Law & the Courts

The New York Times’ Divergent Descriptions of Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett

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At the New York Times, Adam Liptak says that “Barrett’s Testimony Is a Deft Mix of Expertise and Evasion” because of her adherence to the Ginsburg Rule, which states that judicial nominees should give “no hints, no previews, no forecasts” as to what they might think about legal issues that could come before the Court. In 2010, the Times described Elena Kagan’s fidelity to the Ginsburg Rule thusly: “Kagan Follows Precedent by Offering Few Opinions.

Remarkably, the Times believes it to be consistent with its standards to describe the exact same behavior from two nominees to the same position differently. Predictably, it characterizes the Republican nominee’s conduct as evasive, and the Democratic one’s as dutiful.

Law & the Courts

What Crisis?

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Jim — it seems to me that the claim that the judicial branch is suffering through a “legitimacy crisis” is pretty weak, given that the polling favors Barrett’s appointment and that the Supreme Court is currently more admired than it has been for years.

NR Webathon

Anticipating the Fight to Come, with Your Help

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Columns of the Supreme Court building with the U.S. Capitol in the background. (Getty Images)

In this second day of our week-long flash ACB Fight webathon — which seeks to raise $150,000 (talk about aspirational, but then, there is so much combat on hand, and ahead, and we need to acquire materiel, keep the bayonets sharpened, the tanks in good repair — none of which is cheap) — we are thrilled that over 300 good folks have already rallied to opportunity of joining this we-happy-few Band of Conservative Brothers and Sisters.

Our ranks can accommodate many more. In fact, this is a spot reserved for you. Please claim it with a show of support, done here.

Today, Dan McLaughlin — of whom we boast that he has played a major role in this confirmation fight (even before there was a nomination!) — has penned a webathon appeal that we are confident will inspire you. Read it here. It’s important to note that we ask for help not only because we are in the thick of this fight (as Rich Lowry put it, short and sweet, We’ve Got Amy’s Back), but that this fight was anticipated by NR: Critical work (in particular by Dan) that would prove consequential (his hard-truths history lesson put tungsten steel into frequently weak GOP knees) was to be found published by your favorite conservative magazine and website.

To the appeal: Why support NR? Let us hear from some new donors who explain why they have done such.

  • Tommy finds $100, clicks the DONATE button, and sends it thisaway with this to say: “I hope myself and others can help to assure your organization’s men and women are able to continue and provide America with important information. I’m grateful that there are still a few individual and organizations like yours that place Truth, Ethics, Integrity of a Journalists Creed at the forefront when more and more seem to disregard these principles today. Stay Strong.” We can as long as we have comrades like you. Many thanks.
  • Laurie contributes $50 and nails it: “Once again, we’re counting on your real journalism to add much needed facts, common sense, dignity and sanity to the national debate stage. Thank you!”
  • Nicholas also spots us a kindly Fifty, making no bones about why he gave: “Join the side that you are on! Support others who do right and necessary work; the freedom of the press is for the owners of the press, to speak and write in favor of their cause — that is why so much of our media is pushing the Democrats line; they are Democrats. So, when you hear or read someone who dissents and articulates what you also believe, then spend your money there and join the side that you are on!” Nicholas, it is an honor to have you with us in the foxhole.
  • Tom dips into the piggy bank for $200. It comes with this sentiment: “Please, stay true to the legacy of WB. NR has been my only refuge from the journalistic insanity that is 2020. No click-bait ever please, I know it costs you, but stay the lone island in the swamp where one can find rest.” Rest, and maybe if we can locate one, a beer too. Thanks Tom.
  • Mackerels of holiness, Bev donates $1,500. You read that right. Here’s why: “Keep fighting! Thank you for being the voice for me and for those of us who stand for conservative principles.” Oh boy oh boy this is humbling and inspiring. Thanks Bev.

We’ve got a long way to go to reach our goal. Heck, we’ve got a long way to go to reach half our goal! But here’s a fact of NR’s history: The four-figure donors such as Bev (God bless her) are few . . . we count on the smaller gifts (by comparison, but they are huge, and beloved, by our standards) from many readers. No, not just to keep the lights on, but to keep fighting, without flagging. We never counted on the MSM as allies in our fights — true, there have been flashes of honesty and objectivity over the years, but the MSM is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the Woke Left. Allies of the truth, allies of sanity, are rare things. National Review is one of them. And a consequential one at that. So please, if you can help, do so here. If you can contribute $10 or $20, $50 or $100, $1,000 or more, be assured that every cent matters, every cent is spent wisely, every donor is deeply appreciated. We’re counting on you to help NR push back the Leftist onslaught, to help see Amy Coney Barrett confirmed. Donate here. If you prefer to send your support by mail, make your check payable to “National Review” and send it to: National Review, ATTN: ACB Webathon, 19 West 44th Street, Suite 1701, New York, N.Y., 10036. Thank you very much.

But wait, there’s more: We cannot help but add this from Ken, who sent $50, and tells us that it is not his first NR rodeo: “This is my second contribution to NR this year in addition to renewing my subscription. I think NR has demonstrated its worth repeatedly by the quality of its writers in addressing issues and actions that are critical to the continuation of the American experiment (i.e. a constitutionally established republic). Thank you to all of you — Dan, Rich, Brendan, Kevin W, Jim G, David H, Andrew M, and Victor H — I always try to read everything that you write (even when you don’t fully agree with each other or with me — I learn a great deal from what you write and how you write it — civil and courteous even in your disagreements with each other, solidly and logically argued, drawing from verifiable facts, identifying nuances in each others’ arguments, recognizing differences even where you are solidly in agreement on your foundational convictions.). I understand and am glad that elected American policymakers (e.g. Senators) read what you write. And this is not to overlook those like John M or John F or Mairead M or Alexandra S and others whom I don’t read everything they write (not enough hours in a day) but whom I still peruse. And I’m also a subscriber to The Dispatch as an admirer of Jonah, Steve, and David. I’m not a Trump fan — didn’t vote for him in 2016 but voting for him (holding my nose) because the alternative this time is an even greater threat and danger to the continuation of our constitutional republic. Thanks Rich and NR for the difference that solidly expressed conservative principles and reasoning makes in these times.”

Politics & Policy

Barrett Is Right about Roberts and Obamacare

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Several Democratic senators have brought up Judge Barrett’s criticism of Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion in the 2012 Obamacare case, citing it as evidence of her alleged eagerness to strike down that law. The issue in the current Obamacare case is different from the one that was before the Court back then, as Barrett has repeatedly sought to explain to ineducable senators.

But it’s also worth noting that Barrett’s criticism of Roberts isn’t some off-the-wall right-wing view. What Barrett wrote is that Roberts “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.” No justice of the Supreme Court, in 2012 or since, has ever maintained that Roberts’s reading of the statute was the most plausible one. That includes Roberts himself.

The Affordable Care Act, as written, included a requirement that individuals purchase health insurance and a penalty for violating the requirement. Every justice on the Supreme Court in 2012 either explicitly argued or implicitly accepted that this reading of the law was the correct one.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for four justices, accepted that the law included a penalty for violating a requirement and concluded that it was within the constitutional powers of Congress to impose it. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for four other justices, argued that it was implausible to read the relevant provisions of the statute as anything other than a penalty for violating a command, and that command was unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Roberts took the view that the law could instead be read to levy a tax on going without health insurance, and had to be read that way because it would indeed be unconstitutional for Congress to issue the command. He didn’t say that it was “the most natural interpretation” of the law as written; he said “the statute reads more naturally as a command to buy insurance than as a tax.” The structure of his argument depended on the tax reading not being the most natural one. (If it were, he wouldn’t have had to address whether a command would be constitutional.)

Scalia’s opinion has the better of the argument: Roberts’s “saving construction” of the law is not a plausible reading of it. The fact that zero justices argued that it was the most plausible reading of the law helps to support that conclusion. Judge Barrett is right.

Politics & Policy

On the Second Amendment and Hunting

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Salesman Ryan Martinez holds a handgun at the Ready Gunner gun store, Provo, Utah, June 21, 2016. (George Frey/Reuters)

In my post arguing that the Founders wanted you to own AR-15, I contend that there was no mention of “hunting” during drafting debates over the Bill of Rights.

Professor Joseph Olson reminds me that the debates over ratification of the Bill of Rights in Pennsylvania did indeed mention hunting. (I write about this in detail in my cultural history of the gun.)

Here was the excellent suggestion offered by the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention on the topic of arms:

That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military shall be kept under strict subordination to and be governed by the civil powers.

James Madison ended up simplifying and distilling many suggestions, throwing in a comma that would be seized upon many years later. But the debate on ratification was over militias and standing armies, never over individual ownership of guns.

Hunting was likely only mentioned in the Pennsylvania convention as a precaution against English-style restrictions on ownership. The most famous example, the Game Act of 1671, made possession of a firearm by anyone unqualified to hunt (read, common men) illegal and provided a pretext for the Crown to confiscate weapons.

Many saw all of this as superfluous. Some argue that fear of the national government was overblown because there were so many guns in private hands it was unimaginable any tyrannical army could ever be more powerful than the general public. Noah Webster, writing as “A Citizen of America,” reasoned that “the supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.”

