Two words: Supreme Court. That’s why many people voted for Donald Trump.
Trump should have the opportunity to replace at least three justices on the court over the next four years, including the Scalia vacancy, possibly the irritating Darth Vader Ginsburg and the wobbly Anthony Kennedy. It’s conceivable that liberal Stephen Breyer might call it quits, too.
Since the Democrats will undoubtedly fight many of the administration’s policies in the courts, these choices will prove not only important during the Trump years but far beyond them.
As a result, it is important for Trump to choose outside of the usual ranks of the judiciary. Eight of the justices come from the bench; only Elena Kagan does not.
Some of the recent choices from the judiciary by Republicans have not proven reliable. For example, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a neck-snapping decision in support of Obamacare. Kennedy joins the liberals when it comes to social issues involving abortion and same-sex marriages. Perhaps the worst example of a Republican appointment was David Souter, who was selected by George H. W. Bush as a bedrock conservative and joined the liberal side of the bench after a few years.
A conservative bench also could look back on some of the wrong-headed decisions from recent years, including Obamacare. Even more important would be the possibility of a case to overturn Roe v. Wade.
It’s worth noting that more than 100 federal judgeships are also waiting to be filled.
One suggestion: appoint Ted Cruz to the Supreme Court. Although Trump and Cruz may not have gotten along during the 2016 campaign, the Texas Republican has a significant track record as a conservative.
He has argued more cases before the court than any other member of Congress, including positions to uphold the right to bear arms and religious freedom.
I supported Cruz for president and am pleased to support his nomination to the court. His selection would assuage the doubts of many conservatives who voted for Trump.
Update: I called the presidential election correctly in Pennsylvania in my last post, but I got the Senate race wrong. My apologies to Pat Toomey!
Christopher Harper is a recovering journalist who worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times and teaches media law.
Voices on the left were furious when John McCain suggested that Republicans in the Senate would block any nominees by Hillary Clinton if she becomes President. He walked back that particular talking point very quickly because he’s John McCain.
To no one’s surprise, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz) quickly backtracked on a bold statement a few days ago, when he said, “I promise you that we will, we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton — if she were president — would put up. This is why we need a majority.” […]
But before pleasantly surprised constitutional conservatives could even raise their hand to pat McCain on the back, he quickly changed his tune, speaking through a spokesperson, Rachael Dean. She “clarified” McCain’s earlier remarks by saying that McCain “believes you can only judge people by their record,” pointing to Clinton’s “clear record of supporting liberal judicial nominees.”
Before anyone starts searching their copy of the Constitution or checking Wikipedia for precedents, I’ll save you the trouble. Nine is not a magic number. It’s been the number for a century and a half, but there’s nothing that declares it needs to be the number. Moreover, there’s nothing that can compel the senate to confirm a nominee or even hold confirmation hearings. The powers laid out dictate that a Supreme Court justice can only be appointed by a President and can only be confirmed by the Senate. It does not dictate that the President must appoint, nor does it dictate that the Senate must confirm.
Here’s the real point, though. Eight is plenty. In fact, it may just be perfect. For the Supreme Court to take action, there needs to be a clear mandate. That’s an opinion, but it’s one that should make sense to any Constitutional conservative. With nine (or any odd number of) justices, actions for or against a ruling are essentially mandated automatically. That’s not how it should be. With eight, particularly if the justices are split between “conservative” and “liberal” ideologies, a true mandate would require that at least one justice changes sides.
What progressives will say is that keeping a split judicial branch of government impedes progress. The clear error in this thinking is in assuming that the Supreme Court has anything to do with progress. They don’t. That’s for the other two branches. The Supreme Court is there to prevent unconstitutional progress which, in our day and age, seems to be the majority of ideas proposed.
If we keep it at eight, it’s not the better or worse case that wins. Decisions won’t be based upon political leanings. The court can operate in a way that is much more pure. If a case is clearly won or lost, the Supreme Court will act because at least one justice should be willing to switch sides. That’s the burden that I believe is necessary for them to act. When it’s based upon a majority split along ideological lines, we get the debacles we’ve seen in the past few decades where the Supreme Court’s actions yielded failures on both sides of the political spectrum.
Keep it at eight. Not just now. Always. If the Supreme Court must act, it will be because the case was clear, not just because one side was a little better than the other or one based upon political lines.
