Friday, October 21, 2016


(This blog is far too long, but I am publishing it because of many requests)

In just over five hundred hours from now, the people of the United States will be stepping behind the curtain to vote for President of the United States.

I have to say that this is the … the strangest election in my life time.

It really is unusual. Driving over here from Harbor Springs, I saw a bumper sticker…. with no name on it.

Just a box with an  “X” in it. Then, in red letters, it said “NONE OF THE ABOVE”

It really is the strangest election in my lifetime, and I have to tell you that I am a very, very old man.

I was curled up on my mother’s womb in 1928 when Herbert Hoover defeated Al Smith.

It was the only time my father ever voted for a Democrat. Of course, he denied it. He said he didn’t vote for a Democrat. He said he voted for a Catholic.

I got my first experience in grass roots politics in 1936. It was literally grass roots. I wrestled a kid in my neighborhood on the front lawn. He was for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and I was for Alf Landon.

That was a very long time ago. There was no television, there were no computers, no Face Book. My grandmother’s canary was the only thing that tweeted. The Supreme Court was still trying to protect the Constitution from the New Deal.

Too bad Alf Landon didn’t win. The first thing Roosevelt did in 1937 was to try to pack the Supreme Court with six new justices. Congress defeated the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937, but it wasn’t long before FDR was able to make his first Supreme Court appointment.

He said he wanted a “thumping evangelical New Dealer” and he found  one in Hugo Black, a Senator from Alabama.

Over the next twelve years, Roosevelt appointed seven more thumping, evangelical New Deal Judges, and the Supreme Court was magically and permanently converted into a political arm of the White House.

Today, we have Justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg who presided over a gay wedding while the court was still hearing the debates about gay marriage and who openly declared her partisanship in the presidential election.

For more than seventy-five years, the Supreme Court of the United States has usurped the sovereignty of the American people by inventing what they call “constitutional law.” to advance their political agenda.

There are only two problems with ‘constitutional law’:

It isn’t constitutional and it isn’t law.

The Constitution says in plain English that IT is the Supreme Law of the land.  The Constitution is the law. The plain words of the Constitution. The plain words that the people who ratified the Constitution and its Amendments used when they adopted it and when they amended it.

The whole idea of a written constitution is to protect the law from the lawyers. It is written in the language used by ordinary people. It says what it means and it means what it says. Nothing less and nothing more.

The idea that nine unelected life time Justices of the Supreme Court can invent new civil rights that nobody ever dreamed of when the Constitution was adopted or amended is not only preposterous: it is a deliberate assault on the Supreme Law of the Land.

It is a criminal attack on the  sovereignty and the liberty of the American people.

You cannot have government of the people, by the people and for the people if the words the people adopt and ratify are twisted and ignored and re-defined and contorted to mean what nine self appointed arbiters of national culture want them to say.

My friends, it is time for the American people to stand up and say “We have had enough.” Indeed, we have had more than enough. We have had far too much judge made law in the United States and it is high time we take back the Supreme Court and confine it to its constitutional duty of deciding cases and controversies.

When the Supreme Court decided, in 1857, that an emancipated black man named Dred Scot could not be a citizen, Abraham Lincoln made it crystal clear that the Supreme Court does not have the power to make laws.

Supreme Court decisions are only binding on the parties to a case. They are not the law of the land, they are the law of the case, and they only affect similar cases as long as the personnel on the Supreme Court remains the same.

In 1890 the Supreme Court decided that racial segregation was constitutional. In 1954 that decision was overruled. It took sixty four years; but it happened.

You and I have come here this evening to express our support for the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death.

We are here tonight because in1973 the United States Supreme Court rendered an opinion in the case of Roe V Wade to the effect that women have a constitutional right to a medically assisted abortion.

That opinion has been roundly criticized by legal experts and scholars for four decades. That opinion was based on a so called right of privacy which the court admitted is nowhere to be found in the words of the constitution or the bill of rights. In his dissenting opinion, Mr. Justice Byron White called the majority opinion a raw abuse of judicial power.

My friends, whatever else is going to be decided on November 8, the impact of this election on the future of the Supreme Court must be our primary concern.

