Liar… Liar… Pants On Fire

Liar, Liar Pants On Fire is part of an old children’s poem that’s been around since the mid 1800’s. It originated from a poem by William Blake called “The Liar.” There are several versions and while we don’t normally recite it all, the first stanza goes like this:
“Liar, Liar, Pants on fire,
Hanging by a telephone wire,
While you’re there,
Cut your hair, And stick it down your underwear..”
William must have known some big ones back in his day if he felt he needed to write a poem about it … and it looks like they might have sent him over the edge… “cut your hair and stick it down your underwear?” Anyway, I am bringing up this 19th century poem because it reminds me of Amy “Silver Tongue” Barrett and Brett “Watch Yo Daughter” Kavanaugh. So these two recently admitted Supreme Court Justices swore on their mommas sitting on a stack of bibles with JC, that they wasn’t gone to touch Roe V. Wade.
BC ( Before Confirmation)
Congress: “So Brett we gonna circle back around a little later to people saying you was seen pulling out yo wagadag at a fraternity party and switch gears for now… we want to know what’s your opinion on Roe V. Wade?”
Brett: (Bret stands up…) “Thats a lie and I resent the attack on my character as an insult I will not surely suffer my dear sir!!”
Congress: Brett… sit yo azz down and zip up yo pants… now answer the question…
Brett: Chairman I tell you right now… Roe V. Wade is safer than Barack Obama at an Al Sharpton poker game!!
AC (After Confirmation)
Brett: Miss Alt, bring me the files on Roe V. Wade and get the PoPo on the phone.. Sharpton’s holding an illegal card game tonight… and oh yeah.. see if Amy still wants to go to the Marvin Gaye Festival…

Now as outrageous as these two have been, it is not surprising. The history of Supreme Court Justice’s are littered with racist, bigots, scoundrels and liars. The Supreme Court first convened on February 2, 1790 after the passing of the Judiciary Act of 1789. When it first started, it only had six members, but for most of its history, it has had nine members. Lincoln had 10 members on his Court. The number of Justices are set by Congress, not the Constitution. There is a reason for that. In the beginning the Justices also set on the circuit courts, which meant they had to travel.. a lot.. Traveling was hazardous and as the country grew, they built in a system that wasn’t static. The congress could order up as many judges as they needed. So today, traveling say for instance from Boston to New York today is no big deal, you can fly there in an hour and drive in three hours. Back in 1790 it was a lot more difficult and time consuming. Let’s do the math.. from Boston to New York is about 200 miles. Your average horse can reach speeds of up to 40 mph. No big deal you might say.. that’s only a five hour trip. Yeah it’s no big deal if your horse came from Krypton.. A horse from Earth would die from exhaustion after a couple of miles… So if we want to get there on a live horse, we are going to have to drop the speed.. so let give “Fancy” a break and keep him around 15 mph… “I know Fancy, but I am in a hurry…” So at 15 mph that makes our trip… 13 hours… Not as fast as we would like.. but manageable.. nope.. we forgot some other things.. like roads. There were no road back in them days.. you would follow a trail… that led through forest and creeks.. drop another 5 mph because you not galloping through no wooded forest and creek beds for long periods of time. So now we are traveling an estimated 10 mph. That brings our total time riding from Boston to New York to 20 hrs… if we don’t stop. But we gonna stop because we can’t see in the dark… tack on another 5 hrs to wait until it gets light enough for us to see our way… Now we are at 25 hrs… Darn it’s going to take us 25 hrs to get to New York from Boston… not just yet Judge… we are going to have to slow down some more… we are in the woods and so are the Indians… not all the Indians were like the ones in the history books. Some of them did not want the settlers there no matter how many beads and trinkets they gave them… by the way that’s a fairy tale.. maybe that’s why they were so mad at them… Settler: “Here Long Dagger… I’ll give you this hand full of trinkets for a wagonload of food and some Injuns to unload it… you like um shiny rocks that sparkle like the eye of the father of the wind ?” Long Dagger: “Yeah.. come over here and let me see that.. (chop!! chop!! chop!! wack, wack, wack!!)… Laughing Bird… take this and give it to Bald Eagle…” So yeah you got to slow Fancy down so you can hear the Indians and so they can’t hear you. You are now moving at a relative 5 mph. Your five hour trip has now become 40 hrs… okay we are almost there.. just a couple more things… there are going to be two periods of darkness in that 40 hours.. we have only accounted for one.. add 5 hrs… and a few hours for resting the horses and eating and you are north of 50 hrs.. one way.. 4 days round trip. So that’s only going from Boston to New York. Suppose you have to go from Boston to North Carolina? Eventually they made it so that Supreme Court justices did not have to travel from court to court. Now before we move on I would like to tell you a little about Circuit Courts. They call them circuit courts because they are located in multiple locations in a specific region. Remember when I told you the Supreme Court Justices use to have to travel? Well they traveled to different courts on a “circuit” of courtroom buildings. So we need to talk about the hierarchy of the American court system to get a further understanding. Courts that have one location are called Judicial courts. These are your state courts, district courts and state appeals court. Next comes your Circuit Courts. Judicial courts may have cases referred to the Circuit Courts. In the Circuit Courts the judges are chosen from a group of Circuit Courts judges to hear the case. These judges “travel” to that location to hear the case. Next you have your Circuit Court Of Appeals, which likewise chose from a group of judges to hear a case. This court is paneled by three judges and no jury. As a matter of fact, no appellate court has a jury because they do not hear witness testimony. Finally from there, you have your Supreme Court. Individual states also have state circuit and appellate courts systems that deal with state crimes. So when you hear that something has been referred to a circuit court, that means that the judges were taken from a pool of judges and travelled there to hear the case. If it is an appellate court, there is no jury.

