Tag Archives: US Supreme Court

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/10/2018: The Freakout Cometh!

Good morning!

1. Are you freaking out? President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the vacancy on the Supreme Court, a choice which, we had been assured by a succession of shameless hysterics on the Left and in the mainstream news media (but I repeat myself!) would doom women in the United States to living out “The Handmaiden’s Tale,” even before the judge, a case or the legal issues were a twinkle in Lady Justice’s eye. Why are hyper-partisan, irresponsible crazies like this taken seriously by anyone?

Here are some of the media freak-outs that have already arrived: The Daily Beast: Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court Pick, Is Probably the End of Abortion Rights and Same-Sex Marriage. Slate:  How Brett Kavanaugh Will Gut Roe v. Wade.

More to come, of course. At least they waited for the actual name of the judge: ABC tweeted out this before the announcement:

Facts? We don’t need no stinking facts!

(Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias….)

If you are freaking out, it means that you are a Democrat, either ignorant or dishonest about the legal system, and suffering from the late throes of Anti-Trump Mania, in which everything that this President does becomes an evil plot. Get help. It is unethical to spread panic and fury among your friends and associates.

A Facebook Friend, a woman, and a lawyer, was on social media within minutes of Judge Kavanaugh’s name being uttered calling for everyone to “write their Senator.” There is only one way, just one, this reaction can be justified: if you believe that only one political party has a legitimate role to play in American politics, and you deny the right of any citizen who disagrees with you to have a voice in what is supposed to be a pluralistic democracy. Elections have consequences, and are supposed to have consequences. One of them is that the elected President gets to appoint judges. If the judge is qualified—and even the most slobbering wacko talking head on MSNBC cannot deny that he is qualified-–then it is fair, appropriate and right that the President’s nomination should be consented to by the Senate. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/28/2018: The Post-Kennedy Retirement Announcement Freak-Out

Good Morning!

1. How prescient of me to headline yesterday’s warm-up “Deranged” before Justice Kennedy announced his retirement and the progressive/Democratic/ mainstream media/social media freakout commenced!

2. Duh. Since nobody seems to be writing about how perfectly this proves the Trump-inflicted brain damage on the Left, allow me:

  • Justice Kennedy is 81. As my dad used to say when he entered his 8th decade, he’s in the red zone, and can drop dead at any second. Did Democrats really assume he would keep working forever?

Their shock at this is ridiculous and unbelievable. WHAT? An 81-year-old judge is retiring?

  • This is a wonderful example of how people assume that everyone else thinks as they do. The Trump-Deranged have reached the point where they would saw their pets in half to undermine the President, so they assume that Kennedy feels the same way.

There is no evidence that he does, in part because, unlike Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who has periodically trumpeted her contempt for the President, he has been judicially discrete and professional.

  • It is per se irresponsible for an 81-year-old in a challenging job with national impact not to step down before he or she becomes incompetent, or drops dead. Scalia was irresponsible not to retire. Ginsberg should retire (she is 84). Breyer is two months short of 80: he should retire.

Outside of judges, we have multiple members of Congress, notably Pelosi and John McCain, who are being unethical by not stepping aside.

  • The bottom line is that nobody should be freaking out, because everyone should have been prepared for it.

3. We get it! You are vicious, juvenile, angry, rigis and irrational people. The Daily News nicely sums up the calm, analytical, reasoned reaction by the Left:

Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

The SCOTUS Ruling In Trump v. Hawaii [UPDATED]

The Supreme Court properly and ethically  killed the burgeoning liberal judicial theory that different Presidents have different restrictions on how they can exercise established Presidential powers. The majority in in the just announced decision in Trump v. Hawaii conclusively struck down a Hawaii judge’s ruling that Trump’s hostile comments about Muslims on the campaign trail rendered his travel restrictions unconstitutional, while a similar measure ordered by a nice President for the right intuited reasons would be presumably acceptable. This seemingly partisan ruling required substituting mind-reading for the President’s stated reasons for the Executive Order, and would have established a terrible precedent in a number of areas.

