When Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in 2018, giving President Trump a second opportunity to elevate a judge to the Supreme Court, Ian Millhiser posted this charming reflection on Twitter: “F—. You. Justice. Kennedy.” That gives you a fair idea of Mr. Millhiser’s approach to analyzing the court: Interpret every utterance by Republican-appointed justices in the worst possible light and use every circumstance of their nominations as proof of Republican treachery.
So it goes in the “The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America” (Columbia Global Reports, 143 pages, $15.99). Mr. Millhiser, a writer at Vox, aims to demonstrate that conservatives, while claiming to favor “judicial restraint”—a belief that justices ought to avoid usurping powers belonging to the legislature and executive—have begun to favor the opposite of restraint, “judicial activism,” when it suits their aims. “How,” he asks, “did a political party that, until very recently, was very fearful of judicial power learn to stop worrying and love judicial activism?”
The many faces of Hitchcock, Churchill’s first battle, the return of Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti and more.
A typical instance of Mr. Millhiser’s line of reasoning concerns so-called Chevron deference, named for a 1984 case involving pollution standards: the principle that courts ought generally to defer to government agencies’ interpretation of vague statutes. Many judges and justices of a conservative disposition, he observes, are skeptical of Chevron deference and distrust autonomous agency rule-making. Ah, says Mr. Millhiser, but Justice Clarence Thomas, writing in Department of Commerce v. New York (2019), claimed that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross had every right to insert a citizenship question in the 2020 census questionnaire. In that case, the court’s conservatives deferred to a government agency. Gotcha!
The “most likely” explanation for the conservatives’ position in the case, he argues, is that adding the citizenship question would discourage immigrants from participating in the census and thus put Democratic states at a disadvantage in the decade to come. Mr. Millhiser fails even to mention that the statute at issue was not vague. The law gives the secretary of commerce the power to conduct the census “in such form and content as he may determine.” Chevron never came into it.
Mr. Millhiser turns tendentiousness into an art form in this little book, but its main problem is that “judicial activism” has lost its meaning. Conservatives rarely use the phrase. It now signifies, as Ilya Shapiro remarks in “Supreme Disorder: Judicial Nominations and the Politics of America’s Highest Court” (Regnery, 388 pages, $28.99), “that the commentator doesn’t like the ruling in a particular case.”
Mr. Shapiro’s book is a crisply written history of Supreme Court nomination controversies, interlaced with cogent insights on the role of judicial philosophy and raw politics in determining which nominees get rough treatment from the Senate. It’s not quite right, he notes, to say that the nomination process has been “politicized” in recent decades. It was always politicized. In 1829, a majority of senators “postponed indefinitely” any consideration of John Quincy Adams’s nominee John Crittenden. Abraham Lincoln nominated Salmon P. Chase mainly because he was likely to uphold a law that had allowed the federal government to finance the war. Federal judges are chosen and confirmed by politicians; the idea that politics should play no role in the process is the delusion of technocrats.
Even so, something went awry in the 1960s and ’70s. In Roe v. Wade (1973) and similar rulings of the time, the court implicitly repudiated the principle of federalism and showed that enlightened judges could remake American society from the top down. By the 1980s the American left understood that its goals would be achieved in large measure through the courts—and that personnel was everything.
Before Robert Bork was “Borked” in 1987, as I learned from Mr. Shapiro’s book, William Rehnquist had to endure a “Rehnquisition.” Sen. Ted Kennedy, attempting to stop Rehnquist’s elevation to chief justice and foreshadowing his defamatory attack on Bork the following year, remarked that Rehnquist had “a virtually unblemished record of opposition to individual rights in cases involving minorities, women, children and the poor.” In the years since, the confirmation process for Republican nominees has become something close to hell.
Unless you’re prepared to believe that Republican presidents have a penchant for choosing sexual predators and closet racists to sit on the Supreme Court, you may wonder why the vitriol in nomination battles travels mainly in one direction, from left to right. Mr. Shapiro treats the subject in an admirably evenhanded manner but rightly declines to pretend that both sides share equal blame. Debates over nominees are no longer about the nominees themselves, he says. “They’re about the direction of the Court. The left in particular needs its social and regulatory agendas, as promulgated by the executive branch, to get through the judiciary, because they would never pass as legislation at the national level.”
Mr. Shapiro, a scholar at the Cato Institute, deals respectfully with a variety of proposals to diminish the rancor of Supreme Court nomination hearings, but he acknowledges, again rightly, that a return to federalism is the only way out.
Amanda Hollis-Brusky’s “Ideas With Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution” (Oxford, 252 pages, $26.95) first appeared in hardback in 2015. The Federalist Society was so closely associated with President Trump’s court nominations that Oxford evidently concluded that the subject holds more interest after Mr. Trump 2016 election than it did before.
