Has Biden put us in another Ruth Bader Ginsburg mess?

Randy Evans is executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com

Do you remember that phrase our nation’s founders wrote in the preamble to the Constitution 237 years ago? The one about forming a more perfect union?

We have hit some speed bumps in that quest, a couple that would rattle your teeth. I wonder when, and how, or if, we are going to get back on the road.

Consider these potholes our nation has banged into recently:

President Joe Biden, in front of about 50 million viewers on television, stumbled and stammered and had his train of thought rumble off the tracks in one of the most embarrassing performances since I was told to sing a solo in front of my classmates in fourth grade.

Donald Trump, the president’s opponent in that debate two weeks ago, had trouble uttering a truthful statement—except when he stated, “I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence. I don’t think he knows what he said, either.”

Democrats were beside themselves afterward. Some dismissed the president’s halting performance as the effects of a bad cold or lingering jet lag. Others pooh-poohed Biden’s “We finally beat Medicare” non-sequitur and said it is more important for voters to remember all Joe Biden has accomplished in his life’s work in government service.

But others wondered whether we are seeing a new version of the lasting consequences of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s decision to put off her retirement from the Supreme Court while Barack Obama was president and Democrats controlled the Senate. 

RBG’s health became more precarious, with another cancer recurrence after that decision and the 2016 election. She died in September 2020 at age 87, leaving the selection of her replacement to Donald Trump, not Obama.

The nation encountered more speed bumps on the road to a more perfect union at the Supreme Court in recent weeks. One involved corruption by government employees. The other involved presidential immunity.

Six justices ruled public corruption laws do not apply to gifts and payments meant to reward state and local government officials for the actions they take. The court said those anti-corruption laws apply to bribes paid to government officials before they act, not to “gratuities” they receive after the fact.

The decision came in the case of the mayor of Portage, Ind. A jury found him guilty of accepting a $13,000 check from a truck company for supposed consulting services he rendered to the company when it was awarded contracts worth $1 million from the city for five new garbage trucks.

Where I come from in southern Iowa, no one expects or desires that teachers be prosecuted for accepting a bouquet of flowers or a small gift card from a student’s appreciative parents. But where I come from, Joe and Jane Citizen do not see such token gifts in the same light as gifts valued at tens of thousands of dollars.

And I do not think Joe and Jane Citizen see any difference between a gift made to a government official *before* a decision is made and a gift offered *after* that decision.

The court’s majority said a fair-minded reading of the corruption statute would leave reasonable doubt in the public’s mind about whether an action like that involving the Portage mayor was corrupt or not. As a result, the decision said, the court should err on the side of the person charged with a crime.

And then there was the Supreme Court’s decision in the case brought by Trump, who asserted he had absolute presidential immunity from criminal prosecution. Although nothing in our nation’s founding documents speaks of presidents being above the law, the same six conservative justices held that presidents do have absolute immunity for laws broken in carrying out their official duties. 

The court concluded presidents enjoy no immunity for their unofficial actions. But five justices said prosecutors cannot use testimony or records about any official actions by a president, even if that evidence might aid prosecution of a president’s unofficial acts.

That is another reason to pour a tumbler of Maalox and wonder what a second Trump presidential term might be like, especially with his friends at the Heritage Foundation laying out a roadmap of new laws and executive orders for him called Project 2025.

My friends are not asserting Joe Biden’s first term has been problem free. They mention their concerns about his response to the war between Hamas and Israel, or his delayed actions to deal with the flood of immigrants coming across our southern border.

But my friends also mention Biden’s missed opportunities during the debate to clearly explain the relationship between high consumer prices and record-breaking corporate profits, and the connection between paltry wage increases for workers and generous compensation packages for executives of profitable corporations. My Democratic friends also point to the Project 2025 goals of cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits, ending same-sex marriages, banning emergency contraceptives, among many significant changes in the nation’s laws.

My Democratic friends remind me of the television ad former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney recorded for his daughter Liz’s re-election campaign two years ago. The elder Cheney, as conservative as they come, said, “In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump.” (Liz Cheney lost that GOP primary by a two-to-one margin.)

That is why some Democrats worry their party faces a reprise of Ginsburg’s lapse of judgment, as Biden insists he alone is best equipped to take on Trump in November.

Unfortunately, we will not know until it is too late.

About the Author(s)

Randy Evans

  • Ridin with Biden

    If biden is nominee not only will he put up “Mondale” like electoral numbers, but both houses of congress go Republican. The four congressional seats in Iowa will stay GOP. Those who willingly covered for his dementia are guilty of treason.

  • Act now to collar Trump. Waiting will be worse.

    “..presidents do have absolute immunity for laws broken in carrying out their official duties.”

    It’s Joe’s duty to protect the nation from foes foreign and domestic.

    The right political analogy is Stalin.

    Trump has attempted insurrection. He threatens retribution for his political enemies, including Liz Cheney. He will put Steve Bannon in the White House as chief of staff. Michael Flynn will be Secy of State.

    He daily encourages his people to violence. He will revolt if he doesn’t win in November. and it won’t be a mere half-day storming of the Capitol.

    Abe Lincoln had no trouble ordering the union army to pursue the rebels. Had George McClellan followed orders, more than half millions lives would have been saved.

    Trump 2.0 is more dangerous than Jeff Davis or Robert E. Lee but cut off the same branch

    Joe’s official acts require him to act to curb this domestic threat.

    Use his immunity. The coming Civil War II must be averted.

    Handwringing over Joe’s candidacy does nothing to curb the coming storm. We have weather radar to let us know a tornado is coming, but radar doesn’t stop the tornado. We have to take shelter.

  • Bohannan and Harkin ain't "Ridin with Biden"