Maybe Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had the right idea after all. Maybe Republicans are willing to trigger a constitutional crisis over the Supreme Court.
Some conservatives certainly seem to be warming up to McCain’s controversial suggestion last week that Senate Republicans should dig in their heels and block any and all Supreme Court nominees put forth by a future President Hillary Clinton.
Who needs a fully functioning Supreme Court after all?
The Senate is fully within its powers to let the Supreme Court die out, literally. Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute
“As a matter of constitutional law, the Senate is fully within its powers to let the Supreme Court die out, literally,” wrote the Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro in a column Wednesday on The Federalist.
Shapiro is well-versed in constitutional issues, and his argument has a legal, if contorted, basis. Nothing in the Constitution explicitly stands in the way of senators who would be willing to destroy the nation’s highest court ― if not an entire branch of the federal government ― to stop Clinton from selecting judges who share her views.
But McCain’s comments suggesting a total blockade initially faced opposition, even from some members of his own party. “We can’t just simply stonewall” those hypothetical Clinton nominees, said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
Of course, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley is doing exactly that to Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s choice to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
To Shapiro, there’s nothing wrong with even more Senate obstructionism because “the Constitution is completely silent” on how the upper chamber provides its “advice and consent” on the president’s nominees.
Legal scholars across the ideological spectrum have agreed that’s true. But they’ve also concluded that the Republicans’ no-hearings-no-votes posture on Garland is unprecedented in American history. And many deplore the partisanship that has overwhelmed the judicial confirmation process over the last few decades.
Not Shapiro. “I simply can’t blame politicians who follow their convictions,” he wrote. “If you truly believe that a particular nominee would wreak havoc on America, why not do everything you can to stop him?”
Shapiro noted that senators may pay a political price for refusing to work with a president from the other party. More importantly, the justice system pays a price.
Even those now on the Supreme Court have lamented that a shorthanded court can’t operate as it should.
“It’s much more difficult for us to do our job if we are not what we’re intended to be ― a court of nine,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor during a recent appearance in Minnesota. She added that 4-to-4 rulings can leave the law unsettled and justice across the country “administered in an unequal way.”
In other words, when lower courts disagree on how to interpret a particular law or how to apply the Constitution to new problems ― and they do regularly ― the justices are supposed to step in and resolve that disagreement. When an equally divided Supreme Court can’t do that, the meaning of congressional statutes and the Constitution may vary from state to state ― which isn’t just or fair.
This didn’t seem to be a concern to Shapiro.
“So when you get past the gotcha headlines, breathless reportage, and Inauguration Day, if Hillary Clinton is president it would be completely decent, honorable, and in keeping with the Senate’s constitutional duty to vote against essentially every judicial nominee she names,” he concluded.
If Clinton wins and the Republicans retain control of the Senate, this argument could serve as the groundwork for their next play in Congress — even though they’ve spent most of 2016 insisting that the people’s choice for the next president should get to pick Scalia’s replacement.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) signaled on Wednesday that he may be a convert to this vision of a new normal — a Supreme Court not at full steam for a very long time:
Of course, none of this likely matters if Democrats regain the Senate, which HuffPost Pollster projections say is not beyond the realm of the possible.
The Constitution may give the president the power to nominate justices and the Senate the power to vote them up or down. But in the end it’s the voters who choose.
Ashers Baking Company, based in County Antrim, were taken to court by gay rights activist Gareth Lee after they refused to make a cake with a slogan supporting gay marriage.
Judge Johnson declared that not only were the bakers a pack of twats for denying the commission based on a person’s sexual orientation, but also that the bakery should “check out its own shop-front sometime”.
“Seriously, I’ve walked past it, and it looks camper than Dale Winton admiring a row of tents” said Johnson.
“So where exactly they get the nerve to tell someone else that their gayness is inappropriate for something covered in pretty icing is absolutely beyond me.”
“They don’t even do sausage rolls like the big heterosexual bakeries. It’s literally all cakes with icing and pretty patterns.”
“Cake-making is the figure skating of food preparation. It literally doesn’t get more gay.”
“If I could uphold this complaint simply on the basis of pure irony alone, then I would have.”
DUP MLA Paul Givan, who has proposed that lawmakers in the Northern Ireland Assembly introduce a “conscience clause” as a result of the Ashers case, said many Christians would view the ruling as “an attack” on their religious convictions, seemingly ignoring the fact that giving someone the same rights as you is quantifiably not an attack on your beliefs at all.
“What an absolute dick,” said God.
The lord mayor of Manchester has said he was subjected to a barrage of “really offensive and hurtful” homophobic abuse at a Justin Bieber concert on Sunday night.
Carl Austin-Behan, Manchester’s first openly gay lord mayor, said he was called a “dirty faggot and a dirty gay” by two young women before the sold-out gig at Manchester Arena.
Speaking to the Guardian on Monday, the former RAF serviceman said he had reported the alleged hate crime to police. He said the offenders appeared to be in their late teens.
A spokeswoman for Greater Manchester police said: “Shortly after 7.30am on Monday 24 October 2016 police received a report of a hate crime that occurred on Hunt Street in Manchester city centre at around 6.50pm on Sunday 23 October. Inquiries are ongoing.”
Bieber drew criticism from some fans for appearing to storm off stage. The Canadian singer, 22, had pleaded with the audience to stop screaming between songs. He told fans: “I don’t think it’s necessary when I’m trying to say something and you guys are screaming.”
When the noise continued, he dropped the microphone and walked off stage before later returning to continue his performance.
Describing the incident with the two women, Austin-Behan said: “I’m in a privileged position at the moment as the lord mayor and one of the things I’ve stood my ground on is that we need to make sure we report hate crime and get that message across. The fact of highlighting that it’s still out there – however small it is, you still have to report it – because there are still people out there who feel it’s all right to be abusive.
“I’m quite a strong person, I can take that. But if people are still saying those things about someone’s sexuality, I find that really offensive and hurtful. It’s important that we stand our ground and that we demand the respect we should get. It may seem trivial to some people, a bit of name-calling, but it’s highly offensive.”
Austin-Behan, who was sworn in as lord mayor in May, said he was walking to the arena and saw the two girls arguing with a ticket tout when one of them allegedly said: “I’m not paying that to see a dirty gay.”
He added: “As I walked past them I thought ‘I’m not happy with that’ so I turned round and said: ‘Do you think that’s appropriate, in this day and age?’ That’s when the barrage of comments came back [saying] ‘Am I gay? Am I gay? Am I a dirty faggot?’ and all that sort of stuff that started coming out.
“I was annoyed. I wasn’t shaken up, I was annoyed. Because it was a Justin Bieber concert there was a lot of young people there, and it was a mix of people. I was more annoyed that people could go to a gig like that and feel they could get away with saying things like that.”
Austin-Behan, who is also the youngest lord mayor in the 124-year history of the role, has told how he was thrown out of the RAF for being gay.
He was fired from the air force in 1997 when his then partner told RAF bosses about his sexual orientation in order to stop him being posted abroad. Rules preventing gay people from serving in the RAF were overturned in 2000.
After an 18-month stint working for Manchester fire service, Austin-Behan was crowned Mr Gay UK in 2001. The councillor for the Burnage ward has since worked as a small business owner in Manchester and runs a cleaning company with a business partner. He married his partner of 12 years, Simon Austin-Behan, last year.
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