Pilots navigating the Far East this December have a new UFO to watch. Although it’s not exactly unidentified, and not a cheery holiday jaunt by Santa’s reindeer, either. North Korea is planning a new missile launch (Washington Times), an event which has certainly caught the attention of the Pacific Rim. The U.S. Navy will dispatch two warships to track developments, while Japan will attempt to shoot the missile down should it breach its airspace. The shoot is intended to celebrate the life of Kim Jong-Il, the recently deceased dictator of the rogue state.
While global diplomatic and military establishments deal with this latest provocation, pilots need to tend to their latest NOTAM- Notice to Airmen, which in this case means practice situation awareness and be ready to avoid the damn thing if necessary, as described in this video by TheJapanChannelDcom.
Originally posted at Center for Security Policy By Frank Gaffney, Jr.
It is a commonplace, but one that most of us ignore: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That applies in spades to a proposal under active consideration by the school board in Virginia’s Loudoun County. It would use taxpayer funds to create a charter school to equip the children of that Washington exurb with enhanced skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Ostensibly, they will thus be equipped to compete successfully in the fields expected to be at the cutting edge of tomorrow’s workplace.
What makes this initiative, dubbed the Loudoun Math and IT Academy (LMITA), too good to be true? Let’s start with what is acknowledged about the proposed school.
LMITA’s board is made up of a group of male Turkish expatriates. One of them, Fatih Kandil, was formerly the principal of the Chesapeake Science Point (CSP) Public Charter School in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Another is Ali Bicak, the board president of the Chesapeake Lighthouse Foundation, which owns CSP and two other charter schools in Maryland. The LMITA applicants expressly claim that Chesapeake Science Point will be the model for their school.
The taxpayers of Loudoun County and the school board elected to represent them should want no part of a school that seeks to emulate Chesapeake Science Point, let alone be run by the same people responsible for that publicly funded charter school. For one thing, CSP has not proven to be the resounding academic success the applicants claim. It does not appear anywhere in the acclaimed US News and World Report lists of high-performing schools in Maryland, let alone nationwide – even in the subsets of STEM or charter schools.
What is more, according to public documents chronicling Anne Arundel Public Schools’ dismal experience with CSP, there is significant evidence of chronic violations of federal, state and local policies and regulations throughout its six years of operations, with little or inconsistent improvement, reflecting deficiencies in fiscal responsibility and organizational viability.
Why, one might ask, would applicants for a new charter school cite so deeply problematic an example as their proposed institution? This brings us to aspects of this proposal that are not acknowledged.
Chesapeake Science Point is just one of five controversial schools with which Mr. Kandil has been associated: He was previously: the director at the Horizon Science Academy in Dayton, Ohio; the principal at the Wisconsin Career Academy in Milwaukee and at the Baltimore Information Technology Academy in Maryland; and one of the applicants in a failed bid to establish the First State Math and Science Academy in Delaware.
These schools have something in common besides their ties to the peripatetic Fatih Kandil. They have all been “inspired” by and in other ways are associated with Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish supremacist and imam with a cult-like following of up to six million Muslims in Turkey and elsewhere around the world. More to the point, Gulen is the reclusive and highly autocratic leader of a global media, business, “interfaith dialogue” and education empire said to be worth many billions and that is run from a compound in the Poconos.
This empire – including its roughly 135 charter schools in this country and another 1,000 abroad – and its adherents have come to be known as the Gulen Movement. But those associated with it, in this country at least, are assiduously secretive about their connections to Imam Gulen or his enterprise. For example, the LMITA applicants, their spokeswoman and other apologists have repeatedly misled the Loudoun school board, claiming that these Turkish gentlemen and their proposed school havenothing to do with Gulen.
There are several possible reasons for such professions. For one, the Gulen schools are said to be under investigation by the FBI. A growing number of them – including Chesapeake Science Point – have also come under critical scrutiny from school boards and staff around the country. In some cases, they have actually lost their charters for, among other reasons, chronic financial and other mismanagement and outsourcing U.S. teachers’ jobs to Turks.
