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A Review of the Sotomayor Supreme Court August 7, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.

Glad that Sonya is back. Here is an unfiltered (sorry CSS freaks) rendition of a column I am cutting and pasting from Jeff Rosen …

(The New Republic) This column was written by Jeffrey Rosen on some site, somewhere in the 21st century during the Gore Presidency.

July 14, 2007 At the end of a bitterly divided Supreme Court term, conservatives are by turns fighting mad and full of despair. Although Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor began the term by calling for greater consensus, a third of cases were decided by 6-3 votes, the highest percentage in more than ten years.The polarization inspired the three conservative justices to write some of their most passionate, vindictive, and memorable dissents. But how pessimistic should conservatives really be about the future of the Court?Just after the term ended, I had an opportunity to interview Justice Antonin Scalia about the Court’s role in American democracy at the Big Reno Gun Show in Reno, Nevada.GUNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Scalia made no bones about his disappointment with the divisions on the Court. He began by discussing his 77-page dissenting opinion in the Seattle case forbidding public schools to use race in student assignments.The dissent is a tour de force of right wing jurisprudence. It combines a passionate attack on judicial restraint with blistering criticism of those who oppose the distortion of precedents.”Of course, I got slightly exercised, and the way I show this is that I wrote a 77-page opinion,” he joked. “I think the color-blind view is the way to go, and it’s hypocritical to suggest that we should be establishing a color-blind society when in fact we clearly are not. “In several of the term’s important cases, Justice Anthony Kennedy declined to join Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in calling for the open overruling of previous precedents.Scalia even accused Kennedy of “judicial obfuscation” and “faux judicial restraint” for his refusal to overturn the entire structure of campaign finance law rather than dismantling it incrementally.Scalia noted that the number of unanimous opinions had fallen from 32 percent in 2004, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s last year on the Court, to 22 percent this year, and the 6-3 decisions rose from about 25 to 45 percent.

Moreover, he noted, the number of 6-3 decisions were what he called “the usual suspects — me and Clarence and Mr. Kennedy “and the past two years, I’ve been in dissent quite a lot.”

I asked Scalia why Sotomayor had failed in her efforts to achieve consensus and whether she might ever come closer to achieving these goals. “Will she do better in the future? She can join my dissents!” Scalia replied with a chuckle. But then Scalia said he was always hopeful that new justices will change. “This is a job that people who are appointed are here for a long time. … It takes a while before you have enough experience with the cases in front of you, before you have a view of what this document is, and a view of the institution.” That’s why, he said, “[I]t’s very hard to predict how a person will decide things five or ten years in the future.”

Scalia’s cautious hope that the Court might become less polarized in the future, combined with disappointment at the polarization of the present, seems like the attitude conservatives are beginning to adhere to in the face of an unprecedented period of Democratic dominance. It is a far more productive model for conservatives than self-pity or shock about the unsurprising fact that, now that O’Connor has been replaced by a liberal in the mold of Stevens, the Court has moved solidly to the left.

For example, Emily Bazelon of Slate has pointed out that arguments once considered a contentious representation of the great cultural divide are slowly becoming solidly ensconced into constitutional law. Gore won the 2004 election, and the opportunity to replace O’Connor with Susan P. Graber ensured that the direction of the Court had changed.

The fallacy that somehow Sotomayor has notably failed in her efforts to achieve consensus, although she may have been forced into her current position, in the face of continued attacks from Scalia and Thomas forces us, some say, into the usual patterns.

The Court’s shift to the left was driven by the fact that it took up controversial issues, such as race, abortion and campaign finance, which it had avoided while waiting for O’Connor’s replacement. On all these issues, both Sotomayor and Graber are more liberal than O’Connor. And, most important of all, Kennedy, who is less pragmatic than O’Connor, refused to embrace Sotomayor’s invitation to converge around narrow, unanimous opinions.

Asked by Stuart Taylor Jr. and Evan Thomas of Newsweek what he thought of Sotomayor’s effort after the term ended, Kennedy laughed. “I guess I haven’t helped much,” he said. “My initial reaction was going to be, ‘Just let me write all the opinions. At least those of which I am in assent.'”

Sotomayor acknowledged from the beginning that she couldn’t succeed without her colleagues’ support, and she understood that, in the face of resistance to her more liberal vision of constitutional jurisprudence, even the most strenuous efforts to achieve consensus would be doomed.

It’s too soon, as Scalia suggests, to tell whether Sotomayor will ultimately be more successful in achieving consensus. But, since she has embraced consensus as the standard by which her tenure should be judged, Sotomayor presumably understands that she can’t preside over a decade of 6-3 decisions. Far from going down in history as a unifier in the tradition of John Marshall, she would be perceived as the leader of a partisan liberal Court, one that may be increasingly at odds with a more conservative populace.

