If I hadn’t been enthusiastic about Gorsuch before, I would be now. But what I really want to know is: What does he make of the end of Infinite Jest?
Senator Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, unwaveringly questioned Judge Neil Gorsuch in his Supreme Court nomination hearing today. But rather than grill Gorsuch on his former rulings, or ask questions that would reaffirm his impartiality if nominated to the bench, Feinstein used her time to ask questions pertaining to his political beliefs.
Feinstein received nearly identical answers — that Gorsuch strives for impartiality and it would be unfair to future litigants if he revealed his political beliefs — time and time again.
On the Second Amendment, Feinstein asked whether Gorsuch agreed with Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, a Supreme Court ruling that affirmed an individual’s right to possess firearms, or Justice John Paul Stevens’s dissenting opinion.
“Both Justice Scalia and Justice Stevens wrote excellent opinions in that case,” Gorsuch said. But, he explained, a nod in agreement with one opinion or the other would indicate to future litigants that he has already determined the outcome of their cases. “Whatever is in Heller is the law, and I follow the law,” he said.
Feinstein’s follow-up question? Whether Gorsuch agreed with Scalia’s opinion in Heller, specifically regarding his decision that military-style weapons may be banned.
“It’s not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, senator,” Gorsuch said. “Respectfully, it’s a matter of it being the law, and my job is to apply and enforce the law.”
But Feinstein refused to accept that answer yet again, further asking which opinions by Scalia that he disagreed with. After Gorsuch explained why the question was inappropriate, Feinstein quipped, “Then how do we have confidence in you, that you won’t just be for the big corporations? That you will be for the little man?”
It seems that Feinstein and many of her Democratic colleagues do not set impartiality as a requirement for Supreme Court Justice nominees. Advocating the Democratic party’s agenda, however, is a necessity.
It’s so tempting and easy for college officials to spend money on things that look nice in press releases but don’t accomplish much good. (They’re no different from politicians in that regard.)
Campus-safety initiatives are abundant and costly, as Alex Contarino shows in this Martin Center article.
The problem is that college campuses are already very safe — even those in inner city areas, such as Temple — and marginal increases in safety come at high cost. Contarino writes,
Most of the dangers students face are beyond the control of campus administrators — either occurring outside of their purview or stemming from larger social issues. Not surprisingly, the extra spending on campus security has been unsuccessful in curbing the most pressing safety issues, such as alcohol-fueled assault and sexual violence.
These initiatives cost money, of course, and drive up the already exorbitant cost of college.
School officials might say that they are having a positive impact in one area — excessive drinking. That is slightly down among college students, but as Contarino points out, it is also down among young Americans generally.
“Student safety should be a top concern,” Contarino concludes, “but no amount of spending will make every street off-campus safe, and administrators are still a long way off from changing the campus culture of drinking.”
President Trump’s budget would zero out funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, an after-school program aimed at improving academic outcomes. The budget blueprint says the 21st Century program “lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives.” That’s an understatement. As my former colleague David Muhlhausen has detailed, the Education Department sponsored a multi-site experimental evaluation of the 21st Century program. The final results, published in 2005, showed basically no effect on academic outcomes and negative effects on child behavior.
A lobbying coalition of academics, bureaucrats, and school providers has formed around the 21st Century program, and its supporters quickly moved to disparage the gold-standard evaluation. They offered the familiar excuses common to other program failures, including a perennial favorite: “We believe [insert name of program] is much more effective now than at the time it was evaluated.” Since evaluations are rarely conducted on the fly, that excuse can be recycled ad infinitum. Nevertheless, a New York Times “fact check” bought into the coalition’s storyline, dismissing the gold-standard evaluation as “early research” and then proceeding to cite state-level studies that do not use random-assignment methodology. The purported test-score gains even in these non-experimental studies were unimpressive.
Similarly, an article for Time claims “several studies” support after-school programs, but none is an actual test of the 21st Century program’s effectiveness. For example, the Education Department says that 30 to 40 percent of participants improved their math and English grades during the year, but there is no mention of how any control group performed. (The New York Times “fact check” also cites this data but misreports it as a 30 to 40 percent improvement in grades.) The Time article goes on to cite studies that say it is bad for children to go hungry, which is not exactly the same question as whether after-school programs are effective!