“Ideas With Consequences” is a mostly fair assessment of the Federalist Society, an affiliation of conservative and libertarian lawyers, scholars and law students. The book’s style is at times jarringly academic (the society is a “political epistemic network”—a phrase I hope never to read again), and the author’s disapproval of her subject isn’t hard to discern. But her scholarship is thorough, and her understanding of American judicial politics is impressive.
In a new preface, Ms. Hollis-Brusky, a professor of politics at Pomona College, registers one point of serious “discomfort” with the Trump-era Federalist Society. “Something changed when the Trump campaign [in September 2016] released its list of 21 potential Supreme Court nominees with the Federalist Society seal attached to it.” This overt politicization of judicial nominations was too much, in her view. “Subjecting lists of judges to electoral referenda,” she writes, “blurs the ever more tenuous divide between law and politics.” That divide, if it ever existed, was obliterated more than three decades ago, as several members of the current Supreme Court could amply testify.
Green Party in turmoil, leader resists calls to step down
Canada‘s Green Party was increasingly mired in an internal dispute over its position on Israel on Tuesday, and a news report said the bloc would hold a vote next month on whether to oust its leader, Annamie Paul, who was elected just eight months ago.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC) reported that the Greens had triggered a process that could remove Paul, the first black person to head a mainstream Canadian party, beginning with a vote next month.
A Green Party spokesperson declined to comment on the report, but said the party’s “federal council” would meet later on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, Paul, 48, rejected calls from the Quebec wing of the party for her to resign after a member of parliament left the Greens due to the Israel controversy.
“I believe that I have been given a strong mandate. I believe that I have been given the instructions to work on behalf of Canadians for a green recovery,” Paul said at a news conference in Ottawa.
Paul herself is not a member of parliament. The Greens – who champion the environment and the fight against climate change – had only three legislators in the 338-seat House of Commons and one, Jenica Atwin, abandoned the party last week to join the governing Liberals.
Atwin has said that her exit was in large part due to a dispute over the party’s stance on Israel. Atwin on Twitter has criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, while a senior adviser to Paul, Noah Zatzman, has posted on Facebook that some unspecified Green members of parliament are anti-Semitic.
The party’s executive committee voted last week not to renew Zatzman’s contract, local media reported. Paul converted to Judaism some two decades ago after she married a Jewish man.
While the Greens are the smallest faction in parliament, they perform well in British Colombia and hold two seats there. The current turmoil may favor their rivals ahead of a national election that senior Liberals say could be just a few months away.
The Greens would win about 6.7% of the vote nationally if a vote were held now, according to an average of recent polls aggregated by the CBC.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Julie Gordon; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
Hope, anger and defiance greet birth of Israel’s new government
Following are reactions to the new government in Israel, led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER
“We’ll be back, soon.”
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
“On behalf of the American people, I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations.”
NABIL ABU RUDEINEH, SPOKESMAN FOR PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS
“This is an internal Israeli affair. Our position has always been clear, what we want is a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.”
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER VIA TWITTER
“On behalf of the UK, I offer my congratulations to
@naftalibennett and @yairlapid on forming a new government in Israel. As we emerge from COVID-19, this is an exciting time for the UK and Israel to continue working together to advance peace and prosperity for all.”
TOR WENNESLAND, U.N. MIDDLE EAST PEACE ENVOY VIA TWITTER
“I look forward to working with the Government to advance the ultimate goal of a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
CHARLES MICHEL, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT VIA TWITTER
“Congratulations to Prime Minister @naftalibennett and to Alternate PM & MFA @yairlapid for the swearing in of the new Israeli government. Looking forward to strengthen the partnership for common prosperity and towards lasting regional peace & stability.”
FAWZI BARHOUM, HAMAS SPOKESMAN
“Regardless of the shape of the government in Israel, it will not alter the way we look at the Zionist entity. It is an occupation and a colonial entity, which we should resist by force to get our rights back.”
BENNY GANTZ, ISRAELI DEFENCE MINISTER
“With all due respect, Israel is not a widower. Israel’s security was never dependent on one man. And it will never be dependent on one man.”
CHUCK SCHUMER, U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER
“So, there’s a new Administration in Israel. And we are hopeful that we can now begin serious negotiations for a two-state solution. I am urging the Biden Administration to do all it can to bring the parties together and help achieve a two-state solution where each side can live side by side in peace.”
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA
“Congratulations on the formation of a new Israeli government, Prime Minister @NaftaliBennett and Alternate Prime Minister @YairLapid. Together, let’s explore ways to further strengthen the relationship between Canada and Israel.”
MANSOUR ABBAS, ARAB MEMBER OF NEW ISRAELI GOVERNMENT
“We are aware that this step has a lot of risks and hardships that we cannot deny, but the opportunity for us is also big: to change the equation and the balance of power in the Knesset and in the upcoming government.”
