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CRONYISM ON THE HIGH COURT
PART 2 of 2

 

 

 

By Jon Christian Ryter

October 15, 2005

NewsWithViews.com

Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson decided to run for the US Senate in 1948. His main opposition in the Democratic primary was Coke Stevenson. (Texas was virtually a one party State in the 1940s-1950s. If you won the Democratic primary, you had already won the general election.) Johnson won the primary by 87 votes. Stevenson accused LBJ of ballot-rigging and substantiated his allegations well enough to secure an injunction to keep Johnson's name off the November ballot. Johnson called Fortas and asked him to intercede by calling Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg to squash the injunction. Fortas did. The injunction was suspended and Johnson was elected. But because a cloud still hung over the question of ballot-rigging, LBJ was barred from taking his seat. Fortas arranged for an investigation by his friend J. Edgar Hoover who found no evidence that Johnson had engaged in voting the dead. LBJ was seated and the rest, as they say, is history.

On Nov. 22, 1963 the US Senate Rules Committee chaired by B. Everett Jordan [D-NC] was investigating the Vice President of the United States in a secret session brought about by Attorney General Robert Kennedy's own investigation of Bobby Baker after Kennedy discovered links between Baker and several Mafia bosses. Kennedy suspected the ties went all the way to Johnson. The Rules Committee, however, did not know that as they were listening to testimony from insurance executive Don B. Reynolds, the nation was mourning the loss of John F. Kennedy who had just been shot. Because Jordon sealed the hearing, no one on the Senate Rules Committee was allowed to leave the room, and no one was allowed to enter. There were no phones in the room, so no one knew that JFK had been killed. Nor did they know that man they were investigating had just become the President of the United States.

Reynolds testified that he asked Baker—a personal friend—to arrange for his boss—LBJ—to buy a life insurance policy from him. Johnson agreed providing Reynolds give him a $585 Magnavox Stereo and that his agency buy $1,200 in advertising on KTFX (Ladybird Johnson's radio station). The information Jordan was really after, however, was not about the petty insurance kickback. Jordan was after bigger fish that day. The insurance kickback question was asked to put Reynolds at ease so he could drop the bomb that should have forced LBJ to resign the vice presidency. History sometimes has a way of upsetting the best laid traps of man—and November 22, 1963 was one of those days.

Reynolds told the committee that he personally saw Bobby Baker give Johnson a suitcase containing what he was told was $100 thousand. The kickback, he said, was for LBJ helping Baker with a lucrative deal in Fort Worth. Reynolds then revealed that in 1950 Johnson and Baker purportedly helped Intercontinental Hotels Corporation get some casino licenses in the Dominican Republic.

Involved in this Baker-Johnson deal was Ed Levesen, Meyer Lansky and Mafia boss Sam Giancana. When the casinos opened their doors in 1955, Johnson and Baker were invited as official guests of the syndicate. According to testimony, Baker suggested that the mob think about using the Dominican Republic as a Mafia replacement for Cuba which became off-limits to Americans after the Bay of Pigs. In 1962, Baker—still serving as Johnson's chief-of-staff—formed Serv-U Corporation with Levenson. Serv-U provided vending machines to companies working under federal grants. The vending machines were manufactured by a company owned by Giancana in Chicago. Companies receiving "free money" from Uncle Sam were made to feel obligated to use vending machine companies recommended by a certain Chief-of-staff of an important Senator.

Had Kennedy not been assassinated that day, it is very likely that Johnson would have been forced to follow Schulyer Colfax—Grant's vice president—as the second weep to resign from office under a cloud. Instead, Spiro Agnew, Nixon's vice president became that person. The Senate Rules Committee was sitting on enough information that, had it all leaked out, Lyndon Johnson would have been the first president removed from office by impeachment. On December 6, 1963, LBJ called Jordan and applied just enough presidential pressure on him to force the Senator to "lose" the Reynolds testimony—or at least bury it deep enough to to keep the information from getting into the hands of the media—for a while. Jordan assured Johnson he would do what he could to suppress the information because he said "...it might spread [to] places we don't want it to spread."

