Commentary Magazine


Topic: Stevens

Another Low for Amanpour

Each Sunday, This Week hits a new low. For sheer inanity, nothing to date has topped Meghan McCain on the show’s roundtable. What exactly does she bring to this? Well, self-parody for starters. Asked about Christine O’Donnell, McCain pronounces:

Well, I speak as a 26-year-old woman. And my problem is that, no matter what, Christine O’Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office. She has no real history, no real success in any kind of business. And what that sends to my generation is, one day, you can just wake up and run for Senate, no matter how much lack of experience you have. And it scares me for a lot of reasons, and I just know (inaudible) it just turns people off, because she’s seen as a nutjob.

I suppose the comments would have more weight if not coming from a celebrity-by-nepotism with “no real history, no real success in any kind of business.” Other than her father and her propensity to bash conservatives, what exactly are her qualifications to discuss much of anything? Ah, but that’s more than enough for Amanpour. Read More

Each Sunday, This Week hits a new low. For sheer inanity, nothing to date has topped Meghan McCain on the show’s roundtable. What exactly does she bring to this? Well, self-parody for starters. Asked about Christine O’Donnell, McCain pronounces:

Well, I speak as a 26-year-old woman. And my problem is that, no matter what, Christine O’Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office. She has no real history, no real success in any kind of business. And what that sends to my generation is, one day, you can just wake up and run for Senate, no matter how much lack of experience you have. And it scares me for a lot of reasons, and I just know (inaudible) it just turns people off, because she’s seen as a nutjob.

I suppose the comments would have more weight if not coming from a celebrity-by-nepotism with “no real history, no real success in any kind of business.” Other than her father and her propensity to bash conservatives, what exactly are her qualifications to discuss much of anything? Ah, but that’s more than enough for Amanpour.

McCain was also a font of misinformation regarding the impact of the Tea Party on younger voters:

MCCAIN: I wrote this out of personal experience. I know how I’m vilified on an absolutely daily basis. No matter what the Republican Party wants to think about this Tea Party movement, it is losing young voters at a rapid rate. And this isn’t going to change unless we start changing our message. …

AMANPOUR: She has a point, right? Young voters are the future. …

WILL: Not a political point. No, 20 months ago the question was, does the Republican Party have a future? In the last 20 months, we’ve had two things happen. A, the Tea Party movement has energized the Republican Party, and the Democrats are trying to hold onto one house of Congress right now. I don’t think that’s the sign of a party that’s in trouble.

DOWD: And I think Meghan’s right, but you have to also make the counterpoint. As Barack Obama won younger voters by 30 points. He as of right now has a difficulty getting any of those voters to a rally who have lost — a great deal are disappointed in what’s happened. …

So Amanpour brings on a political ignoramus, agrees with McCain’s “analysis,” and then must be corrected by two other guests who are too polite to simply say, “She doesn’t know what she is talking about.”

That was topped by Amanpour’s gleeful rooting for the administration’s crusade against political speech. There was this:

AMANPOUR: . . .I mean, where is campaign finance reform? Do you think it’s dead?

WILL: Dead.

AMANPOUR: Dead in the water?

WILL: Stake through it.

AMANPOUR: And you don’t like it all?

WILL: Absolutely wonderful development this year is — is the rolling back …

AMANPOUR: How can that be wonderful for a democracy, I mean, not to know where all of this money comes from and who’s putting it in?

WILL: What — what you’re talking about with the amount of money is speech. And the question is, do you have to notify the government before you can speak on politics?

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: … Justice Stevens (inaudible) that, you know, money doesn’t speak.

WILL: Well, almost all money in politics is spent on disseminating political advocacy. That’s just a fact. Now, Mr. Biden and — and the narrative from the Democrats has been this is secret money that the Koch brothers are putting into it. Well, get your story straight. Do we not — do we know who these guys are? I mean, some of them are about as anonymous as George Soros.

There isn’t a White House position for which Amanpour won’t vouch. There is no conservative principle that she doesn’t regard with disdain. How can unregulated speech be good for a democracy!? She is stumped.

I’m stumped, too. Amanpour is a ratings and journalistic disaster. It is hard to understand why she was picked for a serious Sunday talk-show-host position and even harder to understand what she is still doing there. The White House is taking an opportunity to clean house. Shouldn’t ABC News do the same?

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Why Liberals Should Be Worried About Kagan

As I noted yesterday, Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez is a brilliant take-down of the majority’s reasoning. His concurring opinion in McDonald v. Chicago is equally noteworthy.

