Thursday, June 30, 2022

Without Fear Or Favor

With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God.  I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation.  I extend my sincerest thanks to all of my new colleagues for their warm and gracious welcome.  I am also especially grateful for the time and attention given to me by the Chief Justice and by Justice Breyer.  Justice Breyer has been a personal friend and mentor of mine for the past two decades, in addition to being part of today's official act.  In the wake of his exemplary service, with the support of my family and friends, and ever mindful of the duty to promote the Rule of Law, I am well-positioned to serve the American people.

-- Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, in a statement issued by the court following her swearing in, 30 June 2022

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

A Willing Effort

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.  My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail.

-- Helen Adams Keller (27 June 1880 - 1 June 1968), American writer and social activist, Optimism (1903)

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

It Was Un-American

As a staffer that worked to always represent the administration to the best of my ability and to showcase the good things that he [President Trump] had done for the country, I remember feeling frustrated and disappointed, and really it felt personal.  I -- I was really sad.  As an American, I was disgusted.  It was unpatriotic.

It was un-American.  We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie, and it was something that was really hard in that moment to digest, knowing what I've been hearing down the hall and the conversations that were happening.  Seeing that tweet come up and knowing what was happening on the Hill, and it's something that I -- it's still -- I still struggle to work through the emotions of that.

-- Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifying to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, when asked about a tweet in which the president said the vice president did not have the courage to do what needed to be done, 28 June 2022

Monday, June 27, 2022

No Victory For Religious Liberty

The Free Exercise Clause and Establishment Clause are equally integral in protecting religious freedom in our society.  The first serves as "a promise from our government," while the second erects a "backstop that disables our government from breaking it" and "start[ing] us down the path to the past, when [the right to free exercise] was routinely abridged." Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 582 U. S. ___, ___ (2017) (SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting) (slip op., at 26).

Today, the Court once again weakens the backstop.  It elevates one individual's interest in personal religious exercise, in the exact time and place of that individual's choosing, over society's interest in protecting the separation between church and state, eroding the protections for religious liberty for all.  Today's decision is particularly misguided because it elevates the religious rights of a school official, who voluntarily accepted public employment and the limits that public employment entails, over those of his students, who are required to attend school and who this Court has long recognized are particularly vulnerable and deserving of protection.  In doing so, the Court sets us further down a perilous path in forcing States to entangle themselves with religion, with all of our rights hanging in the balance.  As much as the Court protests otherwise, today's decision is no victory for religious liberty. I respectfully dissent.

-- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Stephen Bryer and Elena Kagan, dissenting in Kennedy v Bremerton School District, in which the majority ruled that a public school football coach has a right to hold a prayer circle on the 50-yard line at the end of each football game, 27 June 2022

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Accustom Yourself

Whatever you would make habitual, practice it; and if you would not make a thing habitual, do not practice it, but accustom yourself to something else.

-- Epictetus (c. 55 - c. 135 AD), born a slave, Greek Stoic philosopher.  The name given by his parents, if one was given, is not known.  The word epiktetos in Greek simply means "acquired", Discourses Book II, ch. 18

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The Wise Man's Task

Appearances to the mind are of four kinds.  Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be.  Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man's task.

-- Epictetus (c. 55 - c. 135 AD), born a slave, Greek Stoic philosopher.  The name given by his parents, if one was given, is not known.  The word epiktetos in Greek simply means "acquired", Discourses Book I, ch. 27

Monday, June 13, 2022

Best Of Disinfectants

Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases.  Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.

-- Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856 - 1941), American litigator, Supreme Court Justice, and advocate of privacy, Other People's Money -- and How Bankers Use It (1914)

Friday, June 10, 2022

Jeopardy W00t!

Props to Eric Ahasic, the current Jeopardy champion who has accrued $133,801 in winnings in his first five days on the show.  He will try to continue his streak next week.  He is the son of friend and former co-worker Tom Ahasic.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Held Accountable

We cannot just sweep this under the rug.  We need to know why it happened, who did it, and people need to be held accountable for it.  And I'm committed to make sure that happens.

-- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in an audio recording from 11 January 2021, quoted in "Leaked audio shows Kevin McCarthy demanding inquiry into Jan. 6 riot, a position he later completely reversed", Business Insider (9 June 2022)

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

What Does "Militia" Mean?

So what does "Militia" mean in the phrase "A well-regulated Militia?"  Best way to answer that is to search through the text of the constitution to see where else it appears.  Looks like Congress has a lot of say over it.

Search here:

-- Long-time friend and former bowling partner Patrick O'Halloran, tweeting as TheRealPatrick @TheRealPOH on Twitter, 7 June 2022

[What you'll find:

* Article I, Section 8: Powers of Congress

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

* Article II, Section 2 (The Executive):

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

* Second Amendment

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

* Fifth Amendment

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Tiny Interesting Choices

You're curious and smart and bored, and all you see is the choice between working hard and slacking off.  There are so many adventures that you miss because you're waiting to think of a plan.  To find them, look for tiny interesting choices.  And remember that you are always making up the future as you go.

-- Randall Munroe, in XKCD, A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language, Choices: Part 4

Monday, June 06, 2022

Great And Noble Undertaking

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.  The eyes of the world are upon you.  The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.  In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one.  Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened.  He will fight savagely. ...

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle.  We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good Luck!  And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

-- General Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a message to the troops before the Normandy landings, 2 June 1944

Friday, June 03, 2022


According to new data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guns are the No. 1 killer of children in the United States of America. The No. 1 killer. More than car accidents, more than cancer. Over the last two decades, more school-age children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined.

Think about that. More kids than on-duty cops killed by guns. More kids than soldiers killed by guns. For God’s sake. How much more carnage are we willing to accept? How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say enough? Enough.

We must provide more school counselors; more school nurses; more mental health services for students and for teachers. More people volunteering as mentors to help young people succeed. More privacy protection and resources to keep kids safe from the harms of social media.

My fellow Americans, enough. Enough. It’s time for each of us to do our part. It’s time to act. For the children we’ve lost. For the children we can save. For the nation we love. Let’s hear the call and the cry. Let’s meet the moment. Let us finally do something.

-- Remarks by President Joe Biden in an address to the nation in response to recent mass shootings, 2 June 2022

Thursday, June 02, 2022


Training for skill [coordination] is purely a matter of forming proper connections in the nervous system through practice [precision practice].  Each performance of an act strengthens the connections involved and makes the next performance easier, more certain, and more readily done.  Likewise, disuse tends to weaken any pathways that have been formed and makes doing of the act more difficult and uncertain [constant exercises].  Thus, we can attain skill only by actually doing the thing we are trying to learn.  We learn solely by doing or reacting.  When learning to form pathways, be sure the actions are the most economical as well as the most efficient use of energy and motion. 

-- Lee Jun-fan (1940 - 1973), commonly known as Bruce Lee, Hong Kong American martial artist and actor, Tao Of Jeet Kune Do (1975), p. 46

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Everyone Is Reduced

Words are supposed to hurt.  That's considered a legitimate way of fighting things out.  And what did it replace in the historical scene?  It replaced actual violence.  Words are supposed to be free so we CAN actually fight things out, in the battleplace of ideas, so we don't end up fighting them out in civil wars.  If we try to legitimately ban anything that can hurt someone's feelings, everyone is reduced to silence.

-- Gregory Christopher Lukianoff (1974 -), president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, speaking with John Stossel on Fox Business (2009)