Demographics & Economics
Congressional Budget Office
The Federal Budget
U.S. Census Quickfacts
CIA World Factbook
State Healthcare Facts
UN HDR stats
US Bureau of Economic Analysis
US Bureau of Labor Statistics
US CDC health stats
US DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics
US DOJ crime stats
ADA (liberal) Voting Records
ACU (conservative) Voting Records
Census Voter Turnout
Congressional Research Service
NOW list of voting scorecards
Project VoteSmart list of voting scorecards
Roll call votes--House
Roll call votes--Senate
WaPo Votes Database
Brookings Institute Iraq Index
Project on Defense Alternatives War Report
Nat'l Defense Univ Iraq
Nat'l Defense Univ Afghanistan
MERLIN, Nat'l Defense Univ Library Network
Nat'l Memorial Inst for Prevention of Terrorism
West Point's Combating Terrorism Center
Blue Mass Group
Horse Race Blog
Just One Minute
Talking Points Memo
The Next Right
The Moderate Voice
Moderate / centrist
Liberal War Journal
The Buck Stops Here
The Glittering Eye
The Iconic Midwest
The Walrus Said
Archbp Dolan: Gospel in the Digital Age
Bp Chris Coyne: Let Us Walk Together
Simon Dodd: Motu Proprio
Fr Zuhlsdorf: WDTPRS
Fr Longenecker: Standing On My Head
Elizabeth Scalia: The Anchoress
Mirror of Justice
The result in Bush v. Gore was important, but the reasoning turned out to be perishable; the decision has not been cited again by the Justices
Yes, well; that's unsurprising, as I explained a few moons of Jeff's whining about the case ago.
Read the whole thing.
Kagan shouldn't recuse herself (neither should Justice Thomas, by the way) and there's really no need to explain it. The prevailing understanding of recusal is needlessly histrionic; generally-speaking, I think that judges should recuse themselves when, and not unless, they have a direct personal stake in the outcome (stocks, etc.) or a personal involvement with a private litigant (the defendant is a family member; the plaintiff killed their dog). The idea that judges should recuse themselves because they might have preexisting opinions about the legal issues in the case at bar is, in a word, fatuous. Writing for the court in Minnesota GOP v. White, Justice Scalia correctly said that
it is virtually impossible to find a judge who does not have preconceptions about the law. As then-Justice Rehnquist observed of our own Court: "Since most Justices come to this bench no earlier than their middle years, it would be unusual if they had not by that time formulated at least some tentative notions that would influence them in their interpretation of the sweeping clauses of the Constitution and their interaction with one another. It would be not merely unusual, but extraordinary, if they had not at least given opinions as to constitutional issues in their previous legal careers." Indeed, even if it were possible to select judges who did not have preconceived views on legal issues, it would hardly be desirable to do so. "Proof that a Justice’s mind at the time he joined the Court was a complete tabula rasa in the area of constitutional adjudication would be evidence of lack of qualification, not lack of bias."
(Citations deleted.) If anyone believes that there is a single member of the court who doesn't have reasonably well-formed ideas about the Constitutional issues at issue in these cases, and at least tentative views about the application of those principles to these cases, they're living on another planet. And so what? Nobody in their right mind believes that Justices Scalia and Ginsburg must recuse from the next abortion case down the pike simply because they have strong moral views on abortion and settled legal views on the constitutionality of abortion, so what basis is there for demanding that Kagan recuse for potentially having views that are certainly no more settled and more than likely considerably less so?
The only conceivable basis is to argue that Kagan does have a direct stake insofar as she helped create the defense that she is now called to adjudicate. (For precisely that reason, Kagan has recused in a number of cases.) But did she? An email expressing excitement that the bill might pass is hardly a smoking gun, and I see little reason to believe that we're likely to find one. Here's why: The Senate consented to Justice Kagan's appointment on August 5th, 2010; the district court ruling striking down PaPACA, Florida v. DHHS, was argued in December 2010 and handed down in January 2011; the 11th circuit affirmed in August 2011. How could Kagan participate in briefing, arguing, or strategizing in litigation that took place months after she joined the court? It is conceivable that in the spring of 2010, Kagan might have participated in general strategy meetings about potential issues that might be raised in potential litigation, but that just brings us back to the general legal views trap. I see little reason to believe that she participated in the earliest stages of the earliest actual litigation filed, and by the time that one would expect the SG's office to be involved in those cases, Kagan had joined the bench.
