April 25, 2006

Weekly Escapades of the Far-Left: Moveon upset over Iran, abortion lobby distorts SD ban

The activists at MoveOn.org are upset about the escalating tensions over Iran. No, they're not upset over the possibility of an Islamic, totalitarian crazy man who might use nuclear weapons against us or our allies. They're upset that we may use nukes against Iran. MoveOn is circulating an online petition calling for citizens to sign and pledge their opposition to a possible nuclear strike against Iran (this is very disingenuous; especially since the government is focused on solving this diplomatically and has never even spoken about using nuclear weapons against Iran). MoveOn.org does not even attest to the obvious threat of Iran currently developing nuclear weapons and the anxiety of the rest of the world. Again, its the United States that is big bully and must be stopped. If you knew nothing about the situation in Iran, MoveOn's short article and petition would lead you to think this whole nuclear issue is about the United States trying to attack poor, defenseless Iran--instead of the other way around! Why MoveOn would circulate a petition with such an outrageous, unfounded charge is mind-boggling. The only method to their madness must be a propaganda campaign to accuse the Bush admin. of war-mongering, especially with the public unease over Iraq. Distortion for political gain continues...

In a letter to her supporters, Kim Gandy of NOW criticizes the recent South Dakota abortion ban and advises the Democrats to stop warming up to pro-lifers and end the recruitment of any anti-abortion candidates. Well, we know how well that strategy worked for the Democrats the past 10 years (it played a role in causing them to lose control of both houses of congress, the the presidency, and a majority of the governorships).

Gandy also cites a Democracy Corps poll that shows 64 percent of Americans less likely to support a candidate who votes for a SD-style abortion ban. Gandy is selective in her polling. Democracy Corps. is an overtly partisan organization founded by James Carville, Stanley Greenberg, and Bob Shrum (major Democratic operatives). Their website says they "born out of outrage over the impeachment of President Clinton when the leadership in Congress preferred radical partisanship to addressing the issues which really matter to American families. Following the 2000 election, Democracy Corps rededicated itself after the presidential candidate with the most votes and the most popular policy agenda did not become the President of the United States." Their mission goes on to say that they want to help shape and play a vital role in public policy debates. Clearly not the function of most reputable, neutral polling organizations.

So why didn't Gandy cite Rasmussen, Gallup, or Zogby? Maybe because their polling results didn't back up her group's radical agenda. A Gallup poll from December 2005 showed more opposition to abortion. By 53-46 percent, Americans viewed abortion as destroying a human life and manslaughter. Some 58 percent of all respondents said they thought "abortion, when the mother's life is not in danger" was morally unacceptable. Most of the polls tend to show Americans in support of limited access of abortion in the first trimester with restrictions (such as parental consent) and major opposition to abortion past the second trimester (such as the infamous partial-birth abortions). It looks like Gandy is willing to look past the "mainstream" position of most Americans on this huge issue...

April 24, 2006

Cass Sunstein: Ponnuru “may be right.” (Or maybe not.)

Over at TNR (subscribers only) Cass Sunstein now has his own article on the possible reversal of Roe. Though he concedes that Ponnuru “may be right” about the consequences, he is still hanging on to the CW because 1) Roe’s downfall would mobilize pro-choicers; 2) Republicans believe the CW too.

However, as Ponnuru points out over at NRO, “if pro-lifers adopted an incrementalist strategy in state legislatures — a crucial if, I’ll concede — it is hard to imagine that pro-choicers would be able to prevail. There just aren’t enough supporters of late-term abortion to mobilize.” As to the latter point Ponnuru correctly points out that, “Sunstein is surely right to suggest that many Republicans don’t want Roe to be overturned. But that isn’t necessarily a point in favor of the wisdom of the conventional wisdom; it’s a point in favor of its conventionality.”

April 21, 2006

Two Articles on the Consequences of Reversing Roe

Recently, the USA Today put out another scare piece on what would happen if Roe were reversed filled with the usual misleading polls and ominous warnings about “trigger laws” as if elected officials across the country, pro-life, pro-choice and somewhere in-between wouldn’t immediately start taking positions and demanding new legislation if Roe was reversed.

