The Struggle for the Soul of America: Hold Ethically Challenged Supreme Court to Account

While we have left-leaning judges and right-leaning judges, Americans expect all judges to adhere to strict ethical standards. That would be especially true of justices who sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. Yet, the nine justices of the Supreme Court are the only judges in the country who are not bound by a written code of ethics.[1]

Chief Justice John Roberts has asserted that there is “no reason” to adopt a Supreme Court ethics code because members of his court consult a wide variety of other sources for guidance.[2] But recent revelations and events are proving him wrong.

The 25-Year Crusade to Overturn Roe v. Wade

In 1996, Rev. Rob Schenck founded Faith and Action, an ecumenical outreach ministry “to top-level government officials located in Washington, DC, throughout the United States and around the world…They seek to base their outreach on a personal relationship with the person targeted.”[3]

According to Rev. Schenck, Faith and Action aims to “win the hearts and minds of those who make public policy.” Its mission is to reintroduce the Word of God into the public debate surrounding legislation and policy matters.” It is a leader in the anti-abortion movement. Although it targets elected officials, government employees, Supreme Court justices and clerks, and other government personnel, it is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.[4]

As the leader of Faith and Action, Rev. Schenck was an effective, pro-life lobbyist working to influence members of the Supreme Court, especially Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas. Raising over $30 million, he recruited wealthy donors and encouraged “them to invite the justices to meals, to their vacation homes or to private clubs. He advised allies to contribute money to the Supreme Court Historical Society and then mingle with justices at its functions. He ingratiated himself with court officials who could help give him access.”[5]

Mr. Schenck said “his aim was not to change minds, but rather to stiffen the resolve of the court’s conservatives in taking uncompromising stances that could eventually lead to a reversal of Roe.”[6] Apparently, he succeeded. In the Court’s recent Dobbs case overruling Roe v. Wade, Chief Justice Roberts tried unsuccessfully to limit but still save the constitutional right to abortion. The five justices to his right refused to accept Roberts’ compromise.[7]

Court Leaks Raise Serious Ethical Issues

The fact that the pending Dobbs decision was leaked in advance raises additional ethical concerns. As noted by Newsweek, the leaking of the draft opinion with the names of the five conservative justices who had already signed on to it “made it nearly impossible for any of those five justices to change their minds.”[8]

It was clearly in the interest of Justice Alito, the author of the hardline Dobbs decision, to make certain that none of his fellow conservatives had a change of heart. In fact, there was a similar advanced leak of the Hobby Lobby ruling that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance covering contraception violated their religious freedoms.[9]

That 5-4 majority opinion which adversely affected the Affordable Care Act was also written by Alito in 2014. Rev. Schenck received the advance notice of the decision from a major donor who had had dinner with Justice Alito the previous night. He “used that information to prepare a public relations push“ that promoted his religious right organization.[10]

The Urgent Need for Reforming the Court

It’s bad enough that we have a Supreme Court heavily titled to the right. Now, on top of that, at least one justice appears to be very ethically compromised. In addition, Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, has called for an ethics probe into right-wing Justice Clarence Thomas’s alleged conflicts of interest in cases involving efforts to overturn the 2020 election in which his wife, Ginni, participated.[11]

Fallon thinks the Senate Judiciary Committee “should immediately move to investigate the apparent leak by Justice Alito.” He believes that “Structural reform of the court, including strict new ethics rules, is needed now more than ever.”[12]

We cannot let this go. A thorough public investigation by Congress is required, and, possibly, impeachment proceedings. Call your senators and representatives. Demand action.

Bruce Berlin

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/01/supreme-court-ethics-code-judges-john-roberts.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith_and_Action

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/19/us/supreme-court-leak-abortion-roe-wade.html

[6] Ibid.

[7] https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/26/politics/supreme-court-john-roberts-abortion-dobbs/index.html

[8] https://www.newsweek.com/conservative-likely-leaked-dobbs-decision-opinion-1755496

[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/19/us/supreme-court-leak-abortion-roe-wade.html

[10] Ibid.

[11] https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-11-23/clarence-thomas-recusal-supreme-court-jan-6

[12] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/11/19/calls-ethics-probe-follow-bombshell-report-right-wing-attempts-influence-supreme

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Democratic Turning Point Offers New Hope

Though the Democrats lost their House majority in the midterms, they gained much more in a variety of ways. In fact, as the 2024 elections come closer, I expect that their losing control of the House will likely strengthen the party’s resolve and prove a boon to its prospects of winning two years from now.