Sadly, this was another 5-4 ruling where the Court seemed to divide along ideological lines. However, since it seems clear that the five conservatives would have ruled the same way no matter which party’s President had issued the order, while the liberal bloc was indulging “the resistance” with a “Trump is special” approach, only one side of the political divide appears to have left integrity and and objectivity in their spare robes. Many, many commentators around the web have noted that this should have been a 9-0 decision, and that the political bias of the Hawaii decision was flagrant from the start. I agree. The President’s authority in this area is clear and unambiguous.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the government “has set forth a sufficient national security justification” for its action. “We express no view on the soundness of the policy,” Roberts added.

More, from the holding: Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: Justice Neil Gorsuch

The Supreme Court today struck down a law that allowed the government to deport legal immigrants who commit certain kinds of crimes, ruling that the law was unconstitutionally vague. The vote was 5 to 4, with Justice Neil Gorsuch voting with the court’s left-leaning block. The case was Sessions v. Dimaya, first argued in January 2017 before the  eight-member court left vulnerable to deadlocks by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. And a deadlock it was,  4 to 4. The case was reargued last October after Justice Gorsuch’s confirmation again gave the Court a full contingent of nine.

The dispute concerned James Dimaya, a native of the Philippines who became a lawful permanent resident in 1992, when he was 13. In 2007 and 2009, he was convicted of residential burglary. The government sought to deport him under a law that made “aggravated felonies,” which the immigration law defined to include any offense “that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense,” justification for deportation.

In concurring with the majority opinion, authored by Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Gorsuch wrote that the law violated due process requirements by being unconstitutionally vague. “Vague laws,” he wrote, “invite arbitrary power.”

The interest here at Ethics Alarms isn’t whether the decision was right or wrong. It is that Gorsuch decided the case on the law and his view of it, not partisan loyalties, not knee-jerk cant, and not as a cog in a ideological block. In other words, he did what  judges, and especially Supreme Court Justices, are supposed to do, but which the news media, politicians, activists and those who neither understand nor respect the law always assume they don’t do: analyze each case according to the law and the facts, and decide without being influenced by political agendas.

Judge Gorsuch’s vote demonstrates his integrity, and speaks for the integrity of the entire Court and the judicial system. There were countless articles, when Gorsuch was nominated by President Trump, that represented him as an automatic reflex vote for whatever future results conservatives lusted for. This was an insult to Gorsuch, judges, the Court, and the United States.

You can read Gorsuch’s opinion here. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/6/ 2018: “Remember the Alamo” Edition

1 Remember the Alamo! On this date in 1836, before dawn, the Alamo fell. From the official Alamo website:

While the Alamo was under siege, the provisional Texas government organized at Washington-on-the-Brazos. On March 2, the convention declared independence and the Republic of Texas was born, at least on paper. The Alamo’s garrison showed its support for independence from Mexico by sending its own delegates to the convention.While they were unaware that Texas had declared independence, the roughly 200 Alamo defenders stayed at their post waiting on help from the settlements. Among them were lawyers, doctors, farmers and a former congressman and famous frontiersman from Tennessee named David Crockett. While the youngest was 16 and the oldest defender was Gordon C. Jennings, age 56, most defenders were in their twenties. Most were Anglo, but there were a handful of native Tejano defenders as well. Legendary knife fighter and land speculator James Bowie was in command before falling ill and sharing duties with Travis. Several women and children were inside the Alamo, including 15-month-old Angelina Dickinson. Just before the final battle, Travis placed his ring around her neck, knowing she would likely be spared. One of the last messages from the Alamo was a note from Travis asking friends to take care of his young son Charles.