The decisive reason for the Gulenist lack of transparency,however, may be due to their movement’s goals and modus operandi. These appear aligned with those of another secretive international organization that also adheres to the Islamic doctrine known as shariah and seeks to impose it worldwide: the Muslim Brotherhood. Both seek to accomplish this objective by stealth in what the Brotherhood calls “civilization jihad” and Gulen’s movement describes as “jihad of the word.”
This practice enabled the Gulenists to help transform Turkey from a reliable, secular Muslim NATO ally to an Islamist state deeply hostile to the United States – one aligned with other Islamic supremacists, from Iran to the Muslim Brotherhood to Hamas to al Qaeda. Fethullah Gulen’s followers clearly don’t want us alive to the obvious dangers posed by their penetration of our educational system and influence over our kids.
The good news is that members of the Loudoun County school board have a code of conduct which reads in part: “I have a moral and civic obligation to the Nation which can remain strong and free only so long as public schools in the United States of America are kept free and strong.” If the board members adhere to this duty, they will reject a seductive LMITA proposal that is way too “good” to be true.
From Firing Line, William F Buckley Jr hosts a discussion on social justice with George Roche III (Hillsdale College) and Noble Laureate economist F. A. Hayek. http://www.LibertyPen
New Survey Data Shows That ‘Three In Four Voters Want To Cut Government Spending Across The Board’
76 Percent: ‘Cut Government Spending Across The Board’
“For the first time, after the fiscal cliff dominated the conversation during the month following the election, government spending and the budget deficit narrowly edged out ‘the economy’ as the most important issue to voters.” (Politico, 12/10/12)
Battleground Poll: “Three in four voters want to ‘cut government spending across the board’ …” (Politico, 12/10/12)
· Q: “Do you favor or oppose this proposal to reduce the federal budget deficit? … Cutting government spending across the board: Favor Strongly – 59%; Favor Somewhat – 17%.” (“Battleground 2012,” 12/2-6/12)
‘59 Percent Reject’ WH Demand For Unlimited Debt Power
The Hill Poll: “Strong majorities, however, oppose proposals that have been part of early talks — particularly Obama’s request for unilateral authority to raise the debt ceiling. According to the poll, 59 percent reject the president’s demand that Congress give up power to set the country’s borrowing limit.” (The Hill, 12/10/12)
Spending Daily | December 10, 2012
Bankrupting America Launches Deficit Reduction Plan Resource Center
Can’t remember the details of all those deficit reduction plans being proposed by various organizations and members of Congress? Bankrupting America has the solution. Bankrupting America, a project of Public Notice, today launched the Deficit Reduction Plan Resource Center, a one-stop shop for anyone looking to compare and analyze the competing deficit reduction proposals offered to avert the fiscal cliff.
“Track Wasteful Spending? There’s an App for That”
Breitbart reports, “A new iPhone app released Thursday by fiscal conservative group Public Notice aims to put wasteful spending in the spotlight, just as debate surrounding the fiscal cliff heats up. According to a release, the app ‘geographically targets users’ news feeds to ensure they are informed of the latest national and local news on government spending and budget issues.’ The app also allows users to highlight examples identified by them of outrageous spending and waste by enabling them to ‘upload photos or videos of wasteful spending examples in their communities.’”
NYT: Revenue From Higher Tax Rates Barely Scratches The Surface
The New York Times reports, “Despite hints in recent days that President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner might compromise on the tax rate to be paid by top earners, a host of other knotty tax questions could still derail a deal to avert a fiscal crisis in January. The math shows why. Even if Republicans were to agree to Mr. Obama’s core demand — that the top marginal income rates return to the Clinton-era levels of 36 percent and 39.6 percent after Dec. 31, rather than stay at the Bush-era rates of 33 percent and 35 percent — the additional revenue would be only about a quarter of the $1.6 trillion that Mr. Obama wants to collect over 10 years. That would be abouthalf of the $800 billion that Republicans have said they would be willing to raise. Together those changes would raise $407.4 billion over a decade — nearly as much as the president’s proposal on higher rates, which would raise $441.6 billion by 2023, for a total of $849 billion. Another $119 billion would come from higher estate taxes, opposed by Republicans and some Democrats.”
