I’ve always known how to count

Tip O’Neil

For the last week we have heard the breathless declarations the Donald Trump will not be able to get a judge who opposes Roe v Wade because Lisa Murkowski of Alaska or Susan Collins of Maine will vote against any such nominee.

Millions of pixels have been dedicated to this proposition as the media breathlessly declare that any such judge will have a hard if not impossible path to the Supreme Court.

While I hate to disappoint all of you folks on the left but Doug Matacoins not withstanding  it is Collins and Murkowski who are in the box, not Trump.

Even when the President didn’t have a supreme court nominee coming up or democrats calling for the public harassment of conservatives or Democrat Socialists publicly proclaiming communism, which murdered 100+ million in the 20th century, as a good thing the numbers looked bad for the Democrats in the senate due to the sheer number of Democrats running for re-election, particularly from Red States.

In a bad scenario it was likely the GOP would pick up at only one seat, with a strong economy, low unemployment and success against ISIS and Democrats making fools of themselves a pick up of 3 seats is a real possibility.

The media and twitter may not be talking about this but you had better believe that Collins and Murkowski both know how to count real and understand the moment the GOP has a majority that doesn’t depend on their vote to get a justice confirmed they will have as much say in who Trump nominates as Chuck Schumer, namely none.

So I suspect that they will make loud noises and say all the right things to the media who will be putting immense pressure on them but in the end when the votes are counted Trump will get both his nominee and unless they can manage a Fishbait Miller scenario will likely have their vote as well.

If Trump chooses Judge Amy Coney Barrett, (which is who I think he will) Watch them claim as a driving force for their vote for her the chance to create, for the first time in the court’s history actual parity between the number of men and women on it.

You heard it here first

Can someone explain to me why it’s a good thing that the House is doing all it can to get votes for a bill not meant to pass?

I don’t care if as of this writing Tim Tebow is hitting over fifty points higher than Jackie Bradley Jr. I’ll take Bradley in center field turning doubles into flyouts every day of the week.

Johnny Depp and I are the same age and while he did much better than me for most of his life this piece by Robert Stacy McCain linking a Rolling Stone profile convinces me not only that I’ve pulled ahead but that nothing is more dangerous to life and soul than being rich enough to make your wildest fantasies come true.

Jake Tapper’s encounter with Keith Ellison over his association with anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan reminded me of something that Joe Kennedy Sr. once said about his son Bobby Kennedy: “Bobby’s my boy, when he hates you, you stay hated.”

If Jeb Bush had been in the White House instead of Donald Trump with this economy and these results from the Supreme Court Rick Wilson & Bill Kristol would be calling him the greatest president of all time.

When I see tweets like the one below I’m convinced that the New York Times forgets they no long have a monopoly on photographs, video and the means to distribute them.

Iranian protesters chanting “Death to Palestine” is the most significant international story that the mainstream media is ignoring today.

It’s no coincidence that the Democrats started calling Republicans “Nazis” became mainstream once the World War 2 generation Democrats who had experience fighting the real thing had died out.

Reflecting on the week in the Supreme Court culminating in the retirement of Justice Kennedy today, none of these results are possible without the combination of the unlikely victory of Donald Trump on election day and the even less likely act of Mitch McConnell keeping his nerve before it.

Nothing is more healthy for the soul that a week away from the net, the political world or both.

If you want to know what the American dream is, it’s a tiny family owned wing/taco place smaller than my kitchen that had a Mexican flag in its window becoming so popular that the folks running it have to move to a larger location to accommodate the business.

In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court (thankfully) ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, the baker who declined to be forced to bake and decorate a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding. The ruling was based almost completely on the documented religious hostility of the members of the Civil Rights Commission, and thus there is concern that in the future the Court would allow government to force bakers and other service providers to support same-sex weddings over their religious objections as long as the bureaucrats pretended to be neutral to the baker’s religious views.

There are a few fig leaves in the decision that an optimist could take as good news, such as Justice Kennedy saying “the religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression,” and that “government has no role in deciding or even suggesting whether the religious ground for Phillips’ conscience based objection is legitimate or illegitimate.” And at least he conceded that “a member of the clergy who objects to gay marriage on moral and religious grounds could not be compelled to perform the ceremony without denial of his or her right to the free exercise of religion.”