The final attack came before dawn on March 6, 1836. As Mexican troops charged toward the Alamo in the pre-dawn darkness, defenders rushed to the walls and fired into the darkness. Travis raced to the north wall but was soon killed. Bowie was most likely killed in his bed, while reports differ as to Crockett’s death. Many believe Crockett survived the initial attack but was put to death by Mexican soldiers soon afterward.

Mexican soldiers breached the north wall and flooded into the compound. The fierce battle centered on the old church, where defenders made a last stand.

The battle lasted about 90 minutes.

From the San Antonio Express News:

BEXAR, Texas, March 6, 1836 — Alas, alas! Forever more, the name of the Alamo shall stand alongside that of Thermopylae in the annals of history as a tale of unmatched bravery to be handed down from generation to generation.

The bastion of Texas Liberty has fallen, and to a man, Lt. Col. William Travis and his fellow defenders — like the immortal 300 Spartans — have been martyred.

After withstanding an unrelenting siege of twelve days’ duration by one of the mightiest armies ever assembled on this continent, the walls of the old mission that had housed Travis (a man as brave as the fabled King Leonidas), Col. James Bowie, the Hon. David Crockett and some 200 other defenders were breached before the sun rose to-day.

Savagery was unleashed therein as a juggernaut orchestrated by the modern-day Xerxes, Mexican Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna, swept over the Alamo….

Since I was a small boy, this episode in American history moved me more than any other. It still does.  I first learned about the Alamo when I watched Fess Parker as Davy Crocket, swinging his rifle like a baseball bat at Mexiacn skulls, the last man standing as behind him we could see more of Santa Anna’s soldiers pouring over the wall. We never saw Davy fall—my dad explained that this was appropriate, since nobody is sure how or when he died, unlike Travis and Bowie, and the last verse of the Ballad of Davy Crocket played…

His land is biggest an’ his land is best
from grassy plains to the mountain crest
He’s ahead of us all meetin’ the test
followin’ his legend into the West
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!

The politics and complexities of the Texas war of independence don’t alter the essential facts: a group of men of different backgrounds, under the command of three prototypical American figures—the pioneer (Crocket), the settler (Bowie), and the law-maker (Travis), all of whom were trying to recover from dark periods in their lives—chose to make the ultimate sacrifice for a cause they believed in fervently enough to die for, in the company of others who felt the same. It was, after all, the perfect ethical dilemma, the choice between an ethical act for the benefit of  society and a non-ethical consideration, the most basic one of all: staying alive. They all had the same choice, and rejected life for a principle.

That’s what I remember about the Alamo.

2. There is hope. Once again, I gave a 90 minute presentation to a Boy Scout troop and parents last night, and challenged them this time with several hypotheticals that Ethics Alarms readers would recognize, such as this one, the plight of Ryan Seacrest and those who snubbed him on the red carpet,  the “Mrs. Miniver” flower show, and this one, from personal experience, which set off the most lively debate of all:

The Option

Your professional theater company has limited funds, so it offers its actors an option. They may choose a flat fee for their roles, or get a percentage of the show’s profits, if there are any, on top of a much smaller base fee.

The company just completed an extremely profitable production, the biggest hit your theater has ever had. Nine of the show’s ten cast members chose the percentage of profits option, a gamble, because most of the shows lose money. One, the star, who you know could not afford to gamble, took the flat fee for the role. After the accounting for the production is complete, you realize that every member of the cast will make $1000 more than the star, because of the show’s profits.

Question 1: What do you do?

  1. Give him the extra $1000. It’s only fair.
  2. Pay him the flat fee. A deal’s a deal.

You can weigh in:

Question 2: You remount the production, and the exact same thing happens. The actor chooses the flat fee, the show is again a huge money-maker,,and the rest of the cast will make much more than him because they chose the percentage. Do you give him the extra amount again?

