Tag Archives: SCOTUS

Moderate senator Lindsey Graham rips Democrats for unfair treatment of Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh, his wife, and his two daughters
Brett Kavanaugh, his wife, and his two daughters

Democrats have accused Kavanaugh of drugging and raping women, participating in gang rapes and operating a gang-rape ring (when he was a high school student). I tweeted a lot about the hearing on Thursday, but the comments of Lindsey Graham, a moderate centrist Republican, was the best response to the Democrat’s charges against Kavanaugh.

First, here is a good sample of how the Democrats questioned Kavanaugh during the hearing, to evaluate his suitability for the Supreme Court of the United States of America: (5 minutes)

Kavanaugh threw up too much, farted too much, etc. when he was 16 years old.

Senator Lindsey Graham also questioned Kavanaugh: (5 minutes)

He’s so angry that his thoughts are all jumbled up. But you can get the basic idea of what he’s saying.

Real Clear Politics had the transcript, here’s some of it:

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you wanted an FBI investigation, you could have come to us. What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that, not me.

[…]This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics. And if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy.

[…]Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham.

That you knew about it and you held it. You had no intention of protecting Dr. Ford. none. She’s as much of a victim as you are.

God, I hate to say it because these [Democrats] have been my friends, but… [t]his is going to destroy the ability of good people to come forward because of this crap. Your high school yearbook. You have interacted with professional women all your life, not one accusation. You’re supposed to be Bill Cosby when you’re a junior and senior in high school. And all of a sudden you got over it. It’s been my understanding that if you drug women and rape them for two years in high school, you probably don’t stop.

[…]To my Republican colleagues: If you vote no, you are legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.

I listened to reactions from people like Dana Loesch, Buck Sexton and Matt Walsh to Lindsey Graham on their podcasts, and they were as shocked as  I was. This is the guy who, throughout his career, bent over backwards to cut compromise deals with Democrats in the Senate. He’s been  centrist moderate as a Republican senator. I have nothing good to say about him. I supported his last primary challenger, and was disappointed when Graham won the primary.

So I really have no idea what is going on here – this is the last thing I would have expected from Graham. But it does tell you something about how unfair the Kavanaugh hearings were.

Here is Senator Graham sounding less angry, and more coherent, talking to the news media – the same news media that fawned over his RINO actions for so many years: (5 minutes)

PJ Media summarized the video above:

“I feel ambushed,” Graham told reporters at the conclusion of the hearing this afternoon.

“When it comes to where it happened,” Graham said, “I still don’t know. I don’t know when it happened. She says she’s 100% certain it did happen. I bet you Judge Kavanaugh will say I’m 100% sure I didn’t do it.”

He said the people named by Ford as corroborating witnesses “don’t know what Ms. Ford’s talking about.” In addition, “She can’t tell how she got home and how she got there and that’s the facts I’m left with. A nice lady who has come forward it to tell a hard story that’s uncorroborated.”

“And this is enough, ” he said. “God help anybody else who gets nominated,” Graham continued. “Based on what I heard today, you could not get a search warrant or an arrest warrant because you don’t know the location, you don’t know the time, you don’t have any corroboration.”

Graham said all he heard today was a bunch of speeches from politicians who have politicized the confirmation process..

The South Carolina senator, who has a background as a prosecutor and a judge, said, “I didn’t find her allegations to be corroborated against Mr. Kavanaugh. I don’t doubt something happened to her… but she can’t tell me the house, the city, the month of the year.”

“When you have a emotional accusation and an emotional denial,” he explained, “you use the rule of law, the presumption of innocence attaches to the person accused. You have to give them… time and location. You ask is there anybody to verify this, and when you give hames all of them goes the other way.”

Asked about whether Graham thought there should be a full investigation, the visibly angry Graham said, “If you really believe we needed an investigation for this, why didn’t you tell us in August? The FBI is going to tell us what? What house are they going to go to? What city are they going to go to? Who are they going to talk to because they can’t tell us the month, barely the year.”

