Why I Think Elena Kagan Will Be a Good Choice for the Supreme Court

I must admit I was hesitant at first. Then I heard that Elena Kagan had taken a stance in opposition to military recruitment on campus based on the military discriminating against LGBT/T people.

Then I heard she had clerked for Thurgood Marshall.

Marshall was without doubt one of the finest of all the Supreme Court Justices. There have been men (and all but three so far have been men) who are transcendent in the furthering of true American values. Not the fraudulent right wing values of movie star ad men but the real American values of justice and equality. To clerk for such a man and to study and learn from such a man is one of the greatest opportunities a human being could ever have.

To have a Thurgood Marshall mentor you and help shape your path in the study of and philosophy of the Constitution is both an honor and the highest form of recommendation.

It speaks highly of Elena Kagan that she has taken to heart and quoted from this following speech as it is one of those speeches that not only deserves to be remembered but taught as part of the history and social studies we pass on to our children.

I know the right wing liars and con artists who fill the air waves with their propaganda are going to misquote this speech and few will repost it in full so here is the entirety of the speech Elena Kagan quoted from without the redacting and spin one has come to expect from the corporate owned media.

From: http://www.thurgoodmarshall.com/speeches/constitutional_speech.htm

This speech Thurgood Marshall gave in 1987 was part of the constitutional bicentennial celebration. Politicians and Judges around the country were praising the “founding Fathers” for their genius at writing a document that established the guiding legal principles of the republic for generations. But Marshall was one of the few voices pointing out that the original constitution required numerous amendments and came to a crisis that required a Civil War to solve. In a time of flag waving and patriotic rhetoric, Marshall’s comments surprised many and created Front-page headlines:

Remarks of Thurgood Marshall
At The Annual Seminar
of the
SAN FRANCISCO PATENT AND TRADEMARK LAW ASSOCIATION
In Maui, Hawaii May 6, 1987

1987 marks the 200th anniversary of the United States Constitution. A Commission has been established to coordinate the celebration. The official meetings, essay contests, and festivities have begun.

The planned commemoration will span three years, and I am told 1987 is “dedicated to the memory of the Founders and the document they drafted in Philadelphia.” Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, First Full Year’s Report, at 7 (September 1986). we are to “recall the achievements of our Founders and the knowledge and experience that inspired them, the nature of the government they established, its origins, its character, and its ends, and the rights and privileges of citizenship, as well as its attendant responsibilities.” Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, First Report, at 6 (September 17, 1985).

Like many anniversary celebrations, the plan for 1987 takes particular events and holds them up as the source of all the very best that has followed. Patriotic feelings will surely swell, prompting proud proclamations of the wisdom, foresight, and sense of justice shared by the Framers and reflected in a written document now yellowed with age. This is unfortunate not the patriotism itself, but the tendency for the celebration to oversimplify, and overlook the many other events that have been instrumental to our achievements as a nation. The focus of this celebration invites a complacent belief that the vision of those who debated and compromised in Philadelphia yielded the “more perfect Union” it is said we now enjoy.

I cannot accept this invitation, for I do not believe that the meaning of the Constitution was forever “fixed” at the Philadelphia Convention. Nor do I find the wisdom, foresight, and sense of justice exhibited by the Framers particularly profound. To the contrary, the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights, we hold as fundamental today. When contemporary Americans cite “The Constitution,” they invoke a concept that is vastly different from what the Framers barely began to construct two centuries ago.

For a sense of the evolving nature of the Constitution we need look no further than the first three words of the document’s preamble: ‘We the People.” When the Founding Fathers used this phrase in 1787, they did not have in mind the majority of America’s citizens. “We the People” included, in the words of the Framers, “the whole Number of free Persons.” United States Constitution, Art. 1, 52 (Sept. 17, 1787). On a matter so basic as the right to vote, for example, Negro slaves were excluded, although they were counted for representational purposes at threefifths each. Women did not gain the right to vote for over a hundred and thirty years. The 19th Amendment (ratified in 1920).

These omissions were intentional. The record of the Framers’ debates on the slave question is especially clear: The Southern States acceded to the demands of the New England States for giving Congress broad power to regulate commerce, in exchange for the right to continue the slave trade. The economic interests of the regions coalesced: New Englanders engaged in the “carrying trade” would profit from transporting slaves from Africa as well as goods produced in America by slave labor. The perpetuation of slavery ensured the primary source of wealth in the Southern States.

