Supreme Court

SCOTUS accepts judicial sentencing tyranny in drug case

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It may sound like a case out of the kangaroo courts of North Korea or Cuba, but chillingly, it comes from the very heart of our republic.

In 2007 a Washington, D.C. man, Antwuan Ball, was convicted of one count of selling $600 worth of cocaine and acquitted of several other charges alleging a conspiracy of drug distribution, murder, and racketeering. However, the district court used the charges of which he was acquitted to increase his sentence from a few years for the one drug deal to 19 years for the conspiracy. Six years later, in 2013, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the sentence. And in a final act of injustice, the Supreme Court this week refused to hear the appeal, rendering permanent Ball’s sentence on charges for which he was acquitted.

The level of tyranny being tacitly endorsed here by 6 members of the highest court in the land is hard to exaggerate and to fathom. Judges should have a certain measure of discretion to level appropriate sentences after a conviction, but using charges for which the defendent was specifically acquitted for that purpose is against the entire spirit of due process and the Bill of Rights.

It just keeps getting worse for Democrats: Obamacare disapproval hits an all-time high

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a new poll this morning showing that unfavorable views of Obamacare have jumped to an all-time high since they began tracking opinions of the law in April 2010.

Kaiser’s July tracking poll shows that 53 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Obamacare, a significant jump from June’s 45 percent. Thirty-seven percent view the law favorably, down from 39 percent last month.

The crosstabs reveal that the unfavorable views of Obamacare increased across party lines, though Democrats and independent-leaning Democrats still remain the law’s biggest supporters. Republicans and independent-leaning Republicans remain the law’s biggest opponents.

Fifty-nine percent of self-identified independents, however, have an unfavorable view of Obamacare, while 31 percent have a favorable view.

Sixty percent want Congress to “work to improve” Obamacare, while 35 want to repeal and replace it. “Even among Republicans and those with an unfavorable view of the law,” Kaiser explains, “about a third would prefer to see the law improved rather than repealed and replaced (32 percent and 36 percent, respectively).”

Here we go: Obamacare subsidies challengers have asked the Supreme Court to hear their case

Cross your fingers, folks. The plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, which, like Halbig v. Burwell, deals with the subsidies provided to consumers on the federal Obamacare Exchange, have asked the Supreme Court to hear the their case:

Their lawsuit was dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which ruled that the Obama administration can legally award the subsidies through federally run insurance exchanges — not just those run by the states themselves. The individuals behind King v. Burwell say the subsidies are being improperly awarded through Virginia’s federally run exchange.

Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the goal is to get the issue resolved as quickly as possible, since millions of Americans obtaining insurance subsidies could be affected. The conservative group is funding the litigation.

“A fast resolution is also vitally important to the states that chose not to set up exchanges, to the employers in those states who face either major compliance costs or huge penalties, and to employees who face possible layoffs or reductions in their work hours as a result of this illegal IRS rule,” Kazman said in a statement Thursday. “Our petition today to the Supreme Court represents the next step in that process.”

Hobby Lobby wasn’t really about birth control, it was about an abuse of government power

On January 8, 2012, former Clinton spokesperson in his putative role as objective moderator of a Republican presidential primary debate fired the first warning shot in what soon became known as the “War on Women.” He asked the candidates if birth control was included in the right to privacy and if states had the right to ban it.

In what was surely a total coincidence (totally, you guys!), just days later the Obama administration would declare the federal contraception mandate for all insurance-providing companies to provide copay-free birth control in their coverage.

The War was on, contraceptives instantly became a legal right (read: entitlement), anyone who opposed forcing companies to pay for them hated women, the term “slut” became both an intolerable slur and a badge of honor, the administration and the courts both carved out religious exemptions that shrill harpies decried as emerging theocracy, and men were suddenly illegitimate politically since only women were justified in voting on health issues.

All of this is, of course, ridiculous. But the issue is now so viscerally charged that it is untouchable in the public discourse. So let’s uncharge it with a hypothetical allegory.

WHAT IF…

As part of a new Healthy America plan, Congress passed a comprehensive nutrition, exercise, and health bill, including a federal mandate for all employers with over 50 employees that requires they have a cafeteria that provides balanced meals to all employees working at least 30 hours per week.

Harry Reid has apparently forgotten that Clarence Thomas is an African-American

During a press conference yesterday in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) criticized the “five white men” who voted to extend religious freedom protections to owners of held businesses in the Hobby Lobby case.

“The one thing we are going to do during this work period — sooner rather than later — is to ensure that women’s lives are not determined by virtue of five white men,” said Reid. “This Hobby Lobby decision is outrageous and we are going to do something about it. People are going to have to walk down here and vote. And if they vote with the five men on the Supreme Court, I think they’re going to be treated unfavorably come November for the elections.”