As Justice Scalia did in Heller (which held that the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms is a personal right), Alito takes us on a journey through constitutional history and court precedent, leaving little doubt that the ruling is correct — and that the dissenters’ view is not only wrong but also radical. At the conclusion of his analysis, he dispenses with the arguments of the city of Chicago (Municipal respondents), which the dissenters would accept. I have omitted the numerous citations for ease of reading: 

Municipal respondents’ remaining arguments are at war with our central holding in Heller: that the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home. Municipal respondents, in effect, ask us to treat the right recognized in Heller as a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees that we have held to be incorporated into the Due Process Clause.Municipal respondents’ main argument is nothing less than a plea to disregard 50 years of incorporation precedent and return (presumably for this case only) to a bygone era. Municipal respondents submit that the Due Process Clause protects only those rights “‘recognized by all temperate and civilized governments, from a deep and universal sense of [their] justice.’” According to municipal respondents, if it is possible to imagine any civilized legal system that does not recognize a particular right, then the Due Process Clause Opinion of the Court does not make that right binding on the States. Brief for Municipal Respondents 9. Therefore, the municipal respondents continue, because such countries as England,Canada, Australia, Japan, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, and New Zealand either ban or severely limit handgun ownership, it must follow that no right to possess such weapons is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Alito then dismantles Justice Stevens’s dissent:

Justice Stevens would “‘ground the prohibitions against state action squarely on due process, without intermediate reliance on any of the first eight Amendments.’” The question presented in this case, in his view, “is whether the particular right asserted by petitioners applies to the States because of the Fourteenth Amendment itself, standing on its own bottom.” He would hold that “[t]he rights protected against state infringement by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause need not be identical in shape or scope to the rights protected against Federal Government infringement by the various provisions of the Bill of Rights.”

As we have explained, the Court, for the past half century, has moved away from the two-track approach. If we were now to accept Justice Stevens’ theory across the board, decades of decisions would be undermined. We assume that this is not what is proposed. What is urged instead, it appears, is that this theory be revived solely for the individual right that Heller recognized, over vigorous dissents. The relationship between the Bill of Rights’ guarantees and the States must be governed by a single, neutral principle. It is far too late to exhume what Justice Brennan, writing for the Court 46 years ago, derided as “the notion that the Fourteenth Amendment applies to the States only a watered-down, subjective version of the individual guarantees of the Bill of Rights.”

Justice Scalia dissents separately, purely to make mincemeat of Stevens’s dissent. He picks up where Alito leaves off and makes it clear that Justice Stevens is doing no more than making up rules as he goes along. Scalia takes issue with the notion that Stevens and other justices can decide which fundamental rights are binding on the states and which are not. A sample (the dissent is brief and should be read entirely to enjoy the full flavor), again with citations omitted:

Exactly what is covered is not clear. But whatever else is in, he knows that the right to keep and bear arms is out, despite its being as “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition,” I can find no other explanation for such certitude except that Justice Stevens, despite his forswearing of “personal and private notions,” deeply believes it should be out. The subjective nature of Justice Stevens’ standard is also apparent from his claim that it is the courts’ prerogative—indeed their duty — to update the Due Process Clause so that it encompasses new freedoms the Framers were too narrow-minded to imagine. …

Justice Stevens resists this description, insisting that his approach provides plenty of “guideposts” and “constraints” to keep courts from “injecting excessive subjectivity” into the process.Plenty indeed — and that alone is a problem. The ability of omni directional guideposts to constrain is inversely proportional to their number. But even individually, each lodestar or limitation he lists either is incapable of restraining judicial whimsy or cannot be squared with the precedents he seeks to preserve. …

Justice Stevens also argues that requiring courts to show “respect for the democratic process” should serve as a constraint. That is true, but Justice Stevens would have them show respect in an extraordinary manner. In his view, if a right “is already being given careful consideration in, and subjected to ongoing calibration by, the States, judicial enforcement may not be appropriate.” In other words, a right, such as the right to keep and bear arms, that has long been recognized but on which the States are considering restrictions, apparently deserves less protection, while a privilege the political branches (instruments of the democratic process) have withheld entirely and continue to withhold, deserves more. That topsy-turvy approach conveniently accomplishes the objective of ensuring that the rights this Court held protected in [ abortion and gay rights cases], and other such cases fit the theory — but at the cost of insulting rather than respecting the democratic process.

You see the intellectual fire power — and the dilemma for liberals. Who really thinks that Elena Kagan can go toe to toe with these jurists? What solace can opponents of original jurisprudence take from her “life” — which, she says, provides the basis for confirmation? It’s hardly evident that she has the skill to compile a historical narrative and deconstruct her ideological opponents as effectively as these two, or as well as Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas.

Now great logic does not always persuade Justice Kennedy, but if the aim here was to come up with a counterweight to the “conservative” justices, then perhaps Obama should have gone with someone with demonstrated legal prowess, who can opine on, not merely repeat, the Court’s past holdings. It is for this very reason that conservatives might prefer Kagan to potential alternatives — and save the filibuster for a truly dangerous liberal zealot.

As I noted yesterday, Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez is a brilliant take-down of the majority’s reasoning. His concurring opinion in McDonald v. Chicago is equally noteworthy.