There have been 116 Supreme Court Judges of which 17 were Chief Justices. There is no specific procedure that Congress follows to choose a Chief Justice. If a Chief Justice dies, retires or is impeached any candidate can take his place. So say for instance if Roberts vacated his seat.. I could go up there and replace him if Congress voted me in… then after the operation, I could be seated… oh there’s gonna be an operation if I was voted to take his place.. them hillbillies would make sure of that. Anywho, the court terms are named after the Chief Justice. This present court is known as the Roberts Court. Although the Chief Justice vote on any issue has the same weight as any other justice, the Chief Justice has a great deal of influence over what cases are heard and he writes the majority opinion if he voted with the majority. Historically there have been 10 Courts starting with the Jay, Rutledge and Ellsworth Court from 1789 -1801. During this time period there were no significant court rulings except for the Chisholm v. Georgia case on which the 11 Amendment is based. It gave the states certain types of immunity from lawsuits in federal court. Say that Mississippi put my mother up for sale on the auction block to satisfy my tax debt. According to the 11 Amendment I couldn’t bring a lawsuit against the state in federal court… even if I was white… and if I was black talking about a lawsuit.. Auctioneer: “We got this boy here with good teeth and sound body.. look at that back.. not a mark on it.. let’s start the bidding at a hunert dollars..” and doncha know it. Anywee, the next court was the Marshall Court from 1801-1835. Now although the Marshall Court was right in the middle of the expansion of slavery into the states, it did not hear any cases with respect to slavery. The cases the Marshall Court heard were mostly about states rights. It’s kinda funny because during this time you had a lot of slave revolts. Well I guess not if you really think about it. The Black Codes were pretty much the law of the land and while they were not federal laws, enforcement of the codes by the states was viewed within the framework of states right. Slave: “Massa I have a right to look you in the eyeball..” Massa: “Bang!! Bang! Bang!! .. now boy why’d you make me do that…” Yep, even more so after Nat Turner in 1831 dropped it like its hot on 60 white settlers and their families. It was no way the federal government was going to get into that ish and tell Virginia we want to prosecute him under federal law. Anyway by the time this court was in session, the generation of slaves who had once been free were dying out. They and their sons and daughters were the ones advocating armed conflict for their release. It was for this very reason that in 1808 that Congress banned the importation of any new slaves. The new generations which was born into slavery did not protest to it as much as the preceding generations, because they had never known what it was like to be free. but that changed during the next court…
The Taney Court set from 1836- 1864. ( Picture on right). This court saw the grand children and the great grand children of the first enslaved people coming of age. Although they had never known freedom, they had always seen it being enjoyed by the white population.. and they wanted it. This generation was more educated than the previous generation owning to the fact that during this time, slavery had been outlawed in some states in the North. There free blacks open up schools and participated in politics and established neighborhoods where they flourished. Down south after almost 200 years of servitude, the great grandsons and daughters of the massa started teaching enslaved people skills like blacksmithing, carpentry, bookkeeping, masonry, and other things. Like McFadden and Whitehead use to sing… “Ain’t no stopping us now.. we’re one the move!! That is until Taney. Robert Taney was the son of a wealth slave owning plantation massa in Maryland. In 1836 he would become the 5th Chief Justice Of the Supreme Court and a decision that was to come before him… would impact every African American free or slave in the United States. Taney choosing this case to hear before the Supreme Court was like a black person choosing to see Marvin Gaye or Elvis Presley. Remember I told you, it is the Chief Judge that influences which cases will be heard before the court. Taney was going to strike a blow for the white man on this one… the case was Dred Scott v. Sandford. So I don’t want to take up a lot of time discussing the particulars of the case, but If you would like to know more, this link will take you to an article I wrote about it. So let just say what Taney and his court voted for..
“The Court held that the United States Constitution was not meant to include American citizenship for people of African descent, regardless of whether they were enslaved or free, and so the rights and privileges that the Constitution confers upon American citizens could not apply to them.”
Taney was Chief Justice for 28 and 1/2 years. He was the longest serving Chief Justice in American history. He died at the age of 87 in 1864. Lincoln made no public remarks on his death but he and three cabinet members did attend his funeral. He is buried in Frederick Maryland at St. John the Evangelist Cemetery. Lincoln replaced him with Salmon P. Chase, a strong anti-slavery Republican from Ohio.

