The infamous Iranian Basij militia cracked down on the use of satellite dishes by confiscating 100,000 dishes in Tehran. Iranian prosecutors insisted that dishes expose families to UnIslamic influences and are “morally damaging.” The dishes were destroyed in a triumphant ceremony before General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, head of Iran’s Basij militia. Most people view Naghdi’s crackdown as a pathetic and laughable example of religious orthodoxy that still strangles Iranian society. However, Naghdi heralded the latest achievement of his extremist forces.
We previously discussed how Turkey’s rising dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was likely to use the failed military coup to complete his objective to become a virtual dictator (backed by Islamist parties). That dire prediction appears to be fast becoming true with a roundup of thousands and the declaration of a state of emergency. Turkish academics have also been banned from leaving the country. Of course, Erdogan has offered his usual Orwellian rationization for the three-month state of emergency as necessary to protect civil liberties by suspending them “to eliminate the threat to democracy in our country, the rule of law, and the rights and freedom of our citizens.” With that, and the support of his Islamist allies who passed sweeping new powers for the budding Sultan, Erdogan suspended civil liberties in Turkey. In the meantime, women have reportedly avoided the streets because of being targeted by Erdogan’s Islamist supporters.
We have previously discussed the troubling efforts to bar conservative speakers from college campuses and social media, particularly Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos who has become something of an icon for young conservatives. Twitter has long been criticized for banning or harassing conservative figures, including repeated suspensions against Yiannopoulos. Now, the company is under fire for permanently banning Yiannopoulos — just 20 minutes before his “Gays for Trump” event takes place at the Republican National Convention.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is made a highly disturbing proposal that people who visit sites that are deemed as favoring terrorist groups. As articulated by Gingrich in his Fox News interview, the proposal would eviscerate the first amendment and leave that government in a position to regulate speech and association based on an ill-defined standard. Gingrich also attracted criticism for his proposal to test Muslims to allow for deportation of anyone who “believes in Sharia” — a proposal that would sanction peoplr for their religious and political views.
Below is my column on Sunday in the Chicago Tribune on the controversy involving Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg’s expression of “regret” over “ill-advised” statements may strike many as a bit short of an actual apology for what was facially unethical conduct. However, it was more than was required because nothing is required from a Supreme Court justice. That is the problem. Not the tirade against Trump. Not the criticism of Republicans in Congress. The real problem is that Ginsburg and her colleagues claim that the Code of Judicial Ethics is only binding on lesser jurists. Indeed, a majority of justices have been accused of ethical violations, but the Supreme Court is the only part of our government that is not subject to any enforceable code of ethics. Ginsburg’s apology should not detract attention from pressing need for reforms of our Court, including the creation of an enforceable ethical code for the justices. Once again, we have addressed only the latest manifestation of the problem on the Court rather than the underlying cause: the absence of an enforceable code of ethics for the justices. I have long advocated two primary reforms for the Court: the establishment of an enforceable code of ethics and the expansion of the Court to 19 members. What was disturbing recently during an appearance on the Washington Journal on C-Span was how many people argued against an enforceable code of ethics and just accepted that justices speak and act politically. While some people simply supported what Ginsburg had to say about Trump, others view the notion of an enforceable code of ethics as “naive” despite that fact that all other federal jurists comply with such a code. Below is the column:
I have long been a critic of the Supreme Court justices engaging in public appearances where they hold forth on contemporary issues and even pending matters before the Court. I have been particularly critical of the late Justice Antonin Scalia and Associated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who clearly relished appearances before ideologically supportive groups. I have called this trend the “rise of the celebrity justice.” Now, Justice Ginsburg has started another firestorm over public comments where she joked that she would move to New Zealand if Donald Trump is elected. Canon 5 of the judicial ethical rules expressly states that judges shall not “make speeches for a political organization or candidate, or publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office.” The problem is that the Court has long maintained that ethical codes are not enforceable against its members as opposed to every other jurist in the country. This absurd position has continued because Congress has failed to act, something that I have previously criticized. Ginsburg’s statements this week reflects the continued sense of impunity enjoyed by justices who violate the core maxim that “no man shall be the judge of his own case.” The justices are the judges of their own ethical cases and they show vividly why that is a dangerous and corrupting power.
Police in Urbana, Illinois appeared to throw well-established constitutional law to the curb with an abusive arrest of Bryton, Mellott, 22, who filmed himself burning the American flag. The Wal-Mart employee was charged with flag desecration despite two Supreme Court cases clearly saying that such an act is constitutionally protected. Now, after various experts (including myself) said that the arrest was unconstitutional, the police have dropped the charges. However, there remains the question of any discipline against the officers and supervisors involved in such a facially unconstitutional case.