Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court


10.16.13 … what should we call a reverse dixiecrat? …

reverse dixicrats, new order: what should we call a reverse dixiecrat? A rinocrat? … “the cowardice of Republican non-extremists (it would be stretching to call them moderates)” … harsh …

And right now we have all the necessary ingredients for a comparable alliance, with roles reversed. Despite denials from Republican leaders, everyone I talk to believes that it would be easy to pass both a continuing resolution, reopening the government, and an increase in the debt ceiling, averting default, if only such measures were brought to the House floor. How? The answer is, they would get support from just about all Democrats plus some Republicans, mainly relatively moderate non-Southerners. As I said, Dixiecrats in reverse.

The problem is that John Boehner, the speaker of the House, won’t allow such votes, because he’s afraid of the backlash from his party’s radicals. Which points to a broader conclusion: The biggest problem we as a nation face right now is not the extremism of Republican radicals, which is a given, but the cowardice of Republican non-extremists (it would be stretching to call them moderates).

The question for the next few days is whether plunging markets and urgent appeals from big business will stiffen the non-extremists’ spines. For as far as I can tell, the reverse-Dixiecrat solution is the only way out of this mess.

via The Dixiecrat Solution –

Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,  ideological antagonists, Supreme Court, judicial activism:

JUSTICES Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are ideological antagonists on the Supreme Court, but they agree on one thing. Their court is guilty of judicial activism.

“If it’s measured in terms of readiness to overturn legislation, this is one of the most activist courts in history,” Justice Ginsburg said in August in an interview with The New York Times. “This court has overturned more legislation, I think, than any other.”

But Justice Ginsburg overstated her case. If judicial activism is defined as the tendency to strike down laws, the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is less activist than any court in the last 60 years.

Nonetheless, Justice Ginsburg’s impression fits with a popular perception of the court. In 2010 in Citizens United, it struck down part of a federal law regulating campaign spending by corporations and unions, overruling two precedents in the bargain. In June, it struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act and the Defense of Marriage Act.

The court will no doubt be accused of yet more activism if it continues to dismantle campaign finance restrictions, as it seemed ready to do Tuesday at arguments in a case about limits on campaign contributions from individuals.


Three months after Mr. Obama’s remarks, Chief Justice Roberts broke with his usual conservative allies and voted with the court’s four liberals to uphold the law. In a joint dissent, the four conservatives said the majority was wrong to portray its ruling as “judicial modesty” when “it amounts instead to a vast judicial overreaching.”

Writing in Public Discourse last year, Joel Alicea, then a law student at Harvard University, said “the clash between the chief justice’s opinion and that of the joint dissenters” is “a clash between two visions of judicial restraint, and two eras of the conservative legal movement.”

Justice Scalia said last month that he used another definition “when I complain about the activism of my court.” His colleagues were activist, he said at George Washington University, when they identified rights, like one to abortion, that were not in the text of the Constitution.

The Roberts court may not be especially activist in the classic sense of striking down a lot of laws. But there does appear to be an element of politics in its rulings.

“In a nutshell, liberal justices tend to invalidate conservative laws and conservative justices, liberal laws,” Professor Epstein and Andrew D. Martin of Washington University in St. Louis wrote last year in The Emory Law Journal in a look at the Roberts court’s first five terms.

Only Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the justice at the court’s ideological center, is a puzzle. In remarks this month at the University of Pennsylvania, he said his court should play only a modest role. “Any society that relies on nine unelected judges to resolve the most serious issues of the day is not a functioning democracy,” he said.

Yet Justice Kennedy “is the most aggressive of the Roberts justices,” voting with the majority 94 percent of the time when the court struck down a law, Professors Epstein and Martin found. “Unlike the other Roberts justices,” they added, “no underlying ideological pattern seems to exist to Kennedy’s votes.”

Justice Ginsburg said there was a theory behind her votes to strike down some laws and not others. In general, she said, “we trust the democratic process, so the court is highly deferential to what Congress does.”

via How Activist Is the Supreme Court? –

Congress, Separation of Powers, 2013 Shutdown:  I realize this is the conservative analysis, but this is the only analysis that I have read that makes sense.