In addition to holding onto the Senate majority, here’s some other benefits the Dems reaped from the midterms. The November elections further cemented young voters support for the Democratic Party. The youth vote (18-to-29-year-olds) favored Democratic House candidates by 28 points over Republican candidates. While that’s about the same as in 2020, it’s considerably better than in 2016 when youth voters turned out for Democratic House candidates by 16 points over Republican candidates and by only a 12-point margin in 2014.[1]

Youth turnout in this election was the second highest in the last thirty years.[2] Given their 28-pont youth advantage and the fact that voters tend to stick with whichever political party they initially register with for years to come,[3] the Democrats’ future does appear bright.

At the same time, the recent election increased the Democrats’ standing among women voters as well. According to Elaine Kamarck, an expert on American electoral politics at the Brookings Institution, suburban women showed up en masse to help fuel Democrats’ better-than-expected showing. She noted that while women comprise 52% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 55% of the last presidential electoral vote.[4] Clearly, another good omen for Dems going into the 2024 election.

While this year’s voter turnout did not match the 2018 midterm record, it’s “on track to easily surpass other recent midterms.” And, in a number of battleground states, many of which the Democrats won, turnout exceeded 2018.[5] Again, a positive sign for the Dems since the greater the turnout, the more likely that they will win.

On the other hand, Republicans made gains among voters of color, though not to the degree previously predicted. Compared to the 2018 midterms, Hispanic and Asian support for the GOP jumped 10 and 17 points respectively, while Black voters shifted about 4 points to the right. Still, Democrats won the majority among Black, Hispanic and Asian and Pacific Islander voters in the 2022 midterms.[6]

In spite of the Republican takeover of the House and their gains with voters of color, Democrats have good reason for optimism besides what’s already been noted above. In just the last few days, a new generational team has arisen to takeover for Nancy Pelosi and her octogenarian squad. For the first time ever, a Black man, 52-year-old, Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) will lead them. Katherine Clark (D-MA), a 59-year-old progressive, will be second in command. And, 43-year-old Peter Aguilar (D-CA), the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress, will round out the new leadership team.[7] Among them, they cover just about all the critical constituencies Democrats need to energize in 2024: Blacks, Hispanics, women and youth.

Yet, thanks to the Republicans, there’s one more factor that will give the Dems momentum moving forward. The House Republicans have already signaled that they intend to focus on investigating, and even impeaching, President Biden, Attorney General Garland and others administration officials. Rather than providing an alternative policy agenda to the Democrats’ program, they will be spending precious taxpayers’ dollars and lots of Congress’s time on digging up dirt on the Biden administration that will go nowhere since the Dems will still control the Senate.

The 2024 electorate will then have a very clear choice. Will they vote for a far-right Republican Party seeking to cut Social Security and Medicare,[8] and eliminate a woman’s right to choose?[9] Or will they support the Democrats who enacted major legislation for the American people on infrastructure, veterans’ aid, manufacturing, climate change, prescription drug costs and more in the last two years?[10] And, but for the new GOP, obstructionist House majority, they would have continued to do so after 2022.

Which would you choose? I’m betting voters will go with the Dems, the party that still believes in democracy and supporting all Americans, not just the very wealthy and big business.

Bruce Berlin

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/youth-voters-independents-boosted-democrats-midterm-exit-polls/story?id=92993573

[2] https://thehill.com/changing-america/respect/diversity-inclusion/3730922-researchers-say-2022-election-had-second-highest-young-voter-turnout-in-last-30-years/

[3] https://slate.com/business/2010/12/why-do-voters-tend-to-stick-with-whatever-political-party-they-join-when-they-turn-18.html

[4] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/11/09/2022-midterms-women-and-suburban-voters-help-democrats-avoid-disaster/8318080001/

[5] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2022/voter-turnout-2022-by-state/

[6] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/11/13/latino-voters-midterm-elections-republicans-00066618

[7] https://www.axios.com/2022/11/17/congress-house-democrats-minority-leaders-plan

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/02/us/politics/republicans-social-security-medicare.html

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/15/republicans-wont-stop-until-abortion-is-banned-across-america-and-it-could-be

[10] https://www.historycentral.com/Today/Summer2022.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Historic 2022 Midterm Elections

