This is weird — the 9th Circuit issued a correct ruling

The Ninth Circuit, which is the laughing stock of the federal judiciary because it is overruled so often, did something bizarre yesterday: it issued a Constitutionally correct decision. Not only that, the decision meant that a citizens’ group will be able to engage in free speech that is contrary to the type of speech the 9th Circuit prefers. I’m impressed:

An Arizona anti-abortion group’s right of free speech was violated when the state refused to issue specialty license plates with the message “Choose Life,” a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

Reversing a judge’s decision, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Arizona’s License Plate Commission had approved less-controversial plates for other nonprofit organizations, such as associations of police and firefighters and the Wildlife Conservation Council, before turning down the Arizona Life Coalition.

The commission “clearly denied the application based on the nature of the message,” Judge Richard Tallman said in the 3-0 ruling. He rejected the commission’s argument that it was entitled to control the content of state-issued license plates and said Arizona was attempting to restrict free expression.

Opponents of abortion have been trying for years to get states to let them use license plates as mobile billboards for the “Choose Life” motto. Judges’ reaction has been mixed.

A South Carolina law expressly authorizing the plates was struck down in 2003 by a federal appeals court because the state did not allow similar plates for abortion-rights advocates, but another appeals court upheld a similar Tennessee law in 2006. The Supreme Court has not taken up the issue.

Courts have generally frowned, however, on a state’s singling out abortion-related messages for exclusion from license plates. Monday’s ruling comes five days after a federal judge ordered Missouri to issue “Choose Life” plates, saying state law gave officials too much leeway to reject license-plate messages because of their content.

California has allowed nonprofit groups to ask the Legislature to approve specialty license plates by submitting 7,500 paid applications. The fees, minus state expenses, are used by foundations that promote such causes as coastal protection, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park and the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Backers of a proposed “Choose Life” plate in California have failed several times to win legislative passage, but won a federal court ruling in 2004 that declared the entire program unconstitutional on the ground that it gave lawmakers unlimited authority to decide which messages to accept. The judge in that case allowed previously approved plates to remain, however, and the state has not established a new specialty-plate program.

Monday’s ruling set legal standards for federal courts in nine Western states, including California. It stemmed from a 2003 lawsuit by the Arizona Life Coalition, which had applied the previous year for a license plate that would display the “Choose Life” slogan with a picture of two children’s faces.

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“Straw, meet camel’s back.”

History has its tipping points. I wonder if Britain or, rather, the ordinary British, have met another tipping point. A while ago, I blogged about the fact that, as Melanie Phillips points out in Londonistan, the rule of judges has gone insanely against ordinary Brits, with judges relying on the British Human Rights Act to elevate all rights over those of the indigenous Brits’ rights. Yesterday, I blogged about news in Britain that saw the Human Rights Act used to justify keeping in Britain an Italian man who brutally murdered a British headmaster. Today, news out of Britain has the British becoming increasingly upset about the fact that British judges are looking to continentally oriented law to justify squashing the rights of ordinary British people:

David Cameron last night called for the Human Rights Act to be scrapped outright for the first time amid mounting anger that the controversial law had allowed the killer of the head teacher Philip Lawrence to escape deportation.

The Conservative leader accused the Government of being “blind” to the Act’s failings as it emerged that Home Office officials still regarded Italian-born Learco Chindamo as a threat to the public.

Mr Cameron’s call came on a day of high emotion as Mr Lawrence’s widow, Frances, said the legislation, which was adopted by the Labour Government in 2000, was “rotten at the core”.

Concerns over the decision to allow Chindamo – who is due to be considered for parole early next year – to remain in Britain were heightened when official papers handed to the courts by the Home Office showed he posed a “genuine and present risk” to the public.

However, last night Downing Street said that Gordon Brown would not alter the legislation. A spokesman said: “The Government has made its position clear many times.”

The Human Rights Act has been widely criticised and has led to the Government suffering a number of high-profile setbacks, notably in its failed attempts to deport terrorism suspects.

You can read the rest of the story here, including a description of just how vile Chindamo’s conduct was, and how heroically Lawrence died at the hands of this mob leader.

