mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Jim DeMint Looking Over His Shoulder”: Trump Made A Big Promise Aimed At Winning Over Nervous Conservatives

It sort of got lost in competing news about his efforts to seem a mite more normal now that he’s almost certain to head to Cleveland in July as the leader in delegates, if not the putative nominee, but Donald Trump made a very unusual and highly significant promise aimed right at the beating heart of movement conservatism:

Speaking at the construction site for his new hotel in Washington, D.C., Monday, Trump said he will make a list public in the next week of 10 conservative judges that he would consider nominating to the Supreme Court. If elected, Trump said, he would only pick from that list, which is being made in consultation with the conservative Heritage Foundation.

He first made that promise over the weekend in Florida, and he seems to want to make sure it’s widely heard. This means somebody is giving him good advice about how to address the concerns of conservatives about his ideological reliability.

Of all the things they fear about a President Trump, the most urgent is that he will throw away a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape SCOTUS and constitutional law. And of all the temptations they have to hold their noses and support the man despite all of his heresies and erratic behavior, the most powerful would be the confident belief that at least he would position the Court to overrule Roe v. Wade, protect Citizens United, overturn Obama’s executive orders, eviscerate regulation of businesses, inoculate religion-based discrimination, and maybe even introduce a new Lochner era of constitutionally enshrined property rights. This would be a legacy that might well outweigh the risks associated with a Trump presidency.

Promising to make his SCOTUS list public right now is smart, because otherwise it’s an empty promise, and involving the Heritage Foundation in developing it is key to its credibility. Not only has Heritage had a long history of vetting Republican appointees; its current president, Jim DeMint, is arguably the most reliable of “constitutional conservatives,” a man who believes conservative policy prescriptions ought to be permanently protected from the occasional liberal majority via a divinely inspired and unchanging Supreme Law.

Bonding with conservatives over SCOTUS makes some psychological sense for Trump as well. Nothing symbolizes the betrayal of the conservative rank and file — whose abiding exemplar is arguably the humble anti-choice activist staffing phone banks and licking envelopes to protect the unborn from “baby-killers” — by those GOP elites in Washington better than the long string of Republican SCOTUS appointees who have turned out to be traitors to the Cause, from Roe v. Wade author Harry Blackmun to the generally liberal John Paul Stevens and David Souter to the current Obamacare-protecting chief justice. If Trump can break that pattern with Jim DeMint looking over his shoulder, maybe he won’t be that bad for conservatism after all.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 22, 2016

March 23, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Donald Trump, Jim DeMint, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Delivering The Promised Conservative Paradise?”: The Supreme Court Is Poised To Deliver Conservatives A String Of Big Victories

The Supreme Court’s new term begins today, and it brings with it a paradox. On one hand, the Court is poised to deliver conservatives a string of sweeping, consequential victories on issues covering a wide swath of American life. On the other, conservatives are up in arms about how they’ve been betrayed by the Court, and particularly by Chief Justice John Roberts, despite the fact that Roberts has in all but a couple of cases been as reliable a conservative vote as they could have hoped for.

Let’s look at what’s coming. Among the cases the Court will be hearing are an affirmative action case involving the University of Texas, a case asking whether congressional districts must adhere to a “one person, one vote” standard, a case testing state restrictions meant to shut down abortion clinics, a case asking whether public-sector unions can require non-members who benefit from their collective bargaining to contribute to those efforts, and yet another lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act’s contraception provision.

While a couple of them may be in doubt, it’s entirely possible that by the time this term ends next June, the Court will have driven the final stake into affirmative action, struck a fatal blow against public-sector unions, enhanced Republican power in legislatures by reducing the representation of areas with large Hispanic populations, given a green light for Republican-run states to make abortions all but impossible to obtain, and undermined the ACA. Even if one or two of those don’t  go how Court observers expect, it’s almost certainly going to be a great term for Republicans.