There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.

This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.

As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.

Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.

ObamaCare is indeed “the law of the land,” as its supporters keep saying, and the Supreme Court has upheld its Constitutionality.

But the whole point of having a division of powers within the federal government is that each branch can decide independently what it wants to do or not do, regardless of what the other branches do, when exercising the powers specifically granted to that branch by the Constitution.

The hundreds of thousands of government workers who have been laid off are not idle because the House of Representatives did not vote enough money to pay their salaries or the other expenses of their agencies — unless they are in an agency that would administer ObamaCare.

Since we cannot read minds, we cannot say who — if anybody — “wants to shut down the government.” But we do know who had the option to keep the government running and chose not to. The money voted by the House of Representatives covered everything that the government does, except for ObamaCare.

The Senate chose not to vote to authorize that money to be spent, because it did not include money for ObamaCare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that he wants a “clean” bill from the House of Representatives, and some in the media keep repeating the word “clean” like a mantra. But what is unclean about not giving Harry Reid everything he wants?

If Senator Reid and President Obama refuse to accept the money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run ObamaCare, that is their right. But that is also their responsibility.

via Who Shut Down the Government? – Thomas Sowell – Page full.

Navy Yard scandal, Charles Krauthammer:  Where has the compassionate society gone? The problem here was not fiscal but political and, yes, even moral.

This would generally have relieved the hallucinations and delusions, a blessing not only in itself, but also for the lucidity brought on that would have allowed him to give us important diagnostic details — psychiatric history, family history, social history, medical history, etc. If I had thought he could be sufficiently cared for by family or friends to receive regular oral medication, therapy and follow-up, I would have discharged him. Otherwise, I’d have admitted him. And if he refused, I’d have ordered a 14-day involuntary commitment.

Sounds cruel? On the contrary. For many people living on park benches, commitment means a warm bed, shelter and three hot meals a day. For Alexis, it would have meant the beginning of a treatment regimen designed to bring him back to himself before discharging him to a world heretofore madly radioactive.

That’s what a compassionate society does. It would no more abandon this man to fend for himself than it would a man suffering a stroke. And as a side effect, that compassion might even extend to potential victims of his psychosis — in the event, remote but real, that he might someday burst into some place of work and kill 12 innocent people.

Instead, what happened? The Newport police sent their report to the local naval station, where it promptly disappeared into the ether. Alexis subsequently twice visited VA hospital ERs, but without any florid symptoms of psychosis and complaining only of sleeplessness, the diagnosis was missed. (He was given a sleep medication.) He fell back through the cracks.

True, psychiatric care is underfunded and often scarce. But Alexis had full access to the VA system. The problem here was not fiscal but political and, yes, even moral.

via Charles Krauthammer: The real Navy Yard scandal – The Washington Post.

Georgia’s Senate race, Michelle Nunn:  Given that I am a longstanding fan of Sam Nunn (a true Dixiecrat?) his daughter’s run for US Senate interests me.  But I personally don’t like any state race should be financially influenced  by corporate bigwigs, celebrities and D.C. types, making it a National election.

If you need a reminder that Georgia’s Senate race is a national one, then take a look at the names behind Democrat Michelle Nunn’s $1.7 million fundraising haul.

We got a hold of her disclosure last night, and the names of corporate bigwigs, celebrities and D.C. types join the local Democratic stalwarts donating to Nunn.

Among them are former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, ex-U.S. President Jimmy Cater, real estate mogul Tom Cousins, actress Jane Fonda, former Sen. Bob Graham, Washington fixer Vernon Jordan, Home Depot executive Carol Tome, retired federal judge Marvin Shoob, singer Nancy Sinatra, ex-Georgia Supreme Court chief Leah Ward Sears, Howard Dean\’s PAC and former U.S. ambassador Andrew Young.