Labour thinks it has a lock on things.  But I wonder if Labour without Tony Blair has the reputation and charisma to hang on to office if “little things” like this begin to irk the ordinary Brit (assuming ordinary Brits haven’t been wiped out by 40 years of multi-culti education).

Judges versus people

I believe I mentioned already that one of Melanie Phillips’ big points in Londonistan is what happens when judges become highly activist, get invested in some EU/UNabstract notion of “human rights,” and steadily erode away the rights of their own citizens in the inanely confident belief that the only humans with rights are those who come from places other than the judges’ own home country. There’s a new story out of England that perfectly illustrates this unhealthy de-nationalism, a liberal elitism that will always elevate a refugee’s rights — no matter how bad the refugee, or how evil his acts or intentions — over the rights of the rapidly disappearing indigenous Europeans (those with roots in a country going back more than 40 years):

The widow of a headmaster stabbed to death outside his school bitterly attacked a decision to let his foreign killer stay in Britain when he is released from jail.

Frances Lawrence said she was ”unutterably depressed” that the human rights of her family had taken second place to those of her husband’s murderer.

Philip Lawrence, 48, was killed in December 1995 when he intervened in a gang fight outside his school in Maida Vale, west London.

His killer Learco Chindamo, who was 15 at the time, was born in Italy and came to Britain at the age of five.

The Home Office has been fighting a legal battle to deport him when he completes his prison sentence, possibly next year.

But the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ruled today that such a move would breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

This guarantees the right to a ”family life”, and since Chindamo’s ties are in the UK and he speaks only English, the tribunal ruled that repatriating him to Italy would be unjust.

But Mrs Lawrence, 59, who was left to bring up four children on her own, was ”devastated and demoralised” by the ruling.

“I am unutterably depressed that the Human Rights Act has failed to encompass the rights of my family to live a safe and happy life,” she said.
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“I am deeply concerned for everything I have worked for, including the setting up of the Philip Lawrence Awards (which honour young people’s efforts in tackling social issues.)

She added: “I feel as if I can’t fight any more – I feel I can’t survive this.

“I feel that I have always been a staunch advocate of the Human Rights Act but there is a missing term in it. It must encompass some responsibility.

“This isn’t just about me and my family. I am not solely thinking of me. I may be a mother but I am a human being as well.”

Judicial activism on display

I canceled my American Bar Association long before I realized I was a conservative. It had gone so overboard in wacko policies that I simply couldn’t stomach sending it my money. This year, the organization gave Justice Kennedy its highest award, presumably so that he could give a speech — this is a judge’s speech, mind you — stating that the rule of law is simply not in the game when it comes to some higher, individual authority unrelated to legislation, precedent or religious morality:

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was presented with the American Bar Association’s highest award in San Francisco on Monday and said establishing the rule of law around the world requires looking beyond formal legal systems and confronting injustice.

“We’ve learned that we cannot say to some foreign country, ‘Here’s a red-white-and-blue package, the rule of law.’ … The system cannot be easily replicated,” the 71-year-old Sacramento native said after receiving the ABA Medal at the annual meeting of the 413,000-member lawyers’ group.

“In the developing world, there are not enough lawyers, there are not enough paralegals, there are not enough college-educated persons to make such a system work,” Kennedy told delegates of an organization that sponsors thousands of volunteer lawyers working with their counterparts in foreign countries.

In some countries, he said, half to three-quarters of the population works in the “shadow sector,” with no licenses or legal regulation, and half the people have no official birth records. Lawyers can’t merely advise millions of young people in those nations to wait decades while the groundwork for a legal structure is established, Kennedy said.

But he said lawyers are well-suited to educate and recruit those young people to promote law by fighting lawlessness – families in Asia that sell their young daughters into the sex trade, an African nation that charges fees to women who want rape complaints investigated, nations that hold prisoners incommunicado and without charges for a decade, “the ongoing and looming greater disaster in Darfur.”

Lawyers should tell their listeners, “Here is a cause for your passion and your anger and your youth and your energy,” Kennedy said. And he said U.S. lawyers must also realize that “the rule of law cannot stand here unless you address those problems in other nations.”

I appreciate Justice’s Kennedy’s passion, and the keen sense for human suffering that he obviously feels. However, to advocate the overthrow of the rule of law as a way to achieve humane ends is really not what I want to hear coming out of the mouth of a Supreme Court Justice.