And while they’ve had a couple of recent high-profile defeats at the Court, conservatives have enjoyed a conservative majority for a couple of decades now. Yes, Anthony Kennedy sometimes joins with liberals, as he did in the case legalizing same-sex marriage. But just in the last few years, they’ve seen the doors of campaign finance thrown open to unlimited spending by corporations and billionaires; the Voting Rights Act gutted; affirmative action all but outlawed; an individual right to own guns created for the first time in American history; corporations granted religious rights to exempt themselves from laws they don’t like and sectarian prayer allowed at government meetings; unions undermined and employment discrimination suits made more difficult; and a whole series of less well-known decisions that enhance the power of the powerful, whether it’s the government or corporations.

Nevertheless, when you hear conservatives talk about the Court, they don’t say, “We need to make sure we get more conservative justices to keep winning.” Instead, they say, “We’ve been betrayed!” So what’s going on?

There are a couple of answers. The first is that they’re demanding not just a record of wins, but absolute perfection. They want not justices who will bring a conservative philosophy to the Court, but justices who will never stray from whatever it is the Republican Party wants at a particular time. The recent decision in King v. Burwell is a perfect example: the lawsuit itself was a joke, based on a series of claims about the Affordable Care Act that ran from the clearly false to the laughably ridiculous. When John Roberts sided with the majority to dismiss it — despite a long record of being on the “right” side of all the cases I mentioned above, plus many more — they declared him to be an irredeemable traitor.

The second reason is that narratives of betrayal are central to how conservatives understand history. Whenever events don’t turn out as they would like, whether it’s a foreign war or a lost election or a societal evolution, the story is always the same: We were betrayed, either by our opponents or by the people we thought were our allies. Was the Iraq War a terrible idea? No, we had it won — until Barack Obama betrayed us by pulling out. Why was George W. Bush so unpopular? Because he betrayed conservative principles by not cutting spending more, just like his father betrayed us by raising taxes (while the younger Bush was still president, longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie wrote a book entitled “Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big-Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause).” As Digby memorably wrote, “Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed. (And a conservative can only fail because he is too liberal.)” And it goes back as far as you want. Why did the Soviet Union come to dominate Eastern Europe? Because FDR betrayed us at Yalta.

It isn’t that there’s never any truth in this story, particularly when it comes to the Court. David Souter, for instance, turned out to be a genuine liberal, not at all what Republicans expected when he was appointed by George H. W. Bush. But they’ve gotten so used to the betrayal narrative that they place even a single setback into it. Which may explain why conservative opinions of the Court have changed so dramatically in recent years. According to Pew polls, in 2008, 80 percent of Republicans approved of the Supreme Court, compared to 64 percent of Democrats. By 2015, the views of Democrats hadn’t changed — their approval was at 62 percent. But Republican approval had fallen to 33 percent, despite all they had won at the Court over that time. A full 68 percent of conservative Republicans call the Court “liberal,” an idea that is absurd by any objective measure, but one that is regularly fed by conservative media and Republican politicians.

To be clear, Republicans are right to focus on the Supreme Court during the campaign, and Democrats ought to as well. As I’ve argued before, there may be no single issue more consequential for America’s future in this election than what will happen to the Supreme Court in the next four or eight years. But Republicans aren’t just arguing that it’s important for them to elect a Republican so they can get friendly justices, they’re arguing that even Republican presidents and Republican-appointed justices can’t be trusted not to turn into judicial Benedict Arnolds.

If you’re someone like Ted Cruz, this idea fits in nicely with the rest of your message, at least during the primaries: the real enemy isn’t the Democrats, it’s the feckless and unreliable Republican establishment that has failed to deliver the conservative paradise we were promised. Which is why no one is louder in condemning Roberts than Cruz (who supported Roberts wholeheartedly when he was nominated). But I wonder, will they change their tune when the Court gives them one victory after another over the next nine months?

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; The Plum Line, The Washington Post, October 6, 2015

October 7, 2015 Posted by | Conservatism, Conservatives, John Roberts, U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Chief Justice John Roberts Just Isn’t Far Enough To The Right”: When Even Conservative Justices Aren’t Conservative Enough

Over the weekend, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) added a new line of attack to his offensive against his party’s Beltway establishment: the Republican presidential hopeful insisted that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts just isn’t far enough to the right.

