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SCOTUS vs. Texas

Three takeaways from a trio of Texas-related rulings.

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As most readers are surely aware, the U.S. Supreme Court recently issued rulings on three unusually high-profile, controversial, and consequential cases: Fisher v University of Texas, which challenged UT Austin’s admissions criteria; United States v Texas, which challenged Barack Obama’s 2014 executive action on illegal immigration; and Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt, which challenged the 2013 Texas law that established several new restrictions on the state’s abortion providers.

Texas Monthly has covered the events that culminated in these rulings, and having been on the road last week, my comments on the rulings themselves are belated. Still, with apologies for the delay, I’d like to offer three quick observations.

First, all three cases involve hot-button political issues—affirmative action, illegal immigration, and abortion—and so it’s unsurprising that all three rulings were met with strong reactions from partisans on both sides. But it’s a shame that these cases have become so politicized. All three of these rulings are significantly more narrow in scope than either side is imagining. In Fisher for example, the Court upheld the UT Austin policy that allows for an applicant’s race to be considered as a factor in undergraduate admissions; Democrats applauded the ruling, and Republicans decried it. But the ruling wasn’t an endorsement of race-based affirmative action in general; it was specific to UT Austin’s admissions policies, which are idiosyncratic, largely thanks to one of the most elegant and inspired ideas to ever emerge from the Texas Legislature, “the top ten percent rule.” And, for what it’s worth, all three rulings struck me—not a constitutional law expert, but someone who has covered all three issues for years—as soundly reasoned. For more context on why, here’s my comment on Fisher, from December, and on United States v Texas, from April; and my colleague Dan Solomon’s take on the Whole Women’s Health ruling, from Monday.

Second, these rulings are a reminder that process matters. Public opinion on Whole Women’s Health and United States v Texas, in particular, has been largely fueled by perceptions of the intentions that motivated the Legislature, in the first case, and Barack Obama, in the second. Such considerations wouldn’t have shaped either ruling—in theory, at least—but they have shaped the political debate over both cases, and explain why the reaction to these rulings was heavily polarized along partisan lines. And those perceptions are likely to persist; if so, they may shape how partisans proceed going forward. That’s unfortunate.

So, for what it’s worth, I’d encourage Texas’s pro-life Republicans to consider that although they still have the numbers to ram abortion restrictions through the Legislature during special sessions, they might be better advised to avoid doing so, because the optics on that kind of thing are bound to elicit legitimate complaints. Those of you who remember watching Wendy Davis’s filibuster in 2013 may recall that she spent some hours reading testimony submitted by Texans who had been unable to testify at the truncated committee hearings on the bill. That was, to me, the most powerful stretch of the filibuster: I tend to be agnostic about abortion restrictions, as it happens, but I strongly believe that our elected officials should treat my fellow Texans with respect, even if they disagree on the issue at hand. And the most effective pro-life Republicans in Texas, going forward, will be those who do so.

And I’d ask Democrats to consider two pieces of context that strike me as key to understanding the state’s case in United States v Texas. The first is that Donald Trump is still the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. The second, as I mentioned in April, is that Obama issued two executive orders extending legal protections to illegal immigration, 2012’s DACA, and 2014’s DAPA (the latter, unhelpfully, included an expansion of DACA commonly referred to as DACA-plus.) The state has consistently maintained that its objection has to do with the constitutional limits on a president’s power, not the administration’s priorities when it comes to enforcing federal immigration laws that Congress has already passed. The fact that Texas didn’t sue the federal government over the 2012 order makes that claim a lot more plausible. And, for the millions of Texans who care about the issue, that’s auspicious. Republicans have ferociously opposed Obama’s executive orders related to illegal immigration. That doesn’t mean they would all be similarly ferocious if Congress decides to revisit the issue of comprehensive immigration reform next year.

Third, if you agree that these rulings were soundly reasoned, the trio serves as a reassuring reminder that the Supreme Court can still function, even though it remains short-handed as a result of Antonin Scalia’s death. But they are also a reminder that the Supreme Court is still short-handed, thanks to what can only be described as willfully obtuse intransigence on the part of Senate Republican leaders who are still refusing to hold confirmation hearings for Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. In some hypothetical circumstances, their stonewalling might be politically shrewd or ethically defensible. In the actual circumstances that they are inexplicably refusing to acknowledge, it’s inane.

