Replacing Scalia, a conservative icon, the ideological tilt of the bench is not likely to shift. He will restore a 5-4 majority that Republican appointees have held on the court for years.
Lisa Mascaro and David G. Savage report: President Trump’s nominee, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, was confirmed Friday for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, filling a 14-month vacancy after a dramatic Senate showdown that risked long-lasting repercussions to both institutions.
The confirmation will deliver a much needed political victory to Trump, whose administration is struggling in its first 100 days to make progress on many campaign promises amid infighting in the White House and on Capitol Hill.
Only three Democrats joined Republicans in voting to confirm Gorsuch. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) all represent conservative-leaning red states that Trump won in the election. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who is recovering from surgery, was absent.
It was the narrowest approval of a Supreme Court nominee since the 52-48 confirmation of Clarence Thomas in 1991.
Vice President Mike Pence presided over the vote as Republicans sat in their seats and onlookers, including conservative legal activists, filled the visitor galleries. But Friday’s vote, arguably Trump’s most enduring achievement to date, was largely upstaged by the U.S. airstrikes in Syria, which dominated news coverage.
The 49-year-old Gorsuch, who is expected to be sworn in on Monday, is a respected conservative who has worked for years on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. He is expected to bring a “textualist” approach to the court, relying on an exact reading of legal language.
Since he is replacing Scalia, a conservative icon, the ideological tilt of the bench is not likely to shift. He will restore a 5-4 majority that Republican appointees have held on the court for years.
“He’s going to make an incredible addition to the court,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “He’s going to make the American people proud.”
Democrats had staged a highly unusual filibuster to block the nominee. Republicans responded by changing long-standing Senate rules to allow filibusters of Supreme Court nominees to be broken with 51 votes rather than the previous 60.
Now Trump and future presidents will find it easier to choose Supreme Court nominees without needing much consent from the minority, opening the door to more ideological and partisan appointments. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s the Reid Option. Get it right. https://t.co/ngAXGt8zfp
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) April 3, 2017
Charles Krauthammer said that Trump’s tax-return reveal was only favorable for him, and went on to argue that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer hurt his own cause by stridently criticizing the president.
The blasé manner in which the media describes opposition to Trump from within the bureaucracy is stunning.
Matthew Continetti writes:
…The same forces that opposed Trump during the Republican primary and general election are trying to break his presidency before it is a month old. At issue is the philosophy of nation-state populism that drove his insurgent campaign. It is so at variance with the ideologies of conservatism and liberalism predominant in the capital that Washington is experiencing something like an allergic reaction.
“The message this establishment is sending to Trump? Conform or be destroyed. The outrage at the president’s executive order on refugees and travel was a sample of what is coming. Trump is used to fighting the media and campaign opponents, but he has little experience with the professional and supposedly nonpartisan bureaucracy.”
Nation-state populism diverges from Beltway conservatism on trade, immigration, entitlements, and infrastructure, and from liberalism on sovereignty, nationalism, identity politics, and political correctness. Its combative style and heightened rhetoric offend the sensibilities of career-minded Washingtonians of both parties, who are schooled in deference, diplomacy, being nice to teacher, and the ancient arts of CYA.
“Not only are there two Americas. There are two governments: one elected and one not, one that alternates between Republicans and Democrats and one that remains, decade after decade, stubbornly liberal, contemptuous of Congress, and resistant to change. It is this second government and its allies in the media and the Democratic Party that are after President Trump, that want him driven from office before his term is complete.”
The message this establishment is sending to Trump? Conform or be destroyed. The outrage at the president’s executive order on refugees and travel was a sample of what is coming. Trump is used to fighting the media and campaign opponents, but he has little experience with the professional and supposedly nonpartisan bureaucracy. That is why his firing of acting attorney general Sally Yates was so important. She ordered her department not to defend an executive order that had been cleared by the White House counsel and her own Office of Legal Counsel. For Trump to have delayed or done nothing would have been an invitation to further subversion. He let Yates go within hours.
The blasé manner in which the media describes opposition to Trump from within the bureaucracy is stunning. “Federal workers turn to encryption to thwart Trump,” read one Politico headline. “An anti-Trump resistance movement is growing within the U.S. government,” says Vanity Fair. “Federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new president’s initiatives,” reports the Washington Post. Read the rest of this entry »
He guaranteed Neil Gorsuch elevation to the Supreme Court.
