Courts, Politics

Rumors ‘Swirling’ About Justice Kennedy’s Retirement

The New York Times is reporting a big headline about ‘swirling rumors in DC’ concerning the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

We’ve heard this all before, however.

But the NYT is mum on what developments might be afoot that would justify the renewed rumors.

Some analysts argue that the second year of a presidency is typically when judges have retired.

But others argue that he’s hired new clerks for the upcoming term, potentially pointing to his intent to stay on at least another year.

Whatever the truth, it’s highly likely Kennedy will step down before 2020, which means Trump will get another pick on the Court to solidify its conservative leaning.

Here’s more from Newsmax…

Rumors that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy may retire are sweeping Washington, The New York Times is reporting.

It marks the second consecutive year the rumors have hit the nation’s capital.

Kennedy is 81 and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the high court, the Times noted.

The newspaper said Kennedy has held the decisive vote in many of the court’s most contested cases. His retirement would give President Donald Trump the chance to move the court more to the right, according to the Times.

Kennedy is likely looking at many factors in making his decision, the newspaper said. Judicial experts believe those factors include party loyalty and the preservation of his judicial legacy.

And the newspaper noted justices usually prefer to retire when the sitting president is of the same party as the one who nominated them to the high court in the first place.

“If the incumbent president is of the same party as the president who nominated the justice to the court, and if the incumbent president is in the first two years of a four-year presidential term, then the justice has odds of resignation that are about 2.6 times higher than when these two conditions are not met,” it said.



9th Circuit Court Shenanigans: Another Travel Ban Block

It’s a day that ends in ‘y’ so of course we have news of yet another federal court issuing a block on President Trump’s travel ban.

This time, yet again, it comes from the uber-liberal 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco, which essentially is a kangaroo court that makes up legal reasoning on a whim.

In this particular ruling, the court declared that Trump exceeds his authority by blocking refugees who have a “bona fide relationship” with the United States.

Naturally, that language can be used to justify nearly anyone trying to enter the U.S. from banned countries.

Thankfully the Supreme Court has already blocked any additional blocks on the ban until justices can issue a final ruling. Stay tuned.

Here’s more from Daily Caller…

A federal appeals court moved to limit the scope of President Donald Trump’s travel ban Friday, ruling that the restriction should not be applied to those with a “bona fide relationship” to the U.S.

The ruling by the San Francisco-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cannot immediately take effect, however, because of a Supreme Court stay until the Trump administration’s challenge against two injunctions plays out in court. The 9th circuit ruling would tighten a restriction introduced by a lower federal court which precluded those “with a credible bona fide relationship with the United States” from being subjected to the ban.

A three-judge panel, which ruled against a previous version of the ban, objected to the policy on grounds of executive overreach in the ruling Friday. “We conclude that the President’s issuance of the Proclamation once again exceeds the scope of his delegated authority,” the judges, all of whom were appointed by former President Bill Clinton, wrote in the 71-page opinion.

“We conclude that the Proclamation conflicts with the statutory framework of the INA by indefinitely nullifying Congress’s considered judgments on matters of immigration,” the panel added. “The Proclamation’s stated purposes are to prevent entry of terrorists and persons posing a threat to public safety, as well as to enhance vetting capabilities and processes to achieve that goal….Yet Congress has already acted to effectuate these purposes.”


Courts, Politics

Federal Court Blocks Trump After Overturning Obama Mandate

Yet another federal judge has blocked a decision from the White House with dubious justification.

This time a judge in northern California has issued an injunction against the administration’s new rules which effectively killed Obama’s notorious HHS Mandate.

Recall that the mandate forces religious organizations to include contraception as a part of their health coverage in violation of their religious convictions.

Despite that the Supreme Court already ruled in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor against the Obama administration, the California court argued that the Trump administration didn’t allow for comments before issuing its rule.

Gee, that’s funny.

We don’t recall the Obama administration allowing for much commentary before handing down the mandate in the first place.

Could it be that this has far less to do with the rule change and more to do with the fact that it came from a Republican White House?

Here’s more from Washington Examiner…

A second federal court has blocked President Trump’s attempt to drastically scale back Obamacare’s mandate that birth control be offered at no cost.

