Thomas told 1,700 people at a dinner in honor of Scalia that the Supreme Court has too often granted rights to people that are not found in the Constitution.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called on fellow conservatives Thursday to continue the work of the late Justice Antonin Scalia to keep the power of the courts and other branches of government in check.
Thomas told 1,700 people at a dinner in honor of Scalia that the Supreme Court has too often granted rights to people that are not found in the Constitution. He cited the decision in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal across the country.
Thomas said he and his longtime friend and colleague formed an “odd couple” of a white New Yorker and a black man from Georgia.
He paraphrased Lincoln’s Gettysburg address to exhort the audience to “be dedicated to the unfinished business for which Justice Scalia gave his last full measure of devotion.”
Thomas and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito were the bookends of the Thursday meeting of the Federalist Society, at which conservatives were reveling in Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the presidential election because it is likely to result in the appointment of conservative judges to the Supreme Court and other federal courts.
Alito issued his own rallying cry to conservatives, describing religious freedom and gun rights as among “constitutional fault lines,” important issues at stake in the federal courts.
The conference of conservatism’s leading legal lights took on a new air of importance with Trump’s victory, and included a list of judges the president-elect has named as candidates to fill the vacancy created by Scalia’s death last February.
In their remarks, Thomas and Alito didn’t mention the election or the vacancy, rather using the platform to pay tribute to Scalia, a longtime colleague and conservative ally in high-court battles on hot-button social and political issues. Read the rest of this entry »
Paul Bedard writes: A key Federal Election Commission Republican warned Wednesday that liberals are moving aggressively to “amend the First Amendment” so that conservatives are silenced and businesses are chased “out of the democracy.”
“The general tenor of the Left in American politics today has certainly spoken out against First Amendment rights. It has been a reversal over the last 50 years.”
In some the toughest criticism leveled at Democrats, Commissioner Lee E. Goodman said that the attack started once the Tea Party changed American politics in the 2010 election and now dominates the politics of the Left.
“The general tenor of the Left in American politics today has certainly spoken out against First Amendment rights. It has been a reversal over the last 50 years,” he added, citing FDR Democrats who defended socialists and communists.
“I have been concerned about bias both in how complaints are brought to the commission just like in the way, the lobbying campaign for Lois Lerner. It was all one sided. But generally I try to make my First Amendment case by pointing out that we have to impact liberal and conservative speech in the same way.”
“But I have been concerned from time to time about every time a conservative group comes up, somehow, some way, exceptions and distinctions are made and this is the problem giving government the power to regulate speech in the first instance because ultimately human beings have to make that decision.”
Republicans should follow Sen. Barack Obama’s advice and filibuster the president’s SCOTUS nominee.
David Harsanyi writes: Although nothing in his political history suggests magnanimity, Barack Obama may surprise us by nominating one of those moderate-consensus types who would provide some of that national healing he promised us eight years ago. But he’s certainly under no constitutional obligation to do so. He can nominate whomever he pleases in the wake of the vacancy left by Antonin Scalia. And Republicans have plenty of precedent for rejecting his choice.
I disagree with this view. I believe firmly that the Constitution calls for the Senate to advise and consent. I believe that it calls for meaningful advice and consent that includes an examination of a judge’s philosophy, ideology, and record. And when I examine the philosophy, ideology, and record of Samuel Alito, I’m deeply troubled.
You’ll notice, as well, that precedent only matters sporadically. Democrats were uninterested in historical guidance when they were shoehorning a massive generational reform through Congress without any consensus for the first time in history or filling imaginary recess appointments. When it works out for them they transform into strict traditionalists.
Whatever precedent says, if Republicans truly believe Obama has displayed a contempt for the Constitution, they have a moral obligation to reject his choice—whether it’s someone who argues in favor of book banning or enables abusive power. Because we’re not talking about good-faith disagreements over what the Constitution says anymore, we’re talking about a party that believes enumerated powers stand in their way.
Contemporary liberalism is fundamentally opposed to any precedential restrictions that curb “progress.” Wilsonian progressives were skeptical of the Constitution and separation of powers, and so are modern progressives. Only the former had the decency to be honest. So why do we pretend otherwise?
Just like Wilson, Democrats argue that the Supreme Court is holding back many morally advantageous policies. What they do not do, and haven’t done for years, is offer any limiting principles (other than for few incidental partisan policies they happen to support for reasons have nothing to do with individual liberty). For them, process exists solely to further ethical policy (which they don’t believe could possibly be subjective).