The predicted Red Wave of 2022 never reached the shore. While all the votes have not yet been counted four days after the election, it looks like the Republicans will eke out a slim majority in the House. Unbelievably, though, with about 30 races still undetermined, there is still a possibility that the Democrats could actually hold onto their House majority.[1] 

On the Senate side, the odds of the Democrats maintaining control are much more in their favor. With two races still undecided, the blue team needs to win just one of them. The Nevada senate contest is tightening, and which party will prevail is anyone’s guess.[2] If Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) pulls out a victory there, then the Democrats will have held onto their tiny majority. If she does not, then all eyes will be on the Georgia senate runoff on December 6th.  And I cannot believe that Georgia voters would elect the incompetent Republican Herschel Walker over the much worthier Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.[3]

Overall, however, the real winner in this year’s midterm election was the democratic process. Voters turned out in near record numbers because they understood that our democracy as well as a woman’s right to choose was on the ballot. It was the second highest turnout for a midterm since 1970.[4] A recent poll found that the future of democracy was very important to 80% of Democrats and 70% of Republicans in their voting decisions.[5]

At the same time, the “loser-in-chief” in this election was Donald Trump. Many Republicans are blaming him for the party’s poor results.[6] Even the conservative Wall Street Journal denounced Trump, calling him the Republican Party’s “biggest loser.”[7] In a number of high-profile races, the candidates he endorsed lost, most notably in Arizona, Maryland, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia and quite possibly in Georgia and Nevada as well.[8]

But Trump’s losses Tuesday night will have even bigger consequences as he prepares to run for president in 2024. Already at least one Republican megadonor stated he won’t support Trump’s pending run for the presidential nomination.[9] Some Republican officeholders are also suggesting Trump shouldn’t be their presidential nominee.[10]

The right-leaning New York Post said it best on the cover of its Thursday edition:

“Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall — can all the GOP’s men put the party back together again?” The large cover text read: “Trumpty Dumpty.”[11]

See: https://nypost.com/cover/november-10-2022/

Yet, Trump’s biggest loss is still to come. As I predicted in my October 15th blog, “Donald J. Trump will be indicted before the spring of next year.”[12] When that happens, he will be fighting for his freedom more than for the 2024 Republican nomination. Many Republicans will see him as unelectable. His dream of returning triumphantly to the White House will be shattered. And, finally, America will be rid of this despicable egomaniac.

Bruce Berlin

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/11/10/23451445/house-election-results-democrats-majority

[2] https://thehill.com/homenews/3730786-cortez-masto-draws-closer-to-laxalt-in-nevada-senate-race/

[3] https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/runoffs-are-sort-of-georgias-thing-now/

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2022/voter-turnout-2022-by-state/

[5] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/11/03/key-facts-about-u-s-voter-priorities-ahead-of-the-2022-midterm-elections/

[6] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2022/11/11/election-results-live-updates/10662035002/

[7] https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-is-the-gops-biggest-loser-midterm-elections-senate-house-congress-republicans-11668034869

[8] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/11/09/trump-endorsed-candidates-2022-election-results

[9] https://news.yahoo.com/billionaire-gop-donor-ken-griffin-073015070.html

[10] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/09/us/politics/trump-republicans-midterms.html

[11] https://nypost.com/cover/november-10-2022/

[12] https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Last Chance to Get Out the Vote and Save Our Democracy

With just a week to go before the mid-term elections, American democracy is on the ballot.

Five hundred and fifty-two Republicans are running for House, Senate, governor, secretary of state and attorney general across the country. Close to 40% (199 out of 552) of them fully deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election. According to FiveThirtyEight, these election deniers have a 95% chance of winning.[1]

Since the beginning of 2021, twenty-one states have passed forty-two restrictive voting laws.[2] While Republicans claim these laws protect the integrity of our elections, they know that making it more difficult to vote increases their chances of winning. And for the GOP, it’s all about winning and power. Whatever it takes to regain control of the government, Republicans are willing to do, whether it’s gerrymandering, voter suppression, voter intimidation, insurrection, you name it. Democracy be damned!

So, in this last week of the election, it all comes down to getting out the vote. According to the polls, there are a good number of close races which will decide control of the Senate. Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are all neck and neck. Whatever you can do to help the Democratic candidate in these contests could make the difference. It’s not too late.

While the Republicans appear to be winning the House of Representatives, limiting their margin of victory to a small number will be important. In fact, some believe that the Democrats can still hold the House.