…Donald Trump for winning the election. Hillary Clinton for losing it. Mitch McConnell for holding open the high court seat through 2016, resolute and immovable against furious (and hypocritical) opposition from Democrats and media. And, of course, Harry Reid.
God bless Harry Reid. It’s because of him that Gorsuch is guaranteed elevation to the court. In 2013, as Senate majority leader, Reid blew up the joint. He abolished the filibuster for federal appointments both executive (such as Cabinet) and judicial, for all district and circuit court judgeships (excluding only the Supreme Court). Thus unencumbered, the Democratic-controlled Senate packed the lower courts with Obama nominees.
Reid was warned that the day would come when Republicans would be in the majority and would exploit the new rules to equal and opposite effect. That day is here.
The result is striking. Trump’s Cabinet appointments are essentially unstoppable because Republicans need only 51 votes and they have 52. They have no need to reach 60, the number required to overcome a filibuster. Democrats are powerless to stop anyone on their own.
And equally powerless to stop Gorsuch. But isn’t the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees still standing? Yes, but if the Democrats dare try it, everyone knows that Majority Leader McConnell will do exactly what Reid did and invoke the nuclear option — filibuster abolition — for the Supreme Court, too.
Reid never fully appreciated the magnitude of his crime against the Senate. As I wrote at the time, the offense was not abolishing the filibuster — you can argue that issue either way — but that he did it by simple majority. Read the rest of this entry »
Judge Gorsuch is one of the finest writers on the federal bench.
John O. McGinnis writes: President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, meets the most important criterion for the successor to Justice Antonin Scalia—that he be an articulate exponent of originalism. Scalia was the most consequential justice in the last half-century because he had the intellect to forge a consistent jurisprudence and the pen to make it widely known. When he arrived on the Court in 1986, originalism had no influence in the legal academy. Today, even among liberals, it is the jurisprudential theory to beat. He not only changed the law but the legal culture as well. Changing the legal culture is as important as making the right decisions in individual cases, because only a good culture will preserve those decisions for tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s official. ‘Mad Dog’ is defense secretary.
Mattis initially faced a hurdle to becoming the new Pentagon chief, needing a waiver from Congress to assume the role despite having been less than seven years from active military duty. Upon being sworn in Friday, Trump signed the passed waiver into law, clearing the way for Mattis’ confirmation.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was the only member of the Senatorial committee to vote against confirming Mattis as defense secretary. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) had previously voted against the waiver, but ultimately supported Mattis’ confirmation. Read the rest of this entry »
The New York senator was promoting the Democrats’ fight to protect Obamacare, calling on his followers to add the Senate Democrats account on Snapchat to follow along.
“Starting tonight, @SenateDems are on @Snapchat. Add to hear more on our fight to protect healthcare & tell GOP: Don’t #MakeAmericaGreatAgain,” Schumer tweeted, then deleted.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 9, 2017
Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger writes that Abbie Hoffman wrote ‘Steal This Book.’ Democrats are doing the 2016 update.
Daniel Henninger writes: A serious person might ask: Why did John Podesta, the Democratic Party, and various of its media affiliates head into the fever swamps after Donald Trump won the election?
“Something in the post-1968 Democratic genetic code is always on the brink of tipping into anarchy. Most American voters become uncomfortable when they see an Abbie Hoffman or Michael Moore cavorting in the streets with the country’s politics. Almost always, voters make Democrats pay a price for conducting politics by extra-political means.”
We knew months ago that the Trump phenomenon could drive women mad and make grown men weep, but how to explain the adoption of a Tom Clancy conspiracy, to wit: Vladimir Putin, using hacker slaves in a Kremlin basement, stole the election for Mr. Trump? Therefore let’s sequester the 538 folks from the Electoral College in a safe house for a CIA briefing before they vote to validate the results of the 2016 election.
“For Democrats of that generation—which is the Podesta and Hillary and Bernie generation—Abbie Hoffman was their Michael Moore. Abbie summed up his view of politics with a book titled, “Steal This Book.” Many did.”
Several explanations press into view, the simplest being . . . embarrassment.
