U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta today sentenced the leader of the right-wing Oath Keepers organization, Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, to 18 years in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release. In November a jury found Rhodes guilty of seditious conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, and tampering with documents and proceedings, for his role in organizing people to go to Washington in January 2021 and try to stop the counting of the electoral votes that would make Joe Biden president.
If our wetlands can not be protected, no one’s water is safe.
SCROTUS, what a nightmare
It's hard to grasp how a Supreme Court could systematically dismantle prior court rulings, laws, and regulations that have been in place for a half-century. The overturning of Roe vs. Wade was, of course, the court's signature blow to long-established rights and freedoms. And now a majority of justices are turning the clock back once again, this time gutting a key aspect of environmental regulations protecting waterways.
Having grown up mostly in Florida and basked in its water-everywhere wonders as a child and adult, I have a deep appreciation for wetlands, including how they protect us in many ways. The ruling, typical of this court, is arcane and shows no concern for what's at stake at a time when the planet and its people are under dire threat from climate change.
Clean water is a gift that makes Earth livable for all of its inhabitants. What makes it legal for a private property owner to destroy something so essential to us all? And if this court insists on Congress enacting rules and regulations rather than agencies of the executive branch, we know where we're headed.
Rhodes is going away for 18+ years and I couldn’t be happier except, it should’ve been longer. This horrible specimen of a man is getting what is coming to him. In fact, he might need another patch for his other eye. The horrors his ex-wife and children lived through are enough to make you regurgitate. His cohorts will be sentenced also. I cry no tears for them but will dance upon their graves whenever that time comes, no matter how old I am. The same goes for Trump and Company. May they all reap the benefits that Tarrio and Rhodes just received.
No negotiations on debt ceiling. Certainly, one can not reason with irrational people such as the Freedom Caucus. DeSantis is a joke, a dunce. He will pardon people “aggressively”? There should not be any chances that lil’ Hitler will win a nomination. Nor should Trump. He belongs behind many bars.
I am terrified by what the “Supreme“ Court is doing. Are we heading towards a very Un-united States of America?
Anyone laboring under the myth that our democracy was/is safe because the Dems are in the White House and very marginally control the Senate should thoroughly digest Heather’s column today AND ponder Biden’s poll numbers….and the SCOTUS ruling on clean water….we are on the edge of anarchy and inching closer, daily. Democracy is very close to being held ‘hostage’….
Just discovered your substack and appreciate the directness and clarity of your reporting.
The illegitimate "conservative" majority on SCOTUS contrived by the fascist goons at the Federalist Society have decided that they are the arbiters of science, rather than the actual experts employed by the Administration, when it comes to "interpreting the will of Congress". The simple truth is that nobody in the Judiciary at any level is academically or intellectually qualified to dictate what constitutes a "wetland" and thus WOTUS. Their arrogant presumption is what makes this erroneous ruling such a dangerous precedent - the false pretense that science can be determined in any court of law will inevitably lead us to the abomination that was Lysenkoism.
Sooooo. When the next hurricane hits these red states where wet land destruction will accelerate thanks to the SCROTUS, do the rest of us have to pitch in (again) so they can rebuild? Asking for a friend.
HOW the heck do these "people" like McCarthy have any self-respect in making these kinds of statements, and supporting TFG!!!????? They are no better than as stated by Judge Mehta, “You, sir, present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country and to the republic and to the very fabric of this democracy.”
And then there's SCOTUS, gutting our environmental protections. SMH.
Dr. Heather, you sure know how to swing a quote like a mallet and close your LFAAs with impact.
"Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement: “This is nothing more than a targeted, politically motivated witch hunt against President Trump that is concocted to meddle in an election and prevent the American people from returning him to the White House.”"
SCOTUS is stupid, uninformed, arrogant and dangerous. The EPA of Nixon regulatory approach to wetlands makes perfect sense to this farmer, and www.lewisfamilyfarm.com has protected wetlands where possible. We also created a huge pond to offer water birds a home and fish, turtles, muskrat and others habitat. We have protected the smallest living organisms, thus protecting the base of life itself and food for wildlife. Wetlands host the smallest living creatures, many invisible. Birds need mosquitoes. SC0TUS is all wet on this one.
Evidently the right-wing SCOTUS justices and their donor/backers have their own sources of clean water and don't have to drink the same water the rest of us do. It is jaw-dropping to watch the justices dismantle our country, law by law. What will they go after next?