I suspect that those of us who find Trump & Hillary equally unacceptable are going to be voted off the conservative island before this election’s over. I’m being harangued by perfectly nice people saying “butbutbut HILLARY!!”, along with what’s supposed to be the clincher: “Supreme Court!” An awful prospect, to be sure. The thing is, I don’t see that Trump offers any more hope in that department. Neither candidate appears to have the constitutional moorings, never mind the pro-life moorings (since the right to life precedes any written constitution), to be sensibly guided in the choice of Justices.
That leaves the Senate as the firewall against any mischievous molding of the court that a President Clinton or President Trump might want to try.
To likeminded voters who won’t support either of the major Presidential nominees, I say go to the polls anyway. Don’t stay home in a snit on November 8. All those downballot races are going to affect how the next Chief Executive does business. And of all the downballot races, those for U.S. Senate are most critical.
Thirty-four Senate seats are up for grabs. It’s not enough for a candidate to point to the top of the ticket and say “I’m with him” or “I’m with her.” What I want to know is, are you for religious liberty? Do you recognize the right to life? How about respecting First Amendment free-speech rights for peaceful protesters with whom you disagree? Are you ready to defend and expand the Hyde Amendment?
No moot points there. The Little Sisters of the Poor are still waiting to hear if the Court will respect their religious beliefs regarding helping to procure contraception for their employees. The Hobby Lobby decision is still under fire, and so is McCullen – the former a religious liberty case, the latter a victory for peaceful pro-life witnesses outside abortion facilities. The recent Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision has accommodated abortion providers while making substandard health care for women a constitutional right (and wasn’t that a neat trick?).
Democratic candidates for Senate seem to be consistent in praising Hellerstedt and condemning the other decisions, though I would be pleased to hear of an exception. Republicans are all over the place, to the extent that I can make no assumptions whatsoever about what an “R” means when it comes to judicial matters.
Does a candidate squirm or stand tall under questions about the Court decisions I’ve mentioned? That’ll tell me a lot about whether I want a particular candidate in the Senate. If Trump gets elected with a bunch of Republican senators who are OK with Hellerstedt and not OK with the Little Sisters, or who are meek about either, Hillary will get the Court she seeks, even if she’s not President.
My own state is in play, with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) being challenged by Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan. I’d much rather have Ayotte voting on judicial nominees. But will she campaign on the threat of a dangerous shift in the Supreme Court or a loss of the Hyde Amendment if Hassan gets the seat? Don’t I wish.
Frankly, in the year of Trump, Republican Senate candidates can’t trust either party’s standardbearer when it comes to the Court. It’s time to lead. Visualize a bloc of Senators telling the new President, Your nominees will have a history of respecting the right to life and the First Amendment, or they don’t stand a chance of confirmation. Better yet, visualize GOP Senate candidates saying that now, putting Dems on the defensive for once. Litmus test? You betcha.
Think about that if you’re tempted to stay home in November.
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He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution. We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. Cecilia and I extend our deepest condolences to his family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.
At another site, I opined that he got out just in time—for himself, at least.
Justice Scalia’s death, while a personal tragedy for his family, is also one for this country. And it points to the importance of presidential ideology and decision-making, since it is the president who nominates the court’s candidates. With Justices Kagan and Sotomayor, we get two examples of the type of judicial philosophy that President Obama looks for in his Supreme Court justices.
Many opinion-makers on the conservative side of politics are looking to the Republican-lead U.S. Senate to block any of President Obama’s nominations until January 2017 and this has precedent. But if the Democrat nominee for president wins the election, such an unlikely stand would be for naught.
The game has changed.
A lot of people out there are nervous now, and not only conservatives. Justice Scalia, along with Justices Thomas and Alito, had often been the only things standing between the people of the United States and full-on tyranny.
But, as I said to a friend a few minutes ago, God sometimes forces the hands of those of us who are called by His name. He is our only steadfast protector and will always be if we ask Him and trust in Him. I say let’s go for it.
Enjoy your reward, Mr. Justice Scalia.
My Kenya trip has been postponed for one week; I leave on the 21st.
Like it or not, same-sex marriage is the law of the land. As a conservative with libertarian leanings, I favored civil unions for gays for years, in essence, marriage in all but name. What is now called traditional marriage reaches back into pre-history–social norms should not be thrown overboard so quickly.
As for the other side of the gay marriage debate, the media focus has been on what Friday’s US Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in favor of what some call marriage equality means for observant Christians who oppose it.
But what about Muslims? The Daily Beast managed to find a few Muslims who favor gay marriage, but it’s safe to say that followers of Islam overwhelmingly oppose it.
