Thursday, June 30, 2022

Steve Koonin, Unsettled

At Amazon, Steve Koonin, Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters.

Ghislaine Maxwell Sentenced to 20 Years In Prison For Conspiring With Jeffrey Epstein to Sexually Abuse Minors (VIDEO)

 She's really a monster.

At the New York Times, "Ghislaine Maxwell Receives 20 Years for Aiding Epstein in Sex Trafficking":

Ms. Maxwell, who was convicted of conspiring with Jeffrey Epstein to recruit, groom and abuse underage girls, will spend much of the rest of her life in prison.

Ghislaine Maxwell, the former socialite who conspired with Jeffrey Epstein to sexually exploit underage girls, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday by a judge who said she played a pivotal role in facilitating a horrific scheme that spanned continents and years.

Ms. Maxwell, 60, the daughter of the British media magnate Robert Maxwell, was convicted on Dec. 29 of sex trafficking and other counts after a monthlong trial during which the government presented testimony and evidence depicting Ms. Maxwell as a sophisticated predator who groomed vulnerable young women and girls as young as 14 years old for abuse by Mr. Epstein.

Her sentencing, which drew throngs of onlookers and journalists to a Lower Manhattan courthouse, brought a measure of resolution to a lurid case whose primary actor eluded justice by suicide.

The case against Ms. Maxwell showed how she and Mr. Epstein, her longtime companion, used wealth and status to exploit and abuse the vulnerable. The trial afforded a gaze into a world where the patina of glamour hid the routine infliction of intimate, life-changing cruelty.

“The damage done to these young girls was incalculable,” said Judge Alison J. Nathan of Federal District Court in Manhattan before imposing the sentence on Tuesday.

The prison term was shorter than the government had recommended — federal prosecutors in Manhattan had asked the judge to impose at least 30 years. If the conviction is upheld, Ms. Maxwell, with potential credit for good behavior and the two years she has spent in jail, could leave prison in her 70s.

Throughout the trial, Ms. Maxwell’s attorneys sought to discredit her accusers’ accounts and argued that the government was trying her for Mr. Epstein’s crimes. In court on Tuesday, one of those lawyers, Bobbi C. Sternheim, described the way Ms. Maxwell’s life had been clouded by two men: her “narcissistic, brutish” father and the “controlling, demanding, manipulative” Mr. Epstein.

Ms. Maxwell herself spoke in court on Tuesday — her first public remarks since her July 2020 arrest. Standing at the lectern in blue prison scrubs, her ankles shackled, she acknowledged “the pain and anguish” of the victimized women who had addressed the court before her. But she stopped short of apologizing or accepting responsibility for her crimes.

“It is the greatest regret of my life that I ever met Jeffrey Epstein,” Ms. Maxwell said. “Jeffrey Epstein should have been here before all of you.”

Ms. Maxwell’s trial and conviction were widely seen as the legal reckoning that Mr. Epstein, 66, never had. The disgraced financier hanged himself in his Manhattan jail cell one month after his July 2019 arrest as he awaited his own trial on sex trafficking charges...


The Left Killed the Pro-Choice Coalition

It's the great Kat Rosenberg, at UnHerd, "Feminists are increasingly demonising pregnancy":

In 1992, while the ascendant evangelical Right was pushing to roll back abortion rights as part of its “family values” platform, the Democratic party stumbled on a pro-choice message that would not only win the presidency but also define the party’s position for years to come. It consisted of three words, first spoken by then-presidential nominee Bill Clinton, and ultimately heard so often that they started to take on the air of catechism: an incantation whose mere utterance rendered a politician rhetorically bulletproof.

Safe. Legal. Rare.

For those whose interest in the American Left only goes back as far as the Obama administration, it’s hard to explain what a triumph this was. Not only did the phrase create a big tent under which even people who felt morally ambivalent about abortion could comfortably gather, it also forced Republicans into insane, reactionary counter-positions. As well as safe and legal abortions, the Democrats were promoting comprehensive sex education and contraceptive access, which would help prevent unwanted pregnancies from happening in the first place — and Republicans, rather than make common cause with their enemies, mostly opted to argue against these things.

And so, for a brief but magical moment, the Democrats could reasonably claim to be the party of fewer abortions and more shagging, while conservatives were left to take the deeply unpopular position that all non-procreative sex was bad, actually.

Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic has observed the remarkable staying power of “safe, legal, and rare”, which “translated into language the inchoate sentiments of millions of Americans so exactly that they had to hear it only once for it to become their firmly held position on abortion”. The message was so effective that Hillary Clinton even resurrected it in 2008 during her first (ultimately unsuccessful) play for the Democratic presidential nomination. Two years after that President Barack Obama explicitly identified the phrase as “the right formulation” when it came to discussing abortion.

And yet, in the past 10 years, “safe, legal and rare” has fallen out of favour, as arguments emerged in the more language-obsessed corners of the Left that the “rare” part was unduly stigmatising. “It posits that having an abortion is a bad decision and one that a pregnant person shouldn’t have to make”, one activist wrote last year, in an essay demanding the phrase be retired.

It’s hard to overstate the utter self-sabotaging lunacy of this argument, which not only undermined one of the most popular lines of party messaging in decades but is also farcically nonsensical: “safe, legal, and rare” are surely a solid and desirable set of criteria for any medical procedure that is both unpleasant and unplanned, as abortions (but not only abortions) invariably are. And yet, the argument prevailed: by the time Hillary ran for president in 2016, the word “rare” had been excised from the Democratic party platform.

In its place arose a variety of messages, none nearly as effective, and some deeply strange, even ghoulish. Among the most notable side effects of the argument that abortion need not be rare is an increasingly prevalent notion that perhaps pregnancy should be. In the days following the leak of the draft Supreme Court decision that ultimately overturned Roe v Wade, the very online Left traded horror stories about what it can do to your body. One much-shared Twitter thread from an obstetrician enumerated the risks of pregnancy like a carnival barker marketing a house of horrors: “Hemorrhage from miscarriage or ectopic, sepsis, blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, hyperemesis and intractable vomiting, increased domestic violence, exacerbations of heart disease, lupus and rheumatologic disease, hypertension, seizures, and mental illness, diabetes” — it’s all right here, folks, and that’s before we even get to the torn anal sphincter and urinary incontinence! Step right up, ladies!

The pro-choice press has only reinforced the horror, by giving us wall-to-wall coverage of the danger of pregnancy and childbirth. Here’s New York Times columnist Pamela Paul with a gut-twisting account of her emergency C-section, which culminated in “being held down by two doctors while my body parts were gathered and reinserted into my torso”. Here’s Kate Manning in the Washington Post talking about urine leakage, blood-covered bedsheets, “cracked nipples and infected breasts”. Here’s Scientific American warning us that “even a seemingly ‘safe’ pregnancy is not without significant risk”. Of course, the intention is only to emphasise that nobody should be forced to go through this — but you would be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that not only should abortion be available on demand, but that no woman in her right mind would ever carry a pregnancy to term unless she had some sort of death wish.

Gone are the days when the Left took pains to emphasise that it was not pro-abortion, but against unwanted pregnancy; instead, this moderate stance has metastasised into a demonisation of pregnancy in general. Some have framed this as a look-what-you-made-me-do position forced by the anti-choice Right: “If there was ever anything beautiful about pregnancy, the anti-abortion movement has devoured it, and spat up something hateful in its place. Pregnancy, for many, will now end dreams, alter futures, maybe even kill,” writes New York Magazine‘s Sarah Jones.

In a recent essay for The Bulwark, Mona Charen laments that “young women reading these stories may get the impression that pregnancy is a hellscape of pain, disfigurement, and degradation”. (I disagree with this argument not in substance but in scope: these stories are no less terrifying to women in middle age who, in their waning fertility, might have been on the fence about having kids and are now loathe to do so lest they turn into the Elephant Man.) But even if this type of rhetoric doesn’t ultimately put a dent in the birth rate, it seems to reflect a penchant on the Left for the opposite of coalition-building, for busting up the movement one taboo turn of phrase at a time. Goodbye, “rare”. Goodbye, “women”. Goodbye, “choice” — the beating heart of the movement, now categorised as “harmful language” — and goodbye to the allies who favoured these terms, now severed and drifting away from the movement like Inuit elders who have outlived their usefulness, cast onto an ice floe to die.

Most remarkable is that abortion access is, in fact, an issue with direct bearing on the lives of a vast majority of Americans — not only women, but any man in a heterosexual partnership with one — and yet some of the loudest voices on this issue insist on describing it as anything but. Consider the now-notorious tweet in which the ACLU listed all the groups most impacted by abortion bans. “The LGBTQ community” was second; “women” were not listed at all.