Does all of this mean that after-school care is never helpful to anyone? Of course not. Research in this area should and will continue. Perhaps there are targeted ways in which after-school care could help especially vulnerable kids. The 21st Century program, however, is not a good use of limited resources. Its funding should be either returned to the taxpayers or redirected toward programs with demonstrated effectiveness. More broadly, a $559 billion deficit means the government must set very careful priorities with its spending. If we cannot eliminate even a small program that failed its own government evaluation, then there is little reason to believe the government will ever get those priorities straight.
Lost amid last weekend’s headlines about guitarist Chuck Berry and reporter Jimmy Breslin was the death, also, of poet Derek Walcott.
The recipient of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature, Walcott was a native of the island of Saint Lucia, and his was a self-conscious poetry of the sea. “The sea is always present. It’s always visible,” he told The Economist once. “All the roads lead to it. I consider the sound of the sea to be part of my body. And if you say in patois, ‘The boats are coming back,’ the beat of that line, its metrical space, has to do with the sound and rhythm of the sea itself.” Sometimes, he gloried in tropical sunshine; often, though, he was acutely aware of the sea’s fearsome power. His most ambitious work, the 300-page poem Omeros, recast Homer’s Odyssey in the Caribbean. Here, the sea’s power is as much social as natural; the sea is the medium for the great movements of history that have shaped the region, such as colonialism and the African slave trade.
Walcott is often considered a “political” poet, and in certain respects he was. But he was more than that. He was, finally, writing about love — for place and people and the sacred. “The fate of poetry,” he wrote, “is to fall in love with the world.” That is reflected in the simple lines of “To Norline,” from his 1987 collection, The Arkansas Testament:
This beach will remain empty
for more slate-colored dawns
of lines the surf continually
erases with its sponge,
and someone else will come
from the still-sleeping house,
a coffee mug warming his palm
as my body once cupped yours,
to memorize this passage
of a salt-sipping tern,
like when some line on a page
is loved, and it’s hard to turn.
Joseph Brodsky said of Derek Walcott, “He is the man by whom the English language lives.”
Dead at 87. R.I.P.
Over on the homepage, Rich lays out chapter and verse the multiple political problems Trump’s tweets create — problems that are different and worse for a president than a candidate. It’s all so ridiculous because it’s all so unnecessary. An effective presidency doesn’t require shoot-from-the-hip tweeting. In fact, Trump’s tweeting habits are so far mainly undermining his effectiveness.
The tweets, however, are exposing something else in many of Trump’s friends and supporters — an extremely high tolerance for dishonesty and an oft-enthusiastic willingness to defend sheer nonsense. Yes, I know full well that many of his supporters take him “seriously, not literally,” but that’s a grave mistake. My words are of far lesser consequence than the president’s, yet I live my life knowing that willful, reckless, or even negligent falsehood can end my career overnight. It can end friendships instantaneously. Why is the truth somehow less important when the falsehoods come from the most powerful and arguably most famous man in the world?
I’ve watched Christian friends laugh hysterically at Trump’s tweets, positively delighted that they cause fits of rage on the other side. I’ve watched them excuse falsehoods from reflexively-defensive White House aides, claiming “it’s just their job” to defend the president. Since when is it any person’s job to help their boss spew falsehoods into the public domain? And if that does somehow come to be your job, aren’t you bound by honor to resign? It is not difficult, in a free society, to tell a man (no matter how powerful they are or how much you love access to that power), “Sir, I will not lie for you.”
The 1990s are instructive. I distinctly recall Democrat friends who not only defended Clinton on the narrow grounds that his White House affair (and subsequent lies and attempts to cover up that affair) weren’t grounds for resignation or impeachment. Fine. Make that argument. But all too many people went farther, denigrating the sanctity of marriage vows and longing for the alleged moral sophistication of the European model — a model where the wife and mistress can stand side-by-side at a president’s funeral. Fast forward to 2017, and some people laugh at a commitment to truth as “weak” in much the same that some Democrats laughed at a commitment to fidelity as “unsophisticated.”