Evening to All,
I write tonight in an attempt to provide what I hope is a slightly deeper perspective on the Sackett decision by the Supremes today.
While I wholeheartedly join in the overall tenor of dismay and umbrage at the fact that this Court has now taken a second significant step to disembowel the letter and spirit of the major pieces of legislation that created and empowered the EPA within less than a year's time, I also feel that there is a development within the Sackett opinion that is worth noting.
Please know that every Supreme Court decision has both a holding or judgment, and a decision or opinion. The former is basically who won and who lost, or some combination of same, and the latter is the why and wherefore. The "why and wherefore" of course, contains the final legal interpretation of the particular law/statute in question and the factual pattern presented therewith.
I have not read the entirety of the Sackett decision, so my thoughts here are certainly incomplete. From my cursory glance however, I see that it is yet another terrible decision emasculating the powers of the EPA in a manner aligned at least somewhat with the long running extreme conservative anti-regulatory, defang the "administrative state" school of thought. Yet, that same glance tells me it isn't quite as bad as the earlier EPA v. West Virginia decision.
In the latter decision, delivered as part of the terrible trio of decisions in the final week of the Court's term last year (Dobbs and Bruen being the others), Chief Justice Roberts dove deeply into sophistry, as he parsed the congressionally delegated EPA authority (Heather's exposition of this in tonight's letter is spot on) so finely as to render it meaningless as an executive department.
In contrast, the Sackett decision was not written by the Chief Justice but by one of the two cranky radical revanchists on the Court, Sullen Sam Alito. (No Clearance Clarence/Corrupt Crony of Crow Clarence, being the other)
More importantly, none other than Squee's pal, Justice Brett Kavanaugh concurred in the judgment but not in Justice Alito's lead opinion. This is important considering that this was a 5-4 decision.
In fact, ALL NINE JUSTICES agreed that the Sacketts were wronged by the EPA's interpretation of the Clean Water Act to their attempt to build their home. In other words, there was no disagreement among the nine Justices that the EPA overreached when attempting to stop this particular couple from building this particular house, on this particular parcel of land in Idaho.
Justice Kavanaugh seems to have articulated a kinder, gentler version of Justice Kagan's angry dissent respecting the Court's brazen tossing over of the clear language in the Clean Water Act empowering the EPA to regulate wetlands "adjacent" to waters covered by the Act. Alito's opinion injected a hitherto unknown "continuing surface connection" test to limit the long understood definition of wetlands covered by the Act. Kavanaugh took exception to that and said so. Basically, he said that the term "adjacent" within the Act has never been interpreted to mean "adjoining", because those two terms have wholly different meanings. He is correct.
I find some small comfort in this, because it appears that Justice "I like beer, how about you, Senator?!", has thrown down the gauntlet before his fellow Trumpian appointees, calling them out on their absurdity uber analysis here. Further, as there will certainly be significant litigation stemming from this opinion, Justice Kavanaugh may stand as a surprising bulwark to maintain at least a bit of sanity in environmental jurisprudence and resulting policy.
As has been pointed out by numerous observers today, Traitor Trump is now no longer just on the hook for obstruction of justice by keeping the documents, but is now liable for prosecution under the Espionage Act for hiding the documents, and for "dissemination" for letting anyone not authorized to see them.
The Orcs masquerading as human beings in the House Republicans need to be seen as the traitors they are ("declaring war on the United States") and dealt with as such.
A good day, these days, when a key insurrectionist/traitor gets a well-deserved sentence and #DeSaster is trending on Twitter. It couldn't be more perfect and hopefully will hasten that fascist's political demise.
The wetlands rulings though - it makes me weep. And rage. An illegitimate court, with two credibly accused predators and a majority of zealots, is actively destroying the country.
At the end of every "Letters from an American" I wish HCR would add one reminder.
"Election winners make the laws, the punishments, and shape the judiciary. Work and help to elect Democrats."
Heather, thank you for enumerating the amount of potential wetlands loss caused by the SCOTUS’ ruling. When the paved wetlands allow even more destruction by hurricanes, just watch the Supremes that allowed it disavow having any inkling that their ruling could cause the catastrophe.
Something not getting nearly enough attention is Ron Desantis considering pardoning TFG if he’s elected. This could leave supporters of TFG with a dilemma: vote for a president that might be serving from jail or vote for a TFG-lite who might pardon TFG.