Incidentally, I might be less jaundiced and suspicious about Justice Kennedy’s speech were it not for the fact that he is a judge who has been very vocal about abandoning the strict precepts of our American constitution in favor of some international, loosey-goosey style of law, no doubt heavily influenced by the EU and the UN.

It’s “random thoughts” day

I’m on another vacation, sitting in a cyber cafe, working at a small computer with a microscopic keyboard, so it must be random thoughts day. Thank goodness DQ is doing the heavy lifting.

The first thing that caught my interest is what Mitt said at the debate, which I really liked:

But it was Romney forced on the defensive on the issue of abortion, when Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback defended automated phone calls his campaign had been making that highlight his rival’s one-time support for pro-choice policies.

“It’s truthful,” Brownback said.

Romney called it “desperate, maybe negative,” adding moments later, “I get tired of people that are holier than thou because they’ve been pro-life longer than I have.” (Emphasis mine.)

The fact is that many people who came of age in the 1960s have taken a long slow journey from one side to the other. As my own change in political convictions shows, the fact that I came late to the game doesn’t mean I’m not one of the biggest fans. In any event, as I keep reminding and reminding people, the best we can hope for is a chief executive who appoints strict constructionist judges, since it is they, not the President, who will change abortion policies.

Indeed, I’m reminded again and again that, probably, the most important thing the new President can do is change the Supreme Court — and we must really hope that the new President is a conservative. I think I’ve hammered hope the point that, if you haven’t already read Melanie Phillips’ Londonistan, you must. It points the finger of blame at activist judges who decided that the laws and traditions of their own country were irrelevant, because they were connected to a higher authority of human rights law, courtesy of the EU and the UN. (As you may recall, some of our more liberal and aged Supreme Court justices have been making tentative moves in the same direction.)

I’m now reading Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, which describes in chilling detail what is happening, day-to-day, on the streets of Europe as a result of the multi-cultural, socialist, non-democratically judge ruled European nations that allowed unlimited Muslim immigration, with full funding no matter the fraud, and has proven unwilling because of  its doctrinal blinders to deal with the inevitable Islamist nihilism, violence and brutality.  Bawer is a liberal  gay man who is mad, frightened, and finally aware the America is the last, best hope for Western freedom  and democracy.

Continuing randomly, Confederate Yankee continues to eviscerate the once reputable TNR over the Scott Thomas propaganda piece.  It now turns out that when TNR did  it’s little “we were sort of wrong” mea culpa, it left out  a few pertinent facts.  Whoops!

TNR’s not  the only one covering up information to score political or ideological points (or just to cover up journalistic  malfeasance).  Turns out that, again, the Times is guilty of allowing the publication of an article attacking Orthodox Jews that used as its starting  point a known false anecdote.  Starting with Walter Duranty, journalistic integrity at the Times seemed to have morphed into, if we beieve the underlying ideology, we are acting with integrity when we lie about those  facts to support our ideological  beliefs.  Incidentally, that’s psychologically similar to the European Muslims who have no problems breaking European laws because, as far as they’re concerned, such laws don’t exist.

Incidentally, since I’m in Times bashing mode (it’s editorial policies make it an easy target), let me just  direct you to an American Thinker article exposing its decision to publish a piece by known  Israel  basher — and Canadian — Michael  Ignatieff as he explains  why he can’t support the war in Iraq. Surprise, surprise!  It’s all about the “Jooos.”  As Babu said to Jerry, finger rhythmically wagging, “You are a very bad man.”

And the last random thought, a surprising report today that more women are living with the fathers of their children!  We used to call that marriage, but they don’t because they aren’t (married, that is).   I  suppose this should be heartening, but I find it depressing, at least from the child’s  point of view.  Marriage says (even though it may not  mean) “we’re committed for the long haul.”  Living  together says (even though it may not  mean) “I can walk out at any time.”  I think the former is better for children’s sense of stability, rather than the latter.

