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Alito’s politically charged address draws heat


Reported by JOSH GERSTEIN | Politico | November 13, 2020

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito delivered an unusually inflammatory public speech Thursday night, starkly warning about the threats he contends religious believers face from advocates for gay and abortion rights, as well as public officials responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking to a virtual conference of conservative lawyers, the George W. Bush appointee made no direct comment on the recent election, the political crisis relating to President Donald Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his defeat or litigation on the issue pending at the Supreme Court.

However, Alito didn’t hold back on other controversial subjects, even suggesting that the pressure Christians face surrounding their religious beliefs is akin to the strictures the U.S. placed on Germany and Japan after World War II.

“Is our country going to follow that course?” Alito asked. “For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom. It’s often just an excuse for bigotry and can’t be tolerated, even when there is no evidence that anybody has been harmed. … The question we face is whether our society will be inclusive enough to tolerate people with unpopular religious beliefs.”

Alito argued that some recent Supreme Court decisions, including the landmark ruling upholding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, fueled intolerance to those who believe marriage should be limited to unions between one man and one woman.

“Until very recently, that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now, it’s considered bigotry,” he said.

Alito also seemed to minimize the significance of a refusal of a Colorado baker to produce a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The justice noted that the couple involved “was given a free cake by another bakery” and that the high-profile standoff prompted “celebrity chefs” to come to their defense.

Justices often include pointed, even barbed, language in their opinions. Indeed, Alito regularly does so, and many of his remarks Thursday night echoed similar comments he’s made in caustic dissents. Still, it is uncommon for a justice to weigh in on hot-button topics like abortion or gay rights in speaking appearances open to the press or public.

During his half-hour-long speech, Alito warned that not only is freedom of belief increasingly under threat, but freedom of expression is as well.

“One of the great challenges for the Supreme Court going forward will be to protect freedom of speech. Although that freedom is falling out of favor in some circles, we need to do whatever we can to prevent it from becoming a second-tier constitutional right,” he said.

While the conservative justice insisted he was not opining on the legal questions related to coronavirus lockdown orders and similar restrictions, he painted those moves as oppressive.

“The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty,” Alito said, insisting that such an observation was transparently true. “The Covid crisis has served as a sort of constitutional stress test and in doing so it has highlighted disturbing trends that were already in evidence before the pandemic struck.”

Alito also used his address to trash a brief Democratic senators filed last year in a gun rights case, warning the court that lawmakers might move to restructure the court if it continued to produce what the senators asserted were politically motivated rulings.

“It was an affront to the Constitution and the rule of law,” Alito said, paraphrasing remarks he made in court. “It is … wrong for anyone, including members of Congress, to try to influence our decisions by anything other than legal argumentation. That sort of thing has often happened in countries governed by power, not law.”

Alito did not make reference to Trump’s numerous public affronts to federal judges. In 2018, those relentless attacks prompted Chief Justice John Roberts to issue an unusual statement coming to the defense of the independence of the judiciary.

Many lawyers took to Twitter on Thursday night to accuse Alito of hypocrisy for delivering a highly politically charged speech that was devoted in part to complaining about lawmakers casting the court as political.

“This speech is like I woke up from a vampire dream,” University of Baltimore law professor and former federal prosecutor Kim Wehle wrote. “Unscrupulously biased, political, and even angry. I can’t imagine why Alito did this publicly. Totally inappropriate and damaging to the Supreme Court.”

Alito also engaged in another regular lament from legal conservatives, complaining that law schools are hostile to those with right-of-center political views and others whose beliefs go against the majority viewpoint.

“Unfortunately, tolerance for opposing views is now in short supply in many law schools and in the broader academic community,” the justice said. “When I speak with recent law school graduates, what I hear over and over is that they face harassment and retaliation if they say anything that departs from the law school orthodoxy.”