Given Trump’s ignorance, there’s a slim possibility that he might accidentally nominate a conservative justice to the Supreme Court if elected president. “Now if we had Scalia living or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn’t have had that,” he said today, in his first comment on Whole Women’s Health, having failed to realize that the ruling was 5-3, meaning that if Scalia was still alive it would have been 5-4. But the idea that Trump is sincerely committed to appointing conservative Supreme Court justices is delusional. And the idea that he’d even be in a position to do so is, according to all recent polling, increasingly unlikely. So, unless Mitch McConnell is quietly holding out for Scalia to be replaced by whatever leftist 40 year old that Hillary Clinton might appoint, Senate Republicans ought to accept that Obama ably outfoxed them on this one, and give Garland, his highly qualified nominee, the chance to serve on the Supreme Court—a chance he deserves, and that they don’t.

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  • WUSRPH

    Good analysis of the situation.

    I only wish I could believe that the Texas GOP will follow your recommendation when it comes to abortion bills next session, but, I regret, that I think that Patrick, Burton and Campbell and company are going to be more fanatical than ever. They are already talking about outlawing the D&C procedure, which is used for many things other than as an treatment for an abortion….plus pushing heavily on the “pain to the fetus” claims that no one, but them, can demonstrate.

    I was also taken by Abbott’s “state rights” approach to the ruling in which he almost said that a State could should be allowed to deny a constitutional right to its citizens if enough of its residents oppose that right. The man clearly has a problem with federal supremacy and the idea, as Madison put it, that we cannot have one set of basic laws that apply to one state and not to others. The man clearly has a fixation with an expanded, unsupportable definition of the 10th Amendment and a desire to return to the Articles of Confederation.

    There was a fourth ruling last week that might also have some impact on Texas and particularly on the level of ethical behavior by legislators and others….That was the decision to overturn former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s corruption charge (a unanimous decision by the way)…..In deciding the case the Court established a very strict “quid pro quo” standard for convictions and opened the door both to public officials receiving more gifts and favors and, in turn, doing more favors for contributors and supporters as long as there is no direct quid pro quo involved.

    I would not like to see a public official charged for just doing “constituent service” work, but the line between constituent service and favors for a contributor can be very, very thin… McDonnell’s constituent service, for example, was accompanied by many thousands of dollars for “gifts” from that constituent…The real problem is that it is gong to be extremely hard to prove a quid pro quo unless you have a recording of the conversation in which the “deal” was made or have some way to make a jury accept that sometimes nothing is said beyond a wink and a nod.

    I fear that this ruling will make actions I consider to be, at the least, unethical much more common in the future. This makes me favor a much expanded contribution and gift statute for public officials.

    • Jackson

      Could you expand on your understanding of Governor Abbott’s position with regard to the 10th amendment, and his stance on the “proper” relationship between the state and the federal government? Is this a philosophy he has evinced since, say, his time on the Supreme Court, or did it only become more pronounced and apparent once Obama was elected and it was clear to him/his staff that a bellicose attitude toward the federal government could and would pay substantial political dividends in Texas, and perhaps beyond (it being a narrative that’s been easy for unsophisticated voters to grasp since yon days of the Fire-Eaters)?

      You seem to possess considerable knowledge of both Texas jurisprudence and politics; would appreciate your insight on our Governor with respect to what has become his ideological bell cow.

      • donuthin2

        agree.

      • WUSRPH

        I would like to be able to say that Abbott’s overwhelming tendency to sue the federal government (“I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home,” Greg Abbott) is some sort of an anti-Obama campaign….but, to be fair, I cannot.

        The facts are that, although Abbott sued the Obama Administration many more times, he actually began his career of attacking the federal government back during President George W. Bush’s second term, filing 3 laws suits against that Administration’s policies.

        These 3 suits pale in comparison to the 31 Abbott filed against the Obama Administration, but there defend him from a “its only Obama” attack. (NB. Ken Paxton has continued the practice having filed 9 suits against the Administration since he took office in January of 2015.)

        As to why Abbott sues the federal government, Abbott’s actions in filing all the so many suits against Obama suggest either that:

        (a) he is a total political animal just looking for ways to get publicity by attacking a politically unpopular president (in Texas);

        (b) he sincerely believes that either:

        (1) the federal government is repeatedly “overreaching” its authority in passing laws or adopting regulations that affect Texas; or

        (2) actions or policies of the State should prevail over differing federal policies; and.or

        (3) and/or that the State should not be required to adopt a federal policy with which it disagrees; or
        (4) all three.