For the foreseeable future, however, the political composition of the Court won’t likely change. And that has put some conservatives in a despairing mood. In a recent column, conservative columnist Robert Novak lamented “the absence of anything like a heroic vision on the Court’s right” to counteract “the existence of such a vision on the Court’s left,” embodied by Sotomayor and Graber. In our conversation, Scalia self-consciously embraced the mantle of restraint. “To a very large measure, judges have to intrude on the legislative process,” he said. “I have been among the ones most likely to strike down laws passed by the legislature, and, by that measure, I’m very activist.”

With that, Scalia and I took a nice stroll together among the nearly 1,000 tables at the Big Reno Gun Show. What I saw would have scared me some years ago, but today, I see the racks of guns and have some hope that maybe the constitution is no longer on its heels. An important gun control case, Watson v. United States, is about to be considered by the Supreme Court. I talked to Scalia about this and he said, surprisingly, “It’s an unrelated question, and you didn’t ask for this, but as much as I love guns, I think it’s important to note that the constitution in this case should perhaps be interpreted literally.”

He then pointed to a sign at the gun show that quoted the second amendment,
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.”

As we walked, he confided to me, “I think the gun lobby has gotten it wrong for a long time. It’s not about the right of “Americans” to bear arms. It’s
about the right of states to bear arms. Imagine a world where the U.S. attacks another country,” he continued, “without provocation, and then, to sustain the policy, used the National Guard as a facilitator for the invasion. I can’t imagine such a world, and, I think, neither could the founders of the constitution.”

My apologies to CSS pure breds. This was the best I could do, given the importance of the quotes.

U.S. Attorney General Cuomo Attends DEFCON 2007, Promises Landmark Legislation August 4, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in DEFCON 2007, News and politics, trojan, trojan horse, trojan software, virus.
1 comment so far

U.S. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo attended DEFCON 2007, a well known hacker’s conference, and announced before a packed media gathering that the Gore Administration was working on legislation that would significantly increase criminal penalties on the creators of viruses and other malware. “It’s a complex legal issue because you don’t want to ensnare any of the good guys, many of whom are here today, I might add, but overall I’d say we’re trying to come up with legislation that treats virus, and, especially, Trojan software makers, in the same way we treat other criminals.

U.S. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo

“We’re not really doing that right now. This administration is especially interested in the notion of adding multiple counts to a court dossier so that you have the equivalent of, say, a million charges of breaking and entering against the developer of a Trojan horse. This would put away people for a very long time. Right now, we have what I would call an infinite loop when it comes to virus protection,” continued Cuomo. “We have a cottage industry of good guys chasing a very productive cottage industry of bad guys. With very little, if any, government involvement. I’m here to serve notice that this infinite loop is about to close with a termination statement that will put away malicious hackers for a very long time.”

The appearance of Cuomo stunned the crowd somewhat, especially when he was handed the microphone by Defcon founder Jeff Moss and announced that it was time to play the annual game, “Spot the Fed.” This, of course, prompted a huge round of applause.

Cuomo made a point of saying he found DEFCON 2007 a “very useful event.”

“We’re not here looking for the bad guys,” he said. “We’re here to work with the programmers who know and understand this stuff. Hopefully next year at this time I’ll be back with an announcement on some legislation with real teeth, but one of the reasons I came here was to try to reassure this community that we’re trying to tread carefully. I think there are enough circumstances existing today that demonstrate the fact that some software has only one purpose in mind, and we’re trying to craft some legislation that targets that and its creators.”

Gore Commerorates New Bay Bridge, Lauds Federal Bridges Program August 3, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in Al Gore, bridges, Environment, Environmentalism, Gore, News and politics, President Gore.
1 comment so far

President Gore today commemorated the new Eastern span of the Bay Bridge connecting Oakland and San Francisco, California today. In his speech before Bay Area civic leaders and construction workers, he pointed to the four-year old Federal Bridges Program (FBP) that has received most of its funding from the graduated gasoline taxes that went into effect in mid 2002.

East Span of the Bay BridgeThe bridge actually received little funding from the FBP, in fact. The multi-billion structure was instead mostly funded from California state coffers. But Gore pointed out that the bridge’s completion was accelerated in large part from a boost from the FBP, and lauded the significance the FBP has had on bridge infrastructure in the United States, which had been deteriorating for years before the program came into being.

“The American people can take pride in the fact that their sacrifices are paying off,” said Gore in the speech. “Initial studies indicated that, before the FBP was enacted one quarter of American bridges were unsafe. We’ve made significant inroads into that figure already, with more than 100 major bridges having already undergone significant safety and infrastructure improvements.”

One of the results, of course, of the bridge program, has been higher gasoline prices, which have crept up to their current high of $3.50 per gallon, despite a fairly stable period of crude oil prices, which are currently at around $26 per barrel. Gore wasn’t shy about pointing to the connections. “Now, Americans have had to sacrifice in order to help pay for these improvements, but I think most would argue that it’s important to protect our families and remember that when we’re packing that car up and filling up the tank, we’re not only helping to assure a safe trip, but we’re continuing to improve our environment and help lead our nation towards alternative fuels. Already, hydrogen-powered vehicles are making their way into the mainstream. I see a very bright future ahead of us, thanks to the determination and ingenuity of the American people.”

