Lost in Translation by
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Constitution of the United States

Please note that the word "justice" never appears in this broadside.

Article III


The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour…


“Good behaviour” huh? Three of the current Supreme Court justices —Neil Gorsuch, Bret Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — lied in Senate confirmation hearings about their stated position on Roe v. Wade. They had declared under oath that Roe stood as law under the doctrine of stare decisis.

Stare decisis requires courts to apply the law in the same manner to cases with the same facts. Roe v. Wade, as originally recorded in the U.S. Supreme Court decision contains the same facts, word-for word, as the recently nullified Roe v. Wade decision. Oh yeah, and screw the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Fourteenth Amendment was written in 1868 to counter the attempts by Southern states to make laws that excluded former slaves from access to democracy. Heard that one before? The Fourteenth Amendment says that “no state (e.g., Mississippi) shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state 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.”

The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause lies at the heart of many defining 20th-century Supreme Court decisions, such as Loving v. Virginia (1967), which deemed laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional in part because they denied liberty without due process, and Roe v. Wade (1973), which upheld a women’s right to an abortion under the right to privacy.

But by nullifying the Roe decision, through Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (a case originating in, yes, Mississippi), the court deprives hundreds of millions of Americans of their privacy and hence, their liberty.

So the robed Medievalists reversed a law and withdrew a Constitutional right. According to these malicious and arrogant jurists, there’s a first time for everything.

Who are these people?

SCOTUS Justice Amy Coney Barrett serves as ‘handmaid’ (their term) in People of Praise, a male-dominated Christian group practicing shared living, faith healing and speaking in tongues. Apparently, their elders like to watch their flock engage in intercourse to make sure everything is going okay. Husbands attend their wives’ gynecological appointments to ensure that no contraception passes hands.

Amy Coney Barrett grew up under the aegis of the all-male People of Praise elders. Daniel Bennett, a professor at a Christian college in Arkansas, recently said that Barrett is “more embedded in the conservative Christian legal movement than any Justice we’ve ever had.”

Barrett should have recused herself from the Roe v Wade reversal in recognition of her deeply religious morals, values and — yeah — her “behaviour.”

Her actions in the Roe ruling and her presence on the court makes a travesty out of impartiality. She, like her kooky Senate colleague Kirsten Sinema both exude the kind of energized, suppressed hysteria that suggests childhood domination. I’ll leave it at that. That may not be good journalism, but Barrett’s jurisprudence stinks. And I’ll refrain from digging too deeply into “equal treatment” as manifested between Barrett’s biological children and her adopted Haitian kids.

SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh carries thousands of complaints of sexual abuse registered with the FBI and has a drinking problem. A large portion of his confirmation hearing revolved around the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, a Stanford research psychologist who claims Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers. The FBI under Trump suppressed evidence of dozens of other complaints from women Kavanaugh had abused.

Just before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tapped Kavanaugh for Supreme Court candidacy, Kavanaugh, while still sitting on the D.C. circuit court, denied access to an abortion for an immigrant teenager, being held under then-President Trump’s draconian ICE policies.

I could go on. Justice Alito, who wrote the infamous draft decision reversing Roe takes authority from two 17th-century English witch burners. I shudder to think of what lies beneath Justice Alito’s zealotry. Moving along…

Uncle Clarence Thomas refused to recuse himself from efforts to suppress evidence that his wife is under investigation for actively participating in violent attempts to reverse the 2020 election. In an earlier life, Uncle Thomas festooned his sexual relationships with pornography. Most of us remember Anita Hill from Uncle Thomas’s Senate confirmation hearings. Earlier, he violently abused his live-in partner unless he was under the sedation of alcohol. Bad “behavior.”

It seems a bit ironic that Uncle Thomas wants to block more Constitutional rights, including contraception and same-sex marriage. He would not have been able to marry his seditious current partner, Ginny Thomas, were it not for the abovementioned Loving v. Virginia.

Neil Gorsuch reminds me of a snake. Tall, good-natured, and preppy-looking, I keep watching to see signs of a forked tongue darting out between his thin lips.

