Tag Archives: Keith Ellison

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/15/2018: Alito Gets One Right, Ellison Deceived, And An Ancient, Unethical Tactic Works Once Again…

To a glorious morning, Ethics-Lovers!

1. Bad Alito, Good Alito.  As I briefly noted yesterday (and hopefully will do in detail today), Justice Alito authored an unethical and embarrassing dissent defending a lawyer who deliberately betrayed his client by telling the jury that he had killed someone his client denied killing. Bad Alito. However, the arch-conservative jurist also authored the majority opinion in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, in which the SCOTUS majority struck down a virtuous but unconstitutional law, and did so clearly and well.

These are, I think, my favorite Supreme Court opinions, where the Court ignores the motives and objectives of a law and simply rules whether the legislature is allowed to behave like that. I don’t know, but I would guess that most of the majority feel the way I do about organized sports gambling: nothing good can come of it, and a lot of harm is inevitable. One they get the green light, I’m sure that as many states will take over sports gambling for its easy revenue as now prey on its poor, desperate and stupid with their state lottery scams. Everyone involved–sports, fans, athletes, states, the public’s ethical compass—is going to be corrupted by letting the sports betting genie out of its bottle: just watch.

Nevertheless, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992  law known as PASPA, should have been struck down decades ago; I’d love to know why it took so long. No, it did NOT ban sports betting, though this is what far too many news reports tell you. Congress can ban sports betting directly if it chooses to, as it is interstate commerce. This isn’t in dispute. What it did in 1992, however, was to order states not to pass laws states have a constitutional right to pass. The distinction matters. From SCOTUS Blog, which is usually the best source for analysis of these things:

The 10th Amendment provides that, if the Constitution does not either give a power to the federal government or take that power away from the states, that power is reserved for the states or the people themselves. The Supreme Court has long interpreted this provision to bar the federal government from “commandeering” the states to enforce federal laws or policies. [The] justices ruled that a federal law that bars states from legalizing sports betting violates the anti-commandeering doctrine…

…In a decision by Justice Samuel Alito, the court began by explaining that the “anticommandeering doctrine may sound arcane, but it is simply the expression of a fundamental structural decision incorporated into the Constitution” – “the decision to withhold from Congress the power to issue orders directly to the States.” And that, the majority continued, is exactly the problem with the provision of PASPA that the state challenged, which bars states from authorizing sports gambling: It “unequivocally dictates what a state legislature may and may not do.” “It is as if,” the majority suggested, “federal officers were installed in state legislative chambers and were armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals. A more direct affront to state sovereignty,” Alito concluded, “is not easy to imagine.”

…The court also rejected the argument, made by the leagues and the federal government, that the PASPA provision barring states from authorizing sports betting does not “commandeer” the states, but instead merely supersedes any state laws that conflict with the provision – a legal doctrine known as pre-emption. Pre-emption, the majority explained, “is based on a federal law that regulates the conduct of private actors,” but here “there is simply no way to understand the provision prohibiting state authorization as anything other than a direct command to the States,” which “is exactly what the anticommandeering rule does not allow.”

Got it.

Good decision. Continue reading

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The Democratic Leadership Apparently Endorses Beating Up People Whose Opinions They Object To. Good To Know!

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn) posted a photo of himself on Twitter  posing with the book “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.” The book calls for violence as a tool of political advocacy. Ellison’s post said the book should “strike fear into the heart” of President Donald Trump. This guy, the only Muslim in Congress,  is the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee. It drew pushback from Republicans who have criticized the movement’s at-times violent disruptions of speaking engagements and white supremacist rallies. After receiving well-deserved criticism, Ellison’s spokesman Karthik Ganapathy said that Ellison has not read the book, and has espoused nonviolence throughout his career. Do you believe that? Why would he appear to endorse a book he hadn’t read? Surely he knows what the antifa is and what they do.

The CBS outlet in Ellison’s home state wrote that the tweeted endorsement “drew pushback from Republicans who have criticized the movement’s at-times violent disruptions of speaking engagements and white supremacist rallies.” No Democrats think that their party’s leadership endorsing a group that wears masks and acts like brown shirts deserves criticism?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but most of the news outlets reporting that a high ranking official of the Democratic Party advocated violence and a domestic terrorist group were among the so-called conservative press. The New York Times, for example,  did not view this as news fit to print, since, I surmise, it might tip off the public prior to the 2018 elections that there is, in John Dean’s words, a cancer growing on the Democratic Party. One of many, in fact. Continue reading

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