As Justice Scalia did in Heller (which held that the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms is a personal right), Alito takes us on a journey through constitutional history and court precedent, leaving little doubt that the ruling is correct — and that the dissenters’ view is not only wrong but also radical. At the conclusion of his analysis, he dispenses with the arguments of the city of Chicago (Municipal respondents), which the dissenters would accept. I have omitted the numerous citations for ease of reading: 

Municipal respondents’ remaining arguments are at war with our central holding in Heller: that the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home. Municipal respondents, in effect, ask us to treat the right recognized in Heller as a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees that we have held to be incorporated into the Due Process Clause.Municipal respondents’ main argument is nothing less than a plea to disregard 50 years of incorporation precedent and return (presumably for this case only) to a bygone era. Municipal respondents submit that the Due Process Clause protects only those rights “‘recognized by all temperate and civilized governments, from a deep and universal sense of [their] justice.’” According to municipal respondents, if it is possible to imagine any civilized legal system that does not recognize a particular right, then the Due Process Clause Opinion of the Court does not make that right binding on the States. Brief for Municipal Respondents 9. Therefore, the municipal respondents continue, because such countries as England,Canada, Australia, Japan, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, and New Zealand either ban or severely limit handgun ownership, it must follow that no right to possess such weapons is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Alito then dismantles Justice Stevens’s dissent:

Justice Stevens would “‘ground the prohibitions against state action squarely on due process, without intermediate reliance on any of the first eight Amendments.’” The question presented in this case, in his view, “is whether the particular right asserted by petitioners applies to the States because of the Fourteenth Amendment itself, standing on its own bottom.” He would hold that “[t]he rights protected against state infringement by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause need not be identical in shape or scope to the rights protected against Federal Government infringement by the various provisions of the Bill of Rights.”

As we have explained, the Court, for the past half century, has moved away from the two-track approach. If we were now to accept Justice Stevens’ theory across the board, decades of decisions would be undermined. We assume that this is not what is proposed. What is urged instead, it appears, is that this theory be revived solely for the individual right that Heller recognized, over vigorous dissents. The relationship between the Bill of Rights’ guarantees and the States must be governed by a single, neutral principle. It is far too late to exhume what Justice Brennan, writing for the Court 46 years ago, derided as “the notion that the Fourteenth Amendment applies to the States only a watered-down, subjective version of the individual guarantees of the Bill of Rights.”

Justice Scalia dissents separately, purely to make mincemeat of Stevens’s dissent. He picks up where Alito leaves off and makes it clear that Justice Stevens is doing no more than making up rules as he goes along. Scalia takes issue with the notion that Stevens and other justices can decide which fundamental rights are binding on the states and which are not. A sample (the dissent is brief and should be read entirely to enjoy the full flavor), again with citations omitted:

Exactly what is covered is not clear. But whatever else is in, he knows that the right to keep and bear arms is out, despite its being as “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition,” I can find no other explanation for such certitude except that Justice Stevens, despite his forswearing of “personal and private notions,” deeply believes it should be out. The subjective nature of Justice Stevens’ standard is also apparent from his claim that it is the courts’ prerogative—indeed their duty — to update the Due Process Clause so that it encompasses new freedoms the Framers were too narrow-minded to imagine. …

Justice Stevens resists this description, insisting that his approach provides plenty of “guideposts” and “constraints” to keep courts from “injecting excessive subjectivity” into the process.Plenty indeed — and that alone is a problem. The ability of omni directional guideposts to constrain is inversely proportional to their number. But even individually, each lodestar or limitation he lists either is incapable of restraining judicial whimsy or cannot be squared with the precedents he seeks to preserve. …

Justice Stevens also argues that requiring courts to show “respect for the democratic process” should serve as a constraint. That is true, but Justice Stevens would have them show respect in an extraordinary manner. In his view, if a right “is already being given careful consideration in, and subjected to ongoing calibration by, the States, judicial enforcement may not be appropriate.” In other words, a right, such as the right to keep and bear arms, that has long been recognized but on which the States are considering restrictions, apparently deserves less protection, while a privilege the political branches (instruments of the democratic process) have withheld entirely and continue to withhold, deserves more. That topsy-turvy approach conveniently accomplishes the objective of ensuring that the rights this Court held protected in [ abortion and gay rights cases], and other such cases fit the theory — but at the cost of insulting rather than respecting the democratic process.

You see the intellectual fire power — and the dilemma for liberals. Who really thinks that Elena Kagan can go toe to toe with these jurists? What solace can opponents of original jurisprudence take from her “life” — which, she says, provides the basis for confirmation? It’s hardly evident that she has the skill to compile a historical narrative and deconstruct her ideological opponents as effectively as these two, or as well as Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas.

Now great logic does not always persuade Justice Kennedy, but if the aim here was to come up with a counterweight to the “conservative” justices, then perhaps Obama should have gone with someone with demonstrated legal prowess, who can opine on, not merely repeat, the Court’s past holdings. It is for this very reason that conservatives might prefer Kagan to potential alternatives — and save the filibuster for a truly dangerous liberal zealot.

