Brett Kavanaugh Just Helped Planned Parenthood Keep Its Funding

In a surprising move, newly minted Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the Court’s liberal justices to prevent the high court from deciding whether states could defund Planned Parenthood. The move will let stand lower court rulings that struck down two state laws in Louisiana and Kansas that would have barred the abortion provider from receiving Medicare funds.

Louisiana and Kansas had sought certiorari to allow the Supreme Court to hear their appeals in Gee v. Planned Parenthood of Gulf Coast and Andersen v. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. Four judges must agree to accept a case and the votes of Kavanaugh and Roberts to deny certiorari killed any chance that the Court would hear the Planned Parenthood cases, let alone allow states to defund the group.

Several other states have attempted to ban funding for Planned Parenthood at the state level after Republicans in Washington were unable to move a funding ban through Congress. For now, it appears that any further attempts to cut off the group’s federal money will be defeated.

Chief Justice John Roberts typically votes in the conservative bloc but has been key to some high-profile disappointments for constitutionalists. Roberts was the key vote in saving Obamacare with his opinion that the individual mandate was really a tax and therefore constitutional.

Kavanaugh’s vote may surprise some, but several observers predicted that if President Trump wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade, Kavanaugh was the wrong judge to pick. Similar to Roberts, Kavanaugh ruled on an Obamacare case in which he did not dispute the constitutionality of the health insurance law. Prior to Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) argued that Kavanaugh was a judge who would uphold precedent. That statement was interpreted as an indication that Kavanaugh would not strike down Roe and possibly Obamacare as well.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who was appointed to the Court by the recently departed George H.W. Bush, dissented, writing that the other judges were afraid to tackle the hot-button issue. “Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty,” Thomas said. “If anything, neutrally applying the law is all the more important when political issues are in the background.”

The decision not to grant certiorari is a hard hit for pro-life groups. “If Kavanaugh was going to deal a major blow to health care rights during his first session on the court, this would have been the case to do it,” Tim Jost, an emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, said in Politico.

During the 2016 election, Donald Trump’s pro-life platform and promise to appoint judges who would overturn Roe was a major reason that many Republicans held their noses and voted for him over Hillary. Given Mr. Trump’s long pro-choice history and the ready availability of more firmly pro-life, constitutionalist judges such as Amy Coney Barrett, many of those voters must wonder today if Justice Kavanaugh has gone rogue or if he is doing exactly what President Trump and other pro-choice Republicans wanted him to.

Christian Baker Discusses Harassment, Death Threats as SCOTUS Debate Nears

On Monday, the Supreme Court ended its most recent session by revealing that it will determine whether a Colorado baker discriminated against a gay couple when he declined to bake a cake for their 2012 wedding in its next term.

The controversial case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, gained national attention after bakery owner Jack Phillips declined to make a wedding cake two gay men, citing his Christian beliefs. Phillips said he didn’t refuse the couple service and offered to sell them anything in the store, but he would not actively participate in the couple’s wedding by making a cake specifically for the occasion.

With the SCOTUS is set to debate the balance between religious liberty and equal treatment under the law, Phillips spoke with Fox News about the years of harassment and threats he, his family, and his workers have faced as a result of the incident.

Phillips has grown somewhat accustomed to the lost business, hate-filled online reviews, and nasty phone calls he has faced, but it still bothers him when the vitriol meant for him is—intentionally or not—passed on to others.

“In all of this, the threats against me or disparaging comments, the worst part is that I have to answer the phone so they’re not threatening my wife or my daughter when they pick it up,” Phillips said. “They don’t wait to see who’s on the phone. You pick up the phone, they’re already talking.”

He recalls receiving two specific death threats—one involving his daughter—that were obviously troublesome, but one of the most hurtful moments came when a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission compared him to a Holocaust sympathizer.

“Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust,” Commissioner Diann Rice said in a brief. “I mean, we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination.”

The comments hit close to home for Phillips, whose father was severely injured in World War II, while part of a team that helped liberate a Nazi concentration camp.

“For her to compare standing for my faith and not making a cake to Hitler’s…

Read the full story at Faithwire.com.

The Washington Redskins Get To Keep Their Trademark Rights, Thanks To The Supreme Courts…And An Indie Band

Good news for the Washington Redskins in their long trademark battle against the federal government. That’s right, the patent office has dropped their case against the NFL team over what Obama and his White House considered an offensive nickname.

Why did it happen? A recent Supreme Court case involving, of all entities, an indie band, led the feds to reverse course.

In the case of Matal v. Tam, an Asian-American music band was denied a trademark right because their band name included a racial epithet. But “The Slants” band leader Simon Tam sued the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and won a unanimous decision when the case went to the Supreme Court.