“This is all delay” on the part of Democrats, he told reporters. “I’m not going to reward people for playing a political game.” He said Ford “is just as much a victim as, I think, Brett Kavanaugh. Somebody betrayed her trust. And we know who she gave the letter to and the people that betrayed her trust, they owe her an apology.”

There were not enough specific details in Ford’s testimony to warrant a search warrant, an arrest warrant, or any further investigation. In any case, the Democrats had the allegations in July, but they didn’t ask for an investigation then, because they wanted to drag out the confirmation process past the mid-terms.

The Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Kavanaugh is scheduled for Friday morning, a full Senate procedural vote on Saturday, and the full Senate confirmation vote on Tuesday. Already, Bob Corker, who was on the fence about Kavanaugh has tweeted that he will support Kavanaugh. A tweet from a reporter from The Atlantic suggests that Democrat Joe Manchin will do the same. A tweet from a Washington Post reporter Friday morning says Jeff Flake will vote for Kavanaugh. We’re still waiting to hear from center-left Republican senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, as well as red-state Democrats Joe Donelly and Heidi Heitkamp.

More Lindsey Graham on video here. (8 minutes)

If there’s one thing that Trump is doing right, it’s nominating originalist judges

Trump picks a strict constructionist for Supreme Court vacancy

Well, so far Trump’s done many things right and many things wrong. Although I think more of the right things are actions (cleaning up regulations, energy development, etc. ) and the wrong things are just horribly damaging tweets. The best actions surely include his habit of nominating judges who will interpret the law as written, instead of pushing a political agenda.

Far-left ABC News reports on the most important judicial pick – Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Excerpt:

More than 2,000 conservatives in tuxedos and gowns recently filled Union Station’s main hall for a steak dinner and the chance to cheer the man who saved the Supreme Court from liberal control.

Justice Neil Gorsuch didn’t disappoint them, just as he hasn’t in his first seven months on the Supreme Court.

“Tonight I can report that a person can be both a publicly committed originalist and textualist and be confirmed to the Supreme Court,” Gorsuch said to sustained applause from members of the Federalist Society…

[…]The 50-year-old justice has been almost exactly what conservatives hoped for and liberals dreaded when he joined the court in April. He has consistently, even aggressively, lined up with the court’s most conservative justices. He has even split with Chief Justice John Roberts, viewed by some as insufficiently conservative because of his two opinions upholding President Barack Obama’s health law.

The article notes that liberal legal groups are very unhappy with Gorsuch’s constant focus on what the Constitution says. They don’t like him asking lawyers questions about the Constitution.

More:

Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society executive vice president who has advised Trump on judicial picks, also took issue with Gorsuch’s critics when he introduced the justice at the dinner. “They mischaracterize candor and a demand for rigorous analysis as polarizing,” Leo said.

Gorsuch and Leo embraced on the podium, in front of an adoring crowd of like-minded lawyers, judges and academics. The Federalist Society, which counted Scalia among its earliest backers, has helped Trump identify candidates for federal judgeships and has members in legal jobs across his administration.

Gorsuch made no apologies either for the substance of his questions and writing, or his style. He talked at length about the importance of seeking out the meaning of the Constitution and laws as they were understood when they written.

“Originalism has regained its place at the table of constitutional interpretation, and textualism in the reading of statutes has triumphed. And neither one is going anywhere on my watch,” Gorsuch said.

He went on to note that “some pundits have expressed bewilderment” about the questions he asks in court.

“But while I have you here tonight, I thought I might just settle the matter once and for all by taking a poll. … Should I just keep on asking about the text and original meaning of the Constitution?” he asked.

The response was predictably and overwhelmingly in favor.

Before Gorsuch was nominated and confirmed, I liked Justice Clarence Thomas best. He was the most faithful to the original meaning of the Constitution – better than Scalia.