Mr. Podesta and his associates lost the election, or at least the one that has been deciding U.S. presidential results since George Washington carried the Electoral College vote in 1789. (Gen. Washington got 69 votes, John Adams 34.)
“Now Michael Moore is exhorting thousands of bereaved and angry Democrats to descend on Washington next month to ‘disrupt the Inauguration.’ All I can say is: Do it!”
This year’s loss happened in large part because the Hillary campaign ignored Bill Clinton’s advice to pursue the blue-collar vote that won him the presidency. The Clinton campaign thought Barack Obama’s “coalition of the ascendant” would win a third straight time. Staring out across the U.S. political map today, they look now like the coalition of the descendant.
Why this? Why are the Democrats resorting to the goofball gambit of asking Electoral College electors to steal the election for Hillary Clinton? The answer is because that’s how this wing of the Democratic Party does politics.
Little surprise that the people responsible for this debacle are filling the skies with Putin-elected-Trump flak to divert eyes from why they lost states they should have won.
“The progressive Democratic demonstrators that filled Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower after they lost is the same party wing that rioted in 1968 in Chicago outside their own party’s convention.”
Another, more plausible explanation would be the belief among Democrats that the Trump victory is a temporary political bubble.
Mr. Trump won by gaining the support of les deplorables who formerly voted Democrat or who had stopped voting altogether after losing faith in the system. That is a thin, volatile presidential base.
“If Mr. Trump consolidates his election support with material progress, Republicans could have a governing coalition for many election cycles. One of the election’s most intriguing footnotes is that Mr. Trump increased support among blacks and Hispanics over the 2012 result by 2% each. That wasn’t supposed to happen.”
If President Trump doesn’t deliver prosperity that satisfies these new voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, they’ll abandon the Trump Republicans. Then, like Silly Putty, the Democrats’ Blue Wall of electoral-vote states will reform in 2020. Read the rest of this entry »
BREAKING: DNC Aiming To Reconnect With Working-Class Americans With New ‘Hamilton’-Inspired Lena Dunham Web SeriesPosted: November 15, 2016
“We’re hoping to make up the ground we lost with white working-class voters and union members who once made up our base with a new 10-part hip-hop musical set in rural Wisconsin, featuring a down-on-her-luck manufacturing worker played by Lena Dunham.”
WASHINGTON—Saying the new effort would help them make critical inroads with low-income rural voters following a stunning election loss last week, the Democratic National Committee announced the launch of a new Hamilton-inspired web series Tuesday starring Lena Dunham intended to connect with working-class Americans and address their most pressing concerns.
“We are confident that with the help of Josh Gad, Debra Messing, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and the creative team behind The Mindy Project, we can bring Americans who feel like they have been left behind by globalization back to the Democratic Party.”
“We’re hoping to make up the ground we lost with white working-class voters and union members who once made up our base with a new 10-part hip-hop musical set in rural Wisconsin, featuring a down-on-her-luck manufacturing worker played by Lena Dunham,” said DNC interim chair Donna Brazile, who added that, in an effort to appeal to economically distressed voters, each episode would see the protagonists tackle a different theme, such as taxes or free trade, through the choreography of five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman. Read the rest of this entry »
Betsy McCaughey writes: Hillary Clinton chose Minneapolis — with its growing enclave of fundamentalist Muslim refugees — to announce her plan to combat terrorism on Tuesday. That’s like choosing Baskin-Robbins to announce your weight-loss plans.
Clinton offered little more than platitudes like: “We have to do more to address the challenge of radicalization.” Meanwhile, that challenge was right under her nose.
“Clinton saved her scorn for Americans, saying they should be ashamed for demonizing Muslims here. She called for ’empowering Muslim-American communities.’ But which Muslim-Americans is she talking about? Some Muslims are our friends, but others want to kill us. That’s true here — and worldwide.”
The city’s huge Somali refugee population makes it a symbol of the problem, not the solution. Some 30,000 have been placed there by the federal government. Many of them say they would rather live under Islamic religious law — Sharia — than American law, and resist adapting to American ways. Their ideology makes them ripe for jihadization.
“Moderate Muslims here are not a problem. But fundamentalist Muslims pose a high risk. Hillary cheerfully overlooked this distinction.”