        If there is any validity in (b), above,—which I believe to be the case—it would mean that Abbott clearly has a problem with the “Supremacy Clause” in the U.S. Constitution that provides that federal laws, court rulings and the provisions of treaties between the U.S. and foreign nations take precedence over any state law or even a provision in a state constitution. His actions, in fact, suggest that he believes quite the opposite and would hold that when a State has acted on the subject its will should prevail over any federal requirement.

      • WUSRPH

        To be fair to Abbott….You can not say it is all anti-Obama and political….almost much of it probably is…because he also sued the George W. Bush Administration. However, the three suits he filed against Bush are nothing compared to the 31 Abbott filed against Obama. (Paxton has continued the practice by filing nine more since he took office in January of 20125.)

        • Erica Grieder

          Thanks WUSRPH. Jackson (and anyone else interested in this question)–Medellin v Texas is an interesting case in this context, as is Cruz’s explanation of why the state did *not* argue it from a 10th Amendment perspective:
          ———-
          “In both public service and private practice, I was fortunate to enjoy multiple litigation victories in cases where the outside world deemed the odds all but insurmountable. And I think the way to do so is to focus very pragmatically on how to win the case. As Sun Tzu said, every battle is won before it is fought. It is won by choosing the terrain on which the battle is fought.”

          Once again, he cited Medellín v. Texas, the case he had discussed at the Heritage Foundation. It concerned a gang member named José Medellín, who had been sentenced to death in Texas for his role in the 1993 rape and murder of two teenage girls in Houston. There was no question that Medellín was guilty—he had confessed—but he was also a Mexican national, and at the time of the arrest, no one had notified him of his right under a 1963 treaty called the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to contact consular authorities. In 2004 the International Court of Justice had ruled that 51 Mexican nationals in such situations, including Medellín, had the right to a review of their convictions. The next year President Bush issued a memorandum referencing the World Court’s decision and ordered the states to comply. Texas balked.

          “The narrative of the other side was straightforward,” Cruz said. “It was ‘Texas cannot flout the treaty obligations of the United States of America. Texas cannot thumb its nose at the federal government, and at the president of the United States, and at every nation on the face of the earth. And besides, you know how those Texans are about capital punishment anyway.’ If that’s what the case is about, we lose. If the question is ‘Can Texas defy the treaty obligations of the United States?’ we lose. And that’s why just about every observer said there’s no way Texas can win.”

          Instead Abbott and Cruz decided to approach it as a separation of powers case. By ordering Texas to comply with the World Court’s ruling, Cruz argued, Bush was ignoring Congress’s authority to implement treaties in accordance with existing American law. He was also snubbing the Supreme Court, which hadn’t yet weighed in on the subject.

          “At the end of the day, the court adopted our narrative,” Cruz concluded. “And we didn’t just win, we won six to three, which astonished observers. I’m convinced that framing it as a separation of powers case instead of a federalism case was critical to winning it.”

          I recalled that in his 2010 book, Fed Up!, Perry mentions the case—which was, as he put it, argued by Texas’s “able” solicitor general—but frames it as one centered on federalism. Perry also includes some sharp words about those on the Supreme Court who dissented in the ruling: “Amazingly, however, three justices did not agree, perhaps believing instead that international law should trump the laws of Texas.”

          “Yes, I know,” said Cruz, and left it at that, politely.
          ————

          (http://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/the-man-in-the-arena/)

          • WUSRPH

            Gov. Perry’s problem (other than he probably just did not know the facts) is that he, (and probably Gov. Abbott as well) has an exalted image of the “sovereignty” of the State as compared to that of the U.S.

            They tend to belief that Texas is somehow equal in power and authority to the central government and seem not able to accept the fact that Texas sovereignty is limited by federal law and the national Constitution, both of which make Texas subordinate to the United States.

            (This is, of course, a common belief, especially among those schooled in the tales of the Republic of Texas as part of our education as was my generation and there’s, but it is more of a problem when the believer is a governor than it is when it is just an average citizen.)

            As such, both seem to have a real problem accepting that the Supremacy Clause means just what it says—i.e.–that the States are not free to do as they will IF the federal government has acted on the subject or if it would violate provisions of the national Constitution.

            They both also appear to have a distorted view of the 10th Amendment that would limit the powers of the federal government to those designated in Sec. 8 of Article 1. This view is also common among anti-federalists and state rightists, but it contrary to repeated holdings by the SCOTUS dating back as far as Marbury v. Madison in 1803 and McCulloch v. Maryland of 1819.