Finally, comes Chief Justice John Roberts. His milky leadership resembles the energy and alacrity of paint drying or grass growing. His efforts to stabilize and legitimize his court have been ominously ignored by the ambition and energy of his youthful, overzealous subalterns.

Two days after this court eschewed on the Fourteenth Amendment and reversed the constitutional rights of women to control their own bodies, I don’t give a damn who can argue with the positions I’ve put forward here. The court has rarely lived up to its potential to give equal protection and due process to the American people. Too often, its “good behaviour” seems lost in translation.

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Profile photo of Charles Degelman Charles Degelman
Writer, editor, and educator based in Los Angeles. He's also played a lot of music. Degelman teaches writing at California State University, Los Angeles. 

Degelman lives in the hills of Hollywood with his companion on the road of life, four cats, assorted dogs, and a coterie of communard brothers and sisters.

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Characterizations: been there, moving, right on!, well written


  1. susanrubin says:

    It is hard to read this crystal clear description of the violent rape of women’s rights in the overthrow of Roe v Wade. Degelman does what few others can do: Allows you to understand the ugliness without having to stop reading. He is at ease with the truth and the truth, stinking of vomit though it may be, is necessary.

    • Thanks, Susan. I feel strongly that the intent of the Supreme Court has been lost in translation, and, although I’ve often felt the court was stacked against the will of the people, “behaviour” of this court reflects its personal and religious values in a powerful and malignant manner. Not exactly a happy June summertime story, but we are at war.

  2. Marian says:

    Perfectly rendered, Charles, can’t think of any more to say.

  3. To quote the current meme, I’ll set my clock back 50 years tonight Charles, thanks for the reminder.

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    Your featured image says it all, Charles. I read your assessment of our “esteemed” justices with tears in my eyes. Never thought I would live to see my granddaughters have as few (maybe fewer) rights as I had as a teen. The question is, where do we go from here? I fear things will get even worse, if that’s possible. Hard to remember all of that “hope and change” from back in 2008.

    • Thanks for your comments, Laurie. I think that, like grief, we should try to fully experience the rage and despair we feel. Then we move forward. The impact of these court decisions is not going away. November approaches fast. The battle will be met.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    You give us the subtext of the moral depravity of those who have DARED to revoke our RIGHTS in exquisite detail, Chas. You already know the personal reasons for my fury.

    I actually know Anita Hill. She is a Brandeis professor and sits on the Rose Art Museum Board with me. I’ve never met anyone as calm and wise. She is the one who survived the “hi-tech lynching” (with her parents and multitude of siblings looking on). She persevered and so shall we. Impeach the damn liars and vote like our lives depend on it (since they do)!

    • “Subtext of depravity” What a great turn of phrase, Betsy! And yes, amid this darkness I strongly feel that they’ve overreached. All of them, from the courts, to Mitch McConnell, to all the depraved minions who fell under the spell. But, as Heather Cox Richardson so frequently reminds us, in many ways we are living a re-run of the forces that led to the civil war. We shall persevere and this court is standing on shaky ground. Thanks for your response!

  6. Mister Ed says:

    Thanks for your writing — I admire your optimism written today. Whether we survive this court is, in my opinion, still up in the air.

    • Thanks, Ed. I guess that’s ‘Mister Ed’ to me! I’m only optimistic when I can remain strategic. The court will have to wait until we battle for Senate seats (I’m optimistic there, despite broad reckonings to the contrary); I’m watching Trump (if not MAGA ism) wane on every level and feel optimistic about the heat I’m feeling from behind the closed DOJ doors; In future, Trump won’t make it through the primaries. The Supreme Court is, in due time, going to pay for its ideological depravity, ambition, and arrogance.

      In the meantime, we are going to see a great deal of ingenuity, resources, and resistance put up by the good people, when dealing with these arcane attempts at traveling back in time. In short, I’d echo Thomas Wolfe and say you can’t go home again, white boy, even with a sociopathetic SCOTUS.

