Elections,” the man once said, “have consequences.”
In 2016, the need to fill a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court was a consequence foremost in the minds of voters. That the pick ended up being made by Donald Trump’s and not Hillary Rodham Clinton helped stoke the partisan rancor that has the country divided and beleaguered.
A Clinton pick would have turned the court to the left for the first time in decades. Trump’s first nominee preserved the originalist wing of the court. His second appointment solidified it. And the voters apparently approve. Pollster Scott Rasmussen recently found 61 percent of voters approve of the way the court is doing its job. The high level of confidence, he says, tracks back at least as far as August 2018, and 59 percent of those surveyed think the court’s power is at about the right level.
Chief Justice John Roberts, whom some conservatives regard as the weakest of the adherents to originalism currently on the court, has been accused of making compromises on legal points to protect the court’s reputation. The Rasmussen numbers suggest the strategy’s worked, at least to this point. Still, as Roberts’ deciding vote to uphold the constitutionality of the tax/penalty piece of Obamacare illuminates, the court’s power to decide legislative disputes is now firmly entrenched in the American system. This may not have been the founder’s intent, but the court now has the last word on controversial matters that many continue to argue should be settled in and by the legislature.
Right now, with the court stacked five to four against for the foreseeable future, the Left is up in arms. Seeking a fix, several candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination have embraced the idea of expanding the size of the Supreme Court, formerly an obscure idea emanating from the academy. “Plain and simple, the Democrats are seeking to get through legislation what they couldn’t achieve at the ballot box,” says Brad Blakeman, a former Bush White House staffer. “They are seeking to add judges, not fill vacancies, which is totally subverting the system.”
This is why the confirmation of new justices has been, since Reagan-appointee Robert Bork was defeated, so confrontational. Everything happens with outcomes in mind. Blakeman’s point is well taken. If the court really did need to be expanded, it could be done now. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who wants to follow Trump in the White House, could drop a bill doing that next week. But what she and others intend is pure politics: Win the election first, then pack the court with liberals, end critical debates once and for all, and leave the Left in power forever.
It’s a powerful temptation. Franklin Roosevelt famously proposed the addition of new associate justices to the court to assist its older members who, surprise, surprise, would probably also be voting to uphold the constitutionality of New Deal measures the court had been striking down.
That, says David Norcross, a former Republican National Committee general counsel and former head of the Republican National Lawyers’ Association, was a bad idea then and would be now.
“Presidents have suffered from this since Chief Justice Marshall declared the independence of the courts. Fortunately, Congress, including some Democrats, thought the better of FDR’s court-packing scheme and acknowledged the Constitution and the founders’ reasoning,” Norcross says.
To thousands of other legal and presidential scholars all over America, the point of the court is its independence – and always has been. Packing the court would upend that.
“Democrats keep criticizing the president for trampling all over political “norms” and call him a dictator. But here we see them so upset at losing the last election they want to trample all over the “norms” and completely change the rules of the game to favor themselves, says political strategist Mike Shields.
The irony is the cure is worse than alleged disease. Just as Democrats have continued to protest, to “resist” the outcome of the 2016 election even though Trump was, famously, the only candidate ever asked about it in televised debates. It is those who oppose him who have come with the idea of loading up the court with compliant liberal justice in order to produce desired outcomes in a way that demeans if not erodes the constitutional system.
“Once Congress decides to add justices the race to chaos commences. Add two new justices, then if not satisfied with the outcomes, add two more. It will get easier to do so each time until the Court resembles a third, albeit smaller, legislative body which has become entirely political,” says Norcross. “An independent Court is an indispensable ingredient of the system of checks and balances. A Supreme Court concerned that a politically unpopular decision or decisions will result in adding new justices isn’t independent anymore.”
Progressives may preach the joys of localism, but the trend in government is all the other way in everything from climate change to the economic complexion of your neighborhood.
by Joel Kotkin • The Daily Beast
This could be how our experiment with grassroots democracy finally ends. World leaders—the super-rich, their pet nonprofits, their media boosters, and their allies in the global apparat—gather in Paris to hammer out a deal to transform the planet, and our lives. No one asks much about what the states and the communities, the electorate, or even Congress, thinks of the arrangement. The executive now presumes to rule on these issues.