While you may not be a fan of film-maker Michael Moore, he is a strong advocate of democracy. Moore believes the Dems can still win. Here’s what he is doing to get out the vote. And he is asking us to pitch-in as well:

“To win, to make sure our large majority of climate-believing, reproductive rights-supporting, anti-capitalist-fighting, mass incarceration-liberating, voter suppression-smashing, universal health care-providing, union-organizing, affordable housing-creating and soon-to-be victors over the Republican Party — all of us MUST step it up in these final 8 days if we are going to pull off the upset of upsets and send the politically illiterate pundits and election-denying party hacks packing! Once and for all!

“I, too, must do more. While I can’t fly to a dozen states and go door-to-door with each of you this week, I can do the next best thing:  I can personally call your still-undecided brother-in-law and convince him to vote with us. Or your aunt who gave up voting a decade ago. Or your close friend that agrees with us but can’t stand Biden. That’s ok — let me talk to them. If you send me their phone number, I’ll try to call as many as I can every day for the next 8 days. I’ll listen to them and then I’ll do my best to convince them to join us. We’ve got nothing to lose here and everything to gain, one vote at a time….

“If you want me to call a relative or friend to convince them to vote, send me a private email to: MikesMidtermCalls@gmail.com with her/his/their name and number, what your relationship is to them (sister, brother, son, daughter, etc.), and the best time to call. NOTE: As I expect to receive a few thousand requests, I will only be able to do just so many calls…But it’ll be fun — and I think I can bring a few people along with us.

“I’m looking forward to joining with as many of you as possible…

“Let’s do this my friends! Time is running out. The hard work — convincing the vast majority of Americans to side with us on nearly all the major issues — that work is already done! They already do! Now all we have to do is get them to the polls! Easy-peasy! There’s at least 20 million more of us than the Republicans. I mean, talk about having a huge lead! Let’s not blow it. Let’s not fail and embarrass ourselves because we couldn’t get a voter 2 miles to the voting booth! 

“Let’s go! Let’s do this!”[3]

If you don’t think Moore is the right person to make that call, do it yourself. I’m calling my high school friend, Don. Who are you going to call? Together, we can make history!

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/republicans-trump-election-fraud/

[2] https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-october-2022

[3] https://www.michaelmoore.com/p/mikes-midterm-tsunami-truth-33

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Democrats Must Strengthen Their Closing Argument to Win the November Elections

We are in the home stretch of the November 8 mid-term elections. While Republican campaigns are keying in on inflation, the economy and rising crime rates, the Democrats are mainly focused on the threat to abortion rights. Though those rights are very important, there are other critical issues that the Democrats need to highlight in their closing argument to win this year’s elections.

In fact, the Democrats have a clear and compelling economic message for working Americans: We are on your side and much better for your pocketbook than the Republicans.

  • In less than two years of the Biden administration, the unemployment rate has fallen to just 3.5%, matching the level before the COVID pandemic.[1]
  • Since Biden became president, over 10 million jobs have been created, “…the most new jobs during the first 20 months of any U.S. presidential administration, ever.”[2]

Sen. Bernie Sanders is right, the Democrats must take the fight over the economy to the Republicans in these final weeks of the campaign. Sanders argues:  

  • We have more income and wealth inequality than at any time in the modern history of this country. Is there one Republican prepared to raise taxes on billionaires, or do they want to make a bad situation worse by extending Trump’s tax breaks for the rich and repealing the estate tax?
  • Today, 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and millions work for starvation wages. Is there one Republican in Congress who is prepared to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour?
  • Corporations are charging Americans outrageously high prices, while enjoying record breaking profits. Republicans talk a lot about inflation. But what are they going to do about it? Does one of them have the courage to consider a windfall, profits tax? Absolutely not.[3]

To make matters even worse, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is calling for cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits if the Republicans win control of Congress in next month’s election.[4] This should frighten all seniors and motivate them to get to the polls and vote Blue. Democrats need to make sure that all senior citizens are fully aware that their critical entitlements are endangered if the GOP wins the election.

At the same time, Republicans are indicating they want to make the 2017 Trump tax cuts permanent if they retake Congress. You may remember that these cuts “resulted in a massive windfall for large corporations and the wealthy.”[5] Once again, Republicans aim to make the rich richer at the expense of seniors on fixed incomes and middle- and working- class Americans.