Such rhetoric is inevitably adopted in the name of inclusivity, which is funny, given how it not only sparks internecine infighting but also rules out virtually every position that might have had widespread resonance in the way that “safe, legal, and rare” once did...

Keep reading.


Allie Beth Stuckey: Pro-Lifers Have Been Doing Everything

She's very passionate, on Twitter.

Full of Beauty

Very full. Ample all around.

On Twitter.

Life After Roe Will Be Worse Than Democrats Feared

It's from Katha Pollitt, a well-known extremist on abortion rights.

At the Nation, "We are dealing with religious fanatics, with police chiefs on a mission and prosecutors looking to make their careers in deeply red places":

Let’s not kid ourselves. The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade, is going to be a catastrophe. There’s a German proverb that translates roughly as “the soup is never eaten as hot as it’s cooked,” meaning things won’t be as bad as you fear. Sometimes that’s true, but it wasn’t for the Germans, and it won’t be for us.

For years pro-choicers have warned that the right to abortion was at risk, only to be called Chicken Littles by pundits and politicos, usually men. Some thought returning abortion to the states would lead to a middle-of-the-road practical solution and, more important, take abortion out of politics. Ha! Others were sure no one wanted bans to happen: Republicans only used “cultural issues” to distract voters from the party’s real agenda, screwing the working class on behalf of corporations. Thomas Frank made himself famous with a book devoted to that thesis, What’s the Matter with Kansas? I hope he apologizes to the women of Kansas, because the fears he dismissed have come to pass.

What can be done? Abortion funds, which raise money for low-income patients’ procedures, are wonderful, and you should give them all your money now, but even before Dobbs, they couldn’t help everyone in need. Their work will be harder now. On Monday, abortion funds in Texas suspended operations because of laws criminalizing helping women seeking to end their pregnancies. If you thought, as many did, that abortion opponents would be satisfied with a return to pre-Roe hypocrisies, when millions of women got abortions while law enforcement mostly looked the other way, think again.

What about traveling to pro-choice states, some of which have recently strengthened protections for abortion rights? That’s not so easy, even for people with money, although it will be much harder for low-income patients. Most women who have abortions are mothers, after all; many have jobs that won’t allow them time off. They can’t just pick up and fly to New York City or Chicago, or drive all day and night to reach the nearest clinic. They’ll need help, and help is expensive. The Brigid Alliance, an abortion travel service which pays all costs—transportation, lodging, food, child care—spends about $1,000 per patient. The influx of patients from states with bans will affect care in the states they travel to. Clinics are already overscheduled. Soon they will be overwhelmed.

Ah, but there are abortion pills, some say, which make it possible to end pregnancies cheaply at home. Pills are crucial, but not a panacea. Yes, they are safe, unlike illegal abortions pre-Roe, but you have to know they exist, how to find them, how to take them, and what to say if you end up going to the ER so you don’t get arrested. You have to know how pregnant you are—they don’t work so well after 12 weeks. You have to avoid copycat anti-abortion websites. And around 5 percent of the time, they won’t work. Who knows how long it will be legal to send them, by mail or in person, to an abortion-ban state? Abortion opponents are already working on ways to criminalize pills and people who make it possible to acquire them. The latest: Facebook and Instagram are taking down information on how to obtain them. Remember when information wanted to be free?

So let’s face it. In half the country, women are fetal vessels now. Their lives, their physical and mental health, their education, their employment, their relationships, their ability to care for their other children, their hopes, ambitions and dreams—none of that matters. What matters is that they incubate a fertilized egg and deliver an infant—which, as Amy Coney Barrett suggested, they can always drop off at the nearest safe-haven baby box. The law may not come after you if you give a pregnant friend money for the procedure or drive her to a free state; anti-abortion activists might not track your pregnancy digitally, as Jia Tolentino warns, but then again, they might (memo to readers: Delete your period tracker now). The capacity exists: to know your online searches, your travel plans, your proximity to a clinic. Does a fetal vessel have rights? I wouldn’t count on it...

Still more at that top link, if you're up to it.

Joe Biden Wants to Deep-Sex the Filibuster to Codify Abortion Rights

He's the biggest asshole.


At the Los Angeles Times, "Biden backs changing Senate filibuster rules as a way to codify abortion rights":

MADRID — President Biden said Thursday that the Supreme Court’s decision ending a constitutional right to abortion is “destabilizing” and that he supports changing Senate rules to codify nationwide abortion protections. He maintained the ruling does not affect U.S. standing on the world stage as he took credit for modernizing the NATO alliance to adapt to new threats from Russia and China.

Biden was speaking to reporters at the conclusion of a five-day foreign trip to huddle with North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies in Madrid and the leaders of the Group of 7 advanced democratic economies in the Bavarian Alps, which came as the nation was still grappling with the fallout from Friday’s Supreme Court decision.

“America is better positioned to lead the world than we ever have been,” Biden said. “But one thing that has been destabilizing is the outrageous behavior of the Supreme Court of United States in overruling not only Roe v. Wade, but essentially challenging the right to privacy.”

He added: “I could understand why the American people are frustrated because of what the Supreme Court did.”

RiseupforAbortionRights rallies throughout downtown opposing the recent Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v Wade.

Biden said he would support changing the Senate filibuster rules, which require 60 votes to pass most legislation, to allow a bill extending nationwide abortion protections to pass by simple majority, but he said it would likely require voters to send additional Democratic senators to Washington to get done...

Markets Suffer Worst First Half of a Year in Decades

At the Wall Street Journal, "Investors gird for more volatility; almost everything—from stocks to bonds and crypto—falls to start 2022":

Global markets closed out their most bruising first half of a year in decades, leaving investors bracing for the prospect of further losses.

Accelerating inflation and rising interest rates fueled a monthslong rout that left few markets unscathed. The S&P 500 fell 21% through Thursday, suffering its worst first half of a year since 1970, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Investment-grade bonds, as measured by the iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond exchange-traded fund, lost 11%—posting their worst start to a year in history.

Stocks and bonds in emerging markets tumbled, hurt by slowing growth. And cryptocurrencies came crashing down, saddling individual investors and hedge funds alike with steep losses.

About the only thing that rose in the first half was commodities prices. Oil prices surged above $100 a barrel, and U.S. gas prices hit records after the Russia-Ukraine war upended imports from Russia, the world’s third-largest oil producer.

Now, investors seem to be in agreement about only one thing: More volatility is ahead. That is because central banks from the U.S. to India and New Zealand plan to keep raising interest rates to try to rein in inflation. The moves will likely slow down growth, potentially tipping economies into recession and generating further tumult across markets.

“That’s the biggest risk right now—inflation and the Fed,” said Katie Nixon, chief investment officer for Northern Trust Wealth Management.

Ms. Nixon said she would be keeping a close eye on economic data to gauge how much rising interest rates are weighing on growth over the next few months. Her firm has kept money in U.S. stocks, wagering the economy will slow down but avoid a recession. It has also put money into companies focused on natural resources, a bet that should pay off if inflation persists for longer than it expects.

“You don’t want to be whipsawed by the markets,” she said.

The good news for investors is that markets haven’t always done poorly after suffering big losses in the first half of the year. In fact, history shows they have often done the opposite.

When the S&P 500 has fallen at least 15% the first six months of the year, as it did in 1932, 1939, 1940, 1962 and 1970, it has risen an average of 24% in the second half, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

One reason markets have often snapped back after big pullbacks: Investors have eventually stepped in, wagering prices have fallen too far. Fund managers currently have larger-than-average cash positions, smaller-than-average equities positions and a markedly high degree of pessimism about the economy, Bank of America found in its June survey of investors. Those factors, among others, make markets look “painfully oversold”—and thus potentially ripe for a rally, the bank’s strategists said in a separate report.

But even those finding buying opportunities these days say they are focusing on specific companies, instead of buying broadly. They concede that the current economic environment—in which inflation is high, borrowing costs are rising and growth is expected to slow—makes it difficult to be enthusiastic about many parts of the market.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal in June said they saw a 44% probability of a recession in the U.S. in the next 12 months, compared with 18% in January.

History also has shown the Fed has seldom been able to pull off a “soft landing,” a scenario in which it slows the economy enough to rein in inflation but avoids tightening monetary policy to the point of causing a recession. The U.S. went into recession four of the last six times the Fed began raising interest rates, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis that looked at monetary policy tightening cycles since the 1980s.

“The runway for the Fed to manage a soft landing is not only narrow but also winding and bumpy,” said Lauren Goodwin, economist and portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments...

Supreme Court Limits E.P.A.’s Authority on Emissions, Striking Blow to Biden Administration's Climate Change Agenda

Well good.

At WSJ, "Supreme Court Puts Brakes on EPA in Far-Reaching Decision":

High court says agency overstepped its authority in restricting greenhouse gas emissions in a ruling with ramifications for other regulators.

