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Updated: 2017-06-28T10:18:26.790-04:00


Cruising the Web


I never thought that Trump's travel order was necessary, but I didn't doubt that he had the power to issue that order. Given that he first issued the order about five months ago and it was only temporary while the administration figured out new vetting procedures for issuing visas. Well, that original time has now just about elapsed and there are going to be three to four months until the Supreme Court hears the case. So, the whole question may become moot by then if the administration actually does what it said it was going to do.Jonathan Turley chastises the legal pundits and appellate judges who thought that the order wasn't within the president's executive authority.For those of us who have long argued that the legal authority supported Trump, the order was belated but not surprising. However, the order does offer a brief respite for some self-examination for both legal commentators, and frankly, the courts. At times the analysis surrounding the immigration order seemed to drop any pretense of objectivity and took on the character of open Trump bashing.Turley argues quite accurately that Trump's persona and his own attacks on the media have driven the media so crazy is that they've dropped their supposed standards and ethics. The same appeared to be happening with the lower courts.For those of us who have long argued that the legal authority supported Trump, the order was belated but not surprising. However, the order does offer a brief respite for some self-examination for both legal commentators, and frankly, the courts. At times the analysis surrounding the immigration order seemed to drop any pretense of objectivity and took on the character of open Trump bashing....The court ruled “when it comes to refugees who lack any such connection to the United States, for the reasons we have set out, the balance tips in favor of the Government’s compelling need to provide for the Nation’s security.” The preliminary ruling on this type of stay indicates that, when the final merits are decided, a majority of the court is likely to make the changes permanent and binding.Indeed, three justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch — did not want any limitation on lifting the injunction and dissented from that part of the opinion. To use Johnson’s rhetoric, the date of the hanging is set for the October term absent a dramatic shift on the court. That gives us some time to contemplate how this controversy has impacted our core institutions.I previously wrote that Trump seems at times to bring out the worst of people — supporters and opponents alike. Yet, his signature attacks often cause people to fulfill the very stereotypes that he paints, particularly among some reporters and judges. Ironically, Trump’s attacks on the media as biased may not have been true at the outset but they are true now. Mainstream media have become openly hostile to Trump.There is often little distinction on some cable networks between the hosts and their guests in attacking Trump, who brings much of this criticism on himself in ill-considered and often insulting attacks. However, the media is trained to resist such personal emotions and retain objectivity. Throughout much of its history, it has done precisely that ... until Donald Trump.He seems like the itch that reporters and commentators just have to scratch and frankly sometimes it seems like a few are enjoying it too much. With ratings soaring, hosts and legal experts have shown little interest or patience in the legal arguments supporting his case, even though the Obama administration advanced similar arguments in court.The hostile (and often distorted) analysis in the media was disconcerting but predictable, given the trend toward greater opinion-infused coverage. Networks are fighting for greater audience shares based on formulaic coverage — offering echo-chamber analysis to fit the ideological preferences of viewers. For the anti-Trump networks, the legal analysis is tellingly parallel with the political analysis. These cable shows offer clarity to viewers i[...]

Cruising the Web


The Supreme Court issued a large victory of religious liberty yesterday in their ruling on the case Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer. Eugene Volokh has a good summary of what the decision says.Say the government has decided to provide certain benefits to various applicants. For instance, it might give federal disaster recovery funds to people whose property was damaged in a terrorist attack. Or it might compensate property owners for mosquito abatement expenditures. Or it might — as in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, decided Monday by the Supreme Court — offer playground owners funds to cover their surfaces with a springy rubbery material (often made from recycled tires) instead of soil or gravel.When that happens, may the government deliberately exclude churches and other religious institutions, precisely because they are religious institutions? The court has just said “generally no,” in an opinion written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and joined by the other opinions plus Justice Elena Kagan. (Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas would have said, basically, “almost always no.”) Justice Stephen G. Breyer agreed as to health-and-safety programs. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented, arguing that the government often must exclude religious institutions from such programs.David French comments, While there are many threats to religious liberty, few are more consequential over the long term than the state’s ever-expanding role in private life. If the government is able to vacuum up tax dollars, create programs large and small for public benefit, and then exclude religious individuals or institutions from those programs, it has functionally created two tiers of citizenship. Secular individuals and institutions enjoy full access to the government they fund, while religious individuals and institutions find themselves funding a government that overtly discriminates against them....The Court’s holding — secured by my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom — is significant for two reasons. First, it places another brick in a wall of precedent that stands for the proposition that once the state creates a neutral program — one designed neither to advance nor to inhibit religious practice — it can’t exclude citizens or institutions from that program merely because they’re religious. Under these precedents, churches are able to worship in government buildings, religious student groups may access student activity fees to fund their campus outreach, parents may send their children to religious schools with publicly funded vouchers, and hosts of religious organizations may participate in public/private partnerships to serve our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens. So entrenched is this precedent that it would have been a legal earthquake had the Court ruled against the church.Missouri had had a provision in their Constitution banning state money going to educational institutions that have a religious affiliation. Other states have similar provisions which are called Blaine Amendments since they were modeled on a 19th century proposed federal amendment supported by James G. Blaine ("the Continental Liar from the State of Maine") in order to prevent government aid going to Catholic schools. So it will be interesting to see if there is a future case challenging a state's Blaine amendment blocking government aid to religious school.This is one of the two cases my students argued in a moot Supreme Court hearing. The vote was closer in one of my classes but the other two had results similar to the actual results.Tools and Home ImprovementToday’s DealsFashion Sales and DealsGee, if only the Obama administration had had a clue, this might have been avoided.ran’s massive funding of terrorist groups that endanger Israel was exposed in shocking detail by IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.- Gen. Hertzi Halevi on Wednesday.Speaking at the IDC Herzliya Conference, Halevi revealed that Iran is f[...]