And I believe that Muslims considering emigrating to the United States–and for that matter, other Western nations–might want to consider staying home instead.
Other than our high standard of living, there is much in America for Muslims not to like. Arranged marriages are not only rare but are frowned upon. Dogs, beloved members of many American families, are viewed as only slightly better than pigs in Islamic society only because of their hunting and protection skills. As for those pigs, most Americans eat pork. Women in the United States wear whatever they want–or in some cases, how little they want. And the great majority of Americans drink alcohol–and advertisements for intoxicating beverages can be found almost everywhere. We can change our religion if we like–or, as has been happening more frequently, choose no faith at all. While somewhat controversial, religious satire is common in the USA. For the sake of brevity I’m stopping here.
And since Friday–two men, or two women, can marry each other in a government-sanctioned marriage from Portland, Maine to Honolulu, Hawaii.
Lt. Kaminsky:You wanted confirmation, Captain? Take a look! There’s your confirmation!
Tora Tora Tora 1970
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Yesterday while most of the country was watching Baltimore the Supreme Court heard arguments to decide if the definition of marriage that had endured throughout human history was to be tossed out and redefined in a way that not only the founding fathers but most americans of a mere generation ago, would not have imagined.
Given that gay marriage only became legal in American in 2004 by a 4-3 vote in the most liberal state Supreme Court in the land (Massachusetts) and the unwillingness of Governor Mitt Romney to push back in the slightest against this idiocy, the fact that the Supreme Court is expected to uphold the narcissistic idea that marrying within one’s own sex is a basic constitutional right is nothing short of remarkable (constant cheerleading by the entertainment/media complex not withstanding).
What’s even more remarkable in my eyes however is that events in Baltimore that have caused many eyes that would normally be on the court to be elsewhere have given the justices who will be ruling on gay marriage a look at the future they are preparing to create.
The riots give the answer to the question: What do you get when you have a culture when the presence of both a father and mother is considered unimportant in the rearing of children? The experience of the Black family over the last five decades answers this question.
Consider: At the same time that civil rights laws were freeing black Americans from centuries of legal restraints by narcissists redefining marriage (sound familiar) and humanity itself to suit their cultural desires, an event that should have been the prelude for black America to jump into a golden age, two other forces from liberal America, one cultural & one political, arose that would have a catastrophic effect on the black family which had so nobly fought for the rights that were finally being acknowledged.
First came the sexual revolution that not only shattered the concept of sex within marriage as the proper moral norm but brought with it the contraceptive culture giving the illusion of divorcing sex from children (with abortion as the final card to play in an emergency).
Nearly simultaneously came the Great Society which among other things gave the poor, in the form of government cash assistance, an incentive to abandon the family unit for single motherhood without a husband and father in the house.
This combination of incentives coming at this time of transition for the black family was the key ingredient in its destruction. Single parent households, abortion and absent fathers increased while marriage decreased.
The result, two generations later the norm within the black community is now the absence of an intact family with a father & mother present in the home and the further absence of a grandfather to reinforce fatherly values if accident or circumstance causes the fathers loss.
Normally the disastrous results of this, while apparent daily in the black community is invisible to society as a whole (with the exception of judges, police and social workers) but the crisis in Baltimore is giving the general population and the world a vivid view of this new cultural paradigm. And the best illustration of this view came from an angry mother of a rioting son.
Why was there only one mother of a rioter taking action? Where were the rest of the mothers & fathers?
Every single one of those rioters had a mother, yet we only saw one taking actions. Every single one of those rioters had a father, yet we didn’t see a single image of a father pulling a rioter of the street.
I submit and suggest that if black America had that same ratio of intact families with fathers and mothers in the home today as it did in the mid 50’s the number of teens rioting would have been tiny as their concern over the reaction of an angry father would have overridden the peer pressure to raid a mall, set fires or destroy & loot stores.
I further suggest that events in Baltimore vividly illustrate what happens to a culture when you have generations of people who do not have the traditional nuclear family to reinforce values, when the value of a male and female role models is discounted and when society or a subset of it rejects it as the desired norm.
Now in the end the final responsibility for the actions of the rioters, the inaction of their parents, and their failure to said parents to imbue either the values or the fear that would preclude violent acts by their progeny, lies with them.
But while theirs is the responsibility for succumb to the perverse liberal social & financial incentives society as a whole are paying the price allow with them for that choice.
