The U.S. Supreme Court Is A Tragic, Pathetic Joke

18 06 2019

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

The U.S. Supreme Court just issued its decision in Gamble v. United States, and “left the door open for state prosecutors to prosecute Trump campaign officials regardless of whether federal officials have already done so.”[2]  In his dissenting opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch—President Trump’s first appointment to the Court—wrote: 

A free society does not allow its government to try the same individual for the same crime until it’s happy with the result. Unfortunately, the Court today endorses a colossal exception to this ancient rule against double jeopardy.  My colleagues say that the federal government and each State are “separate sovereigns” entitled to try the same person for the same crime. So if all the might of one “sovereign” cannot succeed against the presumptively free individual, another may insist on the chance to try again. And if both manage to succeed, so much the better; they can add one punishment on top of the other. But this “separate sovereigns exception” to the bar against double jeopardy finds no meaningful support in the text of the Constitution, its original public meaning, structure, or history. Instead, the Constitution promises all Americans that they will never suffer double jeopardy. I would enforce that guarantee.[3]

Our Supreme Court has been a tragic, pathetic joke for years, certainly since it blessed infanticide in Roe v. Wade—and the killing of more than 55 million American babies.[4]  Also, Chief Justice John Roberts constitutes the second worst decision that former President George W. Bush made during his eight-year presidency—other than the senseless Iraq War in which more than 5,000 Americans died and many more were maimed, and trillions of dollars were wasted, for nothing.[5]

Perhaps an editorial of The New York Sun described the Gamble decision best:

How is it possible that, after all the tumult over the Supreme Court, the only two justices to grasp the plain language of the Constitution in respect of double jeopardy are — wait for it — Neil Gorsuch and Ruth Bader Ginsburg? It’s amazing enough that there are but two sages for the bedrock prohibition on double jeopardy. More amazing still that the question unites the right- and left-most justices.

The case, known as Gamble v. U.S., involves an ex-con named Terance Martez Gamble. He was pulled over in a traffic stop in 2015 at Alabama. A gun was found in his possession in violation of both Alabama and American law. Gamble pled to the state charges and drew a year. Then the federales turned around and charged him again for the same offense, drawing additional time for the same deed.

The justices rejected his appeal in an opinion — by Justice Alito — that reminds us of President Clinton’s hemming about how it depends on what the meaning of “is” is. In this case, it depends on the meaning of the word “offense.” The justices reckon there were two offenses, one carrying the blasted gun in Alabama and the other the same gun at the same time in the United States. Could the United Nations also charge him?

. . .

Justice Thomas, sage of what Myron Magnet, in his new book, calls the “lost Constitution,” manages to concur with the majority’s ruling against Gamble while attacking stare decisis. The ink wasn’t even dry on his concurrence when the press started warning that Justice Thomas was — yet again — prepping the ground for overturning Roe v. Wade. Others were more focused on the implications of Gamble for Paul Manafort.

New York, after all, is preparing to bring charges against President Trump’s former campaign manager even while Manafort sits in the Big House hoping for a pardon on federal charges. It’s not so clear, though, that New York will throw at Manafort the same charges Mr. Mueller levied. To discern differences between the federal and state cases against Gamble, though, one would need an electron microscope.

Our own interest in this case is neither stare decisis nor Paul Manafort nor Ms. Roe nor Mr. Wade. It is the plain language of the Fifth Amendment, where the prohibition against double jeopardy is laid down. Our national parchment was supposed to be a bar against such injustices as the state appealing acquittals or the law chasing someone from one court to another.

This is beautifully marked by both Justices Ginsburg and Gorsuch in two dissents. Justice Ginsburg, citing precedent about the separateness of federal and state laws, warned of “frittering away” Gamble’s liberty “upon a metaphysical subtlety, two sovereignties.” Thundered Justice Gorsuch: “A free society does not allow its government to try the same individual for the same crime until it’s happy with the result.”