We don’t know what happens behind closed doors, and it may well be the case that advisers are diligently and faithfully trying to convince the president to put down his phone. I hope that’s what’s happening, and perhaps one day their efforts will bear fruit. But for now consider the storylines that are being lost or swamped in the midst of presidential tweetstorms: 1) significant progress in the fight against ISIS; 2) an ongoing stock-market rally that directly defies leftist predictions in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s victory; and 3) one of the most-respected Supreme Court nominees in a generation. Indeed, think how much Trump’s tweets about wiretapping ended up stepping on the news about Gorsuch’s first day of confirmation hearings. Think about how much Trump’s mistaken (or deliberately false) tweets about NATO are needlessly complicating our alliances. Is this behavior in America’s best interests? I don’t even believe it’s in Trump’s best interests.
GOP gratitude for beating Hillary Clinton cannot and must not extend into acceptance (or even endorsement) of presidential dishonesty and impulsiveness. Trump isn’t just doing damage to himself. As he lures a movement into excusing his falsehoods, he does damage to the very culture and morality of his base. The truth still matters, even when fighting Democrats you despise.
Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch began the second day of confirmation hearings today with a reassurance for Democrats, saying:
“There’s not such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge, we just have judges.”
Of course, here at National Review, we’ve already given our seal of approval — and everything written here still stands.
Check out some of these other Gorsuch quotes that should get you excited about his nomination as well:
Note: Spoilers ahead.
It’s been a while since there’s been any zombie blogging around here. I think the last time we talked about The Walking Dead, David French and others were complaining that the show had become too dark. But I haven’t given up on TWD, and, despite some clunky storytelling here and there, I think this season has been pretty good.
Oh, by the way, did anyone notice that lying people into war is cool again? The Walking Dead has already made its peace with the logic of preemptive war (both with the Governor and then, really, with the Savior outpost that Rick & Co. thought was the entirety of Negan’s empire). Some people complain about it, but the interesting thing is that most people seem to be fine with it.
There’s an analogy to torture. As I’ve written before, many people understandably and defensibly argue that torture in and of itself is always wrong and evil. I don’t subscribe to that categorical view for the simple reason that it’s easy to imagine situations where torture would be, at least, a necessary evil.
But I don’t even have to imagine it, Hollywood does that for us routinely. Scriptwriters frequently devise scenarios where the audience clearly wants the hero to beat some important piece of information out of the bad guy. My point isn’t that we should allow torture because there’s a compelling fictional case for it in reruns of 24. My point is just that if you get to create your own facts, it’s easy to create scenarios where it’s right to do bad things. You can say “it’s just a movie” or “it’s just a TV show” but law schools teach by creating hypothetical situations every day.
Anyway, in the second-to-most recent episode (“Bury Me Here”), Richard (a “knight” of the Kingdom) basically creates an elaborate ruse to convince Ezekiel to go to war. It involves, among other things, stealing a cantaloupe — turning a melon into the equivalent of the Ems Telegram. Until recently, Morgan had been the conscience of the show, or at least the champion of pacifism. Now, he’s not only in on the deception, he murders someone to see that Richard’s plan comes to fruition (people who’ve seen the episode will nod to my spoiler-avoidance on this plot point).
It seems to me that Richard is right. The Saviors must be defeated. Negan must be killed. Those are worthy and necessary ends. The question, therefore, becomes “What means are justified to achieve them?”
President Trump, at a rally in Kentucky yesterday: “It was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick [free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick] up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump… Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that.”
From the Bleacher Report article by Mike Freeman:
“He can still play at a high level,” one AFC general manager said. “The problem is three things are happening with him.
“First, some teams genuinely believe that he can’t play. They think he’s shot. I’d put that number around 20 percent.
“Second, some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team. I’d say that number is around 10 percent. Then there’s another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.