For many of the world’s leading countries—China, Russia, Saudi Arabia—such top-down edicts are fine and dandy, particularly since their supreme leaders won’t have to adhere to them if inconvenienced. But the desire for centralized control is also spreading among the shrinking remnant of actual democracies, where political give and take is baked into the system.
The will to power is unmistakable. California Gov. Jerry Brown, now posturing as the aged philosopher-prince fresh from Paris, hails the “coercive power of the state” to make people live properly by his lights. California’s high electricity prices, regulation-driven spikes in home values, and the highest energy prices in the continental United States, may be a bane for middle- and working-class families, but are sold as a wonderful achievement among our presumptive masters. Continue reading
by Peter Roff • Washington Examiner
Everyone remembers former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ill-advised comment that the Affordable Care Act would have to pass so that the American people could find out what was in it. Unfortunately, what should have been a cautionary tale has instead been an object lesson in rulemaking for President Obama’s bureaucracy.
Take, for example, the pending Clean Power Plan, an initiative of the Environmental Protection Agency. If fully implemented, it could lead to the mass shuttering of existing power generation facilities, rolling brownouts, blackouts and a significant increase in electrical rates. Continue reading
by Seth Lipsky • New York Post
There are three ways something can become what the US Constitution calls the “supreme law of the land.” It can be made part of the Constitution by amendment, it can be passed by Congress as a law or it can be ratified by the Senate as a treaty.
President Obama can’t get his climate-change agreement made supreme law of the land by any of those constitutional routes. Not even close. The Republican House doesn’t want it. The Democratic Senate won’t act.
That’s because the people don’t want it. They’re no dummies. Even in drought-stricken California, the Hill newspaper reports, Democratic candidates for Congress avoid the climate-change issue.
This is driving Obama crazy. Continue reading
A proposed Constitutional amendment would give Congress authority to regulate every dollar…
While much of Washington grapples with international crises, chronic economic troubles, and upcoming midterm elections, Senate Democrats are steadily pushing forward with what they hope will become the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The proposed amendment would give Congress authority to regulate every dollar raised, and every dollar spent, by every federal campaign and candidate in the country. It would give state legislatures the power to do the same with state races.
Framed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as a response to campaign spending by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, the proposed amendment, written by Democratic Senators Tom Udall and Michael Bennet and co-sponsored by 42 other Senate Democrats, would vastly increase the power of Congress to control elections and political speech. Continue reading
by Michael Barone
They celebrated especially the freedom accorded those with unpopular beliefs and protested attempts to squelch the expression of differing opinions.
Today things are different. American liberals are not challenging the Supreme Court rulings extending First Amendment protection to nude dancers, flag burners and students wearing antiwar armbands. They are content to leave these as forms of protected free speech. Continue reading
During a visit to Monticello with the President of France on Monday, President Obama quipped, “That’s the good thing about being president, I can do whatever I want.” Some would argue that President Obama was simply joking. But more and more, it looks like the President believes he can do as he pleases and can enact and amend legislation all by himself. Also on Monday, the White House announced that Obama had changed the clear and unambiguous terms of the ObamaCare law and delayed the employer mandate yet again for certain select groups.
This is particularly odd because the President himself has repeatedly called ObamaCare the of the land and demanded that Republicans accept it and stop trying to reform it. Yet, the President doesn’t view the law of the land as any reason for him to respect the plain language of the law. Students of the Constitution find this usurpation of power deeply troubling. But it is also deeply cynical as the President continues to assure Americans that the roll out of ObamaCare is going well. Yet if it were, he would not be repeatedly postponing its mandates until after the next election cycle.
by Brett Logiurato
The Obama administration announced Monday that it will delay implementation of part of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate for the second consecutive year.
The Treasury Department said it will delay the mandate’s penalty another year for small businesses with 50-99 workers. It will also adjust some of the requirements for larger employers.
Under the new Treasury Department rules, businesses with 100 employees or more must offer coverage to at least 70% of full-time workers in 2015 and 95% in 2016, or face a penalty. Continue reading
It would seem to be a rather unfortunate time for Democrats in Washington to make a naked power grab. Americans already don’t trust them with the powers they have amid the ObamaCare crash and nobody likes to see politicians do anything naked. At all.
Whatever one thinks about the Republican habit of blockading President Obama’s judicial nominees – an unremarkable continuation of bipartisan blocking tactics or pure Copperheaded obstructionism – the moment doesn’t seem quite right for the unpopular party in power to start throwing its weight around. Continue reading