It’s ironic the Supreme Court is deciding whether to allow states the choice of redefining marriage and absorbing the cultural costs that it will entail to children who will not have a father or mother or COMPEL the entire nation to follow the social paradigm of single sex parenting at the same time when while the entire nation and world are seeing the results of this cultural meme.
The justices and the people have a front role seat to the vivid warning provided by Baltimore of the results of such a decision
It’s a lesson I hope the Supreme Court pays heed to.
Let me close with this thought:
While cultures, technology, tastes as to what is socially acceptable might change (for example a century ago the elites of our land were big into the idea of eugenics until a fellow with a Charlie Chaplin mustache took the idea to its logical conclusion with horrifying results) they don’t trump the realities of human nature and the reality is this:
When you create a culture that disregards the vital and unique role of the intact father & mother to raising of children and instead provide incentives, both legally and culturally, to promote alternatives as equal and as healthy for the sake of a groups self-esteem you are sowing the seeds of disaster that will bear fruit within the lifetimes of those foolishly promoting the exercise in narcissism that is gay marriage.
When Moses had written down this law, he entrusted it to the levitical priests who carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel, giving them this order: “On the feast of Booths, at the prescribed time in the year of relaxation which comes at the end of every seven-year period, when all Israel goes to appear before the LORD, your God, in the place which he chooses, you shall read this law aloud in the presence of all Israel.
Assemble the people – men, women and children, as well as the aliens who live in your communities – that they may hear it and learn it, and so fear the LORD, your God, and carefully observe all the words of this law. Their children also, who do not know it yet, must hear it and learn it, that they too may fear the LORD, your God, as long as you live on the land which you will cross the Jordan to occupy.”
Deuteronomy 31 9-13
For a long time written law has been a significant part of human history.
The oldest (known) set of written laws known to man is the Code of Ur-Nammu from about the year 2100 BC. A tablet containing these laws was first discovered in the mid 20th century. Prior to that the Code of Hammurabi from several hundred years later was the oldest known recorded law in existence.
The concept of written law so that any person can understand is important. A law written means that any person who is literate can see what the law actually says, and if a person is not literate a person can read them the law so that it can be known and understood as done by King Josiah :
The king now convened all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the house of the LORD with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the Levites, and all the people, great and small; and he had read aloud to them the entire text of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD. Standing at his post, the king made a covenant before the LORD to follow the LORD and to keep his commandments, decrees, and statutes with his whole heart and soul, thus observing the terms of the covenant written in this book.
2 Chronicles 34:29-31
Of course the whole idea of written law being a sign of justice and right as opposed to laws being changed on a whim by an unjust ruler is based on the quite logical idea that the law means what it actually says.
And that brings us to the Supreme Court and the hearing of Obamacare King v. Burwell.
The amazing thing about this case is that what the law ACTUALLY SAYS is not in dispute. The law explicitly says that congress authorized subsidiaries for people in obamacare exchanges “established by the states”.
However we have justices in the United States Supreme Court actually arguing against interpreting the law based on what it says:
“We look at the whole text. We don’t look at four words,”
Sotomayor wondered why the four words that so bother the challengers did not appear more prominently in the law. She said it was like hiding “a huge thing in a mousetrap.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested the four words at issue were buried and “not in the body of the legislation where you would expect to find” them.
These justices, learned legal scholars, actually made the case in the Supreme court that the explicit words of a law passed by congress and signed by the president should be ignored because they didn’t like where their appeared, or they weren’t significant enough.
This is insanity for three reasons:
The first being that such an interpretation presumes that the lawmakers in Washington DC, many of them lawyers themselves, would not have bothered to consult any lawyers during the drafting of this law, which was argued and debated over a long period of time. Nancy Pelosi not withstanding, the concept that lawyers wanted to be sure that the exchanges covered Federal exchanges did not or could not think of inserting language to explicitly say so involves a willing suspension of disbelief.
The second being that proponents of the law explicitly argued at the time of its passage that the refusal to subsidise states without exchanges was a deliberate attempt to force states to create exchanges. News coverage discussed the predicament for republican governors saying they would be forced to implement exchanges due to pressure within their state.
Democrats, meanwhile, hope to use the law and Republican inflexibility to their advantage, betting that more Americans will embrace the law once it expands coverage. The calculus for voters, Democrats assume, will become more about the policy and less about a polarizing president.
“It shouldn’t be complicated at all,” said John Anzalone, an Obama pollster who assists Democrats in federal races across the country.
What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this.