Even Donald Trump, who claims to believe America is limping towards extinction, felt the need during the last debate to claimed he would build consensus when applying trade and immigration policy rather than act unilaterally. There is no such inclination, not even rhetorically, on the Left. Just listen to the Democratic Party debates. Bernie Sanders’ litmus test for a Supreme Court nomination is pretty simple: the candidate must support restrictions on the First Amendment. Most Democrats agree.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia visits Uncommon Knowledge for a wide ranging interview including the living constitution, Roe v. Wade, Congress’ relationship to the court, and to discuss his new book Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts
The EPA rules in question regulate hazardous air pollutants and mercury from coal- and oil-fired power plants, known as the MATS regulations. The regulations went into effect April 16. The utility industry had argued that the rules cost them billions of dollars to comply and that EPA ignored the cost issue in putting the regulations into effect.
“EPA must consider cost — including cost of compliance — before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary. It will be up to the agency to decide (as always, within the limits of reasonable interpretation) how to account for cost,” Scalia wrote in agreeing with the industry.
The decision will have repercussions for other EPA regulations that are key to Obama’s climate change agenda. The EPA will now have to examine the cost of compliance for the Clean Power Plan, which is at the heart of the president’s environmental agenda. Read the rest of this entry »
George F. Will writes: Conservatives are dismayed about the Supreme Court’s complicity in rewriting the Affordable Care Act — its ratification of the IRS’s disregard of the statute’s plain and purposeful language. But they have contributed to this outcome. Their decades of populist praise of judicial deference to the political branches has borne this sour fruit.
“Since the New Deal, courts have permitted almost any legislative infringement of economic liberty that can be said to have a rational basis. Applying this extremely permissive test, courts usually approve any purpose that a legislature asserts. Courts even concoct purposes that legislatures neglect to articulate.”
The court says the ACA’s stipulation that subsidies are to be administered by the IRS using exchanges “established by the State” should not be construed to mean what it says. Otherwise the law will not reach as far as it will if federal exchanges can administer subsidies in states that choose not to establish exchanges. The ACA’s legislative history, however, demonstrates that the subsidies were deliberately restricted to distribution through states’ exchanges in order to pressure the states into establishing their own exchanges.
“The Roberts Doctrine facilitates what has been for a century progressivism’s central objective, the overthrow of the Constitution’s architecture. The separation of powers impedes progressivism by preventing government from wielding uninhibited power. Such power would result if its branches behaved as partners in harness rather than as wary, balancing rivals maintaining constitutional equipoise.”
The most durable damage from Thursday’s decision is not the perpetuation of the ACA, which can be undone by what created it — legislative action. The paramount injury is the court’s embrace of a duty to ratify and even facilitate lawless discretion exercised by administrative agencies and the executive branch generally.
The court’s decision flowed from many decisions by which the judiciary has written rules that favor the government in cases of statutory construction. The decision also resulted from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s embrace of the doctrine that courts, owing vast deference to the purposes of the political branches, are obligated to do whatever is required to make a law efficient, regardless of how the law is written. What Roberts does by way of, to be polite, creative construing (Justice Antonin Scalia, dissenting, calls it “somersaults of statutory interpretation”) is legislating, not judging.
” The paramount injury is the court’s embrace of a duty to ratify and even facilitate lawless discretion exercised by administrative agencies and the executive branch generally.”
Roberts writes, almost laconically, that the ACA “contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting.” That is his artful way of treating “inartful” as a synonym for “inconvenient” or even “self-defeating.”
Rolling up the sleeves of his black robe and buckling down to the business of redrafting the ACA, Roberts invents a corollary to “Chevron deference.”
Named for a 1984 case, Chevron deference has become central to the way today’s regulatory state functions. It says that agencies charged with administering statutes are entitled to deference when they interpret ambiguous statutory language. Read the rest of this entry »
Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said that his SCOTUScare Act would make all nine justices and their employees join the national healthcare law’s exchanges.
“As the Supreme Court continues to ignore the letter of the law, it’s important that these six individuals understand the full impact of their decisions on the American people. That’s why I introduced the SCOTUScare Act to require the Supreme Court and all of its employees to sign up for ObamaCare.”
— Rep. Brian Babin
“As the Supreme Court continues to ignore the letter of the law, it’s important that these six individuals understand the full impact of their decisions on the American people,” he said.
“That’s why I introduced the SCOTUScare Act to require the Supreme Court and all of its employees to sign up for ObamaCare,” Babin said.
“They deserve an Olympic medal for the legal gymnastics.”
— Rep. Joe Pitts
Babin’s potential legislation would only let the federal government provide healthcare to the Supreme Court and its staff via ObamaCare exchanges.
“By eliminating their exemption from ObamaCare, they will see firsthand what the American people are forced to live with,” he added.
His move follows the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday morning that upheld the subsidies under ObamaCare that are provided by the government to offset the cost of buying insurance. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawrence Hurley reports: Tensions are building inside and outside the white marble facade of the U.S. Supreme Court building as the nine justices prepare to issue major rulings on gay marriage and President Barack Obama’s healthcare law by the end of the month.