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal regulators exceeded their authority in seeking to limit emissions from coal plants in a decision that sharply curtails the executive branch’s authority to make policy actions on a range of issues without congressional direction.

In a blockbuster 6-3 decision penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court said the Environmental Protection Agency had overstepped when it devised the Obama-era regulatory scheme, known as the Clean Power Plan. The plan had been challenged by West Virginia and others.

The court said that when federal agencies issue regulations with sweeping economic and political consequences—in this case, rules to address climate change—the regulations are presumptively invalid unless Congress has specifically authorized the action.

“A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,” the chief justice wrote, faulting the EPA for finding new powers in “the vague language of a long-extant, but rarely used, statute.”

Beyond the EPA, the decision is likely to rein in President Biden’s ability to use other departments and regulators such as the Treasury Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to address climate change, one of his signature policy initiatives.

Mr. Biden called the court’s ruling “a devastating decision that aims to take our country backwards.”

“I have directed my legal team to work with the Department of Justice and affected agencies to review this decision carefully and find ways that we can, under federal law, continue protecting Americans from harmful pollution, including pollution that causes climate change,” Mr. Biden said.

The principle articulated by the court, known as the “major questions doctrine,” was mentioned in earlier cases but is being recognized more explicitly now, said Gautam Hans, a law professor at Vanderbilt University.

“The court has now really explicitly relied on this doctrine to limit the EPA’s authority, and other regulatory agencies are going to be more cautious now that they have to navigate this,” Mr. Hans said.

With Congress often mired in gridlock, Mr. Biden and his Democratic predecessors have used regulation instead of legislation to advance their policy agendas, Mr. Hans said...

In the case decided Thursday, West Virginia led a coalition of Republican-leaning states and coal producers that asked the Supreme Court to weigh in and clarify the limits of the EPA’s authority.

For half a century, the Clean Air Act has directed the EPA to regulate stationary sources of air pollution that endanger “public health or welfare.” The Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which never went into effect because it was blocked by the Supreme Court in an earlier case, extended that regulatory reach beyond the physical premises of a power plant to allow off-site methods to mitigate pollution.

The Trump administration in 2019 implemented a replacement rule that was more friendly to the coal industry. But in January 2021, on the last day of Mr. Trump’s presidency, a federal appeals court in the District of Columbia struck down the replacement rule, providing the Biden administration with a clean slate to work from in devising its own carbon-emissions rules.

Justice Elena Kagan said in a dissent on Thursday that the Obama-era EPA had exercised broad authority given to it by Congress, and that the Supreme Court keeps thwarting the agency’s lawful efforts to address a climate crisis.


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Fifty-One Illegal Aliens Found Dead Inside Abandoned Trailer-Truck in San Antonio (VIDEO)

Let's remind folks that these poor souls aren't just "migrants." They're illegal aliens under U.S. law. There's no excuse for their deaths. Our border should be secure. 

Earlier this month Missouri Senator Roy Blunt spoke on the floor of the Senate slamming the Biden administration's border policies, noting that, "During President Biden's time in office, the Department of Homeland Security has encountered illegal immigrants crossing our border more than 2.8 million times. In not quite a year-and-a-half, 2.8 million people were encountered crossing the border."

That's the background for the horrible and tragic deaths of 51 illegal migrants at the outskirts of San Antonio yesterday. 

At the Texas Tribune, "51 people, including five kids, are dead in San Antonio after being trapped in a truck in sweltering heat: Of the 16 migrants found alive in the trailer on the city’s southwest side, five have since died":

San Antonio officials said Tuesday that the number of migrants who have died after being trapped in a tractor-trailer on Monday has reached 51 after another migrant died at a local hospital. Forty-six migrants were declared dead at the scene, and five of the 16 migrants found alive in the sweltering trailer have since died after being taken to hospitals.

Local officials said that 39 of the victims were men and 12 were women. The immigrants are believed to be from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores said 34 of the victims have been identified. She did not reveal any other information about the victims during a Tuesday press conference in San Antonio.

News4SanAntonio reported Tuesday that five children are among the dead. A man from Guatemala has confirmed the death of his two daughters, Griselda and Carla, whose ages were not disclosed...

Migrant deaths near the border are common as people attempt to cross forbidding terrain without adequate water. Before Monday, the worst smuggling-related mass fatality in recent Texas history was in 2003, when 19 people died after being trapped in an unrefrigerated dairy truck for hundreds of miles.

President Joe Biden called the incident "horrifying and heartbreaking" on Tuesday and blamed "smugglers or human traffickers who have no regard for the lives they endanger and exploit to make a profit.

"This incident underscores the need to go after the multi-billion dollar criminal smuggling industry preying on migrants and leading to far too many innocent deaths," Biden said in a written statement. He also highlighted what he called "a first-of-its kind anti-smuggling campaign with our regional partners" that he announced earlier this month. Biden said the effort has resulted in more than 2,400 arrests in its first three months "and that work will only intensify in the months ahead."

Biden decried "political grandstanding around tragedy" a day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blamed the deaths on what he called the president's "deadly open border policies.”

[Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca] Clay-Flores also slammed Abbott for politicizing the tragedy.

"While bodies were still being removed, and others being taken to local hospitals, he chose to be heartless and point the finger. Shame on our governor," she said. "His words were also a complete contradiction to state that this tragedy was due to open border policies. If there was such a policy as open borders, we wouldn't have had over 50 human lives trying to enter this country the way they did. We wouldn't be mourning the deaths of so many people who were simply seeking a better life."

At his daily press conference Tuesday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador expressed condolences to the families of those who died and said his government will be investigating the deaths of 22 Mexican citizens and helping their families return their bodies home.

“This is bitter proof that we must continue to insist on supporting people so that they do not have to leave their villages to look for a life on the other side of the border,” López Obrador said...

Still more.



Books and babes. I can go for that.

On Twitter.

Batya Ungar-Sargon Interview With Megyn Kelly (VIDEO)

They're talking about the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. Batya rattling off all the polling data on abortion rights is compelling.


Ace Has Questions

Following-up, "Did President Trump Really Grab the Steering Wheel?"

At AoSHQ, "In Explosive Testimony at the January Sixth Committee, a Twenty-Five Year Old Chippie [Tramp; Prostitute] Says She Heard From Her Friends That 'The Walls Are Closing In'."

Did President Trump Really Grab the Steering Wheel?

Following-up, "Cassidy Hutchinson's Explosive Testimony Before the January 6th Select Committee (VIDEO)."

A lot of skepticism on Twitter.

From Jack Posobiec

Democrats' Abortion Views Are Far Too Radical to Benefit From the Post-Roe Political Reality

From Mollie Hemingway, at the Federalist, "At a time Democrats desperately need to seem normal, they are saddled with one of the least defensible policy positions in American life":

As soon as the Supreme Court issued its ruling finally overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion decision that had so roiled the nation for nearly 50 years, Democrats and their allies who control corporate media began asserting it would be a political boon for their party.

“Democrats see abortion as a big base motivator and a potential winning issue with independents,” claimed Politico.

Democrats could certainly use some help. The party controls all of Washington, D.C. Voters have indicated they’re prepared to deliver large Republican gains in November in response to a series of Democrat policy failures leading to a looming recession, labor problems, supply chain disruptions, high gas prices, rising crime, another foreign war without a strategy for victory, and a completely out of control border.

But there are several problems for Democrats hoping to stem the losses, including that the general Democrat position of abortion on demand until the moment of birth is far too radical to gain politically in most areas of the country. Even CBS polling found that only 17 percent of Americans agree with such an extreme stance.

The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, despite the media disinformation, simply returns abortion law to the states, enabling citizens and their elected representatives to debate and set abortion laws and policies. Roe had falsely decreed that a right to abortion was in the Constitution, and therefore beyond public debate, a view the court flatly and finally rejected last week.

Abortion is a hotly debated topic, and neither those who oppose or support it are likely to be fully happy about public opinion. Most Americans strongly oppose abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy, but most Americans also support some allowances for abortion at earlier stages in pregnancy. In May, a Gallup poll found that 63 percent of Americans support making abortion illegal or legal only in certain circumstances.

Mixed Bag Politically

While the decision may help Democrats hold onto a few suburban seats Republicans had hoped to wrestle back from the party in power, it is unlikely to help them in battleground states and districts where Republicans are experiencing dramatic gains...

Sure, abortion rights supporters are extremely passionate about the issue, but if you check the polls, Ms. Mollie's right: Bread-and-butter kitchen table issues dominate the list of most important problems facing the country. Inflation by itself will drag down Democratic numbers. They've already lost at least a million voters who've recently switched to the GOP, and along the border, Hispanic voters are abandoning Democrats faster than a racehorse under the whip.

