Smoky Mountains Sunrise
Showing posts with label US Supreme Court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Supreme Court. Show all posts

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Father George Rutler on the Supreme Court's Abuse of its Authority

The Supreme Court’s abuse of its authority in the decision redefining marriage as an institution based on feelings rather than fact and sanctioning deviancy as a civil right was expected, but the surprise was its sentimental substitution of nihilistic narcissism for jurisprudence, expressed in an amorphous substitute for English diction. This passed a death sentence on Christian culture, just as Roe v. Wade sanctioned the deaths of millions of infants.
As Christ rose from the dead, so can our nation, but only the cynic and the naïf will deny that the next steps will be attacks on Christ himself in his Church, schools and charitable institutions. It can’t happen here? That is what the English said before 1534 and the French before 1789 and the Russians before 1917 and the Germans before 1923. Now is the time of trial predicted by Christ. Not all will be brave enough to endure the persecutions predicted by Christ, though great will be the reward for those who bring their white robes of Christian dignity “unstained into the everlasting life of Heaven.”
Pope Francis has said, “Same-sex marriage is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is a move of the ‘father of lies’ who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops declared that the narrow vote of the Supreme Court “is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us.” Chesterton wrote in 1926: “The next great heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality, and especially on sexual morality.” In 2008, Sister Lucia, who believed that she saw the Mother of Christ at Fatima, told Cardinal Caffarra: “The final confrontation between the Lord and Satan will be over family and marriage.” Injustice takes a harsh toll, but it cannot last, whereas “justice is eternal” (Wisdom 1:15).
I yield my column to some lines from the dissenting opinion of Justice Scalia, who is Catholic in practice as well as in name:

A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy. . . . Four of the nine are natives of New York City. . . . The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003. They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since. . . . The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. . . . The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie. . . . With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgment” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.     

Father George Rutler is pastor of the Church of St. Michael in New York City. He is also the author of A Crisis of Saints .

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kagan Now Recused From 21 Pending Supreme Court Cases

As Solicitor General, Elena Kagan was an advocate in many of the cases coming before the Supreme Court in its upcoming term. She has now recused herself in 21 of the 40 cases the Supreme Court has already agreed to hear.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bad News for Obama: Conservative Justice Kennedy Tells Pals He's in No Rush to Leave Supreme Court

From New York Daily News
By Thomas M. Defrank

President Obama may get liberal Elena Kagan on the Supreme Court, but conservative swing-voter Anthony Kennedy says he's not going anywhere anytime soon.

Justice Kennedy, who turns 74 this month, has told relatives and friends he plans to stay on the high court for at least three more years - through the end of Obama's first term, sources said.

That means Kennedy will be around to provide a fifth vote for the court's conservative bloc through the 2012 presidential election. If Obama loses, Kennedy could retire and expect a Republican President to choose a conservative justice.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jimmy Carter Worries Court Ruling May Affect His Interaction With Terror Groups

Former President Jimmy Carter has voiced concern that Monday’s Supreme Court ruling on “material support” to terrorist groups may criminalize his “work to promote peace and freedom.”

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Friday, May 21, 2010

The Natural Question

"Natural law theory is the conceptual backbone of the Western legal tradition. It guided the framers of the American Constitution."

From Catholic Exchange
By Russell Shaw

If I had the chance to ask just one question at the Senate confirmation hearings on Elena Kagan’s fitness to be a justice of the Supreme Court, it would be this: “What do you think of the natural law?” I’d ask that question because it’s more important than most, even all, of the questions that will get asked, not because I have any doubt what the answer would be: “Not much.”

I say this not to the individual discredit of Kagan, Solicitor General of the United States, but precisely because she’s a prominent representative of the Harvard-Yale law school axis now dominating the Supreme Court. As such, it’s safe to say, natural law is simply not a part of her intellectual universe. And that is worth putting on the record, if for no other reason than to dramatize the sorry straits in which American jurisprudence finds itself these days.