Actually, it’s the Democrats that are the party of fiscal responsibility, not the Republicans. In the just completed 2022 fiscal year, the Biden administration oversaw the largest one-year decline in the federal deficit in American history.[6]

Meanwhile, the national debt rose “by almost $7.8 trillion during Trump’s time in office. That’s nearly twice as much as what Americans owe on student loans, car loans, credit cards and every other type of debt other than mortgages, combined…”[7]

Democrats must underscore that GOP tax cuts, including a sharp reduction in the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%,[8] boost inflation just like the increased spending Republicans oppose.[9] While Republicans blame Democrats for inflation despite the fact it’s a global phenomenon and not the result of Biden’s policies,[10] they are fine with increasing inflation when it benefits their wealthy contributors.

Then there’s the issue of rising crime. Republicans have a much worse record on deadly crime than Democrats. A March 2022 report found:

  • In 2020, per capita murder rates were 40% higher in states won by Donald Trump than those won by Joe Biden.
  •  8 of the 10 states with the highest murder rates in 2020 voted for the Republican presidential nominee in every election this century.[11]

And, finally, voting rights.  A report by the Brookings Institute found that laws restricting the right to vote have largely passed in Republican states and laws expanding voting rights passed in Democratic states.[12] Again, the Democrats are on the side of the American voter and need to proclaim that they are the party that will protect voting rights and save our democracy.

Unfortunately, Republicans are much better at messaging than Democrats as they twist the truth. It’s up to all of us to help clarify what they are really about and who is truly on the side of the American people in these last weeks before election day. It’s not too late, but we must act now!

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.npr.org/2022/08/05/1116036160/the-unemployment-rate-fell-to-3-5-matching-its-lowest-level-in-the-last-50-years

[2] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/for-biden-10-million-new-jobs-isnt-good-enough-182825191.html

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2022/oct/10/democrats-midterms-victory-economy-bernie-sanders

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/10/18/mccarthy-gop-medicare-social-security/

[5] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/10/17/if-they-retake-congress-gop-plan-make-trump-tax-cuts-rich-permanent

[6] https://www.yahoo.com/news/biden-touts-federal-deficit-largest-170103774.html

[7] https://www.propublica.org/article/national-debt-trump

[8] https://www.propublica.org/article/national-debt-trump

[9] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/10/17/if-they-retake-congress-gop-plan-make-trump-tax-cuts-rich-permanent

[10] https://www.epi.org/blog/rising-inflation-is-a-global-problem-u-s-policy-choices-are-not-to-blame/

[11] https://www.thirdway.org/report/the-red-state-murder-problem

[12] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2021/10/26/voter-suppression-or-voter-expansion-whats-happening-and-does-it-matter/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Trump Indictment Coming Soon Because No One Is Above the Law

Donald J. Trump will be indicted before the spring of next year. Many of us, of course, believe he should already have been indicted and put on trial. But Attorney General Merrick Garland is a very deliberate man. He was not about to push for indicting Trump before the midterms and consequently be accused of playing politics with the indictment, not that he won’t get that pushback whenever an indictment does come.

Garland has made it very clear that he stands by the basic American principle that “no one is above the law.”[1] In the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol’s final public hearing this past Thursday, the Committee laid out a compelling case that Trump broke several federal laws.[2] Those include conspiracy to defraud the government, obstruction of justice and inciting a rebellion.[3] Now it is up to Garland and the Justice Department to act.

While a federal grand jury has been investigating allegations against Trump for many months, just recently the Department “issued over 30 more subpoenas to people within Trump’s orbit to appear before the federal grand jury.”[4] Then, on Thursday, the same day as the House Select Committee summed up its case against Trump, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell denied Trump’s claim of executive privilege, requiring that former Vice President Pence‘s chief of staff Marc Short testify before the grand jury.[5]

Judge Howell ruled that Short probably possessed information important to the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol that was not available from other sources.[6] Howell’s decision opens the door for the testimony of the recipients of those 30 subpoenas, many of whom, if not all, would be claiming executive privilege if not for Howell’s ruling. Their testimony will likely give the DOJ a good deal more evidence to bolster its already strong case against Trump.

Still, the DOJ has to wrap up its inquiry and bring whatever formal charges it can against Trump sooner rather than later. The Department must realize that it’s window of opportunity is time limited. Once the 2024 presidential election cycle begins in earnest later next year, Trump will use every trick he can to make a political circus out of the Department’s prosecution, not that he won’t do that whenever he is indicted. In which case, the prosecution could drag on and public opinion could turn against the Department. Thus, the DOJ must move quickly in the new year to bring charges against Trump and proceed to trial as early as possible next summer.

