Judiciary

How Might the Supreme Court Rule on Obama’s Executive Amnesty?

The Supreme Court agreed this morning to take the case of Texas and 25 other states who sued the federal government over the Obama administration’s unilateral executive action to limit deportations of certain illegal immigrants. The program was halted by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in November over the costs to the states resulting from the program, not its inherent (un)constitutionality.

Obama authorized the DAPA program after Congress rejected a similar legislative proposal to defer deportations for children brought here by their parents…and those parents themselves. That separation of powers argument is the main problem with the program, as I’ve argued before.

Although it’s not explicit in the Constitution, the intent of the separation of powers was for Congress to write federal policy and the President to enact it. The President doesn’t get to write his own policy if Congress refuses to do as he wishes. This Supreme Court decision may end up ruling on that very broad issue, or it could rule on the merits of the DAPA program.

A Thought Experiment: Fraternity Initiation Gone Horribly Wrong

Freddie Gray

I would like to conduct a little thought experiment.

It seems that quite a few people have very strong opinions about the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore. Some of you see this as a race issue, others as a police issue (cops either almost always have halos or devil horns), and a few see this as the human tragedy it truly is. Some believe that there simply isn’t enough proof to bring charges against the six police officers. They are being railroaded and overcharged some say (I would like to point out that overcharging non-cops and railroading non-cops in the justice system is an everyday occurrence). I would like to remove these variables and see if we come up with a different conclusion if we change the actors.

Let’s say that instead of six cops putting Freddie Gray in a paddy wagon its six fraternity brothers (of any race you wish, but let’s say they are all of the same race…use your imagination) from the (fill in the blank) chapter doing an initiation. At this point in the story, our analogue for Freddie Gray is a pledge who wants to join this fraternity. Let’s call him Jim.

Are you with me so far?

Now that we know who the actors are let’s continue…

Several of the fraternity brothers find Jim and start the initiation process. They put Jim in hand cuffs and call the rest of the fraternity brothers who eventually pull up in a van. As they begin to put Jim in the van, he begins to panic.

“I can’t breathe, I need my inhaler!” Jim says.

The fraternity brothers ignore Jim’s concerns and proceed to put him in the back of the van.

NLRB Illegally Wades into Labor Dispute; Private Sector Fights Back

Just a couple of short years after using litigation to intimidate Boeing into either allowing new South Carolina employees to organize, or to move those new jobs to a state with stronger labor protections, two regional directors of Obama’s National Labor Relations Board asserted themselves in a labor dispute in New York earlier this year between Cablevision and the Communications Workers of America union. The NLRB, however, doesn’t have the authority to wade into the dispute because a D.C. Circuit Court ruled in January that Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB were illegal.

Cablevision, according to the Wall Street Journal, sought emergency injunctive relief from that same D.C. Circuit Court earlier this year to stop the NLRB from trying to adjudicate the dispute in the agency’s administrative court:

Cablevision is petitioning the D.C. Circuit to issue a writ of mandamus—a direct court order—prohibiting the NLRB from proceeding with unfair-labor-practice complaints against it and its parent company, CSC Holdings. Cablevision’s rationale is straightforward: The same D.C. Circuit ruled in January that President Obama’s non-recess recess appointments to the NLRB were illegal. Thus, the board has been operating without a quorum since January 2012….

Why We Need Guns for Self-Defense

Second Amendment

You may have heard about the recent slaying of a Texas district attorney and his wife in their home. It follows the brazen daylight killing of a prosecutor in the same county, and it has everyone on edge. This is what local law enforcement is going through:

The judge was on the phone.

“Yep, I said I’ll do anything,” Bruce Wood told the person on the other end, rubbing his forehead. “They asked me to do a eulogy. I don’t know what I’m going to say.”

Elsewhere in the Kaufman County Courthouse, a sheriff’s deputy was handing out bulletproof vests. “I brought the smallest one,” he said to a secretary, who stared at the khaki armor as he explained how to adjust the side straps should the need arise. “These have the neck for a female.”

Outside, two armed guards escorted a white-haired judge from his parked car to the mirrored doors of the yellow brick courthouse in a county where little seemed the same anymore.

“Judge! How are you doing?” shouted a reporter.

“Everybody is making do as best as we can,” he said.

Reuters Completely and Willfully Ignores What “Recess Appointments” Are

Reuters

In what appears to be the start of a recurring feature here at United Liberty, reporters David Ingram and Aruna Viswanatha at Reuters completely, totally, and I wonder if deliberately, mess up the entire situation around President Obama and his NLRB appointments, which were declared unconstitutional last week by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. This is what they wrote:

While President Barack Obama considers his next move in one high-stakes legal fight to fill vacant jobs, his lawyers expect to go to court at least twice more to argue for his power to appoint when the U.S. Senate is not meeting.