The next court was called the Chase, Waite, and Fuller Courts 1864-1910. Usually when you have three courts combined into one, the Chief Justices don’t serve long terms. For instance Chase died in 1872. He was replaced by Morrison Waite. Although Waite was from Ohio, a state that fought for the Union, Waite was an undercover racist of the fourth degree with insignia of the Darkie. Under this Chief Justice, the 14th Amendment was interpreted as that Congress could not prohibit racial discrimination by private individuals on the grounds of the Fourteenth Amendment.  You know.. the amendment that says “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States and no state can deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Yep.. Former Massa: “Boy I’ll give you five minutes to get out of this saloon… I don’t drink with nigras..” Blackman: “I can drink here if I want!! This ain’t yo saloon!!” Former Massa: Bang!! Bang!! Bang!!.. Y’all seen it.. it was self defense!!” Waite died in 1888 of a mysterious illness, historians say it was pneumonia… Blackman’s Cousin: “Naw.. I didn’t buy no poison sheriff…” Waite was poor when he passed and they had to hold a GoFundME to bury his azz. He is resting in Toledo Ohio, at Woodlawn Cemetery. After Waite passed he was replaced by Melville Fuller. Now I ain’t gonna say Melville was a racist, but back then they had as many African Americans in Maine as they had elephants sunbathing on the beach in bikinis. It was Melville Fuller that wrote the majority opinion for Plessy v. Ferguson. You can read about Plessy v. Ferguson here. Essentially Plessy v. Ferguson said that “Racial segregation laws did not violate the U.S. Constitution as long as the facilities for each race were equal in quality, a doctrine that came to be known as “separate but equal”. Okay Ima call him racist… he was a down home, red clay, alligator riding, racist of the first degree with Golden Rope and Cotton Stalk insignia.. because of Fuller, Jim Crow would torment millions of African Americans for the next five decades. Naw that ain’t right.. we gonna say Golden Rope with Cotton Stalk and Burning Bush insignia. Fuller also joined the unanimous majority in Williams v. Mississippi (1898), which rejected a challenge to poll taxes and literacy tests that was plaguing African Americans in Mississippi. Melville “Golden Rope” Fuller died of a heart attack on July 4 1910 in Sorrento, Maine He is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. Blackmans Cousin: ” Naw… I wasn’t in Maine lately sheriff…” (Fuller Court center picture. above.)

The Stone Court

The White and Taft Court set from 1910-1930. This court did not set any precedent during its term that affected African Americans. The years of 1910- 930 were turbulent years in African American history. During these years the KKK reaffirmed itself and organizations like the white Citizens Council and the Posse Comitatus came to be formed. In 1919 one of the most prolific era’s of lynching and murders took hold all across Black America. Hundreds died and thousands were left homeless after race riots broke out in cities and towns everywhere. It came to be known as the “Red Summer. On August 8, 1925 more than 30,000 Klan marched down Pennsylvania Ave in Washington DC and in 1931 the Scarborough boys would be convicted of raping a white women aboard a train. It wouldn’t be until 2013 that their convictions would be overturned and they would receive posthumous pardons.
The Hughes, Stone, and Vinson Courts 1930–1953. This court deserves an invitation to the BBQ. Well let’s invite Harlan Stone and Charles Hughes. Vinson was a Taft appointee and came in after Stone died. But the Stone – Hughes Courts overturned many, many convictions of African-Americans in southern courts. One of the most notable cases was Powell v. Alabama. Powell was one of the Scottsboro boys!! Now I know I wrote about this in another article, but Alabama was getting ready to try them boys without a lawyer!! Their thing was “We don’t have to pay for your defense.. we the ones trying you for murder nigra… I mean rape..” The Stone Court shut that mess down.. telling them that the Due Clause of the 14th Amendment included at least part of the right to counsel thats stated in the 6th Amendment. The 6th Amendment is part of the Bill Of Rights. It is because of Stone that the state has to give you an attorney if you can’t afford one. So Hughes struck another blow for us in U.S v. Classic. In this case the court ruled that the former eight confederate states primaries could be regulated… and three years later outlawed white primaries altogether. That’s right.. if it was a primary before the law was passed, only whites could vote in it. Not that there were that many African Americans running at that time, but even if you managed to get on the primary ballot.. since only whites were allowed to vote in them.. you could never be elected… unless your name was Herschel Walker… okay Ima leave a brother alone..