It is not our intention to suggest that there can never be, say, a federal prosecution after a state acquittal. During the Jim Crow era, southern juries often ignored the facts. In those cases, though, the argument would be, and was, that the accused racists were never in genuine jeopardy in the first place. That is not what happened in the case of Terance Gamble.

All the more inspiring that the two dissenting judges from opposite ideological ends of the bench came together on this bedrock. It doesn’t suggest the confirmation battles are about nothing. It does remind all of us not to panic. The thinness of the vapors at the altitude where these justices breathe makes it hard to predict how they will behave. History teaches that great dissents have a way of getting vindicated over time.[6]

We can only hope that Justice Gorsuch’s dissenting opinion becomes the law of the land, which is not very promising given the 7-2 ruling—or for Paul Manafort and others who tried to help President Trump and may be caught in the insidious web of double jeopardy.  We have to thank our Supreme Court again for the perpetuation (or creation) of tragic injustices.[7] 

 

 

© 2019, Timothy D. Naegele


[1]  Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass). He and his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, specialize in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and Timothy D. Naegele Resume-19-4-29). He has an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal (see, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commendation_Medal#Joint_Service). Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2]  See https://www.thedailybeast.com/scotus-reaffirms-double-jeopardy-exception-allowing-trump-campaign-officials-to-be-tried-by-state-feds (“Supreme Court Reaffirms ‘Double Jeopardy’ Exception With Mueller Probe Implications”—”The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday reaffirmed a 170-year-old exception to the Constitution’s double-jeopardy clause, and left the door open for state prosecutors to prosecute Trump campaign officials regardless of whether federal officials have already done so. The case, Gamble v. United States, has drawn attention for its potential effect on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s federal prosecutions on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Had the ‘dual sovereignty doctrine’ been repealed, states would not be able to pursue investigations parallel to the federal government. . . . State prosecutors in New York have brought charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort Jr., who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, in the event that President Trump pardons him”).

[3]  See Gamble v. United States, p. 64 (emphasis added), by clicking on the following link: https://naegeleblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/gamble-ussc-decision.pdf (or by downloading the decision).

[4] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/abortions-and-autos-kill-more-in-america-than-guns/#comment-17243 (“Finally, More Abortion Bans Are Coming”—”Roe v. Wade unleashed a holocaust of epic proportions, which ranks with the greatest holocausts in human history—including the Nazi Holocaust, Stalin’s Soviet Holocaust and Mao’s Chinese Holocaust. Indeed, more human beings have been killed as a result of abortions—since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in 1973—than in each of the other three holocausts”).

[5] See, e.g., http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-and-the-mexican-judge-1465167405 (“[President] Obama . . . contributed to the Democratic intimidation campaign against Chief Justice John Roberts ahead of the 2012 ObamaCare ruling. ‘I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,’ the President said at an April 2012 press conference. The Chief Justice ruled as the President recommended”); https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-01/hold-the-revolution-roberts-keeps-joining-high-court-liberals (“Roberts Keeps Joining High Court Liberals”)

[6] See https://www.nysun.com/editorials/ginsburg-gorsuch-and-gamble/90732/ (“Ginsburg, Gorsuch — and Gamble“) (emphasis added).

[7] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/justice-and-the-law-do-not-mix/ (“Justice And The Law Do Not Mix”—”The United States is a nation where rogue prosecutors reign, whose goals in life include the prosecution of even the innocent. Federal, State and local prosecutors ruthlessly and gleefully pursue countless numbers of innocent Americans for a multitude of crimes that were never committed; and the judiciary has allowed this to happen. Corruption is rampant among federal prosecutors and those who work with them, such as FBI agents. No amount of rational thinking or discourse can be applied to a system that is inherently and systemically corrupt”); see also https://www.foxnews.com/politics/supreme-court-ruling-deals-potential-blow-to-paul-manafort-as-he-battles-state-charges (“Supreme Court ruling deals potential blow to Paul Manafort as he battles state charges”) and https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/17/nyregion/manafort-rikers.html (“Paul Manafort Seemed Headed to Rikers. Then the Justice Department Intervened”).








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