Is US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Senile Enough to Be Removed From Office?

A few days ago, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed by former President Bill Clinton, began to rant about presumptive Republican Presidential candidate, Donald Trump. In doing so, she expressed both her political opinions and her intense dislike for him. She said that Bill Clinton’s wife, Hillary Clinton, was sure to win in the upcoming election.

A number of commentators noted the inappropriateness of these statements. Most liberals and conservatives agree that it is inappropriate for a Supreme Court Justice to engage in political campaigning. Many conservatives expressed outrage at the alleged “politicization” of the court, and liberals expressed concern that Ginsburg would now be required to “recuse” herself from decisions involving the upcoming election.

The issue is far more serious than most of the commentators realize. Ginsburg’s statements are not merely inappropriate. They are overtly unethical, and she has acted in direct violation of the published Code of Conduct for United States Judges. For example, Canon 4 of the Code states, in pertinent part:

“…a judge should not participate in extrajudicial activities that detract from the dignity of the judge’s office, interfere with the performance of the judge’s official duties, reflect adversely on the judge’s impartiality…”

Canon 5 (A)(2) states that:

“A judge may not make speeches for a political organization or candidate, or publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office;”

Canon 5 (C) provides that:

“A judge should not engage in any other political activity.”

Yet, everyone knows that Ginsburg is not an idiot. Or, at least, she has never been viewed as an idiot over the course of her career. Why would Justice Ginsburg violate the Code in such an egregious manner and put both herself and the court into serious disrepute?  Her intention behind her emotional outbursts was obvious. She wanted to hurt Donald Trump’s candidacy.  The reality, however, turned out quite different. She ended up strongly bolstering it.

Ginsburg made it crystal clear, to every Republican, that the next election is not so much about Trump, as it is about appointments to the Supreme Court. That insures that any Republicans who might have been on the fence, about the man, will now vote for Trump. Why did she do it? The answer is simple, in my opinion, and it has to do with her age and infirmity. She is 83 years old.

Like a large minority of people in her age group, Justice Ginsburg is quite obviously senile. Yet she is still on the bench. What do we do with her? What do we do with other judges, like Ginsburg, who are mentally unfit to serve but refuse to step down? The US Constitution provides little assistance. The Founding Fathers  gave lifetime tenure to US judges. But, back then, the problem of senile judges was not seriously contemplated. The average lifespan was just over 40 years.

The Constitution provides that federal judges can only be removed by process of impeachment. This was done in order to protect the independence of the judiciary. The grounds for removal are limited to “high crimes and misdemeanors”. Public drunkeness is a misdemeanor. Serious and overt violations of judicial ethics are not.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not alone. The problem of senile federal judges is a serious one. There are many other judges whose mental infirmities are so serious that they should resign, but simply won’t. Mental infirmity bleeds into decision-making. When the judge in question begins to make decisions based purely on emotion, as opposed to rational thought and contemplation, it hurts both the individual litigants and society as a whole.

According to an article published in Slate, for example, another federal judge, Judge Richard Owen of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, in his mid-80s like Ginsburg, was presiding over a serious case, when he asked the following absurd question about email:

“It pops up in a machine in some administrative office, and is somebody there with a duty to take it around and give it to whoever it’s named to?”

The man is an old-timer. Maybe, he never used email. But, he should have known what it is. After all, his most famous case was the trial of banker Frank Quattrone, which revolved around a single e-mail! One lawyer, there during the hearing, commented that Owens no longer seemed to understand what was happening in his own courtroom.

As a society, we have an obligation and a duty to remove senile judges and justices before they can do serious damage. The history of impeachment of federal judges tells us that some are removed for misdemeanors. For example, John Pickering of the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire was convicted by the Senate on charges of “mental instability and intoxication on the bench” on March 12, 1804. Mark W. Delahay for the United States District Court for the District of Kansas resigned before his Senate trial, after being impeached by the House for “intoxication off the bench as well as on the bench” on December 12, 1873.

As a matter of good practice, judges should be allowed to resign, rather than be removed from office. But, as the law currently stands, there is no mechanism to put pressure on unethical and/or senile judges to resign. The process of removal would be facilitated if Congress passed an Act defining serious violations of the US Code of Judicial Conduct as a misdemeanor. Unethical judges violate the Code all the time. Ethical but otherwise senile judges are bound to violate the Code, in one way or another, sooner or later, just as Ginsburg has done.

A simple majority of Congress is all that is required to allow impeachment of judges who violate the US Code of Judicial Conduct. Actual removal, however, would require a 2/3rds vote of the Senate. The pressure of impeachment, alone, however, would be enough to induce most senile judges to resign. With this new Act of Congress in hand, it will be much easier to remove unethical and/or senile federal judges and justices.