Federal appeals courts in both Philadelphia and Richmond, Virginia, are likely to hear the issue of recess appointments in March, possibly during the same week.

The hearings will be an opportunity for Obama’s lawyers to rebound after a blockbuster ruling on Friday, when a court in Washington, D.C., held that three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were invalid.

Although the three-judge ruling on Friday upturned 190 years of understanding about how a president may fill vacant jobs, it will not take effect immediately.

Except there is one major, major flaw with their story: The United States Senate was in session.

That means that these were not true recess appointments; since the Senate was in session, Obama had no authority to just appoint these officers, they had to be confirmed by the Senate.

Election Eve Meditation

Cross-posted from The Dangerous Servant.

RomneyObamaCaricatures

I don’t like to make political endorsements and, on principle, I certainly don’t discuss my vote before an election (the protection a secret ballot offers me from harassment and intimidation only works if I keep my preference a secret). I was stunned to read in an email yesterday, “I had no idea high-information, intelligent undecided voters even existed!” You know, as if the choice between an underwhelming incumbent president, an underwhelming challenger, a list of names with no mathematical chance to win, and not voting at all is an easy one to make. If your only goal is to beat the incumbent, then your decision is easier than mine. I, however, don’t only want to beat the incumbent; I want to elect a president worthy of the exercise of one of my most sacred rights, the right to vote.

The One Petition You’ll Ever Need

TSA

If you know me personally, outside of the blogosphere, you know that I generally hold a dim view of online petitions. I generally don’t think they mean much, they mostly get ignored by whomever is being petitioned. However, the First Amendment provides for the people “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” And, with the rise of sites such as Change.org and even the White House’s own petition center, petitions are slowly gaining some traction. People do pay attention, if only because they’re afraid of the PR fallout.

With that in mind, I’m here to show you the one online petition you should be caring about. It was started by the Cato Institute’s Director of Information Policy Studies Jim Haper, and it literally says: Require the Transportation Security Administration to Follow the Law!

Harper explains on Cato-At-Liberty:

A year ago this coming Sunday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered the Transportation Security Administration to do a notice-and-comment rulemaking on its use of Advanced Imaging Technology (aka “body-scanners” or “strip-search machines”) for primary screening at airports. (The alternative for those who refuse such treatment: a prison-style pat-down.) It was a very important ruling, for reasons I discussed in a post back then. The TSA was supposed to publish its policy in the Federal Register, take comments from the public, and issue a final rule that responds to public input.

So far, it hasn’t done any of those things.

Morning After: More SCOTUS Reflections from a Non-Lawyer

In reaction to my post yesterday, and lots of other punditry around the web, my friend Rusty Weiss of Mental Recession fame (he recently celebrated six months of blogging!) emailed me to say he’s tired of having to settle for silver linings — that he want points on the board.

A lot of us — political activists, policy geeks, and court watchers alike — were disappointed with the outcome of yesterday’s ruling. We wanted a full takedown of Obamacare, for both substantive and political reasons. Instead, we got a ruling that the president’s signature legislative achievement passes constitutional muster, even if it was most peculiarly reasoned.

Silver Linings in SCOTUS Obamacare Ruling

[Editor’s note: This post should not be construed as an endorsement of Mitt Romney or of Republican candidates for U.S. Senate or U.S. House in 2012. The author is a political media strategist by trade.]

Regular readers know I am not a lawyer, and that I do not specialize in health policy. I also did not come to Washington through Capitol Hill and am therefore no expert in parliamentary procedure. Still, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare — some original, some not — and they’re not all bad.

First, here’s the opinion itself (PDF).

Second, the greatest legal minds on the left have spent the last couple of years arguing that the individual mandate is constitutional under authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause. The Court summarily rejected this argument, and that is great for individual liberty. Congress does not, as Obamacare opponents have argued all along, have the power to force you to buy health insurance, broccoli, or anything else. It does not have power to regulate economic inactivity.

Third, the mandate was upheld because Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the penalty for not purchasing health insurance can reasonably be construed as a tax. Because the power to tax is an enumerated power of Congress as outlined in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, this provision of the law was upheld.

An interesting political point — in September 2009, fearing political blowback from pushing so hard for the law, the president flatly rejected that Obamacare constituted a tax increase on Americans during a recession:

Who Has The Party Delegates?

What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.

During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.

Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.

Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.


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