Alito, who attended Princeton as an undergraduate and Yale for law school, used a century-old precedent related to a smallpox outbreak in Cambridge to take a not-particularly-veiled shot at a prominent Ivy League school he did not attend: Harvard.

“I am all in favor of preventing dangerous things from issuing out of Cambridge and infecting the rest of the country and the world. It would be good if what originates in Cambridge stays in Cambridge,” the justice joked.

This Is One Of The Biggest Pending SCOTUS Cases You Haven’t Heard Of


waving flagAuthored by Photo of Kevin Daley Kevin Daley, Legal Affairs Reporter / 08/23/2016

URL of the original posting site: http://dailycaller.com/2016/08/23/this-is-one-of-the-biggest-pending-scotus-case-you-havent-heard-of/

When Travis Beckles surrendered his sawed-off shotgun to a Miami detective, he almost certainly didn’t expect to instigate a chain of events that could lead to major changes in the way federal agencies operate.

When Beckles was taken into police custody in 2007, his girlfriend asked authorities to remove his gun from her residence; he directed officers to the weapon, concealed under his girlfriend’s mattress. He was later charged and convicted of one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm — Beckles had two prior felony drug convictions. Given these two convictions, the court determined that Beckles was a career offender. The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (USSG), the set of rules which establish uniform sentencing practices across federal courts, instructed that his sentence should therefore be enhanced.

The court also ruled that Beckles’ possession of the shotgun constituted a “crime of violence,” which, per the USSG, also requires a sentence enhancement. The court ultimately sentenced Beckles to a 30-year prison term.

Beckles brought an appeal, Beckles v. U.S., in which he argued that his sentence was wrongly enhanced. He asserts that mere possession of a weapon does not constitute a “crime of violence,” and that his sentence enhancement should therefore be vacated. His appeal was rejected by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear his case in late June.

His argument was bolstered when the Supreme Court issued it’s ruling last year in Johnson v. U.S. In Johnson the Court found that the phrase “violent felony” — the functional equivalent of the phrase “crime of violence” — as it appears in the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) was unconstitutionally vague. A seven justice majority led by the late Justice Antonin Scalia reasoned by a due process analysis that the phrase, referred to as the “residual clause,” is poorly defined and leads to arbitrary and capricious application, in violation of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

Beckles makes essentially the same argument as Johnson, arguing that the phrase “crime of violence” in the USSG is as vague as the residual clause of the ACCA, and should therefore be struck down (which, by extension, would vacate Beckles’ additional penalties.) His argument could have major consequences for the way federal agencies operate.

Strictly speaking, the USSG does not define possession of a sawed-off shotgun as a “crime of violence.” Instead, commentaries on the guidelines provided by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) advise that possessing such a weapon should be considered a “crime of violence.” The government argues that those commentaries are subject to Auer deference, and that the Supreme Court must respect their interpretation of the law.

Auer deference is a legal doctrine which requires a court to defer to an agency’s interpretation of its own rules and regulations as long as its interpretation is not “erroneous” or “inconsistent with the regulation.” In Beckles, the government argues that the USSC commentaries are simply the agency’s interpretation of its own regulation (being the guidelines), and that the Court must defer to the USSC.

The Auer doctrine looms large in the administrative law scene. The doctrine is regularly invoked by agencies to protect their various activities. The U.S. Department of Labor invoked Auer deference when it announced that mortgage-loan officers were entitled to overtime. The Environmental Protection Agency did the same in requiring companies to obtain permits for water runoff from ditches running parallel to logging roads. It is difficult to overstate how much federal activity is protected by the Auer doctrine.