IT IS EASY TO CALCULATE THE FAIR MARKET VALUE OF GOLD

There are many people who allege that, because gold does not pay interest or dividends, it cannot be accurately valued, like a stock or bond. That is not true. It is actually easier to calculate the fair market dollar value of gold than to value any other asset. We simply need to step back in time in order to find our answer, and then employ some math.

The Bretton Woods Agreement was signed in July 1944, when the world was on a quasi-gold standard. The United States of America had accumulated a vast majority of the government-owned yellow metal during World War II. Because no other nation had much gold, it was decided that America’s gold reserve would be indirectly used by all nations.

They all sat down at the negotiating table and hammered out an agreement, setting out a workable price of gold. Before doing so, of course, the leading economists of the day did careful mathematical calculations and concluded $35 per ounce, which had been set by the Roosevelt administration in 1933, was a sustainable international gold price.

Under Bretton-Woods, whenever a foreign nation wanted gold, it could turn in exactly thirty-five US dollars and the American Treasury would pay out exactly one troy ounce of gold. The $35 price was deemed accurate, not only because the Roosevelt administration had set the price there during the Great Depression, but also because it took into account the substantial rise in the monetary base of the USA between 1933 and 1944.

The Bretton-Woods exchange standard was basically a calculation of the number of dollars that existed in the world against the total weight of gold in US reserves. The number of dollars is known as the so-called “monetary base”. It is defined as the total amount of a currency circulated in the hands of the public plus commercial bank deposits held in the central bank’s reserves.

According to the St. Louis branch of the U.S. Federal Reserve the monetary base on July 27, 1944 was $26.922 billion. On June 22, 2016, the monetary base had risen to $3,873.241 billion ($3.9 trillion). To arrive at the fair value of gold, we first calculate the extent to which that monetary base has increased. For convenience, let’s call it the “gold value multiplier”.

All we need is a simple mathematical equation, where GVM is the gold value multiplier, MB2016 is the monetary base existing on June 23, 2016, and MB1944 is the monetary base existing on July 27, 1944.

GVM = MB2016/MB1944

GVM = $3,873,241/26.922

GVM = 143.8689919025332

Once we arrive at GVM, it is easy to calculate the fair value of gold, where FVG, is the fair value of gold, and PG1944 equals the price of gold in 1944.

FVG = PG1944 x GVM

FVG = $35 x 143.8689919025332

FVG = $5,035 (rounded to the nearest dollar)

As you can see, the fair value of gold, on June 23rd, 2016 was a little over $5,035. One might add slight alterations based on the increase in gold mining vs. the increase in population, and the fact that the public demand for gold has soared, whereas government demand for gold has fallen.  But, the modifications would end up changing fair market value by a few hundred dollars, not more. We must still ask why is gold now selling for only $1,347 per troy ounce?

The reason might be that the human heart has become less in love with the yellow metal.  Are people less interested in buying gold now than in 1944?  Not very likely. First of all, starting in 1933, it was illegal in most western nations, including the United States, to buy any gold bullion at all. During the Great Depression, on a claim of  “economic emergency” and the need by the central government to expand its gold reserves in order to expand the dollar supply, all privately owned gold bullion was confiscated. The same thing happened in a number of other western countries.

Even if western appetite for gold has diminished over the years since 1944, which it has not, there is also the world as a whole. With the entry of nations, like China and India, traditionally oriented toward purchasing precious metals, into the ranks of quasi-developed economies with money to spend, the demand for gold has gone way up, not down. So, why isn’t gold selling for at least its fair value, as calculated based on Bretton-Woods, when it ought to be selling for more than that?

The reason is simple. There has been a decades-long extensive manipulation of gold prices that has been subsidized by various western governments, especially the USA, discussed in more detail here.  So what, you might ask?  Isn’t all that nothing more than tin foil hat material?  Even if it is true, why would an asset that is being subject to downward price manipulation be attractive as an investment? If the full faith and credit of the US government stands behind gold manipulation, there is nothing you do about it, except elect new leadership.

Why, then, do I even bother to make this calculation?  The reason is as simple as the calculation itself. The vast difference between the fair value of gold and the current prices caused a huge gap between supply and demand, which the “supplier of last resort” (a/k/a US Treasury) is filling every year. You can read more about how they are doing that here. What is important, however, is that the type of massive drain on US gold reserves cannot be maintained without exhausting reserves. After that, it’s “game over”.

In other words, regardless of the politics of the Obama administration, gold prices must now go up. Indeed, it is a very opportune time for the US Treasury to allow gold prices to rise dramatically. Right now, the price increase can be blamed on so-called “populists” who support things like “Brexit”, rather than on the true reason, which is economic mismanagement, long term deficit spending and money printing. In the long run, the price of gold must return to fair market value, regardless of what short to medium term antics are employed by market manipulators.

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