Not one person in the provisional government or at the Second Continental Congress or any delegate at the Constitutional Convention at any state ratifying convention is on the record arguing against the idea of individual firearm ownership. There is, however, a multitude of examples of leaders championing the importance of that right.

Eight of the 13 original states enshrined the right to gun ownership in their constitutions — most with language more straightforward than that found in the Bill of Rights. The best was probably New Hampshire’s compact sentence: “Congress shall never disarm any Citizen unless such as are or have been in Actual Rebellion.”

Politics & Policy

Stranger Than Fiction

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It is beyond hilarious that, in attempt to “own” an originalist jurist, progressives have decided to launch a spurious attack that only works if they are able to stealth-edit the dictionary in real-time.

Politics & Policy

Feminists vs. Amy Coney Barrett

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett reacts as President Donald Trump holds an event to announce her nomination to the Supreme Court at the White House, September 26, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

One of the defining characteristics of modern feminists is their brazen insistence on applying their supposedly ironclad pro-woman principles only to women whose views they favor.

Consider left-wing super PAC Emily’s List, which exists solely to fund the campaigns of pro-abortion Democratic women. The group’s fundraising pitches routinely insist that we must “elect! more! women!” What they really mean, of course, is that we need to elect more women who agree with them.

Abortion-advocacy groups NARAL and Planned Parenthood follow a similar model, championing as icons of female empowerment only those women who embrace abortion on demand. Their manipulation of identity politics is a fundamental part of their PR strategy: When a state passes a pro-life law, for instance, these groups immediately hone in on the number of men — especially white men — involved in its passage.

Yet when the very same piece of pro-life legislation receives the support of female lawmakers, NARAL and Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List decry its contents all the louder. Identity politics and gender matter little when the optics contradict the cause.

That’s why Katrina Jackson, an African American and Democratic lawmaker who sponsored Louisiana’s latest pro-life bill, received no attention from those who supposedly celebrate powerful women, and why third-wave feminists treat pro-life women generally as second-class citizens.

“Angry old white men seek yet again to control women’s bodies,” Planned Parenthood and NARAL trumpet on Twitter. Meanwhile, they clutch to their hearts the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, enacted by seven men, six of whom were white.

Which brings us to Amy Coney Barrett, the judge nominated to the Supreme Court, a woman who appears to provoke more fear and furor in modern feminists than they’ve directed at any public figure since Phyllis Schlafly. The reasons for their despair are obvious: Barrett is a conservative Catholic, she’s the mother of a large family, she’s anti-abortion in her personal life, and her constitutional originalism likely makes her at least skeptical of the anti-constitutional machinations underpinning Roe.

It is for that reason that we’re being treated not only to an onslaught of reports criticizing Barrett’s involvement in a lay Christian group, but also to columns such as this one by Sarah Jones in New York magazine. Entirely eliding Barrett’s stellar legal career, Jones labels her a “the perfect victim for the Christian right,” suggesting that her sole value is as a martyr for conservatives to pretend that their values are under attack while advancing a radical agenda through the court.

Along the way, Jones reveals herself to be either illiterate in or unconcerned with the facts, insisting for example that the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby were wrong to argue that emergency contraception can cause abortions. In fact, the Obama administration itself has conceded the point. Jones also offers the laughable proposition that Justice Antonin Scalia’s view of the First Amendment was aimed at creating “one law for conservative Christians and another, more restrictive standard of law applied to everyone else.”

Her article is the latest evidence that progressive feminists wish to promote and celebrate successful women only insofar as they toe the progressive line. If they don’t, they’ll find themselves dismissed as, at best, useful victims.

Politics & Policy

VDH Coming Up

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We’ve been away from real-time episodes of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast for nearly two weeks, but later today, likely in the early evening, we should have a new episode containing Victor’s reflections on the culture wars and the presidential campaign as it enters the home stretch. Related: Our good pal Peter Robinson interviewed Victor yesterday for his acclaimed Uncommon Knowledge interview program. Give it a listen as VDH, the author of The Case for Trump, makes . . . the case for Trump. And on NR’s home turf, you can find the archives for The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast here.

Politics & Policy

Morning Consult: 48 Percent Support Barrett’s Confirmation, 31 Percent Oppose

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Maybe Democrats would be better off just getting the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination over and done with quickly. Today Morning Consult polling shows support for Barrett growing:

48% of registered voters in the Oct. 9-11 survey said the Senate should vote to confirm Barrett as a Supreme Court justice, up 2 percentage points from 46% in a poll one week ago, though inside the surveys’ 2-point margins of error. 31% of voters said the Senate should vote down Barrett’s nomination, unchanged from the previous polling.

Support for Barrett’s confirmation even inched up a bit among Democrats, from 24 percent to 27 percent.

In this survey, Democrats appear to be losing the argument on whether the Senate should wait to see who wins in November. Morning Consult found 44 percent of respondents say the Senate should vote on confirming her as soon as possible, regardless of who wins the election, compared with 36 percent who think she should be confirmed only if President Trump wins election. Those numbers have moved a few points in the confirm-now direction since late September.

Law & the Courts

Democrats Smear Barrett for Saying ‘Sexual Preference,’ a Term Used by Biden and Ginsburg

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Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks during the second day of her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 13, 2020. (Susan Walsh/Reuters)

To get a sense of how well Amy Coney Barrett did on the first day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, you have to appreciate the fact that the biggest “controversy” of the day was the fact that she uttered the words “sexual preference” rather than “sexual orientation” — something that Joe Biden did in May 2020 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg did in 2017. 

At the hearing on Tuesday, Barrett said she “would not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.”

A tweet by an MSNBC producer calling the term “offensive and outdated” quickly went viral (it has now been retweeted 26,000 times). Senate judiciary committee member Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, later said the term was “offensive and outdated.” Barrett apologized: “I certainly didn’t mean and would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense to the LGBTQ community.”

Was the term actually offensive? Joe Biden used it in May 2020. Ruth Bader Ginsburg used it in 2017. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, also used it in 2017. Democratic members of the judiciary committee Dick Durbin and Richard Blumenthal have said “sexual preference” during speeches on the Senate floor in the past decade. You can find its more recent usage in the Huffington Post and The Atlantic.

A gay-rights advocate used the term in a September 25, 2020 interview with the gay-rights magazine The AdvocateAs far as I can tell, no one complained about any of this. But that didn’t keep a number of Democratic senators, Democratic activists, and reporters from suggesting Barrett was maybe some kind of a bigot for using the term on October 13, 2020. See the coverage and the complaints by Democratic senator Patty Murray, Democratic senator Cory Booker, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, Politico’s Matthew Choi, Vox’s Li Zhou, David Axelrod, Guy Cecil of Priorities USA, Lambda Legal, and GLAAD.

The story went from hypocritical to Orwellian when Merriam-Webster’s dictionary apparently updated its definition of the word “preference” in response to the controversy. It is now defined as “offensive” when used to refer to sexual orientation, but that was not Merriam-Webster’s definition as recently as September 28, 2020.

Culture

VSN, MLB, Etc.

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V. S. Naipaul upon his arrival in Stockholm, December 6, 2001. He had traveled to Sweden to pick up the Nobel prize. (Maja Suslin / TT News Agency via Reuters)

Impromptus today is a potpourri, as the column was born to be. You have some politics, some sports, some arts, etc. If you don’t like one item, you may have better luck with the next.

I would like to publish two pieces of reader mail, on different subjects. The first responds to my piece “Right Words: On how to write, and what to read.”

Jay,

I saw you mentioned V. S. Naipaul. I just completed a tour in Africa, on behalf of our government. I have an old friend who is a longtime Africa-focused intel analyst. When I was preparing to take the job, I asked him what I should read to familiarize myself with Africa.

He sent me a list of dozens of nonfiction books — and one novel, A Bend in the River. I found it insufferably boring at first but suddenly couldn’t put it down. I now believe it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, and it does really teach you a lot about Africa while fooling you into thinking you’re reading a boring story about a guy slowly running his shop into the ground.

It’s also one of those books that make me want to give up my dream of being a writer, because I don’t think I can ever hope to be remotely as good. It’s a near-perfect book. Naipaul is blindingly good.

He is, but listen: Don’t give up. (I’m speaking to everyone.) The point is to write like you, not like Naipaul. The point is to be your best self, not any version of anyone else. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses, or the Naipauls. You are uniquely you.

I sound like a kindergarten teacher, but kindergarten teachers can be very wise, you know.

Before I leave the subject of Naipaul, I would like to cite a very, very interesting criticism of him, by a former editor of mine. In fact, it must be the most unusual criticism of a writer I’ve ever heard: “He writes too limpid a prose. It’s too perfect.”

Okay, the second letter, speaking of sports (which I do in my column today). This is a letter easy to mock — “beards and tattoos”! But I found it touching.

Hello, Mr. Nordlinger,

I’m no longer interested in sports, but I’m not boycotting them. I do not encourage a boycott, especially among young people.

Sports meant so much to me when I was young. They improved my vocabulary and helped me in my math and geography studies.

How do I know the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers combine to form the Ohio River? Because of Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. (My dad told me.)

Now when I watch baseball (my last sports love), all I see is beards and tattoos. I guess the times have passed me by.

Your discouraged friend . . .

