Playing Politics with the Constitution

What kind of judge do we want as a replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy?

Folks are talking about a President Donald Trump nominee being a shoo-in because Republicans have a majority in the Senate, and there’s no filibustering of judicial nominations.  I’m not so sure.

The Left, of course, are crying the End of Times and the end of Roe v Wade, but that’s less a factor than a more pernicious conflict in the offing.

Late Thursday, the president met with a bipartisan group of six senators who will play a pivotal role in selecting Mr Kennedy’s successor because they have deviated from their party on key votes in the past. The lawmakers signaled they want an ideological centrist….

Pick One

Tony James, Blackstone Executive Vice Chairman, thinks his Progressive-Democratic Party needs to become a party of growth and inclusive prosperity.

The problem is that the Party is a Progressive one and becoming a socialist one.  This is not contradictory; the two ideologies are political allies if not siblings, too, and they’re not far apart economically.  The Party’s embrace of the former is demonstrated by Barack Obama’s, Hillary Clinton’s, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D, CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D, NY), Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D, MA), Senator Kamala Harris (D, CA), newly ascendant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ (D, NY), and a host of others’ loud and enthusiastic embrace of progressivism.  The Party’s embrace of the latter is demonstrated by the strength of Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I, VT) and Ocasio-Cortez’ socialism within Party circles.

A Related Note

I wrote recently about the Court’s ruling on Janus v AFCME Council 31, which eliminated public service unions’ ability to collect “agency fees” from non union members.

The dissent by Justice Elena Kagan and joined by her three cohorts in the Court’s liberal wing is instructive, and it foreshadows the kind of government we can expect from today’s “liberals,” should they succeed in gaining control of one or both Houses of Congress and then of the White House.

Capital Gains Taxes

Folks styling themselves conservatives want Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to index capital gains taxes for inflation—and to do it by Executive Branch fiat.  Mnuchin, though, is reluctant to do so, not least because he’s unsure whether Treasury actually has the authority.  He’s also not convinced that Congress shouldn’t set such a requirement.

Mnuchin is right, though—this sort of thing should be determined legislatively rather than by Executive Branch regulation, Executive Order, or other diktat.  That’s the Conservative position.

Too, Congress should not be allowed to duck the matter: put the Congressmen on the record with their words and votes—every single one of them.

Independence

The People’s Republic of China’s government is in a tizzy because some international airlines, on their flight schedules, still don’t refer to “Taiwan” as a part of the PRC.  And, like José Jiménez, they don’t want to talk about it.

China has rebuffed a US request for talks about China’s demand for international airlines to start referring to Taiwan as part of China[.]

There’s nothing to discuss, and we shouldn’t be trying.

The Republic of China is a sovereign and independent nation.

Full stop.

The Supremes Get One Right

Resoundingly so.  Janus v AFCME Council 31 is a case originating in Illinois concerning a public service union’s ability to collect a per centage of ordinary union dues—agency fees—from non-union members who work alongside the union’s bargaining unit in for a government agency.  A 40-year-old Supreme Court precedent, Abood v Detroit Board of Education, upheld this ability.

The Court’s opinion (a 5-4 majority) is summarized in the syllabus:

The State’s extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violates the First Amendment. Abood erred in concluding otherwise, and stare decisis cannot support it. Abood is therefore overruled.

Rescissions and Politics

Senator Richard Burr (R, NC), recall, voted against a rescission of $15 billion  in unspent money because he wanted to preserve $15 million in unspent money in the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The good Senator, objecting to The Wall Street Journal having called him out, wrote a Letter to the Editor, explaining himself.  The center of his argument is this:

The LWCF isn’t, as you suggest, a “slush fund” or a “land grab.” Nor is it a piggy bank Washington should raid at its convenience. Instead, it is a rare example of an effective government program that costs taxpayers nothing and benefits them entirely.

The Supremes Get Another One Right

Sort of.  Mostly.

A deeply divided Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s latest ban on travel to the US by people from several Muslim-majority countries, in a ruling Tuesday that hands the White House a victory on one of its most central—and controversial—initiatives.

Small point, and it’s on The Wall Street Journal, not the Supreme Court: it’s not a ban on travel, it’s a moratorium.  The moratorium will be lifted on each of those countries when it becomes possible to accurately vet travelers from those countries.  A ban is broad and permanent.

Privatize It

Among the proposals the Trump administration has offered for drastically restructuring and shrinking the Federal government is one for privatizing the US’ Postal Service.

Of course, the American Postal Workers Union opposes the move, but that’s just wind in the trees and nothing to take seriously.  The union claims that such a move would harm e-commerce and rural America as well as do away with regular mail and package service at affordable costs.  Because competition in the market place doesn’t drive down costs or spur innovation.  And because we all need our regular, daily fix of junk mail.

An Ego Move

…by a flake.  Senator Jeff Flake (D R, AZ) says he’s going to block any and all judicial nominees until he gets his way.

Myself and a number of senators, at least a few of us, will stand up and say let’s not move any more judges until we get a vote, for example, on tariffs[.]

This is just another ego move by a flake Senator.  Were Jeff Flake serious about this, he would have moved before he rendered himself a lame duck Senator; there were plenty of questions on which he could have done this sort of thing besides tariffs.  He chose to wait, though, until there would be no consequences for his ego trip.