Of the 11 cases left to decide, the biggest are a challenge by gay couples to state laws banning same-sex marriage and a conservative challenge to subsidies provided under the Obamacare law to help low- and middle-income people buy health insurance that could lead to millions of people losing medical coverage.
Many legal experts predict the court will legalize gay marriage nationwide by finding that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal treatment under the law and due process prohibit states from banning same-sex nuptials.
The four liberal justices are expected to support same-sex marriage, and conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, the expected swing vote, has a history of backing gay rights.
In three key decisions since 1996, Kennedy has broadened the court’s view of equality for gays. The most recent was a 2013 case in which the court struck down a federal law denying benefits to married same-sex couples.
During oral arguments in the gay marriage case on April 28, Kennedy posed tough questions to lawyers from both sides but stressed the nobility and dignity of same-sex couples.
The healthcare decision is tougher to call. Chief Justice John Roberts, the swing vote when the court upheld Obamacare in 2012, said little during the March 4 oral argument to indicate how he will vote. Read the rest of this entry »
Symposium: When strict scrutiny ceased to be strict
At SCOTUSblog, Floyd Abrams writes: The result in the Williams-Yulee case was a difficult one to predict except that it was entirely predictable that the result would be by a deeply divided Court. It is no surprise that it was a five-to-four ruling, and no surprise at all that the jurists on both sides appear to have been irritated and frustrated by the views of those on the Court with whom they differed. The same had been true in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White (2002), the Supreme Court’s last trek into the muddy constitutional waters that required an assessment of First Amendment issues in the context of judicial elections. That case was not only decided by a five-to-four vote, but one of the five Justices — Justice Sandra Day O’Connor — repeatedly announced after her retirement that she regretted her vote.
“Critics of Citizens United can take no solace from yesterday’s decision, since it is rooted in all respects in the difference between judicial elections and all others. If anything, the more the Court focuses on the special and distinct role of judges as opposed to other elected officials, the more firmly it reinforces its earlier ruling as to the latter.”
The unavoidable problem in the case stems from the reality that if judges are to be elected, they must be allowed to campaign for election. Yet, what they say in their campaigns about what they will do as judges may lead people to doubt their open-mindedness as judges.
[Also see – Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar: A Disappointing End by Jonathan Keim]
And when they personally raise money, at least from lawyers and potential litigants before them, it may well lead to the perception of indebtedness on their part to their contributors.
“One need not adopt wholesale Justice Scalia’s final thrust at the majority in the case to admire its beauty: ‘The First Amendment is not abridged for the benefit of the Brotherhood of the Robe.’”
The Florida Code of Judicial Conduct sought to strike a compromise, barring judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign funds, while allowing their campaign committees to solicit funds for them and allowing the candidates to write thank-you notes to contributors. On its face, it was a perfectly reasonable, good faith effort to walk a difficult line. The First Amendment, however, is more demanding than that.
The problem with the ruling begins with an ostensible First Amendment victory. Seven of the nine members of the Court (all but Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer) concluded that strict scrutiny should apply, a usual predicate for striking one sort or another of government limitation on speech. Read the rest of this entry »
The justices, voting 5-4, ruled in two cases the deadlines for filing such lawsuits can be extended if plaintiffs tried their best to comply or simply failed to learn about important information before a deadline.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it easier for people to sue the federal government for negligence, in a decision that could affect military veterans with claims of medical malpractice.
“One case stemmed from a fatal traffic accident on Interstate 10 in Phoenix in which a car passed through a safety barrier into oncoming traffic. The plaintiff, Marlene June, represents the child of one of two people killed in the crash.”
The justices, voting 5-4, ruled in two cases the deadlines for filing such lawsuits can be extended if plaintiffs tried their best to comply or simply failed to learn about important information before a deadline.
“June claimed that the Federal Highway Administration made her wait more than two years before she was allowed to depose officials and uncover evidence that the barrier had failed a crash test.”
Justice Elena Kagan wrote the majority opinion that combined the cases and upheld rulings by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said the deadlines were somewhat flexible under the federal law that deals with lawsuits against the government.
The Obama administration argued that Congress intended the deadlines to be firm and that the government should not leave itself open to old claims indefinitely.
“The other case involved a Hong Kong woman who sued the Immigration and Naturalization Service after she was detained in Oregon, strip-searched and deported.”
But Kagan said Congress did not clearly indicate it wanted those deadlines to be iron-clad when it passed the Federal Tort Claims Act. “The time limits in the FTCA are just time limits, nothing more,” Kagan wrote. Judges have discretion to extend the deadlines, she said. Read the rest of this entry »
Health care, Wall Street, the Internet—by the time President Obama leaves office, there may not be much of the economy left for his successor to take over. The better news is that his attempt to do the same to the energy industry is meeting heavy resistance in the states.