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The Supreme Court Isn’t the Harvard Law School Faculty

This report repeats the idea that Elena Kagan was nominated primarily to sway Justice Kennedy to the liberal side of those tricky 5-4 decisions. But if so, does this make any sense? That notion assumes that the Court operates like the Harvard Law School faculty, where nice words, dinner parties, back-slapping, and not revealing her own views served Kagan well. But that’s not how the Court operates:

Tom Goldstein, a Supreme Court lawyer at Akin Gump and author of the widely read SCOTUS Blog, says she has exhibited an “extraordinarily — almost artistically — careful” avoidance of public positions on any matters she might face as a Justice. “I don’t know anyone who has had a conversation with her in which she expressed a personal conviction on a question of constitutional law in the past decade,” Goldstein wrote.

And even if she did have well-established positions, they’d be nothing compared to Kennedy’s. “Justice Kennedy has been on the bench for 40-some years now, including his time on the Ninth Circuit,” says the former clerk. “It’s particularly unlikely that he’s going to fall under the sway of a new judge who’s never been on the court.”

This convoluted argument suggests just how farcical the notion is that a pleasing personality is a satisfactory substitute for developed legal scholarship and brilliant writing (neither of which Kagan has yet demonstrated):

Kagan supporters point to the fact that she convinced some hard-line Republicans to vote for her when she was nominated to be Solicitor General, most notably Jon Kyl of Arizona, the behind-the-scenes GOP power on the Judiciary Committee. Though he’s unlikely to vote for her for the Supreme Court, her ability to win him over, which she did in the course of a lengthy conversation in his office during the nomination process, counts for something.

Huh? So getting Kyl to vote for her once — but not for the Supreme Court — shows she can lure Kennedy into the liberal camp on knotty issues of constitutional and statutory interpretation, and do so better than did Justice Stevens, a man who had been on the bench for decades? It’s a bit absurd. If the Obama team wanted a smart, accomplished jurist who has shown the ability to go toe-to-toe with and persuade conservative judges, Diane Wood might have been a more apt pick. But instead Obama went with someone much like himself, who, come to think of it, hasn’t really been able to persuade conservatives or moderates about the wisdom of his positions.

This report repeats the idea that Elena Kagan was nominated primarily to sway Justice Kennedy to the liberal side of those tricky 5-4 decisions. But if so, does this make any sense? That notion assumes that the Court operates like the Harvard Law School faculty, where nice words, dinner parties, back-slapping, and not revealing her own views served Kagan well. But that’s not how the Court operates:

Tom Goldstein, a Supreme Court lawyer at Akin Gump and author of the widely read SCOTUS Blog, says she has exhibited an “extraordinarily — almost artistically — careful” avoidance of public positions on any matters she might face as a Justice. “I don’t know anyone who has had a conversation with her in which she expressed a personal conviction on a question of constitutional law in the past decade,” Goldstein wrote.

And even if she did have well-established positions, they’d be nothing compared to Kennedy’s. “Justice Kennedy has been on the bench for 40-some years now, including his time on the Ninth Circuit,” says the former clerk. “It’s particularly unlikely that he’s going to fall under the sway of a new judge who’s never been on the court.”

This convoluted argument suggests just how farcical the notion is that a pleasing personality is a satisfactory substitute for developed legal scholarship and brilliant writing (neither of which Kagan has yet demonstrated):

Kagan supporters point to the fact that she convinced some hard-line Republicans to vote for her when she was nominated to be Solicitor General, most notably Jon Kyl of Arizona, the behind-the-scenes GOP power on the Judiciary Committee. Though he’s unlikely to vote for her for the Supreme Court, her ability to win him over, which she did in the course of a lengthy conversation in his office during the nomination process, counts for something.

Huh? So getting Kyl to vote for her once — but not for the Supreme Court — shows she can lure Kennedy into the liberal camp on knotty issues of constitutional and statutory interpretation, and do so better than did Justice Stevens, a man who had been on the bench for decades? It’s a bit absurd. If the Obama team wanted a smart, accomplished jurist who has shown the ability to go toe-to-toe with and persuade conservative judges, Diane Wood might have been a more apt pick. But instead Obama went with someone much like himself, who, come to think of it, hasn’t really been able to persuade conservatives or moderates about the wisdom of his positions.

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The Gray Lady Is Nervous

The New York Times editors, even before the revelation of her abortion advice during the Clinton administration, were nervous about the stealth nominee. They fret:

President Obama may know that his new nominee to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, shares his thinking on the multitude of issues that face the court and the nation, but the public knows nothing of the kind. Whether by ambitious design or by habit of mind, Ms. Kagan has spent decades carefully husbanding her thoughts and shielding her philosophy from view. Her lack of a clear record on certain issues makes it hard to know whether Mr. Obama has nominated a full-throated counterweight to the court’s increasingly aggressive conservative wing. … But where, precisely, has Ms. Kagan been during the legal whirlwinds of the last few years, as issues like executive power, same-sex marriage, the rights of the accused and proper application of the death penalty have raged through the courts?