Garland has no other choice since no one is above the law.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.c-span.org/video/?c5024451/ag-garland-charging-president-law

[2] https://www.npr.org/2022/10/13/1125333531/jan-6-hearing-recap-takeaways-trump-subpoena

[3] https://www.businessinsider.com/jan-6-panel-trump-broke-laws-riot-2020-election-lost-2022-6

[4] https://time.com/6212677/donald-trump-investigations-explained/

[5] https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/10/14/marc-short-grand-jury-testify-pence-trump/

[6] Ibid.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: A Vasquez Win in New Mexico Can Help the Democrats Keep the House Majority

Next month’s midterm elections are now predicted to be much closer than anyone had thought they would be in early summer. Dave Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report recently observed that the Democrats now could “stave off a Republican majority.”[1] In fact, according to USA Today, just 12 races will determine which party controls the House of Representatives in 2023.[2] (Go to https://www.yahoo.com/news/republicans-flip-house-midterm-elections-090020617.html to ascertain these 12 critical House contests.)

One of those contests is right here in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, which now includes some of Albuquerque’s westside as well as all of southern New Mexico. Democrat Gabe Vasquez is running to unseat Rep. Yvette Herrell, a first-term, MAGA Republican. A Vasquez campaign poll has its candidate in the lead by a mere one percentage point.[3]

While the economy and inflation are considered top issues around the country, a woman’s right to choose, voting rights and the threats to democracy are playing an important role in many undecided voters’ decisions. This is particularly true with the largest bloc of voters, women over 50 who comprised 30% of the 2020 electorate according to a recent AARP survey.[4]

Here’s where Congresswoman Herrell stands on these critical issues. She voted ‘NO’ on:            

  • The John R Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 (HR 4), which protects our elections from voter suppression
  • The Protecting Our Democracy Act (HR 5314), which addresses issues involving abuses of presidential powers, checks and balances and accountability
  • The Freedom to Vote Act (HR 5746 ), which protects and expands voter registration efforts
  • The Right to Contraception Act (H.R.8373 ), protects a person’s ability to assess contraception 
  • The Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022  (H.R.8297), which prohibits interfering with a person’s ability to access out-of-state abortion services
  • The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 (H.R. 8296), which codifies Roe v. Wade into law[5]

Herrell is so radical that she even signed on to a national abortion ban that doesn’t offer exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the woman.[6]

The two candidates could not be further apart on these key issues. Gabe Vasquez supports:

  • Ensuring safe, secure and fair elections
  • The right of every eligible American to vote and have his/her vote counted
  • Birth control
  • A woman’s right to choose[7]

If you want to support Gabe Vasquez’s campaign and the Democrats’ prospects of holding onto the House majority, go to his website (https://gabeforcongress.com/) and learn how you can help. Reach out to the people of NM District 2, especially women voters over 50. Let them know about these stark differences between the two candidates. Stress that their votes could determine whether a woman will have the right to choose as well as whether our democracy will even survive.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.cookpolitical.com/analysis/house/house-overview/house-overview-gop-control-no-longer-foregone-conclusion

[2] https://www.yahoo.com/news/republicans-flip-house-midterm-elections-090020617.html

[3] https://sourcenm.com/2022/10/05/in-the-redrawn-2nd-congressional-district-a-fierce-fight-is-underway/

[4] https://www.politico.com/newsletters/women-rule/2022/10/07/the-most-important-voting-bloc-is-still-undecided-00060947

[5] https://www.bluecd2nm.com/yvette-herrells-voting-record.html

[6] https://dccc.org/100-days-without-roe-yvette-herrell-wants-to-make-it-worse/

[7] https://gabeforcongress.com/issues/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Anti-American Republicans

On Friday, Congress passed a last-minute Continuing Resolution to avert a partial government shutdown and keep the government running until December 16. That gives Congress 10 weeks of breathing room to forge together a budget for the new fiscal year, which just began on October 1.

While Democrats overwhelmingly supported the Resolution, 25 Republican senators and 201 Republican House members voted against it. In total, only 32 out of 261 Congressional Republicans decided it was more important to keep our government running than to shut it down because they objected to certain measures or omissions.[1] Without a budget resolution all non-essential discretionary functions would have stopped this past Friday at midnight.[2] Over 85% of Republicans responsible for enacting our laws were willing to throw thousands of federal employees out of work, halt many federal programs that millions of Americans depend on, and greatly disrupt our economy rather than give Congress just 10 more weeks to pass a budget for fiscal 2023.