A better and, at least in my humble opinion, really brilliant piece by Ramesh Ponnuru in The New Republic hits the closer to the mark. Ponnuru takes on the emerging conventional wisdom, first articulated by The New Republic, that reversing Roe would be devastating to the GOP.

April 18, 2006

Weekly Escapades of the Far-Left: free movie tickets if you have an abortion, far-left fights to gain party control

In a story from pro-life oganization LifeNews.com, the Golden Gate offices of Planned Parenthoold are offering two United Artists movie tickets to anyone who refers customers to their clinic. With recent statistics highlighting the decreasing number of abortions, Planned Parenthood has began agressively marketing teenagers by free giveaways of iPods, movie tickets, and drawings for computers. They've also started a new "safe is sexy" advertising campaign on the popular MySpace.com and MTV network. Although Planned Parenthood publicly claims to want to reduce abortions and put more emphasis on birth control and safe sex, the MTV ads feature young couples about preparing to have sex and focus almost entirely on the "sexy" theme of the ad with scant reference to birth control or safe sex (this is only mentioned at the very end of the ad). Clearly, promoting sex among youth is the group's priority, without emphasis on precautions and risks (Planned Parenthood profits from abortions, and if the main emphasis centered on abstinence or methods of birth control, this would cut into their profits). The fact that Planned Parenthood is giving free stuff away to profit and sway teens to have abortions is disturbing to say the least. At the same time, it also says a great deal about Planned Parenthood's struggling financial situation, and the ever-declining abortion rate.

Daily Kos proves itself to be a bastion of far-left anger and demagoguery by labeling the group Coloradans for Marriage (working to get the Marriage Amendment on the state's ballot for 2006) a "hate" group. How tolerant and sensitive of him!

Daily Kos cites Clinton pollster Doug Schoen's observations that progressives are gaining influence in the party and "ultimately will prevail." When that happens, there will be those of us waiting and watching to cheer the end to the modern Democratic Party (either that or they remain functional, but irrelevant due to their inability to ever win national elections again).

April 13, 2006

A Democratic culture of corruption?

Democrats planning to use the Jack Abramoff scandal to tie all Republicans to a "culture of corruption" as a strategy for victory in this year's elections may have to re-think that plan.

Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana is the subject of an ethics complaint filed against him by the group Citizens for Responsiblity and Ethics. The charges, some which date back a few years, include bribery and conspiracy that have already tarnished several of his aides and former staffers. The new complaint also includes misuse of federal resources appropriated as disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Democrats up in arms about the federal response to the hurricane now must look to see if one of their own misused funds that were supposed to go to the victims.

Detroit Congressman John Conyers, top Democrat in the Judiciary Committee, apparently made his staffers baby-sit his children, work on campaigns, and do personal chores for him, according to revelations from several former staffers. Conyers, under investigation, refuses to say anything until he has consulted his lawyer.

And the third case, Rep. Alan Mollohan, ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee (yes, the Ethics committee, of all things) has been very unethical by slipping earmarks in legislation to benefit corporations and individuals who contributed to his fortune as a multi-millionaire. Even as he faces investigation by federal prosecutors, even more alarming is the $250 million he funneled to non-profit groups he helped set up. The people who received jobs from him than gave him thousands back in political donations, and then it seems he returned the favor with earmarks, in a seemingly roundabout patronage system that he created himself. Democrats are sticking by him for now, but the question is how long can the Dems let allegations of corruption linger around their guy on the ethics committee, who oversees and investigates others for similar acts? The New York Times is already warning the the Dems that if they don't force Mollohan to resign, they risk losing their edge over the Republicans and could face defeat in November.

All of these cases, still developing, weaken the Democrats claim to be a force against corruption. And apparently, unlike the Republicans, winning elections doesn't seem to matter as much as inter-party loyalty. The old line "Do as I say, not as I do" summarizes the current Democratic house and senate leadership very well.