  1. No. Now he’s taking advantage of me.
  2. Yes. Nothing has changed.

As before, the approximately 50 11- and 12-year old boys were astute, serious, thoughtful, and gutsy, and their ethical instincts were superb. Continue reading

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Gotcha, NPR! Liberal Bigotry About Bigotry Exposed

"Wah, my conSTITuants in the great Southan state of Mawntana just don't wanna see any coloreds get away with shootin' owa  law enforcement officahs, that's all!"

“Wah, my conSTITuants in the great Southan state of Mawntana just don’t wanna see any coloreds get away with shootin’ owa law enforcement officahs, that’s all!”

One progressive lie I hear and read repeatedly from Democrats and their news media lackeys is that the Supreme Court “gutted” the Votingl Rights Act of 1965 by decreeing that it was unconstitutional for the Justice Department to use decades old data to presume racial bias in legislative measures and policies adopted by Southern states. This was holding in the case of Shelby v. Holder. The Court justly ruled that Congress had to develop current, accurate criteria. Progressives and the Obama Administration screamed and are still screaming, because pretending it was still Jim Crow, Bull Connor and Mississippi burning in the South gave the federal government a way to over-ride legitimate and non-racist laws (like voter ID requirements), based on bias: if it’s a southern state, it must be racist.

Yesterday, National Public Radio inadvertently demonstrated how this bias operates. I have already written about what is wrong with conservative opposition to Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s choice to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division. Essentially, he is being condemned for trying to protect an individual’s civil rights. But the police unions are determined to punish him because that particular individual was a cop killer, and our law enforcement officials don’t think such people have rights. They are wrong, Adegbile was right.

This is not truly a racial issue, but because Adegbile is black, because he worked for the NAACP, because the cop killer is black, because Obama is black and because Democrats have spent the Obama years making everything about race to serve their cynical political needs,  the controversy has been reported as a racial justice issue. It is really a stupidity issue, as I pointed out in my earlier post. It is stupid, ignorant and destructive to treat criminal lawyers as if they support the crimes of their clients.

The police lobby was strong enough, sadly, to defeat Adegbile’s nomination in the Senate, as sufficient Democrats from conservative states decided to cater to ignorance as enthusiastically as their Republican colleagues. Here are the Democratic Senators who voted “nay”:

Chris Coons (Del.)
Bob Casey (Pa.)
Mark Pryor (Ark.)
Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.)
Joe Manchin (W.V.)
Joe Donnelly (Ind.) 
John Walsh (Mont.)

Plus Harry Reid (Nev.), who switched his vote for tactical purposes.

Here is how NPR described them on NPR’s Morning Edition :

“A handful of southern Democrats joined Republicans yesterday to defeat president Obama’s choice to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division.” Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Race, U.S. Society

And Here’s Why The Supreme Court Majority Was Right In Shelby v. Holder…

Ok, if you don't buy the theory that they hurt the public schools, how about this: they're racist!

Ok, if you don’t buy the theory that they hurt the public schools, how about this: they’re racist!

In its much maligned decision in Shelby v. Holder, the Supreme Court declared that the Justice Department could not interfere with state legislative decisions affecting voting rights based on 60 year old data about racist practices prior to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Federal government should not be able to over-ride the will of the people and its elected legislatures without a compelling and overwhelming interest, and allowing the large list of states designated as subject to the Act invited abuse of power. What kind of abuse? This kind:

The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to stop the Louisiana from distributing school vouchers to poor black families in any district that remains under a desegregation court order. Over 600 public schools are affected. The argument of Holder’s Justice Department  is just as ridiculous as it reads: it is that “many of those vouchers impeded the desegregation process.” You see, if black children are able to go to better, private schools thanks to the vouchers, the percentage of whites to blacks in failing but desegregated public schools will go up, “impeding” desegregation. Can’t have that! What citizens would want politicized, absurd bureaucrats who reason like this second-guessing their legislature?

As the Washington Post noted in an incredulous editorial it called, pulling no punches, Justice Department bids to trap poor, black children in ineffective schools: Continue reading

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