“Third, the rest genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem]. They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.”
No doubt, if you’re the general manager of an NFL team and you sign Kaepernick, you run the risk of Trump tweeting about you. But there are other factors at work here.
Kaepernick began 2016 competing with Blaine Gabbert for the starting job as quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, and then-coach
Mike Chip Kelly named Gabbert the starter to begin the season. Gabbert played pretty badly in the first five weeks, and Kaepernick won his starting job back, but… the results were still pretty ugly.
The 49ers were terrible last year, finishing 2-14. The team was near the bottom of the league in points scored and total yards per game and dead last in passing yards per game. Fans, analysts and coaches can argue how much of the blame falls on Kaepernick, who started 11 games and played in 12. He was sacked 36 times in that limited playing time last year. (Oof!) He had some great games, like his three-touchdown, 113-rushing yard day against Miami, and some awful ones, like his December collapse against the New York Jets, when he completed only 8 of 18 passes for 38 yards over the final three quarters and overtime. (This is reportedly one of the reasons the Jets weren’t interested in signing him, although it’s hard to picture Jets owner/longtime GOP fundraiser/U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Woody Johnson being a big Kaepernick fan.) If you’re wary about Kaepernick, there’s enough reason to worry that after 171 sacks and a level of play that has either plateaued or declined, his best years are behind him.
Now on to the quarterback’s highest-of-high-profile form of protest. Do you think Kaepernick’s sudden status as a political celebrity and the attending media attention helped the 49ers last season, hurt the 49ers, or had no difference? Even if the overwhelming media scrutiny was just a small hindrance, how many coaches and general managers want to take on that grief and aggravation? Putting together a winning season in the NFL is hard enough. Yes, Kaepernick said he won’t be kneeling during the national anthem this year. But what if there’s another high-profile case of police brutality or Kaepernick finds some other cause he’s willing to kneel for?
Right now it appears that to the NFL teams looking for a quarterback in the free agent market, Kaepernick represents too much risk for too little reward. Tomorrow that could change; the entire league is only one torn anterior cruciate ligament away from being turned upside down.
Separately… is it really the job of the President of the United States to keep controversial quarterbacks unsigned in the free agent market? Doesn’t the commander-in-chief have bigger things to worry about?
Last week, I was in Washington, sitting at lunch with a colleague of mine. I said I had to scoot off to the American Enterprise Institute to record a podcast with its president, Arthur Brooks. “The most interesting man in Washington, D.C.,” said my colleague.
You can hear Arthur Brooks on this Q&A.
We talk about some of the issues that have bubbled — roared — to the surface: nationalism, populism, “globalism.” Americans are a non-envious people, says Brooks. But, in tough times, we may claw at one another, like the French (à la française).
What we have now, says Brooks, is a “dignity gap”: a gap between those who can hold their head up and those who can’t, or think they can’t. This is a lousy gap. Everyone must have his dignity (a wholesome dignity).
Eventually, America will be back, says Brooks, and we will enjoy getting richer together. This is the “American magic.” Also, we will enjoy seeing people around the world prosper beside us.
I was charmed by the following statement (among many others that Brooks made): “This country was built by and for ambitious riff-raff.” May the ambitious riff-raff keep coming, and make this country boom.
Brooks is a musician and once made his living as a French-horn player. It did not especially satisfy him, however. He read what Bach said when asked why he wrote music. “The aim and final end of all music,” said the great composer, “should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” Brooks found his vocation, his true vocation. Economics and public policy? Sure — the kind that lifts the down and out into a much better life.
Enough of my scribbling. Our podcast, again, is here.
From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:
The FBI’s Coming Catch-22
FBI Director James Comey, testifying before Congress yesterday:
The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.
He later added, “We’ve been doing this — this investigation began in late July, so for counterintelligence investigation that’s a fairly short period of time.”
Late July? When did the FBI think it was pertinent to tell the public?