The Beckles case presents the Supreme Court the opportunity to revisit the Auer doctrine. Though it’s entirely possible the justices may sidestep the issue, opponents of Auer deference have gradually emerged on the high court in recent years. Scalia, the author of the Auer doctrine and a champion of judicial deference, made a thorough case for overturning the practice in 2013 in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center. Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito are also likely to share Scalia’s sympathies. (RELATED: Exclusive: Puerto Rico Is Full Of ‘Open Dumps’ Ripe For Spreading Zika, And EPA’s Ignoring Them)

Furthermore, as Andrew Hessick notes in the Yale Journal on Regulations, the case presents exactly the fact posture critics of agency deference often complain about. “The Commission issued a vague guideline through notice and comment and then set its meaning through an interpretation not subject to those procedures,” Hessick writes. “Further, although they must be the product of notice and comment, the sentencing guidelines are not subject to judicial review when they are promulgated.”

In other words, the fact pattern presented in this case is exactly the sort of thing critics of Auer deference complain about. Should the Supreme Court feel so bold, Travis Beckles’ sawed-off shotgun might end up dealing a double-barrel blast to federal agency power.

stupidity or a liar Never-Hillary-Egl-sm fight Picture1 true battle In God We Trust freedom combo 2

Three Reasons Not to Trust Republicans’ Failure Theater on Justice Scalia Replacement


waving flagby Ben Shapiro, 16 Feb 2016

In March 2010, McConnell and then-House Speaker John Boehner wrote an op-ed about Obamacare, stating, “Taxpayers can expect Republicans to stand up for them and do whatever is necessary to prevent Democrats from forcing such an unpopular, unaffordable bill through Congress.” Of course, once that bill was passed and Republicans gained power, both Boehner and McConnell fully funded it.

In October 2014, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus told Breitbart News:

“We will do everything we can to make sure [executive amnesty] doesn’t happen – defunding, going to court, injunction, you name it. It’s wrong. It’s illegal. And for so many reasons, and just the basic fabric of the country, we can’t allow it to happen, and we won’t let it happen.”Bull

At the same time, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said, “Because we don’t have the Senate, we don’t have the power of the purse. We’d like to exercise that more effectively, and if we can get the Senate, we can do that.” That, of course, did not happen. The Republicans, instead, fully funded Obama’s executive amnesty last year.no more rinos

In November 2015, in the aftermath of release of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood executives bargaining over the sale of baby body parts, McConnell stated, “We’re confident that the Obamacare repeal bill … will contain a defund of Planned Parenthood.” When push came to shove, of course, McConnell refused to include a Planned Parenthood funding cut in a spending bill, stating it would be “an exercise in futility.” Planned Parenthood continues to be funded.stupid

So, do we trust Mitch McConnell and company when they say that they will stop President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee?OH HELL NO

The stakes could not be higher here, and McConnell has not earned our trust. Look, instead, for McConnell to engage in play fighting: shouting loudly from the rooftops that Obama’s nominees will be stalled, and then caving in when Obama begins to shut down the government to force the issue.

Here are three factors that will precipitate the kabuki theater:

Obama’s Choice of Nominee.

President Obama is likely to nominate a minority who has already been approved by Republicans in the Senate for a separate position. Today, Tom Goldstein, who runs SCOTUSblog, says that Obama will likely pick polarizing Attorney General Loretta Lynch, stating, “The fact that Lynch was vetted so recently for attorney general also makes it practical for the president to nominate her in relatively short order.” Lynch passed through the Senate 56-43 in her confirmation, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), among others, praised her. Obama will run his usual game plan, meanwhile: he’ll suggest that Republican opposition is based on her race and his own.

The Republicans’ 2016 Plans.

Many Republicans are fond of promising they’ll stop Obama’s agenda, but like good little Democrats, run for the hills the moment government funding comes under fire. The good news: because Republicans already caved to Obama and passed a massive omnibus package that carries a fully-funded government through the 2016 election, Obama won’t have a lot of leverage here. The bad news: Republicans can always find some leverage to give Obama, particularly if McConnell feels that the hold-up is reflecting badly on Senate Republicans. Plus, Republicans will have to ensure that they never allow a recess to prevent Obama from making a recess appointment.

The Election.

