Over the weekend, the LA Times had an interesting profile of Justice Clarence Thomas who has now been on the bench for 20 years. Of note,
Each summer, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas invites his four new law clerks to his home to watch a movie.
Not just any movie, but the 1949 film version of the classic of libertarian conservatism, Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.”
The movie’s hero, played by Gary Cooper, is an idealistic but stubborn architect, who, as Rand wrote, “stood alone against the men of his time.” A character, it might be said, a lot like Thomas himself. “If you think you are right, there is nothing wrong with being the only one,” he said last year in explaining his fondness for the movie. “I have no problem being the only one.”
Yesterday, the statue of Ronald Reagan in London was unveiled, commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth. A nice way for the Brits to say Happy Fourth of July, for sure.
In the wake of the Sixth Circuit’s recent ruling on ObamaCare, the Volokh Conspiracy’s Orin Kerr asks What Should Conservative Lower Court Judges Do With Liberal Supreme Court Precedents?
The underlying question, I think, is what conservatives and libertarians want conservative lower-court judges to do with liberal Supreme Court precedents. There are two basic options, I think. My sense is that some conservatives and libertarians want those lower-court judges to bend the law to try to correct what they see as the Supreme Court’s mistakes. They should construe ambiguity to push the law in the right direction, and generally try to push and prod the law in to make it better (“right” and “better” at least from a conservative/libertarian perspective). From that perspective, Judge Sutton’s opinion is a failure, much like Judge Easterbrook’s opinion in McDonald was a failure.
On the other hand, others would say that lower-court judges should apply those liberal Supreme Court precedents honestly and fairly just as they should all Supreme Court precedents. From this perspective, lower court judges should be ignoring the perceived correctness or incorrectness of Supreme Court precedents (or their political valences) and instead should just apply them as legal technocrats would: The job of lower court judge is just to be faithful to the Supreme Court’s precedents, and not to be faithful to some broader vision of the Constitution. From that perspective, Judge Sutton’s opinion is a success, I think, much like Judge Easterbrook’s opinion in McDonald was a success.
The ObamaCare Tanning Tax hit the one year mark on Friday and our friends at Americans for Tax Reform marked the occasion by providing a full list of the ObamaCare tax hikes. Here are just a few:
5. Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans (Tax hike of $32 bil/takes effect Jan. 2018)
6. Hike in Medicare Payroll Tax (Tax hike of $86.8 bil/takes effect Jan. 2013)
7. Medicine Cabinet Tax (Tax hike of $5 bil/took effect Jan. 2011)
8. HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike (Tax hike of $1.4 bil/took effect Jan. 2011)
For any of our readers who aren’t yet on board in opposing the militarization of our police forces as a byproduct of the failed drug war, you should consider the story of Cory Maye out of Mississippi. This post from December 2010 provides a primer and here is a page of all related posts. This is tough reading, but if you are inclined to give full-throated support to SWAT-like raids in executing drug war search warrants, I suggest you at least know what this means in real life. Radley Balko posted an update including a letter from Cory Maye on Friday. Consider also checking out Reason.tv’s coverage of the May 10 taser killing of 42-year-old Allen Kephart.
The second-quarter of political fundraising concluded last week, and Political Diary discussed the GOP presidential field:
Mitt Romney remains the underwhelming GOP frontrunner. His campaign reports raising between $15 million and $20 million, which gives him a healthy lead over the rest of the field but falls short of the $21 million he raised at this stage in 2007.
Among those who have tipped their second-quarter hands so far, Texas Congressman Ron Paul placed second at a distant $4.5 million. Tim Pawlenty came in third with a disappointing $4.2 million, evidence perhaps that his poor debate performance isn’t hurting him just in the polls. The former Minnesota governor is barely ahead of his old Utah colleague, Jon Huntsman, who clocked $4.1 million, despite the fact that the Utahan had been in the race a shorter period of time. Businessman Herman Cain, meanwhile, found himself down a tier, pulling in $2.5 million.
The real wild card is Michele Bachmann. The Minnesota congresswoman plans to wait until the July 15 deadline to reveal her numbers, but she is expected to have finished second overall. The suspense is whether she finished closer to Mr. Romney or Mr. Paul.
At this point in the last cycle, candidates like Rudy Giuliani had raised $17 million, while even Democratic also-ran Bill Richardson brought in $7 million. The drop-off is partly due to the recession, but it also could reflect dissatisfaction among big and small donors alike.
By the way, whoever wins the nomination will have a long way to go to catch President Obama. His campaign set $60 million as its second-quarter target and is expected to surpass that amount.
Check out the Cook Political Report for more New Mexico specific numbers here.
Speaking of voter dissatisfaction, check out today’s video from last week’s Stossel special regarding the new book “Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America”
On Friday, Michael Swickard had an interesting column at NMPolitics.net on the consent of the governed:
The most important duty we have as Americans is to ensure our Constitution is not perverted, since it is the rule book for our government. Alas, the power the government has over citizens has increased over the years outside of the method prescribed in the Constitution.
At all times each citizen must consent to be governed if we are to live in a free society. Without our consent there is no legitimate government. We must decide when we will and will not give our consent.