            There misinterpretations gives them a similarly exalted concept of the powers “reserved to the states” under the 10th Amendment that makes them unable to accept that, as the SCOTUS has declared, the States retain a significant amount of sovereign authority ”only to the extent that the Constitution has not divested them of their original powers and transferred those powers to the Federal Government.” (Garcia, 469 U.S. at 549.)

          • Beerman

            Columnist John Young said it well when talking about our present and immediate past Texas Governors, as well as the Tea Party movement in general: “They say they revere the Constitution, but they say they won’t abide by what the Supreme Court interprets it to say.”

          • Jackson

            I’m curious about something. It has to do with the bill the Legislature passed (I believe it was in the 84th) that overturned Denton’s hydraulic fracturing ordinance, and the forthcoming efforts this session to overturn Austin’s plastic bag ban and ridesharing ordinances.

            Is there legal precedent and case law that allows a state to overturn locally-derived decisions without running the risk of tyrannical behavior, or is it simply a particular interpretation of the 10th amendment that permits this seeming cognitive dissonance to persist? In other words, will Abbott not be vetoing the bill overturning Austin’s plastic bag ban because there’s no equivalent to the 10th amendment in the Texas Constitution, or is there a fundamental difference between what a statehouse does and what is done on Capitol Hill and at the Supreme Court that I’m missing here?

            I’ve never been able to get a cogent, sensible response from conservatives as to why a patchwork of laws is acceptable at the state level within the federal context, but not the local within a state. I’m not interested in how this is proof of the Republicans’ hypocrisy because it appears that that’s really just an outcome politicians of all stripes cannot avoid (and thank you for pointing out Cruz’ statement regarding the path to legal status he proposed in committee being a poison pill, before we all get too misty-eyed thinking of Cruz’ pragmatic and courageous service). What I would like to try to get at is how they justify such a philosophy legally–if at all–or if it’s just one of those things where it’s OK to be beholden to certain cartels (oil & gas, retailers) and not others (taxis, voting residents of Travis County) because of the formers’ long-standing commingling with the Legislature.

          • WUSRPH

            You are correct. There is no equivalent of the 10th Amendment in the Texas Constitution. This is because, unlike the 13 colonies that created the Union, the cities/counties/districts etc. in Texas have no legal authority or sovereignty of their own.
            The purpose of the 10th Amendment was to recognize that the colonies (states) had a pre-existing legal status and some rights connected to that status. This is totally different from the situation of the State government and the local governments in that they exist only because state law allows it. In addition, they have only the powers state law or the state constitution give them. They did not create the state—as the 13 colonies created the Union—but are “creatures” of the State. This is what allows the State to override local decisions. That, at least, is the legal theory behind it.

          • Jackson

            Got it, makes sense on paper. Thanks.

    • Jackson

      Have you ever considered starting your own blog, or maybe asking Harvey if you can contribute to QR? Citizens with a desire to be more informed would be well-served.

      • WUSRPH

        I appreciate you kind words, but starting and maintaining a blog is beyond my skills and abilities especially if it needs to be freshened each day. I do, however, have list of people to whom I send my thoughts and comments (including some that have appeared here) to on a regular basis. That is about as far as I can go.

        • Seamus

          Bernies reply to you, WUSRPH, is made all the funnier by reading all of the comments on this article.
          (Then I logged in to write this and all of his comments disappeared because I had forgotten that, most of the time, I am not a fan of raging, incoherent, spittle-flecked idiocy.)

          • WUSRPH

            Four little words: This user is blocked…..that have brought joy to hundreds.

      • John Bernard Books

        He has been asked repeatedly to take his off topic propaganda to his own site to no avail. He’s a paid dem shill here to mislead, misinform and go off topic.

  • John Bernard Books

    Erica I reminded of the time Harris Cty Judge Ed Emmett said “republicans must change their attitudes toward taxes and abortion.” This is right after he said, “I’m a Goldwater republican.”
    Not one to miss an opportunity to educate I asked him when was the last time he looked at a phone bill and the myriad of taxes listed there?
    He turned to the audience and said, see what I mean?”

    sheeeeeeesh!

    Just say no to larger government in 2016.

    • Sam Jacinto

      This makes equivalent sense as digit’s (DJT) comments on trade policy.

      • John Bernard Books

        It doesn’t make sense to some…..now figure that out if you can.

