3 March, 2024

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Spotlight On SCOTUS In The US. People Give The Finger In Pakistan

By Rajan Philips

Rajan Philips

In the US, Former President Donald Trump is facing multiple indictments, involving numerous charges, in multiple courts. Perhaps no American before him, let alone a former President, has been simultaneously implicated in so many litigations. At the same time, even as he is mired in a myriad of trials, Donald Trump has also put on trial the entire American political system.

The spotlight is now on SCOTUS, the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court has come under compulsion to make two consequential rulings – one on the disqualification of Trump by the State of Colorado to be a presidential candidate in 2024, on account of his involvement in the insurrection in Washington, on 6 January 2020, to prevent US Congress’s certification of the November 2019 presidential election results; and the other to deal with Trump’s claim to immunity from being indicted for criminal conduct in trying to prevent the same certification process.

The Court heard oral arguments on Thursday on the Colorado case, and is widely expected to set aside Colorado disqualification of Trump. It is equally expected to uphold a Federal Appeal Court ruling rejecting Trump’s claim of presidential immunity against criminal indictments, potentially without even a hearing. A rare unanimity among the judges is expected in both cases. In effect, the two anticipated decisions would leave Trump continuing as a candidate with his legal jeopardy continuing alongside.

A Pakistan Detour

A different story is coming out of Pakistan, where the people of Pakistan are literally giving their middle finger to spite the political machinations the country’s military rulers. In Thursday’s national elections, the imprisoned Imran Khan and his proscribed PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) political party have upended everyone’s calculations and predictions and put on a stirring show of sheer defiance by securing the largest number of seats while contesting as independent candidates in every electorate without a common party symbol.

Given the country’s illiteracy rate of 40%, pundits were expecting that the PTI will have difficulty in getting votes without the Cricket Bat symbol of the Party shown on the ballot. But the people have proved them wrong. 40% of them may not be able to read or write, thanks to 75 years of lopsided development and misappropriation of resources, but they have demonstrated that they are not lacking in political literacy. Without the popular Bat symbol on the ballot, they have symbolically given the finger to the country’s never elected but ever entrenched military rulers and their civilian puppets.   

With results announced for 255 of the 266 contested seats, the PTI independents lead the tally with 100 seats, PMLN of the (Nawaz & Shehbaz) Sharif brothers is second with 72 seats, followed by the PPP of (father and son) Bhutto-Zardari with 54 seats. The results are still contested and PTI supporters have been claiming that their ‘independents’ tally should be higher than 140. PTI leadership has announced that their Party has “emerged as a leading political force in the Centre, KP, and Punjab,” while noting that “efforts were underway to manipulate the results in the Centre and Punjab to establish governments of their choice.”

The ‘officially’ anticipated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is now eating humble pie and is calling on elected parliamentarians, including PTI independents, to come together to form a consensus government, while asserting that his party (PMLN) is the recognized party with the largest number of seats. That is more than a tad rich, calling on the PTI Independents to join a consensus government after going along with the military to put Imran Khan in jail and drive his party to the ground. The PPP has announced that no other party, PMNL or PTI, has approached them for coalition talks. This could be a hint that the PPP, which was PMNL’s junior partner in the outgoing government, is now open to partnering with either PMNL or PTI.

It will take a while before the dust settles and potential alliances take shape. There will be the usual military muscling and horse trading in the forming of alliances. But in light of the people’s verdict the military and civilian institutions will have to reconcile the election results and the political status of Imran Khan and the PTI. The people of Pakistan have resoundingly defeated the concerted efforts to steal the 2024 election from them, and have sent a powerful message of defiance to the military establishment, the courts that bent their rulings to fall in line with dictates from above, and the Election Commission that has shamed itself with supine servility and inexplicable incompetence. You cannot ask for more from a people.