President Obama’s Former Advisers Pressing White House On Entitlement Reform
President Obama’s former chairman of the Council on Economic Advisers, Austan Goolsbee, believes entitlement reform is essential to a long-term solution to our debt crisis, telling the National Review (NRO) that any solution must contain “cuts on discretionary and entitlement spending.” The National Review reports Goolsbee said that without entitlement reform, “there will be groups that say ‘I shouldn’t have to sacrifice because X other group didn’t give up anything.’” NRO also notes, “[f]ormer Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag is also speaking out in favor of reforming entitlements, and urging his fellow Democrats to do the same. ‘Democrats should affirmatively want entitlement reform that is progressive and puts the crucial programs on a sounder footing,’ Orszag wrote in Bloomberg earlier this week.”
Leading Democrats Moving Towards Means Testing Medicare
The Hill reports, “Leading Democratic lawmakers have suggested that raising premiums for wealthy Medicare beneficiaries could be a matter of common ground with Republicans in the ongoing deficit-reduction talks. ‘I think that is reasonable and certainly consistent with the Democratic message that those who are better off in our country should be willing to pay a little more,’ Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Thursday. … Durbin is not the only Democrat who has suggested he would be open to more means testing as part of a final deal. Last week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) called the idea ‘somewhat attractive’ as a bargaining chip for talks on the so-called fiscal cliff. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) remarked that ‘Donald Trump may need medication, but he certainly doesn’t need the government to pay for it.’ And Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) called means testing a good way to bolster Medicare’s budget without cutting benefits.”
IMF’s Lagarde: Fiscal Cliff Deal That Fails To Address Spending, Entitlements “Insufficient”
Bloomberg reports, “International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said a political agreement on the U.S. budget should be comprehensive because a minimal deal would fail to provide certainty for investors Markets would sink without measures to avoid more than $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases due to come into force next year, Lagarde said, according to a transcript of a taped interview for today’s ‘CNN’s State of the Union’ program. Still, an agreement that would only extend tax cuts for the middle class without addressing spending or entitlements would be insufficient to reassure the rest of the world, she said. … Lagarde, who at the IMF helm has been consumed by the European debt crisis, said the turmoil there is less of a risk for the U.S. economy than the fiscal cliff.”
Shrinking Workforce Driving The Decline In Jobless Rate
The Washington Examiner editorializes, on Friday’s jobs report, writing, “People are simply giving up on this economy. Superficially, the numbers seemed good: The official rate fell from 7.9 percent to 7.7 percent, according to the Labor Department. The more expansive U-6 number, which unlike the official rate includes the underemployed jobless and discouraged, fell to 14.4 percent from 14.6 percent. … What is driving the decline in the jobless rate, though, is not the expansion of the economy, it is the shrinkage of the workforce. The number of Americans reporting they had jobs actually fell by 122,000 last month. The only reason the unemployment rate fell is that more than 350,000 Americans left the labor force entirely.”
Replacing Sequester Emerging As A “Sharp Point Of Conflict”
Roll Call reports, “The question of how to replace the sequester — the $109 billion in automatic, across-the-board spending reductions set to start cutting into the budget at the start of the year — is emerging as a sharp point of conflict standing in the way of a fiscal cliff deal. Conservative Republicans in both chambers are intent on replacing the cuts with alternative spending reductions, not tax increases. But many Democrats view revenue as a better replacement. Senate Republicans charge the proposal advanced by President Barack Obama last week would shut off the sequester without finding alternative cuts, which they say they will not accept. … The White House has consistently avoided specifics on how the sequester would affect agencies, and even now agencies are not saying how the cuts would be implemented, leaving massive uncertainty for both federal workers and contractors.”
