Tag Archives: Supreme Court

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.

Supreme Court vacates lower court ruling against religious liberty

Barack Obama speaking to Planned Parenthood
Barack Obama speaking to Planned Parenthood

Life News explained what was at stake in the “Little Sisters of the Poor” case decided yesterday by the Supreme Court:

The Little Sisters of the Poor are asking the nation’s highest court to ensure they do not have to comply with Obamacare’s abortion mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.

Without relief, the Little Sisters would face millions of dollars in IRS fines because they cannot comply with the government’s mandate that they give their employees free access to contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.

Religious liberty champion David French writes about the decision in National Review.

Excerpt:

First, the Supreme Court vacated the lower court ruling holding that the Little Sisters had to facilitate access to contraceptives and denied that the mandate substantially burdened their religion. Speaking as a person who’s argued a few cases in courts of appeal — when the court vacates the ruling you’re challenging, that’s a win.

Second, the Supreme Court provided a roadmap for an excellent resolution to the case…

[…]the Court suggested an accommodation that was far more respectful of the Little Sisters’ religious liberty than the challenged Obamacare regulations, and the government will now have extreme difficulty credibly arguing in lower courts that the Supreme Court’s own suggested compromise should be set aside.

Third, this ruling was unanimous. That means the DOJ should be far from confident that it can simply wait out the new presidential election and pursue its original claims with the same hope for success — especially if it spent the intervening years rejecting a compromise that it already seemed to accept.

Fourth, we can’t forget the context. This the second time a unanimous Supreme Court has turned back the Obama administration’s regulatory efforts to restrict religious freedom (Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC was the first), and it represents yet another setback for the administration’s contraception/abortifacient mandate. The Obama administration has pushed hard against religious liberty — on occasion too hard even for the Supreme Court’s more liberal justices.

The case will now go back to the lower courts again, but SCOTUS was clear on what they expect the ruling to be – a compromise that protects religious liberty and achieves the administration’s goal of providing contraception and abortifacient drugs. Unfortunately, that’s what a Democrat administration thinks is a priority.

It’s not a complete victory, but an 8-0 decision should be solid until Trump or Hillary packs the court with pro-abortion liberals. I expect either candidate will do that, since both candidates are “very pro-choice”, and both favor partial-birth abortion.

Man uses legally-owned concealed carry handgun to prevent robbery

Guns are for self-defense against criminals
Guns are for self-defense against criminals

Another in my series of posts to help non-Americans understand why Americans are passionate about the Second Amendment to the Constitution and the right to bear arms.

The news story is from the Washington Free Beacon:

A good samaritan saved a 7-11 clerk on Sunday by shooting a hatchet-wielding man who had attacked the store.

A 60-year-old man with a valid concealed carry license was drinking his morning coffee when a masked man, later identified as 43-year-old Steven Blacktongue, entered the convenience store and began attacking the clerk, Kuldeep Singh. The attacker slashed Singh across the stomach several times without saying a word. At that point the concealed carrier drew his firearm and shot Blacktongue, killing him.

Police said that the concealed carried did nothing wrong and ended up saving lives.

“This could have been disastrous. Had this [customer] not shot, who knows what would’ve happened,” King County Sergeant Cindi West told KIRO. “We might have a dead clerk right now and instead, we have a dead bad guy. We do not see any wrongdoing on the part of the customer.”

“In fact, he probably saved lives in this case.”

Singh said he feared for his life during the attack and is glad to be alive. A friend of his, who also works at the convenience store, told the news station that the concealed carrier was a “good guy” for intervening and stopping the attack. The concealed carrier was not expected to face any charges.

Here’s the news report from KIRO 7 News:

This happened in ultra-leftist King County, Washington, of all places. I’m surprised they even let law-abiding people who pass a background check carry firearms, there. But at least this story leaves no doubt about why concealed carry permits exist.

Merrick Garland and the Second Amendment

This might be a useful story to send to Obama’s latest Supreme Court nominee – a radically leftist who opposes the second amendment.

Washington Free Beacon again:

Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has a record of opposing gun rights as a federal judge, which includes a vote to undo a landmark gun rights ruling.