McConnell and company have already set an end-date for their kabuki theater protest: the election. What happens, however, if Hillary Clinton is elected? Do they then allow her to appoint a leftist to the Court, forever shifting the balance of the Court and putting a stake through the heart of the Constitution?OH HELL NO

All of this means that conservatives must continue to place heavy pressure on their senators not to cave here or in the future. That will be a rough road. But any Republican who does cave should face the threat of immediate primary. This isn’t about a reversible government policy implemented by the left. This is about the appointment of a lifetime leftist to a position of ultimate power. It simply can’t be allowed to happen.

Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News, Editor-in-Chief of DailyWire.com, and The New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.

Today’s Politically INCORRECT Cartoon


waving flagDeeply Wounded

Scalia Dies, leaving many Americans fearful that SCOTUS will become another tool of the left wing placing the constitution and our liberty in danger.

Scalia Dies / Cartoon by A.F.Branco ©2016.

To see more Legal Insurrection Branco cartoons, click here.

 A.F.Branco Coffee Table Book <—- Order Here!

SCOTUS GIANT reduced to tears Socialism alert America are you paying attention Picture1 In God We Trust freedom combo 2

Marriage, Church and the State


waving flagAuthored by avatar  on 30 May, 2015


RNS-SCOTUS-MARRIAGE b

Sometime next month the US Supreme Court will issue its decision on homosexual marriage.

Many of us fear it will be another disaster, like Roe v Wade – a handful of unelected and unrepresentative judges will strike down the nation’s and/or states’ laws and seek to force sodomite marriage on everyone, whether they like it or not.

Everyone concerned about the fundamental institution of marriage, especially Christians, will need to have a major rethink as to how we respond, and what changes, if any, we embark upon. The whole issue of the state’s role in matters of marriage and family may well need to be reassessed.

Libertarians of course have long argued that the state should get out of the marriage business altogether, or at least just let individual states decide on which way to go. I have elsewhere argued against the libertarian position, believing there is a place for the state in this.

Libertarianism and Marriage, Part I

Libertarianism and Marriage, Part IIMore forced

A few simple truths need to be kept in mind here: marriage as an institution has preceded the state as an institution. The state has simply come along and recognized and affirmed the pre-existing and socially valuable institution of marriage. Because marriage is the world’s best institution to ensure the well-being of children, of the next generation, states have always acknowledged the importance of marriage, and have treated it accordingly. Because heterosexual marriage confers such tremendous benefits to society, societies have in turn conferred benefits on marriage.

While other close and committed forms of relationships can be of value, the state has only seen fit to give heterosexual marriage special status and special recognition, and rightly so. But as we go down the road of the state giving equal recognition and status to other types of relations, including homosexual ones, which are not of course in themselves open to procreation, then marriage loses its special place, and in effect is rendered null and void.

So by pushing for sodomite “marriage” we are not broadening marriage – we are destroying it. As I said, we now may have to think again about these sorts of relationships, especially if SCOTUS does its worse as we fear.Same Sex Marriage

One US state has already acted preventively here: Alabama. They have decided that it will stop issuing marriage licenses. One report on this begins this way:

The battle has been raging over redefining marriage in Alabama, as the state’s constitution declares marriage to be between a man and a woman. However, federal courts are attempting to force the state to issue marriage licenses to those practicing sodomy. In an attempt to stop probate judges from issuing licenses arbitrarily, the Alabama Senate passes bill by a vote of 22-3 without having to obtain permission from a government official.

Senate Bill 377, a bill which would end marriage licensing and replace it with a contract process, was approved by the Alabama Senate on May 19. According to the text of the bill, it would abolish the requirement to obtain a marriage license from the judge of probate. “This bill would provide that marriage would be entered into by simple contract, would specify the information required to be included in the contract of marriage, would specify that each party entering into a contract of marriage would submit a properly executed contract to the judge of probate for recording, and would require the judge of probate to forward a copy of the contract of marriage to the Office of Vital Statistics,” reads the synopsis of the bill….

