The Judiciary

Roberts saves healthcare — and the court

We know the Supreme Court is powerful. On Dec. 12, 2000, they decided that George W. Bush would be the next president of the United States. On June 28, 2012, they decided that Barack Obama would be reelected president of the United States.

There’s no escaping the political implications of the court’s long-awaited decision on healthcare. Even Mitt Romney seems to agree. Two days before the court’s ruling, he told supporters: “As you know, the Supreme Court is going to be dealing with whether or not ObamaCare is constitutional. If it is not — if ObamaCare is not deemed constitutional — then the first three and a half years of this president’s term would have been wasted on something that has not helped the American people.”


Louis H. Pollak: 1922-2012

If there is any better man, lawyer, appellate advocate, federal judge, law school educator and dean than Louis H. Pollak, who died last week, I don’t know him, and might never find him. Acclaimed nationally as civil-rights advocate, law professor and judge, Lou made being a lawyer a class act.

I met Pollak as a graduate student at Yale Law School in 1956. When I submitted my doctorate thesis to three Yale law professors for approval, he was one (chosen because of his civil rights reputation; if he liked it, it was good), along with Fred Rodell (the best writer about legal subjects then, and one of my favorite professors); and Richard Donnelly, who taught criminal law, my favorite subject and with whom I'd written a law review article. Candidates requested three professors to be readers for the faculty, then never discussed the subject later, as that would have been unseemly. I learned they had approved my thesis and granted me my Juris Doctorate after I had left Yale Law School and was a prosecutor trying a case in federal court in Kentucky. It was published by Columbia University Press.


Convincing the Supreme Court

Adam Liptak’s article in Sunday’s New York Times, “Are Oral Arguments Worth Arguing About?” reminded me of an interesting and revealing experience I had years ago when I argued a case before the Supreme Court. Liptak’s point was that “it is the rare oral argument that wins or loses a case.” Results derive from the merits of the case, not the skill of the advocates, one expert told Liptak; indeed, the briefs play a greater role.


Guardians of the Constitution

If the Supreme Court doesn't reject Affordable Healthcare we are lost as a nation. Not rejecting it would indicate that the highest judicial branch in our land has been overtaken by political ideology that actively seeks to shred the Constitution as it clamors to force bigger and bigger government upon Americans.


Mr. Taranto goes to Washington; women, Hispanics reject party, partisanship, personal attacks

One of the burdens a columnist must bear is being insulted by those who disapprove, as one James Taranto disapproved of my recent column “Supreme Court on Trial.” Taranto's angry comments about my column ran in The Wall Street Journal’s online edition and were limited to calling my column staggeringly dumb, an attempt by me to make President Obama (whom Taranto presumably thinks is dumb as well) look smart by comparison, and so forth. Taranto does not answer any of the points I made, so I must infer, and note that his invective without reasoning illustrates why armies of women and Hispanics are supporting President Obama and Democrats.

Republicans, rightists and some who make the Journal opinion page their home have an attitude of contempt, derision and anger toward those with differing views. Stay tuned for an upcoming column that elaborates about this "Republican disease" that leads them to demonize, and at times hate, a succession of Democratic presidents and leaders whom in their contempt for democratic values they do not accept as legitimate.


Order in the court. Here comes the judge

After an unprecedented attack by President Obama on the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal judge asked the Justice Department to give a written explanation of its opinion of what the president was conveying to the justices as they decide the fate of ObamaCare. It appears that the judicial system is defending itself as a co-equal branch of the United States government.

This is absolutely appropriate since the president seems to feel that unelected judges have no right to interfere with the legislative and executive process. At least when they are his executive and legislative processes. This is but one of the many radical changes that the president wants to bring about to our nation. He basically wants the judicial system to be a rubber stamp for his ideological agenda. It will certainly be educational as well as fascinating to see who wins this mammoth struggle, and the implications will be significant for the future identity of our nation.


From Mitt Romney to Ron Paul: The vast wasteland of American conservatism

In my most recent column, “Supreme Court scandals,” I suggested that America endures a partisan Republican and ideologically extreme Supreme Court majority that has run amok, embodies the hypocrisy of a delegitimized conservative movement and has become an enabling force for the most corrupted of the 1 percent. From the shamelessly unprincipled Mitt Romney to the shameful and unprincipled pandering to Romney by Ron Paul, who like Romney is now a man without a conscience, we are witnessing the end of conservatism as a credible intellectual force in American public life.


Resist Obama/Reid's nomination power play

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) nomination power play under the guise of a created emergency on the federal bench is both absurd and dangerous.
The truth is that Reid is setting up a constitutional crisis over the Easter congressional district work period allowing President Obama to “recess”-appoint a bevy of judges and others without the advice and consent of the Senate.
The Constitution does not require that the Senate approve the president’s choices for the judiciary, and in fact, the Senate is supposed to be anything but a rubber stamp.  These permanent appointments to the federal bench are supposed to be thoroughly vetted, and the Senate has a responsibility to only approve those who meet the highest standards.


More on Supreme Court ethics

Last week I wrote about the ironic comments of Chief Justice John Roberts that Supreme Court justices be left to decide whether they have a conflict of interest to disqualify their sitting in judgment in a particular case.

The New York Times joined the current debate over Supreme Court recusal practices, editorializing that the court should subject itself to the same ethical rules already applicable to all other federal judges and for the justices to increase the transparency of their recusal decisions. The justices’ personal vigilance and judgment may well be correct; but if it is so, why not let the public see it?


Obama’s extraconstitutional NLRB appointments

Washington, D.C., political insiders, wonks and talk radio are all atwitter about the decision by President Obama to blow up the Senate advise-and-consent process by making appointments of three individuals to the National Labor Relations Board and one to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The three NLRB appointees will allow the board to continue on with a quorum making broad sweeping regulatory rulings that threaten to transform employment law by executive fiat during this last year of the Obama administration.