Robert Wilkins is now the third nominee to the D.C. Circuit to be filibustered by the Republican minority. I blame Barack Obama and his unprecedented decision to “pack the court” by using his Article III powers to fill existing judicial vacancies.
Logically, this should compel Senate Dems to blow up the filibuster for judicial appointments, particularly since Republicans are essentially not even bothering to make a plausible case against individual nominees but are just opposed to Obama making nominations in principle. But I’m still skeptical that they’ll pull the trigger. I think this kind of fear might preserve the de facto supermajority requirement:
Democrats, in response, are using the same nuclear-option threat Republicans used in 2005 (and which Democrats used to open a blockade on executive-branch appointments earlier this year). That is certainly a troublesome remedy — it would give a president whose party controlled the Senate nearly unlimited leeway to seat ideologically congenial judges on the federal courts. The ideal solution would somehow compromise between the president’s absolute power to seed the judiciary and the Senate minority’s absolute power to blockade it.
Chait, at least, prefers the abolition of the filibuster for judicial nominees to the status quo. But I don’t really understand the fear of abolishing the filibuster because of what might happen. Two points seem relevant:
- To see what would happen if the filibuster wasn’t used against judicial nominees, we would have to imagine a scenario…exactly like all of American history between the ratification of the Constitution and the filibuster of Abe Fortas nearly 200 years later. It’s not clear why this was any worse than the current institutional arrangement. Obviously, the Supreme Court did a lot of bad stuff during this period, but this wasn’t because of the filibuster. (The awful white supremacist Supreme Court decisions of the late 19th century were the work of Republican nominees who were confirmed by huge majorities, often by voice vote. Roger Taney was a mainstream Jacksonian Democrat; Peter Daniel, the one member of the Dred Scott majority who could reasonably be considered a Southern radical by contemporary standards, was confirmed 25-5. And so on. Plessy and Dred Scott, like most bad Supreme Court decisions, are much more of symptoms of a bad political mainstream than causes, and hence are evils the filibuster is particularly unlikely to prevent.) The only successful use of the filibuster in the history of Supreme Court nominees had, like most filibusters do, reactionary consequences, giving Richard Nixon one and perhaps two extra Supreme Court nominees.
- A contemporary Republican president could, indeed, appoint a lot of horrible people given a Senate majority. But since with the filibuster Bush not only got people like Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen confirmed to the circuit courts but Sam Alito, the most reactionary Supreme Court justice since James McReynolds, confirmed to the Supreme Court it’s not obvious to me how the filibuster is moderating Republican appointments.
Republican presidents will appoint awful judges with or without a filibuster. Which, as long as Democrats can do the same, is how it should be because elections matter and governments should be able to govern. There’s no reason to maintain the filibuster.
This is a thing that was written in the National Journal:
Unless the HealthCare.gov website miraculously gets fixed by next month, there’s a growing likelihood that over time, enough Democrats may join Republicans to decide to start over and scrap the whole complex health care enterprise.
Sure, and then people of all political persuasions will unite around President Erskine Bowles.
I’m not sure if it requires elaborate argument to explain to an informed audience why this is nuts, but just in case see Waldman and Chait. Among the countless other problems, a key fallacy is embedded in the phrase “stating over,” which suggests that repealing the ACA would lead to a new bipartisan consensus that would create a New and Better Solution. However little I think of moderate Democrats, they mostly understand what Kraushaar (and a few leftier-than-thous) do not: the alternative to the ACA in actually existing American politics is “nothing.”
An Alabama man convicted of raping a teenage girl will serve no prison time. On Wednesday, a judge in Athens, Alabama, ruled that the rapist will be punished by serving two years in a program aimed at nonviolent criminals and three years of probation.
In September, a jury in Limestone County, in north central Alabama, found Austin Smith Clem, 25, guilty of raping Courtney Andrews, a teenage acquaintance and his then-neighbor, three times—twice when she was 14, and again when was she was 18.
Andrews recalled Clem’s crimes to AL.com on Thursday. When he abused her at age 14, she said, “He kept saying, ‘This is okay,’ and ‘Don’t say anything or you’re going to get me in trouble,’” she said. Clem threatened her parents lives’ if she told anyone, Andrews said. After he raped her in 2011, she had a family friend inform her parents. She couldn’t bear to, she said, because “I knew it would break their hearts.” That night, her parents reported Clem to the police.
Alabama ranks third among states in the number of inmates serving life without the possibility of parole sentences for non-violent crimes, according to a study by the American Civil Liberties Union.
49 people in Alabama are currently serving life without parole for drug offenses. Plainly, prison should be reserved for the worst criminals such as this, not child rapists.
Apparently the paradigm is lacking a certain proactive strategic dynamism:
It is a good story, as well manicured as a college quad during homecoming weekend. But there’s a problem: The man who started this revolution no longer believes the hype.
“I’d aspired to give people a profound education–to teach them something substantial,” Professor Sebastian Thrun tells me when I visit his company, Udacity, in its Mountain View, California, headquarters this past October. “But the data was at odds with this idea.”
