September 23, 2019

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Did House Democrats Buy Moderate Votes on Global Warming Bill?

Posted by: Peter Roff on Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 1:50:48 am Comments (0)

For the U.S. News Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Back in the days when the Republicans controlled the U.S. House of Representatives, the Democrats repeatedly accused them of abusing the power of the majority to further their agenda. In one particularly onerous charge, repeated for days in the media, they accused the GOP of trying to "buy" the support of then-Rep. Nick Smith, R-Mich., for President Bush's signature Prescription Drug Reform package with the promise of campaign contributions for his son, who Smith hoped would succeed him in Congress.

To show how seriously the Democrats took the issue, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., stood in the well of the House in December of 2005 to offer a privileged resolution which, in part, accused the Republicans of "bullying and threatening Members to vote against their conscience."

Pelosi's resolution, which also accused the Republicans of "violat(ing) their own rules and the customs and decorum of the House to win votes," called on then-Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., to take whatever actions might be necessary to prevent further abuse of the House rules.

But that was a long time ago. Things are different now that Pelosi is Speaker and the Democrats have a comfortable majority—or are they?

On Friday Politico's Mike Thrush reported on what the publication called a "Big Dem cash dump on eve of climate vote." Thrush wrote that, "Three House Democratic leaders who were whipping members on the climate change bill gave tens of thousands in campaign cash to party moderates around the time of the 219-212 vote on June 26, according to Federal Election Commission records."

And one of those leaders doling out money was, don't get ahead of me, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Thrush does allow that not all those Democrats who got money voted to pass the Waxman-Markey legislation but the timing of the contributions is suspicious.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who co-authored the bill, and who gave at least $16,000 in contributions to members who voted "Yes" on his bill, said through a spokesman that the contributions were nothing more than the usual "end-of-quarter activity." Which sounds a lot like the kind of thing the Republicans might have said when they were in the majority.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A new post from the U.S. News & World Report Opinion Blog

Posted by: Peter Roff on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 3:40:40 pm Comments (0)

Sotomayor Does Not View the Constitution as "Settled Law"

By Peter Roff, for the Thomas Jefferson Street blog

An exchange between Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl and Sonia Sotomayor during her first day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee made me think of Animal House. Kohl, who before becoming a constitutional scholar was the owner of a professional basketball team, quizzed Sotomayor on her views about privacy as relates to the U.S. Constitution. "As you know Judge," he asked Sotomayor, "the landmark case of Griswold v. Connecticut guarantees that there is a fundamental constitutional right to privacy as it applies to contraception. Do you agree with that? In your opinion, is that settled law?"

"That is the precedent of the court, so it is settled law," she said.

...continue reading.





Monday, July 13, 2009

Sotomayor: Another Potential Blow To Property Rights

Posted by: Andrew Langer on Monday, July 13, 2009 at 1:44:31 pm Comments (2)

The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor has brought all manner of reaction from across the political spectrum, positive and negative, liberal and conservative. The comment was raised on my Facebook page that Sotomayor was "inspiring and refreshing", to which someone responded, "Inspiring and refreshing is for the newest "fashiontini" not a Supreme Court Justice."

I'm not a lawyer, but between the ages of 16 and 28 I worked for and with lawyers, and for 4 years was the reader to a blind environmental lawyer. One of his areas of expertise was private property rights, and I developed a real passion for the subject.

I have continued to be dismayed with what Justice Scalia termed as the "relegation of property rights to the status of a poor relation". We were warned about Justice Roberts' view of the mutability of private property rights, even coming on the heels of the Kelo decision, and our concerns were justified when Roberts paved the way for further erosion of property rights in the Jones v. Flower decision (I wrote on that here: ).

And now we have Judge Sotomayor, who, apparently, could be even worse. The noted law professor, Richard Epstein, has this to say in a piece at Forbes ( ):

"Here is one straw in the wind that does not bode well for a Sotomayor appointment. Justice Stevens of the current court came in for a fair share of criticism (all justified in my view) for his expansive reading in Kelo v. City of New London (2005) of the "public use language." Of course, the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment is as complex as it is short: "Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." But he was surely done one better in the Summary Order in Didden v. Village of Port Chester issued by the Second Circuit in 2006. Judge Sotomayor was on the panel that issued the unsigned opinion--one that makes Justice Stevens look like a paradigmatic defender of strong property rights.

"I have written about Didden in Forbes. The case involved about as naked an abuse of government power as could be imagined. Bart Didden came up with an idea to build a pharmacy on land he owned in a redevelopment district in Port Chester over which the town of Port Chester had given Greg Wasser control. Wasser told Didden that he would approve the project only if Didden paid him $800,000 or gave him a partnership interest. The "or else" was that the land would be promptly condemned by the village, and Wasser would put up a pharmacy himself. Just that came to pass. But the Second Circuit panel on which Sotomayor sat did not raise an eyebrow. Its entire analysis reads as follows: "We agree with the district court that [Wasser's] voluntary attempt to resolve appellants' demands was neither an unconstitutional exaction in the form of extortion nor an equal protection violation."

"Maybe I am missing something, but American business should shudder in its boots if Judge Sotomayor takes this attitude to the Supreme Court. Justice Stevens wrote that the public deliberations over a comprehensive land use plan is what saved the condemnation of Ms. Kelo's home from constitutional attack. Just that element was missing in the Village of Port Chester fiasco. Indeed, the threats that Wasser made look all too much like the "or else" diplomacy of the Obama administration in business matters.

"Jurisprudentially, moreover, the sorry Didden episode reveals an important lesson about constitutional law. It is always possible to top one bad decision (Kelo) with another (Didden). This does not augur well for a Sotomayor appointment to the Supreme Court. The president should have done better, and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans alike, should subject this dubious nomination to the intense scrutiny that it deserves."

Attacking First Responders is a Poor Strategy

Posted by: Peter Roff on Monday, July 13, 2009 at 12:17:06 pm Comments (0)

Over the weekend the McClatchy news chain reported that supporters of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor were urging members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to attack "troubled and litigious work history" of firefighter Frank Ricci, the lead plantiff in the workplace discrimination case upon which, in essence, Judge Sotomayor recently ruled - and on which she was overturned by the United States Supreme Court.

To be clear -- attacking first responders in an effort to burnish the credentials of a presidential nominee for any office is a bad strategy.

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