Natural law theory is the conceptual backbone of the Western legal tradition. It guided the framers of the American Constitution. Despite what some imagine, it isn’t a doctrine of the Catholic Church, though Catholic thinkers were largely responsible for its elaboration for centuries. A thumbnail sketch of it might be along these lines:

Human rights and duties arise from human nature. The conceptualization of this body of principles expressing fundamental conditions for individual and communal human fulfillment (not instant gratification but longterm happiness) is called natural law. Manmade laws don’t create these rights and duties but are meant to express and defend them. When manmade law fails to do that—when rights and duties are products only of the ideological preferences of lawmakers—society is ruled by a curious mix of relativism and power politics.

Natural law theory began to pass out of favor well over a century ago under the influence, among others, of that eminent relativist Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935). Now, practically speaking, in elite law schools and generally on federal courts peopled by their alumni, it is as dead as the proverbial dodo.

That is a very serious matter. For, as John Courtney Murray, S.J., the eminent American thinker on church-state matters, remarked 50 years ago, “public consensus” on fundamentals is what held a diverse and pluralistic nation like the United States together, and the basis of the American consensus up to then had been natural law. The Civil War was fought largely to test that proposition. When Father Murray wrote in 1960, it was slipping away.

Today it has all but disappeared from sight. Hence the culture war. Consider the sort of questions Americans, lacking a healthy public consensus, often argue about now: whether abortion is allowable simply as an expression of individual choice; whether homosexual relationships should be recognized as marriages (answerable only on the basis of some definition of marriage); whether elderly, sick people should be helped to commit suicide—or put away quietly if they’re too out of it to decide for themselves.

It goes without saying that Elena Kagan is a liberal like the president who nominated her. She is pro-choice and has a disquieting interest in gay rights issues. Barring some astonishing disclosure, she will undoubtedly be confirmed.

I don’t suggest she be asked the specific questions above as part of the confirmation process. I simply wish the process would shed light on her basis for answering them—including her stance toward natural law. She and the other members of the Supreme Court are likely to be called on to answer those questions in the years ahead.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Weakest Link: Kagan Courts Lindsey Graham

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan once clashed with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham over the treatment of terrorism detainees.

Now she's looking for his support in her drive to win confirmation as President Barack Obama's choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Kagan is returning to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to resume courtesy calls with senators, including Graham, a potential GOP ally despite their past differences.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

AP source: Obama chooses Kagan for Supreme Court

President Barack Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, a person familiar with the president's thinking said Sunday night.

The move positions the court to have three female justices for the first time in history.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been made public. Obama will announce his choice at 10 a.m. Monday in the East Room of the White House.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Senate Confirms Sotomayor for Supreme Court - 68-31

From LifeSiteNews
By Kathleen Gilbert

The Senate this afternoon voted 68-31 to confirm Sonia Sotomayor as the next Supreme Court justice.

Sotomayor, a 55-year-old first Hispanic judge, replaces Judge David Souter, who retired this year. Both Souter and Sotomayor are pro-abortion.

The swearing-in ceremony is tentatively expected to take place Saturday, although no official announcement has been made. Sotomayor will then take her place on the court in early September.

Sotomayor won confirmation after about 18 hours of Senate discussions over the past week, which found many Republican lawmakers lining up against the nominee in stated opposition to her activist judicial philosophy and narrow interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Little attention was paid to Sotomayor's commitment to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America through all nine months of pregnancy. In confirmation hearings last month, Sotomayor once referred to abortion as a "right" and consistently deferred to the Roe v. Wade decision as "settled law," but expressed a lesser degree of loyalty to the Supreme Court's ban on partial-birth abortion.

Only weeks prior to the vote, NARAL joined Planned Parenthood in throwing its support behind Sotomayor.