The calls for Kagan to recuse have nothing to do with judicial integrity, any more than do the left's recurrent calls for Scalia and Thomas to recuse from various cases. (I recall one article in which a professor seriously argued that five justices should have recused in Bush v. Gore, and what do you know, they just happened to be the five who voted for what the professor thought was the wrong result! Fancy that!) This is about stacking the deck. The left wants Thomas out to eliminate a vote against Obamacare and the right wants Kagan out to eliminate a vote for it. The court should decline the invitation to dignify such naked partisanship by responding any more than it already has.
The case of which Perry v. Perez—decided this morning—most reminds me is Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood. Although they deal with different issues, the common thread is a particular kind of judicial minimalism. In the context of an abortion law, Ayotte cautioned courts to strike down only those parts that were problematic, leaving as much as possible of the legislature's work intact; in the context of a redistricting challenge, Perry cautions district courts that if they must draw new districts, they should take as much guidance as possible from the legislature's plans; both expect courts to walk softly and tailor carefully, "limit[ing] the solution to the problem" as Ayotte puts it.
Perry is very short and worth reading, but I'll excerpt what strikes me as the key part:
To avoid being compelled to make such otherwise standardless decisions, a district court should take guidance from the State’s recently enacted plan in drafting an interim plan. That plan reflects the State’s policy judgments on where to place new districts and how to shift existing ones in response to massive population growth. This Court has observed before that “faced with the necessity of drawing district lines by judicial order, a court, as a general rule, should be guided by the legislative policies underlying” a state plan—even one that was itself unenforceable—“to the extent those policies do not lead to violations of the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act.” …
Section 5 prevents a state plan from being implemented if it has not been precleared. But that does not mean that the plan is of no account or that the policy judgments it reflects can be disregarded by a district court drawing an interim plan. On the contrary, the state plan serves as a starting point for the district court. It provides important guidance that helps ensure that the district court appropriately confines itself to drawing interim maps that comply with the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, without displacing legitimate state policy judgments with the court’s own preferences.
A district court making such use of a State’s plan must, of course, take care not to incorporate into the interim plan any legal defects in the state plan.
Noting the shift in the definition of rape, Patterico says:
I have seen statistics that show more men are raped in this country every year than women, and while I am unsure of their accuracy, the fact is that rape of men is common — in prison. Long-time readers of the site know that I do not consider prison rape funny. Not only is it not part of the prescribed punishment, but the victims are likely to be weaker and less violent people — meaning that even if you did subscribe to a vigilante justice ethic, you’d still be letting the most violent get their jollies at the expense of the least violent.
I agree; more about that in this post from 2007.
N.b.! The following is not a complete post. It contains the opening parts of the first draft of a post that I was writing in January 2009; it never came close to being finished, and the moment for it passed. It's languished for years in the drafts pile. What's more, I do not now either endorse or repudiate the argument that I was seeking to make, which you can see in outline (the more skeletal parts never made it off the blotter, so there's some holes and the end is completely missing).
So why publish now, almost three years later, and why in this state? Well, a lot of research went into it, and I think there's some valuable material in here that pertains generally to impeachment. Over the last couple of years, I've strip-mined this draft for its research time and again when impeachment issues have come up. For that reason, and since impeachment may become a hot topic again in the coming weeks, I thought that I'd share it "as is."
The limits of the impeachment power
"a hundred-ton gun which needs complex machinery to bring into position, an enormous charge to fire it, and a large mark to aim at." - Lord Bryce, on impeachment.1
Via Prof. Jacobson, I see that Bruce Ackerman is arguing that Judge Bybee should be impeached because of advice he gave while serving at OLC prior to his nomination to the bench. If the Senate had known about that advice, Ackerman charges, it would never have confirmed his appointment to the Ninth Circuit, and impeachment is warranted because it would “focus on a very particular problem: Jay Bybee may serve for decades on one of the highest courts in the land. Is his continued service consistent with his role in the systematic perpetration of war crimes?”