  7. John Shutkin says:

    Excellent analysis, Charles. You sure you didn’t sneak in a law degree in your amazing career? Only things this pedantic lawyer would note relate to stare decisis. First, it is not strictly “required” it’s a princple, not a law — and, for example, we should be pleased that SCOTUS did not apply stare decisis to the Dred Scott decision. But, more to your point, Alito had the audacity to claim that his opinion in Dobbs did NOT go against stare decisis. Wholly apart from the horribleness of his opinion, it most certainly did. Roe is dead. At least have the integrity to admot what you have done.

    SCOTUS on the verge of another horrible ruling relating to EPA. So, as much as I enjoyed reading your analysis, it is not good for my blood pressure.

    • Thanks, John. My quasi legal analysis is glowing under your praise. I did work for many years as writer, editor, curriculum designer at a law-related curriculum organization. Both the other writers were lawyers, and I developed at least a love for, if not mastery over precision in language. As Adam Schiff (not our wonderful CA representative) says to his ADA in an episode of Law & Order, “words is what we do around here, Miss Kincaid.”

      I haven’t had the courage to read Alito’s full argument, but arrogance and ambition do seem to have created a deadly tipping point in the current SCOTUS. Alito reminds me a bit of the nazi child-of-concentration-camp survivors, Stephen Miller in that beneath his functionality, he exudes a deep, hateful psychosis from his pores.

      Re: the pending EPA decision and more I am fearful of this court. Apparently that’s what we’re supposed to feel. Very medieval. I wasn’t raised to fear a vengeful god, so this SCOTUS will have to suffice. I do hope against hope that the illegitimacy of Kavanaugh’s appointment and Uncle Thomas’ scurrilous conflicts of interest might bear fruit, and perhaps Roberts can rein them in, altho he reminds me more of a vegetable than a Supreme Court Chief Justice.

      I apologize for any possibility of raising your BP. Writing this piece was the only way I could bring mine back into a decent range. And, for the rest of the day, I did feel the sadness lift. Ah well, I have learned that despair is like grief. We probably have to experience it as deeply as possible before we can rise up and fight again.

  8. Khati Hendry says:

    This was masterfully written, clear and chilling. Hard to believe it is our world, but the roots of the forces trying to destroy US democracy go back to the split over slavery and the Southern states–just playing out once again. Oops, is that CRT? I hope your faith in people rising up against the miserable fruit of the corrupt reactionaries will be rewarded. Since you wrote this, SCOTUS has indeed come out with an anti-EPA decision, and I learned from MSNBC that Neil Gorsuch’s mother was the vile Anne (McGill Gorsuch) Burford who tried to wreck the EPA under Reagan. Evil.

    • Thanks, Khati. Yeah the pre-civil war mechanizations seem to offer a model for current events. At core, SCOTUS is aiding and abetting minority rule along with the state legislatures. I find looking back these days is scary as hell but super instructive. Do you read Heather Cox Richardson, U.S historian? She links the ongoing horrors today to earlier-people, places, and events in a clear but detailed daily column. You can find her daily column, yeah daily! On FB or better, on Substack under her name or at “Letters from an American.” And no, you’re not talking CRT, you’re talking history. I’ve updated SCOTUS’ fresh horrors —- except for Gorsuch’s mom — on my website blog and want to post a new pic with the Court including Ketanji Brown Jackson. She will banish Clarence Thomas with her intelligence, warmth, and jurisprudence.

      • Khati Hendry says:

        Don’t know Heather Richardson—don’t FB but maybe will see if I can access Substack. Though I feel like being an ostrich these days, it’s not really an option. KBJ has already obliterated CT just through the hearings alone. Still 3 to 6 votes.

  9. Hi again, Khati… You can find Heather Cox Richardson at https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/. You can sign up w/your email for her listserv for free and decide whether or not Heather is good for ostriches. 🙂 Resist!

  10. Dave Ventre says:

    It goes against everything I believe to wish serious illness on another person. Or three. Really, it does.

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