"As evidenced from the declining levels of support for President Obama and Judge Sotomayor, even among Hispanics, it was for good reason no doubt that Senate Democrat leadership rushed hearings and hid the Sotomayor confirmation with a negligible amount of scheduled floor time not befitting a Supreme Court nomination," commented Manuel Miranda, the former Republican counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Himself a Latino, Miranda now chairs the Third Branch Conference, a coalition of 150 conservative leaders. The conference had issued a letter to senators in June urging them not to rush the confirmation process.

Despite the success of the nomination, Miranda said conservatives could take pride in the 31 Republicans who voted against the nomination.

He called the show of GOP resolve "a far departure from the overwhelming support that Republicans gave to President Clinton's two, arguably, far-more-objectionable nominees, Judges Ginsburg and Breyer, just one decade ago."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Graham Only Judiciary Committee Republican to Support Sotomayor

The Senate Judiciary Committee has reported the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the full Senate, with every Republican member of the committee -- but one -- voting against the racist, unqualified nominee. Only Lindsey Grahamnesty, among all Republican Judiciary Committee members, voted to support Sotomayor.

The South Carolina Senator voted with Al Franken, Diane Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Patrick Leahy and other liberals to report the nomination favorably.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Senator DeMint: Sotomayor Says She "Never Thought About" Rights of Unborn

From LifeSiteNews
By Kathleen Gilbert

Republican Senator Jim DeMint says that he is troubled by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor after she told him she had "never thought about" the rights of the unborn child.

"When I asked if an unborn child has any rights whatsoever, I was surprised that she said she had never thought about it," said DeMint in a statement. "This is not just a question about abortion, but about the respect due to human life at all stages, and I hope this is cleared up in her hearings."

The South Carolina senator also expressed concern that Sotomayor "was unwilling to say the Second Amendment protects a fundamental right that applies to all Americans," which he says "raises serious questions about her view of the Bill of Rights."

“Those who serve on the highest court in America must have an unwavering commitment to the Constitution and equal justice for all Americans," DeMint concluded. "I will continue to review Judge Sotomayor’s decisions and public statements and will watch her hearings closely.”

Although lacking in abortion-related opinions in her 17 years as a judge, senators probing Sotomayor's thoughts in recent weeks have said that the liberal judge is solidly in favor of upholding Roe v. Wade.

Pro-abortion senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) say that Sotomayor assured them she would not tamper with the precedent set by Roe.

Also, a recently-unearthed amicus curiae brief signed by an interest group where Sotomayor served on the board of directors urged the Supreme Court in 1989 to uphold the "fundamental right" to abortion.

Capitol Hill Republicans, who have expressed a desire to slow the confirmation process to examine Sotomayor's record more closely, expressed anger after Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy announced confirmation hearings would start July 13.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Should Homosexuality Be a 'Litmus Test' for High Court?

"Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, contends the position held by Focus on the Family is the equivalent of 'moral retreat.' 'It's not just the damage caused by Focus on the Family's moral retreat on the issue,' Glenn argues. '[That explanation] will be used by homosexual activists and their allies in the media to further marginalize and delegitimize any pro-family organization that continues to take a Biblical standard.'"

From OneNewsNow
By Jim Brown

Conservative political activists are divided over whether homosexual behavior should disqualify a judicial nominee from consideration for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Focus on the Family's judicial analyst, Bruce Hausknecht, recently told liberal blogger Greg Sargent that Focus would not oppose a Supreme Court nominee solely because of their homosexual behavior. "Our concern at the Supreme Court is judicial philosophy," Hausknecht said. "Sexual orientation only becomes an issue if it effects their judging."

Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst at Focus, says just like a nominee's ethnicity and life experience, homosexuality should not be a litmus test.

"Someone's sexual orientation or their preferences, none of these things should come into consideration when we're talking about evaluating someone who will make decisions based on precedent under the law [and who will] practice judicial restraint," Horne explains. "Those are the things we look at for whether or not someone would make a fit justice on the Supreme Court."

Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, contends the position held by Focus on the Family is the equivalent of "moral retreat."