Once again LBJ was forced to call Fortas, the fireman to put out the latest fire before it ignited in the West Wing of the White House. Fortas, who represented both Johnson and financier Bobby Baker—and, later, Billie Sol Estes who was leasing nonexistent grain silos to the Johnson Agriculture Department for a tidy sum each year—worked completely behind the scenes to help Johnson orchestrate a smear campaign against Reynolds in order to discredit his testimony. To help his new boss, and guarantee he could not be fired by LBJ, FBI Director Hoover gave the White House Reynolds' FBI file.

Johnson leaked information from the Reynolds' file to Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson on Jan. 17, 1964. Leaked were claims that Reynolds had lied about his academic success at West Point, that he had been a supporter of Sen. Joe McCarthy and that, as such, he falsely accused business rivals of being communists. And finally, in 1953, Reynolds purportedly made an off-color anti-semitic remark while he was in Berlin. While Reynolds' transgressions were nothing like Lewinsky's blue dress, they were sufficient to make Reynolds look like soiled goods. He was discredited sufficiently to make it appear that his testimony was tainted.

A few weeks later the New York Times reported that LBJ had provided the information to Pearson and Anderson—and also that Johnson, as President of the United States, used his high office to pressure newspaper publishers not to print any of the information that had been disclosed about him by Reynolds to the Senate Rules Committee. Most did not. Only the foolhardy and the brave—and those large enough to survive a broadside by the White House—did.

On July 28, 1965 Lyndon B. Johnson nominated his good friend and fellow conspirator Abraham Fortas to replace Abe's friend, Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg, on the Supreme Court.

The apple does not fall far from the tree. Fortas was carrying as much baggage as LBJ. Only, Fortas' indiscretions did not surface until Johnson nominated him to replace Earl Warren as Chief Justice. Only Fortas did not have a friend as well connected as himself to conceal his wrongdoings. Two scandals broke that sealed Fortas' fate on the high court. First, when LBJ nominated him to replace Warren as chief justice, the first shoe dropped. As a sitting justice on the high court, the Senate Judiciary Committee learned that Fortas regularly attended White House staff meetings and briefed Johnson on the secret deliberations of the high court as it was contemplating its verdicts.

On behalf of Johnson, Fortas lobbied Congress for favorable votes on Vietnam. But, worse, the Senate learned, as an Associate Justice, Fortas was being paid a stipend equal to 40% of his wages as a jurist to teach a summer class each year at American University in Washington, DC. Without even considering the fact that Fortas was a card-carrying communist, that information triggered the first filibuster ever of a Supreme Court nominee—and the real damning information had not yet been made public. Wall Street financier Louis Wolfson, another friend of Fortas, was indicted for stock fraud—selling unregistered stocks to the public—and of perjury. The second shoe dropped.

Wolfson was convicted and served one year at a federal lockup at Elgin AFB. In addition, he paid a substantial fine. Wolfson appealed his conviction to the US Supreme Court. The high court, however, declined to accept the appeal. During the vetting process of Fortas' nomination as Chief Justice it was discovered that one of Wolfson's charitable foundations paid Fortas $20,000 shortly after the financier's initial conviction. The Senate Judiciary Committee viewed the payment as a bribe for Abe's "handling" of the other justices to make Wolfson's conviction go away.

Fortas was forced to resign from the Supreme Couart to avoid impeachment. He was replaced by Harry Blackmun on May 12, 1970. Johnson vouched for Fortas' lack of judicial experience when he nominated him. What else could he say? What else can George W. Bush say about Harriet Miers? "She's rather mediocre and has a boring resume, but she's been a very loyal trooper and she assures me she will vote in a way that will please me, so I'm rewarding her with one of the nine of the most powerful appointed jobs in America." That's cronyism, pure and simple. It was not enough for Bush to give her a seat on a District Court—still a lifetime berth. Bush wants to reward Miers with a job that will allow her to be one of nine people with the power to change the face of America.

What Bush did say was: "People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Myers. They want to know Harriet Miers' background." Actually, people aren't as interested in her background as they are her qualifications. They want to be assured that the President actually had a reason for nominating her other than cronyism. "[People] want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions. Part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion." Frankly, if that's the best Bush can offer—when religion is the taboo smart politicians dance away from when talking about nominees they are about to put on the bench for life—he needs to find another person for the job because she is not qualified. Christian conservatives want to know there is any genuine substance to the President's nominees outside of the pew "photo ops" that politicians fall back on when every else fails or they have nothing else redeemable to offer.