Poll: Most Americans Say Deficit Talks Will Fail
The Hill reports, “A clear majority of voters expect President Obama and Congress will fail to reach a deal to prevent spending cuts and tax hikes on millions of households next year, according to a new poll for The Hill. The survey found 58 percent of people have little or no confidence political leaders can negotiate a compromise before Jan. 1, reflecting deep pessimismamong voters about Washington’s ability to solve major problems facing the country. Only 39 percent believe the two sides will reach an agreement thatstops the looming combination of $500 billion in tax increases and $109 billion in automatic spending cuts, which economists say would trigger a recession. Voters are eager to see the two sides come together on a long-term debt pact. Fifty percent want Obama and congressional Republicans to strike a comprehensive deal before the end of the year, according to the poll, conducted for The Hill by Pulse Opinion Research. Only 36 percent believe it would be better to reach a short-term agreement that buys time for negotiators to reach a so-called ‘grand bargain’ to slash the deficit. “
Distrusts Among Congress Fuels Doubts About Compromise
Reuters reports, “President Barack Obama and his Republican opponents in Congress enter a crucial week in the ‘fiscal cliff’ impasse with more than just differences over taxes to bridge: Also in the way is pervasive mistrust among members of Congress that discourages big concessions for fear the other side won’t reciprocate. That distrust is fueling doubts among Republicans and Democrats about relying on the other side to live up to any bargains struck now on deficit reduction in the future, Capitol Hill aides say. Because resolution of the immediate cliff issues depends in part on commitments by both sides to a framework for overhauling the tax code and entitlement programs over the next year, an atmosphere of disbelief could impede any agreement on thecliff. … But widespread credibility issues could cause problems for Democrat Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner if and when they have to sell any agreement they forge to their parties in Congress.”
‘Dramatic Drop’ In Consumer Spending
The Wall Street Journal reports, “U.S. consumer spending, a rare pillar of economic strength in recent months, is showing signs of weakening. American consumers helped carry the economy through a spring slowdown and appeared to power a summer resurgence in growth. But in recent weeks government data have shown spending was slower over thesummer than previously believed, and it has started off the final three months of the year on an even weaker footing. Now a range of factors, from high unemployment to the prospect of increased taxes due to the approaching ‘fiscal cliff,’ are threatening to sap consumers’ spending power at a time when other sectors of the economy likely are too weak to pick up the slack. … ‘It was a dramatic drop,’ said Jacob Oubina, senior U.S. economist for RBC Capital Markets. ‘The consumer’s not all of a sudden going to pick up the baton.’”
White House Has Power To Stop Middle Class Tax Hike Should Talks Fail
The Hill reports, “The White House has the power to temporarily protect taxpayers from middle-class tax hikes even as upper income rates rise if Congress does nothing and all of the Bush-era tax rates expire in January. Experts and lawmakers alike agree that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has the power to adjust how much is withheld from paychecks for tax purposes — for all taxpayers or just for some. By doing so, Geithner could ensure paychecks reflect the White House position that wealthier taxpayers with annual income higher than $250,000 see their taxes rise. Geithner at the same time could leave withholding tables where they are for the middle class, ensuring those workers don’t see a higher cut from their paychecks. … Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle acknowledge Geithner has this power, even if they hope to be productive enough to make it irrelevant.”
“Democrats Want Jobless Benefits in ‘Cliff’ Deal”
The Associated Press reports, “Hovering in the background of the ‘fiscal cliff’ debate is the prospect of 2 million people losing their unemployment benefits four days after Christmas. ‘This is the real cliff,’ said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. He’s been leading the effort to include another extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed in any deal to avert looming tax increases and massive spending cuts in January.… Emergency jobless benefits for about 2.1 million people out of work more than six months will cease Dec. 29, and 1 million more will lose them over the next three months if Congress doesn’t extend the assistance again. Since the collapse of the economy in 2008, the government has poured $520 billion – an amount equal to about half its annual deficit in recent years – into unemployment benefit extensions. … Long-term unemployment remains a persistent problem. About 5 million people have been out of work for six months or more, according to the Bureau of labor Statistics. That’s about 40 percent of all unemployed workers.”
Monday Morning Nugget: Politico Poll Shows Spending and Deficit Top Concern
A recent Politico Battleground poll shows “government spending and the budget deficit” as a top concern (23%), followed by the economy (22%) among “likely” voters.