American Labyrinth

Back to the US, the case in Colorado was brought by a group of Republican voters led by Norma Anderson, a 91 year old former Republican State Legislator. The group was seeking to stop the Colorado Secretary of State from placing the name of Donald Trump on the ballot for the State’s Republican presidential primary election for the nomination of the Republican candidate for the presidential election in November. The group claimed that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution disqualified the former President from seeking the presidency in 2024, because he had engaged in insurrection on 2021 January 6, after swearing an oath as President to support the US Constitution.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution, adopted in July 1868, is a product of the post-Civil War era, and Section 1 of the Amendment is one of the most consequential and litigated provisions of the US Constitution. Its many clauses have been used to extend civil liberties to African Americans, enable abortion and gay rights, and enforce equal protection and due process requirements. The Amendment also includes one of the most dormant parts of the constitution, i.e., Section 3, which forbids former office holders, who violate their oath of office to support the constitution by participating in an insurrection or rebellion, from holding office again.

Its historical purpose was to prevent former confederates from becoming elected or appointed officials in the federal and state governments after the Civil War. There has only been one judicial pronouncement on Section 3 that came soon after the adoption of the 14th Amendment, and only one instance of its application to disqualify a person in election. That was in 1919, when Section 3 was invoked to prevent Victor Berger, an Austrian American and a founding member of the Socialist Party of America, from assuming his seat in the US Congress after winning elections twice, in 1919 and 1920, from a district in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Berger had been previously elected twice and served as a Congressman, becoming the first Socialist to enter the US Congress in 1910. His later disqualification arose on account of being convicted under the Espionage Act for anti-war writings during World War 1. His expulsion was overturned by the US Supreme Court and Berger went on to serve as a Congressman for three terms after winning three elections in the 1920s.

Almost a hundred years later, Section 3 has been invoked in Colorado to challenge Donald Trump’s qualification as a presidential candidate. Trump is palpably more disqualified than Victor Berger ever was, but the legal opinion on the matter is strongly divided. And those who disagree with the disqualification school are more concerned about the practicality of enforcing it and they would seem to prefer the easier alternative of leaving it to the voters to have the final say. That apparently is the democratic way. But that would be treating Donald Trump differently, and perhaps deferentially, from others. Needless to say, many Democrats, including Democratic States, such as California, disagree with the approach taken by Colorado, even though the action in Colorado was triggered by Republican voters.

Unlike the Colorado case, the case against Trump in the Washington District Court has been brought by independent Special Counsel Jack Smith appointed by the US Justice Department. Remarkably, the Washington case that indicts Trump on four counts for his actions challenging the 2020 election results and for interfering with the process of their certification by Congress, makes no mention of insurrection or Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. It is a straightforward criminal case and Trump’s challenge of the indictment is on the grounds of presidential immunity. The District Court rejected his challenge, and the Federal Court of Appeal has now endorsed the lower court’s rejection. Trump has been given time till Monday to appeal this ruling to the US Supreme Court.

With the Supreme Court expected to re-qualify Trump in Colorado and send him back to the District Court in Washington to answer the criminal charges against him, the country’s current uncertainty will continue until its resolution in the November presidential election. In the best case scenario for the American political system, Trump will be defeated in the November election and that should end the phenomenon of Trumpism in American politics, but not necessarily the end of the forces in American society and their grievances against American elitism and establishment that Trump has been able to mobilize and sustain through three US election cycles.

In the worst case scenario, Trump will win the election and all chaos will break loose. But it will not be the end of the world for America, and there could be a new America at the end of four years if a second Trump presidency were to last a full term surviving its own endemic chaos. Without question, there would be irreparable setbacks and irreversible changes, mostly on the external front. America will be isolated from the outside, and it would be a wholly different isolationist experience from the internally inspired desire for isolationism that is part of the American political tradition. Trump doesn’t belong to that tradition or, for that matter, to any positive tradition in the country. The worst case scenario for America could also be the best case scenario for Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, if he were to last that long in office; and to a lesser extent for Vladimir Putin in Russia, who would likely outlast all his western detractors.      

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Latest comments

  • 5
    2

    Re: your last paragraph
    “The worst case scenario for America could also be the best case scenario for Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel,….” Hmmm, are you sure? Donald Trump has made two statements that showed his anger and bitterness at Netanyahu for betraying him twice. The first betrayal was congratulating Mr. Biden too early and thereby readily acknowledging Trump’s loss and the second was backpedaling at the last moment from a joint-plot to kill Iran’s Qasem Soleimani. Donald Trump is someone who doesn’t forgive anyone easily. Anyway, I don’t think Trump will have a second chance.
    As proved again in the case of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, US President’s are mere puppets. The show is run by their officials. The best example is Mr. Biden. From time to time, he tries to distance himself from the decisions made by his officials. He is a hundred times better than Trump, but his closest officials have done a “good job” by making him unpopular. I hope his next administration will be a lot better than the current one. We never know there will be a major scenario that will save Palestinians from the Israeli butcher’s hands.
    Remember Bucha in Ukraine?
    Contd’…..