We're a little more than 5 months out from the November midterms. Roe or no, the Dems are in big trouble.

Still more.

Biden Lied to Country About Business Dealings With Hunter

From Katie Pavlich, at Townhall, "More Proof Biden Lied to the Country About His Business Dealings with Hunter":

On the campaign trail and throughout his tenure in the White House, President Joe Biden has repeatedly told the American people he "never" spoke to his son, Hunter Biden, about his shady foreign business dealings.

Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki repeated this claim during a number of briefings.

But a newly unearthed phone call from Biden to his son reveals he did in fact discuss the foreign deals and helped coach Hunter through media fallout.

The recording comes after reports revealed Hunter's business partners visited the White House a number of times when Biden was vice president.

"Hunter Biden's closest business partner made at least 19 visits to the White House and other official locations between 2009 and 2015, including a sitdown with then-Vice President Joe Biden in the West Wing," the New York Post reported in April. "Visitor logs from the White House of former President Barack Obama reviewed by The Post cast further doubt over Joe Biden’s claims that he knew nothing of his son's dealings."

Click through for the videos.

Cassidy Hutchinson's Explosive Testimony Before the January 6th Select Committee (VIDEO)

I watched. This was extraordinary testimony, and brave.

At the New York Times, "A White House aide testified that Trump ordered security lifted on Jan. 6 though the crowd was heavily armed."

And more:

Hutchinson provided many bombshells. The shocking description of Trump wrestling the Secret Service for control of his car on Jan. 6 so he could go to the Capitol. Portraying Meadows, her former boss, as a man who abdicated responsibility to the nation and hoped to be pardoned. And saying Trump knew that his supporters had dangerous weapons when he asked them to march on Congress.

Cheney ended the hearing on a solemn note, saying that democracy is preserved by people “who know the fundamental difference between right and wrong.” People of high rank and power have refused to talk about that distinction with the committee, but Hutchinson, a low-ranking official, didn't shy from it today.

Lots more at Memeorandum.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Mary Ziegler, Abortion and the Law in America

See, at Amazon, Mary Ziegler, Abortion and the Law in America.

Biden Administration Guts Due-Process Rights for College Students

From Emily Yoffe, at Bari Weiss's Substack, "Biden's Sex Police":

The White Houses's new regulations will gut due-process rights for college students accused of sexual misconduct.

Joe Biden has fulfilled one of the first promises he made upon becoming president. His administration has just announced a comprehensive set of regulations—701 pages worth—that will gut due-process rights for college students accused of sexual misconduct.

Apparently, Biden learned nothing from going through his own sexual assault accusation crucible.

During his vice presidency, Joe Biden was the Obama administration’s point man for a major domestic initiative: ending sexual assault on campus. There is no question bad, sometimes criminal, sexual behavior occurs on campus. Eliminating it is a worthy, if elusive, goal. But the Obama-Biden mandate expanded the definition of sexual misconduct so broadly that jokes, flirting, or “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” could be punishable offenses.

The Obama administration set out to change campus culture, and it did. But in doing so, it undermined women, demonized men, and diverted vast resources away from education. Under rules promulgated by Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education under Trump, many of these policies were rolled back. The Biden administration now plans to restore much of this.

Male college students (the accusers were almost always female, the accused male) were subjected to quasi-criminal proceedings on campus in which many were never told explicitly what they had done wrong and were unable to mount a defense. An adverse finding could end an education and foreclose many career possibilities.

Biden traveled the country, describing campuses as places where male classmates put young women in relentless danger (“This is a toxin on college campuses”), and where indifferent campus officials disparaged the women willing to report assault. But Biden's portrait was at odds with the way the majority of such cases unfold—often beginning as consensual encounters, then later ending up in dispute, frequently due in part to alcohol, miscommunication, and hurt feelings.

In numerous college speeches, Biden declared alarming, inflammatory, and dubious statistics on the frequency of campus assault. Biden advocated that all sexual encounters on campus be governed by “affirmative consent.” This means that each touch, each time, even between established partners, requires explicit—preferably verbal, preferably enthusiastic—agreement. Affirmative consent was adopted widely on campuses, and became a law governing student behavior in California, Connecticut, and New York.

Then Donald Trump was elected president, and Betsy DeVos, decided to reform what the Obama administration had done. In one of the most uncharacteristic acts of that chaotic presidency, DeVos went through the lengthy and burdensome process of writing actual regulations (the Obama administration had only issued “guidance”). The rules she released were, on balance, careful and thorough, providing necessary protections for the rights of both accuser and accused. I spent several years reporting on what was unfolding on campuses, and I wrote at the time that the DeVos regulations were an example of an immoral administration doing the moral thing. (See, for example, here and here.)

The DeVos rules went into effect in August of 2020, in the midst of campus covid shutdowns, so they have hardly had a chance to be tested. Now they will be struck. They will be replaced by some of the most pernicious procedures of the Obama era. (These dueling Department of Education regulations come under the aegis of Title IX, the fifty-year old federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.)

The new rules recommend a return to a “single investigator” model that was barred under the DeVos reform. This means one administrator can act as detective, prosecutor, judge, and jury on a Title IX complaint. The new rules also undo many of the procedural protections for the accused—including the right to see all the evidence, inculpatory and exculpatory, gathered against him. “It’s an evisceration of the procedural protections given to the accused,” says historian KC Johnson, co-author of The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities.

Under the DeVos rules, adjudication of a formal complaint required a live hearing be held that included cross examination. The Biden administration lifts this obligation. The Biden rules also call for a return to investigations initiated by third parties, even if based on rumors or misunderstandings, in which male students can be subjected to Title IX proceedings over the objection of their female partners. (Robby Soave at Reason has a good summary of the Biden proposals.)

“It’s a document that validates all of the concerns we had about due process and free speech being on the chopping block,” says Joe Cohn, legislative and policy director at The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. He adds that the administration is giving schools the blessing of the Department of Education “to cut many corners that are essential for fundamental fairness.”

As vice president, Biden made clear that campuses were just the first stop in an effort to remake throughout society how males and females interact...

Keep reading.

America Is More Fragile Than the Left Understands

From Victor Davis Hanson, at American Greatness, "Like a stunned adolescent whose reckless incompetence totaled the family car, the Left seems shocked that America proved so fragile after all":

The Left has been tempting fate since January 2021—applying its nihilist medicine to America on the premise that such a rich patient can ride out any toxic shock.

Our elites assume that all our nation’s past violent protests, all its would-be revolutions, all its cultural upheavals, all its institutionalized lawlessness were predicated on one central truth—America’s central core is so strong, so rich, and so resilient that it can withstand almost any assault.

So, we can afford 120 days in 2020 of mass rioting, $2 billion in damage, some 35 killed, and 1,500 police injured.

We can easily survive an Afghanistan, and our utter and complete military humiliation. There was no problem in abandoning some $70-80 billion in military loot to terrorists. Who cares that we tossed off a billion-dollar new embassy, and jettisoned a $300-million refitted air base, as long as our pride flags were waving in Kabul?

Certainly, we can afford to restructure all our universities, eliminate free expression and speech, and institute Maoist cultural revolutionary fervor in our revered institutions of higher learning—once the world’s greatest levers of scientific advancement and technological progress.

We can jettison merit in every endeavor, from banning the world’s great books to grading math tests to running chemistry experiments. And still, a resilient America won’t notice.

We assumed that our foundational documents—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—our natural bounty in North America, our cherished rule of law, our legal immigration traditions that drew in the most audacious and hardworking on the planet, and our guarantees of personal freedom and liberty led to such staggering wealth and affluence that nothing much that this mediocre generation could do would ever endanger our resilience.

But such inheritances are not written in stone. America, as the world’s only successful multiracial democratic republic, was always fragile. It was and is always one generation away from disappearing—should any cohort become so foolish as to mock its past, dismantle its institutions, revert to tribalism, redistribute rather than create wealth, and consume rather than invest.

We are that generation. And we have an accounting with nature’s limitations, given there is always a corrective, not a nice one, but remediation nonetheless for every excess.

Our major cities are no longer safe. Somehow, the Left has nearly wrecked San Francisco in less than a decade. A once beautiful and vibrant city is lawless, dirty, toxic, often boarded up, and losing population. It has turned into a medieval keep of well-protected knights in secure fiefs while everyone else is engaged in a bellum omnium contra omnes.

But such inheritances are not written in stone. America, as the world’s only successful multiracial democratic republic, was always fragile. It was and is always one generation away from disappearing—should any cohort become so foolish as to mock its past, dismantle its institutions, revert to tribalism, redistribute rather than create wealth, and consume rather than invest.

We are that generation. And we have an accounting with nature’s limitations, given there is always a corrective, not a nice one, but remediation nonetheless for every excess.