Why, hiding her views to position herself for the Court, of course. It is ironic that the president, who got to office concealing his own views, now is unsettling his base for selecting someone who has concealed hers. The lefty Times editors find this most troubling:

In a 2001 Harvard Law Review article, Ms. Kagan defended a robust assertion of presidential power unless specifically limited by Congress — albeit in the service of “progressive goals” on the domestic front. She told the Senate last year that she agreed the government has the right to indefinitely detain enemy combatants captured around the world. As Mr. Obama’s solicitor general, she has supported his administration’s positions, little changed since the Bush administration, on the use of military force against Al Qaeda, the habeas corpus rights of military detainees and the state secrets privilege.

Conservatives may roll their eyes, convinced that no Harvard Law School dean is going to cross the left. But the issue here is the rather paranoid and perpetually aggrieved left. Obama in their eyes has been a disappointment. Indeed, it was their apathy that convinced the Democrats that they had to roll the dice on ObamaCare in order to turn out the liberal base in November. Now he gives them a nominee — for the seat of the sainted leftist Justice Stevens — who’s a squish? Hmm. Obama may have been too clever by half on this. The right will probably still not embrace her, and the left will, once again, be peeved. Sort of the worst of all worlds, no?

The New York Times editors, even before the revelation of her abortion advice during the Clinton administration, were nervous about the stealth nominee. They fret:

President Obama may know that his new nominee to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, shares his thinking on the multitude of issues that face the court and the nation, but the public knows nothing of the kind. Whether by ambitious design or by habit of mind, Ms. Kagan has spent decades carefully husbanding her thoughts and shielding her philosophy from view. Her lack of a clear record on certain issues makes it hard to know whether Mr. Obama has nominated a full-throated counterweight to the court’s increasingly aggressive conservative wing. … But where, precisely, has Ms. Kagan been during the legal whirlwinds of the last few years, as issues like executive power, same-sex marriage, the rights of the accused and proper application of the death penalty have raged through the courts?

Why, hiding her views to position herself for the Court, of course. It is ironic that the president, who got to office concealing his own views, now is unsettling his base for selecting someone who has concealed hers. The lefty Times editors find this most troubling:

In a 2001 Harvard Law Review article, Ms. Kagan defended a robust assertion of presidential power unless specifically limited by Congress — albeit in the service of “progressive goals” on the domestic front. She told the Senate last year that she agreed the government has the right to indefinitely detain enemy combatants captured around the world. As Mr. Obama’s solicitor general, she has supported his administration’s positions, little changed since the Bush administration, on the use of military force against Al Qaeda, the habeas corpus rights of military detainees and the state secrets privilege.

Conservatives may roll their eyes, convinced that no Harvard Law School dean is going to cross the left. But the issue here is the rather paranoid and perpetually aggrieved left. Obama in their eyes has been a disappointment. Indeed, it was their apathy that convinced the Democrats that they had to roll the dice on ObamaCare in order to turn out the liberal base in November. Now he gives them a nominee — for the seat of the sainted leftist Justice Stevens — who’s a squish? Hmm. Obama may have been too clever by half on this. The right will probably still not embrace her, and the left will, once again, be peeved. Sort of the worst of all worlds, no?

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Strange Herring

That light you’re supposed to walk into when you’re dying will probably fade if you breathe into a paper bag. Or not.

Tech companies don’t steal each other’s employees. So Justice wants to investigate. Because stealing is … oh I don’t get it either …

Mitt Romney wins straw poll. Now has the most straw of, like, anybody. I mean, an incredible amount of straw. If you’re out and about, and find yourself with a Coke, and you need a straw, I’m telling you — call this guy.

Google knows you’re weird. Now we know you’re weird. Please stop being weird. It’s scaring the children. (And please don’t Google “Does being weird scare the children?”)

Net no longer neutral, decidedly supralapsarian.

What’s the difference between Jack Kevorkian and Josef Mengele? One of them’s dead.

Nachos and Pop-Tarts no longer part of Chicago school menu, consigned to dustbin along with civics, ethics, and penmanship.

Hopefully you didn’t eat during this Ramadan or you would have found yourself bowing before the porcelain god.

You Googled “Does being weird scare the children?” didn’t you? And I asked you nice …

Pizza Hut flying out of Iceland like kids from the Neverland Ranch.

Among the candidates for Justice Stevens’s seat on the High Court are Janet Napolitano, Elena Kagan, Diane Wood, and Merrick Garland. Which one of these is not like the other — or is that a rude question?

If you can’t pay your taxes by April 15, you may be able to pay later. But you’ll have to pay a penalty. And if you can’t afford to pay the penalty, a large man in a mildewy worsted suit will come to your home and cut off your head with a rusty straight razor, seal it in a Zip-lock bag, and force your youngest child to carry it around in a Hello Kitty knapsack until your traumatized family pays up. (OK, I could be mistaken about that knapsack part. Damn Fox News…)

Cirque de Soleil does Elvis. Oh like you don’t want to hear “A Big Hunk o’ Love” as interpreted by a trapeze artist and a contortionist named Capucine.

If you have asthma, stay out of the South. And the Pollen and Spore Collection of the Museum of Natural History.