    • 6
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      Three days after Russian forces retreated from Bucha as a part of an agreement with Ukraine, living bodies, some in black bags, appeared on the streets in Bucha. Then, just before the Britain-sponsored UNSC Resolution, there were over 200 freshly murdered civilian bodies in black bags. It was apparent that Ukrainian military killed their own civilians in support of Boris Johnson’s Bucha war crimes staging plan. Remember how the US and EU leaders/officials rushed to Bucha? Now, look at Gaza. Israel has killed over 28,000 Palestinians in 127 days which is 220 killings a day for 127 days. But, there isn’t a single word of condemnation or a single request from the US led West to stop the mass murder in the Gaza Strip. Why? It is because this is not the first time innocent civilians in tens of thousands were killed in West Asia for economic reasons.

    • 4
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      Champa,
      I couldn’t agree more!

    • 3
      2

      Champa

      Why don’t you visit Sri Lanka as well?

  • 4
    1

    I remember writing the same in the early days of the Israel-Gaza war. The US and Israel have a joint economic plan that involves the Port of Gaza. For this reason, the US-sponsored forcible displacement of Palestinians is carried out by the Israelis. This is a well organized and meticulous plan that has been hatched up long before the October 7 incident. Eliminating Hamas and rescuing Israeli hostages are only fake excuses for the brutal annihilation of tens of thousands of Palestinian people, their forcible displacement and making the Gaza Strip inhabitable. These are clear pre-requisites for the US-Israeli economic plan which will eventually cripple even the most successful economies in West Asia.
    Israel does not take any decisions without consulting the US State Department. After Antony Blinken’s recent visit, White House Spokesman John Kirby announced that the US would not support an Israeli military operation in Rafah without serious planning (for civilians). It is evident that Blinken has green-lighted the Israeli plan to invade Rafah, the tent city, where 1.4 million Palestinians are cramped into an area that could accommodate only 280,000 people. After Kirby’s statement, the Israeli PM said that he ordered the military to make Gaza’s only available safe zone devoid of Palestinians.
    1/5

    • 4
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      The motive of the US led Israeli genocide war in the Gaza Strip was evident from the very first day the Israeli military forcibly displaced Palestinians from Northern Gaza deceitfully promising them a safe zone in Southern Gaza. Israel’s cunning strategy to push Palestinians towards the Egyptian border is now completed. The next step is the US putting pressure on Egypt to open the Rafah Gate to facilitate a large influx of Palestinians into Egypt. If Egypt succumbs to the US pressure, the former will be an accomplice to the US led Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip. Beyond doubt, Israel will close the gate from the Gaza side permanently once they expel Palestinians to Egypt. Then, John Kirby will say the President didn’t support it.
      2/5

      • 5
        1

        Is there a solution to Israel’s genocide plan in Rafah? Yes, one solution is Arab countries threaten the US that they will use their military power to stop Israel using Egypt’s Rafah Gate for forcible displacement of Palestinians. Those who justified Israeli genocide war now shed crocodile tears over the annihilation of Palestinians in Rafah, which is now imminent. There is absolutely no guarantee that the US and Israel will abandon their economic plan once hostages are released. Therefore, Israel should be asked to evacuate the Gaza Strip unconditionally and immediately stop its genocide war against Palestinians. A mere ceasefire will not solve the problem.
        Israel says it uncovered Gaza tunnels used by Hamas. So what? It is their country. They can do whatever they want. Palestine is not an independent state. Therefore, they don’t have the luxury of maintaining a legitimate military. Hamas is Palestine’s de facto military and Palestinians have every right to defend their land in whatever method is suitable for their situation and resist ethnic cleansing designed by the Israeli apartheid regime.
        3/5