The patent office claimed the band name violated their rule against trademarks that “disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”

The Supreme Court ruled sided with Tam, who said the intention of the name was not to insult or offend anyone.

That case was enough for the patent office to drop their complaint.

It’s worth noting that it was hypersensitive left-wingers who found the Redskins’ name offensive, while nine out of ten actual Native Americans don’t have a problem with the name at all, according to a Washington Post poll from last year.

This is the second victory for the Redskins just this week. The NFL Shop has apparently pulled a novelty Redskins license plate because it featured the outline of Washington State rather than Washington, DC.

So will these off the field victories bode well for the team on the field this fall? We’ll have to wait and see.

Win! Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of First Amendment

The First Amendment scored a huge victory on Monday.

In a majority opinion, the Supreme Court ruled that seemingly offensive trademarks are protected under free speech. The ruling strikes down the 1946 Lanham Trademark Act – a law prohibiting trademark names that “may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”

The case was brought forward by the Slants – an Asian American rock group that sought to trademark their name, but was denied. In 2011, the trademark office said registering the Slants’ name would violate the 1946 Lanham Trademark Act.

While losing the first legal rounds, the Slants scored a victory when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled the law violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. The argument made its way to the Supreme Court where it ultimately resulted in the Lanham Act’s ouster.

In a Facebook statement, band founder Simon Tam celebrated the victory:

“After an excruciating legal battle that has spanned nearly eight years, we’re beyond humbled and thrilled to have won this case at the Supreme Court. This journey has always been much bigger than our band: it’s been about the rights of all marginalized communities to determine what’s best for ourselves.”

Obviously, the ramifications of this decision go well beyond the Slants.

Other organizations will now be able to seek trademark protections for any sort of wacky, controversial names. Most notably, this decision is a huge boost to the Washington Redskins football team and their fight to regain their trademark registration – which was revoked in 2014 under the exact same disparagement clause.

The Washington Redskins were so invested in this court case, in fact, the team filed an amicus brief in support of the Slants. Their attorney issued her own statement following the decision:

“The team is thrilled with today’s unanimous decision as it resolves the Redskins’ long-standing dispute with the government,” Redskins attorney Lisa Blatt said in a statement. “The Supreme Court vindicated the team’s position that the First Amendment blocks the government from denying or cancelling a trademark registration based on the government’s opinion.”

This decision is a major win for the First Amendment and for free speech in general. Who is to say what speech is offensive and what is not? In the case of the Washington Redskins, our former social justice warrior president (Barack Obama) insisted the name was offensive to Native Americans – despite polls indicating as many as nine-out-of-ten Native Americans not taking any offensive to it. In regards to the Slants, the Asian American rock group claimed the band name was a “badge of pride.”

In delivering the majority opinion, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. dropped the best line: “Giving offense is a viewpoint.”

That’s exactly the point. Offense is nothing more than a viewpoint. A viewpoint differs from person to person. We cannot (and should not) try to regulate the First Amendment by what may offend others. When making decisions in this arena we must err on the side of free speech.

Some are concerned of the consequences this decision may bring about. An intellectual property lawyer expressed her worries. “It seems this decision will indeed open the floodgates to applications for all sorts of potentially offensive and hateful marks,” said Lisa Simpson. “While this may be the right result under the First Amendment and the principles of free speech that are foundational to our country, it seems the responsibility will now pass to the public.”

Absolutely right. This responsibility rests in the hands of the public, not the government.

Few Lasting Achievements From Trump’s First 100 Days

As the Trump Administration passes its 100-day mark, the most striking thing is how ineffective the new president has been thus far. In spite of a plethora of Executive Orders that undoubtedly please most on the right, President Trump has put few lasting marks on the country at this early point in his presidency.

Even though President Trump has signed many bills in his tenure as president, most have not been laws that have lasting significance. For conservatives, passing laws is not an end unto itself. Laws should roll back government and make it smaller and less intrusive on the American people. Politifact notes that several of the bills that Trump has signed are business-as-usual type laws that designate memorials and name buildings, for example.

Not all of Trump’s new laws have been trivial, however. About half of the 28 bills signed by Trump so far were passed under the Congressional Review Act. This law allows Congress to review and rescind last-minute Obama-era rules by federal agencies. The law provides for a 60-day window to review bureaucratic rules that begins when Congress is notified that a rule has been finalized. The Daily Signal has a list of Obama-era rules that run the gamut from gun control to environment to education that have been rescinded by President Trump and the new Congress. Nevertheless, the laws merely preserve the status quo and do not break new ground in shrinking government or rolling back Obama’s legislation. Additionally, the window is now closed to rescind other rules from the Obama Administration.