April 11, 2006

Weekly Roundup of Escapades of the Far-Left

Daily Kos is annoyed with UNITE, SEIU, the Teamsters, and several other unions who have announced that they will support a third-party candidate over Rep. Melissa Bean due to her vote on CAFTA (the upcoming IL-08 house election is supposed to be one of the few swing districts in the country--it is also heavily Republican). Daily Kos laments that the unionists are stubborn in their stance on principle and don't understand how this race could make a difference in giving Democrats a majority in the house. Well, no one has ever accused liberals of being principled or steadfast on any issue--it all comes down to power and control for them, more so than the actual "progressive" causes they try to inact on the rest of the country. Dailykos.com says it best by acknowledging that one seat could cost the liberals the ability to prosecute Bush. That's what this election is all about for the Democrats. Shhh...they don't want you to hear that until after the election.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) is urging international groups to weigh in on whether the "racially discriminatory mandatory-minimum laws" in the U.S. violate international law. Now first of all, this press release by LCCR automatically assumes mandatory-minimums are discriminatory and the only shred of evidence they use to support this claim is that 80% of people sentenced under crack-cocaine laws are black. Funny how they don't even take into consideration that maybe one ethnic group or race may be more liable in one crime category or another--since actions and crimes in the real world don't break down niceley along mathematically equal, 50-50 white/black racial lines. What is perhaps more chilling is that the LCCR is so ready and willing to have our sovereignty violated by having questionable, unreliable international bodies judge us. Since when did international law supercede the constitution? Decrying tough crime measures as racist without any evidence has become a tactic of the left. This story has racism, the left's soft-on-crime tendencies, their reliance on international bodies to violate our sovereignty, and their subversion and disregard for our constitution and laws. All of these traits in one story--you couldn't have asked for a better description of the left!

After the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled the Council of Conservative Citizens (largest paleo-conservative group in the country) a hate group, four libraries in the St. Louis area used their web filters (funded to keep out pornography and hate groups) to block the conservative group's web site. After the group filed a complaint, the library system declared that it has now unblocked the site. The group still plans to file a lawsuit against the library system.
Well, it seems that public libraries, our last bastion of political neutrality, has finally ceded to political pressures after acting on the rhetoric of one liberal organization (this last statement was made in sarcasm). But really, libraries practicing self-censorship? This seems to smack of hypocrisy and irony. Libraries protest and fight to keep out federally-mandated filters to block pornography, but they don't hesitate to block a conservative group from being accessed by adults at the library.

April 07, 2006

Alito Jumps into the Pool

Tony Mauro is reporting over at the Legal Times that Justice Alito has decided to join the somewhat controversial case-pooling arrangement in which incoming certs are divided amongst the clerks so that one clerk produces a memorandum on each case which is then shared with all the justices in the pool. Currently, Justice Stevens is the only member of SCOTUS who has decided to stay out of the pool. Chief Justice Roberts has already announced he'll join, though as an appellate lawyer in in the late '90's he voiced some concern with the practice. The article notes that this was something Alito was asked about at the hearing in January:

"Alito was noncommittal when he was asked about the cert pool at his confirmation hearing in January, though he said he was 'aware of the issue' and would talk to other justices about it once confirmed. 'I know from my perspective as a lower court judge that there is a constant conflict between the obligation that we have to deal with a very heavy case load and the need for the judge, as opposed to a law clerk or a staff employee of the court, to deal with the cases,' Alito said at the Jan. 10 hearing. 'We cannot delegate our judicial responsibility. But we do need to call on -- we need to find ways, and we do find ways, of obtaining assistance from clerks and staff, employees so that we can deal with the large case load that we have.'"

April 06, 2006

Bush's New Line-Item Veto Proposal: Is It Constitutional?

I know the line-item veto is generally more of an economic issue rather than a legal issue, but former Senate candidate and now President of the Club for Growth, Pat Toomey has recently written an op-ed that mixes the two a bit and I thought this might be an interesting topic to discuss here on the CFJ blog.

As you may recall, in 1998 the Supreme Court shot down a bill passed by a Republican Congress giving Bill Clinton the authority to cancel individual parts of legislation he felt were merely pork. The law was similar to line-item veto legislation that had already been passed in a vast majority of states throughout the country giving governors the ability to trim down state budgets.

Now President Bush has a new proposal that would allow him to suggest the rescission of certain projects. Congress would then respond with a “timely up-or-down vote on his suggestions.”