Our major cities are no longer safe. Somehow, the Left has nearly wrecked San Francisco in less than a decade. A once beautiful and vibrant city is lawless, dirty, toxic, often boarded up, and losing population. It has turned into a medieval keep of well-protected knights in secure fiefs while everyone else is engaged in a bellum omnium contra omnes.

We know it is so because California public officials talk of anything and everything—Roe v. Wade, transitions to electric cars, hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief for illegal aliens—to mask their utter impotence to address feces in the street, the random assaults on the vulnerable, and the inability to park a car and return to it intact.

Ditto the Dodge City downtowns of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Baltimore, Washington, and a host of others. In just four or five years, they have given up on fully funding the police, aggressive prosecutors indicting the violent, and ubiquitous civil servants ensuring the streets are free of trash, vermin, flotsam, jetsam, and human excrement.

There are natural reactions to such excess. The most terrifying is that our once-great cities, especially their downtowns, will simply shrink into something like ghost towns—our versions of an out-West Bodie, or an abandoned Roman city in the sand like Leptis Magna, or a Chernobyl.

But the culprit will not be a played-out mine, or encroaching desert, or a nuclear meltdown, but the progressive leadership of a worn-out, bankrupt people who no longer possess the confidence to keep their urban civilization safe and viable. And so, they either fled, or joined the mob, or locked themselves up in fortified citadels, both in fear to go out and terrified of losing what they owned...

Still more.


Liz Wheeler Discusses Supreme Court Decision in Dobbs v. Jackson (VIDEO)

Here's Ms. Liz's emergency stream after the Court overruled Roe on Friday. She's positively giddy and takes the time to read the key quotes from the ruling, relishing every word and ridiculing sourpuss Nancy Pelosi almost a dozen times in the process. 

Good stuff.


The Leak, the Threats, the Violence — Reaction to Roe Is Dark Day for U.S.

From Glenn Reynolds, at the New York Post:

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson is a victory for the rule of law.

I’m not talking so much about the opinion itself. I’m talking about the Supreme Court majority’s demonstration that it will do what it thinks is right despite unprecedented pressure from the media, from Democrats in Congress, from “activist” groups and even from angry mobs and attempted assassins who show up at their homes.

This is a big deal. When, as reported by Jan Crawford, a coordinated bullying campaign flipped Chief Justice John Roberts’ position in NFIB v. Sebelius, the ObamaCare case from 2012, many observers, especially on the right, lost faith in the court’s independence. And the perception that the court could be bullied, naturally, was a guarantee that people would try bullying it again.

And they did, in spades. Activist groups sent mobs to protest at the homes of justices expected to vote to overturn Roe, even though that sort of pressure on federal judges is a crime. (Unsurprisingly, Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice appears to have done nothing.) In an unprecedented breach of confidentiality, an insider at the court — we still don’t know who, for some reason — leaked a draft opinion that became a rallying point for Democrats and the left.

Extremist rhetoric — of the sort that’s called “hate” when it comes from the right and “passion for justice” when it comes from the left — raised the temperature to the point where a would-be assassin actually showed up at Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house with a Glock, two magazines and pepper spray. He’s now awaiting trial. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) even threatened Kavanaugh and other conservative justices that they would “pay the price” for overturning Roe.

This deadly threat to a sitting Supreme Court justice drew an extremely muted reaction from pundits and Democratic politicians, though an politically motivated assassination to change a judicial opinion would be enormously destabilizing and destructive. On social media, people were openly wishing for the deaths of conservative justices. But the same people who decried the Jan, 6 protests — where only an unarmed protester was the victim of deadly violence — seemed unfazed by this.

Now leftists are promising a “Night of Rage” in response to Roe being overturned...


Alica Schmidt

Very beautiful track and field athlete. German, on Instagram.

President Trump's Lasting Legacy After the Supreme Court's Ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson

Something I noted last Friday on Twitter. If this is the most consequential Supreme Court ruling in 100 years, then doesn't that mean Donald Trump's the most consequential president as well?

At the Los Angeles Times, "News Analysis: Trump’s lasting legacy grows as Supreme Court overturns Roe":

WASHINGTON — President Biden rarely mentions his predecessor by name. But as he spoke to a nation processing a seismic shift in the rights of women, he couldn’t ignore Donald Trump’s legacy. “It was three justices named by one president — Donald Trump — who were the core of today’s decision to upend the scales of justice and eliminate a fundamental right for women in this country,” Biden said Friday after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority voted to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark ruling from 1973 that provided constitutional protections for women seeking abortions.

The abortion decision marked the apex in a week that reinforced the former president’s ongoing impact in Washington more than a year and a half after he exited the White House.

A court that includes three Trump-appointed conservatives also decided to weaken restrictions on gun ownership. And across the street at the Capitol, which was ravaged by a mob of Trump supporters in the final days of his presidency in 2021, new details surfaced of his gross violations of democratic norms. The House’s Jan. 6 committee used a public hearing last week to spotlight the intense pressure that Trump put on top Justice Department officials to overturn the 2020 election, along with discussions of blanket pardons for cooperative members of Congress.

The developments were a reminder of the awkward political bargain social conservatives embraced to achieve their grandest ambitions. In refusing to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee during the final year of his presidency, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ensured that the next president would be able to make his mark on the court. As Trump pledged to transform the Supreme Court’s ideological leanings — even providing a list of the judges he would choose from — reluctant conservative Republicans and evangelical Christians rallied behind Trump, a thrice-married man who had previously described himself as “very pro-choice.”

“When he ran in 2016, he promised that he would appoint conservative and pro-life judges to the federal courts starting with the U.S. Supreme Court. And he kept his word,” said Ralph Reed, an evangelical leader and chair of the the Faith and Freedom Coalition, who was criticized in some corners for his embrace of Trump. “Those in the faith community that felt it was worth taking a chance on Donald Trump in 2016 have been vindicated.”

The GOP is now at something of a turning point in its relationship with a man who has fundamentally transformed the party with his populist, “Make America Great Again” agenda and his fight against the establishment Republicans who used to control the party. There’s a growing debate within the party about whether Trump’s resonance is beginning to fade as lays the groundwork for a third presidential run in 2024.

Other leading Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, and Trump’s former secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo, are taking increasingly bold steps toward White House bids of their own. And many of Trump’s own supporters are eagerly embracing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as Trump’s natural successor as they look to the future.

Pence, Pompeo and DeSantis are among those who have made clear that a Trump candidacy would not influence their own decisions about whether to run. If they do run, they will all be competing for support from the same conservatives who fueled Trump’s rise.

Trump himself seems somewhat uncertain about how to navigate the political fallout from the past week, particularly the abortion ruling. He has privately expressed concern to aides that the decision could energize Democrats going into the November elections, the New York Times first reported.

Indeed, in a Fox News interview after the abortion opinion was released, Trump said that, “in the end, this is something that will work out for everybody.”

Asked about his own role in the eventual decision, Trump responded that, “God made the decision.”

Trump grew more emboldened as Friday unfolded, raising money off the court ruling and issuing a statement in which he took full credit for what he called “the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation.”

He said that it and “other decisions that have been announced recently, were only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court. It was my great honor to do so!”

At a Saturday night rally, Trump took another victory lap to cheers from the crowd...

The Conservative Legal Push to Overturn Roe v. Wade Was 50 Years in the Making

 At the Wall Street Journal, "An increasingly influential movement questioned the view of constitutional rights underpinning the decision":

WASHINGTON—The overruling of Roe v. Wade was 50 years in the making—the culmination of a conservative judicial movement that rejected the interpretation of constitutional rights underpinning that 1973 Supreme Court decision.

It took far longer than many conservatives expected.

The majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, first disclosed in draft version by an extraordinary leak in May, declared that Roe and later abortion-rights precedents have no basis in the Constitution. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Even as a young lawyer, Justice Alito had looked for ways to push back on the reasoning behind Roe going back to the 1980s, when he worked in the Reagan Justice Department. In a May 1985 memo, he sketched out opportunities “to advance the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling of Roe v. Wade.”

Former Attorney General Edwin Meese III championed the conservative jurisprudence during the Reagan years and promoted the young lawyers—Justice Alito among them—who would rise to influence through successive Republican administrations.

“It really has been a matter of pretty clear record for a long time that [Roe] was wrong,” he said.

Because the Constitution doesn’t expressly grant women a right to end a pregnancy, many conservatives, like Mr. Meese, have said the court erred by construing a right to privacy that allows for abortion at least in the earlier stages of gestation. That originalist legal view overlapped with the convictions of a broader set of people who opposed abortion on what they considered moral grounds as the taking of a life.