In other words, [Senator Greg Albritton (R-Bay Minette), who introduced the bill] wants the issue of marriage back in the hands of the Church. While the contract portion would be recognized legally, the requirements for marriage to be handled lawfully under the umbrella of the Church would remain intact.

This is one option, but whether it is the best option remains to be seen. As I mentioned above, there can indeed be a role for the state in marriage matters. And by seeking to argue for church-based marriage, while allowing for other forms, we may end up creating a two-tiered (or more) marriage system. This too would work against marriage and its purposes.

The issue of who conducts a marriage or who issues licenses is just a small portion of the debate. The bigger issue here is will we allow marriage to become whatever anyone wants it to become? By letting marriage simply be that which lies in the eye of the beholder, we again effectively destroy marriage.

When marriage can mean anything, then marriage means nothing. So we have to be careful as we seek to resist the harm of a possible SCOTUS ruling that we don’t also create harm elsewhere. One Christian writer has already weighed in on the Alabama decision. Bryan Fischer says it is “a mistake to get pastors out of signing marriage licenses”. He writes:

A rear-guard movement has recently emerged to get the state out of the marriage licensing business altogether, in what will prove to be a vain attempt to slow down the rampage to impose sodomy-based marriage on the entire country.

Alabama’s state senate has made the latest foray in this direction by passing a bill that makes marriage a mere matter of contract. Under this bill, the state would no longer issue marriage licenses but simply enter privately forged marriage contracts in some kind of registry. Civil government would not be approving of such marriages, it would only be recording them. In practice, this means if the Supreme Court imposes sodomy-based marriage on the entire nation next month, Alabama would instantly become the easiest place in America for two homosexuals to get married. All they’d have to do is sign a piece of paper and turn it in. Easy-peasy. I don’t think this is what the well-intentioned legislators in Alabama have in mind. But that’s what they will get.

Other voices are urging pastors to get out of the role of signing wedding licenses on behalf of civil government, as if this represents some inappropriate mixing of church and state. They want a wedding to be a purely spiritual, religious affair with no involvement, participation or recognition by civil government whatsoever.

This, however, ignores the likelihood that gay activists would still go after pastors to press them to do purely religious ceremonies for them. Eventually, they will find a judge who will order pastors to perform such purely religious ceremonies, on the grounds that a (counterfeit) constitutional “right” to have a homosexual wedding ceremony trumps the actual constitutional right to decline to perform one.burke

He raises some valid points here (see his entire article). There is much to think about, and many issues need to be weighed up. The truth is, marriage is under attack, and if SCOTUS does not launch the final nail in the coffin in June, there will be other attempts to do the same. One thing is for sure: it will no longer be business as usual. The church will be impacted by this – big time. How should it respond? Let me close with the words of Rick Scarborough, President of Vision America Action:

Because of the trends and cultural shifts that we have witnessed in culture over the past 40 years, we have all known that this day would likely come and Christians would be put at odds with the culture and the courts. I believe we are there. We are approaching a Bonhoeffer moment in America.Picture2

Outrageous penalties are now being assessed against people of faith and conviction who haven’t changed their position on marriage. Rather it’s the courts that have changed the definitions, the rules and laws that now govern us. They are ruling against Nature’s Law and Nature’s God. Christians are being declared the lawbreakers when we are simply living by what we have always believed, and by a set of laws that the culture historically has agreed to.

My desire as a pastor is to see another Great Awakening, and I pray that those caught up in any sin will find Jesus and God’s grace, but that can only come when there is a biblical standard lifted up and acknowledged as truth. Right now the courts are changing the playing field and declaring that what the natural eye can see and natural law reveals is not truth. Therefore, this is a Bonhoeffer moment. What will we do, and how will we respond?

Civil disobedience will likely have to be one of our responses. But we can and must, in the meantime, pray like never before and work like never before while waiting for this SCOTUS ruling.

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