Talk about a Catch-22. If the FBI finds evidence of some collusion or violation of U.S. laws, it’s an epic scandal, will set up Democratic conspiracy theories for years, will take a sledgehammer to public faith in the Trump presidency… and everyone will rightly ask why the FBI couldn’t uncover anything, or even inform the public about the investigation, until after the election. Heck, not even until after the inauguration!
If the FBI doesn’t find evidence of some collusion or violation of U.S. laws, it’s an epic farce, where the Trump administration can rightfully ask where they can go to get their reputations back.
The jump headline on page A2 of this morning’s USA Today says Inquiry could drag on for years. I realize counter-intelligence investigations take a long time to do correctly and completely, but what is the consequence to Russia or any other foreign power if the consequences to their actions don’t arrive until years later?
In today’s Impromptus, I quote Bryce Harlow, the aide to Eisenhower and others: “Trust is the coin of the realm in Washington, D.C.” It is the coin elsewhere as well. When President Trump talks — no matter what he says, or tweets — there are people who say, “Oh, that’s Trump being Trump. Don’t take him so seriously, and certainly don’t take him literally!”
Well, what a president says is important. A lot of people believe him, whoever he is. And Americans want to believe their president. Why shouldn’t they? A president ought to tell the truth (like everyone else).
A post-modern, or post-truth, or alternative-truth, presidency should be desired by no one, of any political stripe.
Anyway, I begin my column today with an item on this theme. And I end with an item on LeBron James, the NBA star known as “King James.” Here on the Corner, I’d like to publish some mail. And speaking of King James …
You’ve had a couple of language notes recently on the King James Bible. This reminded me of something I heard on a podcast about the Bhagavad Gita. One of the most popular translations was done by a gentleman named Juan Mascaró in the ’60s. The BBC podhost said that, in his opinion, one reason that translation is so popular — particularly for young Hindus who grew up in the West (like me) — is that it’s redolent of the King James Bible. Those of a Western linguistic bent are drawn to it.
And before any SJWs start whining about “cultural appropriation,” my older relatives (born and raised in India, and students of Sanskrit) assure me that Mascaró’s translation is accurate linguistically and spiritually.
In an Impromptus last week, I had an item on Chance the Rapper, who recently donated $1 million to the Chicago public schools. He is a religious rapper, singing, “When the praises go up, the blessings come down.”
A student at Arizona State, Stefan Modrich, sent me a piece he wrote about Chance, religion, and politics. And in a note to me, he said,
Chance led a group of young voters to the polls in 2016, and most of them probably cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton. I’m not suggesting he could seamlessly be converted into some kind of Bruce Springsteen for the Right, but I would like to think that if he met with people like Mia Love, Ben Sasse, and Tim Scott, he could become a beacon for an entirely different — and refreshingly new — youth movement.
Start your day with Roger Scruton: Here’s my 10-minute podcast with him about his new book, On Human Nature.
It was so predictable I predicted it.
Following Belgium and the Netherlands, Canadian MDs have conjoined euthanasia and organ harvesting before it was specifically allowed in Canadian law. From the National Post story:
Doctors have already harvested organs from dozens of Canadians who underwent medically assisted death, a practice supporters say expands the pool of desperately needed organs, but ethicists worry could make it harder for euthanasia patients to voice a last-minute change of heart.
In Ontario, 26 people who died by lethal injection have donated tissue or organs since the federal law decriminalizing medical assistance in dying, or MAID, came into effect last June, according to information obtained by the Post. A total of 338 have died by medical assistance in the province.
Most of the 26 were tissue donors, which usually involves eyes, skin, heart valves, bones and tendons.
Allowing a person to consent to homicide–which is what we are talking about here–with the intention of organ donation, puts great pressure on despairing people who can come to think that their deaths are more valuable than their lives.
Even worse, society can come to see such people as so many organ farms too.
We are watching the most brutal and awful things transpire with barely a peep of protest.
Well, I will: Suicidal people need suicide prevention, not the implied encouragement of allowing their killing to be conjoined with organ procurement.