Many of these bold-faced names gave $5,600, a two-cycle sum that accounts for her fundraising strength in their early going. Now she faces the question of whether she can keep it up.

via Your daily jolt: Johnny Isakson points to Heritage PAC as… | Political Insider |

kith/kin, Ga 11th District, :  And on a more personal level …

Not every candidate has reported in, but we have enough to paint at least a partial picture of the money that’s flowing into the Republican race to replace U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta:

— Former congressman Bob Barr reports $165,560 raised in the third quarter that ended Sept. 30, with $101,057 in cash on hand. He raised $251,782, and had $146,740 in the bank as of June 30. So there\’s that.

— Tricia Pridemore, a Marietta businesswoman and former state agency head, declared $103,541.93 raised – up slightly from the second quarter. The campaign also reported $188,535.63 in cash on hand.

— Former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk of Cassville reported raising $78,760, with $64,122 in the bank. He raised just over $97,000 last quarter.

— State Rep. Ed Lindsey, R-Atlanta, $75,903.84, including a $20,000 personal loan, and has $161,673 in cash on hand. He raised in the neighborhood of $157,000 in the second quarter.

via Your daily jolt: Johnny Isakson points to Heritage PAC as… | Political Insider |

Also, I am tired of hearing the term “gerrymander” … It is a political reality that who is in control of the redistricting process in a given state following the census establishes districts that will protect its interests to the greatest extent.  In my own state of NC, we have a district that runs from Charlotte to Durham up the 85 corridor …. it’s jokingly called the Mickey Mouse district.  Mickey’s District? . – Google News via nc mickey mouse district – Google Search.


A few thoughts from ed lindsey  …

First of all, we need to show the general public that we can govern. We need to be able to not just talk about problems but to actually promote a positive conservative reform agenda, and that’s the strength that I bring to the process. Furthermore, we need to explain how a conservative agenda will impact people’s lives. When we talk about economic issues and job growth, we need to do so not only in terms of economic development, but in terms of the importance of work and employment to the human soul, to our work ethic. That tends to get lost in the discussion. We need to be focused on issues that are “gateway issues.” These are issues that, while most importantly being good policy, give groups that haven’t traditionally been with our party a chance to give us a second look. Education and school choice are good examples, and I have been actively involved with those issues in the General Assembly. Criminal justice is another. We need to be willing to go into communities where we don’t currently have a strong voice.

via Q&A: Ed Lindsey | The Arch Conservative.

TAC: What do you see as the future of the conservative movement and what can we as a movement do to stay vibrant and relevant in American politics?

Lindsey: Don’t allow our own actions or the words of others to tag us as the folks for the status quo. We must be the movement for reform and change, the movement that takes an honest look at problems in society and applies conservative principles to them. We have to attack problems. That’s how we remain relevant – we stay totally engaged with today’s problems. We can’t just be the party of “no.” We also have to be a big tent. We can’t just toss people out. I don’t agree with a lot of Chris Christie’s positions – but he’s pretty fiscally conservative, took on the unions… I appreciate the fact that he’s a Republican governor of New Jersey. I want him at the table. I’ll have an honest fight with him and debate him on a number of issues, but I want him at the table. I want a party that’s big enough to hold myself, Rand Paul, Chris Christie… and Bob Barr.

via Q&A: Ed Lindsey | The Arch Conservative.

President Barack Obama,  presidential war powers: 

President Barack Obama just turned decades of debate over presidential war powers on its head.

Until Saturday, when Obama went to Congress to ask for permission to strike Syria, the power to launch military action had been strongly in the hands of the commander in chief. Even the 1973 War Powers Resolution allows bombs to start falling before the president has to ask Congress for long-term approval.

That makes the move by Obama to hand a piece of the messy situation in Syria to Congress a clear step in the other direction — an abdication of power to Congress at a moment when he has no good solutions.

And even if Obama ultimately balks at Congress if they vote down his ask, prominent conservatives who fueled the expansion of presidential power — especially Bush administration alums — are beside themselves, arguing that Obama has weakened the presidency.