The path to the case, if not necessarily the decision, in Masterpiece Cakeshop, is an easy one to follow.  It started back in 2003 with Lawrence v. Texas, which found a constitutional right to Liberty as exemplified by homosexual sodomy in that particular case (although Justice Kennedy, in his majority opinion explicitly refused to declare that homosexual sodomy itself is a constitutional right). Justice Scalia correctly predicted the path in his dissenting opinion, noting that the decision “leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.”

The next step in the chain was United States v. Windsor in 2012, which ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Justice Scalia and Chief Justice Roberts both pointed out that this Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion would inevitably lead to the Court declaring same-sex “marriage” to be a constitutional right, which of course it did in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 (also authored by Kennedy). This is where Justice Thomas presciently predicted that the decision “threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect.” And here we are.

A lot of the analysis of Masterpiece Cakeshop centered around whether baking a custom wedding cake counted as “speech” for the purposes of the Free Speech clause of the first amendment. And was Phillips really discriminating against the gay couple when he offered to sell them anything else in the store, or to create a cake for any other occasion? The answer is obviously “no” and therein, I think, lies the solution to this conundrum.

As I have said before, no one has a right to force someone else to provide a good or service. If Phillips had refused to sell a pre-baked cake to the gay couple, that would have been discriminatory since he had already invested his time and talent to create the cake and it was already available for purchase by the general public. This would be the same as if a gay couple tried to by a photo print from a studio where the photographer was displaying his images for sale. But in either case, the gay couple does not have the right to force the baker or photographer to participate in a gay wedding if the vendor’s religious beliefs prevent him from doing so. So the government could not force the photographer to attend the ceremony, document the event and then produce the images, all of which require him to devote his time and talent to an event that violates his religious views.

This rule would also apply to the Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington case currently being petitioned to the Supreme Court.

If Mrs. Stutzman had refused to sell a floral arrangement available to the general public to a gay customer, she would be guilty of discrimination. But she had sold flowers to the gay couple – whom she considered friends – for years without a problem. It was only when she refused to be forced to design the flowers for their wedding, which involves not only creativity on her part, but also the nuts and bolts of getting the flowers to the ceremony and arranging them there, that she supposedly discriminated against them. Clearly, this is an infringement on her first amendment rights to free expression and freedom of religion.

Justice Kennedy’s reasoning in all of these cases seems to be rooted in the infamous “Sweet Mystery of Life” passage from Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which he wrote “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”  As Justice Scalia correctly pointed out, this is “the passage that ate the rule of law,” but is nonetheless central to Justice Kennedy’s jurisprudence. A person’s religious views, by definition, define his or her “own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Why is a religious person’s liberty, which is expressly guaranteed by the Constitution, worth less than a gay person’s?

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by baldilocks

And how rare is that?

Many people cited a lone reason to vote for the presidential candidate that was Donald Trump: to keep Hillary Clinton out of the Oval Office. As it turned out, that was the sole reason that I voted for him. But there were other very good reasons.

Like this one.

Of course, we remember that the president nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme court early last year to take

It’s fun to imagine Scalia giggling after facing a Higher Court.

the place of Antonin Scalia – who died in 2016. Justice Gorsuch was confirmed by the US Senate and took the oath of office last April. Conservatives seem to be pleased with his decisions so far.

But, according to the piece, the Left is afraid that all of its signature issues will be overruled by the high court – especially if President Trump gets to nominate another potential SCJ.

Republicans are working with Trump to make a record-breaking number of appointments to federal courts. These new, mostly young, white men will be in a position to rule on legislation that could change America for years.

But the most contentious appointment would be a second nomination to the highest court in the land. The supreme court has over decades delivered landmark decisions on issues from abortion to affirmative action and same-sex marriage. The potential for Trump to install another justice on the nine-seat bench, some legal experts argue, could have profound consequences on issues ranging from women’s reproductive health to LGBT rights.

With speculation mounting over the possible retirement of supreme court justice Anthony Kennedy, Trump could have a lasting impact on reshaping America’s most important court.

Honestly, I think that the worst thing that advocates of LGBT rights (translation: same-sex marriage), abortion, etc. would have to worry about is that most such issues would revert to the state legislatures where they belong. That’s why the tenth amendment exists.