DAPHNA KILION, ISRAELI IN JERUSALEM
“I think it’s very exciting for Israel to have a new beginning and I’m hopeful that the new government will take them in the right direction.”
EREZ GOLDMAN, ISRAELI IN JERUSALEM
“It’s a sad day today, it’s not a legitimate government. It’s pretty sad that almost 86 (out of 120 seats) in the parliament, the Knesset, belong to the right-wing and they sold their soul and ideology and their beliefs to the extreme left-wing just for one purpose – hatred of Netanyahu and to become a prime minister.”
SEBASTIAN KURZ, CHANCELLOR OF AUSTRIA, VIA TWITTER
“Congratulations to PM @naftalibennett and alternate PM @yairlapid for forming a government. I look forward to working with you. Austria is committed to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and will continue to stand by Israel’s side.”
(Reporting by Stephen Farrell; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Daniel Wallis and Lisa Shumaker)
Boris Johnson hails Biden as ‘a big breath of fresh air’
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday as “a big breath of fresh air”, and praised his determination to work with allies on important global issues ranging from climate change and COVID-19 to security.
Johnson did not draw an explicit parallel between Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump after talks with the Democratic president in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay on the eve of a summit of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies.
But his comments made clear Biden had taken a much more multilateral approach to talks than Trump, whose vision of the world at times shocked, angered and bewildered many of Washington’s European allies.
“It’s a big breath of fresh air,” Johnson said of a meeting that lasted about an hour and 20 minutes.
“It was a long, long, good session. We covered a huge range of subjects,” he said. “It’s new, it’s interesting and we’re working very hard together.”
The two leaders appeared relaxed as they admired the view across the Atlantic alongside their wives, with Jill Biden wearing a jacket embroidered with the word “LOVE”.
“It’s a beautiful beginning,” she said.
Though Johnson said the talks were “great”, Biden brought grave concerns about a row between Britain and the European Union which he said could threaten peace in the British region of Northern Ireland, which following Britain’s departure from the EU is on the United Kingdom’s frontier with the bloc as it borders EU member state Ireland.
The two leaders did not have a joint briefing after the meeting: Johnson spoke to British media while Biden made a speech about a U.S. plan to donate half a billion vaccines to poorer countries.
Biden, who is proud of his Irish heritage, was keen to prevent difficult negotiations between Brussels and London undermining a 1998 U.S.-brokered peace deal known as the Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Britain that Biden had a “rock-solid belief” in the peace deal and that any steps that imperilled the accord would not be welcomed.
Yael Lempert, the top U.S. diplomat in Britain, issued London with a demarche – a formal diplomatic reprimand – for “inflaming” tensions, the Times newspaper reported.
Johnson sought to play down the differences with Washington.
“There’s complete harmony on the need to keep going, find solutions, and make sure we uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement,” said Johnson, one of the leaders of the 2016 campaign to leave the EU.
Asked if Biden had made his alarm about the situation in Northern Ireland very clear, he said: “No he didn’t.
“America, the United States, Washington, the UK, plus the European Union have one thing we absolutely all want to do,” Johnson said. “And that is to uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, and make sure we keep the balance of the peace process going. That is absolutely common ground.”
The 1998 peace deal largely brought an end to the “Troubles” – three decades of conflict between Irish Catholic nationalist militants and pro-British Protestant “loyalist” paramilitaries in which 3,600 people were killed.
Britain’s exit from the EU has strained the peace in Northern Ireland. The 27-nation bloc wants to protect its markets but a border in the Irish Sea cuts off the British province from the rest of the United Kingdom.
Although Britain formally left the EU in 2020, the two sides are still trading threats over the Brexit deal after London unilaterally delayed the implementation of the Northern Irish clauses of the deal.
Johnson’s Downing Street office said he and Biden agreed that both Britain and the EU “had a responsibility to work together and to find pragmatic solutions to allow unencumbered trade” between Northern Ireland, Britain and Ireland.”
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Andrea Shalal, Padraic Halpin, John Chalmers; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Giles Elgood, Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Mark Potter and Timothy Heritage)
Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s
The 5 Big Banks in Canada
Trudeau nominates first judge of colour to sit on Supreme Court
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Business24 hours ago
Presenting Your Professional Experience: Numbers Are Your Friends
Economy23 hours ago
Canadian dollar steadies as inflation climbs
Economy22 hours ago
Bank of Canada seeing signs of cooling in hot housing market
News11 hours ago
Chinese astronauts board space station module in historic mission
Business22 hours ago
U.S. lawmakers press GM CEO on California emissions
Economy23 hours ago
Toronto Stock Exchange opens flat as investors eye Fed comments
Real eState11 hours ago
Canadian home price gains accelerate again in May
News11 hours ago
Ecuador to start new ‘normalization process’ for Venezuelan migrants