John Yoo, who wrote the legal opinions that justified the Bush administration’s interrogation tactics with sweeping views of executive power, says Obama has undermined the quick-strike ability that gives presidents much of their power in dealing with military threats.

via Bushies fear Obama weakening presidency – David Nather and Anna Palmer –


7.3.13 … Gettysburg: Burying the hatchet … WSJ Startup of the Year … The Most America-est Hot Dog … Paula Deen … 3-D printing: We’re not far off from ­people being able to print their own gloves or golf balls … American culture and our love of driving …

Battle of Gettysburg, burying the hatchet, reunions, anniversaries, Civil War:  What a nice gesture … would it not be wonderful if the nation really could bury the hatchet?

Mental Floss ‏@mental_floss 37mAt the 50th Gettysburg reunion in 1913, two men purchased a hatchet, walked to the site where their regiments had fought, and buried it.

via 38 Twitter.

Startups, WSJ Startup of the Year, Who’s Who of the #WSJSOTY Startups, The Accelerators – WSJ: Kudos!

The 24 businesses vying for the title of WSJ Startup of the Year are working to influence everything from taste buds to sight-seeing experiences.

Last week, WSJ Startup of the Year kicked off by showcasing the mentors, including Sir Richard Branson and Nina Zagat. This week, we’re takingtime to learn more about each startup through reviewing their self-generated video profiles.

Here’s a brief rundown on the 24 competitors …

via Who’s Who of the #WSJSOTY Startups! – The Accelerators – WSJ.


The Most America-est Hot Dog, Boar’s Head tubesteaks,  cornbread batter,  deep-fried, duck fat, peaches & cream slaw,  proprietary chili sauce, mustard, Thrillist Nation:  Once again … out there!


The Most American Hot Dog Ever-Say hello to maybe the greatest hot dog ever created

After a grueling day and a half of voting as 16 fierce and delicious competitors fought it out, the truth is mightily apparent: Atlanta’s bearded wonder and Top Chef alum Kevin Gillespie has created The Most America-est Hot Dog. It starts with Boar’s Head tubesteaks that get covered in cornbread batter and deep-fried, before getting slapped on a bun that’s been broiled in duck fat, then covered in peaches & cream slaw and his proprietary chili sauce and, to prove he’s really American, mustard.

via The Most America-est Hot Dog winner – Thrillist Nation.

Paula Deen, Motion to Dismiss, standing, Supreme Court, Tal Kopan –

The celebrity chef’s lawyers filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the case against her based on standing, citing the court’s ruling on the Proposition 8 case last week, according to news reports.

A woman is suing Deen and her brother for an alleged hostile work environment at one of her restaurants, which included racism and harassment. Deen’s lawyers said Monday in their filing that because the woman is white, she doesn’t have standing before the court to claim she was affected by racism.

The motion cites Hollingsworth v. Perry, in which the Supreme Court ruled last week that the proponents of Prop 8 bringing the appeal to the court weren’t legally able to, as they didn’t have standing.

via Paula Deen pins hopes on Supreme Court – Tal Kopan –

3-D printing, outdoor gear, Design and Tech |  this just interests me …

In many respects, 3-D printing works just like 2-D printing. Guided by a digital blueprint, a 3-D printer deposits layer upon layer of raw material on a flat surface, the same way your ink-jet deposits pigment on ­paper. The difference: the machines squirt out plastics or metals in powder or liquid form. ­Extremely thin layers are ­melted together with lasers or bond as they cool, and the result is a seamless, solid object.

Printers are still mostly ­limited to materials like plastic resin and stainless steel, which don’t offer the quality and performance of, say, carbon fiber. And they can’t come anywhere close to competing with mass-­ production systems that allow companies like Burton to churn out a snowboard binding every two hours. But boutique brands and some geeked-out consumers are already fabricating custom gear via third-party printers. A handful of independent designers have used this formula for accessories like smartphone mounts and ankle braces, and one amateur rider in Germany even printed his own bike-light clamp after a store-bought one didn’t mount properly on his bike.