That may be a good question, but I want to suggest it was a passenger on a ship that has vanished over the horizon, one that cannot now be called back through impeachment. Assuming that Bybee could be impeached for his conduct at OLC, and assuming that Congress can impeach an officer even after their resignation (historically a hotly contested point), Bybee could be impeached and barred from future appointments, but could not be be removed from his present office on the basis of impeachment qua an OLC officer or impeached qua a judge for his conduct at OLC. Text, history, and practice are all strongly suggestive of this conclusion.
In evaluating the validity of such an appointment, we begin with a familiar principle: The President's recess appointment power extends only to "vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate,"1 which encompasses only vacancies that happen to arise during the recess of the Senate, not all those which may exist. See SF: The limits of the recess appointment power (April 26, 2010). Thus, the threshold inquiry when evaluating a recess appointment's validity is to determine the date on which the vacancy arose and whether the Senate was in recess at the time.
The office to which the President seeks to appoint Cordray came into being at the same time as the bureau that it directs, July 21, 2010,2 and no nominee has ever been confirmed to the directorship. Thus the vacancy can only have arisen on July 21, 2010, and the Senate was in session on that day.3 For that reason, the office is not susceptible to a recess appointment.
It isn't yet clear when the President wants to make this move, but the timing of the announcement suggests that he intends to make it today. That would make the appointment doubly invalid, because even under the broader interpretation that allows Presidents to make appointments to vacancies that merely exist during a Senate recess, the Senate must actually be in recess, and the Senate is not in recess today. It last convened yesterday, and presently stands adjourned—not recessed—until Friday morning. Thus, even if the vacancy the President aspires to fill was eligible for a recess appointment as a general matter, there is not presently a recess in which he may act.
For the foregoing reasons, a recess appointment of Richard Cordray would be ultra vires.
To some folks' consternation, the "ban" on incandescent lightbulbs goes into effect in a few hours. Imagine a government policy which discourages and thereby disrupts the supply of a particular commodity: Is the policy analogous to a ban?
As I understand it, the "incandescent lightbulb ban" obliges manufacturers of lightbulbs (of any kind) to meet certain prerequisites ("efficiency"). Because it wouldn't be economical for manufacturers to produce compliant incandescent bulbs, the manufacturers in practice simply shut down production and make compliant bulbs of other kinds. The "ban" is thus mediated by private entrepeneurial choice: The regulation doesn't ban incandescent bulbs, it just creates a regulatory framework in which the product becomes unavailable in the marketplace.
Now imagine that a state government imposes a regulation that medical facilities wishing to offer abortion must meet certain prerequisites ("health and safety," informed consent," etc.), and it would not be economical* for clinics to comply. The "ban" is thus mediated by private entrepeneurial choice: The regulation doesn't ban abortion, it just creates a regulatory framework in which the service becomes unavailable in the marketplace. Has the state banned abortion?
* Absent market distortions not present in the lightbulb debate—fanatical pro-abortion ideology could lead some outfits like PP to operate at a loss in some states.
An eleventh thing that didn't change with the guard might have been "Signing statements are still valid," or, to be more precise, "Signing statements are still not inherently invalid." You may remember that half-baked sloganeering about things wot Bush done was a major component of the Democratic primary last time around, and candidates gleefully fulminated against any practice of the Bush administration to which a name could be put—signing statements, for example. Thus, while I have no problem with President Obama issuing signing statements as a Constitutional matter, I must say that, like Cap'n Ed, I'm puzzled about how President Obama doesn't have a problem with what Senator Obama decried.
Added: Here's Obama's signing statement. There's nothing problematic in it—it looks a lot like the sort of signing statement issued by President Bush—save for the total absence of an explanation as to how it squares with Senator Obama's views! You can change your mind, but it's common courtesy to say why. A few years ago, I speculated that if the Democratic candidate won the 2008 election, their use of tools then decried as Bush administration black magic might renormalize those tools in the public mind. It doesn't seem to have happened that way—see this.