In fact, the GOP senator, who was an enthusiastic Roberts booster in 2005, even criticized former President George W. Bush for his reluctance to “spend some political capital” in support of a genuinely right-wing nominee.

Jeb Bush was asked in last night’s debate whether Cruz was right, and though the former governor’s answer meandered a bit, Bush suggested he’d nominate different kinds of justices than his brother: “Roberts has made some really good decisions, for sure, but he did not have a proven, extensive record that would have made the clarity the important thing, and that’s what we need to do. And I’m willing to fight for those nominees to make sure that they get passed. You can’t do it the politically expedient way anymore.”

Cruz added in response:

“I’ve known John Roberts for 20 years, he’s amazingly talented lawyer, but, yes, it was a mistake when he was appointed to the Supreme Court. […]

 “It is true that after George W. Bush nominated John Roberts, I supported his confirmation. That was a mistake and I regret that. I wouldn’t have nominated John Roberts.”

Watching this unfold last night, some viewers might have been left with the impression that Chief Justice Roberts is, well, retired Justice David Souter. One President Bush nominated a jurist who seemed conservative enough, but who turned out to approach the law from a center-left perspective, and then another President Bush did the same thing.

Except, that’s not even close to being true.

When Cruz and others on the right complain bitterly about Roberts, they’re generally referring to the justice’s rulings on the Affordable Care Act. But the fact remains that both of the major “Obamacare” rulings were genuinely ridiculous cases – and it’s not Roberts’ fault that he took the law, court precedent, and common sense seriously.

Health care cases notwithstanding, though, Roberts is not a moderate by any fair measurement. We are, after all, talking about a court that handed down the Citizens United ruling. And then later gutted the Voting Rights Act. Roberts didn’t even support marriage equality.

Souter he isn’t.

If Roberts isn’t radical enough for Cruz, who exactly would the Texas Republican like to see on the court? Three times last night he mentioned Judge Edith Jones of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Given Jones’ jaw-dropping record, that tells us an awful lot about Cruz.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Madow Blog, September 17, 2015

September 18, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, John Roberts, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Real Mainstay Of The Future Roberts Court”: Samuel Alito, More Than Just A Face In The Conservative Crowd

In an important piece today that’s worth reading and remembering, the New York Times‘ Linda Greenhouse profiles Samuel Alito–beginning his tenth year on the Supreme Court–as the true conservative titan of the U.S. Supreme Court, more so than the unreliable Roberts and Kennedy, the erratic Scalia or the eccentric Thomas.

[T]o the political right, and to a degree that has escaped general attention, Sam Alito is much more than just a face in the conservative crowd. He’s something special. He is a rock star — and not only for his headline appearances at gatherings of the conservative Federalist Society. He is the redemption of the promise that failed a quarter-century ago, when John H. Sununu, chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush, assured worried conservatives that the president had selected a hole-in-one Supreme Court nominee: David H. Souter.

Greenhouse does well to remind us of the Souter nomination, a grievous “stab in the back” to conservatives for which the Bush family has been doing penance ever since.

In the November issue of the religious journal First Things, Prof. Michael Stokes Paulsen, describing Justice Alito as the “man of the hour,” accurately labeled him “the most consistent, solid, successful conservative on the court,” adding: “There are louder talkers, flashier stylists, wittier wits, more-poisonous pens, but no one with a more level and solid swing than Justice Samuel Alito….”

He delivers: not only in the big cases, like Hobby Lobby last June, in which he wrote the majority opinion upholding the right of a corporation’s religious owners to an exemption from the federal mandate to include contraception coverage in their employee health plan, but also in less visible moves that don’t get much public attention but that speak powerfully to the base.

It sounds discordant to suggest that a Supreme Court justice has a base, but Sam Alito has one. One of several recent hagiographic articles in the right-wing press was one in the American Spectator back in May, describing Samuel Alito as “one of the noblest men in American public life today.”