“We’re not far off from ­people being able to print their own gloves or golf balls,” says Bruce Bradshaw, director of marketing for Stratasys, a 3-D-printing company in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Burton’s Barbieri takes an even more optimistic view: “If you can design it on a computer, you can have it in your hand.”

via Hot Off the Press: How 3-D Printing is Revolutionizing Outdoor Gear | Design and Tech |

American culture, car driving, statistics, love of driving, Energy Ticker – MarketWatch:

We may have reached a peak in miles driven per person in the U.S., but car ownership may have not yet peaked.

The conclusion is from commodity analyst Matt Smith’s, at Schneider Electric, who distilled two recent reports about driving habits in the U.S., one by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and another by the U.S. PIRG.

Some of the interesting tidbits he gleaned: in 2011, only 67% of young people — 16- to 34-year-olds — had a license, the lowest since 1963. And drivers in that age group drove 23% fewer miles in 2009 than in 2001.

During that same period, the number of passenger miles traveled on public transportation by 16-to-34-year-olds increased 40%.  As a whole, U.S. residents took nearly 10% more trips via public transportation in 2011 than in 2005.

The number of cars owned peaked in 2008 at 236 million, with the Great Recession likely to blame for the drop in subsequent years. A growing U.S. population, however, “means we will likely see a higher number of vehicles on the road in the future,” Smith writes.

via ‘Peak car’? Americans’ love of driving wanes – Energy Ticker – MarketWatch.

*for you dear brother … I will try the old format once again …


6.25.13 … Texas Affirmative-Action Case: How often do you get a 7-1 punt!

Supreme Court, Texas Affirmative-Action Case, “a broad consensus across the court’s ideological spectrum” – I wasn’t expecting that one.

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion reflected a broad consensus across the court’s ideological spectrum, from Justice Clarence Thomas to Justice Sonia Sotomayor—both of whom say affirmative action brought them to Yale Law School, but today take opposite positions on whether universities should grant preferences to underrepresented minorities.

Both sides took solace in the 7-1 ruling. Justice Elena Kagan, who as solicitor general participated in the Obama administration’s defense of affirmative action, sat out. In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the UT plan passed muster and shouldn’t be returned to the lower courts for additional review.

When the case was granted in February 2012, it was widely seen as an opportunity for an emboldened conservative majority on the Supreme Court to roll back the explicit use of racial preferences, a practice that has drawn skepticism from several members of the court’s right wing. Arguments in October, at the first sitting of the court’s current term, suggested that affirmative action, almost an article of faith within the higher education establishment, would be sharply curtailed and possibly eliminated outright.

But Justice Kennedy clearly was unwilling to join four other conservatives in such a dramatic move. Rather than splinter the court over such a socially fraught issue without providing a clear resolution, the justices apparently decided to stick together in a narrow decision that leaves the ultimate fate of affirmative action to a future case.

via Supreme Court Punts on Texas Affirmative-Action Case –


6.24.13 … Legal Equality: The waiting is almost over … “But a tension runs through the cases, one based on different conceptions of equality. Some justices are committed to formal equality. Others say the Constitution requires a more dynamic kind of equality, one that takes account of the weight of history and of modern disparities.” …

Supreme Court, California’s Proposition 8,  same-sex marriage, Defense of Marriage Act, legal equality, marriage, education, voting,  affirmative action,  Voting Rights Act of 1965: 

The waiting is almost over.

Sometime in the next week or so, the Supreme Court will announce the outcomes in cases on California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

via Supreme Court has range of options on gay marriage.


Within days, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a series of decisions that could transform three fundamental social institutions: marriage, education and voting.

Abigail Fisher is challenging affirmative action, saying the University of Texas should not classify people on the basis of race.

Edith Windsor is challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The extraordinary run of blockbuster rulings due in the space of a single week will also reshape the meaning of legal equality and help define for decades to come one of the Constitution’s grandest commands: “the equal protection of the laws.”