In addition to the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia, the seats occupied by Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer will almost certainly be vacated in the next eight years, as will the seat held by the infamous swing voter appointed by Ronald Reagan, Anthony Kennedy.

If the American people elect a President who sees it as his duty to appoint Justices who will abide by the plain words of the Constitution, there is every possibility that the decision in Roe versus Wade will, eventually, be reversed.

The talking heads on television and elsewhere like to tell us that abortion is a social issue. Social issue. That’s a nice, gentle way to approach it. Sort of like which fork to use for the salad, or whether you should take off your hat in an elevator.

My friends, There’s nothing social about abortion. It is an evil curse on civilized mankind. And the evil visited upon our nation by Roe V Wade is every bit as heinous and immoral and unconscionable as slavery and Jim Crow.

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a eugenicist. That means she was a student and an advocate of eugenics. Very simply, eugenics is the science of improving the human race by breeding stronger, smarter, more beautiful people.

Margaret Sanger argued in favor of abortion to eliminate poor people, ignorant people, ugly people. All those unfortunate men and women she claimed had “bad genes.”

People who were, in her eyes, condemned to be losers. The peasants. The underclass.  Especially people of African descent. Especially people with dark skin.

Her followers in the abortion industry today still honor Margaret Sanger, and despite all their pious talk about a woman’s reproductive health, they are still hell bent on trying to improve the breed of humanity.

It is no coincidence that most abortion clinics are located in the inner cities of our nation. Black women are five times as likely to have an abortion than white women.

In New York City more black babies are aborted than are born alive. Nearly two thousand black babies are killed in America every single day. Two thousand. Every single day. Those “Black Lives Matter” Those “Babies Lives Matter.”

Abortion is even more than a moral or legal issue. It is a political issue. In fact it is the most divisive, emotional political issue in America. It divides our nation as surely and as bitterly as the question of slavery that led to the civil war.

In the forty years since Roe V. Wade, over 60 million Americans have been denied the right to be born. Think of what that means to our country. Sixty million people. More than the combined populations of California and New York.

Sixty million people under the age of 43. Sixty million Americans who will never work or save or spend. Sixty million Americans who will never pursue happiness in this great land of the free and home of the brave. Sixty million Americans who will never go to college, buy a house, get married, or have children. Sixty million Americans who will never vote or serve their country in uniform.

I began these remarks tonight by suggesting that we Americans have a Hobson’s choice in the Presidential election. Surely the bitterness and scorn which mars our political rhetoric would seem to justify the conclusion that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are scoundrels unworthy of the highest office in our nation.

But the plain, undeniable fact is that they are divided on the crucial issue of abortion. Mrs. Clinton would continue her husband’s preference for activist liberal Supreme Court Justices. Mr. Trump has declared his intention to appoint Justices in the tradition of Antonin Scalia.

In 1860 the newly organized Republican Party promised to abolish slavery.

It was also a bitterly contested election. The Democrats hated Lincoln so much that his life was threatened. He had to sneak into Washington wearing a disguise.

The election of 2016 is perhaps the most bitter and divisive since the Civil War. But for those of us who are pro life, the decision is clear. The Republican Party was the Party of abolition in 1860 and the Republican Party is the Party of Life in 2016.

We will vote for Donald Trump. Not because we like him. We don’t. Not because he is a role model for our children and grandchildren. He isn’t. Not because he is some great successful, charismatic leader who promises to make America great again. That remains to be seen.

We will vote for Donald Trump for one reason and one reason only: because he has heard what we are saying; because he has picked up the pro life banner; because he is committed to the cause of the unborn.

We will vote for Donald Trump and we will ask Almighty God to inspire him to support and defend our nation’s Constitution and to appoint Supreme Court Justices who will restore the Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land.  

We will vote for Donald Trump because black lives and white lives, and babies lives and old people’s lives and every human life in this nation and on this planet matter. They matter to the beneficent Creator whose infinite love has given us this home.

We will vote for Donald Trump and we will leave the outcome to the same Almighty God in whom we Americans have always placed our trust.

We will leave the outcome to the mighty voice of God’s People on November eighth.

May God bless each of us, and may God bless the United States of America.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


We should have known it would come to this. A male candidate and a female candidate running against each other for the Presidency of the  United States.