The stopgap spending bill provides $18.8 billion for Hurricane Ian and other disaster relief,[3] including $2.5 billion for those adversely affected by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire in New Mexico.[4] Despite Hurricane Ian’s devastation of their state, all 16 Floridian GOP members of the House voted against the Resolution.[5] (Incredibly, Florida Sen. Rick Scott joined in the dissent while Sen. Rubio failed to cast a vote.[6]) Apparently party politics are more important to them than their own constituents’ extreme hardship and their state’s dire need for aid in the face of this major catastrophe.

With November election day fast approaching, what were they thinking? How will Florida’s voters respond to their Republican representatives turning their backs on them in their hour of need. It’s also very telling that Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis voted against relief for the Northeast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy a decade ago when he was in Congress.[7] Ironically, he is now welcoming federal disaster assistance for his home state.[8]

You have to wonder how Republicans sleep at night. Putting their party ahead of their constituents’ urgent needs. Welcoming federal aid only when they believe it will further their political ambitions. You’d hope that voters would see through Republican hypocrisy and lack of compassion and reject their candidates at the polls. We’ll know if that’s the case in just a few short weeks.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/30/congress-continuing-resolution-jackson-investiture/

[2] https://www.crfb.org/papers/qa-everything-you-should-know-about-government-shutdowns#whatservicesaffected

[3] https://federalnewsnetwork.com/budget/2022/09/house-passes-continuing-resolution-averting-government-shutdown-fda-furloughs/; https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/leahy-statement-on-final-passage-of-the-continuing-resolution-

[4] https://apnews.com/article/wildfires-fires-new-mexico-business-congress-a1c482f16a2d306cb9edfd9612992273

[5] https://www.axios.com/2022/10/01/hurricane-ian-florida-gop-marco-rubio-funding

[6] https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_votes/vote1172/vote_117_2_00351.htm

[7] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/30/hurricane-relief-votes-hypocrisy/

[8] https://apnews.com/a09c2b89211fba1a55a9b26f05d26203; https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/desantis-dials-down-rhetoric-biden-210148402.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: It’s Rosh Hashanah, Time for Reflection and a Fresh Start

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sunset this evening. For Jews, it’s a time for reflection, examining one’s life, making amends to those we’ve harmed and starting over with a fresh slate. Clearly, it’s an exercise that we all could benefit from engaging in.

While Rosh Hashanah focuses on our personal lives, it can also be a time when we look at our larger roles in our communities and in our nation. What have I been doing, or not done, to assist my community? What have I been doing, or not done, to support my country’s efforts to remain a democracy?

As we approach the critical November elections, I feel these questions are particularly pertinent. Though the issue of the future of American democracy will not explicitly be on the ballot, it casts a huge shadow over this fall’s elections.

There’s no question that democracy is under attack around the country. The January 6th assault on the Capitol with the intent to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election is just the most blatant example. In the last year, there have been “more than 1,000 threats to election officials…, with more than 100 of them meeting the threshold for a federal criminal investigation. More than half of the potentially criminal threats were in highly contested states where allies of ousted President Trump tried to overturn the results, such as in Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wisconsin.”[1]

With only six weeks until election day, it’s time to quickly reflect on what we’ve been doing to safeguard our democracy, and then determine what we can do in these last few weeks to help fix the damage that has been done to our country. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Whether you are a Republican, Independent or Democrat, don’t vote for any Republican candidate and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Given the widespread Republican efforts to thwart democracy and win at all costs, electing any Republican will only strengthen the party’s ability to advance toward authoritarian rule. As Jill Lawrence of USA Today asserted, “the Republican Party is on a dark path and should not hold power anywhere until it comes back into the light.”[2]
  2. Urge your state and local law enforcement officers to take every precaution to ensure the safety of poll workers and other election officials, as well as to make sure that the elections are free and fair. Intimidation of elections officials cannot be tolerated.[3]
  3. Write letters to the editor explaining why our democracy is at risk and that everyone who cares about the future of our democracy must vote for Democrats.
  4. Support Democrats running for office, especially for Congress and Secretaries of State who oversee elections. Here in New Mexico, we have the opportunity to turn a red Congressional seat blue. Contribute to and work for Gabe Vasquez, the Democrat running in District 2 against MAGA Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell. Go to https://gabeforcongress.com/ to get involved in his campaign.