Despite this clear understanding of the role slavery would play in the new republic, use of the words “slaves” and “slavery” was carefully avoided in the original document. Political representation in the lower House of Congress was to be based on the population of “free Persons” in each State, plus three fifths of all “other Persons.” United States Constitution, Art. 1, 52 (Sept. 17, 1787). Moral principles against slavery, for those who had them, were compromised, with no explanation of the conflicting principles for which the American Revolutionary War had ostensibly been fought: the self evident truths “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Declaration of independence (July 4, 1776).

It was not the first such compromise. Even these ringing phrases from the Declaration of Independence are filled with irony, for an early draft of what became that Declaration assailed the King of England for suppressing legislative attempts to end the slave trade and for encouraging slave rebellions. See Becker, The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of Political Ideas 147 (1942). The final draft adopted in 1776 did not contain this criticism. And so again at the Constitutional Convention eloquent objections to the institution of slavery went unheeded, and its opponents eventually consented to a document which laid a foundation for the tragic events that were to follow.

Pennsylvania’s Governor Morris provides an example. He opposed slavery and the counting of slaves in determining the basis for representation in Congress. At the Convention he objected that

“The inhabitant of Georgia [or] South Carolina who goes to the coast of Africa, and in defiance of the most sacred laws of humanity tears away his fellow creatures from their dearest connections and damns them to the most cruel bondages, shall have more votes in a Government instituted for protection of the rights of mankind, than the Citizen of Pennsylvania or New Jersey who views with a laudable horror, so nefarious a Practice.” Farrand, ad., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. 11, 222 (New Haven, Conn., 1911).

And yet Governor Morris eventually accepted the three fifths accommodation. In fact, he wrote the final draft of the Constitution, the very document the bicentennial will commemorate.

As a result of compromise, the right of the southern States to continue importing slaves was extended, officially, at least until 1808. We know that it actually lasted a good deal longer, as the Framers possessed no monopoly on the ability to trade moral principles for self interest. But they nevertheless set an unfortunate example. Slaves could be imported, if the commercial interests of the North were protected. To make the compromise even more palatable, customs duties would be imposed at up to ten dollars per slave as a means of raising public revenues. United States Constitution, Art. 1, 59 (Sept. 17, 1787).

No doubt it will be said, when the unpleasant truth of the history of slavery in America is mentioned during this bicentennial year, that the Constitution was a product of its times, and embodied a compromise which, under other circumstances, would not have been made. But the effects of the Framers’ compromise have remained for generations. They arose from the contradiction between guaranteeing liberty and justice to all, and denying both to Negroes.

The original intent of the phrase, “We the People,” was far too clear for any ameliorating construction. Writing for the Supreme Court in 1857, Chief Justice Taney penned the following passage in the Dred Scott case, 19 How. (60 U.S.) 393, 405, 407408 (1857). on the issue whether, in the eyes of the Framers, slaves were “constituent members of the sovereignty,” and were to be included among “We the People”:

“We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included…. They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race…; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit…. [A]ccordingly, a Negro of the African race was regarded … as an article of property, and held, and bought and sold as such…. [N]o one seems to have doubted the correctness of the prevailing opinion of the time.”

And so, nearly seven decades after the Constitutional Convention, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the prevailing opinion of the Framers regarding the rights of Negroes in America. It took a bloody civil war before the l3th Amendment could be adopted to abolish slavery, though not the consequences slavery would have for future Americans.

While the Union survived the civil war, the Constitution did not. In its place arose a new, more promising basis for justice and equality, the 14th Amendment, ensuring protection of the life, liberty, and property of all persons against deprivations without due process, and guaranteeing equal protection of the laws. And yet almost another century would pass before any significant recognition was obtained of the rights of black Americans to share equally even in such basic opportunities as education, housing, and employment, and to have their votes counted, and counted equally. In the meantime, blacks joined America’s military to fight its wars and invested untold hours working in its factories and on its farms, contributing to the development of this country’s magnificent wealth and waiting to share in its prosperity.

What is striking is the role legal principles have played throughout America’s history in determining the condition of Negroes. They were enslaved by law, emancipated by law, disenfranchised and segregated by law; and, finally, they have begun to win equality by law. Along the way, new constitutional principles have emerged to meet the challenges of a changing society. The progress has been dramatic, and it will continue.