If it passes will SCOTUS reject this new proposal as well? In Clinton v. City of New York dissenting made strange bedfellows out of Justices Breyer, O’Connor and Scalia. After nearly a decade and two new justices, does President Bush’s proposal stand a better chance?

K-Lo Takes on "Roe v. Wade for Men"

In an article over at NRO, Kathyrn (“K-Lo”) Lopez has a different take on the whole “Roe v. Wade for men” nonsense. You may recall a recent lawsuit filed by the National Center for Men in a Michigan court on behalf on Matthew Dubay, a 25-year-old computer programmer who apparently feels his ex-girlfriend should’ve exercised her “right” to abort her unborn child so that he wouldn’t have to pay child support.

K-Lo sees this lawsuit as an opportunity to talk about the effect Roe has had on men and since this claim is probably going nowhere legally, perhaps there is a chance that this sordid story can at least end on a positive note with a greater awareness of this issue.

Abortion is often portrayed as the consummate “women’s issue,” but undoubtedly the millions of abortions that have taken place since Roe v. Wade has had an effect on how men view their role as fathers. K-Lo quotes Kevin Burke, associate director of Rachel’s Vineyard, about the how men fit into the world of Roe, “Roe v. Wade not only takes the life of the unborn child, but it also tempts the natural father to kill off his instinct to protect and provide for his children.” Obviously, this recent lawsuit proves Mr. Burke’s view to be all too accurate.

April 05, 2006

Two Great Articles From The Weekly Standard

Federalism and Abortion:
In the current issue of the Weekly Standard, David Gelernter has an essay suggesting that a return to federalism may be just what a “bitterly divided” country needs. He is particularly critical of Roe v. Wade and suggests that Congress pass legislation stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction over the abortion issue. Ed Whelan comments on the essay over at Bench Memos. Though he has high praise for Gelernter and agrees with much of the essay, Whelan is concerned
“that such legislation would likely be ineffective or even counterproductive. First, the Supreme Court and the federal courts, eager to enhance their own power, might well rule that Gelernter’s proposed legislation is unconstitutional. What, then, would Congress do? Second, even if the legislation were to apply fully, it’s highly doubtful that the legislation would have the effect of overruling Roe. Instead, it seems far more likely that state judges would (properly, I fear) continue to regard Roe as binding and that the proposed legislation would serve merely to prevent the possibility of the Supreme Court’s ever overturning Roe.”

Foreign Law:
Also in the Weekly Standard, Jeremy Rabkin, who teaches international law at Cornell University, has an excellent article that cuts through the recent controversy about Justice Ginsburg’s remarks in South Africa and addresses the main issue: the Supreme Court's use of foreign legal precedent as authority to justify decisions concerning American constitutional law. Rabkin makes several good arguments in the piece, but one of the more cogent is this one:
“If foreign law, why not religious law? Why not the canon law of the Catholic Church? As it happens, the U.S. Supreme Court has cited ‘canon law’ in more than two dozen cases over the past 200 years. Most of the references are entirely incidental, but a few cases in the early 20th century actually engaged with Church sources, among others, in wrestling with the meaning of ‘due process.’…Suppose that Catholic or conservative justices began to regularly cite canon law on the most controversial constitutional disputes--on such matters as family law or medical ethics. These justices could insist, as Justice Ginsburg does, that such ‘foreign opinions are not authoritative’ and ‘set no binding precedent for the U.S. judge’ but simply ‘add to the store of knowledge.’ In today's world, the protests from liberals would be deafening, because such soothing abstractions would be seen as disingenuous. To treat canon law as any sort of "persuasive authority" would be intensely divisive. The ‘foreign opinion’ that liberals prefer has no more inherent relevance or authority, however. We could save a lot of needless dispute by agreeing in advance that all sides will play by American rules.”

April 04, 2006

Fighting Over Priscilla Owen's Old Tx Supreme Court Seat

For those of you who haven't heard, there is an election contest pending over Priscilla Owen's old spot on the Texas Supreme Court. Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Don Willett as Owen’s temporary replacement last summer. Some of you may remember Justice Willett from his days as a Deputy AG under Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott; he also worked as a Deputy Assistant AG at DOJ several years ago. Perry’s appointment is only operative through the end of the year, however. Justice Willett is currently seeking election for a full, six-year term.