May the mood lift. As for the “times,” whatever they are: I often quote Miss Julia Coleman, who was often quoted by Jimmy Carter, her most famous student: “We must adapt to changing times with unchanging principles.”

P.S. Did you notice my two colons in the above sentence? In a Corner post last week, I wrote this:

Occasionally, I’ll write a long sentence that includes more than one colon — more than one pause, represented by colons. Can you do that? Some people around me wondered.

About this time, I was reading some Naipaul — Miguel Street, I believe — and saw that he does this freely. That was good enough for me.

It is.

Education

Western Civ Has Got to Go!

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A bust of Plato in the Long Room of the old library that houses 200,000 of Trinity College’s oldest books in Dublin, Ireland, September 14, 2018. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

Among the “woke” it is an article of faith that Western Civilization has been an unalloyed bad for the world and must always be condemned. You’d be hard pressed to find any professor in a liberal arts field who would dare to say something good about it.

In today’s Martin Center article, English professor Mark Bauerlein writes about this phenomenon, focusing on the way Western Civ has been treated in his discipline. Specifically, he notes that the Graduate Record Exam for students who want to pursue advanced studies in English has been subverted.

He writes, “But impressive reading knowledge of great literature through the ages, which a high score confirms, doesn’t count much with English departments anymore. You can see that by checking out how many mission statements include anything about tradition, the canon, literary historical depth, and erudition. Compare the frequency of those terms to the incidence of diversity and critical thinking and the preferences of the professors come through loud and clear.”

Like kudzu overgrowing a southern landscape, politics is everywhere in English. Even the formidable University of Chicago has given in, declaring that it’s only interested in students who want to pursue Black Studies.

Bauerlein notes that older faculty members were generally leftist in disposition, but they would argue against aspects of Western Civ that they didn’t like. Today’s cohort aren’t interested in arguing about the old writers and thinkers: “All that remains is to dispel them. Tear down the statues, replace 1776 with 1619, and promote contemporary writers, artists, and thinkers of color. The Woke generation doesn’t know very much about the past, but they have sufficient moral scruple to forget it, to judge it as white privilege and carry onward. To them, historical ignorance is no crime. On the contrary, a proud dismissal of a venal heritage is praiseworthy.”

Many English departments now proudly display their embrace of “wokeness.” Bauerlein includes a remarkable statement by the department at Syracuse.

Bauerlein concludes, “The traditional literary canon is out, or at least the systematic study of it. The old call for more diversity on the syllabus sounds downright tepid to the Woke. They want a whole new discipline. English is ‘too white.’ That’s the blunt problem, and it has risen to decisive status.”

World

Twelve Things that Caught My Eye Today: Myanmar, Amy Coney Barrett, & More (October 13, 2020)

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1. ‘Kill All You See’: In a First, Myanmar Soldiers Tell of Rohingya Slaughter 

2. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio: We shouldn’t have to sue Gov. Cuomo to reopen our churches

Last Sunday, we had to all but shutter 28 Catholic churches throughout Brooklyn and Queens, because they’re located in Gov. Cuomo’s red and orange zones. We could only admit 10 people to red-zone churches, 25 to orange-zone churches. Words can’t express my disappointment.

As a bishop, a successor of the Apostles, I have a sacred duty to spiritually provide for all parishioners. And that means defending their right to attend Mass.

3. Abby Johnson and other former abortion clinic workers write in support of Amy Coney Barrett

The things we have personally witnessed inside of abortion clinics we would never wish on our worst enemies; it’s not just the messiness of abortion that haunts us and putting together pieces of aborted babies. No, it’s the complete and utter disregard for the women – they are solely means of increasing revenue. And that’s something that is missing from the conversation on abortion which we can personally attest to during our time working in abortion clinics.

4. ‘Handmaid’ reality: Deeply religious marriages have more spousal equality

5. What Kind of Judge is Amy Coney Barrett? A Closer Look at Her Cases

6. Gordon Chang: Why a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan Would Be a Massive Mistake

“China may find out, however, that by the time Beijing is ready for war, Taiwan will have cemented relationships with powerful friends, the ones Chinese leaders fear.” 

7.

8. Anthony Esolen: E Pluribus Nihil

We thought for a long time that a common culture and history could serve us in place of a common faith. That was the bland liberal hope. Dashed; the culture withers, and the history is traduced and loathed.

9.  Michael Wear: Trump hasn’t ‘saved Christianity’ and Christians shouldn’t save his presidency

It is Biden who has run a campaign that has promised to decrease the antagonism in our politics, not Trump. It is Biden who has committed to pursuing racial justice from the basis of our shared humanity, as opposed to Trump’s consistent use of race as a tool to tear the American people apart. It is Biden who insists political opponents can be good people, and that those who have a different perspective must still be valued members of the American family.

10.

https://twitter.com/BecketAdams/status/1316012268547526661

11.

12. ACB Calmly Answers Questions While Typing Up Appellate Court Decision And Cooking Dinner For 9

Law & the Courts

Richard Blumenthal Lied about Amy Coney Barrett’s ‘Radical’ Quote

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) at the confirmation hearing of Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Capitol Hill, October 12, 2020. (Shawn Thew/Pool via Reuters)

During his questioning of Amy Coney Barrett, Senator Richard Blumenthal claimed that the nominee had admitted in her dissent in Kanter v. Barr — a case that revolved around the gun rights of a convicted non-violent felon — that her position sounded “radical.”

When Barrett gently challenged Blumenthal, saying she didn’t recall ever having written those words, the senator assured her, more than once, that she had.

As with many things Blumenthal says, this was untrue. Nowhere in her dissent does Barrett write the word “radical,” or offer any position approaching an admission that her well-reasoned dissent sounded extreme.

The quote is apparently from a student event at which Barrett spoke. It is extracted from a portion of her talk in which Coney seems to be reiterating that violent felons should not be able to own firearms — rather than the one Blumenthal was attempting to ascribe to her.

“That sounds kind of radical, to say felons can have firearms,” Barrett said, according to the Free Beacon. “but I think it’s because what the long-standing prohibitions were, and in fact had been even under federal law until more recently, that violent felons couldn’t have firearms. What the history showed me is there’s been a long-standing practice of saying that those who pose a threat of violence to the community cannot have firearms. And that makes sense, right? History is consistent with common sense.”

Law & the Courts

Senator Ben Sasse Explains How Courts Work in the American System

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Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 12, 2020 (Greg Nash/Reuters Pool)

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) deftly used his questioning of Amy Coney Barrett to illuminate the true purpose and role of America’s judiciary.

In this Q&A – a moment of clarity in the thick of Tuesday’s confirmation hearing – Sasse explored with the judge the meaning of originalism and what renders the courts unique in their role as a “reactive branch.”

He’s pushing back here at Democrats who suggest she’s part of a nefarious plot to reach particular outcomes on Obamacare and elsewhere. But only the two political branches – executive and legislative – are those “where policy decisions are made,” as this segment makes clear.

Watch the colloquy here:

The complete exchange can be viewed here.

Law & the Courts

Richard Blumenthal’s Fear-Mongering

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Citing the Ginsburg Rule, Amy Coney Barrett continues to refuse to opine on constitutional issues that may come before her should she be confirmed to the Supreme Court. In the context of in vitro fertilization, Senator Richard Blumenthal called that refusal “chilling” and insisted that the woman in an example he used, Tracy, would be fearful after hearing it.

If Tracy is fearful, it’s not because Barrett adhered to the Ginsburg Rule and complied with the judicial ethics she’s supposed to, but because of the cynical fear-mongering of people such as Richard Blumenthal.

Law & the Courts

The Founders Wanted You to Own an AR-15

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AR-15 rifles for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Penn., October 6, 2017 (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

In his questioning of Amy Coney Barrett regarding an Indiana case about a non-violent felon and his constitutional right to bear arms, Illinois senator Dick Durbin dropped numerous false claims about Chicago gun crimes. But he topped it all off with one of the most egregiously inane arguments used against the private ownership of guns:

When that Second Amendment was written . . . we were talking about the likelihood that a person could purchase a muzzle-loading musket.

Durbin went on to say that the logical conclusion of the “originalist” position on firearms should be that the Founders were referring to flintlock muskets rather than modern “military weapons.” (A purposefully misleading labelling of semi-automatic rifles that Democrats are trying to ban.)

Originalism, of course, isn’t the same as literalism. Even it were, Durbin would be wrong. Because the right to self-defense isn’t predicated on any one specific weapon but a principle. Which is why the Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee the right of individuals to “keep and bear Kentucky rifles” any more than the First Amendment guarantees the right of individuals to “write on parchment paper” or to worship “in Anglican and Presbyterian churches.”

Contemporary legislators have the hubris to believe that the Founders hadn’t envisioned any kind of technological advances in firearm technology. It’s an argument tantamount to claiming that free-speech protections are not operable because James Madison couldn’t foresee the incredible speed with which information can be disseminated on the Internet.

