come out of a federal court — a decision that will doubtlessly result in deaths.
Like ACLU of Massachusetts Legal Director Matthew Segal tweeted, it's basically "Korematsu, except the Executive Branch tries to end internment and the Judicial Branch says no you have to do it."
If there's anyone left who doesn't recognize just how fucking abhorrent and dangerous the Roberts Court is, can you please raise your hand so we can adequately ostracize you? tyia
As most of us remember all too well, Donald Trump spent four years doing everything he and Immigration Obergruppenführer Stephen Miller could think of to screw over non-white immigrants.
One of the most disgusting policies of all was the "Remain in Mexico" policy Trump's Department of Homeland Security came up with, also called the "Migrant Protection Protocols." Under this policy, asylum seekers — who, by definition, are legal immigrants trying to escape horrific conditions in their home countries — were forced to live in inhumane conditions in tent cities in northern Mexico. Some 70,000 would-be immigrants who arrived at the southern border were forced back to Mexico under Trump
Unsurprisingly, these makeshift refugee camps are full of violence, crime, and disease. Like the Ninth Circuit found in an earlier case, "Uncontested evidence in the record establishes that non-Mexicans returned to Mexico [...] risk substantial harm, even death, while they await adjudication of their applications for asylum." And not only that — around 30,000 people we forced to stay in Mexico had their asylum cases denied ... because they didn't make it to their court hearings in the US.
When Biden took office, he immediately stopped forcing people into the camps. It took a little longer for the administration to relocate everyone, but they did it. And in June, DHS found the policy did not "adequately or sustainably enhance border management" while leaving tens of thousands of people without "stable access to housing, income, and safety" and "result[ed] in the abandonment of potentially meritorious protection claims."
This should have been the end of things. But this is the Bad Place, so here we are.
"Crime. Boy, I don't know."
Indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration, because HOW VERY DARE the president have the audacity to treat poor immigrants like human beings?! And, because there's literally nothing Republicans accuse Dems of that they don't to themselves, Paxton did a little forum shopping and filed the case in the Northern District of Texas, Amarillo Division, where he was guaranteed to pull Trump appointee Matthew Kacsmaryk, who is known for his hatred of pretty much everyone who isn't a rightwing, cis, straight, white man, as the judge.
Unsurprisingly, Kacsmaryk acted like the brainwashed bigot he is, did exactly what Paxton told him to do, and told Biden he had to go back to treating people like animals. The opinion makes even less sense than you might think, arguing that a 1996 immigration law makes the COVID-rape camps mandatory under federal law. This is particularly fascinating, since Trump first enacted his migrant torture program in 2019, meaning every administration since Clinton had apparently broken the law and no one noticed. Fascinating.
In normal times and with a functional judiciary, Kacsmaryk's fuckery would be quickly overturned by the circuit court. But we live here in the dumbest timeline, so of course that didn't happen. A panel of three far-right judges on the Fifth Circuit denied the government's request to stay the decision.
On Friday, Samuel Alito, destined to go down in history as one of the worst Supreme Court justices in American history, put the Fifth Circuit's decision on hold until Tuesday, so he could refer it to the full Court.
"SCOTUS is sane, they would never be so partisan as to fuck with foreign policy in this way," said lawyers who refuse to acknowledge just how bad things are going to get with our 6-3 fascist majority. And then the Supreme Court's order came down. The entire decision reads:
The application for a stay presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied. The applicants have failed to show a likelihood of success on the claim that the memorandum rescinding the Migrant Protection Protocols was not arbitrary and capricious. See Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 591 U. S. ___ (2020) (slip op., at 9-12, 17-26). Our order denying the Government's request for a stay of the District Court injunction should not be read as affecting the construction of that injunction by the Court of Appeals.
Justice Breyer, Justice Sotomayor, and Justice Kagan would grant the application.
That's it. No hearing. No opinion outlining their reasoning. Just three sentences to destroy tens of thousands of lives.
THIS IS FUCKING INSANE
I am a cynical bastard and I hate to be right about things that will result in murder, rape, torture, kidnappings, and COVID outbreaks. But here we are again.
Cases like this one, that go up to the Supreme Court without a full briefing on the merits and oral arguments, are part of what's called the "shadow docket." The shadow docket has become increasingly important in the last decade, despite all of the problems that come from the Court not having to explain its reasoning. Under the Trump regime, the shadow docket reigned supreme. Despite the fact that anyone could see Trump was constantly doing unconstitutional bullshit, SCOTUS ruled in Trump's favor in shadow docket cases 70 percent of the time.
It's almost impossible to overstate just how fucked up the Biden v. Texas ruling is. It ignores decades of precedent saying courts shouldn't mess with foreign affairs and immigration policy. (For more on the legal history involved, check out this piece from Vox.) And it's not just historical precedent — the Court is also ignoring its own decisions from the last four years, which essentially said that Trump had an Article II that said he could do whatever he wants with immigration.
For example, in the final Trump Muslim Ban case, John Roberts wrote that, "For more than a century, this Court has recognized that the admission and exclusion of foreign nationals is a fundamental sovereign attribute exercised by the Government's political departments largely immune from judicial control."
But, you see, these centuries-old doctrines simply cease to exist when a Democrat is elected president. Thus speaketh the Chief Justice.
I’m so old I remember when the Supreme Court wrote this three years ago. https://t.co/t65we1Hzzm— Joe Dunman (@Joe Dunman) 1629855909.0
And all of this is, of course, just setting aside the massive human rights violations the policy caused in the first place — and the fact that people will almost certainly be killed, raped, and kidnapped because of what these six justices decided in secret.
It's horrific in almost every way imaginable. And unless we grow some spines and stack the Court, this shit is going to continue as our very democracy crumbles around us.
I have nothing good to say about this one, sorry. Have some upset foster kittens.
For more kittens and legal rants, follow JLC on Twitter.