The most notable legislative story of Trump’s 100 days is the failure to advance a bill repealing or reforming Obamacare. For seven years, Republicans have railed against President Obama’s trademark health entitlement yet, under President Trump’s leadership, Republicans in Congress have failed to advance even a watered-down version of bill reforming Obamacare.

President Trump’s answer was to pivot from health care to tax reform, but he is likely to have the same result and for the same reasons. The Trump coattails left Republicans with tiny majorities in both houses of Congress. The Republican Senate majority cannot defeat a Democrat filibuster and the House Republicans are too divided between Tuesday Group moderates and Freedom Caucus conservatives to pass a health reform bill. Tax reform is likely to be no different.

In order to avert a government shutdown, President Trump even had to give in and omit funding for construction of his wall and crackdown on sanctuary cities from the spending bill that will carry the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. Trump said repeatedly that Mexico would pay for the wall before asking for taxpayer funds.

Trump has done better with Executive Orders. The president has issued many orders that will slow the growth of government and streamline government regulations. An early Trump Executive Order reinstated President Reagan’s Mexico City policy that banned federal funds from international groups that promote abortion. President Obama had rescinded the policy in 2009. Other Executive Orders, such as the travel ban, seem poorly conceived from the beginning.

Good or bad, Executive Orders are limited. The president cannot legislate from the Oval Office with an Executive Order in place of Congress. Executive Orders may also last only as long as the president who signed them. An incoming president could sign Executive Orders rescinding Trump’s orders as easily as Trump reversed Obama’s.

On foreign policy, President Trump, whose views in the campaign ranged from promising a plan to destroy ISIS within his first month to neo-isolationism in other regions, launched what is largely considered to be an ineffective attack on a Syrian airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack before turning his attention to North Korea.

For several weeks, Trump suggested that he would make trade concessions to China in exchange for help in dealing with North Korea. As recently as April 30, Trump suggested on CBS News that he was open to dealing with China on trade, saying, “Trade is very important. But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade.”

Today that has changed. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross seemed to walk back weeks of diplomatic overtures in an interview with CBS, saying, “I don’t think he [Trump] meant to indicate at all that he intends to trade away American jobs just for help on North Korea.”

One hundred days into Trump’s presidency, there is also still no detailed plan to defeat ISIS.

To date, the Trump presidency can be described as lurching from one crisis to another. Some of these crises have been self-inflicted, such as the president’s tweets about wiretapping by the Obama Administration. Others, such as North Korean missile tests and Syrian chemical warfare, have been outside the president’s control. Still others, such as the division among congressional Republicans, reflect a lack of leadership from President Trump.

The one unqualified success that President Trump has had is with the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch seems to be as solid a conservative jurist as anyone could possibly have picked. Nevertheless, the confirmation came at the cost of the filibuster. This was necessary due to unreasonable Democratic obstructionism, but may haunt Republicans in the future.

To have a lasting and positive impact, President Trump is going to have to develop a cogent and consistent worldview on both domestic and foreign policy. So far, the president has been inconsistent on numerous issues in both realms. He needs to make up his mind as to what his goals are and concentrate on those items.

The president also needs to learn to work with Congress. Donald Trump was elected partly on claims that he is a world-class dealmaker. His deal-making skills are sorely needed in hammering out compromises on Obamacare and tax reform, but so far President Trump seems to have little interest in the details of policymaking. The president should realize that the qualities that made him the Republican nominee and that enabled him to win the election don’t necessarily make him a natural leader and statesman.

None of this means that he will have a failed presidency, however. President Trump has assembled a very qualified and capable team. With a few exceptions, the Trump cabinet can truly be called a “conservative dream team.” President Trump should listen to their advice and consider it carefully.

As someone who was a Never Trump conservative and a third-party voter during the election, I must admit that Trump, with all his foibles, has not been the worst-case scenario that I feared. So far, he has undoubtedly been better than President Hillary (shudder) would have been. Neither has he been a valiant, steely-eyed, conservative leader. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

So far President Trump has been erratic and ineffective, but he has trended toward the right. In some cases, such as backing away from his plans to terminate NAFTA, his flip-flops have even be reassuring. In other cases, such as his saber-rattling against North Korea, his actions are downright scary.

After 100 days, the jury is still out.

Mike Lee Promises The Senate Will Confirm Gorsuch “One Way Or Another”

Fed up with the long confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) took to CNN to declare that the GOP will make sure that Gorsuch gets confirmed to the high court.

“Look, we’re going to get Gorsuch confirmed,” Lee said. “This is a good judge; this is a judge who interprets the law based on what it says versus what he might wish it would say, and we intend to get him confirmed. We will get him confirmed one way or another.”

When the anchor pressed him – over and over – on whether “one way or another” meant using “the nuclear option,” Lee stood his ground.

“Yeah, look, there are a number of routes this thing could take, and I believe he will be confirmed at the end of this,” Lee said. “I’m not exactly sure what procedural route, but he’s going to be confirmed.”

Good for Mike Lee for not falling into the interviewer’s trap of insisting on the nuclear option and for standing firm with Gorsuch. I believe we can take Lee at his word – as “Sooper Mexican” put it over at The Right Scoop, “Mike Lee is not the kind of dude to lie about this stuff.”

Dick Durbin’s Theater of the Absurd

If hypocrisy was the coin of the realm, Washington, DC would be full of Scrooge McDucks swimming through pools of filthy lucre.  Take, for example, one Richard Joseph “Dick” Durbin, Senator from the great state of Illinois and the ranking Democrat of that great institution just behind Chucky Schumer (NY, Slightly Less Funny Than His Cousin Amy).  Durbin, you see, has decided after much careful thought and consideration–and a deluge of phone calls, texts and emails from the PACs that fund his campaign coffers, no doubt–that he cannot in good conscience allow the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to move forward:

This is the same Dick Durbin, mind you, who didn’t object to confirming Neil Gorsuch to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals back in 2006.  Then again, when asked about it on Morning Joe, Durbin said he couldn’t even remember if he had voted “aye” or “nay” during that hearing, so maybe he thinks it’s a different Neil Gorsuch up for SCOTUS now.  Or it could just be that Durbin is a puppet dancing at the end of strings held by his special interest masters.

Of one thing, however, there can be no doubt:  these confirmation hearings are nothing but theater.  Rather than debating the actual merits of a nominee, they only serve as opportunities for grandstanding.  Durbin–like every other Democrat senator on the Judiciary Committee–isn’t interested in hearing any answers from Gorsuch.  All they want to do is drag out the process as long as possible, using their question time for speechifying and hoping to draw an ounce of blood from the nominee.  Their minds were made up before the hearings even began.

The Republicans, mind you, aren’t much better–but at least they understand that nominating Supreme Court justices is a presidential prerogative, even when the president is from an opposing party.  There were enough GOP senators who broke ranks to assure the confirmation of both of Barack Obama’s SCOTUS nominees–and this was no accident.  They understood the need to put up some resistance for the sake of their voting base, but in the end they made sure the votes were there for confirmation.  Democrats, in typical fashion, don’t seem inclined to return the favor.

Which is well in good, I suppose.  Republicans will be forced to nuke the Supreme Court filibuster, or face the wrath of voters in the 2018 mid-terms, and the nasty business of gumming up the works started by Harry Reid will finally be concluded.  In the end, though, I’d really like to see a wholesale reform of the confirmation process.  There’s no reason that senators can’t simply submit their questions to SCOTUS nominees in writing, and avoid the whole unseemly spectacle of confirmation hearings entirely.

Planned Parenthood CEO Claims Gorsuch Has “Disturbing History On Women’s Issues” When He Hasn’t Killed Any Baby Women

In the midst of the confirmation battle over would-be Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, one voice on the left has weighed in with an interesting perspective. Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards told MSNBC that Gorsuch has “a disturbing history on women’s issues.”

“I think Justice Gorsuch has a disturbing history on women’s issues and access to … family planning and Planned Parenthood, so I think these hearings are going to be incredibly important to press this,” said Richards.

“I think there are some decisions that Judge Gorsuch has already ruled on, and areas on which he has already made his views clear, even on just the question to access to birth control,” she continued. “[H]is position on Hobby Lobby, that he believes that actually bosses should be able to decide whether or not women should be able to get birth control coverage.”

Of course, Richards is referring to the Supreme Court decision which ruled that the Obamacare contraception mandate “burdened [the] religious exercise” of faith-based institutions and businesses.

Even though Richards considers contraception to be a “fundamental right” – you know, up there with freedom of speech and religion and freedom from illegal search and seizure – her own record when it comes to women doesn’t hold up.

Under Richards’ leadership, Planned Parenthood performs about a third of all the abortions in the United States every year, to the tune of 300,000 procedures annually. It’s not a stretch to assume that roughly half of those babies killed were girls.

Compared to the 150,000 baby women that Richards’ organization kills year in and year out, Gorsuch’s record on women looks pretty stellar after all, doesn’t it?