  • José

    I’m sure there is a good case to be made for executive overreach in the matter of immigration law and President Obama’s executive orders. However there is little justification for Republicans in general and Congressional Republicans in particular to complain about the President taking action. After all, they contend that illegal immigration is a national problem. They claim to support strong families and the entrepreneurial spirit. And what conservative wouldn’t agree that government should run its operations smartly and efficiently, such as by prioritizing its backlog of work? Yet they sat back and did nothing except rant. Obama was going to catch heck regardless. He might as well try to do something worthwhile for the sake of the nation. Congress should do likewise.

    • Erica Grieder

      @disqus_MSSRss41o0:disqus I would agree with you that the priorities implied by both DACA (in 2012) and DAPA (in 2014) were honorable ones, and judicious; even immigration hawks, I would hope, can see why it strikes me as suboptimal to focus ICE’s resources on unauthorized immigrants who are otherwise law-abiding. And I would probably agree that Obama’s intentions were decent. Respectfully, though, I disagree that he had an ethical imperative to act. He prioritized the passage of Obamacare in his first term, rather than comprehensive immigration reform or cap-and-trade, and his 2013 call for CIR included a stipulation that he wouldn’t sign a bill that didn’t include a path to citizenship. In other words, Democrats pre-emptively ruled out the possibility of a CIR bill that included a path to legal status short of citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already in the country. In my view, a path to legal status would have been a reasonable compromise. (I might feel differently about that if we lived in a country without birthright citizenship.) It’s possible that Republicans were being disingenuous in saying that they would support such a compromise, but we’ll never know, because Democrats refused to consider it. So although Congress has certainly declined to work with Obama on certain issues, in this case I thought it was the other way around. Whether Congress had an ethical imperative to accommodate him is ultimately neither here nor there, though, bc the Constitution makes it quite clear that Congress is under no obligation to work with Obama or any other president. On the bright side, I’m optimistic about the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform, which I’m in favor of too, after November. 🙂

      • José

        I understand that Obama prioritized healthcare legislation in 2009. That was a huge issue in his campaign and if it didn’t get done first who knows when or whether it would ever get done. It was a once in a generation opportunity and there should be no apologies for following through on such a significant campaign promise. What I don’t understand is blaming Obama for the failure of comprehensive immigration reform afterwards. There was time. As for “It’s possible that Republicans were being disingenuous in saying that they would support such a compromise…”, um, do you think???
        Maybe you’re right that the new Congress will be more open to taking up the matter in 2017. I hope so. But seeing as how a number of current members have the same visceral and unjustifiable hatred of Ms. Clinton as they do for Mr. Obama, I think that such cooperation is possible only by rejecting a significant number of Tea Party incumbents this November. Reasonable people who disagree can still work together and compromise for the good of the country.

        • Erica Grieder

          “It’s possible that Republicans were being disingenuous…”–In light of the fact that Donald Trump is the presumptive presidential nominee it’s hard to make the case that we should give Republicans as a group the benefit of the doubt on this (or, perhaps, anything). But Democrats can’t simply assert that Republicans were being disingenuous on this point. In addition to the fact that Obama pre-emptively declined to compromise on this point, Senate Democrats prevented the question from getting a floor vote; Cruz formally proposed a path to legal status as an alternative and his amendments were voted down in the Senate Judiciary Committee (http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4529473/ted-cruz-want-immigration-reform-pass).

          And, I mean, we know there are SOME Republicans who would support that kind of compromise; we just don’t know how many of them were in Congress in 2013 and we’re never going to know. Plus, in fairness, Obama and the Democrats had an incentive to accuse Republicans of obstructionism beyond general partisanship: Obama explicitly invoked Republican obstructionism as the factor that compelled him to issue the 2014 executive order: “The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century. And to those Members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill. I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary.” (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/11/20/obama-immigration-full-remarks/70030636/)

          (Similarly, of course Obama had the right to prioritize health care reform, although I personally would have preferred either of the other two given that the health care reform he had in mind was Obamacare…ha. But he’s subsequently asserted an urgent ethical imperative to help unauthorized immigrants; I found that a little tendentious in 2012, considering that he hadn’t expressed any such sense of urgency in 2009.)

          In any case, though…yes, I’d say there’s a reasonably good chance that Democrats will have the votes in Congress to pass CIR in 2017, possibly including a path to citizenship. If not though I hope they consider a path to legal status as a compromise. The path to citizenship wouldn’t keep me up at night but I don’t think it’s worth giving up everything else comprehensive reform would provide over, in a country where the 14th Amendment remains thankfully unTrumpled.