Time is running out. In the spirit of Rosh Hashanah, we need to reflect on our less than full support for democracy. Then, step up and give it everything we can in these last six weeks to ensure its survival. As Ben Franklin said when asked about the form of government the founding fathers were creating, “A democracy, if you can keep it.”[4] And keep it, we must.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com. Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul o


[1] https://blog.ucsusa.org/derrick-jackson/democracy-under-attack-confronting-mounting-threats-to-us-election-workers/

[2] https://www.yahoo.com/news/care-country-rights-dont-vote-110005774.html

[3] https://blog.ucsusa.org/derrick-jackson/democracy-under-attack-confronting-mounting-threats-to-us-election-workers/

[4] https://www.forbes.com/quotes/9010/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Myth of a United States

From the founding of the United States till today, our country has portrayed itself as united. In the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers asserted that we are “one people.”[1]

The preamble to the Constitution begins: “We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…”[2] And, when we pledge allegiance to the flag, we say: “”I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”[3]

But, from the birth of our nation over 240 years ago until today, the truth is our country has rarely been united. From the very beginning, we had slave states and free states forbidding slavery. Back then as is still true now, we had the property-owning class, or capitalists, overseeing the working class.

After slavery was abolished during the Civil War, we still had the segregationist South, in conflict with the North, which generally favored integration. And, of course, we now have the blue states strongly disagreeing with the red states over abortion rights, immigration, voting rights and other major issues.

I believe World War II was the last time our country was truly united. What brought us together was a common enemy, the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan), which threatened the freedom of all Americans. Yes, 9/11 brought us together as well, but it didn’t take long before we were once again at odds over the Iraq War.[4]

Since the Vietnam War in the 1960s, our nation has become more and more divided. Today we are almost as deeply split as we were during the Civil War. In fact, some are predicting that the United States is on the verge of a second Civil War. 

What separates us now strikes at the very foundation of our nation. While many Americans are fighting to maintain the democratic principles upon which the country was established, others wish to turn the United States into an autocracy, ruled by Donald Trump and his white supremacist, MAGA followers.

And they appear to be willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Be it storming the Capitol, suppressing the vote, rigging the elections, stacking the Supreme Court, or whatever else they can fabricate.

We are the only ones who stand in their way. It is up to all of us who still believe in democracy to make sure they fail. Despite what you may think of President Biden and the Democrats, they are our only hope of preserving some semblance of democracy in America.

In fact, in recent weeks the Democrats have demonstrated that they just might be up to this awesome responsibility. They passed the Inflation Reduction Act making the system somewhat fairer for we, the people, including lowering a number of prescription drug prices and imposing a 15 percent minimum tax on large corporations, while every Senate Republican opposed the bill.[5] In addition, they enacted the most notable gun safety legislation in decades[6] and a bill to assist ailing veterans.[7] And, in just the last few days, Biden stepped in to support rail workers and avert a strike that would have further increased inflation and devastated our economy.[8]

Despite right-wing opposition, the Democrats are employing the mechanisms of government to help Americans and move our country forward. With less than eight weeks left until the elections, we must do whatever we can to assure that the Democrats prevail in November.

We must go the extra mile, make many phone calls, write postcards (Go to https://www.turnoutpac.org/postcards/), knock on doors, send donations. The future of democracy depends on what we all do to get out the vote and make sure that our nation does not succumb to the election deniers and far right conspiracy extremists. If ever your country needed you to stand up and get involved, it is now!

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.ushistory.org/documents/declaration.htm

[2] https://billofrightsinstitute.org/primary-sources/constitution?gclid=Cj0KCQjwvZCZBhCiARIsAPXbajtkXDb1iDTs6XOZWdFvpQarisNuvZktlvFd9MJuAYVnXr5kc50qtlcaAvEoEALw_wcB

[3] https://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm

[4] https://www.brookings.edu/articles/rally-round-the-flag-opinion-in-the-united-states-before-and-after-the-iraq-war/

[5] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/07/democrats-senate-reconciliation-votearama-00050222

[6] https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/23/politics/senate-bipartisan-gun-bill/index.html

[7] https://www.npr.org/2022/08/02/1115325176/pact-act-veterans-burn-pits-toxins-passes-senate

[8] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/biden-announces-tentative-deal-avert-us-rail-strike-rcna47850