And finally, the Brat Pack will never die, despite proposed legislation.

That light you’re supposed to walk into when you’re dying will probably fade if you breathe into a paper bag. Or not.

Tech companies don’t steal each other’s employees. So Justice wants to investigate. Because stealing is … oh I don’t get it either …

Mitt Romney wins straw poll. Now has the most straw of, like, anybody. I mean, an incredible amount of straw. If you’re out and about, and find yourself with a Coke, and you need a straw, I’m telling you — call this guy.

Google knows you’re weird. Now we know you’re weird. Please stop being weird. It’s scaring the children. (And please don’t Google “Does being weird scare the children?”)

Net no longer neutral, decidedly supralapsarian.

What’s the difference between Jack Kevorkian and Josef Mengele? One of them’s dead.

Nachos and Pop-Tarts no longer part of Chicago school menu, consigned to dustbin along with civics, ethics, and penmanship.

Hopefully you didn’t eat during this Ramadan or you would have found yourself bowing before the porcelain god.

You Googled “Does being weird scare the children?” didn’t you? And I asked you nice …

Pizza Hut flying out of Iceland like kids from the Neverland Ranch.

Among the candidates for Justice Stevens’s seat on the High Court are Janet Napolitano, Elena Kagan, Diane Wood, and Merrick Garland. Which one of these is not like the other — or is that a rude question?

If you can’t pay your taxes by April 15, you may be able to pay later. But you’ll have to pay a penalty. And if you can’t afford to pay the penalty, a large man in a mildewy worsted suit will come to your home and cut off your head with a rusty straight razor, seal it in a Zip-lock bag, and force your youngest child to carry it around in a Hello Kitty knapsack until your traumatized family pays up. (OK, I could be mistaken about that knapsack part. Damn Fox News…)

Cirque de Soleil does Elvis. Oh like you don’t want to hear “A Big Hunk o’ Love” as interpreted by a trapeze artist and a contortionist named Capucine.

If you have asthma, stay out of the South. And the Pollen and Spore Collection of the Museum of Natural History.

And finally, the Brat Pack will never die, despite proposed legislation.

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Brown Ripples

Scott Brown is heading for the Senate. There are obvious consequences and some immediate beneficiaries and victims. The president, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and anyone who voted to support the ultra-leftist agenda are scrambling. The tea party protesters, the candidates with populist appeal (e.g., Marco Rubio), and those opposing ObamaCare are the most immediate winners. But the ripples of the Massachusetts Miracle extend further than that.

For starters, will another liberal Supreme Court justice retire this year now that there’s no longer a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority? Maybe Justice Stevens has had enough and will hang it up, even without the assurance that a sufficiently liberal replacement can be confirmed. Or perhaps he sticks it out. And should he or another Supreme Court justice leave the Court, Obama may find his choices circumscribed. An ultra-liberal or an underqualified but politically helpful selection (e.g., a demographically desirable “wise” judge) may not be able to secure the needed votes. Obama may actually have to find an eminently qualified, non-extremist for the Court.

Then there’s the impact on the 2012 presidential contenders. Recall 1992, when few Democrats entered the field, imagining that George H.W. Bush would be unstoppable. The 2012 race may be the reverse — the field will fill up with those who imagine that this is the year for a Republican victory. I expect to see a long list of viable and semi-viable candidates lining up to take their shot at Obama. What have they got to lose?

And get ready for the media to descend on tea party protesters and conservative activists like anthropologists airlifted to a remote Pacific island. What motivates these people? Who are they? As others have noted, the press is suddenly a whole lot more respectful of those who organize, express political views, draw new voters into politics, and articulate a coherent small-government philosophy. Next thing you know, they might investigate a populist rock star who sold a lot of books and has a million and a half Facebook readers.

Finally, get ready for head-spinning hypocrisy and a spate of copy-cat candidates. Scott Brown had a truck? Other candidates will too! Brown, Bob McDonnell, and Chris Christie ran against Washington D.C. — so will lawmakers who’ve been there for years. The spin doctors and political hacks will descend and tell their clients that it’s this or that finely tuned message or a particular social network that’s the key to victory. Remember that stunningly great Scott Brown ad on taxes? I bet it’ll come back. What the hacks forget is that substance matters, and voters readily discern when someone is a conviction candidate or a fraud.

We’ve run out of adjectives to describe the Brown victory. (Epic? Historic? Earth-shaking?) But whatever we call it, we’ll see its impact for months and perhaps years to come. What we still don’t know is exactly how it will affect the political landscape and how far into the future the Brown political ripples will extend.

Scott Brown is heading for the Senate. There are obvious consequences and some immediate beneficiaries and victims. The president, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and anyone who voted to support the ultra-leftist agenda are scrambling. The tea party protesters, the candidates with populist appeal (e.g., Marco Rubio), and those opposing ObamaCare are the most immediate winners. But the ripples of the Massachusetts Miracle extend further than that.