In a nutshell, here's what the Supreme Court ordered this morning in several Obamacare-related grants. The court is going to hear several hours of argument on the following questions: (1) Is the mandate severable? (2) "Whether Congress had the power under Article I … to enact the minimum coverage provision" of PaPACA.Pet. in 11-398. (3) "[w]hether the suit … challeng[ing] the minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordabl...e Care Act is barred by the Anti-Injunction Act…."Nov. 13 2011 Order in 11-398. (4) "Does Congress exceed its enumerated powers and violate basic principles of federalism when it coerces States into accepting onerous conditions that it could not impose directly by threatening to withhold all federal funding under the single largest grant-in-aid program, or does the limitation on Congress‘s spending power that this Court recognized in South Dakota v. Dole no longer apply?"Pet. in 11-400. (citation deleted). Now you're up to speed.
As I've mentioned before that I find it hard to count five votes for striking PaPACA down, but I must add that if comes out 5-4, I expect to see a slew of people condemning the decision as not only a horrible mistake but in fact illegitimate. If it's struck down, the leftosphere will go berserk charging that Thomas should have recused himself, and if it's upheld, the rightosphere will go berserk charging that Kagan should have recused herself! These narratives are already in the can, folks.
Justice Thomas has written a dissent from a denial of cert that's well worth a read. I must say, however, that Justice Thomas is quite the optimist if he believes that the court had "an opportunity to provide clarity to an Establishment Clause jurisprudence in shambles." To be sure, his dissent is wonderfully written and skewers a jurisprudence that has indeed gone "hopelessly awry." At the same time, however, it seems quite obvious to me that the reason for that shambles is that the court is deeply divided, and that accordingly, barring an Owen Roberts-style switchup, each establishment case that the court decides before new appointments bring a majority for one view of the clause or another can only make the law less clear not more. That has been the experience of the last three decades (as Thomas recounts), and it is hard to imagine why it would be different now. Until that's fixed, perhaps the best policy is for the court to avoid muddying the waters even further.
Dahlia Lithwick has this on the Hosanna-Tabor case that’s before the Supreme Court right now. The essence of the case—to put it somewhat critically—is whether a religious organization can exempt itself from the employment laws by designating employees as ministers and thus placing them in the ministerial exception to those laws. (That’s the well-established and perfectly sensible rule that courts can’t interfere in hire-and-fire decisions relating to clerical personnel, for the obvious reason that that would place government in the position of telling a religious body—at the request of a third party—who its ministers shall be, something that violates the First Amendment more plainly than just about anything else imaginable.) Take a few minutes and read Dahlia’s piece before continuing; she’ll get you up to speed.
Back? Good. What perplexed me as I read the briefs in this case is that because of limits on what courts may properly do, the case will be decided on murky grounds: Haggling over who is or isn't a minister and who gets to decide. As Dahlia recounts—vividly as ever—the court is baffled. For the record, the answer can only be that the church gets to decide who is a minister—otherwise government can simply give an extremely restrictive interpretation of “minister” and get into the afore-mentioned business of reappointing clerics—but that's not the point I want to focus on. The only reason we're stuck trying to parse the ministerial exception question is because we instinctively know that Hosanna-Tabor did nothing wrong and broadly construing the ministerial exception is the only way we can let them off the hook. And it shouldn't be.
And this is where we arrive at a perspective problem. It sometimes seems to me that liberals are apt to mistakenly think that the purpose of employers is to provide a service to their employees rather than the other way around: Labor is a commodity obtained by people and entities for the purpose of carrying out whatever activity the person or entity does. (That, by the way, is why trade unions are a sub rosa antitrust problem: They are a cartelization of the labor market.) The plaintiff was hired to do a job; she was no longer able to do it. How, then, is it rational to say that a small school, which exists to teach, must subsidize a nominal teacher and hire someone to actually teach her class, despite lacking any reasonable ability to do so?