          • WUSRPH

            Cruz has since said that his committee amendments were not a serious attempt to make policy, but a political maneuver designed to kill the bill. (At least that is what he was claiming when Rubio and company were responding to his attacks by claiming Cruz had had virtually the same position as Rubio.)

          • José

            I was especially disappointed in Marco Rubio for reversing course. He had a great opportunity to show leadership and courage if he had stayed with the bipartisan effort. With a successful bill he would have proven himself a person of substance, and standing up to the extreme elements of his party would be seen as having character and independence. That’s the kind of record that would merit him serious consideration for the presidential nomination.

          • WUSRPH

            Rubio and company were able to pass the bill through the Senate…the problem was that the House REPUBLICAN leadership would not let ANY bill come to a vote in the House. So, he at least deserves some credit for trying.

          • José

            Point taken, and he deserves credit for getting it as far as he did. Was a comprehensive bill doomed because of the obstinacy of House Republicans? Maybe, though at the time some if us thought that this might be the time for the saner GOP members to ditch the Tea Party nuts and instead pay heed to their constituents, including business interests. As I recall Rubio didn’t just stop pushing for the bill; he disavowed it. It looked cowardly.

          • WUSRPH

            As long as the Speaker the Rules Committee said “NO”, there was no chance for any meaningful or, in fact, any immigration reform bill. Unless there were enough GOPers willing to revolt against their leadership—which there was not—the bill was dead. Even with a full revolt, it would probably have taken a discharge position. The sad reality is that the GOP had too much invested in attacking Obama for “failing to solve the problem” to do anything that might have helped accomplish that goal.

          • Jackson

            Great article in Bloomberg. It’s a sit-down with the POTUS. They touch upon Republican obstructionism in the context of the immigration bill.

            I know President Obama is starting to do some legacy polishing, but it’s hard to come away from reading that interview without being fairly impressed by his grasp of major issues and how fluently he communicates them. Not much mention in there as to why asset prices are so (over)valued, nor what the Fed does when confronted with the next recession that will happen/become more pronounced now that the federal funds rate is seemingly locked at .50%, but still, it’s impossible to imagine any of the candidates in the Republican primary talking like that at this stage of their development (granted, highly unlikely that the current POTUS was this fluent on these subjects in 2008).

            The prospect of Trump conducting himself in a similar interview holds high potential on the unintentional comedy scale.

            http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-obama-anti-business-president/

  • Sam Jacinto

    In re the other decision cited by WUSRPH below:
    ‘Gifts’ given in a business setting (excepting trivial things like coffee mugs) almost always are a solicitation for a quid pro quo. Many companies consider them to be unethical at best. Our government officials (elected and otherwise) should be required to act in the most ethical manner imaginable as they supposedly safeguard our interests and collective purses. Clearly written statutes to that effect should be able to pass SCOTUS muster. Unfortunately, those whose ethics are to be so controlled are the very same as those who will never act to do so. Money is not speech, and limits on its pernicious effects are not a violation of the 1st Amendment. This is one of the grievances of Trumpians, but they seem unable to understand that a President Trump (Jove save us all) and a republican congress will never assuage this complaint. As an aside – there was an interesting piece at Vox about a correlation between percentage of lawyers in national legislatures and percentage of income going to the top 1%.

    • WUSRPH

      Apparently, the SCOTUS did not agree that the acceptance of “gifts”—in this case of the value of $175,000–constituted a “quid pro quo” agreement.

  • Jed

    “But the ruling wasn’t an endorsement of race-based affirmative action in general; it was specific to UT Austin’s admissions policies, which are idiosyncratic, largely thanks to one of the most elegant and inspired ideas to ever emerge from the Texas Legislature, “the top ten percent rule.” ”

    incorrect.

    • WUSRPH

      Please explain.

  • John Bernard Books

    We are no longer a nation of laws but a nation of political correctness with an administration wilfully disregarding our laws….
    “But there are some areas that the federal government should not leave and should address and address strongly. One of these areas is the problem of illegal immigration. After years of neglect, this administration has taken a strong stand to stiffen the protection of our borders. We are increasing border controls by 50 percent. We are increasing inspections to prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants. And tonight, I announce I will sign an executive order to deny federal contracts to businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
    Let me be very clear about this: We are still a nation of immigrants; we should be proud of it. We should honor every legal immigrant here, working hard to become a new citizen. But we are also a nation of laws.”
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/05/17/1996_flashback_bill_clinton_talks_like_trump_on_immigration_we_are_a_nation_of_laws.html