Not only did legislators in the late 18th-century witness the advent and adoption of long-range Pennsylvania rifles — ones that could fire at 300 yards with decent precision rather than 50 yards with none — but they were likely acquainted with the existence of weapons such as air-powered repeating rifles that could fire .46-caliber lead balls about 40 times before losing muzzle velocity. No Founder ever said, “hey maybe we made a mistake.” In fact, in the subsequent 150 years — through the rise of the revolver, the repeating rifle, and the gas-powered automatic weapons — no one ever challenged the idea that the Second Amendment protected anything but an individual right. Heller, the decision that so infuriated leftists, simply reaffirmed what had been obvious to everyone since 1789.

The Second Amendment is predicated on the principle that people have the right defend themselves and their liberties. The right to bear arms, in fact, is older than the right to free speech or freedom of religion. The English Bill of Rights, a document cataloging the crimes of James II and codifying the “ancient and indubitable” rights of English citizens in 1689, includes the right to “arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.” Well, for Protestants. By 1765, William Blackstone, whose writings helped define the English common-law legal system, wrote that “the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.”

Not one Founder mentioned anything about “hunting” or “skeet shooting” during the debates over the drafting of the Constitution.

The founding generation believed that firearms should be used to guarantee the universal and inalienable liberties of the people laid out in the Constitution — whether they were in the government or not. Thankfully, there is no need of insurrection now. But the presence of armed citizenry is always a good bulwark against tyranny. Just in case.

And a musket simply won’t do.

Law & the Courts

Re: Do You Even Article V, Bro?

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But he was on The West Wing, Charlie! Surely that counts for something.

Bradley Whitford’s astoundingly stupid remarks — echoed by Mikel Jollett and other entertainers on social media — is an example of why the Elizabethans had it right in their low opinion of actors.

U.S.

World’s Greatest Deliberative Body

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Overheard in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body:

Senator Coons: Judge Barrett, why did you single out John Roberts in your writing on the ACA opinion?

Judge Barrett: He wrote that opinion, senator.

Dumber than nine chickens, that guy.

Comparing the intelligent and informed remarks of Senators Cruz and Sasse to the fatuous gas from Senator Klobuchar offers a reminder that, as incredible as it sounds, Senate Republicans have the brainpower advantage here.

Politics & Policy

Do You Even Article V, Bro?

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An actor tweets:

Interesting. I like asking actors if they’ve ever read the Constitution or learned what the term “originalist” means, because, at least in the case of Bradley Whitford, the answer seems to be “no.”

The central originalist argument is that the Supreme Court should not act as a council of revision that takes it upon itself to amend the Constitution according to its preferences, but, rather, that it should wait for the people to make changes to the text using the amendment process that is laid out in Article V. In 1920, the public did just that when it ratified the 19th Amendment, which extended the right to vote to women. Were Amy Coney Barrett to be asked what that provision means, she would refer back to the text, which reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

And, because she is an originalist, she would rule that this amendment means that:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

This is really not that difficult.

Politics & Policy

Democrats’ Judicial Consequentialism Is on Display Today

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Health care, with NFIB v. Sebelius as its avatar, and abortion, with both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey as its own, have been at the forefront of Democrats’ questioning of Amy Coney Barrett. As of 3:15 p.m., Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Amy Klobuchar, and Chris Coons have had the opportunity to interrogate Barrett on her judicial views, including her academic criticism of Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion in Sebelius. That’s a combined three hours of time. Several of them have noted her criticism of the opinion in Sebelius and suggested that Barrett would rule against the ACA in future cases. Feinstein gave a monologue about how important abortion rights are. Whitehouse made about as much sense as the typical InfoWars guest. None of them have even tried to explain why the majority opinions in SebeliusRoe, or Casey were well-reasoned. That pretty much says it all about the merits of those opinions and the Democrats’ judicial consequentialism.

Politics & Policy

Sheldon Whitehouse’s Funhouse Math

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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) speaks Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 13, 2020. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Reuters)

Rhode Island Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse was in full-bore conspiracy-theorist mode today, to the point where he did not even allow Amy Coney Barrett to answer a single question during his time speaking. Senate Republicans were ready — Ben Sasse cracked that Whitehouse was using “Beautiful Mind conspiracy charts” and Ted Cruz bored in detail into Whitehouse’s hypocrisy given the torrents of money on his own side. Whitehouse’s claim that all legal disagreement with him is the result of a unitary conspiracy to buy off the legal system is par for the course for him — as I’ve discussed before at length — but one particular line struck me as especially dishonest: He talked about 80 cases that were decided 5-4 (by the “Roberts Five,” as if they were some sort of criminal gang) in favor of what he characterized as dark-money corporate interests, and he went on a rant about how this was an “eighty to nothing” record and showed that there was a conspiracy:

What’s behind us is now 80 cases, Mr. Chairman, 80 cases under Chief Justice Roberts that have these characteristics. One, they were decided 5-4 by a bare majority. Two, the 5-4 majority was partisan in the sense that not one democratic appointee joined the five. I refer to that group as the Roberts five. It changes a little bit as with Justice [Antonin] Scalia’s death, for instance, but there’s been a steady Roberts five that has delivered now 80 of these decisions. In all these areas where it’s about political power for big special interests and people who want to fund campaigns and people who want to get their way through politics without actually showing up, doing it behind Donors Trust and other groups, doing it through these schemes, over and over and over again, you see the same thing — 80 decisions, Judge Barrett, 80 decisions, and 80-0 sweep. I don’t think you’ve tried cases but some cases, the issue is bias and discrimination, and if you are making a bias case, as a trial lawyer — Lindsey Graham is a hell of a good trial lawyer, if he wanted to make a bias case, [and] Dick Durbin is a hell of a good trial lawyer — if they wanted to show an 80-0 pattern, A., that’s admissible and, B., I’d love to make that argument to the jury. I’d be really hard-pressed to be the lawyer saying, ‘No, 80-0 is just a bunch of flukes, all 5-4, all partisan, all this way.’ So something is not right around the court, and dark money has a lot to do with it. Special interests have a lot to do with it. Donors Trust and whoever is hiding behind Donors Trust has a lot to do with it.

Why is it 80-0? First, why can Whitehouse find no examples of all five Democrat-appointed Justices ruling the same way? Because there were only four of them. If his standard was “how many times have all the Justices appointed by the same party voted together, not joined by any from the other party,” his final score would not be 80-0, it would be 80-80. His standard is the very definition of begging the question: It is literally impossible for there to be any decision that lands on the other side of his line.

Second, Whitehouse has his thumb on the scales in other ways. Of course, the decisions that come out 5-4 on a party-line basis are always going to be the cases where there is a conservative/liberal split. Why does that split always put conservatives on the side of “political power for big special interests”? Because he doesn’t count the power of special interests on his own side. Whitehouse thinks, for example, that unions coercing their members into contributing to campaigns is somehow the opposite of a special interest and the opposite of “people who want to fund campaigns.” Funding campaigns isn’t funding campaigns when they are Democratic campaigns, you see.

Third, the idea that Roberts and other Republican-appointed Justices are in a conspiracy to always side with conservative business interests ignores the rather obvious fact that the Supreme Court decided 5-4 in 2012 to reject a constitutional challenge to Obamacare in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Roberts (joined by Anthony Kennedy) also wrote the 2015 King v. Burwell case taking a frankly ridiculous reading of the Obamacare-exchange statute in order to deflect a challenge to the statute. These are hardly the only examples of cases in which there were a lot of the same conservative interest groups on one side — not only on social-issue questions but economic and political ones as well — and Roberts, Kennedy, and sometimes other Republican-appointed Justices ruled against them. If Whitehouse actually attempted this argument in court, he’d get laughed at and and his evidence excluded on grounds of it being so intellectually shoddy.

Politics & Policy

Are Either Trump Voters or Biden Voters Particularly ‘Shy’?

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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds up his face mask while speaking during a campaign event in Gettysburg, Pa., October 6, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

A reader observes, we have dueling narratives of “shy Trump voters who are willing to trumpet his campaign everywhere but the polls vs. invisible Biden voters who are willing to talk to the pollsters and permeate the national news rooms, but won’t go out in public.” One of these narratives is going to be wrong when the election results are in.

As I observed yesterday, Trump yard signs were ubiquitous all over Bucks County, Pa., this weekend. Last night, an “overflowing crowd of thousands greeted the president at Orlando Sanford International Airport.” Before the president’s illness, several thousand people came out to see him in Duluth in 40-degree temperatures. Whether the president has more supporters than the nearly 63 million who voted for him in 2016 or fewer, a chunk of his current supporters are enthusiastic and highly motivated.

You may have heard that Biden did an event in Arizona where no supporters showed up. That’s not quite the whole story. The Biden campaign did hold an event with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Ariz., but the campaign did not invite the general public; the television coverage left out this portion from reporter Nicole Garcia:

“I’m told by one of the Biden staffers, local staffers is that they kind of kept the details about the visit as far as the timing and the exact locations, they didn’t really want to give that out to the public because they want to keep the crowds to a minimum. They realize we are in a pandemic and they don’t want a crowd of more than 50 people at any of their events.”

A campaign’s blanket policy of no large rallies could be a genuine effort to promote social distancing . . . or it could be an effort to obscure that Biden couldn’t attract large crowds if he wanted to. Polling has consistently shown that Biden supporters are more motivated by opposition to Trump than enthusiasm for Biden himself.