Indeed, dozens of young men from this Muslim enclave have left to fight with radical Islamists in Somalia and Syria. “We have a terror recruiting problem in Minnesota,” reports Andy Luger, a federal prosecutor there.
The key to Hillary’s anti-terrorism plan is the empty hope that Muslims in America will self-police. “They are the best positioned to block anything going forward.” Don’t count on it. As the ongoing San Bernardino shooting investigation shows, even Muslims who aren’t stockpiling AK-47s can’t be counted on to report what their family members or acquaintances are doing.
Clinton saved her scorn for Americans, saying they should be ashamed for demonizing Muslims here. She called for “empowering Muslim-American communities.” But which Muslim-Americans is she talking about? Some Muslims are our friends, but others want to kill us. That’s true here — and worldwide.
“A Pew Research report tells us where the danger spots are. A shocking 99 percent of Afghanistan’s Muslims, 91 percent of Iraqi Muslims and 84 percent of Pakistani Muslims identify themselves as fundamentalists who favor Sharia law.”
Clinton took aim at Donald Trump’s proposal to suspend all Muslims from coming to the United States. But Trump’s idea is not as dangerous as Hillary’s insistence that anti-Muslim rhetoric is what incites Muslims to terrorism. That’s delusional.
“Equally jaw-dropping, 39 percent of Afghanistan’s Muslims say they consider violent acts such as suicide bombings always or sometimes justified ‘in defense of Islam.'”
Moderate Muslims here are not a problem. But fundamentalist Muslims pose a high risk. Hillary cheerfully overlooked this distinction. Read the rest of this entry »
Rallying around three theatrical ‘principles of action,’ the group proposed laws to close imaginary ‘loopholes’, try to expand invasive background databases to create additional burdens for understaffed law enforcement agencies, ignore meaningful mental health legislation reform, and try to think up new ways to harass law-abiding citizens with pointless regulatory efforts that they admit has no hope of saving lives, or surviving challenges in the courts, but is aimed at pacifying their base of control-craving, gun-hating, feeble-minded, anti-democratic, highly-emotional low-information voters.
Philip Wegmann reports: In the week after the mass shooting in Roseburg, Ore., Senate Democrats gathered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to demand stricter gun control and unveil their comprehensive policy package to achieve it.
“If Obama and gun control advocates were serious, they would address the underlying issue of America’s broken mental health system,” Cox said in a statement. “Instead, they push gun control initiatives that would not have prevented any of the tragedies they seek to exploit.”
Frustrated by the inaction of Republicans and hamstrung by a lack of votes, the group of more than two dozen Senate Democrats sought to spark debate by appealing directly to the public.
“The roll call of American gun tragedies is already far too long,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. “The victims and their families deserve better than a Congress that shrugs its shoulder and waits for the next tragedy.”
Rallying around three “principles of action,” the group proposed laws to close background check loopholes, expand background databases, and crack down on illegal gun sales.
Numerically virtually impossible to pass in the Republican-controlled House, gun control legislation also faces an uphill battle in the Senate. Read the rest of this entry »
Congress to take up Iran nuke deal disapproval resolution
Paul Alster writes: Even as President Obama was securing the Senate support necessary to assure passage of the nuclear deal with Iran, Tehran’s top defense officials were scoffing at U.S. claims the pact will restrict the Islamic Republic’s military ambitions.
The president has been twisting arms and Secretary of State John Kerry reassuring lawmakers that the deal between Iran and the P5 +1 – members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – will ensure international inspections and bar Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons. This week, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., became the 34th member of the Senate to back the controversial and unpopular deal, meaning that if it is defeated in a vote as expected, Obama will have enough support to sustain his certain veto. But Iran’s military brass has answered the U.S. nose-counting by thumbing their nose at America.
“Iran does not plan to issue permission for the [International Atomic Energy Agency] to inspect every site,” Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan told Al Mayadeen News Wednesday. “U.S. officials make boastful remarks and imagine that they can impose anything on the Iranian nation because they lack a proper knowledge of the Iranian nation.”
“U.S. officials make boastful remarks and imagine that they can impose anything on the Iranian nation because they lack a proper knowledge of the Iranian nation.”
– Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan
Iran’s official FARS news agency added that “Dehqan had earlier underlined that Tehran would not allow any foreigner to discover Iran’s defensive and missile capabilities by inspecting the country’s military sites.”