Nasty, nasty, mean old court

The New York Times has written one of the most intemperate editorials it’s been my pleasure to see in a long time, attacking the decisions emanating from the more conservative Supreme Court.  The opening will give you an idea:

In the 1960s, Chief Justice Earl Warren presided over a Supreme Court that interpreted the Constitution in ways that protected the powerless — racial and religious minorities, consumers, students and criminal defendants. At the end of its first full term, Chief Justice John Roberts’s court is emerging as the Warren court’s mirror image. Time and again the court has ruled, almost always 5-4, in favor of corporations and powerful interests while slamming the courthouse door on individuals and ideals that truly need the court’s shelter.

President Bush created this radical new court with two appointments in quick succession: Mr. Roberts to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Samuel Alito to replace the far less conservative Sandra Day O’Connor.

The editorial then goes on a mad dash through some of the more famous rulings of the last judicial term, describing them in terms, not of the actual ruling, but of the ruling’s effect.  For example:

The Roberts court’s resulting sharp shift to the right began to be strongly felt in this term. It was on display, most prominently, in the school desegregation ruling last week. The Warren court, and even the Rehnquist court of two years ago, would have upheld the integration plans that Seattle and Louisville, Ky., voluntarily adopted. But the Roberts court, on a 5-4 vote, struck them down, choosing to see the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause — which was adopted for the express purpose of integrating blacks more fully into society — as a tool for protecting white students from integration.

On campaign finance, the court handed a major victory to corporations and wealthy individuals — again by a 5-4 vote — striking down portions of the law that reined in the use of phony issue ads. The ruling will make it easier for corporations and lobbyists to buy the policies they want from Congress.

Corporations also won repeatedly over consumers and small stockholders. The court overturned a jury’s award of $79.5 million in punitive damages against Philip Morris. The Oregon Supreme Court had upheld the award, calling Philip Morris’s 40 years of denying the connection between smoking and cancer “extraordinarily reprehensible.”

In a ruling that will enrich companies at the expense of consumers, the court overturned — again by a 5-4 vote — a 96-year-old rule that manufacturers cannot impose minimum prices on retailers.

The Times‘ horror is interesting, because it so clearly demonstrates what its editors think the Supreme Court should do:  put it’s imprimatur on liberal policies.  There’s really no other way to read the editorial, because there’s nothing in it that challenges the Court’s opinions on Constitutional or other legal grounds.  They’re savaged only on possible practical effect.

This editorial silence may be because, as I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, the opinions are in fact entirely consistent with existing law and existing Constitutional interpretations.  What’s wrong with them, then, at least if you’re on the Times editorial board, is not that they were decided wrongly on legal grounds — which they weren’t — but that they were decided wrongly at a social and political level.

The Times’ position stands up to scrutiny only if you’re a judicial activist who believes that it is the Supreme Court’s job to legislate away social ills when a stubborn or foolish Legislature refuses to do so.  Those of us who are not judicial activists believe it is the Court’s responsibility to interpret the Constitution, and the legislation flowing from that Constitution, and to let the chips fall with they may.  If Americans dislike the chip falls, it is up to them nudge the existing federal representatives in Congress, or to elect an entirely new batch of federal legislators, so that Congress either changes the laws or amends the Constitution, whichever is necessary.  That is the essence of the separation of powers doctrine.

The Supreme Court’s decision about race based school policies

I don’t have a lot to say about the Supreme Court’s recent decision about racial shell games in public schools beyond this: I agree with the decision. However, to the extend I do agree, I found very graceful the way the National Review Online summed up the decision’s meaning and impact:

Over the last 40 years, liberal civil-rights groups have gone from advocating colorblind policies to rejecting them. They may try to describe the new ruling, perversely, as a partial repeal of Brown v. Board of Education. Justice Stephen Breyer says as much in his dissent. Yet the decision resembles Brown in a crucial respect: Starting now in Louisville and Seattle, students won’t be blocked from certain schools simply because they lack the proper melanin content.

We are sure to hear that the Court has just encouraged the “resegregation” of the schools, but that is mostly left-wing bluster. Brown and other legislative and judicial measures — to say nothing of evolving social attitudes — put an end to Jim Crow-style de jure segregation long ago. What we have today is de facto segregation, which is better described as racial imbalance. Such imbalance need not be worrisome. As Justice Clarence Thomas noted in Missouri v. Jenkins more than a decade ago, “It never ceases to amaze me that the courts are so willing to assume that anything that is predominantly black must be inferior.”