Today is my father’s 103rd birthday. I’m now officially past the "I wish he were still with us" stage (though he regularly appears in dreams), since he presumably would be pretty miserable if he were.
Yes, his 22nd birthday got quite a cloud over it.
How long, O Lord?
How many times do Republican- and Trump-appointed federal judges have to totally smack down Team Trump arguments before the mainstream media stop insinuating that Republican judges uniquely cannot separate law and politics?
Cage Fighting comes to SCOTUS
I listened to about an hour of Supreme Court Oral Argument in Monday’s 303 Creative case.
I thought I was confused because I’m old and rusty, but two younger, un-rusty commentators, Sara Isgur and David French, flagged the argument as very low-caliber and peppered with lurid hypotheticals designed not to explore the the implications of each advocate’s position, but to make the advocates whose arguments they disfavored look monstrous.
In other words, it was more like a televised Senate hearing than an ordinary Oral Argument. (Pro tip: if you consistently defend free speech, you can be “hypoed” into defending really abhorrent speech. Get a backbone.)
I am relieved. I may be rusty, but it was a poor argument, courtesy of the Justices.
Look for very sharp dissents from the justices on the losing side, because both sides seemed pretty heavily-invested.
An academic frames the question
The question is whether civil rights protections properly include the suppression of speech that disagrees with legal norms, or compels speech that celebrates those norms. Alternatively: do artists (including web designers) have the freedom to depict what subjects they wish, and how—even if they take money for doing it, and even if their perspective is hurtful (to some people)?
Moore v. Harper
Prof. Akhil Amar’s oddly-compelling, low-tech podcast had a couple of podcasts (October 26 and followup episodes with Steven Calabresi) on the Independent State Legislature doctrine purportedly at issue in Wednesday’s Moore v. Harper SCOTUS oral argument.
For the first time, though, I’m now feeling misled by Prof. Amar. Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal features two pieces, one by the Editorial Board and one by lawyers, casting the controversy in terms that seem to make Prof. Amar’s argument peripheral if not irrelevant to the real issues.
Prof. Amar legitimately notes that each state legislature is created by that state’s constitution, and the boundaries of the “legislature” vary according to things like whether the governor has veto power, thus making him a part of the legislative process. This matters because elections are unusually entrusted not to the states generally, but specifically to their legislatures.
The Wall Street Journal pieces legitimately note that under no sane construal are state courts part of the legislative process. Thus, state courts have no role in overseeing federal elections, though federal courts may.
That is perhaps an over-simplification, but it struck me as a powerful point against the backdrop of state courts making up anti-gerrymander rules not found explicitly in their state constitutions, or overruling the legislature’s absentee ballot deadlines in favor of their own.
Maybe litigants took more extreme positions, justifying Prof. Amar’s characterization of ISL’s danger.
I expect SCOTUS, as I almost always do, to adopt narrow reasoning in Moore v. Harper — to deal with the case(s) at hand without sweeping pronouncements that they might regret later.
P.S.: I listened to a half-hour or so of arguments in the case Wednesday, and it seems that SCOTUS views the case more as does Wall Street Journal, less as does Akhil Reed Amar.
Snivelling cowards cool on Florida Man
He used us to win the White House. We had to close our mouths and eyes when he said things that horrified us.
Mike Evans, a former member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, via Michelle Goldberg
You only had to close your mouth if you valued power and proximity over integrity. Don’t come snivelling to me now.
Pissing away Georgia — again
I’m gratified at the loss of Herschel Walker in the Georgia runoff for U.S. Senate.
I loved Walker as a football player. I probably could tolerate him as a former football player, bastard children and absentee fatherhood notwithstanding.
But his only claim to qualification for the U.S. Senate is that Florida Man endorsed him and encouraged him, despite patent unfitness intellectually. And when his sins found him out, his response was not that of a repentant Christian, but of someone with a sense of entitlement.
To drive a stake squarely through Florida Man’s heart, I only wish Walker had lost by more. He now has twice cost the GOP some national elective offices from Georgia that really should have been theirs:
All of this [context of Trump behavior] predictably helped make the runoff a fractal of the larger 2022 pattern: Under Trump’s influence, with Trump’s preferred candidates, the Republican Party first sacrificed a potential Senate majority and then sacrificed one more Senate seat for good measure.
Unrealistic, but instructive nonetheless
National Review’s Charlie Cooke would like a word with those arguing that, because Donald Trump’s call to suspend the Constitution won’t be heeded, it doesn’t really matter. “During the closing days of the 2020 election, I wrote repeatedly about the seriousness of Joe Biden’s refusal to reject his party’s growing demand to ‘pack’—i.e. destroy—the United States Supreme Court,” Cooke writes. “Not once did I receive an email from a Trump voter telling me that my alarm was misplaced on the grounds that, in all likelihood, Biden would not have the votes to do it. Back then—and rightly so—the mere fact that Biden was entertaining the idea was deemed instructive: ‘When people tell you what they want to do with power,’ my correspondents invariably opined, ‘you should believe them. Joe Biden cannot be trusted with power.’ Well, so it is with Donald Trump once again. … American patriots do not seek to overturn legitimate election results or recommend the suspension of the United States Constitution; they respect and defend both at all costs. Donald Trump is not a patriot. He is, in his heart of hearts, a tyrant. Take note, America.”
[S]ubordinating truth to politics is a game which tyrants and bullies always win.
Jonathan Rauch, The Constitution of Knowledge
To believe that wealth is the only significant measure of the worth of an individual, a family, or a community is to reject the teaching of nearly every religion and wisdom tradition that ever was.
Mark Mitchell and Nathan Schlueter, The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry
The Orthodox "phronema" [roughly, mind-set] cannot be programmitized or reduced to shibboleths.
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