The Environmental Protection Agency is finishing a rule—expected in June or July—that requires the states to meet carbon-reduction targets by reorganizing their “production, distribution and use of electricity,” as the EPA puts it. This is an unprecedented federal usurpation of what has been a state responsibility since the invention of the modern steam turbine in the 1880s.
States are normally allowed as much as three years to comply with EPA mandates that are far less complex than this one. But the EPA will instruct them to submit implementation plans by summer 2016 and make interim progress as soon as 2020. The rule is intended to impress the greendees of the Paris climate conference this year, so Mr. Obama can announce a global climate deal.
The plan hangs on an obscure section of the 44-year-old Clean Air Act. That law’s section 111(d) was well understood but the EPA has published a new interpretation of these several hundred words that runs 1,200 pages. No less a dean of legal liberalism than Harvard’s Larry Tribe is stunned by this attempt to nationalize U.S. electric generation.
States will be told to meet the targets using four “building blocks.” The first is uncontroversial: improving the efficiency of fossil-fuel power plants and installing pollution-control technology like smokestack scrubbers. But for the first time the EPA is also telling states to roam “outside the fence line” of power plants to force coal and eventually natural gas to shut down, mandate quotas for renewables like wind and solar, and impose energy conservation.
The problem is that the federal government has no legal power outside the fence line. Last year the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals slapped down the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s bid to claim authority over “demand response” on the electric grid.
Thus the EPA is trying to coerce the states into doing what it can’t do itself. Read the rest of this entry »
With the Obama administration’s defeat in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, all eyes now turn to further Obamacare challenges. Chief Justice John Roberts shockingly greenlit Obamacare itself by converting it into a tax from a stated penalty, but he has also shown a partial willingness to chip away at the law.
There are two more upcoming cases on Obamacare worth watching. We can only hope that such lawsuits are just the beginning when it comes to the implementation of a law with regulations stacking up to eight feet tall.
Halbig v. Burwell: This case seemingly turns on a technicality, but it could completely sink the workability of Obamacare itself. The law allows for federal subsidies for those who buy their care through state exchanges; if subsidies are unavailable, those people can claim exemption from Obamacare penalties for hardship reasons.
There is one major problem for the Obama administration: 34 states refused to start state healthcare exchanges, and the law makes no provision for subsidies for those who buy their coverage through the federal exchange. That means that millions of people who applied for coverage through the federal exchange could be left without subsidies, freeing them of Obamacare penalties and destroying the base upon which Obamacare is based. Read the rest of this entry »
You and What Army? Delusional Lt. Col. Robert Bateman’s Captain Queeg Moment: Insults Supreme Court for Heller Decision; Calls for Massive Gun Bans, Turn-InsPosted: December 9, 2013
“Ah, but the strawberries! That’s where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt…”
NRA-ILA reports: To say the least, some of the characters who have appeared on the national scene in recent years have demonstrated some enormous egos and used some pretty ill-tempered language in their efforts to turn this nation into something we wouldn’t recognize. But Army Lt. Col. Robert Bateman is challenging them for top dishonors in that regard, with an over-the-top rant in Esquire magazine this month.You pretty much know what’s coming when a guy begins by claiming, “My entire adult life has been dedicated to the deliberate management of violence. . . . My job . . . is about killing. I orchestrate violence. . . . I am really good at my job.”
Real warriors don’t brag, of course. They let their actions speak for themselves. And real warriors support the Second Amendment and oppose gun control, as indicated by a letter signed by over 1,100 current and former Army Special Forces soldiers in January.
Bateman’s self-adulation was just the beginning, however.
He next attacked Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for “his attempt to rewrite American history and the English language” in his majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller. Bateman also extended his attack to Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas for concurring with Justice Scalia. “They flunked basic high school history,” Bateman said. Bateman added that Esquire readers could read the Heller decision for themselves, but that it really isn’t necessary, because “I can spell it out for you in ten seconds.”
At this point, we found ourselves asking to be spared additional arrogance and ignorance, but Bateman wasn’t inclined to oblige.
Bateman continued to explain his factually incorrect idea is that the Second Amendment’s reference to the well regulated militia means that no one has the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms. “As of 1903, the ‘militia’ has been known as the National Guard,” Bateman insisted.
Rand Paul introduces constitutional amendment to make all laws equally applicable to citizens and CongressPosted: October 22, 2013
The Kentucky freshman Republican has introduced a constitutional amendment that would preclude senators and representatives from passing laws that don’t apply equally to U.S. citizens and Congress, the executive branch and the Supreme Court. The amendment is aimed squarely at Obamacare provisions specific to members of Congress and their staffs that became a central point of contention during the government shutdown. Read the rest of this entry »