Two days ago, the 18th United Nations conference on climate change wrapped up. As they did at the previous 17 conferences, developing nations demanded that the United States and other developed countries pay them for the climate’s effects.
In short, the joke’s on us. And these U.N. conferences are becoming increasingly irrelevant.
Poor nations, including small islands, are seeking a new “international mechanism” to have developed nations pay for storm damage to their countries. This is based on the assumption that global warming is causing stronger hurricanes, typhoons, and the like, which is still unproven.
Heritage’s Brett D. Schaefer, Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs, and Nicolas Loris, the Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow, have a simple message for America’s leaders: “the U.S. is wasting millions of taxpayer dollars attending and financing these conferences.”
The main result of this year’s conference was extending the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate change agreement that has been in force since 1997, through 2020. The United States has never signed on to this agreement, which restricted greenhouse gas emissions in 37 industrialized countries.
But the Kyoto agreement has never put restrictions on China and India—two densely populated countries with growing economies—and other nations with emerging economies. Schaefer and Loris note that “even with perfect compliance and U.S. participation, Kyoto would not significantly arrest projected global warming.”
Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Russia opted out of the new extension last week. The Associated Press reports that this means the treaty now “covers only about 15 percent of global emissions.” As Schaefer and Loris explain:
[T]he basic approach is unworkable. The Kyoto Protocol essentially placed the entire economic burden of addressing climate change on a few dozen countries while asking nothing from more than 150 countries. Perhaps this makes sense if the industrialized countries alone could address the issue by reducing emissions, but that is impossible.
…For a number of reasons—including sluggish economies and a shift toward energy sources (such as natural gas, nuclear, or renewable energy) that emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions—most industrialized countries have seen their emissions stabilize or fall. In fact, U.S. emissions are at their lowest level since 1996, according to the U.N.
While the U.S. has reduced its emissions, other countries are busy increasing theirs—and demanding that the U.S. pay for storm damage around the world. China passed the U.S. as the largest source of emissions in 2006, and by 2009, its emissions were already 45 percent higher than America’s.
Instead of continuing this futile exercise, the U.S. should pursue more serious steps on its own, Schaefer and Loris write. America should:
- Undertake independent efforts to more accurately determine the severity of climate change and verify U.N. claims.
- Work with a smaller group of nations through informal arrangements such as the Major Economies Forum to undertake appropriate steps that are both cost effective and effective in reducing warming.
- Refrain from attending future U.N. climate change conferences and call for a moratorium on conferences that emphasize financial transfers and reinforce the flawed, ineffective Kyoto methodology.
- Resist and cease attempts to address climate change unilaterally. This includes removing onerous and unnecessary regulations on fossil fuels that are driving up the cost of energy, stopping wasteful and ineffective attempts to subsidize carbon-free energy sources, and preventing an implementation of a carbon tax. Attempting to address greenhouse gases unilaterally comes at great cost to the taxpayer and energy consumer for no meaningful environmental impact.
For far too long, the U.S. has played on the United Nations’ terms on climate change. It’s time to give up these failed negotiations, focus on protecting American taxpayers, and reject conferences that produce completely unserious plans.
Elected officials can’t keep taxes from rising unless they also curb spending.
ALEXANDRIA, VA – The following commentary appeared this weekend in National Review. Jonathan Bydlak, dubbed the “29-year-old Grover Norquist” by The Fiscal Times, is the president and founder of the Coalition to Reduce Spending.
Grover’s Missing Piece
Elected officials can’t keep taxes from rising unless they also curb spending.
By Jonathan Bydlak
For years, Grover Norquist and Republicans have tried “starving the beast” of the federal government by capping taxes. While they’ve been highly successful at preventing tax increases, they have been less effective at addressing one problematic aspect of fiscal policy: the ability of the Federal Reserve and Treasury to borrow more and more to finance massive spending, as they have done under the Bush and Obama administrations. It’s simple: Borrowing today means a higher tax burden tomorrow when the debt comes due. True fiscal responsibility, then, requires us to curb spending in addition to limiting tax rates.