Trump has seen almost nothing but dire polls in the past few weeks. Nationwide and in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Michigan, the numbers are just about always bad, with the president trailing Biden, and often it’s not close. A few polls in Arizona, Florida, Iowa and Ohio show the president ahead, but not consistently. If Trump wins these states, it will be 2016 all over again, and the polling industry may never recover — no matter how many times pollsters insist they’ve adjusted their methods.

But if Trump loses these states by the margins indicated . . . then all of those yard signs and sizable crowds at the airports will have been not that important an indicator.

Politics & Policy

Sheldon Whitehouse’s Conspiracy

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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) makes a presentation while displaying a sign during Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, October 13, 2020. (Greg Nash/ Pool via Reuters)

Earlier today, while questioning Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Rhode Island senator Sheldon Whitehouse stumbled upon a conspiracy. Or so he would tell you. A sample of his remarks tells the story of his discovery, perhaps reached after extensive pushing of thumbtacks into a cork board and connecting them with string:

We say the stakes are high on this because you have said the stakes are high. You have said that is what you want to do. How are people going about doing it? What is the scheme here? Let me start with this one. In all cases, there is big anonymous money behind various lanes of activity. One is through the conduit of the Federalist Society. It is managed by a guy named Leonard Leo and it has taken over the selection of judicial nominees. How do we know? Because Trump has said so over and over again. His White House counsel said so. We have an anonymously funded group run by this guy named Leonard Leo. We have anonymous funders running something called the Judicial Crisis Network, which is run by [Carrie Campbell] Severino and it is doing PR and campaign ads for Republican judicial nominees . . .

He continued in this vein for a while — and not for the first time. In 2018, during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Whitehouse likewise excitedly detailed the tentacles of the “scheme” he claimed to uncover. He was aided in his remarks today by this chart: 

So you see now that my earlier comments about cork boards, thumbtacks, and string were not exactly uncharitable. It would be one thing, though, if Whitehouse were uncovering — or, more likely, claiming to uncover — some kind of truly twisted, nefarious operation (involving a National Review contributor, no less!), something resembling Sherlock Holmes’s description of his nemesis Moriarty’s undertakings:

He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city, He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order. He sits motionless, like a spider in the center of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of them. He does little himself. He only plans.

The problem is that what Whitehouse is describing is utterly conventional. He outlines a series of individuals and organizations working within the political process to achieve a desired outcome, and doing so essentially in the open. Whitehouse himself admits this, perhaps without realizing it, when he notes that Trump has repeatedly identified Leonard Leo — far from “the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected” in Washington, D.C. — as an important figure in selecting judges. There is nothing wrong with that, nor is there anything particularly strange — or even secretive — about Whitehouse’s “conspiracy.”

What is unusual about it, and what is likely the true source of Whitehouse’s ire, is that it tends to be successful. Well, there is nothing stopping interested actors on the left from trying to create something comparable for their use when the balance of political power favors their doing so. It might serve them better than making arguments against Supreme Court nominees that are difficult to distinguish from memes.

Law & the Courts

Notre Dame Liberal-Arts Faculty Ask Barrett to Halt Her Nomination

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University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind. (Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports)

In an open letter, 88 faculty members at the University of Notre Dame are calling on Judge Amy Coney Barrett to withdraw herself from consideration for the Supreme Court vacancy until after the election.

“It is vital that you issue a public statement calling for a halt to your nomination process until after the November presidential election,” they write, concluding that doing so “might well inspire Americans of different beliefs toward a renewed commitment to the common good.”

What’s most interesting about the letter is the composition of its signatories: To a man, they belong to colleges and departments at the university other than Notre Dame’s law school. Not a single one of Barrett’s faculty colleagues in the law school signed on.

In fact, according to Senator Ben Sasse, when Barrett was nominated to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, she was recommended unanimously by her Notre Dame Law School faculty colleagues.

Just yesterday, 23 of Barrett’s law-school colleagues submitted a letter to the Judiciary Committee commending her Supreme Court nomination. “As a scholarly community, we have divergent political views, as well as commitments to different approaches to judicial methodology and judicial craft,” they wrote, adding:

We also have divergent views about the President, as well as the timing of this confirmation process and its long-term implications for the future of the Supreme Court. We are united, however, in our judgment about Amy. She is a brilliant teacher and scholar, and a warm and generous colleague. She possesses in abundance all of the other qualities that shape extraordinary judges: discipline, intellect, wisdom impeccable temperament, and above all, fundamental decency and humanity.

The dean of Notre Dame’s law school, G. Marcus Cole, offered his own statement after she was nominated, calling Barrett “an absolutely brilliant legal scholar and jurist” and “one of the most popular teachers we have ever had here at Notre Dame Law School.”

Cole added, “Judge Barrett has served our nation with true distinction from the bench, and would continue to do so if she were confirmed to serve on our nation’s highest court.”

This open letter asking her to withdraw from consideration, meanwhile, was signed by Notre Dame faculty who hail from some of the university’s most progressive departments: four from Gender Studies, nine from Anthropology, seven from history, and several from other assorted liberal-arts disciplines.

These faculty members are, of course, entitled to their own opinions. But we shouldn’t be asked to believe that their sentiments reflect in any way on Barrett’s fitness to serve on the Supreme Court.

World

Netherlands Gets Ready for Child Euthanasia

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(Pixabay)

The Netherlands is about to expand its euthanasia law to allow children ages 1–12 to be killed by doctors. (Children older than 12 already can be euthanized). From the NLTimes story:

Terminally-ill children between the ages of 1 and 12 will likely be granted access to euthanasia, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge told Parliament on Tuesday. End of life procedures carried out by doctors in the Netherlands were already possible for infants up to one year old, and for children above 12 years old.

There is no reason to think the “terminally ill” limitation will last, much less be enforced. After all, babies in the Netherlands are euthanized under the Groningen Protocol, both because of terminal illness and serious disability.

Children are already subjected to terminal sedation — that is, being put in an artificial coma and dehydrated to death.

For the children referenced in the new policy, doctors are only allowed to give palliative care, like sedation, or withhold nutrition over an extended period of time until the patient dies. Doctors describe this as “a gray area” between normal palliative care and active life termination, he said, and they have been calling out for more regulation.

Terminal sedation is not palliative care! It is slow-motion euthanasia.

Dutch death doctors always use the “gray area” excuse to expand the caste of the killable. Once death is in the driver’s seat, it never hits the brakes.

Politics & Policy

Abolish the Strike Zone?

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During his questioning of Amy Coney Barrett this morning, Senator Dick Durbin said repeatedly that different lawyers will come to difficult conclusions when examining the same text, and insisted that it is impossible for judges to be the same as “robots.” Amy Coney Barrett agreed.

In and of itself, this was a relatively uncontroversial observation for Durbin to have made. But, as an argument against originalism — and that is what Durbin was driving at, as he himself confirmed — it was extremely weak. That originalism does not always present an easy answer is true. Equally true is that two originalist judges may come to different conclusions. But the idea that either of these facts endorses the alternative approach, which is simply making up the law, is preposterous.

To borrow an analogy: It is possible for two good-faith umpires to disagree as to whether a pitch fell inside of or outside of the strike zone. But to acknowledge this is not to make a case against strike zones per se, and nor is it to undermine the need for clear and unambiguous rules in baseball. As Justice Scalia often pointed out, originalism isn’t infallible, but it is far better than the alternatives. If two judges come to a different opinion using the same framework, fine. If one comes to an opinion by looking at the original public meaning and the other comes to an opinion based on nothing concrete whatsoever, well, that’s not fine.

What Senator Durbin said this morning is that because sometimes the law is unclear, and because sometimes it is tough for judges using an originalist framework to come to a clear conclusion, there should be no such thing as law at all. This is absurd.

Politics & Policy

Sheldon Whitehouse Is a Loon

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As those of you who are watching this hearing will now be aware, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island is a lunatic. Here’s a good rundown on him from Dan McLaughlin.

Politics & Policy

Does Joy Reid Know What a Constitutional Amendment Is?

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It is probably a waste to even bother trying to address this, but I’ll take this one for the team.

Amy Coney Barrett says that the role of the judge is to interpret the Constitution as it actually is written, with special attention given to the meaning of the words as understood at the time of their writing. Joy Reid responds with what she apparently imagines to be a devastating reply: “At the time the Constitution was ratified, Black people were classed as 3/5 of a person.”

This is true. And so we . . . amended the Constitution.

The amendments were voted on in Congress, ratified by the states, etc., and laws were passed acting on those amendments. That is how amending the Constitution works.

It does not work by having freelance moralists on the Supreme Court impose their personal views of justice on the law — even when they are right.

The reason for that is that giving five unaccountable lawyers the power to rewrite the basic law on a whim creates the power to do great evil along with the power to do good.

The same model of judicial super-legislation that produced the so-called constitutional right to abortion also blessed Roosevelt’s concentration camps (Korematsu), Wilson’s war on political dissent (Schenck), eugenic sterilization (Buck), and, famously, the dehumanization of African Americans (Dred Scott). “We want to give quasi-dictatorial powers to the Supreme Court, but only if they do nice things with it!” is not an argument for adults. It is an invitation to chaos, as our own Supreme Court has demonstrated on many occasions.

Surely it is better to have the 13th Amendment — and the First, and the Second — than to rely on the good will and enlightenment of a temporary majority of nine lawyers appointed by such presidents as we elect through the goat-rodeo of American democracy. That is why we write the important things down, and make the most important of them difficult to change.