Unfortunately, Justice Willett was challenged in the Republican primary by one of Texas's very own perpetual candidates, a guy named Steven Wayne Smith. The primary was close, but Justice Willett won by more than 6,000 votes. Unfortunately, Smith seems unable to take “no” for an answer, and he has decided to file a legal challenge. (Technically, it is a statutory proceeding under the Texas Election Code, but it operates essentially as a lawsuit.) The legal challenge promises to cost everyone a lot of time and money. What a waste. Even Smith’s campaign manager gave him a “one-in-five shot” -- at best.

Justice Willett is a fantastic judge who deserves to retain his seat. Smith's main claim to fame is that, through a series of flukes, he was elected to the Court for a portion of one term several years ago.

More information appears here.

Columbia Controversy Continues

In its response to my March 24 New York Sun op-ed (free abbreviated version here) exploring Columbia University’s Memogate connection, the university focused on the Center for Individual Freedom’s (CFIF) ethics allegations and complaint against Olati Johnson, a newly-appointed Columbia law professor and the subject of my op-ed. This has prompted a response from CFIF President Jeffrey Mazzella in today’s New York Sun (below) and, in more detail, on the organization’s website. As an aside, I find it strange that Columbia Law Professor Avery Katz’s response mentions CFIF so many times, given that my op-ed did not mention CFIF or its ethics complaint against Johnson. As I explained in my own response to Columbia, the “allegations” in my op-ed are based entirely on Johnson’s own words in her Memogate memo.

New York Sun
April 4, 2006
Letters to the Editor

'Bollinger on the Spot'

In the controversy over Columbia Law School's awarding of a faculty position to Olati Johnson, Dean David M. Schizer wrote: "The ethics charge [against Johnson] … arose in a highly partisan atmosphere and involved many disputed issues of fact that were never adjudicated …" ["Bollinger on the Spot," Letters, March 28, 2006].

The Center for Individual Freedom researched, wrote, and published the original news article regarding Olati Johnson's ethical lapse and subsequently filed the ethics complaint against her.

In two years since first publication, no one, including Ms. Johnson, has disputed any fact we disclosed, unless such assertions were made in private discussions of which we have no knowledge. Ms. Johnson was specifically offered the opportunity to respond to the article, which she ignored. We stand by every word written, every fact disclosed.

Dean Schizer's point about "highly partisan atmosphere" eludes us. The U.S. Senate is highly partisan by its nature, which excuses no deviation from ethics by anyone employed there.

We would remind Dean Schizer that the first person to recognize the ethical issue raised by Ms. Johnson's actions was Ms. Johnson herself in her original memo to Senator Kennedy.

President, Center for Individual Freedom

Iraq hostage used by the left, ACLU's scare tactics

MyDD: Direct Democracy (mydd.com) has a post from Matt Stoller responding to speculations that the survival of Iraq hostage Jill Carroll damages the reputations of bloggers. Stoller blasts right wingers for hating free media and "the truth," and accuses them of being angry over Jill Carroll's homecoming. And where does this all come from? Apparently, this whole affair undercuts support for the war, so that has the Right up in arms. Stoller even says "This has to do with a flat-out racist and warmongering right-wing movement that doesn't like a woman whose survival cuts against their narrative." Apparently, the left has no qualms about taking advantage of life and death situations such as Jill Carroll's to use as spin for spewing hate-filled propaganda. Whatever happened to that touchy-feely, tolerant liberalism that liberals are constantly preaching to conservatives?

The ACLU has a new web video out with a caption that claims that the government and corporations are agressively tracking people's personal habits, hobbies, shopping, and financial information. The video shows a a computer screen belonging to a pizza delivery chain with the mouse pointer alternating between various menus that list a person's library books loaned out, airline travel, health information, credit and loan status, and employment history. This information comes with political overtones, as the viewer is urged to take action and stop the Bush administration from completely elimininating the right to privacy and claims that we are headed towards becoming a "total surveillance society." And all over the wiretapping of suspected terrorist activity. Now, if only the ACLU would take that same stance with the Hillary Clinton campaign's much-criticized voter information databases...