Charles Krauthammer said that the attention on the story that Trump’s wiretapping claims are wrong is the price of the president overshooting in the first place:
That’s the price of overshooting. There really is a case here, and Trey Gowdy, we would have expected, he made the case and he made it very strongly. There’s only one crime that we know about. There was the crime of the unmasking and leaking of the Flynn name. Who did it, what happened, why? We don’t know. But that’s the only crime that’s been established up until now. And Democrats are pretending there are other crimes of which nobody else has been able to vouch until now. If the president had not overshot with this ridiculous charge about the wiretap, that would’ve been a major discussion and it might’ve dominated the discussion. Right now, the story line is that the president was wrong. Everyone is now saying it. His own FBI director is saying it, speaking on behalf of all the Department of Justice, which is Trump’s own Department of Justice, which makes Spicer look ridiculous because it’s his own department saying the president was wrong. But that is the price of doing this kind of tweeting. I think as to the investigation of the collusion, I think the main story remains: As of today, there is zero evidence of it. And I think it’s unlikely there will be. The one thing that has happened is that the clock has now started for Comey. Once he has announced that there’s an investigation, people are going to say, “Well hurry up.” The same thing happened with Hillary. We’re waiting, we’re waiting, we’re waiting. I think it’s not going to be dragged out, and he’s going to have to make a dramatic presentation the same way he did with Hillary about her emails.
Judge Gorsuch’s opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee was a model of gratitude and grace. It stood in direct contrast to the bluster and boasting of the modern political moment and of the president who nominated him. He began (as any nominee should) by thanking the family members and mentors who made him the man — and judge — he is today, but his statement really took shape when he articulated the proper role of the judge:
Mr. Chairman, these days we sometimes hear judges cynically described a politicians in robes, seeking to enforce their own politics rather than striving to apply the law impartially. If I thought that were true, I’d hang up the robe. The truth is, I just don’t believe that’s what a life in the law is about. As a lawyer working for many years in the trial court trenches, I saw judges and juries – while human and imperfect – striving hard every day to fairly decide the cases I put to them. As a judge now for more than a decade I’ve watched my colleagues spend long days worrying over cases. Sometimes the answers we reach aren’t the ones we personally prefer. Sometimes the answers follow us home at night and keep us up. But the answers we reach are always the ones we believe the law requires. And for all its imperfections, I believe the rule of law in this nation truly is a wonder, and that it’s no wonder that it’s the envy of the world.
While Gorsuch may be excessively generous to at least some of his colleagues, it’s a beautiful statement about the proper role of the judiciary. He reaffirmed his commitment to the separation of powers later in his testimony, declaring:
If judges were just secret legislators, declaring not what the law is but what they would like it to be, the very idea of a government by the people and for the people would be at risk. And those who came before the court would live in fear, never sure exactly what the law requires of them, except for the judge’s will.
It was the end of his testimony, however, that was most powerful. Reflecting on a tombstone of a colonial-era lawyer and judge, a man named Increase Sumner, Judge Gorsuch quoted his epitaph:
As a lawyer, he was faithful and able. As a judge, patient, impartial, and decisive. In private life he was affectionate and mild. In public life he was dignified and firm. Party feuds were allayed by the correctness of his conduct. Calumny was silenced by the weight of his virtues, and rancor softened by the amenity of his manners.”
Gorsuch says those words guide him, serving for him as a “daily reminder of the law’s integrity, that a useful life can be led in its service, of the hard work it takes, and an encouragement to good habits when I fail and when I falter.” The evidence that he lives those values is found in the bipartisan acclaim for his courtesy and integrity. At today’s hearing, Americans saw a humble public servant, and in these troubled times, a little humility is exactly what America needs to see.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, used her ten-minute introduction during Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination hearing this morning to peddle the notion that Roe v. Wade — the 1973 landmark Supreme Court case legalizing abortion — is “super precedent.” This theory, that some court rulings cannot be reversed, has never been accepted by any U.S. court.
After submitting to the Senate’s record 14 Supreme Court cases and 39 other court decisions, all of which upheld Roe, Feinstein said, “If these judgments, when combined, do not constitute super precedent, I don’t know what does.”