On the same day, a top Iranian general told troops preparing for a massive military drill involving up to 250,000 men that “the U.S. and the Zionists should know that the Islamic Revolution will continue enhancing its preparedness until it overthrows Israel and liberates Palestine.”
The bluster from Iran is in sharp contrast to the message Obama and Kerry conveyed to lawmakers to line up support for the deal, which lifts international sanctions and frees up $150 billion in Iranian funds frozen when the Islamic Republic took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days beginning in 1979. Over the following three decades, Iran has, according to U.S. officials, been the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism while constantly calling for war with Israel and America. In return, Iran agreed to allow international inspectors to monitor its facilities and ensure that it did not build nuclear weapons. But troubling conditions have emerged, including that Iran will not allow Americans to take part in the inspections and will conduct its own monitoring of the key Parchin military site and turn over findings to international inspectors. Read the rest of this entry »
Senator Schumer: Public Enemy No. 1 for Liberal Activists
Julian Hattem reports: Liberals are livid at Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) decision to oppose the White House’s nuclear deal with Iran, and have threatened to launch a full-scale war as retribution.
Activists and former top officials within the Obama administration are openly contemplating whether Schumer’s stance disqualifies him from serving as the next Senate Democratic leader — which he is primed to do — and seeking to temporarily cut off money to Democrats in the upper chamber.
“No real Democratic leader does this. If this is what counts as ‘leadership’ among Democrats in the Senate, Senate Democrats should be prepared to find a new leader or few followers.”
— MoveOn.org political action executive director Ilya Sheyman
It’s unclear whether Schumer’s announcement will have a devastating effect on the White House’s efforts to prevent Democrats from killing the deal when it comes up for a vote in Congress next month.
“This is a real and serious backlash, one that comes from deep within the Democratic Party’s base, and I think we’re only going to see it grow.”
— Becky Bond, the political director for Credo Action
But it’s clear that he will be Public Enemy No. 1 for liberal activists throughout the August recess, as they aim to rally support from Democrats on the agreement.
“This is a real and serious backlash, one that comes from deep within the Democratic Party’s base, and I think we’re only going to see it grow,” said Becky Bond, the political director for Credo Action.
Liberal groups including Credo, MoveOn.org and Democracy for America are rallying supporters to flood congressional mailboxes and town halls over the course of the next month to demand lawmakers support the agreement. On Friday, they launched a new website, 60DaysToStopAWar.com, to list upcoming town halls and aid in the push.
Late on Thursday evening, Schumer upended the congressional debate over the Iran agreement by announcing in a lengthy statement that he “must oppose the agreement” and “will vote yes on a motion of disapproval” when it comes up for a vote in September.
He also will vote to override President Obama’s veto of legislation to kill the deal, Schumer’s office confirmed.
The move puts Schumer at odds on the most significant foreign policy issue of the year with both Obama and Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
That left many liberals furious, and stunned at how the presumptive next Senate Democratic leader could break with virtually every other leader of their party.
Even though the No. 3 Senate Democrat released his statement in the middle of the first GOP presidential debate — practically ensuring it would be buried in the media — activist groups including MoveOn and Credo pounced within moments. Read the rest of this entry »
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is changing the story about how he sustained those gruesome New Year’s Day injuries that have left him blind in one eye
Michael Patrick Leahy reports:
…Previously, Reid claimed that an exercise band he was using “broke.”
“Sources familiar with the incident said Reid was exercising in his bathroom, with the exercise band attached to the shower door.”
— Politico reported on January 22.
“I was doing exercises that I’ve been doing for many years with those large rubber bands and one of them broke and spun me around and I crashed into these cabinets and injured my eye,” (emphasis added) Reid said at a press conference on January 22.
(You can see the video of that press conference here.)
But now, in an interview conducted by Fusion (a joint venture between ABC and Univision), excerpts of which have been released today, Reid tells Univision anchor Jorge Ramos that the exercise band “slipped,” rather than “broke.”
“Now, however, Reid tells Ramos a different story. The exercise band was not attached to the shower door in his bathroom, Reid says, but was instead attached to ‘a big metal hook that came out from the wall’ in an unspecified room in his new Nevada home.”
