Here we are, the final day of the primary season, when Democrats in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota go to the polls to (theoretically) put Hillary Clinton over the top.
Archive for the ‘Supreme Court’ Category
The Texas voter ID law will remain in the books, at least for the November election, after the Supreme Court refused to issue an “emergency” request to suspend the law while the court case against it is being considered.
What this means in the short term: Democrats won’t be able to steal some down-ballot Texas races with illegal alien votes this year.
No wonder Democrats hate voter ID…
Lots of Texas vs. California linky goodness, much of it via Jack Dean at Pension Tsunami, who’s been emailing me links of significant interest.
As last week’s US Census Bureau population estimates indicated, the story of population growth between 2014 and 2015 was largely about Texas, as it has been for the decade starting 2010 (See: “Texas Keeps Getting Bigger” The New Metropolitan Area Estimates). The same is largely true with respect to population trends in the nation’s largest counties, with The Lone Star state dominating both in the population growth and domestic migration among 135 counties with more than 500,000 population.
Houston, which is the fastest growing major metropolitan area (over 1 million population) in the nation includes the two fastest growing large counties. Fort Bend County added 4.29 percent to its population between 2014 and 2015 and now has 716,000 residents. Montgomery County grew 3.57 percent to 538,000. In addition to these two suburban Houston counties, Harris County, the core County ranked 16th in growth, adding 2.03 percent to its population and exceeding 4.5 million population.
Dallas-Fort Worth, the second fastest-growing major metropolitan area has two counties among the top 20. The third fastest-growing county is Denton (located north of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport), which added 3.42 percent to its population over the past year and now has 781,000 residents. Collin County, to the north of Dallas County, grew 3.17 percent and now stands at 914,000 residents. Its current growth rate would put Collin County over 1 million population by the 2020 census.
Travis County, with its county seat of Austin, grew 2.22 percent to 1,177,000 and ranked 12th. Bexar County, centered on San Antonio grew 2.01 percent and ranks 17th.
Overall, Texas had four of the five fastest growing large counties, and seven of the top twenty. California had none. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
- “A now has by far the nation’s highest state income tax rate. We are 34% higher than 2nd place Oregon, and a heck of a lot higher than all the rest”
- “CA has the highest state sales tax rate in the nation. 7.5% (does not include local sales taxes).”
- “California in 2015 ranked 14th highest in per capita property taxes (including commercial) – the only major tax where we are not in the worst ten states. But the 2014 average CA single-family residence (SFR) property tax is the 8th highest state in the nation. Indeed, the median CA homeowner property tax bill is 93% higher than the average for the other 49 states.”
- “California has a nasty anti-small business $800 minimum corporate income tax, even if no profit is earned, and even for many nonprofits. Next highest state is Rhode Island at $500 (only for “C” corporations). 3rd is Delaware at $175. Most states are at zero.”
- “California’s 2015 ‘business tax climate’ ranks 3rd worst in the nation – behind New York and anchor-clanker New Jersey. In addition, CA has a lock on the worst rank in the Small Business Tax Index – a whopping 8.3% worse than 2nd worst state.”
- “The American Tort Reform Foundation in 2015 again ranks CA the ‘worst state judicial hellhole’ in U.S. – the most anti-business.”
- “CA public school teachers the 3rd highest paid in the nation. CA students rank 48th in math achievement, 49th in reading.”
- “California’s real poverty rate (the new census bureau standard adjusted for COL) is easily the worst in the nation at 23.4%. We are 57.3% higher than the average for the other 49 states.”
- “Of 100 U.S. real estate markets, in 2013 CA contained by far the least affordable middle class housing market (San Francisco). PLUS the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th.”
It’s like a whole bunch of Texas vs. California roundup statistics all in one big green ball of fail. Read the whole thing. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder told the Wall Street Journal in 2013, “California is not interested in having businesses grow.”
The article points out that many factors, including local building regulations, make one community less desirable than another for businesses.
For example, it takes 60 days in Texas, 63 in Shanghai, and 125 in Novosibirsk, Russia for one of CKE’s restaurants to get a building permit after signing a lease. But in Los Angeles, Ca. it takes a whopping 285 days.
Puzder added, “I can open up a restaurant faster on Karl Marx Prospect in Siberia than on Carl Karcher Boulevard in California.” The street in California is ironically named for the restaurant chain’s founder.
California’s labor regulations may also play a role in a company’s desire to seek alternative locations. In that same interview with WSJ, Puzder said his company had spent $20 million in the state over the past eight years on damages and attorney fees related to class-action lawsuits.
(Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
The reactions to the unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia are still coming in. Conservatives (and some liberals) hailed him as a great justice, a keen mind, and one of the court’s finest writers. Other liberals…
Eh. Let’s get to the sweet before the bitter.
Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history – Justice Antonin Scalia. A champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history.
As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism. And he authored some of the most important decisions ever, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized our fundamental right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. He was an unrelenting defender of religious liberty, free speech, federalism, the constitutional separation of powers, and private property rights. All liberty-loving Americans should be in mourning.
Justice Scalia’s three decades on the Court was one of President Reagan’s most consequential legacies. Our prayers are with his beloved wife Maureen, their nine children, and their precious grandchildren.”
Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution. His fierce loyalty to the Constitution set an unmatched example, not just for judges and lawyers, but for all Americans. We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. Cecilia and I extend our deepest condolences to his family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.
He was important because of his intellectual influence. There were and are many legal theories and schools of constitutional interpretation within the world of American conservatism. But Scalia’s combination of brilliance, eloquence and good timing — he was appointed to the court in 1986, a handful of years after the Federalist Society was founded, and with it the conservative legal movement as we know it — ensured that his ideas, originalism in constitutional law and textualism in statutory interpretation, would set the agenda for a serious judicial conservatism and define the worldview that any “living Constitution” liberal needed to wrestle with in order to justify his own position.
This intellectual importance was compounded by the way he strained to be consistent, to rule based on principle rather than on his partisan biases — which made him stand out in an age when justices often seem as purely partisan as any other office holder. Of course there were plenty of cases (“Bush v. Gore!” a liberal might interject here) in which those biases probably did shape the way he ruled. But from flag burning to the rights of the accused to wartime detention, Scalia had a long record of putting originalist principle above a partisan conservatism. And this, too, set an example for his fellow conservatives: The fact that today the court’s right-leaning bloc has far more interesting internal disagreements than the often lock-step-voting liberal wing is itself a testament to the premium its leading intellectual light placed on philosophical rigor and integrity.
Even honest liberals who disagree with Scalia’s politics praised the keenness of his mind and prose:
In his most significant decision for the court’s majority, District of Columbia v. Heller, in 2008, Scalia transformed the understanding of the Second Amendment. Reversing a century of interpretation of the right to bear arms, he announced that individuals have a constitutional right to possess handguns for personal protection. The Heller decision was so influential that even President Obama, whose politics differ deeply from Scalia’s, has embraced the view that the Second Amendment gives individuals a constitutional right to bear arms.
Meanwhile, other liberals have reacted with unbridled joy:
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) February 13, 2016
(Hat tip: Breitbart.)
A reminder, yet again, that conservatives regard liberals as wrong, but many liberals regard conservatives as not just wrong but evil, and feel no absolutely no remorse in openly celebrating the death of a great man for the crime of daring to hold non-liberal thoughts.
Literally between a post-bike ride shower and heading off to dinner, so possibly more later or tomorrow.
Some liberals on my Facebook timeline are openly celebrating…
While the rest of the country was tuned into The Trump Show playing before the Black Gate, Friedrichs vs. California, a plucky little court case with the power to unmake the Democratic Party, has finally reached Mount Doom.
In brief, public school teachers in California seek to invalidate state law requiring that non-union members must nevertheless pay the public teachers union fees for collective bargaining and related expenses. Those related expenses are fairly broad and include public relations campaigns on issues to be collectively bargained.
Overturning existing law altogether is much more difficult under the related principles of stare decisis and deference to precedent. But that’s what the Friedrichs Plaintiffs are looking for, and if they succeed the new rule – banning compelled contributions to any public union activity at all – would apply to every public union in the United States.
Compelled union dues are heart and muscle of the Democratic Party, since unions dominate the top Democratic political donors list. As Scott Walker demonstrated, give workers the chance to keep their own money and they flee unions in droves.
According the Legal Insurrection, oral arguments have been going extremely badly for unions. “The teachers [the anti-union side] seem to have at least five votes and likely seven. Depending how the decision is written the Court could even reach a unanimous decision holding that compelled contributions to public unions are unconstitutional.”
Without the iron group of unions, not only is the Democratic Party critically weakened, but a host of previously difficult reforms (public pension reform, school choice) suddenly become possible.
And there’s likely nothing Sauron can do about it…
(Metaphor blatantly stolen from Walter Russell Mead.)
Here’s something on the surface that seems like a small local story, but it’s one that could potentially have huge national implications.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF)’s Center for the American Future representing Williamson County resident John Yearwood and Williamson County, Texas today filed suit to intervene into the pending lawsuit seeking delisting of the Bone-Cave Harvestman from the Endangered Species Act. Mr. Yearwood and Williamson County, Texas challenge the authority of the federal government to use the Interstate Commerce Clause to regulate non-commercial interactions with the Bone Cave Harvestman arachnid, which only exists in two central Texas counties, is not bought nor traded in interstate commerce, and does not otherwise affect interstate commerce.