Imagine if instead of pledging not to raise taxes, all those politicians had pledged not to raise spending. It’s unlikely the United States would be facing massive tax increases as part of the so-called fiscal cliff. That’s why it’s important to do for spending what Norquist has done for taxes: create a means for voters to hold elected officials accountable when they break campaign promises of fiscal responsibility.
It’s hard to imagine a better time to secure such a pledge from elected officials. Given our ever-mounting debt, it is incumbent on all of us who care about the future prosperity of this country to reexamine the completeness of Norquist’s approach. We have to look at more than the tax side of the equation.
The American people are finally realizing that federal spending is way beyond the point of sustainability, and the moment is ripe to change the direction of the political discourse. A Rasmussen poll from Monday found that “nearly half (48%) of likely U.S. voters now believe it is necessary to significantly reduce the cost of entitlement programs and military spending to reduce the long-term federal deficit.” Now is the time to shift the focus from which taxes we can lower (or not raise) to what spending we can cut.
My claim is a simple one: Spending more than you take in is dangerous because that money ultimately has to come from somewhere. When a government operates on an unbalanced budget, the tax burden is passed not only on to future generations but also onto our own, diminishing our opportunities through indirect taxation, such as higher interest rates and inflation.
Both parties have failed in this regard. We’ve seen Medicare Part D under Bush, the Affordable Care Act under Obama, and bank and auto bailouts combined with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan under both presidents.
It’s time for all of us to take our hands out of the cookie jar. Having the Pentagon spending billions running grocery stores doesn’t make the U.S. strong on defense. And keeping the retirement age indefinitely at 65, even as Americans are leading longer and healthier lives, doesn’t make us compassionate. Both mean that we’re fattening up at the expense of our grandkids’ standard of living.
Fortunately, some in Washington are taking aim at our political sacred cows. Doug Collins, representative-elect from Georgia, and Ted Cruz, senator-elect from Texas, both pledged to voters this cycle that they consider all items in the budget eligible for reduction. By signing the Reject the Debt pledge in addition to the taxpayers-protection pledge, they have promised to vote against not only tax increases now but also spending increases that would amount to future tax burdens.
As one columnist recently wrote, “From now on, any politician who signs the anti-tax pledge without also signing the anti-debt pledge can be dismissed as a complete hypocrite.” The companion to Norquist’s no-tax pledge is the Reject the Debt pledge. Elected officials need to sign both.
— Jonathan Bydlak is the president and founder of the Coalition to Reduce Spending.
Bankrupting America Launches Deficit Reduction Plan Resource Center
Your One-Stop Shop for Comparing Deficit Reduction Plans to Avert the Fiscal Cliff
Arlington, Va. – Can’t remember the details of all those deficit reduction plans being proposed by various organizations and members of Congress? Bankrupting America has the solution. Bankrupting America, a project of Public Notice, today launched the Deficit Reduction Plan Resource Center, a one-stop shop for anyone looking to compare and analyze the competing deficit reduction proposals offered to avert the fiscal cliff.
The Deficit Reduction Plan Resource Center outlines each plan’s key components, including its impact on defense spending, the debt and deficit, Medicare, Social Security, taxes and government spending.
Public Notice Executive Director Gretchen Hamel released the following statement:
“As the fiscal cliff negotiations continue, many proposals have been put forth from all sides, and it’s hard to keep track of all the details. Bankrupting America wants to ensure Americans are fully informed on this important issue, so we have compiled all of the deficit reduction plans and broken down their key components to allow for a side-by-side comparison. The Deficit Reduction Plan Resource Center is a great way to get past the rhetoric and go straight to the facts on the fiscal policy debate happening in Washington.”
Click here to go to the Deficit Reduction Plan Resource Center.
Carrie Severino, Judicial Crisis Network
For those who thought the recent election wasn’t about social issues, these cases are a reminder that the president’s biggest impact on the culture of this country is through his Supreme Court appointments. For better or for worse, the courts have become the final arbiter of the most vital cultural questions our country faces today.