“[T]he [elastic band] strap had no handle on it, slipped, spun me around, uh, about, oh I guess four feet (Reid points with his right hand to the wall of the interview room) and so I smashed my face into a cabinet,” Reid tells Ramos.
Reid’s latest version of the incident, as told to Ramos, differs from previous versions advanced by his team in another very significant way.
As Breitbart News reported previously, that version of the story, almost certainly told to Politico by Reid’s staffers with his approval, is not credible.
Now, however, Reid tells Ramos a different story. The exercise band was not attached to the shower door in his bathroom, Reid says, but was instead attached to “a big metal hook that came out from the wall” in an unspecified room in his new Nevada home.
Watch the full video of the excerpts of the Fusion interview here:
Here’s a partial transcript of the excerpt of the interview released by Fusion:
Ramos: You said recently that the accident had nothing to do with your decision to retire.
However, we are seeing the consequences of what happened.
What really happened?
Was it really with an elastic band? Read the rest of this entry »
Wow, just check out the hate!
“The parade of horribles has already begun. The American people today know that religious freedom is not a luxury. I believe this legislation is essential.”
“It’s no accident the Founders decided to put the free practice of religion first… and this Congress should do the same…It was the genius of our framers…that we were not to leave minority religious practices to the…majority…If there is a shared American value, it is a commitment to religious liberty.”
“It’s no accident the Founders decided to put the free practice of religion first… and this Congress should do the same…It was the genius of our framers…that we were not to leave minority religious practices to the…majority…If there is a shared American value, it is a commitment to religious liberty.”
Despite the deliberate misinformation being spread by Leftist activists and their friends in the media, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, is not a complicated law. It is not difficult to understand. It is not a blanket license to discriminate.
The RFRA statutes, which currently bind nearly two dozen state governmentsas well as the federal government, require courts to use a simple balancing test when weighing the facts of specific religious freedom cases. The laws state that the government may only substantially burden the free exercise of religion of a person or organization if the government 1) has a compelling interest to do so, and 2) is using the least restrictive means possible to further that compelling interest…(read more)
Indiana isn’t targeting gays. Liberals are targeting religion
In the increasingly bitter battle between religious liberty and the liberal political agenda, religion is losing. Witness the media and political wrath raining down upon Indiana because the state dared to pass an allegedly anti-gay Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The question fair-minded Americans should ask before casting the first stone is who is really being intolerant.
The Indiana law is a version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that passed 97-3 in the Senate and that Bill Clinton signed in 1993. Both the federal and Indiana laws require courts to administer a balancing test when reviewing cases that implicate the free exercise of religion.
“The paradox is that even as America has become more tolerant of gays, many activists and liberals have become ever-more intolerant of anyone who might hold more traditional cultural or religious views.”
To wit: Individuals must show that their religious liberty has been “substantially burdened,” and the government must demonstrate its actions represent the least restrictive means to achieve a “compelling” state interest. Indiana’s law adds a provision that offers a potential religious defense in private disputes, but then four federal appellate circuits have also interpreted the federal statute to apply to private disputes.
“Part of the new liberal intolerance is rooted in the identity politics that dominates today’s Democratic Party. That’s the only way to explain the born-again opportunism of Hillary Clinton, who tweeted: ‘Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love.'”
The federal RFRA followed the Supreme Court’s Employment Division v. Smith ruling in 1990 that abandoned its 30-year precedent of reviewing religious liberty cases under strict scrutiny. Congress responded with RFRA, which merely reasserted longstanding First Amendment protections.
“By that standard, Mrs. Clinton discriminated against gays because she opposed gay marriage until March 2013. But now she wants to be seen as leading the new culture war against the intolerant right whose views she recently held.”
In 1997 the Supreme Court limited RFRA’s scope to federal actions. So 19 states including such cultural backwaters as Connecticut, Rhode Island and Illinois followed with copy-cat legislation, and Indiana is the 20th. Courts in 11 states have extended equally vigorous protections.
Indiana was an outlier before the new law because neither its laws nor courts unambiguously protected religious liberty. Amish horse-drawn buggies could be required to abide by local traffic regulations. Read the rest of this entry »
From The Corner:
Charles Krauthammer said he knew it was impolite to speak ill of the dead, but since Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) was simply retiring, the syndicated columnist said he did not feel quite so constrained.
