Advertisement
412 posts
  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes a selfie with a man in New York.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes a selfie with a man in New York. (Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

There must be a lot of soul-searching going on among Democratic Party leaders today about what to make of the surprise upset of veteran Rep. Joe Crowley (D-New York) by newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Latina socialist Democrat in Tuesday’s primary.

Good. It’s time they had an honest self-appraisal when it comes to their support of issues people care about and that make the young candidates, particularly women and ethnic minorities, eager to participate. Couldn’t the party establishment see that this majority-minority district might go for a charismatic candidate over a middle-aged white guy incumbent? Now they look foolish and deserve a bit of mockery. Well, maybe not all of it.

(I’m betting not being nice enough to Trump was not a factor in the outcome of this Democratic Party primary. Or any of them. Ever.)

Advertisement
  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, center, joins other Supreme Court justices and officials at President Trump's inauguration in 2017.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, center, joins other Supreme Court justices and officials at President Trump's inauguration in 2017. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement will have President Trump and Senate Republicans racing to name and confirm a replacement before the November elections, when there’s an outside chance that Republicans will lose control of the Senate. (It’s an outside chance because far more Democrats are up for reelection than Republicans.)

On first blush, you might think the clock is on the Democrats’ side. After all, there aren’t many legislative days left before the elections, even with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) keeping the chamber in session through the traditional August recess. And it typically takes months for the White House to vet judges and select a nominee.

It’s the safest of safe bets that Trump will have a nominee in short order, however. The president updated his published “Supreme Court Shortlist” in November, which included many names suggested by conservative legal scholars. And remember, it took Trump less than two weeks after his inauguration to pick Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia; the vacancy had been kept open by McConnell and his fellow Republicans, who refused even to hold a hearing on President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.

Advertisement

Editor's note: This article was originally published April 10, 2017. We are resurfacing it from the archives with a new headline in the wake of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision to retire from the Supreme Court.

Two persistent themes mark the Trump administration: Spontaneity, and cruelty. Late Tuesday night, U.S. District Court Judge Dana M. Sabraw in San Diego ordered the government to end one product of those two themes – separating migrant children from their parents. The judge also ordered the government to reunite the families within 30 days, or within 14 days for minors under the age of 5.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
A U.S. judge ordered that migrant families separated by the government must be reunited.
A U.S. judge ordered that migrant families separated by the government must be reunited. (AFP/Getty Images)

A federal judge in San Diego late Tuesday managed to achieve something the president and Congress have failed to do: Resolve President Trump’s self-inflicted crisis of separating children from their migrant parents.

It turns out the solution is pretty simple: Reunite them. Judge Dana M. Sabraw gave the government 30 days to get all the kids back with their parents, and 14 days for kids under the age of 5.

Advertisement
  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
President Trump speaks at the White House on Tuesday before awarding the Medal of Honor posthumously to 1st Lt. Garlin Conner.
President Trump speaks at the White House on Tuesday before awarding the Medal of Honor posthumously to 1st Lt. Garlin Conner. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

What matters most in the Supreme Court’s decision in Trump vs. Hawaii is the bottom line: a 5-4 ruling that the president didn’t violate the law or the Constitution in imposing the third version of what he himself calls a travel ban. The outcome of the case fully justifies Trump’s exuberant tweet this morning: “SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!”

But if Trump reads Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s majority opinion and a concurring opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, he might be less jubilant. Both justices made it clear that, while they believe Trump acted lawfully in blocking the entry of foreign visitors and immigrants from several mostly Muslim-majority nations, they weren’t endorsing Trump’s ugly statements about Muslims.

In the case of Roberts’ opinion for the court, you had to squint to see the criticism between the lines. After citing Trump’s various problematic statements about Muslims — including his notorious campaign proposal for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” — Roberts wrote:

  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Japanese Americans wait for their assigned homes at the Manzanar internment camp in 1942.
Japanese Americans wait for their assigned homes at the Manzanar internment camp in 1942. (Associated Press, file)

There’s an odd irony in Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision upholding President Trump’s ban on travelers from some predominantly Muslim countries. While insisting that the controversial travel ban was crafted in a legal manner, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., almost as an aside, issued a long-overdue rejection of the court’s notorious 1944 Korematsu decision, which allowed the government, in the interest of national security, to force 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans from their homes and place them in internment camps.

The internment was among the darkest and most shameful moments in American history, and the court’s acquiescence is generally viewed as among its biggest mistakes, along with the 1857 Dred Scott decision that African Americans — free or slave — were not citizens, and the 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson decision that upheld segregation and Jim Crow laws.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
 President Trump and Vice President Pence prepare to meet with Harley-Davidson representatives at the White House on Feb. 2, 2017.
President Trump and Vice President Pence prepare to meet with Harley-Davidson representatives at the White House on Feb. 2, 2017. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Hell hath no fury like this president scorned.

Iconic U.S. motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson announced Monday that it was shifting more production overseas in response to a 31% tariff the European Union agreed last week to slap on its products. The EU imposed the levy, which would add about $2,200 to the price of a bike, in response to the tariffs President Trump unilaterally imposed on global steel and aluminum imports in the name of national security.

Trump tweeted Monday that he was surprised that Harley-Davidson would “wave the White Flag” because “ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the E.U.” The president seemed to be saying that he’s not really serious about imposing tariffs or starting a trade war — a suggestion echoed, kinda sorta, by Trump trade advisor Peter Navarro on Monday afternoon in a successful bid to calm a tanking stock market. The EU, obviously, thinks otherwise.

Advertisement
The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld President Trump's authority to ban entrants to the U.S. from certain countries.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld President Trump's authority to ban entrants to the U.S. from certain countries. (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)

The third time was the charm. The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the third iteration of President Trump’s travel ban on people from some predominantly Muslim-majority countries was facially neutral and that the government had “set forth a sufficient national security justification” for the policy. That’s the legal threshold. But only an amnesiac would forget the clear animus to immigrants — with a special nasty focus on Muslims — that Trump exhibited on the campaign trail and that that propelled this foolish and counterproductive policy.

One of the first things Trump did after taking office was to act on his campaign statement that he wanted a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the U.S. That position was forged in reaction to violent attacks around the world by Islamic extremists – including the mass shooting in San Bernardino by an American-born Muslim and his Pakistani wife – and the then-raging war against Islamic State, and it was framed by deplorable perceptions among Trump and his nativist advisors that the actions of the few indicted the many.

  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
The Supreme Court sent a case from Washington state about a florist back to a lower court.
The Supreme Court sent a case from Washington state about a florist back to a lower court. (Molly Riley / AFP-Getty Images)

Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission — a.k.a. the “gay-wedding cake case” — ended anticlimactically earlier this month. The Supreme Court ruled for Christian baker Jack Phillips, who refused to “create” a wedding cake for a gay couple, but it did so based on a secondary, more procedural issue.

On Monday the court essentially sidestepped a similar case involving a florist in Washington state that might have allowed it to confront the issues it dodged in the wedding-cake case. Instead, it asked the Washington Supreme Court to give the case further consideration in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling.

In appealing a finding that he had violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, Phillips had made two 1st Amendment arguments.  One was that being required to use his talents to create a cake for a same-sex wedding celebration was a form of "compelled speech"; the other was that it would violate his right to the free exercise of religion.