As many predicted, this term will see two more major decisions in cases the Court granted today: whether the federal government has the right to limit its own definition of marriage to a man and a woman, and whether states can constitutionally do the same. The Court may decide that the Constitution requires a definition of marriage that would have been completely foreign if not repugnant to its Framers.
The Court had many options when choosing which challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act to consider. Unfortunately, the case with the cleanest presentation of the legal issues - Gill v. OPM - also was one in which Justice Kagan was recused. Presumably as a result, the justices chose to hear a different case, Windsor v. United States. This may have been a simple desire to avoid the possibility of a 4-4 decision. It could also have been a regrettable ideological preference for keeping Justice Kagan on the bench for this landmark issue.
Justice Kagan’s uncharacteristically early involvement in Gill as solicitor general is an indicator that she already is a committed opponent of DOMA. Recusal rules may technically allow her to sit on the Windsor case because she was never involved in it directly, but she is hardly an unbiased, blank slate on this issue.
The Court also granted cert in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case holding California’s Prop 8 unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit wrote a narrow decision in an attempt to sanitize the outrageous district court opinion striking down Prop 8, and in doing so it created a contorted rule it supposed would only apply to the facts of California’s history on this issue. Despite the broad language of the question presented, the Court is not likely to take this case as an opportunity decide whether there is a fundamental constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Instead it will either be another smack down for the Ninth Circuit or an endorsement of the one-way ratchet that court created for same-sex marriage. Once a state legislature permits it or a state court imposes it, there is no going back.
Prof. George W. Dent, Jr., Case Western Reserve University School of Law:
The Supreme Court now had an opportunity, and a duty, to overturn two misguided lower court decisions. In the California case (Hollingsworth v. Perry) the 9th Circuit overturned a state constitutional amendment because it made it harder for opponents to change the law. The absurd corollary is that state constitutions are unconstitutional. Indeed, the decision casts doubt on the constitutionality of any democratic decision that a court dislikes.
In United States v. Windsor the 2d Circuit reviewed Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which limits marriage to one man and one woman for purposes of federal law, and subjected it to heightened scrutiny because of its impact on homosexuals. This is an improper standard. The 14th Amendment was not originally intended to impose such scrutiny and there is no social consensus now that it should do so. Even if heightened scrutiny is applied, society has strong reasons to prefer the biological family as the best milieu for the bearing and raising of children.
Prof. John Baker, Louisiana State University Law School
Marriage creates the first and most basic level of self- government, the family. Neither marriage nor the family owe its existence to any State. States attempting to consolidate all power nevertheless assert ultimate authority over marriage and the family. The temptation to power through re-defining the only institution that dates back to the first man and woman may be too much for some of the justices to resist.
Robin Wilson, Washington and Lee University School of Law
The Supreme Court is now slated to weigh in on same-sex marriage (Hollingsworth v. Brown; United States v Windsor). In both cases, the Court will hear heart-wrenching evidence that the lives and relationships of same sex couples have been made poorer by their exclusion from the institution of marriage or by the federal government’s refusal to recognize their marriages.
Whatever the Court decides on the merits of these challenges, it should take care to leave a space for individual states to continue to decide how best to balance two compelling values – marriage equality and religious liberty. Through sometimes bruising legislative battles, nuanced laws recognizing same-sex marriage have been crafted in seven jurisdictions. In those jurisdictions, religious liberty accommodations shifted the question for some legislators from whether to embrace marriage equality to how to balance that good with religious liberty resulting in a core of protections for individuals and groups that adhere to a traditional view of marriage. That shift resulted in successful legislation in some states where it had failed only years before.
How the Court will come out on same-sex marriage is anyone’s guess. But when the Court hands down its decision, it should avoid strangling the delicate process unfolding in state legislatures across the country by changing the political calculus for granting meaningful accommodations.