“I do think he was a disgrace to his own institution because he emasculated it in the name of protecting the president and trying to re-elect Democrats. He didn’t succeed because he essentially shut down the Senate as soon as Republicans took the House in 2010.”
“Harry, we hardly knew ye, and what we did know we didn’t like,” Krauthammer said on Special Report…(read more)
Senator Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama’s ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance.
Mr. Reid, 75, who suffered serious eye and facial injuries in a Jan. 1 exercise accident at his Las Vegas home, said he had been contemplating retiring from the Senate for months. He said his decision was not attributable either to the accident or to his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November’s midterm elections.
“I understand this place,” Mr. Reid said. “I have quite a bit of power as minority leader.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee responds to Harry Reid’s retirement:
“On the verge of losing his own election and after losing the majority, Senator Harry Reid has decided to hang up his rusty spurs. Not only does Reid instantly become irrelevant and a lame duck, his retirement signals that there is no hope for the Democrats to regain control of the Senate. With the exception of Reid, every elected statewide official in Nevada is Republican and this race is the top pickup opportunity for the GOP.”
Hot Air‘s Ed Morrissey comments:
“…The contrast of Reid’s obstructionism on budgets through most of his reign and the easy way in which Republicans settled back into normal order would have proved embarrassing when the GOP used it on the campaign trail next year, and Reid would have become the poster boy for the kind of dysfunction voters would get if they chose Democrats in Senate races.
Now, after announcing his retirement, Reid’s clout will recede even further. A Minority Leader who doesn’t plan on running again will hold fewer cards for whipping his caucus into line. Other Democrats will look to those who will control committee assignments in future sessions, and the jockeying for leadership slots will necessarily push Reid to the sidelines. Procedurally, Reid might be able to cause some problems, but the more he does that the more he damages Democrats in the next election cycle, especially to the extent that it’s seen as running interference for a lame-duck President who suffered two successive midterm disasters. Read the rest of this entry »
In 1985, Barack Obama had just arrived in Chicago for his new job as a community organizer when he headed to Smitty’s Barbershop, a tiny storefront on the South Side. As Smitty cut his hair, Obama listened to the men in the shop talk politics and racial grievance. When the barber finished, he handed Obama a mirror and said, “Haircuts ten dollars. What’s your name, anyway?”
“Barack, huh,” Smitty responded. “You a Muslim?”
“Grandfather was,” Obama said, according to his memoir Dreams From My Father.
Smitty’s question, which Obama didn’t exactly answer, prefigured a controversy that continues to this day…
Byron York writes: Fresh from a controversy over his views on evolution, Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is now involved in a controversy over his views, or lack of them, on President Obama’s religion. On Saturday, two Washington Post reporters asked Walker, in the nation’s capital for a governor’s meeting, whether Obama is a Christian. Walker said he didn’t know.
Informed by the reporters that Obama is in fact a Christian, Walker replied, “I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that,” protesting that the president’s religion is not a topic of great interest to voters. “I would defy you to come to Wisconsin. You could ask 100 people, and not one of them would say that this is a significant issue,” Walker told the Post.
“In August, 2010, a Pew poll made news when it found that 18 percent of those surveyed believed Obama is a Muslim. But just as notably, 43 percent of respondents in that survey told Pew they didn’t know Obama’s religion. Among those who said they didn’t know were 41 percent of Democrats.”
Nevertheless, the story created at least a minor explosion in the political press, and Democrats quickly used it to attack a Republican who has recently risen to the top tier of the GOP 2016 presidential field.
But when it comes to confusion, or wrong information, about Obama’s religion, Scott Walker is far from alone. Polls have long shown many Americans know little about the president’s faith.
“One notable suggestion in the Pew survey was that in Obama’s first couple of years in office, as Americans became more familiar with him as president, they became less sure of his religious faith. In March 2009, shortly after Obama entered the White House, 34 percent said they did not know his religion, while 48 percent identified him as a Christian.”
In June, 2012, Gallup asked, “Do you happen to know the religious faith of Barack Obama?” Forty-four percent said they did not know, while 36 percent said he is a Christian, 11 percent said he is a Muslim, and eight percent said he has no religion. The “don’t know” group included 36 percent of Democrats. (A larger number of Republicans, 47 percent, said they didn’t know Obama’s religion, as did 46 percent of independents.)