Garland was one of four judges who voted to rehear the case of Parker v. District of Columbia with a full ten-judge panel after a smaller panel struck down the District of Columbia’s total ban on handguns. Garland’s vote for this en banc hearing indicates that he may believe the decision to strike down the city’s gun ban was mistaken.

The other six judges on the appeals court voted not to rehear the case, and the Supreme Court went on to rule in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to bear arms in the case.

So, he’s a radical on gun control, well outside the mainstream.

As usual, we end all second amendment posts with an examination of the peer-reviewed literature on gun ownership and rates of violent crime. This evidence is not generally understood by people on the left, who tend to be guided more by emotions and peer approval than evidence when forming their views on controversial issues.

The peer-reviewed research

Whenever I get into discussions about gun control, I always mention two academic books by John R. Lott and Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Here is a paper by Dr. Malcolm that summarizes one of the key points of her book.

Excerpt:

Tracing the history of gun control in the United Kingdom since the late 19th century, this article details how the government has arrogated to itself a monopoly on the right to use force. The consequence has been a tremendous increase in violent crime, and harsh punishment for crime victims who dare to fight back. The article is based on the author’s most recent book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience (Harvard University Press, 2002). Joyce Malcom is professor of history at Bentley College, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is also author of To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an AngloAmerican Right (Harvard University Press, 1994).

Upon the passage of The Firearms Act (No. 2) in 1997, British Deputy Home Secretary Alun Michael boasted: “Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.” The Act was second handgun control measure passed that year, imposed a near-complete ban on private ownership of handguns, capping nearly eighty years of increasing firearms restrictions. Driven by an intense public campaign in the wake of the shooting of schoolchildren in Dunblane, Scotland, Parliament had been so zealous to outlaw all privately owned handguns that it rejected proposals to exempt Britain’s Olympic target-shooting team and handicapped target-shooters from the ban.

And the result of the 1997 gun ban:

The result of the ban has been costly. Thousands of weapons were confiscated at great financial cost to the public. Hundreds of thousands of police hours were devoted to the task. But in the six years since the 1997 handgun ban, crimes with the very weapons banned have more than doubled, and firearm crime has increased markedly. In 2002, for the fourth consecutive year, gun crime in England and Wales rose—by 35 percent for all firearms, and by a whopping 46 percent for the banned handguns. Nearly 10,000 firearms offences were committed.

[…]According to Scotland Yard, in the four years from 1991 to 1995 crimes against the person in England‟s inner cities increased by 91 percent. In the four years from 1997 to 2001 the rate of violent crime more than doubled. The UK murder rate for 2002 was the highest for a century.

I think that peer-reviewed studies – from Harvard University, no less – should be useful to those of us who believe in the right of self-defense for law-abiding people. The book by economist John Lott, linked above,compares the crime rates of all U.S. states that have enacted concealed carry laws, and concludes that violent crime rates dropped after law-abiding citizens were allowed to carry legally-owned firearms. That’s the mirror image of Dr. Malcolm’s Harvard study, but both studies affirm the same conclusion – more legal firearm ownership means less crime.

Texas clinic injures woman in botched abortion

Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood
Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood

So, there’s very important case before the Supreme Court to decide whether Texas is allowed to regulate abortion clinics to make sure that they are safe for women. The Texas Republicans want abortion clinics to be inspected and regulated. But this reduces the profit margiun of the abortion clinic, because they cannot operate willy nilly.

Life News reports on what’s at stake.

Excerpt:

Less than 48 hours before the U. S. Supreme Court will hear a pivotal Texas abortion case focused on women’s safety, an ambulance transported a woman from Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center, an abortion clinic in Dallas, Texas.

The ambulance was photographed by a pro-life activist at Southwestern Surgery Center on Monday, February 29, 2016, at about 1:06 p.m.

“This latest medical emergency at a Texas abortion facility only emphasizes abortion risks and how important it is for abortionists to maintain minimum safety standards and hospital privileges within 30 miles of their abortion facilities,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.

Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center is one of a handful of Texas abortion facilities that have been able to comply with ambulatory surgical center licensing requirements, which include the hospital privilege requirement that is being challenged by another Texas abortion business, Whole Women’s Health.