But it’s always good to keep the Left afraid. Just keep your eyes open.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Cite.

by baldilocks

Today, everyone is talking about the op-ed penned by retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday. These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.

That support is a clear sign to lawmakers to enact legislation prohibiting civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 years old, and establishing more comprehensive background checks on all purchasers of firearms. But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.

Emphasis mine.

Nice of Mr. Justice Stevens to dispense with the mealy-mouthed lie that many gun control advocates use: that “we don’t want to take your guns away.” His bluntness — a characteristic often found in senior citizens who have retired – is very refreshing.

The justice doesn’t offer much argument here; just a blurb on 2A history, summary information on related court rulings and a short mention of his dissent in DC v. Heller.

And, of course, no gun control op-ed is complete without a ritual denunciation of the NRA.

[Heller] — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power. Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.

Something I’ve been thinking about recently. What if the NRA just upped and decided to disband? They’d give all the money back to the donors and members and then :::poof::: They’re gone. Do these people think that gun owners would just give up? Stop buying, selling and making firearms and ammo? Hand over all the handguns to their local LEO? Beat all their AR-15s into plowshares? I guess this is what the sliming of NRA is supposed to accomplish. Short-term thinking at its finest.

And it’s so cute that Justice Stevens makes no mention of the other probable outcome of a repeal of the Second Amendment: a nation-wide bloodbath. And I’m not even talking about those who would take up arms against the government and its various levels of agents.

The criminals among us – from which persons like a retired justice of the Supreme Court would be well-protected – would have an open field.

And that’s what the Organized Left is hoping for. A 2A repeal would be a signal for the Nikolas Cruzes, the Omar Mateens, the Dylann Roofs, the drug cartel kingpins from Mexico — and Hezbollah — and countless lesser-known felons that America is ripe for plunder. Go forth to steal, kill, rape, and destroy.

Justice Stevens is speaking for the The Organized Left; following orders, I suppose. And the OL is still looking to execute – if you’ll pardon the pun – the Fundamental Transformation.

They want full control of the citizenry and your guns are standing in the way. Never forget that.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Update to a November 2017 post: California’s attorney general is on the U.S. Supreme Court’s schedule for March 20, at which time he can  explain why he should be able to tell pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for abortions. That ought to elicit some searching questions from the Justices.

The case is National Institute of Family and Life Advocates [NIFLA] v. Becerra. NIFLA is a group of nonprofit pro-life pregnancy centers in California. Xavier Becerra is the state’s attorney general. The law in dispute is called California’s Reproductive FACT Act.  It requires that certain types of facilities post and distribute information on the availability of free or low-cost access to abortion. It’s as though business is so lousy at abortion clinics that the state has to dragoon pro-life agencies into doing their advertising for them.

The type of facility is defined in such a way that the law only applies to about 200 nonprofit pro-life clinics, not to any of the other thousands of places in California where a pregnant woman might go for assistance. From NIFLA’s brief to the Supreme Court (references omitted; emphasis added):

The legislative record expressly states that the impetus for the Reproductive FACT (Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency) Act…was disagreement with pro-life centers’ messages. Legislative committee reports with bill sponsor statements noted “that, unfortunately, there are nearly 200 licensed and unlicensed clinics known as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in California,” which “aim to discourage and prevent women from seeking abortions.”…Although the bill sponsor claimed that these centers “often confuse [and] misinform” women,…neither the legislative history nor the record contains any objective or impartial evidence that pregnancy centers like Petitioners actually “misinform” anyone about their medical status or services[.] 

There are fines for noncompliance. Anyone who has volunteered for a pro-life pregnancy care center knows that such agencies are lean operations; a fine need not be steep to be ruinous.

This is a First Amendment case. Can the government compel a nonprofit organization to deliver a message inconsistent with the organization’s mission? California might be having financial problems, but apparently the AG’s budget includes resources to argue this case all the way to SCOTUS. NIFLA is relying on assistance from Alliance Defending Freedom, the same legal group that successfully represented Eleanor McCullen in the Massachusetts buffer zone case.

Stay tuned.

Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist based in New Hampshire. Read more at ellenkolb.com,

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