We have hit another milestone today with over 33,000,000 views. We are also expected to reach 35,000 followers on Twitter. That hardly makes us competition for the largest sites but it is still an impressive collection of people seeking a place for civil but passionate discourse on legal and policy issues of our time (and perhaps a few wacky stories). We often use these milestones to look at the current profile of the blog and its supporters around the world.
As always, I want to offer special thanks for our weekend contributors: Mike Appleton, Larry Rafferty, Darren Smith, Kimberly Dienes, and Cara Gallagher (particularly Darren who continues help up with periodic technical problems etc).
I particularly want to thank our regular commentators and readers. We try to keep this blog as an open forum with as little interference or monitoring of the comments as possible. Given our free speech orientation, we try not to delete comments and, for that reason, we are deeply appreciative of how most people avoid personal or offensive comments in debating these issues. We have had to delete a handful of comments with personal attacks or profanity but the number remains quite low for a blog of this size. The success of this blog is due to the fact that we offer something more than the all-too-common troll-driven, angry, and insulting commentary of the Internet. Thank you for voluntarily assuming restraint over the tenor and content of your comments. Continue reading
As many on this blog are aware, I testified in favor of the confirmation of Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch at his Senate hearing. I believe him to be a jurist with a deep commitment to first principles of constitutional interpretation. It was for that reason that I was taken aback the the dismissive and careless comments on Gorsuch by National Public Radio Legal Affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. Totenberg used the Supreme Court podcast “First Mondays” to launch into Gorsuch for what Totenberg described as pedantic and annoying conduct in conferences and oral arguments. Gorsuch’s colleagues on the Tenth Circuit as well as the broader appellate bench uniformly described him as a collegial, civil, and respectful colleague.
Senator Robert Menendez and his close friend Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor, are heading to a jury decision after U.S. District Judge William Walls ruled that the indictment against them for public corruption would stand. Menendez not only stands in considerable jeopardy for his highly questionable relationship with Melgen but his conviction could flip the seat in the Senate since Governor Chris Christie would appoint his successor. ( A new governor will be elected for January).
A viral video from a Seattle coffee shop illustrates the growing tension between free speech and religious exercise values. In the Facebook video, Ben Borgman — the owner of Bedlam Coffee shop — threw a Christian group out of his shop while spewing vulgar and obscene comments about their views. There are a growing number of such conflicts as store owners assert their right to refuse to serve those with opposing religious or social values. On December 5, the Supreme Court will hear the argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Rights Commission. That case will determine if a cake shop owner could refuse to prepare a cake for a same-sex couple on the basis of his opposing religious values.
Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the proposals for new gun control measures in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre. As I discuss below, there are some obvious possible measures that could pass constitutional muster like banning bump stocks (which allow semi-automatic weapons to perform more like automatic weapons) and conversion kits. However, these proposals would not have prevented the massacre. There are many “work arounds” for semi-automatic weapons and Paddock would have likely passed any enhanced background checks. Nevertheless, GOP members have expressed interest in some additional gun control measures.
Here is the column:
I have previously criticized Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her continued political comments in speeches to liberal and academic groups. While not unique on the Court, Ginsburg is something of recidivist in abandoning the long-standing avoidance of justices of political discussions. Indeed, justices previously avoided most public speeches where Ginsburg has readily embraced her public persona. Her latest comments occur on the eve of the start of the new term, a term with an array of major cases that arose from highly charged political conflicts over immigration, discrimination, and gun rights. In her latest comments, Ginsburg echoed comments by Hillary Clinton that sexism was a big part of Trump’s victory. It is precisely the type of political commentary that has cast a shadow over the credibility of the Court in earlier controversies.