        • 4
          1

          Palestinians should be proud of their fellow Arab countries that stand by them even setting aside their economic interests. West Asia’s most powerful country, Saudi Arabia has made it abundantly clear to the US that it would not tolerate ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and also refused to forge diplomatic ties with Israel until Palestine becomes an independent state. This is huge. Saudi Arabia is the only country that can keep the US in its place without lifting a finger.
          Then, the Red Sea has been “vetoed” by Houthis, who are said to be one of the finest forces in the West Asian region, until Israel ends its genocide war against Palestinians.
          The US frantically recites the “de-escalation mantra” and engages Iran in order to keep the Strait of Hormuz open for international shipping.
          I gave only three examples. What I am trying to say is Arab and Muslim countries need to put adequate pressure on the US to end Israel’s genocide war in the Gaza Strip.
          4/5

          • 5
            1

            Even though I am not a Muslim, I could not suppress my anger when the Israeli Prime Minister expressed his plan to coincide his genocidal victory day with Ramadan. Over 1.6 billion Muslims observe Ramadan and Israel now plans to deprive Palestinians from observing Ramadan. Not only that, Israel seems to have an evil plan to mark March 10, the day of Ramadan, as Gaza’s Nakba 2024.
            I am writing with a heavy heart today. I don’t know what to say to Palestinians. Only thing I can say is, keep praying for your God. He does exist. He doesn’t come in person. But he can appear as a frozen, moving smoke. Or, rather, a frozen smoke that you can see moving. I don’t know how to explain. These things are hard to believe. It is our genes that connect us with Gods and the outer world. It was Lord Buddha who first revealed that there are other worlds that are occupied by Gods. The Christian God does exist, too. No offense, but he is malevolent. That is why there are bloodsheds and wars. Palestinians should keep praying for their God. He does exist. They need to make a clear request to him.
            5/5

  • 2
    0

    “In the worst case scenario, “
    Can it get any worse, even under Trump or Biden again?

  • 4
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    The pursuit of genocide by Israel in Gaza is obvious to any sentient, impartial observer. But not to Israel’s backers, the so-called “civilized world”, and “human-rights defenders”.

  • 3
    0

    Pursuit of genocide by Israel in Gaza is obvious to any impartial observer. But not to Israel’s backers, the so-called “civilized world”, and “human-rights defenders”.

  • 2
    2

    Today the world is turned upside down.
    The corrupt former leader of Pakistan Imran Khan went to jail but people voted for his party and led him to victory.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd_ZVLhMsEg
    The country most affected by the total ignorance during the covid-crisis, none other than America, is supported by the brainwashers today.

    A number of court cases have been filed against former President Trump. Ironically, for a long time people seemed to not care what was expected of them. Homo sapiens are turning to break the line between other animals.

    • 4
      0

      “corrupt former leader of Pakistan Imran Khan went to jail”
      Some mix up of names?

  • 0
    4

    Rajan Philips, In midst of questionable activities, Donald Trump did one action which will earn him a heavenly reward. It is not about killing humans or otherwise. He shifted the US embassy to Jerusalem, making it the capital of Israel according to the bible for the return of messiah Jesus to his city of God as promised to the jewish nation to gather his elect. Eg.Mat.24,31. Peace is promised as he is the prince of Peace. Isa.9,6 My peace I give to you. John 14,27 Jesus paid for it by allowing his sinless body to be crucified and resurrected.

    • 2
      0

      DTG,
      Wasn’t it Adam who lost one his pieces to Eve?

    • 2
      0

      He shifted the US embassy to Jerusalem,”
      The reward will be a one-way ticket to hell.

  • 3
    1

    Champa is obviously well informed on US-Israel politics in the Middle East. There can be no disagreement against any of his declarations in CT.
    Let me add, the mainstream media, the Anglo-Saxon media, describe all US adversaries in the Middle East routinely as ‘Iran-backed’, whereas Israeli forces are never labelled ‘US-backed’.
    Wonder what US-UK plans are being hatched to the Houthis, brave fighters who have blockaded the Red Sea and Suez Canal in support of the brutalized Gaza Palestinians. The Houthis do so against the mighty western world with nothing but their spirits and principles.

    • 4
      0

      Agree

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