Archive for the ‘Supreme Court’ Category

Friedrichs v. California Teachers’ Association: The Ring Reaches Mount Doom

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

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.

Snip.

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.)

TPPF Sues Over Wilco Cave Spider

Monday, December 21st, 2015

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…

UT Admissions Scandal 10X Worse Than Previously Admitted

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

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.

More:

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.

Also this:

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.)

LinkSwarm for March 13, 2015

Friday, March 13th, 2015

It’s Friday the 13th, spring is in the air, and SXSW crowds are flocking into downtown Austin. Here’s a LinkSwarm:

  • Nothing says “Religion of Peace” quite like threatening to burn children alive. (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • Any deal with Iran is likely to push more Sunnis to support ISIS.
  • Over 100 release Guantanamo Bay detainees have returned to jihad.
  • Another legal challenge to ObamaCare, this one based on the right to privacy.
  • Paul Krugman declares war on pizza.
  • Obama’s illegal alien “dreamers” favored over the legal spouses of American citizens.
  • Is there anything quite so hilarious as a VA manager mocking veteran suicides?
  • The dysfunction in NBC’s news division went far beyond Brian Williams.
  • When Ted Kennedy offered the help the Soviets against Reagan.
  • “The Cinematic Railroading of Jameis Winston”. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • The Victmhood Identity Politics Left: La la la, I have my fingers in my ears and my Twitter on block, so I can’t hear you!
  • You may be cool, but you’ll never be Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark giving a 7-year old his bionic arm cool…
  • District Court Rules for Gun Owners on Interstate Handgun Sales

    Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

    Dwight just alerted me to the ruling in Mance vs. Holder (decision linked thanks to the indefatigable efforts of the tireless Instapundit) which strikes down the federal ban on interstate handgun sales.

    The Court concludes that Defendants [Holder at. al.] have not shown that the federal interstate handgun transfer ban is narrowly tailored to be the least restrictive means of achieving the Government’s goals under current law. The federal interstate handgun transfer ban is therefore unconstitutional on its face.

    Possibly more later, when I’ve had time to digest the full ruling and its implications. It’s a virtual certainty that the Obama Administration will appeal.

    Texas vs. California Update for January 29, 2014

    Thursday, January 29th, 2015

    To a certain extent, this Texas vs. California roundup is incomplete, since we’re hot and heavy into the new legislative session and I haven’t had a chance to fully digest the proposed budget numbers yet. By the Legislative Budget Boards numbers, they’re only projecting a 1.5% increase in the 2016-2017 biennium budget over 2014-2015. But see the first link…

  • Setting the story straight on the Texas budget. TPPF uses a different baseline…
  • California’s public employee unions would prefer that you not know how well they’re compensated.
  • How California’s public employees use sick leave to spike their pensions.
  • Supreme Court may take on California union mandatory dues case.
  • Though not nearly as bad as California, Texas state and local public employee pensions are also in need of reform.
  • California’s Kern County declares a fiscal emergency over dropping oil prices. “Collapsing crude prices are squeezing the finances of Kern County, home to three-fourths of California’s oil production.” Thankfully, oil and gas extraction is a lot more widespread in Texas.
  • The City of Sacramento’s unfunded liabilities have reached $2.3 billion. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Fresno? No one goes to Fresno anymore!” Except for job growth percentage, that is, where Fresno outpaced Silicon Valley.
  • Remember the Newport Beach police department firing a whistler-blower? Via Dwight comes a followup: “A husband and wife who sued Newport Beach and its police department for alleged retaliation and wrongful termination have settled their lawsuits for $500,000, according to city officials.”
  • “Physician-assisted suicide has returned to California’s political agenda.” Well, why not? California’s ruling Democrats have been attempting fiscal suicide for well over a decade now…
  • Toyota breaks ground on its new Texas headquarters.
  • A public school in California is having a Hijab Day.
  • Court Agrees to Hearing on Obama’s Amnesty

    Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

    The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has agreed to hear a challenge to Obama’s unconstitutional illegal alien amnesty.

    In a ruling that could short-circuit one of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, a federal court has allowed U.S. tech workers to challenge extensions of foreign laborers’ status here.

    The case of Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has “major implications” for the president’s ability to expand the number of work visas and the terms or durations of those visas.

    Here’s the actual text of the decision to hear the case. Basically it affirms that high tech workers do have standing to sue over the executive order.

    Mickey Kaus suggested that the separation of powers issues in Obama’s executive order might prompt the courts to move a lot more quickly than usual on the case. The District Court ruling suggests that he may be right.

    DC Handgun Ban Struck Down; DC Police Chief Capitulates?

    Sunday, July 27th, 2014

    DC gun ban struck down in federal court:

    Judge Frederick Scullin concluded that current prohibitions are an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, in a win for gun rights advocates.

    Based on previous court rulings striking down gun laws in D.C., Chicago and elsewhere, “there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny,” Scullin wrote in his 19-page decision, which was unsealed on Saturday.

    Now, via Ted Cruz staffer Josh Perry, comes two tweets that, if true, smell a whole lot like “Total Victory.”

    Now, via Josh Perry, come two tweets that, if true, small a whole lot like “Total Victory.”

    Still waiting for SMSM confirmation that D.C. Chief of Police Cathy Lanier has issued this order, but if true, this is the final culmination of the second amendment rights that DC vs. Heller confirmed finally being actually fulfilled.

    Breaking: Appeals Court Rules Against Federal ObamaCare Subsidies

    Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

    D.C. Circuit court rules 2-1 against federal ObamaCare subsidies in Halbig vs. Burwell:

    In a case with potential to scramble the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that federal subsidies for health insurance were not properly designed.

    If upheld by the Supreme Court, the ruling could limit subsidies on the federal healthcare.gov exchange currently used by 36 states.

    This is breaking news that doesn’t even appear to be up on the Google News index, and I haven’t seen a direct link to the decision yet.

    Instead of invalidating ObamaCare outright, the federal judicial system seems to have successively gutted it in ways most likely to inflict massive electoral defeats on the Democratic Party while giving them nothing to show for it…

    Update: Here’s Jonathan Adler’s piece on the decision, as well as a link to the decision itself.

    Update 2: But wait! The 4th District Court has ruled in favor of federal ObamaCare subsidies in the King vs. Burwell case.

    Confused? You won’t be, after this episode of Soap the Supreme Court takes up the case…

    Texas vs. California Update for July 16, 2014

    Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

    Some other stuff bubbling up, so here’s a Texas vs. California update to tide you over for a while:

  • Former Calpers CEO Pleads Guilty to Corruption Conspiracy.
  • As part of his plea, Fred Buenrostro also agreed to testify to testify against his friend and former CalPERS board member Alfred Villalobos. Sing, canary, sing!
  • How CalPERs corrupts California politics.
  • Jobs are leaving California and coming to Texas.
  • Texas’ low-tax, low-regulation approach favors job creation.
  • How Texas compares to both California and New York.
  • Why California’s high speed rail boondoggle is still doomed.
  • Stockton’s bankruptcy judge may declare that CalPERS is just another creditor.
  • Bell City Councilman sentenced.