The men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 could not have envisioned these changes. They could not have imagined, nor would they have accepted, that the document they were drafting would one day be construed by a Supreme Court to which had been appointed a woman and the descendent of an African slave. We the People” no longer enslave, but the credit does not belong to the Framers. It belongs to those who refused to acquiesce in outdated notions of “liberty,” “justice,” and “equality,” and who strived to better them.

And so we must be careful, when focusing on the events which took place in Philadelphia two centuries ago, that we not overlook the momentous events which followed, and thereby lose our proper sense of perspective. Otherwise, the odds are that for many Americans the bicentennial celebration will be little more than a blind pilgrimage to the shrine of the original document now stored in a vault in the National Archives. If we seek, instead, a sensitive understanding of the Constitution’s inherent defects, and its promising evolution through 200 years of history, the celebration of the “Miracle at Philadelphia” Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May to September 1787 (Boston 1966). will, in my view, be a far more meaningful and humbling experience. We will see that the true miracle was not the birth of the Constitution, but its life, a life nurtured through two turbulent centuries of our own making, and a life embodying much good fortune that was not.

Thus, in this bicentennial year, we may not all participate in the festivities with flag waving fervor. Some may more quietly commemorate the suffering, struggle, and sacrifice that has triumphed over much of what was wrong with the original document, and observe the anniversary with hopes not realized and promises not fulfilled. I plan to celebrate the bicentennial of the Constitution as a living document, including the Bill of Rights and the other amendments protecting individual freedoms and human rights.

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Religion and the Pursuit of Ignorance

In the grand book  of Judeo-Christian mythology the “fall from grace” was supposedly caused by the woman eating a “forbidden fruit” not from an apple tree but from the tree of knowledge.

From this passage we learn the religious message ignorance equals innocence and knowledge is bad.  The funny thing about knowledge is that it causes people to question dogma.

And religions of all sorts have supposedly difficult to understand obscure knowledge that we are not supposed to question.  One of the biggest questions that they do not have an answer for is the one regarding why we supposedly need some sort of parasitical priest class to intercede for us when we are capable of reading the mythology for ourselves.

However the main point of this entry is to point out how religion promotes sexual ignorance only they call it innocence. Weasel testicles, indeed…

Or the Catholic Girls Contraceptive Prayer, “Mary conceived without sin, please let me sin without conceiving.”  There is a word for girls who use this birth control method.  The word is, “mothers”.

We are not supposed to enjoy sex.  That is the real message of abstinence indoctrination.  Sex is to make more consumer units and cannon fodder and not for pleasure.

Oh yes and to make more supporters of the parasitical priestly class.  Some one after all has to pay for all that gorgeous art not to mention custom made Prada pumps for Pope Adolf.

But sometimes the most serious test one can put obscure dogma to is the one of Occam’s Razor. I tend to apply this test to things that seem too far fetched to fall within the range of likely.  Many things go poof when asked the questions:  Is that really possible? and What is the likelihood of that actually happening?

Often time though we fail to ask other important questions.

Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence included the “pursuit of happiness” as an essential human right. That one seemed a bit extreme to the framers of the Constitution who replaced that phrase with “property”.

After all pleasure for the masses? Come now… Pleasure should be the right of only the wealth.  If it were a right of everyone why would people waste their entire lives as wage slaves.  Better to market pleasure as a consumer product.

I saw the sexual revolution as stating that pleasure was a legitimate end and not something to be marketed to those able to afford the price tag.

That was one of the things about “Hippie”, the right to pursue pleasure without being a wage slave and the consumer of marketed pleasure.

In all the pseudo-scientific dogma that has arisen around transsexualism there has been an obscuring of the pursuit of happiness element.

I was miserably unhappy living as a male.  My femininity caused me great abuse and I thought I would be happier being female.  I tried it out by living full time as a woman and taking hormones.  And I found I was happier as well as treated far better.

Changing sex worked for me.

Most of the dogma seems aimed at belittling the pursuit of happiness aspect of what I did and in doing so comes up with ways that makes what I did seem perverse and complex.

The pursuit of ignorance seems intent on labeling transsexuals evil for their willingness to explore life as a member of the sex they were not assigned to at birth, especially those of us who get SRS to remove that primary label that ties us to that original assignment.

It sometimes seems as though we challenge the religious dogma of predestination by changing an ascribed attribute into an obtainable one.

But work calls…