John Eastman,Chapman University School of Law
The Supreme Court’s decision today to hear both a Defense of Marriage Act case out of New York and the Proposition 8 case out of California is welcome news for the proponents of traditional marriage. Now, squarely presented, is the issue whether the lower courts have been correct in creating a constitutional right to redefine marriage away from its traditional rooting in the biological complementarity of the sexes. There are, of course, a couple of jurisdictional issues that the Court has quite rightly determined in must address, jurisdictional issues that have arisen only because our elected officials failed to do their duties and defend duly enacted laws – the Attorney General of the United States, in the DOMA cases, and the Attorney General (now Governor) of California in the Proposition 8 case. If those actions deprive the Court of jurisdiction, then nothing would prevent a President, Attorney General, or a Governor from simply refusing to defend any law with which he disagrees. That is not the rule of law, but the lawless rule of willful men. More fascinating, if the Supreme Court does succumb to the arguments that it does not have jurisdiction to hear the cases because of such shenanigans, it might order that the lower court decisions that found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage would have to be vacated.
But much more on this subject in the weeks and months ahead. Oral argument should be set for sometime late March or April, with decisions expected by the end of June.
Richard Epstein, NYU Law
Passions will surely run high know that the United States Supreme Court has decided to take two controversial cases involving issues of same-sex marriage. The first of these is Hollingsworth v. Perry, in which the Ninth Circuit struck down Proposition 8, which had defined for purposes of California law a marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The Ninth Circuit decision held that this definition had one, and only one purpose, which was to deprive gay couples of the symbolic benefit of the word “marriage” while granting them all the civil rights normally associated with that status. It turns out that there is a great deal in a name and a label, but the question is whether the Equal Protection Clause of 1868 should drive the Supreme Court to make this powerful intrusion in modern social life. My own views on this question are decidedly mixed. As a strong libertarian on matters of personal freedom, it seems highly unwise for the state to use its monopoly power to exclude some couples while allowing others in. But historically the case presents an insuperable obstacle to any originalist, for there is, in my view, no serious claim that conceivable form of originalism—historical, textual, or structural—can support the claim. There is the further matter of institutional prudence, whether on this issue the Court should intervene on matters where public opinion is so sharply divided that the legitimacy of the Court’s own role will be called into question.
The question in Windsor v. United States is whether the 1997 Defense of Marriage Act can withstand similar equal protection challenges, given the effect the administration of the federal statute has on the various tax liabilities of persons who are married under New York States law but not under federal law. The Equal Protection Clause by its own words is limited to states, but ever since Bolling v. Sharpe was handed down in 1955, it is always possible to read its command back into the Due Process Clause that binds the federal government. But what is striking that a statute that was able to secure democratic backing in 1997 is on the chopping block today.
One obvious question is the federalism issues that are raised in both Hollingsworth and Windsor are likely to influence the results. My own guess—and it is only that—is that those issues will take a back seat to the substantive claims made on both sides. The battle lines are clearly drawn in these case; no one is likely to change anyone else’s mind during the argument. The only confident prediction therefore is a copout: a closely divided Court may rest on the extent to which Justice Anthony Kennedy hews to his unstable view in Lawrence v. Texas that the decriminalization of homosexual conduct does not require the state (and by implication the federal government) to recognize same-sex unions. The situation is further clouded by Justice Elena Kagan’s decision to recuse herself in Windsor, but not in Hollingsworth. It is therefore possible that we could have a deadlock 4-4 in the first case and a 5-4 decision to strike matters down in the second.
Would that both Congress and the states would pass legislation to obviate an issue which would have a far cleaner solution when done by political means.
Fox News – Republicans gave no ground Sunday to President Obama’s demand for near-unilateral power to increase the debt ceiling, with one influential senator predicting the party will once again use the debt-ceiling vote to extract trillions in spending cuts.
The senator, Tennessee’s Bob Corker, broke with some in his party Sunday by urging Republicans to drop their opposition to tax hikes on the wealthiest 2 percent. Corker, though, explained that he only thinks Republicans should cave to Obama on tax hikes because then they can focus on winning entitlement cuts as part of the debt-ceiling negotiations.
“Republicans know that they have the debt ceiling that’s coming up right around the corner, and the leverage is going to shift, as soon as we get beyond this issue,” Corker said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“The leverage is going to shift to our side, where hopefully we’ll do the same thing we did last time.”