Friday’s liberal dissenters pointed to a different constitutional tradition, one that has seen rights expand since the country’s beginnings. The framers “understood that the world changes. So they did not define rights by reference to the specific practices” of their time but “defined rights in general terms, to permit future evolution in their scope and meaning,” Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote in a joint opinion.

For the antiabortion movement that has helped power Republican political success—including the 2016 election of Donald Trump, who as president appointed three justices who were in the Dobbs majority—the end of Roe was long a key goal. With states now free to regulate the procedure, most abortions likely will be outlawed or at least curbed in about half the states.

But for the conservative legal movement, “this was not a matter of deciding whether abortion is a good idea or a bad idea,” said Mr. Meese, now 90 years old. “It’s a matter of the Constitution.”


That Roe would stoke a legal counterrevolution leading to its own undoing was far from evident in January 1973, when by a 7-2 vote the Supreme Court recognized a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy before fetal viability, or the capacity to live outside the womb. The decision invalidated dozens of state laws banning or restricting abortion, many dating from the 19th century.

The decision followed a line of cases that had steadily removed the government from regulation of family life and sexual practices. In the Roe opinion, Justice Harry Blackmun cited a series of earlier decisions. It began in the 19th century, he wrote, when the court rejected Union Pacific’s demand that a female passenger, who was suing the railroad for negligence after an upper berth fell on her, submit to a surgical examination.

“No right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded by the common law, than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person,” the court said in 1891, a year after Louis Brandeis, a future justice, co-wrote a seminal article in the Harvard Law Review, “The Right to Privacy.”

Justice William O. Douglas had invoked that legal tradition in Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 decision striking down an 1879 state law banning contraception. The “marriage relation” involves “a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights, older than our political parties, older than our school system,” he wrote.

Justice Hugo Black was among those who disagreed. “I like my privacy as well as the next one,” he wrote in his Griswold dissent, “but I am nevertheless compelled to admit that government has a right to invade it unless prohibited by some specific constitutional provision.” The lack of such a named provision has been underlying judicial opposition to Roe v. Wade ever since.

In a passage that Justice Antonin Scalia later called “garbage,” Justice Douglas wrote that “specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance.”

In that context Justice Blackmun wrote in his 1973 Roe decision that the right of privacy was not only grounded in the Constitution, but also “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”

That right wasn’t absolute, he added, and “at some point in pregnancy” government may “assert important interests” that include “protecting potential life.” Following a 1972 lower court decision invalidating Connecticut’s abortion ban, Roe drew the line at viability, generally seen as between 22 and 24 weeks.

While even some conservative commentators praised the decision, the legal substance of the ruling came under some criticism—including from some liberal-leaning scholars who supported a woman’s right to an abortion. Like Justice William Rehnquist, who dissented from Roe, Yale professor John Hart Ely likened the decision to the 1905 case of Lochner v. New York, which struck down a state law limiting working hours for bakers with the argument that it violated a different unenumerated right the court found implicit in the Constitution: the “liberty of contract.”

That precedent, which jeopardized a swath of state laws over workers’ safety and fair treatment, had been effectively abandoned by a series of decisions over the ensuing half-century. “Roe may turn out to be the more dangerous precedent,” Ely wrote, adding: “I suppose there is nothing to prevent one from using the word ‘privacy’ to mean the freedom to live one’s life without governmental interference. But the Court obviously does not so use the term. Nor could it, for such a right is at stake in every case.”

In response to Roe, abortion opponents initially focused on amending the Constitution. Rep. Larry Hogan Sr. (R., Md.), the father of Maryland’s current governor, proposed within days of the Supreme Court’s opinion an amendment extending due-process and equal-protection rights to “any human being, from the moment of conception”—effectively equating abortion with murder. When such proposals died in Congress, activists turned to the states. By 1981, more than a dozen legislatures, including Massachusetts and Mississippi, had passed resolutions calling for a constitutional convention to consider a human-life amendment. The movement stalled short of the 38 necessary states.

Remaking the judiciary became a central strategy for reversing Roe when Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, amid a broader effort to move federal courts against what Mr. Meese called the “radical egalitarianism and expansive civil libertarianism” the justices had embraced in the 1950s and ’60s. In that era, the court under Chief Justice Earl Warren took steps to abolish racial segregation, end government censorship, extend voting rights and increase protections for criminal defendants, as well as rulings like Griswold that defined a broader concept of privacy and individual rights.

Conservatives argued that in those decisions the justices sometimes overstepped their authority to remake society as they pleased...

Supreme Court Upholds High School Football Coach's Free Exercise of Religion: Prayers After Games Ruled Constitutional

Another big day at the Supreme Court.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Supreme Court rules for coach whose prayers on field raised church-state questions":

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Monday for a former high school football coach whose prayers at the 50-yard line drew crowds and controversy, declaring his public prayers were protected as free speech.

The 6-3 decision is a symbolic victory for those who seek a larger role for prayers and religion in public schools.

The court stressed that Coach Joe Kennedy’s prayers began as private and personal expression and were not official acts of promoting religion at school.

Writing for the majority, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch said, “Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the 1st Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s. Nor does a proper understanding of the Amendment’s Establishment Clause require the government to single out private religious speech for special disfavor. The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”

The court’s three liberals dissented.

“This case is about whether a public school must permit a school official to kneel, bow his head, and say a prayer at the center of a school event. The Constitution does not authorize, let alone require, public schools to embrace this conduct,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Since 1962, “this court consistently has recognized that school officials leading prayer is constitutionally impermissible. Official-led prayer strikes at the core of our constitutional protections for the religious liberty of students and their parents, as embodied in both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the 1st Amendment,” Sotomayor said.

What began with the coach kneeling by himself on the 50-yard line became a highly publicized event in 2015 that drew a crowd of players and spectators onto the field at the end of games.

Kennedy was an assistant coach on a yearly contract at the Bremerton High School in Washington when he began to pray at the end of games. School officials warned him against continuing the prayers because they had become a public event. They said his prayers at schools could be seen as violating the Constitution’s ban on an “establishment of religion.”

Kennedy said he would “fight” the decision and took his case to the local media. He was suspended when he refused to follow the district’s guidance, and he was not rehired for the next year.

With the help of the Texas-based First Liberty Institute, he filed a suit against the school district contesting his dismissal.

The 1st Amendment protects the freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion while prohibiting an “establishment of religion,” and all three clauses were at the issue in the case of Kennedy vs. Bremerton School District.

The high court said the key issue was whether the coach’s prayer was private and personal, or whether instead he was speaking as a public employee at school.

“It seems clear to us that Mr. Kennedy has demonstrated that his speech was private speech, not government speech,” Gorsuch wrote. “When Mr. Kennedy uttered the three prayers that resulted in his suspension, he was not engaged in speech ordinarily within the scope of his duties as a coach. He did not speak pursuant to government policy. He was not seeking to convey a government-created message. Simply put: Mr. Kennedy’s prayers did not “ow[e their] existence” to Mr. Kennedy’s responsibilities as a public employee.”

In the past, the court had ruled that government employees are not as protected as whistleblowers if they speak or reveal confidential matters that were part of their job. But in Monday’s opinion, the coach was not acting as a government employee when he prayed on the field...

Still more.


Friday, June 24, 2022

Daniel K. Williams, Defenders of the Unborn

See, Daniel K. Williams, Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement before Roe v. Wade.

Leftists Are Crushed: Rebecca Traister, 'Today is the day that this nation sees, with eyes that are briefly clear, exactly how bad things are...'

The Court's abortion ruling this morning is a monumental defeat for the radical left, a political earthquake.

Some are calling for a "day of rage" in protest of the decision, though what good will that do? As noted earlier, inflation and the economy are tops on the list of concerns for voters, and the Democrats are foolish if they're looking to turn the November midterms into a referendum on the Supreme Court. What's done is done. The action now's at the state level, as it should be, really. Some states will maintain abortion rights --- California most definitely --- though others have "trigger laws" already in place that will ban abortion immediately, today, now that the Court has ruled. Other states have laws ready to go and could ban abortion in their states in the days or weeks ahead.

What you see on the left is utter despair in the face of bitter defeat, and if there are not literal violent attacks on crisis pregnancy centers (Dear God, no), etc., we'll at least have heated political rhetoric at the scale that would melt steel. Leftists are already degenerate, nasty, and violent. They'll be worse then ever now. It's a powder keg out there. The ruling means that abortion will be more polarizing than ever --- and that it will never go away as a divisive political issue. People will be fighting over this for decades. 

In any case, Rebecca Traister (whose writings are very good) certainly reflects the despondency of the moment, at the Cut, "The Necessity of Hope: Things are bad. They will get worse. But despair has never been an option":

Today is the day that this nation sees, with eyes that are briefly clear, exactly how bad things are, and exactly how bad they will become. No clouds today where I live. Only a stark and chilling truth in a bright blue sky: Roe is overturned, and so is Casey.