For starters, will another liberal Supreme Court justice retire this year now that there’s no longer a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority? Maybe Justice Stevens has had enough and will hang it up, even without the assurance that a sufficiently liberal replacement can be confirmed. Or perhaps he sticks it out. And should he or another Supreme Court justice leave the Court, Obama may find his choices circumscribed. An ultra-liberal or an underqualified but politically helpful selection (e.g., a demographically desirable “wise” judge) may not be able to secure the needed votes. Obama may actually have to find an eminently qualified, non-extremist for the Court.

Then there’s the impact on the 2012 presidential contenders. Recall 1992, when few Democrats entered the field, imagining that George H.W. Bush would be unstoppable. The 2012 race may be the reverse — the field will fill up with those who imagine that this is the year for a Republican victory. I expect to see a long list of viable and semi-viable candidates lining up to take their shot at Obama. What have they got to lose?

And get ready for the media to descend on tea party protesters and conservative activists like anthropologists airlifted to a remote Pacific island. What motivates these people? Who are they? As others have noted, the press is suddenly a whole lot more respectful of those who organize, express political views, draw new voters into politics, and articulate a coherent small-government philosophy. Next thing you know, they might investigate a populist rock star who sold a lot of books and has a million and a half Facebook readers.

Finally, get ready for head-spinning hypocrisy and a spate of copy-cat candidates. Scott Brown had a truck? Other candidates will too! Brown, Bob McDonnell, and Chris Christie ran against Washington D.C. — so will lawmakers who’ve been there for years. The spin doctors and political hacks will descend and tell their clients that it’s this or that finely tuned message or a particular social network that’s the key to victory. Remember that stunningly great Scott Brown ad on taxes? I bet it’ll come back. What the hacks forget is that substance matters, and voters readily discern when someone is a conviction candidate or a fraud.

We’ve run out of adjectives to describe the Brown victory. (Epic? Historic? Earth-shaking?) But whatever we call it, we’ll see its impact for months and perhaps years to come. What we still don’t know is exactly how it will affect the political landscape and how far into the future the Brown political ripples will extend.

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The Supreme Court Watch

There is good reason to believe that one or more Supreme Court justices will step down in 2010. The rumors have swirled for some time that Justice Stevens will retire. Moreover, it seems increasingly likely that the Democrats may lose Senate seats, dropping their ranks below the filibuster-proof 60. That makes post-2010 Supreme Court confirmation fights a bit trickier and reduces the chances of a hard-core liberal activist making it to the Court after the 2010 elections. So if the liberal/activist justices are thinking of retirement in the next few years, 2010 is the time to do it.

Obama made a political calculation with Sonia Sotomayor that the benefits of a “wise Latina” outweighed the long term benefits of having a top-flight liberal intellectual on the Court, who might go toe-to-toe with the conservative heavyweights (and have the ability from time to time to corral the mercurial Justice Anthony Kennedy). That calculation made some sense if one supposes Sotomayor would not be Obama’s only appointment.

In some respects the Sotomayor confirmation hearing was a boon to conservative jurists and scholars. As Ed Whelan notes, despite Obama’s attempt to elevate “empathy,” and a filibuster-proof Democratic majority, judicial activists came away disappointed “as Sotomayor, in close consultation with the White House, tried to disguise herself as a judicial conservative. ‘The task of a judge is not to make law, it is to apply the law,’ she averred. Judges are ‘like umpires,’ she said. She pretended to walk away from her support for freewheeling resort to foreign and international legal materials. And, perhaps most strikingly, she emphatically repudiated Obama’s own empathy standard.” What’s more, liberals grudgingly figured out that Jeffrey Rosen was right — they could have come up with a better nominee.

In 2010 Obama might go for a top-flight nominee with impeccable credentials and a willingness to be candid about his or her judicial philosophy. But the temptation is great, especially as Obama’s ratings are sinking and his Democratic colleagues are floundering in the polls, to once again play the political angle. Recall that with this crowd everything is political — the Afghanistan war strategy, the census, and especially the Justice Department. So the political consiglieres may well be pushing for a minority-group nominee (haven’t Asians been drifting toward the Republican camp?) or a charismatic figure around whom to rally as they seek to paint the Republicans as the grouchy, bad guys. Find someone who will be good on TV! Play the gender/ethnicity/race card! (Besides, if the Obami are confident in securing a second term, what’s the rush? They’ll have many more years to put boringly competent and intellectually precise people on the Court.)

So it may well be that once again an unexceptional but dependable liberal will get the nod.  But we can, I think, be assured of one thing: David Broder notwithstanding, Janet Napolitano will be off the short list.

There is good reason to believe that one or more Supreme Court justices will step down in 2010. The rumors have swirled for some time that Justice Stevens will retire. Moreover, it seems increasingly likely that the Democrats may lose Senate seats, dropping their ranks below the filibuster-proof 60. That makes post-2010 Supreme Court confirmation fights a bit trickier and reduces the chances of a hard-core liberal activist making it to the Court after the 2010 elections. So if the liberal/activist justices are thinking of retirement in the next few years, 2010 is the time to do it.