Greenhouse goes on at some length to document Alito’s ideological consistency, and also his strategic savvy, particularly in signaling which kind of cases might offer the conservative bloc on the Court to undo some key progressive precedents. Indeed, the more you read about Alito, the more you can see him becoming the fulcrum of a future Roberts Court that’s been supplemented by another conservative appointment or two from a Republican president. He’s only 64, a relative youngster in the SCOTUS context. So he’s biding his time until the Court has been turned crucially in his direction. It’s all a bit chilling.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 9, 2015

January 12, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Samuel Alito, U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Failure Of Democracy”: Judge Richard Posner’s Unforced Error On Voter ID And Non-Existent Voter Fraud

Two weeks ago, Richard Posner, one of the most respected and iconoclastic federal judges in the country, startled the legal world by publicly stating that he’d made a mistake in voting to uphold a 2005 voter-ID law out of Indiana, and that if he had properly understood the abuse of such laws, the case “would have been decided differently.”

For the past ten days, the debate over Judge Posner’s comments has raged on, even drawing a response from a former Supreme Court justice.

The law in question requires voters to show a photo ID at the polls as a means of preventing voter fraud. Opponents sued, saying it would disenfranchise those Indianans without photo IDs — most of whom were poor, elderly, or minorities. State officials said the law was necessary, even though no one had ever been prosecuted for voter fraud in Indiana.

Judge Posner claimed, during an Oct. 11 interview with HuffPost Live, that at the time of the ruling, he “did not have enough information … about the abuse of voter identification laws” to strike down the Indiana statute. But he also said the dissenting judge on the panel, Terence Evans, had gotten it “right” when he wrote that the law was “a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout” by certain voters who tended to vote Democratic. (It was passed on a straight party-line vote by a Republican-controlled legislature.)

Last Thursday, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens sounded several of the same notes, telling the Wall Street Journal that while he “isn’t a fan of voter ID,” his own 2008 opinion upholding Judge Posner’s ruling was correct — given the information available at the time. Incidentally, Justice David Souter dissented for roughly the same reasons as Judge Evans, and Justice Stevens now says that “as a matter of history,” Justice Souter “was dead right.”

But all the judges had the same record in front of them at the time. So what information did the dissenters rely on that Judge Posner and Justice Stevens did not? That’s the question raised in a smart critique by Paul M. Smith, who argued the plaintiffs’ case before the Supreme Court.

Mr. Smith pointed out that there was never any doubt the law would make voting harder for potentially tens of thousands of voters, and that the plaintiffs submitted numerous affidavits from voters who explained how they would be harmed by the law. Even if the actual number was lower, it was certainly higher than zero, which is the number of voter-fraud incidents recorded in Indiana when the law was enacted.

In other words, both the Seventh Circuit and the Supreme Court got the balance of burdens wrong, as Indiana University law professor Fran Quigley rightly noted. Given that voting is a fundamental right, Quigley wrote, “the burden should have been on the State of Indiana to prove the law was necessary, not the challengers to prove how it would trigger abuse.”

Judge Evans put it more pungently in his 2007 dissent, saying the law was effectively using “a sledgehammer to hit either a real or imaginary fly on a glass coffee table.”

Rather than acknowledge this reality, Judge Posner’s original opinion dismissed the importance of the voters’ claims, contending that since no election gets decided by a single vote, the “benefits of voting to the individual voter are elusive.”

That bizarre logic suggests that the judge’s problem was not a lack of information, but what former White House counsel Bob Bauer called “a failure of democratic imagination.”

Particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in June gutting the Voting Rights Act, it would be nice if Judge Posner extended his fuller understanding of the true nature of voter-ID laws to his legal opinions, and not simply to online interviews.

 

By: Jesse Wegman, Editors Blog, The New York Times, October 22, 2013

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Federal Judiciary, SCOTUS, Voter ID | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

%d bloggers like this: