On the Death of Justice Scalia
The founders of this nation were wise, practical and insightful, crafting our federal papers in such a way as to require a certain uniformity insofar as basic human rights are concerned and enough wiggle room for individual states to conduct their affairs in accordance to the concerns of its citizens. The branches of government are designed to counterbalance each other. We call it three branches - actually there seem to be four - as the House of Representatives and the Senate operate separately and can hurry, stall or even kill legislation independent of each other.
Actually, the only unassailable branch of the federal government is the Supreme Court, unassailable because they are not elected by the people and their tenure is for life. Their job is to interpret legislation and disputes by the constitutionality of the issue without ideological prejudice or political influence and without personal favor or bias. They are to rule based on what the Constitution says.
Their job description is not to write laws or legislation. Nor is it their place to twist the Constitution into shapes the founding fathers never intended. They are not to be beholden to the president who nominated them, nor the Senate who confirmed them, but instead focus on straightforward constitutional jurisprudence and decisions made for the best of the nation alone, individual politicians and political parties notwithstanding.
A president who can count on a majority in the Supreme Court actually has the power of two of the three branches at his fingertips, and now that the decisions of the Supreme Court have become basically untouchable, the final word, it gives a president the status of a monarch.
Any president is going to appoint justices that, as far as he can ascertain, will see things his way. Of course, that assumption has been known to go awry, as in the case of Bush appointee, Chief Justice Roberts, and other notable exceptions, But Obama has not had a problem along those lines, as his two appointees, Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, are basically the equivalent of Obama's rubber stamps.
With the death of Justice Scalia, which was a tremendous loss, not just for the conservative views he seemed to favor but even in a losing cause, Justice Scalia brought a sense of influence and balance to the court and never backed down from letting his opinion be known.
However, the vacancy on the court is a golden opportunity for Barack Obama to nominate another justice favorable to his programs, another ideological acolyte who would - like Sotomayor and Kagan - toe the liberal line in their belief that, instead of it being carved in stone, the constitution is a "living and breathing" document open to modern interpretation.
With another Obama appointee, the court would definitely lean far to the left. It is Congress's job to fend off another appointment for ten months and reserve the task for the next president, whoever he or she happens to be.
In all likelihood, the next president will be appointing Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement too, as Ms. Ginsburg will be well into her eighties in the next presidential term, which, should the Senate prevail in stalling an Obama nomination, would require the next president to appoint two justices. It would require that both appointees be somewhat conservative to bring the court back into a semblance of balance.
As it stands now: Sotomayor, Kagan, Breyer and Ginsburg are firmly in the liberal camp; Thomas and Alito are the only proven conservatives; Kennedy is a mostly liberal leaning moderate; and Roberts cannot be called a conservative by any stretch of the imagination.
So, this next election is for more than just a president. It's about the fairness and balance of the highest court in the land. It's about whether America will continue down the path of socialism and decay or start climbing out of the sludge pit we currently find ourselves in. It's about whether we elect a president who will truly rebuild the military or only pay lip service to it. It's about our survival as a free and prosperous nation. It remains to be seen if the Senate has the guts to hold off the political and media onslaught that's heading their way about Obama appointing another Supreme Court Justice. If I was making book on it, I'd call the odds about fifty/fifty. What do you think?
Pray for our troops and the peace of Jerusalem.
God Bless America
Also, this morning, ABC News called on Donald Trump to reward Nimrata Randhawa (a.k.a. Nikki Haley) with a VP spot. Their reasoning was that it should be Nimrata's reward for having removed the Confederate Battle Flag from the Statehouse in South Carolina. I'm sure that if Mr. Trump saw the ABC News report he got a good hearty laugh out of it.
There have also been several news reports this week of protests in Mississippi calling for the removal of the flag.
But the Citadel is a new front on our Heritage War that we need to become proactive on very quickly because the Charleston City Council is set to vote on a resolution that if passed would voice city officials' support for removing the Confederate Naval Jack from The Citadel's Summerall Chapel.
Currently, the flag is protected from removal under the South Carolina Heritage Act. But that did not stop the Governor from removing the flag from the Statehouse.
The resolution before City Council cites efforts by Citadel alumni and officials to remove the Confederate Naval Jack from the school's chapel. The resolution would also call for support of a bill put forth by state Sen. Marlon Kimpson to amend the Heritage Act to allow for the flag to be taken down and placed in a museum. Under current legislation, a two-thirds vote by each branch of the state General Assembly is required to remove "monuments or memorials erected on public property." Kimpson's bill would allow for flags of the American Civil War on display in chapels in public institutions of higher learning to be relocated if approved by the institution's board of directors.
In a decision last June, The Citadel Board of Visitors voted 9 to 3 for removal of the Confederate Naval Jack from the Summerall Chapel.
Following the vote, Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa released a statement, saying, "The Board of Visitors and I believe now is the right time to move the flag...We pride ourselves on our core values of honor, duty, and respect. Moving the Naval Jack is consistent with these values and is a model to all of the principled leadership we seek to instill in our cadets and students. It also promotes unity on our campus, in our community and across our state...."
Tennessee has also flashed on the Heritage Alert radar screen this week. On Monday the State Legislature began debating a proposed ban on Confederate flag license plates.
The bill's sponsor said the state should not celebrate a symbol of racism while the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization said the flag represents a diverse group of people who deserve freedom of expression from the state.
When choosing a license plate in Tennessee, drivers have a plethora of options, all to showcase symbols important to them. The Confederate flag is one of them.
But State Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, believes it's one that shouldn't have government support. Her bill would stop the issuance and renewal of the Sons of Confederate Veterans specialized plates that don the flag. It would apply to all motor vehicles and motorcycles.
The fiscal note on the bill said as of Oct. 1, 2015, a little more than 3,000 specialty plates and 28 personalized plates were registered as SCV, displaying the flag.
"I do not want the state to issue this symbol of racism and hate," said Kyle. "Any time you have symbols that designate hate or racism, we are just empowering more people to use these type symbols."
Last June Gov. Bill Haslam said he'd support the removal of the Confederate flags from Tennessee license plates. He said he still does today.
The executive director of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said it is an attempt to limit first amendment rights and freedom of expression. "I don't think the state has any responsibility to deny an individual of his freedom of expression, and the second part of that is money from the sale of each SCV license plate goes right back to the state," said Sons of Confederate Veterans Executive Director Michael Landree. "It actually goes to the state museum to preserve Confederate flags, original Confederate flags, that are in the state museum."
BRUNSWICK COUNTY -- Five students will face consequences for an incident involving the Confederate flag at West Brunswick High School on Wednesday.
A disruption was sparked from a student walking around with the Confederate flag on his or her back like a cape in the courtyard and cafeteria, Brunswick County Schools spokeswoman Jessica Swencki said late Wednesday.
Swencki could not further elaborate on what transpired, but she said administrators became aware of the incident after the fact, which led to an investigation later in the afternoon and evening.
The Confederate flag was the catalyst for Wednesday's disruption, and Swencki clarified that it was "the manner in which the object was used" that the administrators were addressing.
Students involved were not named in a news release Wednesday night due to school privacy standards, but Swencki said all five students would face consequences.
IN LOUISIANA ANOTHER MONUMENT COMES UNDER ATTACK
A tall memorial that honors Confederate soldiers has stood in front of the Rapides Parish Courthouse for more than 100 years, but an organization of black attorneys believes it is offensive and should be removed.
Malcolm Larvadain, an attorney who is president of the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, asked Rapides Parish police jurors on Monday to remove the memorial, which features a statue of a Confederate soldier on top. The society is made up of area African-American attorneys.
"In this day and age of 2016, I feel that that statue is offensive. Honestly, it should be placed in a museum," said Larvadain, whose father, Ed Larvardain Jr., is a longtime civil rights attorney and whose brother, Ed Larvadain III, is an Alexandria city councilman. "I just feel the South was on the wrong side of history and humanity. I feel that it needs to come down. I can only imagine how people who look like me (black) who walk up to this courthouse and see this the statue and see the word 'Confederate' at the bottom of the statue, how they feel about that," he added.
Police jurors did not take any action on Larvadain's request because they said they'll wait to see what happens with Senate Bill 276 by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton.
The bill would create the Louisiana Heritage Protection Commission, which jurors said might exercise control over such memorials.
Police Juror Richard Billing says he's against removing the statue because it is part of history. "I think it's history. I think it declares who we are - the place in America," Billings said. "We were Southerners. You're a Southerner," he told Larvadain. "Whether you like it or not, you were born here ... raised here. Black or white, it's history. We recognize black people all over, and I have no problem with that."
He said he went to look at the statue only after he heard it would be raised as an issue.
"I don't go by and salute it. I don't agree with everything that's been done. ... I think it needs to stay where it is because of history," Billings said.
"It is history, but it's an ugly history," Larvadain said. "That history involved enslaving people who looked like me, Mr. Overton, Mr. Perry, Mr. Fountaine."
He was referring to the three black members of the nine-member Police Jury - Ollie Overton, Scott Perry and Theodore Fountaine.
The Confederate memorial was erected in 1914 by the Thomas Overton Moore chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy, according to information on the base of the statue.
Most jurors did not seem that familiar with the Senate bill and noted the statue-removal request was new. The Senate bill, if it becomes law, might make it harder to remove a statue or memorial.
"Except as otherwise provided in this section, no memorial regarding a historic conflict, historic entity, historic event, historic figure or historic organization that is, or is located on, public property, may be removed, renamed, relocated, altered, rededicated, or otherwise disturbed or altered," the bill reads.
It does note that a public entity may petition the commission for a waiver if it seeks to remove a memorial.
Fountaine, Overton and Perry each had a different take on the memorial.
"The statue should never have been put up, and it should come down," Fountaine said.
Perry said Larvadain's request caught him by surprise, and he noted he never paid much attention to the memorial.
"I'm going to wait and see what the Legislature does," Perry said.
Jury President Craig Smith also said the jury wants to see the outcome of the Senate bill.
"If we have to, we'll address it again," Smith said of the request to have the memorial removed.
Overton said the memorial is "distasteful" to him and others, and he would like to see it removed. He noted there would be cost in removing it, and he indicated he'd like to wait to see what happens with the Senate bill.
Everyone who gives a gift of $5 or more to Dixie Heritage this week will receive a copy of Volume 1 of President Jefferson Davis' magnum opus, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.
Contractors considering a bid to remove Confederate monuments for the city of New Orleans questioned (March 14) whether the statues could be moved without damaging them.
Speaking at an informational meeting held for firms interested in bidding on the removal job, they also raised concerns about diving into such a controversial job.
Two of the contractors seemed as worried about the safety of the statues since the winning bidder will bear the liability for any damage to the monuments.
One asked whether the city had schematic drawings showing how the statues are attached to their bases. Without them, it would be hard, if not impossible, to remove the statues in such a way as to be absolutely sure they would not break, he said, adding that the risk of damage was particularly high with regard to the Beauregard monument. "It was constructed to be placed, not to be removed," he said. "You guys are going to have some damage."
The contractors at the meeting did not give their names during the discussion, and one, pulled aside after it adjourned, declined to give his name to a reporter. The city did not distribute a sign-in sheet at the meeting. But the contractors will not be able to remain anonymous indefinitely, though. In accordance with state law, the bids will be opened publicly at an April 22 meeting.
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Until next week,