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Tag: John Roberts

The Supreme Court implicitly reaffirmed the right of government to regulate firearms. Thank goodness!

The Supreme Court implicitly reaffirmed the right of government to regulate firearms. Thank goodness!

The latest term of the United States Supreme Court delivered a mixed bag of decisions that, on the whole, should please conservatives even if appearances may be to the contrary. For example, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) won a temporary reprieve but only because of the typically sloppy way the Trump administration went about trying to end it. They will undoubtedly try again.

And whilst a Louisiana law that imposed a needless requirement for doctors at abortion clinics in the state to have admitting privileges at hospitals was set aside, this was primarily on the grounds that it was virtually identical to a Texas law that had been struck down just four years ago. Chief Justice Roberts only joined the more liberal justices because he felt bound by precedent but not before opening the door to future abortion restrictions, challenges to, which suggested, may be viewed more skeptically.

Finally, the very welcome news that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does prohibit LGBTQ employment discrimination may be undermined by the court’s fulsome embrace of religious rights that may override those of the LGBTQ community in where the two clash in the future.

However, somewhat overlooked this term was the court’s decision not to hear challenges by the gun rights crowd to a plethora of state and local firearms restrictions much to the chagrin it has to be said of its most conservative members. This is very good news indeed since it appears to reaffirm the majority’s view in a SCOTUS dominated by conservatives that the misguided decision in District of Columbia v Heller upholding the individual right to own a firearm nevertheless does not preclude reasonable regulation of that right by the government. The key here is clearly the Chief Justice and I can think of three reasons why he has sided with the liberals/moderates on this issue.

First, Roberts is no doubt mindful of Heller’s assertion that the decision did not mean that the regulation of gun rights was foreclosed. Casting doubt on that element of Heller would serve to undermine the entire decision and make it appear as a meaningless, not to mention dishonest, gesture to those concerned about gun violence. Second, to go further than Heller itself and eviscerate the ability of federal, state and local governments to regulate firearms would simply invite a future more moderate court (and, yes, that day will come) to revisit Heller as a whole, thus undoing one of the Roberts’ court’s landmark decisions. By refusing to go to the extreme, Roberts may protect Heller and his legacy.

Finally, whilst his most conservative brethren are likely driven by ideology to the exclusion of common sense, I doubt that Roberts wishes his legacy to add substantially to the carnage of gun violence in a nation already plagued with far more than any other advanced society.

Whatever his reasons Roberts in this case has done an enormous service to the country by ameliorating the otherwise pernicious effects of Heller.

Supreme Court’s Citizens United Decision has Killed Democracy

Supreme Court’s Citizens United Decision has Killed Democracy

If you live in Washington State and you watch any television at all, then you like me are sick of the non-stop negative campaign ads about Dino Rossi, Patty Murray, Dave Reichert, and all of the ballot intitiatives.  There have never been so many, they’ve never been aired as frequently, and they’ve never been so negative and mendacious.  And it’s only the mid terms.

Timothy Egan says it’s even worse in Colorado, and he explains the effects of the Citizens United decision:

But the Citizens United decision of the Roberts court has fundamentally changed how we choose our leaders and our laws, all for the worse.

Here’s what’s happened: Spending by interest groups in this fall’s senate races has gone up 91 percent from the same period in 2008, according to the Wesleyan Media Project.  At the same time, spending by political parties has fallen 61 percent.

So corporations, whose sole purpose is to return money to shareholders, were given the legal right to be “natural persons” in our elections and are now overwhelming them.  But political parties, which exist to promote ideas and governing principles, have seen their voices sharply diminished.

Though Republican-leaning special interests are currently outspending the other side by a 9-to-1 ratio, Democrats will soon follow Karl Rove’s lead and learn to bundle and hide wealthy contributors.

I can’t wait until 2012.

Ronald Reagan was a Michael Jackson Fan, John G. Roberts was Not

Ronald Reagan was a Michael Jackson Fan, John G. Roberts was Not

I was reading through the June issue of Harper’s Magazine and came across a letter from Ronald Reagan to Michael Jackson that was sent after Michael’s hair was accidentally burned while filming a Pepsi commerical.  I wanted to post the letter here, so I searched for it hoping I would find it and not have to type it myself.  I found it and a whole lot more.

Here’s the letter that started my search:

Dear Michael:

I was pleased to learn that you were not seriously hurt in your recent accident. I know from experience that these things can happen on the set–no matter how much caution is excercised. All over America, millions of people look up to you as an example. Your deep faith in God and adherence to traditional values are an inspiration to all of us, especially young people searching for something real to believe in. You’ve gained quite a number of fans along the road since “I Want You Back” and Nancy and I are among them. Keep up the good work, Michael. We’re very happy for you.


Ronald Reagan

In addition to the letter, I found this New York Times “The Caucus” blog post that gives a rundown of the relationship between Reagan and Jackson.  There I learned that Jackson visited the White House in May 1984 and also appeared with Reagan at an anti-drunk-driving event.

In September of 1984, Jackson invited Reagan to a “Victory Tour” concert at RFK stadium.  Reagan’s office drafted a letter to decline the invitation and to invite Michael Jackson back to the White House, but this time with his brothers. 

The letter was reviewed by a young associate counsel who objected to Reagan signing the letter.  The associate was John G. Roberts, now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 

David Weigel at The Washington Independent got a laugh out of this part of Robert’s rejection:

In today’s Post there were already reports that some youngsters were turning away from Mr. Jackson in favor of a newcomer who goes by the name “Prince,” and is apparently planning a Washington concert. Will he receive a Presidential letter? How will we decide which performers do and which do not?

Prince, the “newcomer,” was touring in support of his sixth album, Purple Rain.

That’s pretty funny, but I thought this part was even better:

Why, for example, was no letter sent to Mr. Bruce Springsteen, whose patriotic tour recently visited the area?

Yes… another clueless Republican who heard only the chorus to “Born in the U.S.A” and never bothered to listen to the verses.  Springsteen’s 1984 tour was not patriotic in any way, and he loathed the Reagan Administration.

Reagan wasn’t a very smart man, but he did recognize a foe when he saw one.  Young John G. Roberts?  Not so smart…