“By August 2010, the number of Americans who said they did not know Obama’s religion had grown to 43 percent, while the number who identified him as Christian fell to 34 percent. The trend was true not just of the president’s political opponents but of his supporters as well.”
In August, 2010, a Pew poll made news when it found that 18 percent of those surveyed believed Obama is a Muslim. But just as notably, 43 percent of respondents in that survey told Pew they didn’t know Obama’s religion. Among those who said they didn’t know were 41 percent of Democrats.
One notable suggestion in the Pew survey was that in Obama’s first couple of years in office, as Americans became more familiar with him as president, they became less sure of his religious faith. In March 2009, shortly after Obama entered the White House, 34 percent said they did not know his religion, while 48 percent identified him as a Christian. By August 2010, the number of Americans who said they did not know Obama’s religion had grown to 43 percent, while the number who identified him as Christian fell to 34 percent. The trend was true not just of the president’s political opponents but of his supporters as well. “Even among Democrats, fewer than half (46 percent) now identify his religion as Christian, down from 55 percent last year,” Pew wrote in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »
Gilded Gelded Age
I offer this for two reasons. One, because I’ve never read anything by Kevin D. Williamson that I didn’t like and want everyone to read. And two, because there’s this very disturbing photo of Paul Krugman that I’ve been dying to get off my desk. Now you can have nightmares about Krugman’s face, staring scoldingly into the abyss. And I can go back to my usual nightmares about Obama cutting a nuke deal with Iran in order to speed up the coming global apocalypse. Which reminds me. Do you have Williamson’s book yet? I think everyone should read that, too. See the full text of Williamson’s article here.
For National Review Online, Kevin D. Williamson writes: The inequality police are worried that we are living in a new Gilded Age. We should be so lucky: Between 1880 and 1890, the number of employed Americans increased by more than 13 percent, and wages increased by almost 50 percent.
“…if your assumption here is that this is about redistribution, then you should want the billionaires’ incomes to go up, not down: The more money they make, the more taxes they pay, and the more money you have to give to the people you want to give money to, e.g., overpaid, lazy, porn-addicted bureaucrats…”
I am going to go out on a limb and predict that the Barack Obama years will not match that record; the number of employed Americans is lower today than it was when he took office, and household income is down. Grover Cleveland is looking like a genius in comparison.
“…poor people are not poor because rich people are rich, nor vice versa. Very poor people are generally poor because they do not have jobs, and taking away Thurston Howell III’s second yacht is not going to secure work for them…”
The inequality-based critique of the American economy is a fundamentally dishonest one, for a half a dozen or so reasons at least. Claims that the (wicked, wicked) “1 percent” saw their incomes go up by such and such an amount over the past decade or two ignore the fact that different people compose the 1 percent every year, and that 75 percent of the super-rich households in 1995 were in a lower income group by 2005.
“The 3 million highest-paying jobs in America paid a lot more in 2005 than did the 3 million highest-paying jobs in 1995” is a very different and considerably less dramatic claim than “The top 1 percent of earners in 1995 saw their household incomes go up radically by 2005.” But the former claim is true and the latter is not.
Paul Krugman, who persists in Dickensian poverty, barely making ends meet between six-figure sinecures, is a particularly energetic scourge of the rich, and he is worried about conspicuous consumption: “For many of the rich, flaunting is what it’s all about. Read the rest of this entry »
That’s Show Business: Harry’s Cynical plot to keep the Senate
Everything you’ll see from the Senate in the next few weeks will be complete bullshit. POLITICO grinds out the story on the Senate leaders’ familiar playbook. Here’s the money quote:
Reid has scheduled votes on a politically populist agenda devised by Schumer aimed at forcing Republicans to block bills aimed at wooing students, women, seniors and the middle class. Democrats have repeatedly put forth bills that have little chance of passing — like on increasing the minimum wage, gender pay equity, contraception access and student loan assistance. And even when there are efforts they actually support — such as Obama’s executive action on immigration — Democratic leaders have lobbied the White House to punt on the issue to avoid hurting their vulnerable incumbents and candidates in red states. Read the rest of this entry »