In Conversation: Antonin Scalia "On the eve of a new Supreme Court session, the firebrand justice discusses gay rights and media echo chambers, Seinfeld and the Devil, and how much he cares about his intellectual legacy ("I don’t")." [more inside]
A Voter’s Guide to Legalizing Marijuana..at the state level
Today was, according to Angela Merkel, "a good day for Europe" - but it might also be the start of something much bigger. [more inside]
NAFTA treaty may face constitutional challenge in Canada. Premier Danny Williams Of Newfoundland and Labrador, already famous for his immensely successful ABC (Anything but Conservative) campaign during the 2008 federal election, is terminating the forestry tenure of AbitibiBowater and expropriating its assets. This move came as a response to AbitibiBowater's decision to close a newspaper mill. [more inside]
An excellent example of the consequences of the Supreme Court's Gonzales v. Raich decision: today the United States House of Representatives voted down a bill which would have prohibited the DEA from targeting State-authorized medical marijuana dispensaries. Almost simultaneously, the DEA raided 10 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.
Federalism and Faith. [more inside]
The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (S. 1955) has passed out of committee and is now slated for a floor vote. The bill is ostensibly designed to save small employers money and extend health insurance options to employees who hadn’t had them. What it is actually likely to do is end basic health insurance coverage for women (and diabetics); birth control, regularly taken prescriptions, cancer screenings, maternity care, and more. Women in every state will lose benefits. S. 1955 would allow insurance plans to ignore important state laws that protect patients, directly affecting more than 90 million Americans. [more inside]
When Gregg Revell packed his bags for a trip to Pennsylvania last April, he had no idea how far he'd be traveling. Before the week was out, the 57-year-old suburban real estate agent and grandfather would be arrested, thrown into one of the country's most notorious jails, strip searched and inoculated against his will. The soft-spoken Utah native would be on his way to becoming a poster child for the National Rifle Association in a $3 million lawsuit.
Supreme Court upholds Oregon's assisted suicide law. Justice Kenedy wrote the opinion for the majority, concluding that Ashcroft did not have the authority to sanction doctors under the Controlled Substances Act. Justice Scalia dissented, joined by Justice Thomas and Chief Justice Roberts. Thomas also wrote a separate dissent. The Washington Post has the opinions, and you can get the pdf from the Supreme Court's website.
Republican to Evangelical to English via Babylonfish. What Bush said about Supreme Court nominee
Bob Roberts John Roberts:
"In my meetings with Judge Roberts, I have been deeply impressed. He's a man of extraordinary accomplishment and ability. He has a good heart. He has the qualities Americans expect in a judge: experience, wisdom, fairness, and civility. He has profound respect for the rule of law and for the liberties guaranteed to every citizen. He will strictly apply the Constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench....He's also a man of character who loves his country and his family."What it meant to conservative fundamentalist Christians (in comments):
What your Congress is doing while you sleep... Tacking riders on to military spending bills is nothing new and an easy way to get legislation passed. With the recently passed Real ID Act, however, post-9/11 America takes a decidely fascist left turn: §102(c) "No court shall have jurisdiction to hear any cause or claim arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security, or order compensatory, declaratory, injunctive, equitable, or any other relief for damage alleged to arise from any such action or decision." This new legislation dramatically — if quietly — usurps the separation of powers established over 200 years ago, and the consequences are absolutely chilling, allowing the Department of Homeland Security to commit any criminal behavior it sees fit, without having to answer to existing state and federal laws. All the way from checking IDs on request, to detaining political undesirables, to South American-style "disappearances". And where are our so-called liberal media outlets to report on this amazing and unprecedented transfer of power?
US House of Representatives approves national electronic ID cards. Under the rules, which passed by a 261 - 161 vote , federal employees would reject licenses or identity cards that don't comply, which could curb Americans' access to airplanes, trains, national parks, federal courthouses and other areas controlled by the federal government. More at c|net.
Stem cells target cancer tumors. There has been some promising research with embryonic and adult stem cells in the fight against cancer. Meanwhile, California approved $3 billion for stem cell research, good news (debatably) since the 22 stem cell lines available for federally-funded research are contaminated with mouse cells and unusable for treatment in humans, but I wonder if California might end up in a federalism showdown with the new Senate over this. Maybe it will be less of an issue now that researchers have figured out how to derive stem cells from a morula, a four-day old embryo, without destroying it.
Is the budget deficit going to be the other shoe that drops on the Bush administration? In the OMB's mid-session review [pdf], it admits the federal budget deficit would balloon to a record $455 billion this fiscal year after absorbing immediate costs from the war in Iraq, and then climb $20 billion higher in 2004. That's a 50% increase since the administration's last forecast five months ago. At least a few economists think even that number is underestimated. To top it off, the consequences of an increasingly large deficit and accompanying tax cuts are being passed on to the states. How's that for a neat twist on federalism?