The federal bench, more and more, determines the policy of federal and state government. So it is an indication of conflict over the direction of our nation that President Obama appointed Caitlin Halligan, who is General Council of the District Attorney’s Office in the City of New York, to the post of judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Republicans in the Senate, however, blocked that appointed by preventing cloture.
Halligan, who had been Solicitor General for Elliot Spitzer, the disgraced former Governor of New York, had engaged in the sort of legal advocacy that placed her on the extreme of American politics. Among the activist cases that she supported were these: Pro-life groups that are engaged in opposing abortions are guilty of extortion; colleges are proper in using race as a criteria for admitting students; illegal immigrants should be allowed back pay for labor disputes in our country; the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to use the Clean Air Act to regulate the so-called “Greenhouse Gases”; and gun manufacturers may be sued for crimes committed with the weapons they made.
Although President Obama said that he was “deeply disappointed” in what he described as Republican obstructionism, in fact in the vote for cloture in the Senate, which requires 60 votes, Obama could muster only 54 votes, and the President could not even get every member of his own political party to support a procedural measure like cloture.
Six of the top seven GOP presidential candidates addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition December 7, with only Ron Paul being excluded from the forum by organizers because of the Texas Congressman's opposition to all foreign aid.
The U.S. Senate has returned to the debate over whether the proceedings of the Supreme Court should be televised. Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have cosponsored the Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2011. The measure was introduced on December 5, 10 years after the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act was authored by Senator Grassley and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
A companion bill of identical name was introduced in the House the following day by Representative Gerry Connolly (D-Va.). That bill is currently under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.
The legislation, presented on Monday, would "permit television coverage of all open sessions of the Court unless the Court decides, by a vote of the majority of justices, that allowing such coverage in a particular case would constitute a violation of the due process rights of 1 or more of the parties before the Court."
Setting aside the rare reference by anyone in Congress to the protection of constitutional civil liberties, there is the more interesting question of whether or not the Congress has the constitutional authority to mandate anything to one of the other branches of the federal government.
In a letter sent last week to members of the state legislature, Alabama's Attorney General recommends repealing key provisions of the state's well-publicized anti-illegal immigration statute.
Attorney General Luther Strange suggests the repeal of at least two of the law's more controversial sections, both of which are currently not being enforced per an injunction handed down by a federal appeals court. Specifically, the sections suggested for scrapping include one that makes it a crime for illegal aliens to be to be detained while not in possession of proper immigration documentation, and another mandating that the state's public schools maintain a registry of their students' immigration status.
In the memo dated December 1, Strange set out his purpose in making the recommendation for removal of elements of the state statute: "My goals are to (1) make the law easier to defend in court; (2) assist law enforcement in implementation; and (3) remove burdens on law abiding citizens. All while not weakening the law."
In October, both of these portions of the law (HB 56) were blocked from being enforced by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in Atlanta. The Obama administration sued Alabama, asserting that by enacting the law the state legislature and Governor violated the Constitution by legislating in an area over which the federal government has exclusive authority.
Democrats are reportedly thrilled by Newt Gingrich's recent rise in the polls and hopeful that he will be the Republican nominee — because they believe that President Obama could easily defeat Gingrich. The Democrat most noticeably excited about the prospects of a Gingrich nomination is Nancy Pelosi, who worked with Gingrich for many years. Talking Points Memo (TPM) explains,
On December 2, the headline on businessweek.com read: “Boehner Leads Drive to Take Away Obama Power to Issue Rules.” Seems the Speaker of the House wants to preserve to Congress the right to sign off on any rule promulgated by an executive branch agency that would cost more than $100 million to the businesses to be regulated.
The Speaker’s effort to restrain the runaway executive branch is a far cry from the tone he struck in his victory speech on election night last year as his party won a powerful majority of seats in the lower house. In that jubilant address, Boehner said, “While our new majority will serve as your voice in the people’s House, we must remember it is the president who sets the agenda for our government....”
For a man who prides himself on his devotion to the Constitution, the foregoing assessment of the power of the President is woefully ignorant and absolutely constitutionally unsound.
Were the Speaker of the House to spend a bit of time himself reading the document he insisted be read at the opening of the 112th Congress, perhaps he would understand that the “agenda” for the federal government (all three branches) is established by way of the enumerated powers set out in the Constitution. The authority granted to each branch is specifically set forth in the various articles of the Constitution (particularly Articles I-III), and they are few and well-defined.
The Democratic Party in Washington is an empty shell that has been filled by a radical leftist entity called the Shadow Party. For all practical purposes, it is the Socialist Party of America pretending to be the Democratic Party. The Shadow Party could have easily been conceived as a new radical leftist third political party, but by filling the shell of the Democratic Party it can take advantage of all the power that the Democrats have in Congress.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, in his New York Times column titled "Free to Die" (9/15/2011), pointed out that back in 1980, his late fellow Nobel laureate Milton Friedman lent his voice to the nation's shift to the political right in his famous 10-part TV series, "Free To Choose." Nowadays, Krugman says, "'free to choose' has become 'free to die.'" He was referring to a GOP presidential debate in which Rep. Ron Paul was asked what should be done if a 30-year-old man who chose not to purchase health insurance found himself in need of six months of intensive care. Paul correctly, but politically incorrectly, replied, "That's what freedom is all about — taking your own risks." CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer pressed his question further, asking whether "society should just let him die." The crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of "Yeah!", which led Krugman to conclude that "American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions." Professor Krugman is absolutely right; our nation is faced with a conflict of moral visions. Let's look at it.
If a person without health insurance finds himself in need of costly medical care, let's investigate just how might that care be provided.
The City of New York Department of Education allows different sorts of groups to use school facilities for after-school activities. But is God allowed in any of those activities? Is God allowed at all on the campuses of New York City schools?
The Bronx Household of Faith outgrew its meeting places in private homes. It applied, in 1994, for the right to meet in Public School 15 in the Bronx for Sunday services. This started a long legal battle with the city, which just ended when the Supreme Court declined to review lower court decisions that had upheld the city of New York’s ban on the evangelical congregation using the school.
Ten years ago, it seemed the organization would win its fight. In a case in the Medford, New York School System, the Good News Club had won the right to use space in public school for after-hours activities even though prayer, Bible lessons, and scripture reading were included in those activities.
The Bronx Household of Faith could also take some heart from the fact that it was not the only religious organization that had been using school facilities. An estimated 60 churches in 2009 were using school facilities, and that number was growing. The city estimates that in the last school year 160 congregations used schools to meet. This is not free:
Donald Trump told Bret Baier on Fox News’ "Special Report” last Friday that he might still run for President this election cycle. "If I endorse somebody, I’m with that person," he said. "But if somebody else gets in who I think is somebody that I don’t think is appropriate for the job, [who] I don’t think would [do] well and would maybe not be a good president, and if the economy continues to be bad, I would run as an independent, yes."