Cruising the Web


How ironic that Trump spoke out against the terrorism in Manchester while standing next to the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas himself condemned the terrorism. Yeah, that's rich. Abbas's Fatah faction has its own terrorist wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and celebrates those who kill Israelis, including children. They reward the families of so-called martyrs who have conducted suicide terrorist attacks on Israel. So how is he someone with whom any peace with Israel can be negotiated?Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu did not let Abbas's murderous hypocrisy go unremarked.While the terrorist in Manchester was condemned by Abbas, Netanyahu said, the suicide bomber's family would have received money from the Palestinian Authority if the victims were Israelis."And as you said this morning, Mr. President, funding and rewarding terrorism must end," Netanyahu said. "Standing next to you, President Abbas condemned the horrific attack in Manchester. I hope this heralds a real change, because if the attacker had been Palestinian, and the victims had been Israeli children, the suicide bomber's family would have received a stipend from the Palestinian Authority. That's Palestinian law. That law must be changed."These are the words of Mahmoud Abbas:"We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah," Abbas said in September of 2015 on Palestinian television. "With the help of Allah, every martyr will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward."As Andrew McCarthy writes, Abbas is not a worthy partner for peace. Fareed Zakaria gave Trump's speech in Saudi Arabia what is, for Zakaria, the highest of praise.CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Monday praised President Trump's weekend speech in Saudi Arabia, saying former President Obama could have given it.“It was nuanced. It was frankly the kind of speech that President Obama could have given. It had the kind of empathy and nuance that people look for," Zakaria said Monday on CNN, praising "both the symbolism and ... the substance."Hmmm. I guess Zakaria has forgotten the speech that President Obama gave at a similar point in his presidency in Cairo. It was quite a different speech, as James Freeman points out. Obama spent a considerable part of his Cairo speech of criticizing the United States for our treatment of Muslims going back to colonial America through the Cold War and then after 9/11. He promised to close Gitmo and then blamed the US for our bad relations with Iran. But that wasn't all.Even on issues of women’s rights, Mr. Obama didn’t want to give the U.S. much credit in comparison to the Muslim world. The latter is a world where women sometimes struggle just for the freedom to read books or drive automobiles. But Mr. Obama said that “the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.”That's quite a different tone from Trump's speech. Unsurprisingly, Trump didn't spend any time in his speech critizing the United States or excusing our adversaries. Instead he spent the speech calling on Middle East nations to take on the responsiblity for rejecting terrorism. And his words for Iran were quite different from Obama's excuse-making.25% Off in Office and School SuppliesDeals in Office ProductsDeals in Home and KitchenRahm Emanuel has an interesting idea of how Chicago can get the money to pay for its school system. He wants to borrow money just to get to the end of the school year. This is being called a payday loan.Aldermen will be told Friday that the Chicago Public Schools will get through the end of the school year and pay for teacher pensions by short-term borrowing against $467 million in late block grants owed by the state, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.Mayor Rahm Emanuel had considered but ruled out a bridge loan from tax-increment financing districts amid concern it would endanger the city’s already shaky bond rating, City Hall sources said [...]