If those words require only equal treatment from the government, the rulings are likely to be a mixed bag that will delight and disappoint liberals and conservatives in equal measure. Under that approach, same-sex couples who want to marry would be better off at the end of the term, while blacks and Hispanics could find it harder to get into college and to vote.

But a tension runs through the cases, one based on different conceptions of equality. Some justices are committed to formal equality. Others say the Constitution requires a more dynamic kind of equality, one that takes account of the weight of history and of modern disparities.

The four major cases yet to be decided concern same-sex marriage, affirmative action in higher education and the fate of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which places special burdens on states with a history of racial discrimination.

via Supreme Court Weighs Cases Redefining Legal Equality –


6.18.13 … Clarence Thomas Joins Supreme Court’s Liberals in Securing Jury Trial Rights for Criminal Defendants … breath … repeat …

Justice Clarence Thomas,  Supreme Court, Sixth Amendment, Jury Trial Rights for Criminal Defendants:  Will wonders never cease …

Pointing to “the historic role of the jury as an intermediary between the State and criminal defendants,” Justice Thomas declared the judge’s actions to be in violation of Alleyne’s constitutional rights. “The essential Sixth Amendment inquiry is whether a fact is an element of the crime,” Thomas wrote. “When a finding of fact alters the legally prescribed punishment so as to aggravate it, the fact necessarily forms a constituent part of a new offense and must be submitted to the jury.”

via Clarence Thomas Joins Supreme Court’s Liberals in Securing Jury Trial Rights for Criminal Defendants – Hit & Run :


3.20.13 … Obama’s 102-Year-Old Voter, ‘Shocked’ By Scalia’s ‘Racial Entitlement’ Remar … I’m shocked, too …

 Desiline Victor, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, racial entitlement:  Ms.  Victor, I am shocked, too.

WASHINGTON — Desiline Victor, the 102-year-old voter who received a standing ovation at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address earlier this year, sent a letter on March 12 to Justice Antonin Scalia criticizing his remarks about the Voting Rights Act being a “racial entitlement.”

Victor said she was “shocked” when she heard what Scalia said about the Voting Rights Act during the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on a key provision of the law last month.

“I thought you must not know what’s happening in this country,” Victor wrote. “After learning more this year from the civil rights group, Advancement Project, I know that just as there were for me, there are barriers to voting for many people – especially people who are black or brown.”

via Desiline Victor, Obama’s 102-Year-Old Voter, ‘Shocked’ By Scalia’s ‘Racial Entitlement’ Remark.

This is a follow-up to my 3.18.13 post.


3.18.13 … Supreme Court justices split on proof of citizenship issue …

Supreme Court, proof of citizenship,  The Washington Post:  Intellectually, I have no problems with requiring proof of citizenship … but practically I can understand how this is a barrier to exercising a citizen’s constitutional rights that is unequally impacts different groups.

In Monday’s case, the court is deciding the legality of Arizona’s requirement that prospective voters document their U.S. citizenship in order to use a registration form produced under the federal “motor voter” registration law. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that that 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which doesn’t require such documentation, trumps Arizona’s Proposition 200 passed in 2004.

Arizona appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

The case focuses on Arizona, which has tangled frequently with the federal government over immigration issues involving the Mexican border. But it has broader implications because four other states — Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee — have similar requirements, and 12 other states are contemplating such legislation.

The federal “motor voter” law, enacted in 1993 to expand voter registration, requires states to offer voter registration when a resident applies for a driver’s license or certain benefits. Another provision of that law — the one at issue before the court — requires states to allow would-be voters to fill out mail-in registration cards and swear they are citizens under penalty of perjury, but it doesn’t require them to show proof. Under Proposition 200, Arizona officials require an Arizona driver’s license issued after 1996, a U.S. birth certificate, a passport or other similar document, or the state will reject the federal registration application form.

via Supreme Court justices split over whether states can ask for proof of citizenship to register – The Washington Post.

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May 2020