Gorsuch and Thomas stick to the original meaning of the Constitution

Now that Gorsuch is on the bench, he’s been tracking with Thomas. According to this article from Law 360, he votes with Thomas 94% of the time. Much higher than any of the centrist and liberal judges. The liberal writer of the Law 360 article is predictably horrified that Gorsuch is so good on religious liberty in particular:

As the most controversial rulings came down near the end of the term, however, Justice Gorsuch splintered off from most of his conservative colleagues and exclusively joined Justice Thomas in five separate opinions.

On Monday, for instance, Justice Gorsuch and Justice Thomas supported each other’s concurrences in the major religious freedom case, Trinity Lutheran v. Comer. The pair joined Chief Justice Roberts’ majority opinion holding that a Missouri playground-funding program closed to religious groups was unconstitutional, but they criticized the court for limiting the scope of its ruling.

In Trinity Lutheran, the court found that a widely available public program that discriminates on the basis of religious status violates the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. The court refused to say, however, whether a program that withholds public funds from groups that would use that money for religious purposes similarly violates the free exercise clause.

In doing so, Justice Roberts made an unworkable distinction, Justice Gorsuch said. “I don’t see why it should matter whether we describe that benefit, say, as closed to Lutherans (status) or closed to people who do Lutheran things (use),” he said. “It is free exercise either way.”

Justice Gorsuch’s desire for an expanded free exercise clause would likely come as a crushing blow to liberal groups and other advocates of church-state separation.

That’s the most important issue to me – my religious liberty. My right to live an authentic Christian life without being bullied by secular leftists in the government. I want people on the Supreme Court to defend my right to behave like a Christian in public.

The conservative Daily Signal had an article up describing even more good news about new judicial nominations.

Excerpt:

On Friday, President Donald Trump announced the addition of five individuals to his outstanding list of potential candidates for a future Supreme Court vacancy.

As was the case with the lists Trump put out during his presidential campaign, these new additions to the list are conservative men and women who are committed to interpreting the Constitution according to its original public meaning.

While there are currently no vacancies on the Supreme Court, rumors abound that Justice Anthony Kennedy may retire in the near future.

Whatever mess Trump makes with his Tweets, you have to love this judicial nominees. We would never have gotten nominees like this with Hillary Clinton. And what’s even better is that Trump will be making more judicial nominations in the next 12 months than Obama did in his entire 8 years in office, according to the radically leftist Washington Post. (H/T Curby)

Excerpt:

 Conservatives have a new court-packing plan, and in the spirit of the holiday, it’s a turducken of a scheme: a regulatory rollback hidden inside a civil rights reversal stuffed into a Trumpification of the courts. If conservatives get their way, President Trump will add twice as many lifetime members to the federal judiciary in the next 12 months (650) as Barack Obama named in eight years (325). American law will never be the same. 

That’s good news for liberty, bad news for big government coercion.

Supreme Court: Christians taxpayers are allowed access to social programs

The Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States

Here is the latest Supreme Court decision news, and I’ll explain shortly why this is good news for a much more important religious liberty case.

David French posted this analysis in National Review:

While there are many threats to religious liberty, few are more consequential over the long term than the state’s ever-expanding role in private life. If the government is able to vacuum up tax dollars, create programs large and small for public benefit, and then exclude religious individuals or institutions from those programs, it has functionally created two tiers of citizenship. Secular individuals and institutions enjoy full access to the government they fund, while religious individuals and institutions find themselves funding a government that overtly discriminates against them.

That’s the issue the Supreme Court addressed today in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer. By a 7–2 margin, the Court held that when a state creates a neutral program for public benefit — in this case, a program that uses scrap tires to provide rubberized safety flooring for playgrounds — it can’t exclude a church from that program, even if that means state benefits flow directly to a house of worship.

Social conservative Maggie Gallagher writes this in The Stream:

The good news is the Trinity Lutheran victory shows us the current Court is more supportive of religious liberty than many of us feared.

Justice Elana Kagan joined the majority opinion without any reserve. Justice Breyer wrote his own concurring opinion limiting his judgement to playground resurfacing programs and not all government benefits.