Obama made a political calculation with Sonia Sotomayor that the benefits of a “wise Latina” outweighed the long term benefits of having a top-flight liberal intellectual on the Court, who might go toe-to-toe with the conservative heavyweights (and have the ability from time to time to corral the mercurial Justice Anthony Kennedy). That calculation made some sense if one supposes Sotomayor would not be Obama’s only appointment.

In some respects the Sotomayor confirmation hearing was a boon to conservative jurists and scholars. As Ed Whelan notes, despite Obama’s attempt to elevate “empathy,” and a filibuster-proof Democratic majority, judicial activists came away disappointed “as Sotomayor, in close consultation with the White House, tried to disguise herself as a judicial conservative. ‘The task of a judge is not to make law, it is to apply the law,’ she averred. Judges are ‘like umpires,’ she said. She pretended to walk away from her support for freewheeling resort to foreign and international legal materials. And, perhaps most strikingly, she emphatically repudiated Obama’s own empathy standard.” What’s more, liberals grudgingly figured out that Jeffrey Rosen was right — they could have come up with a better nominee.

In 2010 Obama might go for a top-flight nominee with impeccable credentials and a willingness to be candid about his or her judicial philosophy. But the temptation is great, especially as Obama’s ratings are sinking and his Democratic colleagues are floundering in the polls, to once again play the political angle. Recall that with this crowd everything is political — the Afghanistan war strategy, the census, and especially the Justice Department. So the political consiglieres may well be pushing for a minority-group nominee (haven’t Asians been drifting toward the Republican camp?) or a charismatic figure around whom to rally as they seek to paint the Republicans as the grouchy, bad guys. Find someone who will be good on TV! Play the gender/ethnicity/race card! (Besides, if the Obami are confident in securing a second term, what’s the rush? They’ll have many more years to put boringly competent and intellectually precise people on the Court.)

So it may well be that once again an unexceptional but dependable liberal will get the nod.  But we can, I think, be assured of one thing: David Broder notwithstanding, Janet Napolitano will be off the short list.

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Wrong Again

Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the Indiana state voting law requiring a photo ID is significant for many reasons.

Some of the most noteworthy are the “I told you so’s.” The news coverage dutifully recites that the laws were challenged because of the alleged adverse impact on minorities and older voters. However, despite the hue and cry from the professional civil rights lobby and liberal legislators (including Barack Obama), no instance–not a single one–in which an actual person could not obtain the required ID was ever found. In fact, in the many cases challenging such laws, plaintiffs have routinely been stumped in their efforts to dig up a single soul who is qualified to vote, yet lacks reasonable access to an approved form of ID.

The next “I told you so” comes from the Bush civil rights division, or at least certain elements of it, which championed a similar law in Georgia over the outraged cries of these same critics. Writing for the majority yesterday, Justice Stevens praised the Georgia statute (which incidentially also had been upheld by a prior court ruling upon finding that no one had ever lacked access to one of the many forms of ID).

Next in the “I told you so” parade should be Hans von Spakovsky. Spakovsky, while in the civil rights division, fought doggedly to enforce existing voting rights provisions, including the Georgia law and measures to fight fraud. Now he, or at least his nomination to the FEC, has been held hostage by Senate Democrats exacting retribution.

Finally, this is one more instance when what liberal activists and their Congressional champions believe the Constitution says diverges sharply what the Supreme Court– sometimes with very healthy majorities–says it does. So the next time an expert on the Constitution spouts off, you might check to see how often they’ve gotten it wrong in the past. In this case, most of the experts were very wrong.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the Indiana state voting law requiring a photo ID is significant for many reasons.

Some of the most noteworthy are the “I told you so’s.” The news coverage dutifully recites that the laws were challenged because of the alleged adverse impact on minorities and older voters. However, despite the hue and cry from the professional civil rights lobby and liberal legislators (including Barack Obama), no instance–not a single one–in which an actual person could not obtain the required ID was ever found. In fact, in the many cases challenging such laws, plaintiffs have routinely been stumped in their efforts to dig up a single soul who is qualified to vote, yet lacks reasonable access to an approved form of ID.

The next “I told you so” comes from the Bush civil rights division, or at least certain elements of it, which championed a similar law in Georgia over the outraged cries of these same critics. Writing for the majority yesterday, Justice Stevens praised the Georgia statute (which incidentially also had been upheld by a prior court ruling upon finding that no one had ever lacked access to one of the many forms of ID).

Next in the “I told you so” parade should be Hans von Spakovsky. Spakovsky, while in the civil rights division, fought doggedly to enforce existing voting rights provisions, including the Georgia law and measures to fight fraud. Now he, or at least his nomination to the FEC, has been held hostage by Senate Democrats exacting retribution.

Finally, this is one more instance when what liberal activists and their Congressional champions believe the Constitution says diverges sharply what the Supreme Court– sometimes with very healthy majorities–says it does. So the next time an expert on the Constitution spouts off, you might check to see how often they’ve gotten it wrong in the past. In this case, most of the experts were very wrong.

Read Less




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