The boys against the girls. It was ever thus. Any divorce lawyer will tell you that when the flame dies and animosity sets in, the battle becomes vicious.

Men and women fight differently, and when they do, their man-ness and woman-ness seeps through. Charlie Brown gets angry, flustered and red faced. Lucy gets steely eyed and mean spirited.

Nobody wins domestic arguments. They just end somehow. Murder, divorce, make up sex. Somehow. Unhappily, the rhetoric in the 2016 campaign has made it sound like a colossal bedroom shouting match. And the things they accuse each other of are curious.

Hillary says that Trump is a misogynist. That means he hates women. To prove it, she points to testimony that Trump gropes, touches, kisses and ogles women.

Curiously, that would suggest not only that he doesn’t hate women, but that he is attracted to them beyond the customary restraints of courtesy and decency.

For his part, Trump attempts to paint Hillary as a rumor mongering, devious, and dishonest shrew. The saddest aspect of this phenomenon is the impact it has on the people of the United States.

We have always been divided between Republicans and Democrats. Even within families. Somehow we manage to compartmentalize our politics so that every day life can continue in reasonable tranquility.

But the emotional dimension associated with a cross gender feud, has a way of intruding on our lives differently than the ordinary political debate.

Hillary, of course, plays the sex card. Constantly and loudly. Why not? She would be the first female President of the United States. Not only would that be a feather in her cap, it would be an historic event in which every American, male or female, would take great pride and satisfaction.

Particularly women. Particularly our wives, daughters, sisters and mothers.

We like to think that Presidential elections are decided upon issues relating to the operation of our government; the kinds of things listed in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States: Unity, Justice, Domestic Tranquility, Defense, Welfare and Liberty; and the character, competence, instincts and experience of the candidates.

Chauvinism is defined as excessive or prejudiced loyalty or support for one's own cause, group, or gender. Surely there are both male and female chauvinists among us. What they do in the secrecy of the voting booth, and why they do it is their own business.

But the fact is that the average voter makes a rather visceral decision on election day. Social scientists tell us that the outcome of an election can be reliably predicted by showing pictures of the candidates to people who do not know who they are, what they are running for or what they believe or stand for.

If that is so, how much gender biased inertia will affect the outcome on November 8, and how much the election result will disturb American family tranquility no one knows or can predict. My guess is that an attractive woman would beat a homely man and vice versa.

I well remember the heated argument my parents had when my Dad learned that my Mother had voted in favor of allowing oleomargarine to be artificially colored to look like butter.

We can only deplore the fact that ‘Peanuts’ cartoonist Charles M. Schulz is no longer with us and able to cast Donald Trump as Charlie Brown and Hillary Clinton as Lucy.

America needs a good laugh.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


It’s Sunday morning. Polly and I fulfilled our Sunday obligation by attending Mass yesterday evening.

It’s a ritual that we Catholics perform every week – come Hell or high water- as my Dad used to say.

Growing up, I learned that missing Mass on Sunday was a serious matter. I suppose that statistically there are many people these days who consider themselves Catholics, but who do not go to Mass every week.

We used to call them Palm Sunday Catholics. The Church obligates all of its faithful to receive the sacraments at least once a year on penalty of excommunication. It’s called Easter Duty. It’s why the church parking lots are jammed every Spring.

It’s not for me to sit in judgment of anyone’s faith. Still, I have to believe that attending Mass on Sunday is a good habit. And good habits make good people.

For one thing, the ritual of Mass begins with public confession of sin. Here is what we recite we very Sunday:

I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Confession is good for the soul. We are all sinners. Every human being who ever lived, save Jesus Christ and his Mother, is or was a sinner.

Our American Declaration of Independence affirms that our Creator has endowed us with unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That assertion confirms what we all know instinctively: that we can do whatever we want to do; that we are captains of our own ships, commanders of our own bodies.

We are all free agents. We each have our own moral compass. It’s called conscience. It tells us what we should do and what we should not do.

The dust up about Donald Trump’s taped conversation with Billy Bush has put before the American people the question of the candidate’s moral compass.