A judge with the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction Thursday over two interim final rules that roll back the mandate. The order, in response to a lawsuit from California, comes about a week after a federal judge in Pennsylvania made a similar order.

The order prevents the interim rules that scale back the mandate from going into effect until the lawsuit runs its course.

The California judge found that the Trump administration rushed out the two rules that go into effect immediately, not leaving the public enough time to comment on them.

The judge said in the order that the administration failed to “provide the public with an advance opportunity to comment, making it impossible for the agency to consider the input of any interested parties before enactment.”



Trump Appoints Another Conservative Titan to Circuit Court

Despite the popular perception that the Trump administration is under siege and losing its battle against the left both internally and externally, the real war for the future of the country has been for quite some time over control of the courts.

And in this respect, Trump’s juggernaut strategy is undeniable.

The obvious iconic victory in the appointment and confirmation of Justice Gorsuch to the Supreme Court given, Trump has continued that long train of victories in the lower courts with confirmation of multiple conservative judges to circuit courts.

This week brings yet another after the Senate confirmed Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett to the Fifth Circuit Court.

Willett is a young, brilliant legal mind along the lines of Gorsuch with a storied career that may destine him, too, for the SCOTUS.

Here’s more from Redstate…

The Senate voted today to confirm Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a move cheered by conservative activists and legal scholars.

Willett’s nomination was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week on a 11-9 party line vote, and today’s final confirmation vote followed a similar partisan breakdown, at 50-47.

Democrats lack the numbers to block any of President Donald Trump’s judges since former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed the rules in 2013 to allow judicial nominees to be approved by a simple majority vote, rather than the 60 votes that were required previously.

That didn’t stop them from attempting to turn Willett’s confirmation hearings into a circus, with Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) engaging in especially theatrical faux outrage about tweets Willett had posted.



Justice: DOJ Issues Arrest Warrant for Kate Steinle Killer

After the surprise acquittal on Thursday of Jose Inez Garcia Zarate in the murder of Kate Steinle, the outrage from the right was overwhelming.

That sent President Trump to Twitter with a clear indication of his position on the result.

And not much later the DOJ responded in kind with hints that it considered the issue not yet settled.

Then yesterday, the agency made good on those hints by issuing an arrest warrant for Zarate. The constitutional protection against ‘double jeopardy’ applies only to American citizens.

What’s more, the federal government can throw the book at Zarate for multiple violations of law, not the least of which are his five instances of illegal immigration including multiple criminal convictions.

Just when you thought the sanctuary city debate was dying down, it’s raging once again.

State legislatures around the country are already gearing up for local fights.

Here’s more from Redstate…

The Department of Justice has reportedly issued an arrest warrant for Jose Inez Garcia Zarate. The illegal immigrant was acquitted of murdering Kate Steinle in 2015 after he fired a gun he had found and the ricochet lodged in Steinle’s back, leaving her to die in her father’s arms.

A huge wave of controversy followed the verdict, with many claiming San Fransisco’s ultra-progressive sanctuary city policies led to the death of Steinle. Zarate had been deported five times and had up to seven criminal convictions and yet the city refused to hand him over to ICE authorities.

This story is breaking minute to minute and at the time of publication no mention of the charges has been published. However, Redstate legal blogger Sarah Rumpf explained that Zarate was not necessarily free and clear and there were other pending charges in his future.

[One quick but important note: Garcia Zarate is not going free. The jury did convict him of a lesser charge of being a felon in possession of a gun, and he now awaits sentencing, which will be 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison. He has already served two years and will get credit for that time, but even if he is not given the maximum sentence, there is an outstanding U.S. Marshals Service warrant against him, and despite the sanctuary cities policy, San Francisco apparently does turn over undocumented immigrants to the feds when they have a warrant. So he is either getting deported, or spending more time in prison first, and then getting deported.]



Jury Finds Illegal Alien Not Guilty of Kate Steinle Murder

The sanctuary city debate is back on the front burner today after a San Francisco jury found illegal alien Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty of the 2015 murder of Kate Steinle as she walked the pier with her father.

Instead, the jury convicted Zarate merely of unlawful possession of a firearm after buying the defense’s argument that the shooting was an accident.

The outrage in the aftermath of the decision is well-placed.

Zarate had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation at the time of the shooting.