As Thrun was being praised by Friedman, and pretty much everyone else, for having attracted a stunning number of students–1.6 million to date–he was obsessing over a data point that was rarely mentioned in the breathless accounts about the power of new forms of free online education: the shockingly low number of students who actually finish the classes, which is fewer than 10%. Not all of those people received a passing grade, either, meaning that for every 100 pupils who enrolled in a free course, something like five actually learned the topic. If this was an education revolution, it was a disturbingly uneven one.
“We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product,” Thrun tells me. “It was a painful moment.” Turns out he doesn’t even like the term MOOC.
Last week, there was a major civil rights victory involving the Roberts Court — a settlement prevented the Roberts Court from gutting the Fair Housing Act.
As an addendum, Serwer’s excellent background piece has another clip for my online “no, Richard Nixon was not any kind of liberal and please stop saying that” file:
Ending discrimination in housing has always ignited closely-held fears and drew comparable resistance to integrating schools. Neighborhoods across the country–not just those in the deep South–were divided by color lines enforced by realtors, lenders, and government officials. As with schools, neighborhoods across America proved stubbornly resistant to integration: whites would leave as blacks acquired the means to move next door. The Fair Housing Act was supposed to help change that, but in 1968 it was a tough sell.
Congress would only pass the Fair Housing Act over Martin Luther King Jr.’s dead body. King’s death, a week before the law passed, gave it political momentum that Capitol Hill couldn’t ignore. President Lyndon Johnson had pushed for passage but it fell to his successor, Richard Nixon, to administer a law he didn’t support.
George Romney, his secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was a true believer. Romney sought to use the law as a mandate to smash residential segregation and reverse years of government-subsidized white flight. Nixon knew he’d face a backlash from the suburban whites whose votes had put him in office so he pushed Mitt Romney’s dad out.
There is probably a good book to be written on the atavistic development of “moderate” Republicans from George Romney to his son.
Annie Lowrey’s story on American unemployment is essential, if very depressing, reading:
“I’ve been turned down from McDonald’s because I was told I was too articulate,” she says. “I got denied a job scrubbing toilets because I didn’t speak Spanish and turned away from a laundromat because I was ‘too pretty.’ I’ve also been told point-blank to my face, ‘We don’t hire the unemployed.’ And the two times I got real interest from a prospective employer, the credit check ended it immediately.”
For Ms. Barrington-Ward, joblessness itself has become a trap, an impediment to finding a job. Economists see it the same way, concerned that joblessness lasting more than six months is a major factor preventing people from getting rehired, with potentially grave consequences for tens of millions of Americans.
The long-term jobless, after all, tend to be in poorer health, and to have higher rates of suicide and strained family relations. Even the children of the long-term unemployed see lower earnings down the road.
The consequences are grave for the country, too: lost production, increased social spending, decreased tax revenue and slower growth. Policy makers and academics are now asking whether an improving economy might absorb those workers in time to prevent long-term economic damage.
Plainly, we can all agree that the size of the deficit 30 years from now is the biggest problem facing the country.
The Nobel-Prize award winning author of, among many others, The Golden Notebook has passed away at age 94. R.I.P.
Apparently former National Blowjob Inquisitor Ken Starr has finally found an occasion for mercy.
I know Starr doesn’t think that students should have First Amendment rights either, but this is going a little far.
Shorter John Yoo: I’m appalled by the executive overreach of Obama’s new ACA regulations. Plainly, Obama should have obtained these ends by arbitrarily detaining and torturing health insurance executives.
You may recall that Ted Kennedy engaged in the least civil act in the known history of human discourse by accurately describing Robert Bork’s history of publicly stated views. One of those views was his argument that the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional because it violated the 1st Amendment. Via Edroso, I see that this view is back at Reason, accompanied by preemptive self-pity that could have come from Bork himself:
Libertarians who believe that hiring policies – even discriminatory ones — fall under the First Amendment’s “freedom of association” provision may end up getting lumped in with the religious right on this one (not that this is a new thing).
Well, first of all, people who make this argument are correctly being lumped in with the religious right because when people are advocating public policy their motives are irrelevant. I don’t know why Robert Bork was on the wrong side of every civil rights issue when it mattered; what’s relevant is that he was. (George Wallace might not have been the white supremacist he played to get elected, either. Who cares?)
But the bigger problem here is that the argument that all civil rights legislation, state and federal, violates the First Amendment’s freedom of association requirement is transparently wrong. It’s important to note the ENDA applies only to businesses of 15 or more people. The idea that when Wal-Mart engages in gender discrimination it’s like a 12-year old with a “no gurlz allowed” sign on his fort is absurd. When large for-profit business have discriminatory practices, they’re not engaged in personal expressive acts.
Incidentally, most of the people who make this argument (like Bork) consider themselves to be “originalists.” I, for one, would love to see evidence the the First Amendment was originally understood as eliminating common law requirements that public accommodations serve people on equal terms.
This particularly unnecessary subsidy to plutocrats will be largely coming directly from the county’s taxpayers. (As a commenter notes, the John Malone, the majority owner of the company that owns the Braves, has a net worth of $6.7 billion.)
In conclusion, clearly we need to cut food stamps!
…more here. And this is relevant:
The Cobb County School Board approved painful budget cuts Thursday night.
The 2014 budget, which goes into effect July 1, includes five teacher furlough days, the reduction of 182 positions by attrition, and the removal of $41-million from the reserves fund. Employees will get a half-year step increase.