Let's review: The plaintiff, Perich, was a teacher at a small parochial Lutheran school . She was diagnosed with narcolepsy, and (as the petitioner's brief puts it) "[b]ecause of the school’s small staff and limited budget, Perich’s absence created immediate difficulties. For a full semester, the school attempted to preserve a job for Perich by combining three grades into a single classroom. But parents"—quite reasonably!—"complained about that arrangement. Finally, in January 2005, seven months after Perich fell ill, the school hired a replacement for the spring semester." Perich resisted, the church removed her, and litigation ensued. Was that illegal? I don't know. The court may tell us in this case. But it certainly wasn't wrong. To see why, try an exercise in empathy: Don't put yourself into the plaintiff's shoes (the tool used by a sympathetic media to pick your side for you), but those of the parents. And imagine that the world is inside out: Imagine that public schools have been captured by conservatives, and they’re inculcating Christian conservative values. You feel that this is dead wrong, so you send your kid to a small independent liberal school that teaches the values you think are right with a much better kid to teacher ratio. You’re paying real money for this, because you think it’s best for your child. And the school says one day “you know, we’re going to combine two classes, because one of our teachers is on long-term medical leave. The alternative is that we’ll have to increase your tuition to cover both the nominal teacher and the substitute.” Would you honestly accept any of that? I doubt it. You’d ask why the school doesn’t just fire the teacher who isn’t doing her job, because the first concern of any parent is their child’s education; the school’s function is to accomplish that, not to transfer money from anxious parents to people who aren’t working there. Or imagine that you are a small environmental lobbying company doing important work, and your company administrative assistant gets sick! You were barely keeping your head above water before—these are tough economic times—and now you have to pay her and pay someone else to do her job?
So the problem is that the ADA treats Hosanna-Tabor the same way it treats GM, and that’s stupid. (Stipulating, for the time being, that such laws are rational when applied to GM.) Not every entity that employs is big enough to indulge the Periches of the world, no matter how much it might like to, no matter how little intent they had to discriminate. (The idea that this case involves invidious discrimination is just laughable, and quite frankly, the idea that it involves discrimination at all—cf. Black's 8th at 500—is puzzling, which makes this case even more absurd: We're fighting over the standards of summary judgment in a case that shouldn't even exist!) Oh, yes ADA excludes truly tiny entities from its reach (see 42 U.S.C. § 12111(5)(A) ("The term 'employer' means a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year")), but where do you draw the line? How big must a company be before we can say that an employee is fungible?
No abstract theory can supply an adequate answer to that. I suggest that the answer is to refuse to play the quantitative game (or to game the ministerial exception), and instead, recognizing that what the law appears to ask entities like Hosanna-Tabor to do is insane, declare that laws like ADA only apply to the extent that they don’t impose an unreasonable burden on employers. We're here today talking about this case only because courts shouldn't create the kind of exception I've mentioned and Congress won't.
It will no doubt be answered by the left that this would make the protections of the law turn on the size of the company you work for, and that's true, but I don't find that persuasive since the choice of employer is in the discretion of private parties in the market, not a single governmental decisionmaker. And it will no doubt be answered by a few on the right that it confers too much discretion on judges, but I don’t find that persuasive either since case-by-case questions demand case-by-case answers and only judges are situated to do that.
TP wants you to know that the left is for democracy. Unlike us evil rethuglicans, the left thinks the people should get to decide.
Yeah, you read that right. TP is saying that it's the right that uses the Constitution (or their own self-styled variant of it) to shut out democratic control, that it's the left that's for letting the people make their own choices. The left is for the people making their own choices via the ballot box.* Yep.
*Does not include gay marriage, abortion, school vouchers, capital crimes, school prayer, non-coed schools, apportionment of state legislatures, flag burning, the pledge of allegiance, criminal procedure, speech codes, school conduct, regulation of violent video games...etc
With a lineup no one saw coming! Scalia writes for the majority. Alito (whose presumed dissent was thought to be the hold-up) concurs, joined by the Chief. Thomas dissents, joined by Breyer.