Bush is throwing Mier's evangelical born-again experience against the wall, hoping it will stick. Bush is hoping this will cause the conservative right to support his choice even though she is insupportable. Religion was an area the White House carefully avoided when Chief Justice John Roberts was being vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Why? Because [a] Roberts is devout Catholic [as opposed to being simply a mainstream Protestant, and [b] the White House tried hard to play down Roberts' Christian conservatism because it would detract from his stellar constitutional pedigree. Miers, on the other hand, has no pedigree. She's a Heinz 57 variety candidate—and none of the 57 varieties rise to level we have come to expect in judicial nominees. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Evangelical support for Miers is tissue thin compared to Roberts. Which is why Bush is trying so hard to make the case for Miers as an evangelical. The Christian base that elected Bush in 2004 will likely not come out to play in November, 2006 unless Bush can prove he did not deal them one from the bottom of the deck. Bush's problem is that instead of asking for a new deck and dealing a new hand, he is trying to reshuffle the old deck in order to make an Old Maid look like a Royal Flush. It isn't going to happen even though he might be able to twist arms the way FDR twisted arms to get his New Deal justices confirmed, or the way LBJ twisted arms to get Abe Fortas confirmed.

"The White House and the religious right rallying around the beleaguered nomination of Harriet Miers," People for the American Way director Ralph Gneiss chided, "continue to cite her religious beliefs and the church she attends as reasons to believe she will oppose abortion rights, and to bolster support for her among activists on the far right. What's wrong for John Roberts can't be right for Harriet Miers." The difference is, Roberts is the real McCoy. Miers is not. What's more, the left knows it—and Bush knows they know it. That's why he's not afraid to throw out the religion card. The left knows that card is a joker.

When you're looking at Miers, this is what you see. [1] She's a 60-ish Old Maid with absolutely no job experience for the position she is seeking. [2] Her resume pales compared to those Bush's conservative base expected the president to pick from. [3] She is a Bush crony—like Mike Brown and Julia Myers.

Only minutes after Bush announced Mier's nomination on Oct. 3, Manuel Miranda, a former aide to Senate Majority leader Bill Frist, and a conservative strategist, said: "The reaction of many conservatives today will be that the president has made possibly the most unqualified choice since Abe Fortas, who had been the president's lawyer. The nomination of a nominee with no judicial record is a significant failure for the advisers that the White House gathered around it." Miranda added that Miers is a Bush crony who leapfrogged ahead of far more qualified judges simply because she was Bush's pal.

In the final analysis, probably no one said it better than Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, #76. "To what purpose then require the cooperation of the Senate? ...It would be an excellent check upon the spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity...He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him..."

That, in a nutshell, is an accurate synopsis of the Miers nomination. She has no judicial record, and no experience that qualifies her to judge constitutional issues. She has no merit other than she comes from Texas, and she is personally allied with Bush. As we can see from Abe Fortas' ties with Lyndon B. Johnson or the justices named by Franklin D. Roosevelt to protect the New Deal laws that created the unconstitutional fourth branch of government—the bureaucracy, when you put unqualified people on the high court, you are forced to live with the monster you create.

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Roosevelt's monster all but destroyed the Bill of Rights. The new monster has an agenda, too. The Miers agenda will be to help the globalists on the Supreme Court codify the laws of the European Union and the World Court into US case law, and to judicially erase national sovereignty, making this nation subservient to the emerging world government in Brussels as a totalitarian one-world "democratic" government is formed to manage the global economy.

Go Back to Part One -----> 1

Related Article:
Bush Moves Supreme Court to The Left

© 2005 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved

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Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.

Today, Jon is an advertising executive with the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website.

E-Mail: BAFFauthor@aol.com


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Reynolds told the committee that he personally saw Bobby Baker give Johnson a suiticase containing what he was told was $100 thousand. The kickback, he said, was for LBJ helping Baker with a lucrative deal in Fort Worth.