Friday, June 24, 2022

The Court Discards That Balance

Roe and Casey well understood the difficulty and divisiveness of the abortion issue.  The Court knew that Americans hold profoundly different views about the "moral[ity]" of "terminating a pregnancy, even in its earliest stage."  Casey, 505 U. S., at 850.  And the Court recognized that "the State has legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting" the "life of the fetus that may become a child."  Id., at 846.  So the Court struck a balance, as it often does when values and goals compete.  It held that the State could prohibit abortions after fetal viability, so long as the ban contained exceptions to safeguard a woman's life or health.  It held that even before viability, the State could regulate the abortion procedure in multiple and meaningful ways.  But until the viability line was crossed, the Court held, a State could not impose a "substantial obstacle" on a woman's "right to elect the procedure" as she (not the government) thought proper, in light of all the circumstances and complexities of her own life.  Ibid.

Today, the Court discards that balance.  It says that 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.

-- Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, dissenting in Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization, in which the majority ruled that the Constitution does not grant women the right to an abortion, overturning the ~50-year precedent of Roe v Wade, 24 June 2022

Thursday, June 23, 2022

State's Compelling Interest

In my view, when courts interpret the Second Amendment, it is constitutionally proper, indeed often necessary, for them to consider the serious dangers and consequences of gun violence that lead States to regulate firearms.  The Second Circuit has done so and has held that New York's law does not violate the Second Amendment.  See Kachalsky v. County of Westchester, 701 F. 3d 81, 97–99, 101 (2012).  I would affirm that holding.  At a minimum, I would not strike down the law based only on the pleadings, as the Court does today -- without first allowing for the development of an evidentiary record and without considering the State's compelling interest in preventing gun violence.  I respectfully dissent.

-- Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, with whom Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan join, dissenting in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen, in which the majority ruled that ordinary, law-abiding citizens have a right to carry handguns publicly for their self-defense, 23 June 2022

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Antiestablishment Interests

What a difference five years makes.  In 2017, I feared that the Court was “lead[ing] us ... to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment.” Trinity Lutheran (dissenting opinion).  Today, the Court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation.  If a State cannot offer subsidies to its citizens without being required to fund religious exercise, any State that values its historic antiestablishment interests more than this Court does will have to curtail the support it offers to its citizens.  With growing concern for where this Court will lead us next, I respectfully dissent.

-- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, dissenting in Carson v Makin, in which the majority ruled that Maine's tuition support program for secular charter schools must be extended to religious schools, 21 June 2022

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

It Is Painful

It is painful to have friends who have been such a help to me turn on me with such rancor.  I may in the eyes of men not hold correct opinions or act according to their vision or convictions, but I do not take this current situation in a light manner, a fearful manner, or a vengeful manner.  I do not want to be a winner by cheating.  I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to.  With any contrived desire towards deflection of my deep foundational desire to follow God's will as I believe He led my conscience to embrace.  How else will I ever approach Him in the wilderness of life?  Knowing that I ask this guidance only to show myself a coward in defending the course He let me take -- He led me to take.

-- Arizona Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers, reading a journal entry from December 2020 written as Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani pressured him to decertify Arizona's electors in the 2020 presidential election, in testimony to the House January 6th Committee, 21 June 2022

Monday, June 20, 2022

Make Light

To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher.

-- Blaise Pascal (19 June 1623 - 19 August 1662), French mathematician, logician, physicist and theologian, The Pensées (1669) (literally "thoughts")

Friday, June 17, 2022

Police Arrested Burglars

On June 17, 1972, police arrested burglars wiretapping the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.  Evidence linked the break-in to President Richard Nixon's re-election committee, and the Justice Department appointed a special prosecutor for the case.  In February 1973 the Senate established a select committee chaired by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina to investigate the 1972 presidential election campaigns.  The investigation revealed audiotapes incriminating President Nixon, which eventually led to Nixon's resignation.  Nationally televised, the hearings of the Watergate Committee inquiry boosted public confidence in Congress.

-- From the US Capitol Visitor Center website, "The Watergate Break-in", retrieved 17 June 2022 (50th anniversary)

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Danger To Democracy

I have written, as you said, Chairman Thompson, that today, almost two years after that fateful day in January 2021, that still Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy.  That's not because of what happened on January 6th.  It's because, to this very day, the former president, his allies, and supporters pledge that, in the presidential election of 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican Party presidential candidate were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election, but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020.  I don't speak those words lightly.

I would have never spoken those words ever in my life, except that that's what the former president and his allies are telling us. As I said in that New York Times op-ed, wherein I was speaking about the Electoral Count Act of 1887, the former president and his allies are executing that blueprint for 2024 in open, in plain view of the American public.

-- J. Michael Luttig, former judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, who has been advising a number of senior Republican senators on the Electoral Count Act, in testimony to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, 16 June 2022