Where In The World Does This Appear In The U.S. Constitution?

The Gateway Pundit reported today that the State of Maryland has filed a legal objection to President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General. When did state courts have any say over presidential appointments?

The article notes:

The state seeks a preliminary injunction that prevents the federal government from responding to the suit while Whitaker appears as acting attorney general. Instead, Maryland requests a declaration that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is the acting attorney general.

Jonathan Turley posted an article about the apointment of Matthew Whitaker.

The article states:

However, this morning some members and commentators have declared that Whitaker cannot serve as an Acting Attorney General under federal law.  I have to disagree.  While not getting into the merits of the selection, it seems clear to me that, under 5 U.S.C. 3345, that Whitaker does indeed qualify.  (This of course does not address the long-standing debate over the constitutionality of such laws.  A challenge can be made under the Appointment Clause of the Constitution, mandating that a “principal officer” in the federal government may not be appointed without Senate confirmation).

…I fail to see the compelling argument to disqualify Whitaker. Any challenge would face added challenge of finding someone with standing, though Mueller could contest an order on the basis of the legal status of Whitaker. That would make for an interesting challenge but the odds would be against Mueller over the long course of appeals.

The motive behind the lawsuit evidently has to do with fear that Matthew Whitaker will shut down the Mueller Investigation. That may be a valid fear, but I think a more valid fear would be that under Matthew Whitaker the Justice Department might actually take another look at how some people handled classified information during the Obama administration. Hillary Clinton was not the only person with classified information on a non-government secured device. An investigation into mishandling of classified information under President Obama would be a serious threat to many people who were in the Obama administration.

 

 

Ending Some Of Washington’s Political Gamesmanship

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted an article today about the practice of ‘the blue slip courtesy’ used to block judicial nominees in Congress.

The website judicialnominations.org explains the process:

One way in which senatorial courtesy has manifested itself is something called the “blue slip.” This is a device used by the Senate Judiciary Committee to communicate with the home-state Senators about a nomination to the U.S. courts of appeal or district courts, or to be a U.S. marshal or U.S. attorney. When a nominee is referred to the committee, the committee sends a letter (typically on light blue paper) asking the two home-state Senators to take a position on the nomination. The Senators check off the appropriate box on the sheet—either approve or disapprove—and return the paper to the Judiciary Committee.

The blue slip process is used only by the Senate Judiciary Committee —no other Senate committee uses it for other kinds of nominations. The practice of using blue slips dates back to at least 1917. Since mid-2001, the status of blue slips for each judge nominated have been publicly available on the Web.

It is a matter of some debate how important blue slips are in the confirmation process. The blue slip practice is not a formal part of the Judiciary Committee’s rules, and the determination of just how much weight to give to a Senator’s opposition to a nomination is left largely up to the chair of the committee. Among other issues, the chair will decide whether to honor the objections, voiced through blue-slips, from all home-state senators or just those who belong to the same party as the president.

Unfortunately, the process has been occasionally abused. The Judicial Nominations website explains:

Much also has been written that is critical of the blue-slip system. George  Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley described the system this way:  Blue-slipping is a little known process by which senators can block federal judge nominees from their state. This means that judges who may rule in your case often are selected to meet senatorial, not professional, demands. By simply not returning blue slips sent by the Senate Judiciary Committee, a senator can block a nominee for the most nefarious or arbitrary reasons, including a personal grudge, a bargaining tool with the White House or failure of the nominee to be sufficiently fawning in the senator’s presence.

This courtesy has been misused by both sides–it was not meant as a negotiating tool–it was meant to be a courtesy.

The article at Power Line details some changes that Senator Grassley is making in order to expedite the confirmation of President Trump’s judicial nominees.

Power Line reports:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced that he would not let Franken’s withheld blue slip block the nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the Eighth Circuit (or Senator Kennedy’s block Kyle Duncan to the Fifth Circuit).

Senator Grassley took to the floor of the Senate to explain his disposition of “the blue slip courtesy” and his decision to schedule a committee hearing on the nominations of Stras and Duncan (text of statement here, video below). The Hill reported on Senator Grassley’s statement here.

Washington needs to stop playing games and get its work done. All Congressmen (and Congresswomen) should be paid according to what they actually accomplish. That might actually change how things are done in Congress.

Another Significant ObamaCare Court Case

Yesterday National Review Online posted an article about a current court case that represents a significant threat to ObamaCare. Halbig v. Sebelius (since renamed Halbig v. Burwell, for the current HHS secretary) was argued before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court in March. The case involves the government subsidies paid by the exchanges included in ObamaCare.

The article states:

If the Supreme Court ultimately finds that the Obama administration violated the law in doling out those subsidies, it could force a wholesale revision of Obamacare. In January, The Hill quoted a key Obamacare supporter as saying that Halbig was “probably the most significant existential threat to the Affordable Care Act.” Jonathan Turley, a noted liberal constitutional-law expert at George Washington Law School, recently agreed, writing in the Los Angeles Times that Halbig “could leave Obamacare on life support.”

…The Halbig plaintiffs — individuals and small businesses in six states that didn’t establish state exchanges — argue that the Obama administration is breaking the law by offering those tax subsidies in all 50 states. The plaintiffs argue that if the subsidies hadn’t been offered in their states, they would have been exempted from the individual-mandate penalties of Obamacare because they couldn’t have afforded to pay for health coverage.

I have no idea how this case will be decided. The writer of the article believes that if the case is decided against ObamaCare it will force Congress and the President to make positive changes in the law (particularly if a Republican Congress is elected).

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is expected to rule on this case within the next week.

 

The Internal Revenue Service As A Political Force

We haven’t heard much lately about the Internal Revenue Service‘s (IRS) targeting of conservative groups, but Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial yesterday illustrating another aspect of IRS involvement in the 2012 election.

The article explains:

At the same time the IRS harassed Republican nonprofit groups during the 2012 political campaign, it selectively advised black churches and other Democrat nonprofits on how far they can go in campaigning for President Obama and other Democrats.

…U.S. tax code prohibits churches and other nonprofits from “participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.”

The ban includes donations, endorsements, fundraising or any other activity “that may be beneficial or detrimental to any particular candidate.” In the past, black churches have been known to pass out voting guides to members in violation of IRS rules.

Washington constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley at the time blogged that the special campaign training session offered these Obama supporters — with the direct participation of the IRS chief and attorney general — was a “raw” display of political favoritism.

“If (former GOP Attorney General) Alberto Gonzalez went to Congress to brief evangelical religious leaders on campaigning in the presidential election, the hue and cry would be deafening,” Turley said.

Non-black clergy were not afforded the same legal training in campaigning tactics by the Obama administration.

First of all, I have very mixed emotions about the whole idea of churches not being allowed to be politically involved. Theoretically, the church is the moral backbone of America and should be allowed to speak out on political or moral issues that impact America. The law that bars political speech in the church was enacted by Lyndon Johnson in response to a political opponent who was getting support in local churches–it has nothing to do with the U.S. Constitution. In fact, if you study American history, you find that the church has often spoken out about political and moral issues in the past.

The uneven enforcement of the law is one of the major aspects of the Eric Holder Justice Department and the politicized IRS. It is time to remove these people from Washington and return America to a place where all men are equal under the law.

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