The Warren Court

The Warren Court 1953-1969. There were two significant things the Warren Court did that affected African Americans. One was deciding a case called Miranda v. Arizona.
Before Miranda..
Police: You see that blood stain on the wall over there… Well I’m getting ready to leave this room and when I come back there’s gonna be two blood stains on that wall.. but I’m going to be the only one that sees them… cause you gonna be in the hospital… You got anything to say before I leave…?
Suspect: Okay I did it… I took the watermelon…
Police: Get him outta here Joe… and wash that dye off the wall…
After Miranda:
Police: You see that blood stain on the wall over there… Well I’m getting ready to leave this room and when I come back there’s gonna be two blood stains on that wall.. but I’m going to be the only one that sees them… cause you gonna be in the hospital… You got anything to say before I leave…?
Suspect: Yeah flat foot I took the water melon… and the mac n cheese too!! I was getting ready to take the potato salad, but it had raisins in it!! Whatcha gonna do about it!! You ain’t gonna do nuttin!! Cause you have to give me my rights first pig!!
Police: Joe the lights.. ( Whap!! Whap !! Whap!!) You have the right to remain silent… (Whap!! Whap!! Whap!!) Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law… (Whap!! Whap!! Whap!!) If you can’t afford…
Suspect: Okay!! Okay!! I took the water melon!!
Police: Joe the lights… Sign this…
Lol.. Yes, It’s because of this case.. the police have to give you a Miranda warning before they arrest you. The other thing the Warren Court did was decide Brown v. Board Of Education. This overturned the Fuller Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson which was responsible for “separate but equal.” Brown v. Board of Education integrated America.

The Burger Court

The Burger Court 1969–1986. The Burger Court’s only influence on African Americans in general was the moratorium they passed on the federal death penalty. As we all know minorities represent a greater number of people on death row than they represent as a percentage of the population. The moratorium did not last long however. It was overturned four years later.

The Rehnquist Court

The Rehnquist Court (1986–2005) for good or bad this court was the beginning of the culture wars. How this court affected African Americans is something I leave up to my readers. This court was responsible for deciding Bush v Gore in the 2000 presidential election. Of course Bush won that outcome.. especially since his brother was governor of Florida at the time. Gore had demanded a recount and the Supreme Court ruled that a recount was not necessary. Now I never thought of Bush as a racist.. but he was one of the least intelligent presidents, notwithstanding President Trump, that has been elected to the Presidency. Gore lost although he received the popular vote and the result was an America divided by party lines. Further adding fuel to the cultural wars, was that the Rehnquist Court ruled that burning the American flag was a sign of free speech. That mess set the conservatives on fire and they have been burning ever since. Then as a final nail in the coffin of cultural wars, this court ruled that prayer in school was unconstitutional. The result was angering an estimated 157 million Protestants, of which 55 percent are white Evangelicals. That comes to north of 100 million people. These people are the ones that help Donald Trump become President. Justice Clarence Thomas is the only one left from the Rehnquist.

Ketanji Brown Jackson

The Roberts Court 2005–present. The Roberts Court is the most diversified court in American history. There are four woman, two African Americans.. ( maybe 1 and a half African Americans.. I’ll leave that up to you..) one Hispanic and three whites. While the only law that they have overturned has been Roe v Wade, it will have a detrimental effect on women of color and women in general. But don’t drop the mike yet.. they are poised to review other sweeping precedents which have the potential to change the very fabric of our society. This conservative court is relatively young and they will be there for decades. It will be a tumultuous for our country as the pendulum slowly swings to the right, but it will swing back as it always has…

“We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Abraham Lincoln – March 1, 1861

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