Sunday, October 23, 2016

Clinton, Trump and the War on Women

For many years Democrats have claimed that Republicans have been waging a "war on women." Republicans have angrily rejected both the metaphor and the reality behind it. With the ascendancy of Donald Trump as the leader of the Republican Party, the reality of the war on women can no longer be denied. I had thought that this election was like all the others I have lived through - a dispute over policy. But it is more, much more. It was only recently that I realized the true significance and scope of this election. It is no less than a revolution - a watershed in the history of the human race.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What Should Republicans Do Now?

What can the Republican Party do to redeem itself from the racism, sexism, and xenophobia of Donald Trump? In a discussion on 538 entitled "Is This What It Looks Like When a Party Falls Apart," Nate Silver said,  "This isn't just a crisis of party leadership. It's a crisis of the party's voters." Trump is enthusiastically supported by about 40% of Republicans. Republican voters nominated Trump because of his racism, sexism, and xenophobia. He rose to political prominence by loudly proclaiming that Barack Obama is not a citizen and launched his presidential campaign by rudely calling undocumented Mexican immigrants "rapists." The vicious misogyny of Trump recently displayed on tape has been obvious throughout the campaign ("Blood coming out of her ... wherever."). Most Republicans are appalled by him, but what can they do? I have six suggestions for what they can do as individuals, but I'm not at all sure they can salvage the Republican Party.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Supreme Court's Decision in Zubik v. Burwell

Last December I wrote a loooonnnngggg post about the issues in Zubik v. Burwell, the contraceptive mandate case. This case promised to be one of the most significant decisions of the Supreme Court's 2015-2016 term. Today, the case closed softly, in what the media is calling a "compromise" resolution. (Today's decision of the Court in Zubic v. Burwell is available here.) But make no mistake -- the winners are employees who are now guaranteed contraceptive coverage at no cost.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Clinton/Trump (3): The Race as of May 8, 2016

The latest national polls give Hillary Clinton an average of a seven-point lead on Donald Trump. How would this affect the electoral map and control of Congress?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Clinton/Trump (1) -- Will Donald Trump Defend Ukraine Against Russia?

Is Donald Trump caving in to Russia on Ukraine? It sure looks like it. There are strong indications that Trump opposes President Obama's policy of steadfast resistance to Russia, and would prefer to downgrade NATO, abandon Ukraine, and forge an alliance with Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump has chosen Paul Manafort -- an apologist for the Russian puppet Viktor Yanukovych -- as his campaign manager. This is deeply troubling. It calls into question Trump's loyalty to western Europe, his commitment to democracy, and his willingness to stand up to Russian expansionism. Why is Trump doing this? Trump is not a leader who has the best interests of people at heart. Trump is an opportunist who wants to make money.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Supreme Court’s Decision in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission v. Electric Power Supply Association

On January 25, 2016, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission v. Electric Power Supply Association, upholding Order No. 745 of the FERC. This case primarily involves a question of statutory interpretation. However, the Court’s decision also has important policy implications. It represents a significant victory for businesses and consumers who purchase electricity as well as a victory for the environment, by reducing the necessity to generate electricity from expensive and polluting coal-fired electrical generating plants. Justice Kagan joined by five other justices authored the opinion for the majority. Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Thomas, dissented. Justice Alito did not participate.

Friday, January 22, 2016

National Review Violates Trump's Rights Under the Eleventh Commandment -- Will Competing Republican Candidates Do the Same?

Yesterday the National Review published an editorial ("Against Trump") and a collection of essays ("A Donald Trump Nomination Would Fundamentally Change the GOP") criticizing Donald Trump. The editorial and some of the essays were composed of standard, inoffensive critiques that are perfectly acceptable within the Republican Party, along the lines of "Trump isn't conservative enough." But several of the essays NR chose to publish in support of its editorial crossed the line that Reagan laid down and that Republican pundits and politicians have almost universally respected until now. Those essays called Trump a racist and a would-be war criminal. And the response of the Republican Party hierarchy was swift. It disassociated itself from the National Review.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Failure to Adopt Single Payer Health Care in Vermont -- And How It Could Succeed Nationally

The principal policy difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is over health care -- specifically, health care financing. Bernie favors the adoption of a "single payer" health care system, which he (and many before him) refer to as "Medicare for All." Hillary doesn't disagree about the desirability of a single payer system, but contends that it isn't feasible, politically or economically. She's right, at least for now. There is a way to bring about single payer system, but Democrats can't do that by themselves. Republicans, or at least a substantial proportion of Republicans, would have to agree. And there is a way that might happen.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Remembering King and Honoring His Legacy

I saw Martin Luther King, Jr., on June 15, 1964. My oldest brother graduated from college that day, and King received an honorary degree. When King was introduced, my mother told us to stand with the rest of the audience. The couple sitting behind us remained seated. My little sister asked our mother, "Why aren't they standing up?" Mother told us, "Some people don't understand what a great man he is." Here are a few reflections about what King did for us, and why the principles he stood for are so important for us today.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Is Ted Cruz a "Natural-Born" American Citizen? A Purely Textual Response

Donald Trump and Anne Coulter have challenged the right of Ted Cruz to become President on the ground that, since he was born in Canada, he is not a "natural-born citizen" of the United States as required by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. Many esteemed legal scholars, including Neal Katyal and Paul Clement, have weighed in on the issue, most of whom take the position that Cruz is indeed a natural-born citizen. I agree with them, and offer below a short, simple semantic argument on Cruz' behalf.

A Response to the "Anti-Government" View of the Second Amendment

I appeared on "Essential Pittsburgh" yesterday, a call-in show on NPR radio, to talk about the constitutionality of President Obama's executive actions intended to improve and enhance background checks on persons purchasing guns. Following the program I received an e-mail from a listener (first name of "Jim") who challenged my position on the Second Amendment in several respects. He wondered why I omitted the phrase "of the people" when reciting the Second Amendment from memory. (Really, it's just my age, Jim!) He suggested that I favored the "collective right" over the "individual right" interpretation of the Second Amendment. (I don't - but we still have to determine precisely what the individual right is.) He wrote that I was wrong in stating that the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 included the right to hunt. (I have since checked and it does protect the right to hunt, in Section 43.) Most importantly, he expressed support for the theory that the Second Amendment was intended to prevent "tyranny." I agree with Jim on this last and most important point. But he and I may disagree about precisely how the Second Amendment was intended to operate as a check on "tyranny." My entire response to Jim follows.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Echo from the Past: Chief Judge of Alabama Supreme Court Blocks Order of the United States Supreme Court

Chief Judge Ray Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court, in his capacity as administrator of all the state courts, has ordered clerks across the state to cease issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. This is not the first time that Judge Moore has issued such an order. He did so on February 8, 2015, before the Supreme Court issued its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. Here is the essay I posted at that time, and here is the blog entry posted a few days later discussing the Supreme Court's refusal to enter a stay on behalf of the State of Alabama. Nor is this the first time that the Alabama Supreme Court has disobeyed the United States Supreme Court in a matter relating to civil rights.

The Constitutionality of President Obama's Proposed Actions on Gun Control

On Tuesday, January 5, President Barack Obama delivered an inspiring address proposing a number of steps that his administration will take to protect Americans from gun violence. Because Congress has refused to enact new legislation -- for example, it failed to enact the Toomey-Manchin background check bill, summarized by Politifact here -- the President announced what his administration will do to improve the enforcement of existing law. Many have attacked the President's proposals on the ground that he lacks the authority under the Constitution to take these steps. I don't see any constitutional difficulties whatsoever with the President's proposals.