Does he understand the difference between right and wrong? Does he concede that he is capable of doing something that he knows, or should know, he ought not to do?

Trump has been described as neither liberal nor conservative. It is said that his only guiding star is pragmatism. If it works, it’s good. If it doesn’t work, it’s bad.

Given that yardstick, he would be well advised to begin tonight’s debate with an unequivocal, honest and sincere public confession.

He should confess to Almighty God and to his brothers and sisters – the American voters – that he has sinned, and he should ask the American people to pray for him.

Not vote for him. Pray for him. Even the Democrats can do that.

Let’s face it, nobody wants a President who doesn’t want people to ask God to bless him and to bless the United States of America.

And besides, it is pragmatic to be humble.

Saturday, October 8, 2016


The Old Judge has occasionally used this blog to brag about his six children, nineteen grandchildren or six great-grandchildren. Today, I want to tip my hat to one of the eight in-laws who also help to populate the Brennan clan; Marybeth’s husband, Jim Hicks. Jim is the Assistant Dean at the Savannah Law School.

Here is what a former student of his, Afghanistan veteran Dan Perez, posted about Jim Hicks on Facebook:

“Let me tell you about this amazing man and what he has done for my life. Back in 2003, he was a "funny guy" law professor of mine. We met during some odd circumstances (I wasn't the most successful in his course during my first semester of law school). However, there was something about this professor at the time that connected us. At the time, I was not sure why. Then in 2004, I deployed to Iraq. For some reason that I could not put my finger on at the time, I would write to him, emails and letters, usually about my difficulties in the war zone or my difficulties with certain "difficult" leaders. He would tell me to push through and continue to do the right thing, and I felt that I was successful. I returned from Iraq and returned to law school, and I thanked him for being an ear to my gripes. Then my struggles with reintegration occurred and after many, many beers, way too many beers and feeling sorry for myself, I flunked out of law school, in what would have been my final year of law school in 2007. During my desperation time, he tried to step in and right my ship for me with words of encouragement, and in the end at the time, pleading with me to slow down and give recovery and integration a chance. Despite my failures, he continued to support me, and over the next 5 years, pushed me, and pushed many, many others to support my readmission into law school, even speaking on the phone, long distance, to my parents. Even when I gave up, he wouldn't give up, and he wrote many letters and made many phone calls and personally addressed many administrators and officials at many meetings, all imploring them to readmit me. Even I gave up on myself ever returning to law school. I completed a deployment to Afghanistan, then earned my MBA, all because I had already given up on law school and working in the legal profession. I charted a different life. But he would not let me go. Upon my return from Afghanistan, 5 years after my academic dismissal from law school, he finally got me back into law school, through way more of his own efforts than any effort on my part. I thought about this today during my train ride into work, into Downtown Chicago, where I work at a large law firm, and earn the equivalent of a 6-figure salary (on an hourly basis). Because of him, more than anyone else, I am here working in Downtown Chicago. Even if I had not initially failed in 2007, and had successfully become a lawyer then, my only dream was to become an attorney in a minority neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago, make a steady salary at a small office, and live happily ever after. I grew up in what, by any standard, would be considered a "ghetto" in Harvey, Illinois. I don't really know anyone that dreamed farther than that lifestyle, and by all accounts, even those small dreams would have been a major success for someone growing up in my situation, and I would have been very happy. But through his pushing, and pushing, and pushing, I eventually started pushing. Now, I sit at this desk, in this high-rise building in downtown Chicago, with a window overlooking an amazingly beautiful and large art sculpture surrounded by Federal Court Buildings, making way more money than I would have ever thought I could, or should, make, with the freedom of coming and going where I please, where the senior lawyers in my office look at my work product and analyses as subject-matter expert work, doing Spanish and Portuguese-language contract analysis on behalf of major worldwide corporate and government clients, I would not be here today if not for one man. Yes, there are many others who supported me throughout life and do so today, and they have helped me overall become a decent man. However, one man's efforts put me here in Downtown Chicago: Law Professor, now Law School Dean Jim Hicks. Thank you for pushing me into success. Thank you for not giving up on me, even when I did.”

And that, My Friends, is what I call a dedicated law professor. Who says the American Dream isn’t alive and well?