“This lawsuit centers around respect for the rule of law and recognition that the Constitution establishes our federal government as having limited, enumerated powers,” said Robert Henneke, director of the Center for the American Future at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “Congress has the power to regulate commerce among the states, i.e. Interstate commerce. Congress’ Commerce power through the Endangered Species Act should not, therefore, extend to regulate the Bone-Cave Harvestman species – an intrastate cave-arachnid existing only in caves in Central Texas without any commercial value. For there to be rule of law, there must be limits to government power.”
The Interstate Commerce Clause is the camel’s nose by which the federal government has stuck its vast regulatory powers into just about every crevice of the body politic. Because the Williamson cave spider case clearly has no impact on interstate commerce, there’s the potential for the case to unravel a whole host of intrusive New Deal-era commerce clause rulings, of which Wickard vs. Filburn is probably the most egregious.
There’s no guarantee the case will get to the Supreme Court, but if it does…
We’ve known, from the drips and dabs that slipped out, that the UT admissions scandal was worse than the Kroll report actually let on. But we didn’t know it was ten times worse:
At least 764 applicants initially denied admission to the University of Texas were admitted thanks to a backdoor program for the wealthy and politically connected administered by former president Bill Powers.
More than 200 of those applicants were admitted despite having their applications cancelled by the Admissions Office.
The total is more than 10 times the 73 applicants widely reported from an investigation paid for by the university and conducted by Kroll Associates. Kroll withheld the full findings from its 107-page final report.
The Kroll investigation confirmed what had been common knowledge in the wealthy Dallas-area community of Highland Park, which includes UT Regent Wallace Hall and House Education Committee chair Dan Branch: students were getting into UT at extraordinary rates, despite bad grades.
UT admitted seven Highland Park students with grade point averages below 2.0 and SAT scores below 800.
The very worst of the students UT admitted, the investigation showed, were clustered in the districts of Branch, House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), and Sen. Kirk Watson, (D-Austin).
Straus has gone to even greater lengths than UT to cover up the abuses. He authorized a special committee operating behind the scenes in an effort to impeach Hall for asking too many questions about the admissions process.
A very cynical part of me wonders if this is the root of Straus’ stranglehold on the Speaker’s office: his power as the go-to fixer for getting unqualified students into UT.
If you hadn’t heard, Wallace Hall, who uncovered the scandal, is suing UT chancellor William McRaven for access to the documents Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has already said he’s entitled to.
Indeed, UT’s dishonest coverup may be a big factor in the Supreme Court in agreeing to hear an appeal on Fisher vs. University of Texas, “a 2008 lawsuit brought by a white student claiming the university’s diversity-seeking admissions system had unfairly deprived her of admission.”
The Dallas Observer‘s Jim Schutze (who, unlike myself, favors affirmative action) explains:
The court did receive a blistering friend-of-the-court brief (see copy below) from the Cato Institute, a conservative think-tank, in support of Fisher’s request to be heard again. The Cato brief called the court’s attention to an investigation of admissions at UT that grew out of the Hall disclosures. Cato told SCOTUS the investigation proved that UT’s “claimed diversity rationale is a sham.”
That would be new evidence, maybe. But if it goes to the university’s core integrity – if the university has been lying to the courts about why it handles admissions the way it does – then maybe it’s not so new. Maybe it goes right to the heart of the existing case.
We have talked here often before about revelations brought forward by Hall showing that the former president of the university and some of the regents were handing out undergraduate admissions to sons and daughters of influential state legislators the way favors of love are distributed in a bawdy house. But does that kind of corruption go to the affirmative action question?
Nobody knows if the Cato amicus brief played any role at all in the high court’s eventual decision to rehear Fisher. But if it did, this would be why: When the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 to send Fisher back down to the 5th Circuit, the court said the lower court needed to take a tougher look at the university’s admissions policies. The Supreme Court told the lower court not to just take the university at its word but to examine the university’s admissions closely under a doctrine called “strict scrutiny.”
The 5th Circuit basically said yeah, yeah, OK, we strict scrutinied them, and we still trust them. So the 5th Circuit upheld the university. Fisher appealed back to the Supreme Court saying the 5th Circuit hadn’t really done the strict scrutiny strictly enough.
Then along comes the Wallace Hall evidence of an under-the-table secret admissions program the university forgot to tell the courts about. In fact, Hall’s investigation found evidence of lying, destruction of documents, coercion – enough story lines for an entire season of The Sopranos, all having to do with UT admissions.
A Supreme Court case is likely to bring national attention to a scandal the local mainstream media has tried to downplay or bury. And if it turns out UT actually lied to the courts, well, that sort of thing tends to make federal judges a mite testy…
(Hat tip: Push junction.)