NR Webathon

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett attends a meeting with Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) on Capitol Hill, October 1, 2020. (Erin Scott/Pool/via Reuters)

We have commenced a brief webathon — six days remain — to do what we must periodically do to keep NR in the thick of the fight; namely, seek your financial support. Was there ever a time such as now — when yet another exceptional SCOTUS nominee is put through the leftist Democrats’ grinder of shocking abuse, mischief, and outright lies, all of it aided by a complacent media — when the DefCon One spirit and vigor of righteous conservative anger, the impactful reporting and forceful counterattacks of NR’s talented writers and reporters, was needed more?

This is why we exist. This is the sort of “history” that Bill Buckley tasked NR to stand athwart. This is our mutual concern, our mutual cause, our mutual obligation. Hence our request: Please donate. We fight the kind of fight that must be fought when our committed friends keep passing the ammo.

Good people have already chosen to do just that, and with their generosity — some ample by any standard, some with the inspiration of the Widow’s Mite — have spoken as to why they give. Here’s a sampling:

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If you find NR to be a cause, and a righteous cause at that, and especially a cause meant for this moment in America’s history, well, you’d be right to think so. But we ask for more than kind sentiments — we need you to join this cause in a meaningful way. Your donation is instrumental to NR’s short- and long-term efforts — if you can help, do so here. If you can contribute $10, $100, $1,000, do so knowing each and every buck matters, that each and every donor matters, and that all are beloved for their selfless desire to be with us in this truly critical battle for our country and civilization. Help us reach our goal (we hope to raise $150,000 by next week). Help us help counter the leftist onslaught against the exceptional Amy Coney Barrett. Donate here. If you prefer to send your support by mail, make your check payable to “National Review” and send it to: to National Review, ATTN: ACB Webathon, 19 West 44th Street, Suite 1701, New York, N.Y., 10036. Thank you and God help us all, especially ACB.

Politics & Policy

Barrett’s Poignant Response to Durbin on the George Floyd Video

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett attends the second day of her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 13, 2020. (Patrick Semansky/Reuters)

During his questioning at today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) asked Judge Amy Coney Barrett whether she had seen the now-famous video of George Floyd’s violent arrest and what impact it had on her. Here was her remarkable response:

Senator, as you might imagine, given that I have two black children, that was very, very personal for my family. Jesse was with the boys on a camping trip out in South Dakota, so I was there, and my 17-year-old daughter Vivian, who was adopted from Haiti, all of this was erupting. It was very difficult for her. We wept together in my room. It was also difficult for Juliet, who is ten. I had to try to explain some of this to them.

My children, to this point in their lives, have had the benefit of growing up in a cocoon where they have not yet experienced hatred or violence. And for Vivian, to understand that there would be a risk to her brother or the sons she might have one day, of that kind of brutality, has been an ongoing conversation. It’s a difficult one for us, like it is for Americans all over the country.

Durbin followed up by asking Barrett her view, as an originalist, of where our country is today on the issue of race and how she feels about the idea of systemic racism.

“I think it is an entirely uncontroversial and obvious statement, given as we just talked about the George Floyd video, that racism persists in our country,” Barrett replied, before declining to give a broader statement of her views about diagnosing the specific problems or policies at stake.

Barrett’s reply to Durbin on this point was a great example of why she’s difficult for Democratic opponents of her nomination to caricature or villainize. In every interaction we’ve seen from her so far, she comes across as a normal human being, and a highly intelligent and deeply compassionate one at that.

Elections

Does Having a Lot of Campaign Offices in Swing States Matter Much?

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The Trump campaign is scoffing that the Biden campaign is behind the eight ball in the key state of Ohio:

The Trump campaign characterizes Biden as a late-comer to a state where its ground operation – including 28 field offices and over 117 staff – has been active for months.

“While Joe Biden and Democrats fumble to find Ohio at the 11th hour, Trump Victory never took the Buckeye State for granted and developed the strongest grassroots operation in the history of our state,” spokesman Dan Lusheck said in a statement Saturday. “We look forward to a big win for Team Trump on November 3rd.”

It’s a little surprising to see the Trump campaign boasting about how many field offices it has in a swing state, because one of the surprising lessons of the 2016 cycle was that having more campaign offices in a key state — even way more offices — does not necessarily make you more likely to win.

Right around this time four years ago, the hot storyline was that the Clinton campaign’s ground game was set to wildly outpace that of the Trump campaign, because her campaign had considerably more offices and paid staff on the ground, in key state after key state.

In 2016, like in 2012, it is not close. Clinton has more than twice as many field offices as Trump nationwide (489 vs. 207), and her organization dominates Trump’s in every battleground state. Clinton’s offices outnumber Trump’s by 20 in New Hampshire, 22 in Iowa, 20 in Colorado, and 27 in North Carolina. In the states where Trump has opened the most offices, such as Pennsylvania (42), Florida (29) and Ohio (22), Clinton’s advantage remains large: She bests him by 15 offices in Pennsylvania, 39 in Florida and 47 in Ohio. Trump’s ground game is far from nonexistent, but his campaign simply does not have the infrastructure to match Clinton’s capabilities for voter contact and mobilization.

As you may recall, Clinton lost Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio. She barely won New Hampshire, by 2,736 votes, or four-tenths of one percentage point. Then again, perhaps she would have lost those states by even wider margins if she didn’t have those offices and staffers in those states.

Law & the Courts

Barrett on Why She Accepted the Nomination: ‘I’m Committed to the Rule of Law’

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During his questioning at this morning’s round of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham asked the judge how it feels to be nominated for the Supreme Court.

Barrett’s reply was thoughtful and very humanizing. Here’s what she said:

I’ve tried to be on a media blackout for the sake of my mental health but you can’t keep yourself walled off from everything. I’m aware of a lot of caricatures that are floating around. I think what I would like to say in response to that question is, look, I’ve made distinct choices. I’ve decided to pursue a career and have a large family. I have a multiracial family. Our faith is important to us. All of those things are true, but they are my choices. In my personal interactions with people, I mean, I have a life brimming with people who’ve made different choices, and I’ve never tried in my personal life to impose my choices on them. The same is true professionally. I apply the law.

Senator, I think I should say why I’m sitting in this seat in response to that question, too, and why I’ve agreed to be here. I don’t think it’s any secret to any of you or the American people that this is a really difficult, some might say excruciating process. Jesse and I had a very brief amount of time to make a decision with momentous consequences for our family. We knew that our lives would be combed over for any negative detail. We knew that our faith would be caricatured. We knew that our family would be attacked. We had to decide whether those difficulties would be worth it, because what sane person would go through that if there wasn’t a benefit on the other side?

The benefit, I think, is that I’m committed to the rule of law and the role of the Supreme Court and dispensing equal justice for all. I’m not the only person who could do this job, but I was asked, and it would be difficult for anyone. Why should I say someone else should do the difficulty? If the difficulty is the only reason to say no, I should serve my country. My family is all in on that because they share my belief in the rule of law.

Not much questioning has taken place yet, but so far, Barrett has done an excellent job of demonstrating that commitment.

Law & the Courts

Barrett Should Reject the Democrats’ Recusal Gambit

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Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett is flanked by her husband Jesse and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone at the start of the second day of her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 13, 2020. (Shawn Thew/Reuters)

The Wall Street Journal has a solid editorial today on why Judge Amy Coney Barrett should not cave in to Senate Democrats’ specious demands that, if confirmed, she commit to recusing herself from any cases related to the 2020 election process.

If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that top public officials should not disqualify themselves from exercising their high responsibilities based on hypothetical conflicts of interest. They should always wait until a case or controversy arises, so that any purported conflict can be assessed concretely.

I continue to believe it was a mistake for then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself in a sweeping manner, in advance of any actual prosecutions, from anything having to do with the 2020 election and Russia. He should have recognized (as he did) that there were potential conflicts that could have to be addressed. He could then have recused himself, case-by-case, from the actual criminal prosecutions against his fellow Trump campaign officials – e.g., Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. But there was no need for him to recuse from a counterintelligence investigation (an information gathering exercise, not a prosecution) of Russia’s interference in the election; and there never was a Donald Trump prosecution warranting recusal.

By recusing prematurely and too broadly, Sessions opened himself up to Democrat claims that he could not function as attorney general, should not participate in the selection of a new FBI director, etc. It hurt him badly, and contributed to making the recusal a recurring dispute with the president (though that was mostly the president’s doing).

Moreover, Supreme Court justices have a history of waiving off even concrete conflicts. The Journal covers a good deal of this today. Our Ed Whelan made a very strong case that Justice Kagan should have recused herself, but did not, from the Obamacare case. She had been the Obama administration’s solicitor general and advised the administration on how to defend against challenges to the Affordable Care Act.

A particularly noteworthy instance of non-recusal is Justice Breyer’s decision not to disqualify himself from the Court’s Sentencing Guidelines cases, decided in 2005. As then Duke Law Professor (now Berkeley Law Dean) Erwin Chemerinsky put it at the time, “There’s no doubt that Stephen Breyer is one of the ‘parents’ of the federal sentencing guidelines.” Breyer had been chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and a laboring oar in drafting and passing the 1984 Sentencing Reform Act that established authority for the guidelines. Breyer was then appointed to the first Sentencing Commission, which, as Chemerinsky put it, “created the guidelines in the very structure at issue” in the constitutional challenges before the Court. Yet, Breyer participated and wrote a significant part of the Court’s opinion in the case (see United States v. Booker).

