Tag: scotus

Breaking Down the SCOTUS Debate

One of the worst exchanges in last night’s debate was about the Supreme Court. I was literally yelling at my television. I was going to break it down but Ann Althouse does it way more thoroughly than I ever could. You should read the whole thing but here’s one quote, when Clinton said her justices would be “on the side” of the American people.

I was already loudly arguing with her. The side? The Supreme Court isn’t supposed to take sides. She’s blatantly saying she wants a Court that doesn’t act like a court but gets on one side. Her Court is a Court that ought to have to recuse itself constantly.

This is absolutely right. John Roberts famously said that his job was to call balls and strikes, not favor either team. Clinton said the Court should “stand up” to the wealthy. But that’s wrong too. It should stand up to the wealthy if they’re violating the Constitution. Standing up to the wealthy or the powerful or the corrupt or whatever is what we have legislatures and executives for. All the Court is supposed to do is decide if their method of “standing up” to whomever is Constitutional or not. As the Bible says, judges should favor neither the wealthy nor the poor, but enforce the law.

Later she got into the Heller decision. She acknowledge that the Second Amendment protects an individual right but said that Heller was decided wrongly because it protects toddlers from being accidentally shot. That is, to put it mildly, total and complete bullshit. Cooke:

This is flatly incorrect. Heller, as anyone who has read it knows, revolved around the question of whether the government in Washington, D.C., could legally ban handguns entirely. It had nothing to do with “toddlers.” “Toddlers,” as Sean Davis correctly points out, are not mentioned in the majority opinion, and they are not mentioned in the dissent. Other than in an extremely indirect sense, “toddlers” had nothing to do with the legal question being considered.

Heller involved the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, which forbade handguns and other arms. There were multiple plaintiffs but the namesake was a 66-year-old cop who wanted to keep a gun at home for self defense but was not allowed to. This, once again, exposes Clinton’s “I support the Second Amendment” claim as bullshit. If she is against Heller, she is in favor of gun bans Period.

Trump’s performance wasn’t quite as bad but wasn’t good either. He touted his list of 20 potential SCOTUS nominees (although I doubt he could name a single one of the cuff). He defended the Second Amendment in vague terms. But … and this is where his suckitude as candidate comes forth … he utterly failed to call Clinton out on her crap. He didn’t know Heller well enough to point out that she was lying. He didn’t know Citizens United well enough to point out that she wanted the Court to ban a film that was critical of her. They later tangled on abortion. I’m not pro-Life but, frankly, neither is Trump. And it showed as he was all over the place, failing to point out, for example, that Roe v. Wade allows abortion to be outlawed in the third trimester.

I highlight the exchange on SCOTUS because it is a perfect distillation of the debate and really, the entire campaign. Clinton is vulnerable everywhere. She’s a poor candidate, she often says things that are wrong, contradicts herself and leaves openings a mile wide for her opponent. This is why a junior Senator from Illinois was able to beat her. This is why a crackpot Senator from Vermont almost beat her. But … this is key … you have to actually know stuff to go after her. She sounds authoritative and knowledgeable. Exposing her as neither means getting the weeds a bit.

But Trump can’t be bothered to do his homework. He just wings it. And so on a subject that Clinton should know well but where she spewed a bunch of garbage and lied her ass off, he fought her to a draw at best.

I will continue to say this: just about any normal Republican would have crushed her in all three debates and would be crushing her now in the polls.

Election 2016: I. The Case for Donald Trump

This is the first part of a five-part series I will do this week making the case for and against each of the major candidates, with a wrap-up on Friday. I did this in 2012 and I will observe the same ground rule I did then: making the case for a candidate means making the case for a candidate, not a case against the opponent. That’s the subject of later posts. So “he’s not Hillary” is not a reason I will list for voting for Trump and “she’s not Trump” is not a reason I will list for voting for Clinton. Each one of them will get their own special post all to themselves about they don’t deserve our votes.

I’ll swallow the bitterest pill first: making the case to vote for Donald Trump.

Making the case for Donald Trump is exceedingly difficult because it’s not really clear what Trump stands for. He was for a wall, but now it may be more a virtual wall. He was going to deport illegals, but now he’s not sure, but maybe he still will. He’s outlined policies on his website but most of them are GOP boilerplate and are often contradicted by things he says in speeches or debates. He says he wants a moratorium on new regulation, which sounds good. But I have no idea if he’ll actually do it.

So the absence of ironclad policy, we’re left with a few things:

Trump may, in the end, just be a rubber stamp for the GOP: There have been a lot rumblings that Trump is not terribly interested in governing. His son reportedly conveyed an offer to Kasich to let the latter become the most powerful Vice-President in American history. His positions and his list of Supreme Court nominees are mostly copied from the Republican mainstream. If that is so, then Trump’s talk about policy is kind of irrelevant. Trump would become mostly a figurehead with Congress having the real power which is a bit closer to what the founders intended. A vote for Trump would be a proxy for President Paul Ryan.

A Trump election might end parts of the Culture War: Trump has evinced little to no interest in the Culture War. He bungled the abortion question because he doesn’t care. He’s been fairly friendly to gays and his election would probably put the last nail in the coffin of the anti-gay conservative faction (a nail many Republicans would love to see driven). Trump is less moderate on issues of policing, immigration and race. But this would be progress. Of a sort.

The GOP may have earned a second chance to govern: I have been reluctant in the past to give the GOP full control of the government again. The last time, they blew spending out the window, wrecked the economy and bungled a war. As a general rule, I favor divided government and the divide I favor is the one where the GOP controls the purse strings.

But Ryan has laid out a conservative agenda and shown the ability to get it through Congress. It’s been ten years. Maybe they deserve another chance.

The Supreme Court: This, even to the biggest skeptics of Trump, is the main reason to support him. I do this every election, but here is the age of the Supreme Court justices:

Liberal: Ginsberg (83), Breyer (78), Sotomayor (62), Kagan (56)
Moderate: Kennedy (80)
Conservative: Thomas (68), Roberts (61), Alito (66)

With the passing of Scalia, the Court will shift Left if Clinton is elected. She could also replace Ginsberg, Breyer and Kennedy on the Court, cementing a liberal majority for the next twenty years. You can, if you want, find many gleeful articles on liberal websites about what they hope a liberal court could do — overturn Heller, stomp out Citizens United, dash what is left of federalism, produce an unfettered regulatory state.

Now this is a bit of wish-casting by the Left. The Court tends not to overturn precedent so lightly. But some of the most important SCOTUS decisions in recent years have been 5-4. If Clinton is elected, those decisions will not be resolved in our favor.

That’s pretty much it. There are a few other reasons people have touted but none of them cross me as likely or even desirable. For example, Trump isn’t going to “smash the establishment”; he is the establishment. Of the reasons given above, the one that really resonates is SCOTUS. Assuming that Trump goes with conservative justices, the fate of the Court hangs in the balance.

Is that reason enough to vote for him? Stay tuned.

Supreme Court says Arizona can check immigration status

Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Whiting has been decided in favor of Arizona’s requirement that employers check immigration status. 5-3, Kagan sitting out. Breyer & Ginsburg dissent together, Sotamayor dissents solo.

The Chief Justice’s opinion explains that the licensing provision falls squarely within a savings clause in federal immigration law and that the Arizona statute does not otherwise conflict with federal law.

Cries of racism in 3, 2, 1…. Also, expect the clause – which will be called a loophole in media coverage – to be altered or closed via new legislation…no, wait. By executive order. Because that’s how we do things now.