Only Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginbsurg dissented. In Justice Sotomayor’s dissent, she warned of almost apocalyptic consequences:

This ruling, “weakens this country’s longstanding commitment to a separation of church and state beneficial to both,” she wrote, “If this separation means anything, it means that the government cannot, or at the very least need not, tax its citizens and turn that money over to houses of worship. The court today blinds itself to the outcome this history requires and leads us instead to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment.”

If so, it’s a good thing.

You’ll remember that Sotomayor was the wise Latina nominated by Barack Obama, who many Christians-in-name-only voted for. And of course separation of church and state is nowhere in the Constitution. What Sotomayor and her ilk on the secular left want is for Christian taxpayers to channel their earnings into the coffers of their secular leftist overlords, who apparently know much better how to spend it than the fools who earned it.

This is good news, but it’s also a hopeful sign that the Supreme Court will come out in favor of religious liberty and conscience in another case, a case that pits powerful and wealthy gay rights activists and their government allies against Christian small business owners trying to follow Jesus in everything they do.

The other case is reported on in the Daily Signal:

By deciding to hear the appeal of a Colorado baker, the Supreme Court could make its first ruling next year on whether government may coerce some Christians, Jews, and Muslims to use their creative gifts to celebrate same-sex marriage.

The high court announced Monday that it would review the case of baker Jack Phillips, who cites his Christian faith in declining to make custom cakes for same-sex weddings.

The Supreme Court’s eventual ruling could be the first since its 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage to say whether bakers, photographers, florists, and others must be part of such celebrations through their creative expression.

Phillips, whose Masterpiece Cakeshop is in Lakewood, Colorado, stopped making all wedding cakes in 2014 rather than be compelled by the state to design and bake them for same-sex marriages—or be fined for not obeying.

State agency and court decisions said Phillips must make such cakes after a gay couple complained about him in July 2012.

“There’s just certain events, certain cakes I don’t make,” Phillips told The Daily Signal in a phone interview in August 2015. “That was one of them.”

He also won’t make cakes depicting witchcraft, ghosts, and demons or sexually suggestive images, Phillips said in the interview.

The Supreme Court previously delayed nine times on deciding to hear Phillips’ appeal in the case, first filed last July. But with the newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, settled into his seat to succeed the late Antonin Scalia, the high court announced Monday morning that it would do so in its next term, which begins in October.

You can find out more about the Masterpiece Cakes case by watching this short video from Alliance Defending Freedom:

Although today’s decision makes me more optimistic, David French is less optimistic, because of Justice Kennedy’s previous statements on the gay marriage decision.

He writes in National Review:

Third, if Justice Kennedy views this case primarily through the LGBT lens, then the First Amendment may well lose. Kennedy is obviously proud of his long line of LGBT-friendly precedents, and that pride has even led him to a relatively rare First Amendment misstep, so it will be critical to explain to him (and the other justices, of course) that this isn’t a case about “discrimination” but rather about forced speech. Framing matters, and the other side will wrongly frame the case as raising the specter of Jim Crow. The right framing is found in the First Amendment.

I’ll be watching this case closely.

Trump picks a scholarly originalist to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court

Trump picks a strict constructionist for Supreme Court vacancy
Trump picks a strict constructionist (originalist) for Supreme Court vacancy

There were three main candidates: Pryor had the most conservative record and a few red flags, Hardiman was the “stealth” candidate, and Gorsuch was the scholarly originalist.

Tump picked the scholarly originalist.

The Federalist explains:

Tonight, President Trump rewarded social conservatives and delivered on his campaign promise by nominating Neil Gorsuch, a Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, to the United States Supreme Court.