As the Journal observes, if the Supreme Court is called on to decide election-related cases in the next few weeks, they are likely to be involved issues that do not necessarily favor President Trump or Vice President Biden, even though one partisan side or another may be involved in the litigation. These are such issues as what ballots should be tabulated – e.g., should ballots mailed in before Election Day but not received until afterwards count, or do courts have the authority to extend voting deadlines that have been fixed by state legislatures? It would be better for the country if the Supreme Court rules on such matters before Election Day so it is not put in the position of appearing to decide the election if it must rule afterwards.

Either way, though, the election cases create no conflict for Barrett. Nor do they present anything close to some of the clear conflict situations that sitting justices nevertheless decided did not warrant recusal.

Law & the Courts

Why Republicans Zeroed Out the Individual-Mandate Penalty

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Senator Chris Murphy speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., December 13, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Senator Chris Murphy has a bizarre Twitter thread claiming that Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation is the final stage in a Republican plot to destroy Obamacare. There are numerous problems with it: It misrepresents the Fifth Circuit’s ruling on the current case, for example, and it curiously fails to mention that Barrett herself participated in a “mock court” on that case where she allowed the law to stand. Indeed, there’s an argument she should recuse herself to be fair to Obamacare’s opponents.

But here I wanted to discuss a more obscure claim, because it gets at something that is kind of weird about how Obamacare is currently written. When Republicans killed the individual mandate, they didn’t remove it from the law entirely; they reduced the penalty to $0 while leaving the mandate itself — the language telling Americans they have to buy health insurance — in place. Murphy calls this curious and “purposeful,” implying Republicans did it to set up the lawsuit. (I won’t bore you with the details on how this relates to the legal claims, but see here for more.)

The documented history of the provision is far less interesting. The GOP used the “budget reconciliation” process to repeal the mandate in 2017, as part of that year’s tax bill. A reconciliation bill can’t be filibustered in the Senate, but every change it makes must affect the budget. Reducing a penalty to $0 affects the budget; changing other language in the law does not.

In fact, not only was the $0 penalty an effort to comply with reconciliation rules, but the Senate parliamentarian had rejected an earlier attempt to kill the mandate more broadly. Here’s the history, as reported by the Washington Post in March of 2017, when Republicans were pursuing their doomed repeal-and-replace efforts:

In early 2016, Republicans passed a test run of a bill via reconciliation that got all the way to Obama’s desk. (He vetoed it, duh.)

In that process, a parliamentarian held Republicans up by ruling that one of the central pieces of their bill, eliminating the individual mandate that people have health insurance or else pay a tax, wasn’t directly related to the budget and couldn’t be passed under reconciliation.

Republicans were forced to get creative to undo a central part of Obamacare without a filibuster from Democrats.

“Republicans came back and said: ‘We can’t include a straight repeal of the mandate, but can we just dial the penalty for violating the mandate down to zero?’” [Molly Reynolds, a congressional expert with the Brookings Institution] explains. “And the parliamentarian said that was okay.”

In the end, the 2016 test repeal-replace legislation passed with the individual mandate intact but with a $0 penalty if you don’t have health care.

That’s more or less how Republicans have crafted their replacement bill in 2017: The individual mandate isn’t struck out of the bill, but it wouldn’t be enforced.

Fully repealing the mandate wasn’t an option, and it isn’t “curious” that they looked for a different route. Blame the parliamentarian.

Law & the Courts

The Barrett Obamacare Recusal Gambit

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) participates in a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, October 1, 2020. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Should Amy Coney Barrett recuse herself from California v. Texas, the case challenging Obamacare? Chuck Schumer has called for it:

Schumer argues that Barrett has “clearly said she’d strike down the Affordable Care Act” and has “serious conflicts of interest” regarding the ACA. On the former point, as I have detailed at length, while Barrett in her academic writing has indicated her disagreement with the 2012 NFIB decision upholding the individual mandate as an exercise of the taxing power, she did not give a view on whether she agreed with Justice Antonin Scalia that the whole law should be struck down in 2012, much less express an opinion on what to do in the current, very distinct ACA lawsuit — other than participating in an academic moot court exercise in which she apparently did not favor striking anything besides the mandate itself, if even that.

In any event, Supreme Court justices do not recuse simply because they are not completely ignorant blank slates on issues before the Court. Schumer comes perilously close here to arguing that only justices who promise in advance to rule his way should be allowed to hear cases. Schumer argues that Trump has said that he wants judges who will rule in his favor. But we all know Trump says things, and the Supreme Court tends to ignore them. The justices have done so repeatedly, even Trump appointees and even in cases involving Trump’s own financial interests.

Barrett could, in theory, justify recusing from the ACA case on the grounds that she participated in a moot court on the subject and issued a ruling. Doing so would have been politically savvy, given how badly Democrats want to make this about a weak challenge to the ACA. It would have left them with little to say today. New justices have routinely recused from cases they’d heard already while sitting on a lower court (Justice Kavanaugh did so on several cases that had gone through the DC Circuit while he was there). But even if that were good politics, it would not be good for the administration of law. Supreme Court justices have an obligation to stay on cases if they can, because unlike lower-court judges, they are not so easily replaced on a case, and it is certainly possible that at least some questions in California v. Texas (such as standing to sue) will be deadlocked 4-4 without her. And the argument for recusing from a case you heard earlier in the litigation is that you may be biased by prior involvement with the litigants and the record, not just that you formed some initial impressions of the case. None of that is true here, where Judge Barrett’s involvement has been no more than that of a judge who read media accounts of a case and discussed it with friends before reading the briefs, the precedents, and the record.

Sometimes, being a judge means that you have to take the responsible route instead of the politically beneficial one.

Media

Elie Mystal’s Cruelty and Amy Coney Barrett’s Grace

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Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett attends her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, October 12, 2020. (Patrick Semansky/Pool via Reuters)

Amy Coney Barrett delivered her opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee early this afternoon. Here’s what Barrett had to say about her seven children, two of whom — Vivian and John Peter — she and her husband adopted from Haiti:

Jesse and I are parents to seven wonderful children. Emma is a sophomore in college who just might follow her parents into a career in the law. Vivian came to us from Haiti. When she arrived, she was so weak that we were told she might never walk or talk normally. She now deadlifts as much as the male athletes at our gym, and I assure you that she has no trouble talking. Tess is 16, and while she shares her parents’ love for the liberal arts, she also has a math gene that seems to have skipped her parents’ generation. John Peter joined us shortly after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, and Jesse, who brought him home, still describes the shock on JP’s face when he got off the plane in wintertime Chicago. Once that shock wore off, JP assumed the happy-go-lucky attitude that is still his signature trait. Liam is smart, strong, and kind, and to our delight, he still loves watching movies with Mom and Dad. Ten-year-old Juliet is already pursuing her goal of becoming an author by writing multiple essays and short stories, including one she recently submitted for publication. And our youngest — Benjamin, who has Down syndrome — is the unanimous favorite of the family.

Elie Mystal, a justice correspondent at The Nation, reacted to this loving description by asking: “Did anybody else notice that Amy Coney Barrett told us her white children have intellectual goals while her black children can… deadlift? Or was that just me?”

In an age of political incivility such as ours, it takes quite a lot to shock the conscience of political observers. But Mystal’s attempt to imply she would lower expectations for her kids based on skin color (when she was clearly trying to highlight Vivian’s robust health now compared with her sickly state when she was adopted) marks a new low. That he does so not because he thinks it will derail her nomination — he knows it won’t — but for likes and retweets speaks to his own vanity, racial insensitivity, and cruelty. (He continued to delight in the attention, later tweeting: “Conservatives seem pretty angry that I challenged their white savior complex. I expect that they’re all honoring ‘Columbus Day’ by watching the Last of the Mohicans tonight.”)

Only a fanatic could draw the conclusion that Mystal did from Barrett’s statement. Only a woman with the uncommon talent, grace, and faith of Amy Coney Barrett could find it in her heart to forgive Mystal.

Culture

Ten Foster-Care/Adoption/Child-Welfare Things That Caught My Eye Today (October 12, 2020)

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1.  Reason: Couple Barred from Fostering Their 1-Year-Old Great-Granddaughter Because They Oppose Homosexuality and Gender Transitioning

Department regulations and policies appear neutral but in practice gerrymander to create unequal effect. As applied to the Blaises and others similarly situated, the regulations and policies disproportionately exclude persons who observe certain religious faiths from qualifying as foster parents based solely on speculative future conduct. In operation, Department regulations and policies eliminate a not insignificant cross-section of otherwise qualified persons from serving as potential caregivers based on their faith’s stance on sexual orientation and gender identity and whether their religion supports certain issues LGBTQ+ youth might face.

2. Kate Cray: How Do You Find a Home for a Foster Child at a Time Like This?

Turnover among foster parents is alway high, and experts tell me that concerns about infection risk, especially for older people, seem to have become another reason for parents to relinquish children under their care during the past few months.