“[We consider,] for the fourth time since 2007, what distinguishes 'violent felonies' under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) from other crimes. We try to include an ACCA residual-clause case in about every second or third volume of the United States Reports. ¶ As was perhaps predictable, instead of producing a clarification of the Delphic residual clause, today’s opinion produces a fourth ad hoc judgment that will sow further confusion. Insanity, it has been said, is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. Four times is enough. We should admit that ACCA’s residual provision is a drafting failure and declare it void for vagueness.”" Says Justice Scalia, in dissent (citations omitted).
"That is the sort of thing that can happen when statutory analysis is so untethered from the text." A stinging remark from the Chief's opinion in Chamber v. Whiting.
I've written two posts about the Indiana Supreme Court's decision in Barnes v. Indiana, a case involving remedies for violations of Fourth Amendment rights, here and here. This will be the last for a while, I promise; it's just to say that I have posted a paper on SSRN (a heavily-annotated version of a letter to the editor, actually) discussing the case and outlining the context that the majority failed to discuss.
Some of the responses to Barnes v. Indiana—my previous post is here—implies a belief that the case's elimination of the common law "right to resist" is novel. It isn't.
In 1997, the Supreme Court of Washington junked the right to resist, save for "resist[ing] an attempt to inflict injury on him or her during the course of an arrest" after a lengthy and persuasive examiniation of the right's history that mirrors the more cursorary treatment of the INSC. Washington v. Valentine, 132 Wash.2d 1, 21, 935 P.2d 1294, 1304 (1997); see also id., 935 P.2d, at 1298 n.6 (noting that between 1957 and 1978, Iowa, California, and Florida abolished the right to resist, either by statute or common law).
The same year, prompted by Valentine, Andrew Wright surveyed the jurisdictions which had then abolished the right to resist:
The following states have enacted statutes eliminating the right: Ark. Code Ann. § 5-54-103 (Michie 1993); Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-8-103 (West 1986); Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 53a-23 (West 1994); Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 464(d) (1995); Fla. Stat. Ann. § 776.051 (West 1992); Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 710-1026 (Michie 1993); 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/7-7 (West 1993); Iowa Code § 804.12 (1997); Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-3217 (1995); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 520.090 (Michie 1990); Mont. Code Ann. § 45-3-108 (1997); Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 28-1409(3) (Michie 1995); N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 594:5 (1986); N.Y. Penal Law § 35.27 (McKinney 1998); N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-05-03 (1997); Or. Rev. Stat. § 161.260 (1995); 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 505(b)(1)(i) (West 1983); R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-7-10 (1994); S.D. Codified Laws § 22-11-5 (Michie 1988); Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 38.03 (West 1994). Judicial decisions in the following states have also eliminated the right: Miller v. State, 462 P.2d 421, 427 (Alaska 1969); State v. Hatton, 568 P.2d 1040, 1046 (Ariz. 1977); Evans v. City of Bakersfield, 27 Cal. Rptr. 2d 406, 409 (Ct. App. 1994); State v. Richardson, 511 P.2d 263, 268 (Idaho 1973); Casselman v. State, 472 N.E.2d 1310, 1317 (Ind. Ct. App. 1985); State v. Austin, 381 A.2d 652, 654-55 (Me. 1978); Commonwealth v. Moreira, 447 N.E.2d 1224, 1227 (Mass. 1983); State v. Wick, 331 N.W.2d 769, 771 (Minn. 1983); State v. Nunes, 546 S.W.2d 759, 762 (Mo. Ct. App. 1977); State v. Koonce, 214 A.2d at 433; State v. Doe, 583 P.2d 464, 467 (N.M. 1978); City of Columbus v. Fraley, 324 N.E.2d 735, 740 (Ohio 1975); State v. Gardiner, 814 P.2d 568, 576 (Utah 1991); State v. Peters, 450 A.2d 332, 335 (Vt. 1982); State v. Valentine, 935 P.2d 1294, 1304 (Wash. 1997); Roberts v. State, 711 P.2d 1131, 1134 (Wyo. 1985).
Resisting Unlawful Arrest, 46 Drake L. Rev. 383, 388 n.6. Since then, more have followed suit. Without meaning to be comprehensive, here are just a few low-hanging fruit from a Westlaw search:
Barnes v. Indiana