[…]Gorsuch, 49, was appointed to the 10th Circuit in 2006 by George W. Bush. His nomination generated little controversy, and he was confirmed with a voice vote by the U.S. Senate. A graduate of Columbia, Harvard Law, and Oxford, he is praised for his eloquent legal prose, intellectual gifts, and is heralded by conservatives for his textualist and orginalist interpretations of the Constitution. It is no surprise that his appointment fills the vacuum left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

Gorsuch has garnered significant praise from Robert P. George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and arguably the nation’s most influential social conservative intellectual. On Facebook, George issued the following praise for Gorsuch: “He would be a superb Supreme Court justice. He is intellectually extremely gifted and is deeply committed to the (actual) Constitution and the rule of law. He will not manufacture ‘rights’ or read things into the Constitution that aren’t there or read things out of the Constitution that are.” In social conservative circles, a Robert George endorsement is sufficient alone to merit support for Gorsuch.

This I really like – he’s a Protestant like me:

A member of the Anglican communion (who would become the only Protestant on the Supreme Court), Gorsuch studied under eminent legal philosopher, natural lawyer, and ethicist John Finnis at Oxford. Anyone familiar with Finnis’ work will understand the resounding alignment his work has with social conservative pillars, particularly around issues of human dignity and sexual ethics.

The only Protestant on the bench, in a majority Protestant country. It’s about time!

I’m not sure how to align SCOTUSBlog, but I think of them as center-left. Here’s what they think of the nominee:

With perhaps one notable area of disagreement, Judge Gorsuch’s prominent decisions bear the comparison out. For one thing, the great compliment that Gorsuch’s legal writing is in a class with Scalia’s is deserved: Gorsuch’s opinions are exceptionally clear and routinely entertaining; he is an unusual pleasure to read, and it is always plain exactly what he thinks and why. Like Scalia, Gorsuch also seems to have a set of judicial/ideological commitments apart from his personal policy preferences that drive his decision-making. He is an ardent textualist (like Scalia); he believes criminal laws should be clear and interpreted in favor of defendants even if that hurts government prosecutions (like Scalia); he is skeptical of efforts to purge religious expression from public spaces (like Scalia); he is highly dubious of legislative history (like Scalia); and he is less than enamored of the dormant commerce clause (like Scalia).

He’s like Scalia, and that’s what we want, (although Clarence Thomas is my favorite Supreme Court Justice).

Here’s Gorsuch’s view of legislating from the bench, in an article he wrote for National Review in 2005:

This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary. In the legislative arena, especially when the country is closely divided, compromises tend to be the rule the day. But when judges rule this or that policy unconstitutional, there’s little room for compromise: One side must win, the other must lose. In constitutional litigation, too, experiments and pilot programs–real-world laboratories in which ideas can be assessed on the results they produce–are not possible. Ideas are tested only in the abstract world of legal briefs and lawyers arguments. As a society, we lose the benefit of the give-and-take of the political process and the flexibility of social experimentation that only the elected branches can provide.

He doesn’t like judicial activism, he wants legislators to legislate. It’s about time we got a judge who believes in interpreting the Constitution instead of legislating from the bench. All we had for the last eight years was affirmative action picks who legislated from the bench, instead abiding by the plain meaning of the laws.

National Review also reports that religious liberty is an area of strength for him:

In two high-profile religious-liberty cases, Gorsuch voted to hold that the Obama administration had violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by refusing to exempt religious employers from a requirement to cover contraceptives in their insurance plans. In neither case, though, will it be easy for opponents to portray his decisions as evidence of social-conservative zealotry.

He concurred in a decision freeing the Hobby Lobby chain from the contraceptive mandate. Its evangelical owners considered some of the contraceptives they were forced to cover to be abortifacients, and objected to them for that reason. A narrow 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court affirmed that decision. Gorsuch joined a dissent arguing that the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic nuns, had shown that the Obama administration’s fines for noncompliance with the mandate amounted to a substantial burden on the exercise of their faith — one of the preconditions for getting protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Supreme Court unanimously vacated the decision from which Gorsuch had dissented.

Gorsuch’s solicitude for religious liberty has not been confined to cases involving abortion, contraception, or conservative Christians. In the less well-known Yellowbear v. Lampert, Gorsuch ruled that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act meant that a Native American prisoner had to have access to his prison’s sweat lodge.