Reid and Democrats are trying to play up the Hobby Lobby decision as a wedge issue in the election to get their base out to the polls this fall. Whatever. That’s one of the few cards they have to play while everything else is burning down around them.

Today in Liberty: Obama still avoiding border visit during fundraising trip, Ted Cruz is really not happy with the NRSC

“There is something fundamentally unfair about a government that takes away so much of people’s money, power, and personal control while telling them that life will be better as a result.” — Steve Forbes

— Obama will discuss border crisis in Texas, but won’t visit the border: Facing increasing political pressure over the “humanitarian crisis” (his words) at the United States’ Southwest border, President Barack Obama will meet with local officials and church leaders to discuss the issue today in Dallas. But he still won’t visit the border during the two-day swing in which he’s set to raise money for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). “The roundtable discussion in Dallas is seen by the White House as a way to address the immigration issue while avoiding awkward optics at the border,” the Associated Press explains. “Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have arrived there in recent months, many fleeing violence in Central America, but also drawn by rumors that they can stay in the U.S. White House officials say most are unlikely to qualify for humanitarian relief and will be sent back to their home countries.” The meeting is going to provide more fodder for congressional Republicans as well as Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who has asked President Obama to visit the border during his trip to the Lone Star State. Pundits on MSNBC’s Morning Joe suggested on Wednesday that President Obama could offend the Democratic Party’s base if he visited the border.

Decades of failed big government regulations and crony capitalism led to the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision

Hobby Lobby

Monday’s response on social media to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (read SCOTUSblog’s coverage here) was absolutely hysterical and largely misdirected.

There’s really no need to re-live the experience in this post, but it is important that — once the hysteria and hyperbole has died down — we examine the facts of the case and the decades of government intervention that ultimately led to this decision.

The fact of the matter is Hobby Lobby provides 16 of the 20 forms of preventative contraceptives mandated by Obamacare. Furthermore, Hobby Lobby employees who wish to have access to the other four forms of birth control could conceivably get it through Obamacare

Calmly explaining the ruling through Monday’s cacophony of misinformation, TIME’s Kate Pickert writes:

Today in Liberty: Americans say Obama is the worst president in 70 years, Senate Dems push for vote on crony Ex-Im Bank

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” — William Pitt

— Obama is the worst president since World War II: But George W. Bush isn’t far behind, according to a new survey from Quinnipiac University. “President Barack Obama is the worst president since World War II, 33 percent of American voters say in a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today,” Quinnipiac notes. “Another 28 percent pick President George W. Bush.” Richard Nixon was a distant third, with 13 percent. Ronald Reagan was the top-choice for best president over the same timeframe, followed by Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy. It’s worth noting that Obama finished fourth on that list, while Bush 43 was tied for last place. Also worth noting is that Americans believe that the country would be better off if Mitt Romney had won the 2012 presidential election.

The Supreme Court just handed a huge victory to Hobby Lobby: Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate violates religious liberty

Hobby Lobby

The Supreme Court ruled this morning that closely-held corporations with religious beliefs are protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and do not have to comply with Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate.

In the 5 to 2 decision, the High Court explained that the federal government cannot compel Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties, through tax penalties, to provide contraceptive coverage that they believe is morally unacceptable according to their religious beliefs.

“As we have seen, [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] was designed to provide very broad protection for religious liberty. By enacting RFRA, Congress went far beyond what this Court has held is constitutionally required,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. “Is there any reason to think that the Congress that enacted such sweeping protection put small-business owners to the choice that HHS suggests? An examination of RFRA’s text…reveals that Congress did no such thing.”

Alito explained that the business owners in the case make no objection to most forms of birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but rather the four methods — Plan B, Ella, and two forms of IUDs — that they believe prevent the fertilization of an egg. The business owners consider these to be tantamount to abortion and fundamentally inconsistent with their religious beliefs.

Today in Liberty: Hobby Lobby decision coming this morning, Obama taps ex-Procter & Gamble CEO to lead the VA

“The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.” — George Orwell

— Obamacare contraceptive ruling expected this morning: The Supreme Court will release its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores (formerly Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores) at 10 a.m. this morning. At issue in the case is whether Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate infringes upon religious beliefs of Hobby Lobby’s owner, David Green, who founded the business on Christian values. The Obama administration has exempted some religious organizations, including churches and schools, from the mandate. But businesses are still being forced to offer plans that cover birth control, even if it violates the beliefs on which they were founded. Though the Green family is opposed to abortion and considers certain contraceptives to be morally reprehensible, the case and others like it are about religious liberty. If the mandate stands, Hobby Lobby faces penalties totaling $26 million per year. Most observers, however, expect Hobby Lobby to succeed, though how far the Court will be willing to go remains to be seen, given the implications. We’ll have a story about the Hobby Lobby decision later this morning.


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