Had San Francisco been in compliance with federal law and handed him over like they were supposed to, this never would have happened.

Welcome to the new war.

Here’s more from CBS…

A jury on Thursday found a Mexican man not guilty of murder in the killing of a woman on a San Francisco pier that set off a national immigration debate two years ago.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Garcia Zarate had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation when Kate Steinle was fatally shot in the back while walking with her father on the pier. Garcia Zarate did not deny shooting Steinle but said it was an accident.

A prosecutor said in her closing arguments Nov. 20 that Zarate was “playing his own secret version of Russian roulette” when he shot and killed Steinle in July 2015. San Francisco Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia derided as implausible the defense argument that he accidentally shot a weapon he didn’t know was a firearm.

On Thursday, Steinle’s parent gave what they called their last interview to local newspaper San Francisco Chronicle.

“We’re just shocked — saddened and shocked … that’s about it,” Steinle’s father Jim said of the verdict. “There’s no other way you can coin it. Justice was rendered, but it was not served.”

Steinle’s brother Brad said he was “not surprised,” considering the “epic failure” that led Garcia Zarate to be released on the streets, and end up with a loaded handgun on the pier that day.




Trump Adds 5 Big Names to SCOTUS Pick List

It was a small headline this week that didn’t get much attention amid what we’ll call Gropegate. But it was a massive tell in the Supreme Court poker game.

The White House announced that President Trump has added five big names to his list of potential SCOTUS nominees.

And rest assured they’re all solid conservatives of the same stripe as Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Among them is Amy Barrett, former Notre Dame law professor who was assailed by liberals in the U.S. Senate for being a traditional Catholic in the same vein as former Justice Antonin Scalia, whom Gorsuch replaced.

But the bigger story here is that Trump likely is preparing for a nomination to replace Justice Kennedy ahead of his expected retirement next year.

Remember: Trump predicted he’d get to nominate as many as four or five during his tenure.

Here’s more from Newsmax…

President Donald Trump has added federal appellate Judge Brett Kavanaugh and four other jurists to his list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh recently wrote a dissent when his colleagues on the federal appeals court in Washington allowed an immigrant teen in U.S. custody to have an abortion. The 52-year-old Kavanaugh was once a law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The other judges added to Trump’s list are two more federal appellate judges, Amy Barrett and Kevin Newsom, and two state Supreme Court justices, Britt Grant of Georgia and Patrick Wyrick of Oklahoma.

Trump adviser Leonard Leo says there is no indication the 81-year-old Kennedy or any other justice is planning to leave the court.



President Trump Quietly Transforming US Judiciary Branch

Democrats famously shot themselves in the political foot in 2013 when they removed the filibuster option for judicial confirmations in Senate.

Four years later, Republicans now in control are using that decision to their advantage to help President Trump — in the words Barack H. Obama — ‘fundamentally transform’ the federal judiciary.

Whilst the Trump administration and Congress are mired in a very public sort of do-nothing reputation after failing to repeal Obamacare and, so far, to pass a tax reform bill, some very significant things are happening in the courts.

Trump has filled vacancies in federal courts faster than any president since Richard Nixon–almost nine appellate judges to be exact.

And he’s done it by creating a not-so-public team whose sole job is to find conservative judges, vet them and get nominated and confirmed.

If this is the only legacy from the Trump era, it’s already huge.

Here’s more from PJ Media…

In the weeks before Donald J. Trump took office, lawyers joining his administration gathered at a law firm near the Capitol, where Donald F. McGahn II, the soon-to-be White House counsel, filled a white board with a secret battle plan to fill the federal appeals courts with young and deeply conservative judges.

Mr. McGahn, instructed by Mr. Trump to maximize the opportunity to reshape the judiciary, mapped out potential nominees and a strategy, according to two people familiar with the effort: Start by filling vacancies on appeals courts with multiple openings and where Democratic senators up for re-election next year in states won by Mr. Trump — like Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania — could be pressured not to block his nominees. And to speed them through confirmation, avoid clogging the Senate with too many nominees for the district courts, where legal philosophy is less crucial.

Nearly a year later, that plan is coming to fruition. Mr. Trump has already appointed eight appellate judges, the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon, and on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send a ninth appellate nominee — Mr. Trump’s deputy White House counsel, Gregory Katsas — to the floor.