    • rbgintx

      I was working as a Border Patrol Agent during the Clinton administration. He may have talked a good game but he didn’t walk the talk. His “tough stance” was politically motivated and less about actually enforcing the law. For example “Operation Gatekeeper” in 1994. At that time, the California economy was in the tank and the nightly news featured almost daily videos of large groups of aliens running through the port of entry in San Diego and up the interstate. The strategy adopted called for putting all Border Patrol Agents on the border and shutting down interior enforcement. Clinton did not refer to this as border control strategy but a “border management” strategy. What it did was force traffic into the mountains and desert to the east where the numbers didn’t drop but at least they were out of sight of the news cameras. Additionally with the border only enforcement strategy, once aliens made past the border they had little fear of apprehension. We equated it to a football game where the Texans have the ball on their own goal line and the Cowboys put all eleven defensive players on the line of scrimmage. A short pass over the line and there is nothing in the way of the end zone. I probably shouldn’t put that analogy in writing the Cowboys might think it is a good idea.

  • nickthap

    “I tend to be agnostic about abortion restrictions.” Why?

    • wessexmom

      Yeah, why? Especially when the abortion restrictions are an obvious scam perpetrated by state reps who couldn’t care less about the health and well being of Texas women! If these backward sexists truly had their way, women would be denied birth control as well as abortions. These guys and gals, such as ignorant loony tune wing-nut state rep Jodie Laubenberg of Plano, would like to keep women barefoot, pregnant AND living in poverty. They’ve done everything possible to dismantle what little social safety net in place to care for the children they profess to care so much about. I guess the health and well being of “the born” are of no concern to them. How is a poor young mother supposed to work in order to care for her child if she has no childcare! There have been absolutely no efforts that I’m aware of to hold the fathers accountable at all, in any respect. And Donald Trump has said he thinks women who get abortions should be legally punished but that the fathers should get off scot free.

      • Erica Grieder

        Short answer, bc I’m a weirdo. Long answer: at the risk of sounding overly clinical, the impact of such restrictions tends to be vastly smaller in practice than either side acknowledges and debates about them are predicated on the premise that state law is a primary determinant of abortion restrictions, which I consider to be a highly dubious premise considering that you see differential abortion rates among Texas women, correlated with age, income/wealth, race/ethnicity, religion, etc. If I was assigned to reduce the number of abortions in Texas I’d probably start by thinking about how to tackle the fact that 25% of Texans are unbanked or underbanked. And if I was assigned to protect reproductive rights I’d–well, I’d probably do the same, bc unemployment is at 4.2%, which is pretty good, and it’s hard for the state to meddle with the private decisions of financially independent adults. More generally, I’m against unnecessary regulations and overly emotive political theater especially in light of the opportunity cost of such debates in the Texas Legislature. But, it’s a representative democracy and us weirdos who would prefer that they spend all their time working on the budget are in the minority these days.

        • José

          It seems awfully cold to disregard the rights of a few simply because protecting them is inconvenient. It’s especially cold when those rights are under attack by intentional and concerted effort of a political party using the power of government.

          • Erica Grieder

            I realize that but that’s what I meant about the opportunity cost. Texas has 27 million people and a Legislature that meets for regular sessions once every other year for 140 days. If the Lege spends a day on a bill proposing incremental changes to state laws related to abortion (or guns, or bathroom signs…sigh) that’s a day they necessarily don’t spend working on other issues. (And my fixation on the budget is in part because no individual bill has greater impact on the greatest number of Texans than the one that includes the funding for public schools). I don’t think abortion bills are always merely symbolic–in the HB2 case, I always thought the most compelling counterarguments were about the potential impacts in geographically remote areas like El Paso and underserved areas like the RGV. And I appreciate that symbolism itself isn’t merely symbolic; the ham-fisted efforts to ram HB2 through in the first special session were the kind of display that damages public confidence in institutions, which, as i hope we can also all appreciate in light of Trump, isn’t good for civic health. But while I was reporting on the sonogram law both pro-choice and pro-life advocates told me they didn’t expect it to have a measurable impact on the number of abortions in the state each year, which I found slightly exasperating given how much time had been allocated to the debate by both the Lege and, as a result, the press corps. -_-

          • José

            Yeah, but…it’s not the pro-choicers who choose to waste the time on legislation that has so little impact on the citizenry! In my mind, on this particular issue there’s a pretty clear distinction between sides regarding who to blame for misusing the session, and it’s not the Dems. Or maybe you think Democrats ought to roll over and let the Republicans have their way just to save time so that they can then work together on the truly important matters? Doesn’t seem right.