But even licensing as an ambulatory surgical center has not diminished the risk of complications to abortion that frequently send women to hospital emergency room for treatment that abortion facilities are not equipped to provide.

Life News reports on another case of this from Cleveland, OH:

When he saw the ambulance pull up to the Pre-term abortion facility in Cleveland, Ohio, Frank Kosmerl pulled off his gloves despite the sub-freezing temperatures and hit the record button on his camcorder.

It was the frigid morning of February 13, 2016, when Kosmerl, a long-time pro-life activist, captured alarming images showing EMS responders slowly wheeling out a patient covered tightly over the head with a doubled-over pink blanket.

[…]A new 911 audio recording just obtained by Operation Rescue has revealed that the woman on the gurney was a 22-year old patient who suffered a life-threatening medical emergency during late-term abortion Preterm, the same abortion center that inflicted a fatal abortion on another 22-year old woman, Lakisha Wilson, nearly two years ago.

This young woman was 21.3 weeks pregnant, according to the Preterm worker that dialed 911. Such late-term abortions are inherently risky, yet Preterm is inadequately equipped to handle complications that seem to arise there on a regular basis.

Curiously, while the Preterm employee who called 911 knew details of the patient’s care, she did not know — or would not say — exactly what “went wrong” during the late-term abortion.

Dispatcher: Tell me exactly what happened.

Preterm: We’re an abortion facility. She was in the middle of an abortion. She’s 21.3 weeks. And something went wrong during the procedure.

Moments later the dispatcher again asked what happened.

Dispatcher: What went wrong? Does she like have — Is she awake still?

Preterm: I don’t know, ma’am. I’m not in the room. So I’m assuming bleeding. Maybe a perforation? I don’t know.

[…]In the video, emergency workers are seen struggling to push the gurney from the rear of the icy, snow-packed parking lot.

This young woman was 21.3 weeks pregnant, according to the Preterm worker that dialed 911. Such late-term abortions are inherently risky, yet Preterm is inadequately equipped to handle complications that seem to arise there on a regular basis.

Now, if women’s health were so important to the pro-abortion crowd, then they would have no problems with inspections and regulations, right? After all, we don’t want a repeat of what happened to women at the Kermit Gosnell clinic, right? But no, the left is taking the law designed to protect women to the Supreme Court to have it overturned.

Democrats and abortion

Although Republicans have been busy passing pro-life laws, Democrats want to get rid of them all.

National Review explains.

Excerpt:

Readers will recall, though they will not enjoy it, the details of Dr. Gosnell’s case, the transcript of which reads like the screenplay for a Rob Zombie horror flick: the illegal abortions; the newborns who survived botched abortion attempts only to have their spinal cords severed with scissors; the obscenely unhygienic conditions, with free-ranging cats using the clinic as an open-air litter box; the dead patient and subsequent manslaughter conviction; and, finally, the murder convictions. The Gosnell gore-fest was a direct consequence of the elevation of abortion to divine office: Neither the local authorities in Democrat-dominated Philadelphia nor the Democrat-dominated statewide bureaucracies in Pennsylvania were much inclined to exercise basic oversight of abortion clinics. Even after a woman died under Dr. Gosnell’s knife, there was little interest in investigating his practice: It took allegations of illegal prescription-drug use and the piqued interest of the DEA to put Gosnell on the radar.

Senator Blumenthal proposes to apply the Philadelphia model to the nation at large. Under his bill, states would have effectively no power even to ensure that abortions are performed by licensed physicians — surely the most minimal standard of medical responsibility that there is. Laws covering grisly late-term abortions would be forcibly overturned and fetal viability would be redefined according to the subjective whim of the abortionist. While the Democrats are bemoaning a fictitious war on women, their bill would provide federal protection to sex-selective abortions — the barbaric practice under which generations of girls have been decimated in such backward jurisdictions as China and Azerbaijan, a practice The Economist describes as “gendercide.” Laws restricting taxpayer funding of abortion would be overturned. Laws protecting the consciences of physicians who choose not to perform abortions would be overturned.

That’s one of the reasons that it’s important for us to elect a pro-lifer as President. Because the ability to pass common sense restrictions and regulations on abortion is threatened by the judicial activism of liberal judges.