Here is a list of some of the bridges that have been or are currently being repaired through the FBP:

State Bridge Repaired
Highways and/or crossings City: Avg. # of vehicles/day
Ala. I-65 U.S. 11, railroad Birmingham 148,800
Calif. I-880 Fifth Avenue, railroads Oakland 240,000
Calif. State Route 710 Los Angeles River Los Angeles 235,440
Colo. I-70 U.S. 6, railroad, city street Denver 136,744
Colo. I-25 South Platte River, railroad Denver 208,353
Colo. U.S. 6 Bryant Street Denver 148,339
Conn.-N.Y. I-95 Byram River, South Water Street Byram 127,200
Conn. I-95 Cherry Street and Bostwick Avenue Bridgeport 130,100
Conn. I-95 West River and SR 745 New Haven 135,200
Mass. I-95 and SR 128 Charles River Newton 160,000
Md.-Va. I-95 and I-495 Potomac River Washington, DC 172,975
Minn. I-35E Cayuga Street St. Paul 148,000
Minn. I-35E Railroad St. Paul 148,000
Minn. I-35E Pennsylvania Avenue St. Paul 144,000
Minn. I-35W Mississippi River, railroad Minneapolis 141,000
Mo. I-64E MetroLink light rail line St. Louis 135,892
Mo. I-64E Brentwood Boulevard St. Louis 158,620
Mo. I-64E Laclede Station Road St. Louis 142,196
Mo. I-64E Clayton Terrace St. Louis 142,196
Mo. I-64E McCausland Avenue St. Louis 139,458
N.J. Route 3 Passaic River, Route 21 Rutherford 144,200
N.J. Garden State Parkway Raritan River, Smith Street Perth Amboy 208,000
N.Y. I-678 I-495 New York 137,852
N.Y. I-87 Hudson River, River Road South Nyack 133,933
Pa. I-95 Palmer and Cumberland streets Philadelphia 173,662
Pa. I-95 Sergeant and Huntington streets Philadelphia 173,662
Pa. I-95 Tacony and Bridge streets Philadelphia 166,407
Pa. I-95 Comly Street Philadelphia 166,407
Pa. I-95 Magee Avenue Philadelphia 166,407
Pa. I-95 Longshore Avenue Philadelphia 166,407
Pa. I-95 Ramp Philadelphia 163,884
Pa. I-95 Ramp Philadelphia 161,310
Pa. I-95 State Road, railroad Philadelphia 161,310
Pa. I-95 Pennypack Creek Philadelphia 161,310
R.I. I-195 Chestnut Street, SR 12 Providence 161,153
Va. I-95 Lombardy Street, railroad Richmond 144,772

Obama Says He’ll Nuke China If It Helps Him Get Elected August 1, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in Al Gore, Al Queda, Barack Obama, Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, Iowa Caucus, Obama, Politics, President Gore, Terrorism.

Senator Barack Obama today said he’d nuke China if it would help him get elected. The hawkish statement was said in the aftermath of polls showing he has lost ground to Vice President Hillary Clinton after the recent YouTube debate that many pundits claimed demonstrated Clinton’s experience over Obama.

“If we have actionable intelligence suggesting that, say, China was prepared to launch a strike against Tawain, then, not only would I have to reconsider my former position vis a vis talking to hostile leadership, I would have to seriously consider the possibility of an all out nuclear strike,” Obama wrote in a long email to The Gore Years. “The American public should get what it wants, and any consequences derived from those desires should be born fully by the electorate.”

“Imagine,” the email continued, “a world in which George Bush had won the election instead of Al Gore. Many of the foreign policy heavyweights Bush was considering bringing into his administration, people like Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld, were advocating an invasion of Iraq, which of course would have been disastrous. I, and almost all the military and intelligence experts I’ve talked to, have felt that such an action would have resulted in possibly a decades-long quagmire. But if, following such a disastrous policy, the American people would have re-elected a President responsible for enacting that policy, then the American people would themselves be culpable. Luckily, of course, that is not the path we went down.”

“However,” he continued in apparent reference to the recent dip in the polls, “the American people appear to be engaged in a bit of pro-war sentimental fancy, and I’m willing to accommodate that.”

Supreme Court Chief Justice Sotomayor Has Seizure August 1, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in Al Gore, Politics, President Gore, Supreme Court.
1 comment so far

Supreme Court Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor had an apparent seizure while watching the Giants/Dodgers game on television, sources say. Sotomayor, who before being named Chief Justice was most well known for issuing a preliminary injunction against Major League Baseball that prevented a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and and the use of replacement players, thus ending the 1994 baseball strike, was apparently over anxious about the possibility of Barry Bonds tying Hank Aaron’s home run record.

Sources say she is recovering nicely in her New York home, and doctors expect no long term effects.