But while either of these are significant the real piece of insanity is as follows:
At least four justices of the US Supreme Court are apparently willing to rule that what a law explicitly says has no bearing on the implementation of the law itself.
Mind you they are not rejecting the wording of the law because they claim it is unconstitutional, they are rejecting the plain wording of a law for their own interpretation of it because they don’t like it.
Think just for a second what that means.
What is the point of having a written code of law if what the law says means nothing? Why have written contracts? Why bother? If the plain text of a law can be thrown out not because of a constitutional issue but because an individual judge doesn’t like it then what does being “a nation of laws” mean?
And if the law doesn’t mean what it says? Why obey it?
Over the past 26 years, Rebecca Friedrichs has been forced, as a condition of her employment, to pay tens of thousands of dollars to a private organization whose actions she largely does not support. As an elementary-school teacher in the Savanna School District of Buena Park, Calif., she has more than $1,000 automatically taken out of her salary every year and given to teachers’ unions. Faced with year after year of compulsory payments, Friedrichs is now on a path to end this union coercion.
California is not a “right to work” state and so Ms. Friedrichs and other teachers in her state are compelled to join a union.
A California teacher has filed a lawsuit against her union that claims she was cut off from benefits and from having a vote on the contract because she did not want her dues spent on political causes she did not support.
“There’s this undercurrent of fear and intimidation,” said Rebecca Friedrichs, whose suit seeks an exemption from union financial obligations since she is receiving no benefits from the union–political or non-political. “If you’re not in step with what the union’s doing, if you stand against it, you’re not a part of the club. You’re bullied. It’s very intimidating.”
In addition, she objects to the union’s involvement in political activities such as lobbying:
“What troubles me is the union is so involved in politics that they use our money to put a lot of those government officials into their jobs. Now the union is bargaining with officials who have been put in their spot by union money, and they’re union-friendly,” she said. “You have union-friendly officials on the other side, and taxpayers aren’t represented, and they’re bargaining with taxpayer money. I think that’s political.”
For my part, I’m very sympathetic with Ms. Friendrichs. I live in Louisiana and I have the right in my state to be a member of no union whatsoever if that’s my choice.
When I started teaching 18 years ago, I was young and stupid and joined NEA because my principal at the time said it was a good idea and that everyone should be a member of a “professional organization.” I signed right on up and paid hefty dues that were drafted right out of my check every month.
I never thought much about it after that.
But in 2011 I saw the light; I got an email from NEA saying that not only were they endorsing Obama in 2012 (again) but that individual member donations to their PAC would be doubled to ensure his re-election. I literally got nauseous and got on the phone to drop my membership as fast as I could.
I moved my membership to a non-political professional organization that focuses on education and teacher support rather than funding charlatan politicians.
Friedrichs believes that most teachers are apolitical and that the unions have lost focus:
Friedrichs said that the union might have an easier time recruiting teachers if it served the interests of the students, rather than its own coffers.
I don’t know about the apolitical part, but I agree with her that the purpose of the NEA should not be to handpick candidates or coerce affairs outside of the needs of the teachers and students. As I said, they lost me when they took my dues to fund their own candidate choice, one to whom I was totally opposed.
I hope Friedrichs and her colleagues win their suit and that forced union membership dies. It’s an infringement against one’s very basic right of free speech and choice.
It brings to mind how once Democrats were in the minority in the house, suddenly what a house minority leader had to say was worth covering.
While both of these things are of some interest what I find most interesting is the tactic because as a Catholic it’s so familiar.
After Vatican 2 and Humanae Vitae the left in the Church and the media who supported them were disappointed by the result. While there were changes in the Mass and an increase in the use of the laity it was not what they had dreamed of. So rather than talking about what doctrines actually were and what the counsel documents actually said they created a false narrative aided and abetted by many in ministry who preferred the church in their own image rather than the church as it was.
Thanks to the get along to go along attitude of many who knew better entire generations was either catechised falsely or not at all and the church & society paid for it.
This is the goal of the left in the Ginsberg dissent to create a de facto narrative in their minds similar to the Bush Gore election, and by that narrative hope to effect both how the issue is reported and perhaps even how some of the liberal judges rule on future cases as more Christian businessmen assert their rights.
Of course this is not the 70’s. Both the internet exists as does a strong cadre of conservatives ready to push back, and the reality of the decision in encoded in US law so don’t expect the kind of legal apostasy that we saw in the church but rest assured they’ll give it the old pagan try.