No matter how much the Left loves the Supreme Court decision in Roe, neither that case nor any other constitutes “super precedent,” because super precedent does not exist.
This is just another attempt by Feinstein and Democratic senators to preserve Supreme Court decisions that they like, all while discrediting the decisions that fail to align with their political agenda.
There is much to criticize about the American Health Care Act and less to recommend it than one might have hoped. But, if our motto for the coming years is to take our victories where we find them – to take “Yes” for an answer when possible – then consider the endorsement from our friends at the National Right to Life Committee, which supports AHCA on the grounds that it prevents federal tax credits from being used to pay for insurance plans that fund abortion and that it eliminates (by NRLC’s estimate) “roughly 89 percent of federal Planned Parenthood funding for the next year.”
Both of these are desirable.
NRLC also supports AHCA on less persuasive policy grounds, that it preserves the tax-free status of employer-provided health insurance and that it postpones the “Cadillac tax” on more expensive health-care plans. While I understand the rationale for this, I would strongly prefer that the irrational and counterproductive link between employment and health insurance be severed as a necessary step toward truly consumer-driven markets for health insurance and, more important, health care. Like the “emergency” telephone tax first instituted to help fund the Spanish-American War, the link between employment and health insurance is a vestige of antique stupidity. One of the overlooked but inescapable problems with employer-provided plans is that even if you have a very good employer, your employer has different incentives than you do when it comes to health insurance. There are benefits to scale, of course, which is why employees of very large companies tend to have excellent health-insurance plans. But employer aggregation is not the only way, or necessarily the best way, to achieve that scale.
That being said, reducing the amount of public money directed into the outstretched and bloody hands of Planned Parenthood would be an excellent outcome — one that should be improved upon with standalone legislation in the future, irrespective of what happens with AHCA.
We’re now in the “throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” phase of the Democratic argument against Judge Neil Gorsuch.
At 7:50 this morning, NPR tweeted out a story with the shocking headline, “[Former] law student: Neil Gorsuch told ethics class firms should ask female applicants if they plan to have children.”
Jennifer Sisk, identified only as a lawyer in Colorado, wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee describing her experience in an April 19, 2016 class with Gorsuch at the University of Colorado Law School, in distinctly troubling terms: “Throughout this class, Judge Gorsuch continued to make it very clear that the question of commitment to work over family was one that only women had to answer for. . . . It concerned me that a man educating female lawyers would be discounting their worth publicly.”
Good heavens! What a nosy, inappropriate question! What an obvious justification for sexual discrimination or discrimination against parents! Just what kind of a Torquemada are we dealing with here, this rotten so-and-so . . .
Wait, wait, wait. Read further into the now-updated story on NPR’s web site, and we now learn . . .
“Sisk, once a staffer for former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado and the Interior Department during the Obama administration . . . ”
Oh. So it’s not that hard to imagine a motivation for her to remember her interaction with Gorsuch in the worst possible light, or misremember it completely.
It’s Sisk’s word against . . . well, other students, and plenty of female lawyers who say Gorsuch has helped them a great deal in their careers.
This characterization is being disputed by Will Hauptman, a current law student at the University of Colorado. Hauptman wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee with his account on Sunday.
“Although Judge Gorsuch did discuss some of the topics mentioned in the letter, he did not do so in the manner described,” Hauptman writes.
He continued, “The judge was very matter-of-fact in that we would face difficult decisions; he himself recalled working late nights when he had a young child with whom he wished to share more time. The seriousness with which the judge asked us to consider these realities reflected his desire to make us aware of them, not any animus against a career or group.”
A group of 11 female former law clerks for Gorsuch also submitted a letter to the committee in support of the nominee.
“We each have lived long enough and worked long enough to know gender discrimination when we see it. Some of us have experienced it professionally on occasion,” they write. “When we collectively say that Judge Gorsuch treats and values women fairly and without preference or prejudice based on their gender, we do not say that in a vacuum. We say it with the perspective of those who know that unfortunately, even in 2017, female lawyers are not always treated as equals.”
Heck of a job, NPR. Heck of a job.