Republicans are systematically filling appellate seats they held open during President Barack Obama’s final two years in office with a particularly conservative group of judges with life tenure. Democrats — who in late 2013 abolished the ability of 41 lawmakers to block such nominees with a filibuster, then quickly lost control of the Senate — have scant power to stop them.



Court Rules War Memorial Shaped Like A Cross Is Unconstitutional

Federal courts are at it again with more judicial tyranny, and the founding fathers are surely turning in their graves.

The 4th Circuit Court ruled this week that a Maryland war memorial is unconstitutional because it’s in the shape of a cross.

Funded and maintained with taxpayer dollars, it apparently constitutes ‘establishment of religion’ because it promotes Christianity exclusively.

The obvious retort is to point to Arlington Cemetery where there are lots and lots of crosses.

What’s the difference?

According to the court, the memorial in Maryland is too big.

Yep, apparently the First Amendment now hinges on size.

So, should the case get appealed to the Supreme Court, constitutional case law may come down to a question of inches.


Here’s more from HotAir…

Stupid, but unfortunately this stupidity is baked into the jurisprudential cake due to the intractability of the underlying problem. It’d be nice to set a bright-line rule about religious symbols on state land, where they’re either always okay or never okay. But neither of those positions works. You can’t have a system where they’re always okay or else you’re inviting overt attempts at religious indoctrination by the government. That would violate the Establishment Clause. At the other extreme, you can’t have a system where religious symbols are never permitted. Imagine trying to remove the crosses at Arlington National Cemetery. Necessarily the analysis in cases about monuments is ad hoc, and just as necessarily that sort of analysis depends on the judge’s subjective view.

Courts are left trying to feel their way case by case, essentially taking a “I know it when I see it” approach to unconstitutional government-financed religious symbolism. Normally that involves applying something called the “Lemon test,” drawn from a SCOTUS case of the same name, which tries to standardize judicial reasoning in analyzing cases like these. But it ends up as a hash in practice, with judges essentially using it to wrestle with the concept of de minimis indoctrination. Every religious symbol on government land risks indoctrinating the observer a little bit. Invariably the symbols are tied to virtues like heroism in war, in law enforcement, and so on. If you admire the valor of a soldier and a giant cross stands before you to commemorate that valor, maybe you’ll admire the cross and what it represents a little bit more too. But how much more? How much indoctrination is too much for the Establishment Clause?


Courts, Politics

Trump: I’ll Appoint 4 Supreme Court Justices in First Term

Axios is reporting a fairly interesting interview with President Trump in which he’s boldly predicting a full four appointments to the Supreme Court…in his first term alone.

Having already appointed Justice Gorsuch to the Court with no small degree of political maneuvering in the Senate, the question concerns the additional three.

The most obvious is Justice Kennedy whose retirement was rumored almost immediately after Trump’s inauguration.

The second is nearly as obvious with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — easily the most liberal on the bench — who has been battling major health issues for at least a decade and, thus, probably would have retired had Hillary won the election.

But the third is a bit of a surprise. One might guess Justice Stephen Breyer who, at 79, is the third oldest member on the Court. And that guess would be wrong.

According to Trump, Sotomayor, though only 63, has been battling diabetes since childhood. Trump apparently believes that will be her undoing.

If he’s right, and if he wins reelection in 2020, he may have an opportunity to appoint a majority of the Court before he’s done.

The last time that happened was under President Eisenhower, more than half a century ago.

Here’s more from Newsmax…

President Donald Trump predicted he would appoint a total of four Supreme Court justices by the end of his first term, Axios reported Sunday.

Sources who had spoken to the president about the possibility told the online news media company it was “all about the numbers for him.”

One source said Trump mentioned he had already replaced the seat left vacant when Antonin Scalia died early last year, nominating Neil Gorsuch to the position. When asked who the second justice he thought would leave, Trump mentioned rumors Justice Anthony Kennedy would retire.

The third justice the president thought would leave was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to the source.

“Ginsburg,” Trump reportedly said. “What does she weigh? Sixty pounds?” And the fourth justice Trump predicted would leave the Supreme Court was Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“Sotomayor,” Trump told the source, referring to the justice appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2009.

“Her health,” Trump explained. “No good. Diabetes.”