Religious liberty is my core value – the thing I care the most about. It’s important to me that the nominee have a record on the issue I care about the most.

I think that next time we get a SCOTUS nominee, if we get 60 or more Republican senators in the Senate after the 2018 mid-terms, we’ll get the very conservative Pryor. Which would basically make Trump’s presidency great for conservatives. It’s very important to get these picks right. This was the right pick for 52 Republican senators in the Senate, and Pryor is the right pick when we have 60 Republican senators in the Senate. So get ready for 2018.

UPDATE: Ben Shapiro says that Pryor has some red flags, and that Gorsuch was the best pick. He calls it a home run, and even wore the red MAGA hat on his podcast, for being wrong. So Trump chose the best person.

ADF offers advice on SCOTUS marriage redefinition ruling

States with non-discrimination laws
States with non-discrimination laws

(Source: ACLU)

Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defending Freedom offers advice to churches on how to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision to redefine marriage to remove the gender requirement.

He says:

[…][T]he greatest threat for churches lies in the application of the Court’s decision to believers who live in jurisdictions covered by so-called “non-discrimination” laws and ordinances. Everywhere that marriage has been redefined in the last several years has seen an awakening of non-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, or places of public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. These laws are peppered throughout the states and local governments and are a linchpin of the sexual revolution’s broader legal and political strategy: to establish non-discrimination laws at all levels throughout the country and to to “ensure that religion is not used as an excuse to discriminate.”

In coming days, the threat from these non-discrimination laws will materialize in numerous ways as same-sex couples marry. But there are proactive steps your church can take to protect itself.

I put the map from the ACLU above. I think that’s what he is talking about when he says non-discrimination states. Keep in mind that the ACLU supported redefining marriage, and opposes religious liberty.

Erik’s article covers 3 areas:

  1. Church’s statement of faith
  2. Pastors officiating same-sex marriage ceremonies
  3. Church’s facility usage policy

Part 3) was the most interesting to me:

3. Churches should ensure their facilities usage policies are revised to allow only uses consistent with the church’s religious beliefs.

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, some churches may be approached by same-sex couples seeking to be married in the church facility. Churches should not feel as if they have to close their doors to the community just to prevent wedding ceremonies with which they disagree. Churches must continue to be a welcoming presence in the community and can do so through updating or revising their facility usage policy. The key point is to tie usage of the church’s facility to the statement of faith and religious beliefs of the church. And then to make clear that uses inconsistent with those religious beliefs will not be allowed. Alliance Defending Freedom has a sample facilities usage policy available in our Protecting Your Ministry manual.

So you update your statement of faith, and then tie usage of the the facility to that statement of faith. Simple.

I took a quick look at the booklet, and it also talked about tying employment within the church and church membership to the statement of faith.

Denny Burk summarizes those:

2. Religious Employment Criteria

Your church can best avail itself of the First Amendment’s protection in employee disputes if you create and faithfully enforce religious employment criteria for every employee. That requires churches to do at least two things: (1) require all employees and volunteers to sign a statement affirming the church’s statement of faith and standards of conduct, and (2) create written job descriptions for every employee and volunteer position.

4. Formal Membership Policy

If your church does not have a membership policy, you need to change that. Biblically, this should already be a priority for your church. You need to specify what the requirements for membership are, how one joins, how one resigns, and the procedures for church discipline. If all of this isn’t spelled out up front, your church could be exposed (see ADF guide pp. 17-18).

So what to make of this? Well, the ADF is an organization that I admire and trust. I cannot abide Christians who do not want to understand the details of what is happening with religious liberty in their country. The ADF has first class lawyers from the top law schools, and they defend religious liberty at every level of our justice system, up to and including the Supreme Court. If you want to help your church protect itself from prosecution, then you must point them to the ADF booklet linked above.

And this is especially true if you are in one of those states in the map above. In looking over the map, I noticed that much of the trouble we have been having with Christian businesses getting sued are in states that have these laws… Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, New York, and so on. Pay attention to that map and make decisions about where to live accordingly.