"It's not just the damage caused by Focus on the Family's moral retreat on the issue," Glenn argues. "[That explanation] will be used by homosexual activists and their allies in the media to further marginalize and delegitimize any pro-family organization that continues to take a biblical standard."

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council agrees with Focus on the Family that homosexuality should not be an absolute litmus test for a Supreme Court nominee. He argues in blog comments that "even Supreme Court nominees deserve some zone of privacy, and...there is at least a hypothetical possibility that somewhere in the country there is a judge who has experienced same-sex attractions, but who also respects judicial restraint and the original intent of the Constitution.

"In the real world, however, the chances of finding a highly-qualified judge who fits both of those descriptions are probably about equal to the chances of a camel passing through the eye of a needle," Sprigg concludes. "So don't hold your breath waiting for social conservatives to 'support' a 'gay' judicial nominee."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Obama Urged to Appoint First 'Gay' to Supreme Court

From OneNewsNow
By Charlie Butts

With a vacancy soon on the U.S. Supreme Court,
homosexual blogs are discussing the potential of a homosexual being appointed. reports homosexual-rights groups are upset with President Barack Obama for not choosing an openly "gay" person for his Cabinet, and are urging him to appoint the first openly homosexual justice. The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund is hailing the candidacy of First Amendment scholar Kathleen Sullivan, while Stanford law professor Pam Karlan is also frequently mentioned. Both have been open about their sexuality and have been active for homosexual legal causes.

Matt Barber is a spokesperson with Liberty Counsel. "Well, in light of this nation's undeniable Christian heritage, it's hard to believe we're even having a conversation about whether a sitting United States president will count deviant sexual behavior as a favorable qualification in determining a nomination to the highest court of the land," he says.

Matt BarberBarber offers a message for members of the Senate to send to President Obama. "We insist upon a Supreme Court justice who will strictly interpret the Constitution -- which was the clear intent of our Founding Fathers -- and not use the Constitution [or] abuse the Constitution as a means to an ideological end, which I fear this administration intends to do," he concludes.

The new justice will replace Justice David Souter, who has announced he is retiring at the end of the current session.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pro-Abortion Arlen Specter's Move to Democrats Could Hurt Supreme Court Pick

By Steven Ertelt

In an ironic twist of fate, the defection of pro-abortion Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to the Democratic Party could have an effect on the upcoming battle over a Supreme Court nominee. The battle will likely see pro-life advocates opposing a pro-abortion nomination from President Barack Obama.

When Obama nominates a replacement for retiring pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice David Souter, that nomination will head to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings and a vote.

The committee requires the consent of at least one Republican to end debate and move a nominee to the full Senate for a vote.

Specter, the former ranking minority member of the Republican Party on the committee, would have been the most likely GOP lawmaker to sign off on Obama's nomination.

Without his presence and vote, the rest of the members of the GOP on the panel could band together to oppose a pro-abortion nominee and prevent the confirmation process from moving ahead. In such a case, Democrats would likely have to present a motion to change the Senate's rules to block the option of the minority to exercise its opposition -- a move that could result in significant political fallout.

William Jacobson, a professor of law at Cornell University, told FOX News, "I think, in narrow terms, it could present a procedural problem at the committee level, unless the Democrats are going to change the rules of the committee midstream."

"Most people presume in a controversial nomination that Arlen Specter would have been the one most likely to vote with Democrats, since he prides himself on being independent of Republicans. But now that he moves over to the Democratic side, the president and Democrats lost their most likely minority vote," Jacobson explains.

Changing the rules could also prompt a backlash from Specter himself, who enjoys the traditions of the Senate and could vote to support his former party colleague if they see their rights taken away by ruling Democrats.

With Specter not able to provide the needed Republican vote, speculation turns to pro-life South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Graham was a member of the Gang of 14, a group of seven Democrats and seven Republicans who worked together to prevent filibusters of President Bush's high court picks.

With Specter's switching parties, all of the rest of the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are pro-life on abortion.

