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Court-Packing: Democrats Ignore Painful Lessons
Friday March 22, 2019 | William J. Watkins, Jr.

Republican representatives and senators are introducing proposals for a constitutional amendment to limit the number of justices on the Supreme Court to nine. This is in response to statements by several prominent Democratic presidential candidates that they will consider supporting legislation increasing the size of the Court to 15 justices from the current nine. Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand have all expressed approval for expanding the Court in the hopes of a Democratic president nominating liberal justices. The Constitution only mandates that there be a Supreme Court and a Chief Justice. It is within Congress’ discretion to staff the Court with associate justices as it sees fit. In the early years of the country the number of justices fluctuated between 5-10. Since 1869, it has been fixed at nine. The only serious effort to change the number of justices occurred in 1937 when FDR announced his “Court-Packing Bill.” Frustrated that the Supreme Court struck down many of his New Deal programs, FDR wanted to pack the Court with progressives who would sign off on New Deal legislation. FDR proposed to add one justice for every sitting justice over age 70, up to a total of six. FDR claimed that the that the older men on the Court could not handle the Court’s workload and thus young blood was needed. FDR received a quick rebuke from progressive judges and lawyers, Congress, and the media. Court packing proved unnecessary when Justice Owen. J. Roberts switched his vote on two New Deal cases (“the switch in time had saved nine” as scholars call it). FDR got the decisions he wanted and the eventually abandoned the Court-Packing plan. Republicans know that the amendment limiting the Court to nine justices has little chance of passing, or if passed, being ratified by the states. This is a political maneuver to force Democrats to take a position on Court-Packing. Democrats who vote against the amendment will be subject to election-year attacks as enemies of separation of powers, constitutional government, and checks and balances. Scholars have described FDR’s rebuke for his Court-Packing plan “the worst political defeat ever endured by a president at the pinnacle of his power.” Republicans obviously hope that Democrats will not learn from history and will walk into the same buzz saw that FDR did.

Weaponizing Socialist Medicine
Wednesday March 20, 2019 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As the New York Times reports, Venezuela’s socialist Maduro regime deployed Cuban doctors to give medical treatment to those who promised to vote for Maduro and deny medical treatment to those who did not. The doctors told one emergency patient that oxygen tanks were being reserved for those who would vote for the reigning socialist. For patients outside of Venezuela, this atrocity should be educational. What American politicians like to call “socialized medicine” is actually government monopoly health care. In Venezuela, the people have no independent alternative, which empowers the government to leverage their vote, and a lot more. Contrary to socialist belief, when politicians gain power they do not shed human vices and prejudices. That’s why it’s dangerous to give politicians unchecked power and take away the choices of the people. As we noted, Americans had a taste of that in the so-called Affordable Care Act. (more…)

California’s Anti-Green Land-Use Policies Increase Global Warming
Tuesday March 19, 2019 | Randall G. Holcombe

Much of California enjoys year-round pleasant weather, without the harsh winters of the midwest and northeast, and without the heat and humidity of the deep south. One result is that California homes use less heat and air conditioning than homes in other parts of the country. Harvard economist Edward Glaeser says that a household in San Francisco has a carbon footprint 60 percent smaller than a similar household in Memphis. Meanwhile, California has the nation’s most restrictive land-use policies, which prevent new housing from being built, keep housing prices high, and prevent people from moving to California. (more…)

Community, True and False
Monday March 18, 2019 | Robert Higgs

Leftists affect to love the community. When they make or support a political proposal, they are likely to say that it is for the community, that it is what the community wants. In discussions with such people, I find that they think I’m crazy for challenging their conception of community and what promotes the society’s peace, prosperity, and good order. They take me to be some sort of rugged individualist, the sort of character Ayn Rand might relish. They’re wrong about me. I place a high value on community, and I feel sorry for people who have no membership in one. But I distinguish true community and false community. The line that separates them is the locus of points at which people bring government compulsion to bear to compel those who disagree with them to fall into line or suffer punishment. This is the line that separates those who recognize and respect everyone’s natural rights and those who do not. True communities form spontaneously and function voluntarily. False communities represent groups of people who use political means to victimize those outside the group and violate their natural rights. True communities have no need for cops; false communities cannot get by without them. False communities are more accurately described as political factions.

Captive State Probes Depths of Despair Under Oppression
Monday March 18, 2019 | Samuel R. Staley

When working at their highest level, science fiction movies provoke and engage in ideas fundamental to human existence. Because these artistic works are often dealing with alien and extraterrestrial experiences, they often probe the depths of human psychology, social psychology, and emotional trauma, testing the limits of the human experience. The recently released movie Captive State falls into this genre of science fiction, and those interested in themes focused on freedom and personal identity should find it a satisfying addition to pro-liberty filmmaking. The movie opens nine years after first contact from an alien race in Chicago. Facing annihilation, humans have capitulated to the aliens. Weapons and other means of rebellion have been confiscated. National defense forces have been demilitarized. Humans are watched and scanned in order to ensure compliance that “preserves order” and “protects” their safety. The aliens have set up puppet governments run by humans to keep this order and purge resistance. (more…)

Bureaucrats Licensed to Spend Your Tax Dollars
Monday March 18, 2019 | Craig Eyermann

Every September, as the end of the U.S. government’s fiscal year draws near, thousands of federal bureaucrats go on a massive spending bender, lest they risk having their future budgets cut in the next year because they didn’t spend all the money they could have in the current year. According to fiscal policy watchdog OpenTheBooks, federal bureaucrats spent $97 billion in a single month to close out the U.S. government’s 2018 fiscal year, setting a new record for their annual spending binge. Here are some selected lowlights from their report, The Federal Government’s Use-it-or-Lose-it Spending Spree: (more…)

National Emergencies Act: Flawed from the Beginning
Sunday March 17, 2019 | William J. Watkins, Jr.

There has been much debate about President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on our southern border. Critics complain either that no real emergency exists and/or that Trump’s actions are unconstitutional. Too often, how one feels about the issue of immigration shades one’s view of the declaration. Open borders advocates detest it and condemn the declaration, but those in favor of less immigration generally like it. No matter where one comes down on this immigration issue, anyone holding any loyalty to our written Constitution should decry the National Emergencies Act itself. In declaring the emergency, Trump specifically relied on “sections 201 and 301 of the National Emergencies Act.” In 1976, Congress granted to the president the authority to declare an emergency and to invoke “special or extraordinary power[s].” (more…)

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