You might just skip this edition if you can’t get full Wall Street Journal articles, as that’s all I’m quoting.
I gotta say I’m not missing the New York Times much. I’ve got the Washington Post for liberal balance. I don’t much need a paper whose editorial board so often takes hallucinogens before expostulating against the heartland.
The Supreme Court on Monday began the process of rebuking lower courts for usurping the political branches on national security. The entire Court, even the four liberals, agreed to hear the Trump Administration’s appeal of appellate-court rulings blocking its immigration travel ban, and the Justices allowed nearly all of the 90-day ban to proceed in the meantime.
This is a victory for the White House, though it is more important for the Constitution’s separation of powers. President Trump’s ban is neither wise nor necessary, but that is not an invitation for judges to become back-seat Commanders in Chief …
Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, wrote a concurrence arguing that the Court should have lifted the lower-court injunctions in toto. He also added a cheeky aside that “I agree with the Court’s implicit conclusion that the Government has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits—that is, that the judgments below will be reversed.”
(Review & Outlook; Appeared in the June 27, 2017, print edition as ‘A Unanimous Rebuke on the Travel Ban.’) Wish I could say “I told you so,” but I think I maintained an agnostic stance on this, as I’m not very conversant with immigration and with all the holes in separation of powers.
Chief Justice John Roberts overruled the state, noting that the church isn’t seeking a subsidy but only to participate in a public program “without having to disavow its religious character.” Denying it participation for that reason violates the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. The state “has not subjected anyone to chains or torture on account of religion,” Justice Roberts writes. “But the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand.”
One surprise in the ruling is that the majority included liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer. They may have been appeased by an intriguing footnote in which Chief Justice Roberts avers that the case “involves express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to playground resurfacing. We do not address religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination.”
(Review & Outlook) Of course, the CJ wrote the opinion; he did not overrule single-handedly.
American life expectancy is in decline for the first time since 1993, when H.I.V.-related deaths were at their peak. But this time, researchers can’t identify a single problem driving the drop, and are instead pointing to a number of factors, from heart disease to suicides, that have caused a greater number of deaths.
(James Freeman, Why Didn’t ObamaCare Make Us Healthier?)
Having reaffirmed a constitutional right to privacy that James Madison and the other Founders had somehow neglected to include in their draft, the court with Justice Kennedy’s assistance would soon unearth another constitutional right unmentioned in the Constitution: dignity.
What makes issues such as abortion and marriage so contentious is that the opposing moral positions cannot be reconciled. The beauty of democratic politics, however, is its recognition that what free people want and what they will settle for as reasonable are two different things. Justice Kennedy’s unfortunate legacy on these hot-button issues is to take compromise off the table and thus ensure anger and ill will.
And why not, when the sides are depicted as the enlightened versus the bigots? Though he walked it back in Obergefell, in which he conceded that many who opposed same-sex marriage were acting from “honorable religious or philosophical premises,” in the 2013 decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, Justice Kennedy asserted that the only possible motivation for such a law was a “bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group.”
Anthony Kennedy is an educated man who writes in the smooth tones of Stanford and Harvard Law. The effect, alas, is no less noxious. Next time America’s corrosive politics comes up, it’s worth remembering that the justice so often hailed as a “moderate” or “centrist” has done as much as any to fan the flames of America’s raging culture war.
(William McGurn, Anthony Kennedy, Culture Warrior)
On a much lighter note:
Early in spring training, Boston Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon approached newly acquired ace Chris Sale hoping to build a rapport with his latest battery mate. He wanted to learn about Sale’s preparation routine, his strategy for attacking opposing lineups and, most important, which pitches he preferred to throw in various situations.
Leon had posed these questions to every starter who joined his team. No one had ever responded like Sale.
“He told me, ‘I don’t shake, so that’s on you,’” Leon said.
Indeed, Sale has established himself as one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers by following a simple, but bizarre rule: Don’t shake off the catcher. Ever.
Leon confirmed that heading into Monday night’s outing against the Minnesota Twins, Sale hadn’t shaken off once. Tyler Flowers, who was behind the plate for 8,726 of Sale’s pitches for the Chicago White Sox between 2010 and 2015, said that over that entire span, Sale shook him off exactly once, sometime around 2014.
“I don’t want to disclose the reason,” said Flowers, now with the Atlanta Braves. “But there was one time, and it was for a specific reason.”
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