. . .

When the worst-case scenario has hit, foster care’s pandemic failures can seem lurid: Foster kids in Washington State were quarantined in a government office building after their group home closed. A number of COVID-19-positive foster children spent several nights sleeping on the chairs, couches, and floors of the Child and Family Services Agency D.C. headquarters. But similar incidents happen in normal times too (albeit without the same infection risks). These experiences are traumatic, but the social workers and experts I spoke with emphasized that children enter foster care because of trauma; some tragedy has befallen their family that has made their parents or guardians unable to care for them. The pandemic adds another layer of complication and trauma to their lives—not creating new cracks so much as deepening existing ones in an already-fragile system.

3. Ryan Bomberger: Ibram X. Kendi’s attack on interracial adoption is clueless

My parents had three biological and adopted 10 children, nine of us black or “biracial.” They didn’t have a savior complex. They had a love reflex. And that love was born out of pain and brokenness. My mom grew up in a trailer home with an alcoholic father. At the age of five, her parents separated and placed her into a children’s home for one year. It was a devastating time for a 5 year old. I guess she was “privileged” to experience such loss. It was there that her heart for adoption was sparked and her passion to love the “unwanted” changed her life — and countless others’ — forever. 

4.  CASA In The Heart Of Texas Helps Keep Youth In Foster Care Safe

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers are members of the community who are trained and appointed by judges to advocate in court for children in the child welfare system. They get to know the children/youth and everyone involved in their lives, such as their parents, family, foster parents, teachers and therapists, so that they can make informed recommendations to the Court in their best interest. They also work to make sure children can safely stay connected to their families and are surrounded by a network of supportive, caring adults.

Children who have a CASA volunteer are likely to receive more services while they are in the custody of the state, creating a bigger support structure for the child. Teenagers who have a CASA volunteer to support them are less likely to run away while in foster care.

5. Wales Online: How fostering a child is helping people who might be feeling lonely or isolated

Lorraine Surringer, 59 and from Porthcawl, had always wanted to foster but she didn’t have spare room to make it a reality – until last year.

She said: “My dad sadly passed away in 2019 and he left me the house so I could move in and be closer to my mum, who is in a nearby care home. When I moved in I realised I now had the space to foster.

“It was very difficult losing my dad as he was such a big part of my life, so fostering gave me a purpose again. My children have all grown up now and I thought it would be nice to help a child.”

6. Woman dedicates life to sewing toddlers’ clothes for charities

“I have done about 70 to 80 outfits so far this year and it only takes a day,” Gamble said. “I just do girls’ clothing for toddlers who are 18-months-old in patterns I like. I just go and can’t stop.”

7. James Moore: Solve the shortage of foster parents by rethinking views on disables carers

8. Empty Closet program aims to get foster children what they need and support foster parents

9. Shannon Casas: Pain, mess and joy — the journey of adoption from foster care

Living in foster care is a state of never being quite settled. Though a stable home is provided, there’s always the next court hearing, the next visit with family, the next update from the caseworker. Will the kids be there at Christmas? Will they be around for that next vacation? Can I schedule a dentist appointment six months out? I have no idea. 

10. Alexandria superintendent switches one of his two children to private school

Culture

Fifteen Things That Caught My Eye Today: China, Amy Barrett & More (October 12, 2020)

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1. Nadine Maenza and Lord Acton: The Untold Story of Syrian Kurdish Christians

2. China furious with global outcry over Xinjiang and Hong Kong

3. Meir Soloveichik: Leave Judge Barrett’s Faith Out of This

Judge Barrett has also been open about her jurisprudence, which is that of an originalist. She has described Justice Scalia as her mentor, and asserted that her Constitutional interpretation is guided not by her own faith but by the meaning of the document at the time it was written. Senators can, and should, ask her how a self-proclaimed originalist can objectively separate one’s own opinions from an understanding of the text. A judge’s jurisprudence — as well as the propriety of such a nomination so close to an election — are worthy matters of debate, and they are appropriate reasons to oppose or support Judge Barrett’s nomination. But her faith is not.

4. Ryan Bromberger: I wouldn’t be who I am without adoption 

5. Catherine Pakaluk interviewed by Charlie Camosy: Barrett’s nomination highlights women with large families; new research looks into the issue

I think I sort of assumed that if you kept going after two or three children it was probably because the whole thing felt natural to you or you felt that you were good at it. But many of the women we spoke to expressed very serious experiences of difficulty in overcoming moments of personal failure, and feelings that they were not naturally good at raising children. And I found this both inspiring and also surprising.

6. Walter Olson: No, Amy Coney Barrett Is Not ‘Anti-Worker’

As a libertarian, it wouldn’t bother me if Barrett were an ardent advocate of freedom of contract and property rights. But I’m sorry to report that a look at her actual rulings on workplace and employment cases shows they’re just not very big news one way or the other. Barrett has hewn carefully to the precedent and guidance handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, just as you’d expect from an accomplished appeals court judge, and she has also stayed well within the mainstream of her own Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

7. Tevi Troy: How COVID-19 Is Changing American Judaism

COVID-19 has also seemingly exacerbated inter- and intra-denominational splits over politics, as non-Orthodox synagogues have become increasingly comfortable overtly incorporating politics into services. While tikkun olam social service programs and other forms of political activism have long been integral components of Reform Jewish identity, the incorporation of politics into religious services may have reached a new level in 2020. As the elimination of physical presence and social life deprives congregants of familiar communal tethers, institutions reach for hot-button partisan political issues to keep people engaged—thus becoming evermore indistinguishable from the surrounding online landscape.

8. Reuters: Pope meets Australian Cardinal Pell in midst of money scandal

Pell returned to Rome on Sept. 30, just days after the pope fired Pell’s nemesis, Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who was accused of embezzlement and nepotism. Becciu has denied all wrongdoing.

. . .

After Becciu was sacked, Pell said: “The Holy Father was elected to clean up Vatican finances. He plays a long game and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments.”

Pell said he hoped the “cleaning of the stables” would continue.

Becciu’s lawyer has denied Italian media reports that his client sent money to Australia to help Pell’s “enemies” while he was facing the sexual abuse charges.

9. Catholic News Agency: Pope Francis meets with Cardinal Pell at the Vatican

A source close to the cardinal told the National Catholic Register that the meeting, which lasted 30 minutes, was “very warm and cordial.”

10. Andrea Picciotti-Bayer: Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Hearings Will Display Her Intellect, Personal History and Judicial Power

11. National Catholic Register: Beatification of Carlo Acutis: The First Millennial Is Declared Declared ‘Blessed’

“Since he was a child … he had his gaze turned to Jesus. Love for the Eucharist was the foundation that kept alive his relationship with God. He often said ‘The Eucharist is my highway to heaven,’” Cardinal Agostino Vallini said in his homily for the beatification.

“Carlo felt a strong need to help people discover that God is close to us and that it is beautiful to be with him to enjoy his friendship and his grace,” Cardinal Vallini said.

12. Michael Pakaluk: Secularism No Basis For Human Fraternity

It is true that, at one point, the encyclical surmises that its teachings might be available to agnostics as well. But — and commentators have generally missed this — overall, it rejects the premise that social friendship can effectively be fostered other than within a monotheistic worldview of faith.

. . .

The only thing standing between us and the Abolition of Man (see C. S. Lewis) is robust faith in God. This the encyclical constantly asserts in its presuppositions.

13. Pope Francis: revisit the ‘Divine Comedy’ in Dante’s anniversary year

“I thought I would only be 28 weeks pregnant when I took the bar,” Hill told CNN. “However, due to the pandemic, the test was pushed to October and I was going to be 38 weeks. I joked about taking the test from my hospital bed. Lesson learned!”

15. Smithsonian: This 700-Year-Old Purse From Iraq Is Remarkably Intact

Culture

Kanye West, Amy Coney Barrett, and the Urgency of Prioritizing Foster Care and Adoption

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Speaking of orphans: Kanye West — not for the first time — referenced the high abortion rates in the black community in a tweet. Reading through the responses is a groping-in-darkness kind of experience, the vast majority seeming to be angry that he would go there. The other day, I saw a woman screaming expletives from the pits of hell because she saw two older women praying outside an abortion clinic, one of them with a sign “Pray for an end to abortion.” Reading the responses was a little like that scene. But this one in particular is important:

The cause of getting every child a home must be a priority for people regardless of politics. The morning after Election Day, there will be an adoption case before the Supreme Court. The only reason it has to be is because of ideologues on the left insisting that people of traditional faith not be involved in adoption and foster care without putting their conscience aside. That’s unacceptable. That’s not religious liberty. But that’s the kind of lunacy that the Amy Barrett confirmation is exposing. The Democrats are being careful about going after her faith directly so far today in the hearings, but it’s been clear before and in some of the media coverage.

And for conservatives, pro-lifers, people of faith: Foster care and adoption must be a priority. Every Church community should find was to foster a culture of foster care and adoption. No adult should have to tweet what that person tweeted today. Not because he was aborted, but because he is part of a family.

Let the presence of the Barrett family — and the attacks on her adoptions — light a flame under us all to help vulnerable children and insist every child be in a home, by rallying around them as the Bible tells us to.