Our country began because of an unjust government. The Declaration of Independence said we would no longer consent to be governed by England. They did not consent to our withholding our consent, so there was the Revolutionary War. We won the chance to be free as long as we remain willing to fight for our freedom.
New Mexico’s Rail Runner Express could be on track for a fiscal train wreck.
That, as much as the need to address a projected $1.2 million shortfall in the train’s operating budget for the fiscal year that began Friday, was behind the controversial decision to discontinue weekend service.
Los Ranchos Mayor Larry Abraham, vice chairman of the railroad’s governing board, said the move was a wake-up call about a looming financial crisis and the future of the Belen to Santa Fe commuter rail system.
* * *
Using current revenue, operation expense and debt service, [Abraham] calculates the Rail Runner will have cost $1.3 billion but generated just $60 million in fares by the time bonds are paid off in 2027.
In the short term, tax revenues designated for the train and fares paid by riders fall short of even operating expenses. And the state, struggling with its own budget problems, is already paying millions of dollars in interest on the train each year.
The immediate funding hole is caused by the expiration of a federal clean air grant. The weekend service cut, which came on a 6-5 vote June 17, makes up for that.
* * *
Dewey Cave, executive director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments, which manages Rail Runner, said a fare increase is “on the table.” However, Rail Runner would require a 40 percent fare increase to overcome a $1.2 million shortfall, he said.
A significant fare increase has the potential to push down ridership, Cave said.
* * *
Cave said the system can likely find savings by cutting operating costs, eliminating some under-used trains and other strategies.
But Abraham said the Rail Runner “will die a slow death” unless the state finds ways of increasing ridership and better aligning the train system with the state’s tourism industry.
New Mexico soldier Leroy Arthur Petry will receive the Medal of Honor, only the second living recipient from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Below is the summary of his brave actions provided by the Army News Service:
At the time of his actions in Afghanistan, Petry was assigned to Company D, 2nd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Petry’s actions came as part of a rare daylight raid to capture a high-value target.
On the day of the actions that would earn Petry the Medal of Honor, he was to locate himself with the platoon headquarters in the target building once it was secured. Once there, he was to serve as the senior noncommissioned officer at the site for the remainder of the operation.
Recognizing one of the assault squads needed assistance clearing their assigned building, Petry relayed to the platoon leader that he was moving to that squad to provide additional supervision and guidance during the clearance of the building.
Once the residential portion of the building had been cleared, Petry took a fellow member of the assault squad, Pvt. 1st Class Lucas Robinson, to clear the outer courtyard. Petry knew that area had not been cleared during the initial clearance.
Petry and Robinson, both Rangers, moved into an area of the compound that contained at least three enemy fighters who were prepared to engage friendly forces from opposite ends of the outer courtyard.
The two Soldiers entered the courtyard. To their front was an opening followed by a chicken coop. As the two crossed the open area, an enemy insurgent fired on them. Petry was wounded by one round, which went through both of his legs. Robinson was also hit in his side plate by a separate round.
While wounded and under enemy fire, Petry led Robinson to the cover of the chicken coop. The enemy continued to deliver fire at the two Soldiers.
As the senior Soldier, Petry assessed the situation and reported that contact was made and that there were two wounded Rangers in the courtyard of the primary target building.
Upon hearing the report of two wounded Rangers, Sgt. Daniel Higgins, a team leader, moved to the outer courtyard. As Higgins was moving to Petry and Robinson’s position, Petry threw a thermobaric grenade in the vicinity of the enemy position.
Shortly after that grenade exploded — which created a lull in the enemy fire — Higgins arrived at the chicken coop and assessed the wounds of the two Soldiers.
While Higgins evaluated their wounds, an insurgent threw a grenade over the chicken coop at the three Rangers. The grenade landed about 10 meters from the three Rangers, knocked them to the ground, and wounded Higgins and Robinson. Shortly after the grenade exploded, Staff Sgt. James Roberts and Spc. Christopher Gathercole entered the courtyard, and moved toward the chicken coop.
With three Soldiers taking cover in the chicken coop, an enemy fighter threw another grenade at them. This time, the grenade landed just a few feet from Higgins and Robinson.
Recognizing the threat that the enemy grenade posed to his fellow Rangers, Petry — despite his own wounds and with complete disregard for his personal safety — consciously and deliberately risked his life to move to and secure the live enemy grenade and consciously throw the grenade away from his fellow Rangers, according to battlefield reports.
As Petry released the grenade in the direction of the enemy, preventing the serious injury or death of Higgins and Robinson, it detonated and catastrophically amputated his right hand.
With a clear mind, Petry assessed his wound and placed a tourniquet on his right arm. Once this was complete, he reported that he was still in contact with the enemy and that he had been wounded again.
After the blast that amputated Petry’s hand, Roberts began to engage the enemy behind the chicken coop with small arms fire and a grenade. His actions suppressed the insurgents behind the chicken coop. Shortly after, another enemy on the east end of the courtyard began firing, fatally wounding Gathercole.
Higgins and Robinson returned fire and killed the enemy.