In another twist, Specter's party switch also means he will no longer be the ranking minority member of the panel and GOP lawmakers will have to decide on a replacement. They could support Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who has been a committee chairman before and would need a waiver, or they could support the next senator in line, Charles Grassley of Iowa.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Guns, Foreign Courts, and the Moral Consensus of the International Community

From The Acton Institute

Jordan Ballor

In a landmark decision that will impact the future of gun regulation in the United States, late last month the Supreme Court struck down a handgun ban in Washington, D.C. In District of Columbia etal. v. Heller (No. 07–290) a slim 5-4 majority found the D.C. ban to violate the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reads, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Over the last few years observers of the Supreme Court have noticed a trend among some of the justices to cite the decisions of foreign courts as part of the relevant precedent in deciding the cases before them. In 2005, justices Scalia and Breyer engaged in a rare public conversation on this very topic, “Constitutional Relevance of Foreign Court Decisions.” In the recently-decided D.C. v. Heller neither of the two dissenting opinions, written by justices Stevens and Breyer respectively, make substantial reference to foreign court decisions. But the growing phenomena of reference to foreign judgments as precedents raises the question of what the justices might have found if they had consulted such materials.

This tendency to invoke foreign jurisprudence is becoming more troubling as it becomes clearer that the moral consensus that once united Western nations has almost entirely broken down. A few years ago a pastor I know, as part of his duties as a representative of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC), took part in an inter-church dialogue with a member of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (GKN), a grouping of Reformed congregations in the Netherlands. The GKN sent what they considered to be a moderate pastor to participate in this conversation about moral issues. In the course of the discussion, the GKN moderate asserted that it was more evil to own a gun than to have an abortion.

At this, the CRC representative was only able to respond that their discussion was effectively over. The CRC’s official position on abortion is that the church “condemns the wanton or arbitrary destruction of any human being at any stage of its development from the point of conception to the point of death.” As any rhetorician knows, argument can only proceed where there is some basic level of agreement, and the ethical opinion expressed by the GKN pastor was so far removed from the sensibilities of the CRC that there was effectively no point of contact for continuing dialogue. The GKN has since joined a number of other Protestant denominations in the Netherlands, including other Lutheran and Reformed denominations, to form the Protestantse Kerk in Nederland (PKN).

While this is a relatively minor anecdote, it serves well to illustrate the conflicting moral values placed on issues of life by the mainstream culture in Europe and the United States. No doubt there are those on either side of the Atlantic who would take issue with the dominant cultural judgment, but the national and international legal documents underscore the real differences. Where the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights singles out the right of the people to keep and bear arms, proposed European Union constitutional documents make no such mention. And as a recent Washington Times article relates, “many in Western Europe and Japan see U.S. gun ownership rates and gun violence as a clear mark of difference with other industrial countries.”

But the difference has not always been so stark. Indeed, the preamble to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written in 1948, recognized the possibility of “rebellion against tyranny and oppression” as “a last resort,” an option that ideally could be avoided by protections according to the rule of law.

On the question of abortion, part of what derailed adoption of the EU Constitution in 2004 was concern by nations like Poland and Ireland that the vague constitutional provisions about “dignity” and “integrity” of the human person would require the repeal of national anti-abortion laws. The Treaty of Lisbon, successor to the failed EU Constitution, was rejected by Ireland last month, in part over similar concerns by pro-life advocates that adoption of the treaty “would threaten the Irish constitutional protection for the unborn, given the almost universal acceptance and promotion of abortion at the EU level.”

Upon reflection, then, the ethical judgment expressed by the GKN pastor seems to represent fairly well the mainstream EU attitude toward moral issues like guns and abortion. If part of what characterizes a civilization is a consensus on moral issues, then the idea of a unified Western civilization encompassing Europe and the United States is an illusion. A consensus that diverges on such fundamental questions of the right to life and responsibilities of self-defense is simply no consensus at all.

Jordan J. Ballor is associate editor at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty in Grand Rapids, Mich., and a contributor to the Acton Institute PowerBlog.