The dissent, co-authored by the Supreme Court’s three liberals, is explicit: “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.” They write that, in the wake of this decision, “from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”

So that, as they say, is that. Where we are. We can all see it, and so much more: Clarence Thomas, in his concurrence, openly declares that same-sex marriage and contraception are next. Gender-affirming health care, LGBTQ protections, voting rights, labor and environmental regulations — they are all prey to this ravening court and the party of malevolent ideologues and cynical tacticians that stands behind it.

Today also makes indisputable, thanks to Representative Jim Clyburn (who called today’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization “anticlimactic”) and his fellow House Democrats (who had the gall to stand outside the Capitol and sing “God Bless America” as protesters gathered at the Court and troops in riot gear marched to meet them), that those with the most power in the Democratic Party are as inept as their fiercest critics have claimed.

Today is wretched and plain. And it is not the bottom, as many people may feel it is. It will get worse; we will go lower. As the Court’s dissent insists, correctly, “Closing our eyes to the suffering today’s decision will impose will not make that suffering disappear.”

And so, with all this laid out, ugly and incontrovertible, the task for those who are stunned by the baldness of the horror, paralyzed by the bleakness of the view, is to figure out how to move forward anyway.

Because while it is incumbent on us to digest the scope and breadth of the badness, it is equally our responsibility not to despair. These two tasks are not at odds. They are irrevocably twined. As Dahlia Lithwick wondered just a few weeks ago, after the massacre in Uvalde, another clear and awful day: “What does it mean, the opposing imperative of honoring the feeling of being shattered, while gathering up whatever is left to work harder?”

It means doing the thing that people have always done on the arduous path to greater justice: Find the way to hope, not as feel-good anesthetic but as tactical necessity.

The prison abolitionist Mariame Kaba reminds us that “hope is a discipline.” It is also a political strategy and a survival mechanism. As Kaba has said, “It’s less about ‘how you feel’ and more about the practice of making a decision every day that you’re still gonna put one foot in front of the other, that you’re still going to get up in the morning. And you’re still going to struggle … It’s work to be hopeful.”

I am regularly asked, when I speak to groups in frank terms about the peril in front of us, about the temptation of hopelessness: “How can we keep going when the progress accumulated over our lifetimes has been reversed?” But we go forward because that progress was made against forces that will never stop trying to reverse it.

The failure to communicate that is a failure of our leaders, many of whom came of age in a period of progressive victories that they seemed to believe — due to naïveté or willful blindness — would continue to move in one expansive direction. It is no accident that many who believed this came from or moved into classes of power and privilege, where they could remain insulated from the erosions that have been grinding away this whole time, right under their noses.

This stubborn belief in a kind of Forever Progress has undergirded a political message that there was nothing to worry about. It has prevented a proper understanding of this country’s history and its foundational power imbalances. And now it is the shattering of this belief that pulls people toward despair.

But despair is poison. It deadens people when the most important thing they can do is proceed with more drive and force and openness than they have before. Which is why the work ahead is insisting on hope, behaving as if there is reason for hope, even if you feel, based on the ample available evidence, that there is not...

Still more.

The Sword Drops: Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade; Clarence Thomas Says Contraceptives, Gay Rights, and Homosexual Marriage on the Chopping Block (VIDEO)

The day has come. The Sword of Damocles has crashed down on the constitutional right to an abortion. The Court's decision is the most consequential in generations, and will make the abortion issue even more contentious and controversial than it's been already.

But contra the Democrats, especially President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it's doubtful that "abortion will be on the ballot" this fall. Bread and butter issues, kitchen table issues, will be on the ballot, and what better way for the radical Democrat Party to try to change the subject, try to turn the page on the misery the great majority of Americans are feeling amid the worst economy since the 1980s. 

It's a big day. 

At the Los Angeles Times, "In historic reversal, Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade, frees states to outlaw abortion: The ruling marks the most significant curtailing of an established constitutional right in the Supreme Court’s history":

WASHINGTON — In a historic reversal, the Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision and ruled states may again outlaw abortion.

The court’s conservative majority said the Constitution does not protect the rights of women to choose abortion and instead leaves these decisions in the hands of state lawmakers.

The 5-4 ruling marks the most significant curtailing of an established constitutional right in the court’s history.

The opinion written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. closely tracks a draft that was leaked by Politico in May.

“We hold that Roe and [the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs.] Casey must be overruled,” Alito wrote. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.”

The opinion was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. concurred but did not join the majority opinion in overturning Roe, saying he would have upheld only a Mississippi 15-week ban on abortion. That made the decision to uphold Mississippi’s law a 6-3 opinion.

“The court’s decision to overrule Roe and Casey is a serious jolt to the legal system,” Roberts wrote.

The court’s three liberal justices — Justice Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — dissented.

“Today, the court ... says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of,” their dissent read. “A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”

The dissenting justices concluded, “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.”

The ruling figures to set off a fierce political fight nationwide and state by state as politicians and voters weigh in on whether abortion should be restricted or prohibited entirely.

Opinion polls show most Americans support access to abortion, at least in the early months of a pregnancy. Nevertheless, half the states are expected to seek to quickly enforce laws that make most abortions illegal.

The decision is the high court’s most far-reaching reversal on a matter of constitutional rights since 1954, when the justices reversed six decades of precedent and struck down laws authorizing racial segregation.

But that unanimous decision in Brown vs. Board of Education expanded the rights of individuals and rejected conservative state laws, while today’s does the opposite. It empowers states and reverses what had been the most significant women’s rights ruling in the court’s history.

For the U.S. Catholic bishops as well as evangelical Christians who believe abortion ends a human life and is immoral, the ruling is a triumph decades in the making. They had refused to accept the idea the Constitution protected abortion as a fundamental right...

Keep reading.


Rosa Brooks, Tangled Up in Blue

At Amazon, Rosa Brooks, Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Second Amendment: Supreme Court Blocks New York Law Limiting Guns in Public

This is the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, a case in my mind whose outcome was never in doubt. The Court's 6-3 conservative majority is shifting the direction of constitutional law back to the "original intent" doctrine favored earlier by big names such as former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justice Anton Scalia. It's very exciting. Leftists are losing their minds on Twitter

The decision strikes down New York's requirement that those seeking a permit to carry a gun in public must show "proper cause," meaning an individual must show a special need to carry a firearm, distinct from that of the general public's. That requirement is now swept away in what's being said is a dramatic expansion of Second Amendment rights in constitutional law. 

Here's SCOTUS Blog on the decision, "In 6-3 ruling, court strikes down New York’s concealed-carry law":

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York handgun-licensing law that required New Yorkers who want to carry a handgun in public to show a special need to defend themselves.

The 6-3 ruling, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, is the court’s first significant decision on gun rights in over a decade. In a far-reaching ruling, the court made clear that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right “to keep and bear arms” protects a broad right to carry a handgun outside the home for self-defense. Going forward, Thomas explained, courts should uphold gun restrictions only if there is a tradition of such regulation in U.S. history.

Thursday’s landmark decision came less than six weeks after a gunman killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket, and less than a month after 21 people – 19 children and two teachers – were shot to death at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. In response to those shootings, the Senate this week reached an agreement on bipartisan gun-safety legislation that, if passed, would be the first federal gun-control legislation in nearly 30 years. The 80-page bill would (among other things) require tougher background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21 and provide more funding for mental-health resources.

The state law at the heart of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen required anyone who wants to carry a concealed handgun outside the home to show “proper cause” for the license. New York courts interpreted that phrase to require applicants to show more than a general desire to protect themselves or their property. Instead, applicants must demonstrate a special need for self-defense – for example, a pattern of physical threats. Several other states, including California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, impose similar restrictions, as do many cities.

The lower courts upheld the New York law against a challenge from two men whose applications for concealed-carry licenses were denied. But on Thursday, the Supreme Court tossed out the law in an ideologically divided 63-page opinion.

The court rejected a two-part test that many lower courts have used to review challenges to gun-control measures. That test looked first at whether a restriction regulates conduct protected by the original scope of the Second Amendment and then, if so, whether the restriction is fine-tuned to advance a significant public interest. Instead, Thomas wrote, if “the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct,” the government has the burden to show that the regulation is consistent with the historical understanding of the Second Amendment.

Applying that new and more stringent standard to the New York proper-cause requirement, Thomas found that the challengers’ desire to carry a handgun in public for self-defense fell squarely within the conduct protected by the Second Amendment. The amendment’s text does not distinguish between gun rights in the home and gun rights in public places, Thomas observed. Indeed, he suggested, the Second Amendment’s reference to the right to “bear” arms most naturally refers to the right to carry a gun outside the home.

After reviewing nearly seven centuries’ worth of historical sources, beginning in the 1200s and going through the early 1900s, Thomas concluded that although U.S. history has at times placed some “well-defined restrictions” on the right to carry firearms in public, there was no tradition of a broad prohibition on carrying commonly used guns in public for self-defense. And with rare exceptions, Thomas added, there was no historical requirement that law-abiding citizens show the kind of special need for self-defense required by the New York law to carry a gun in public. Indeed, Thomas concluded, there is “no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.”

Thomas rebuffed New York’s effort to justify its proper-cause requirement as an effort to regulate guns in “sensitive places” – specifically, crowded urban areas, like Manhattan, where people are likely to gather. Thomas agreed that, as a historical matter, there have long been laws restricting guns in places like courthouses and polling places. Moreover, he continued, restrictions that apply to the modern versions of “sensitive places” may also pass constitutional muster. Although Thomas left open exactly what might qualify as a “sensitive place,” he made clear that urban areas do not meet that definition. The state’s “argument would in effect exempt cities from the Second Amendment and would eviscerate the general right to publicly carry arms for self-defense,” Thomas concluded...

Still more.


WATCH: What Do We Know About Diversity? DEI's Unknown Unknowns (With John McWhorter)

Here's the discussion at Glenn Loury's Substack, "What do we know about the effects of DEI initiatives? In one sense, we know quite a lot."

And at the video, these are great guys:

He Was Just a Bitter Man With a Mob

From Andrew Sullivan, "A Man And A Mob: Our Constitutional crisis is due to Donald Trump. And Donald Trump alone":

Frankly there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president,” - former veep Mike Pence.

There is a tendency, and I understand it, to view the crisis of democratic legitimacy in this country as multi-determined. The rank failure of elites this century, the intellectual barrenness of the pre-Trump GOP, the ever-further radicalization of the left, along with the cultural impacts of mass immigration and free trade, all count as contributing factors. You can tell the story in many different ways, with varying emphases, and assignations of blame.

But this complexity misses something important — the contingent importance of individuals in human history. And the truth is: we would not be where we are now without Donald Trump, and Donald Trump alone. He is unique in American history, a president who told us in advance he would never accept any election result that showed him losing, and then proved it. He tried to overturn the transfer of power to his successor by threats and violence. No president in history has ever done such a thing — betrayed and violated the core of our republic — from Washington’s extraordinary example onwards. The stain of Trump is as unique as it is indelible.

Without Trump, January 6 would never have happened. It was his idea, and his alone. No one in his closest inner circle believed he had won the election on November 3. They all knew that the Trump presidency was “the rotten carcass of a boat, not rigg’d, / Nor tackle, sail, nor mast.” None of them would have attempted to keep it afloat.

And, thanks to the January 6 Committee, we now know this for certain. Mike Pence, his vice president, didn’t believe Trump had won, let alone by a landslide — for which he was targeted to be hanged by the mob Trump gathered. (A new detail: Trump — after the violence had already broken out — incited the mob against Pence directly, and they surged to get within 40 feet of him.)

His daughter Ivanka and Jared Kushner also didn’t believe Trump had won — and we now know they planned to move to Miami only 24 hours after Trump declared he had been robbed. Trump’s beloved Hope Hicks didn’t believe he’d won. His campaign manager Bill Stepien didn’t either, and in a lovely understatement said he “didn’t think what was happening was necessarily honest or professional.” Even Kellyanne “alternative facts” Conway didn’t think he’d won.

Trump’s attorney general, Bill Barr, didn’t think he’d won either, and told him so: “I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit. And I didn’t want to be a part of it.” Here’s how Trump responded to his top cop telling the truth: “This is killing me. You must have said this because you hate Trump, you hate Trump.” For Trump, there is no objective reality; no actual facts to be considered. There is only his subjective reality, where non-facts are asserted with the intensity of a madman.

Who did believe that Trump had won? A shit-faced Rudy Giuliani on election night; the fruitcake — and now disbarred — conspiracist Sidney Powell; QAnon nutter Lin Wood, who wanted the vice president to face a firing squad for doing his job; and another deranged flunky, Peter Navarro. Then there was the disgraceful John Eastman, who crafted a legal strategy that he knew was unconstitutional, illegal and could lead to riots. “Garbage in, garbage out,” was how Trump’s former chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, described the clique and their plots.

The cockamamie scheme these oddballs constructed aimed at bullying Republican state legislators to provide alternative electors who would back Trump in the Electoral College, despite the votes in their states, and to coerce Mike Pence to refuse to certify the election on January 6, so they’d have time to overturn the results. (A freelancer to the fiasco, Ginni Thomas, wife of Clarence, pressed 29 legislators in Arizona to change their slate of electors.)

This required harassment of GOP officials in the states to simply “find” more votes for Trump. At this point, it’s only Trump, his new inner circle of nut-cases, Fox News, and mobs around the country. Nothing was ruled out. At one point, they considered seizing voting machines and calling out the military. Trump tweeted threats to individual office-holders to get them to bend the knee. Here is an account by one, a Republican commissioner in Philly, who looked into Giuliani’s claim that 8,000 dead people had voted in his city, found none, and said so:

[P]rior to that [tweet from Trump], the threats were pretty general in nature. Corrupt election officials in Philadelphia are going to get what’s coming to them. You’re what the second amendment is for. You’re walking into the lion’s den. All sorts of things like that.

After the President tweeted at me by name, calling me out the way that he did, the threats became much more specific, much more graphic, and included not just me by name but included members of my family by name, their ages, our address, pictures of our home. Just every bit of detail that you could imagine.

That’s Trump leveraging violence against election officials for defending the integrity of the vote. No surprise then that he repeated this strategy against his own “pussy” vice president and the Congress itself — egging on a mob he had summoned to ransack the Capitol building to stop the certification (“it’s going to be wild!”), and refusing repeatedly to intervene throughout the day to stop the violence, even as others begged him to. The night before the mayhem, Trump had left the White House door open — highly unusual for him. And this was winter in Washington. According to Costa and Woodward, when Trump was asked to shut it by shivering staffers, he responded: “I want to hear my people. Listen. They have courage. Listen.”

He was emphatically told he’d lost the election. He was told what he was trying to do was illegal and unconstitutional, days before he directed the mob. But he didn’t care and did it anyway. Eastman for his part knew he was committing a crime against the Constitution, a crime which might have set off rioting in the streets, which is why (we now know) he sought a preemptive pardon for his malfeasance. How’s that for an admission of guilt? But he didn’t care and did it anyway.

There are simply no precedents in history for this kind of assault on the core principles of the American republic. None. And there is no precedent for a president, having been exposed as a fantasist, to carry on, insisting that his fever dream remains reality, attacking the very legitimacy of our democracy, day after day. The idea that he could run again — or again become president — could only be entertained by those who wish to end the American experiment.

Peruse the 12-page letter Trump put out in response to the hearings. It is the work of someone with no grip on reality, absurd lie after lie after lie, barely literate, the kind of thing you’d think was written by a lunatic if you received it in the mail. Any other president would have conceded on election night. Others with a real case (unlike Trump’s) — Nixon in 1960, Gore in 2000 — knew what their duty was. They cared more about the republic than themselves — a concept simply outside Trump’s cognition. In four years, he never acted as a president. He only ever acted as Trump.

In the bitter end, he was just a man with a mob. Not a Republican. Not a politician. Not a president. Not a member of any political party but his own cult. A mindless, raging, bullying thug. The hearings have methodically and calmly revealed this, masterfully led by a Republican, Liz Cheney, through testimony supplied by Republican after Republican witness.

And yet just this week, Trump acolytes repeating his lies won primaries in Nevada and South Carolina. Republican election officials in some states have said they will decide the results of future elections — and not the voters. Steve Bannon has encouraged a wave of new candidates in positions overseeing elections to foment chaos. The crisis Trump — and Trump alone — has created is not over. Biden’s legacy — an abandonment of his mandate for moderation, soaring inflation, an imminent recession, yet another new war, and woker-than-woke extremism — has only deepened it.

So it’s up to Republicans to save us. In the words of Michael Luttig, “as a political matter of fact only the party that instigated this war over our democracy can bring an end to that war.” And here I just want to appeal to any conservatives or Republicans who might read this. You know I’m not a flaming liberal. You know I agree with many of you on the threat from the far left. So hear me out: The party of Lincoln cannot coexist with the cult of Trump. What Trump did to the republic has nothing whatsoever to do with conservatism. It’s the antithesis of conservatism, a revolutionary act to create a constitutional crisis, an assault on tradition, an attack on America itself. You may soon have a chance to run the country again. Don’t throw that away for the sake of a man who cares about nothing but himself...