          • pwt7925

            When you disagree with the proponents of a particular bill or philosophy, it’s easy to say that the efforts they expend to promote it are a “waste of time”. It would be just as easy to say that arguments over gun rights or restrictions are a “waste of time”. (FWIW, I don’t agree with the restrictions in HB2, and believe that there are better and more ways to discourage abortions, along the lines Erica suggests). It’s sort of like when a particular group accuses someone else of “greed”. From what I can tell, greed is in the eye of the beholder. As often as not, when someone accuses someone else of being “greedy,” (e.g. “corporate greed”) they are really saying that the accused wants something the accuser thinks they shouldn’t have or, for any number of reasons, doesn’t deserve. Occasionally there is real greed. But often as not, there’s simply a divergence of interests.

          • WUSRPH

            Two points:
            There are provisions in the Texas Constitution–referred to as the 30-day and 60-day Rules —that can be used to “encourage” the Legislature to get down to the work on the budget FIRST should the governor and the leadership desire.

            However, as you must have observed, the most important tool in the hands of the leadership is the control of TIME. Delaying action and letting things pile up is a long-standing method of “encouraging” the members to vote for items that they might otherwise not favor.

          • Gunslinger

            I want to see that section.

          • WUSRPH

            The provisions that “encourage” the Legislature to put first things first—-and that encourage it to take up the appropriations bill(s) first are in Article 3, Sec. 5. MEETINGS; ORDER OF BUSINESS that includes both the 30 and 60-day rules.

            The 30-day rule specifies that during the first 30 days of the session the Legislature is limited to considering emergencies and appointments submitted by the governor AND appropriations.

            The 60-day Rule is the second provision of this section. It opens the door to committee hearings of other bills but provides that the only ones that may be voted upon on the Floor are those covered by the 30-day rule.

            The section on “delay” from my manual is as follows:

            (N.B. The same subject is discussed in a different manner in the sections covering the House and Senate rules governing calendars and the two chambers end of session rules. As such, this section has to be read in that context.)

            The Strategy Behind Delay

            There are
            many reasons why it takes so long for bills to move thru the Legislature and
            especially to get thru the House and to the Senate. Included are the very size of the House and
            the fact that it is dealing with thousands of bills. Another would be the
            complexity of many of the issues involved.
            However, one basic reason is because it is deliberate.

            In any
            legislative body like the Texas Legislature that is limited in the total days
            it can meet the one thing that cannot be replaced, that cannot be restored by a
            motion to reconsider, that once gone is gone forever is TIME.

            The very
            power of time over the outcome of events is what gives those in the Legislature
            who control time an ability unmatched by another other member to affect the
            outcome of events; to determine which bills will pass; which will die; and how
            various problems and issues are addressed.
            That power rests in the hands of those who set the agenda, who determine
            when or if a measure will come to the Floor in the House or Senate, or when it
            will pass one chamber and reach the other for its consideration—the speaker,
            the lieutenant governor, the committee chairs and, especially in the House, the
            two all important House calendars committees.

            Be a
            favored member and your bills get set earlier.
            Be a cause important to the leadership and your bill gets treated with
            care. Be out of favor, and your
            committee hearing is late in the session, if ever, and your calendar placement
            is so far down the list of bills waiting debate that somehow that previous time
            runs out and it is killed by the passage deadlines. This is the power that comes from
            manipulating time.

            This, needless-to-say may at
            least partially explain why the House continues session after session to delay
            voting on most of its bills until April and even then holds back others until
            early May when it knows the session will end in less than 30 more days. Speaker Laney
            proved in 1993 that it does not have to be that way; that the House can do
            better–that it can pass its bills before May 1 IF it wants to. (See
            “The Impact on the Senate” elsewhere in this chapter.) (INSERT FOOTNOTE OF before May 1st study)

            However, it is
            much easier to get the Senate to accept the way the House wants to handle the
            issues by holding the bills up another week or two and then flooding the Senate
            with as many or more than 300 bills in one week. This forces the Senate to give
            them all only a few minutes consideration and pass most of them on the Local
            & Uncontested Calendar during the last few days of the session. (It is
            Local & Consent in the House, but the Senate prefers to use the term
            “uncontested” in order not to have to say that it fully
            “consented” to some of what it was passing.)

            In fact,
            delaying the major issues until close to the end (or to the very end) of a
            legislative session is a time honored practice.
            One explanation is the complexity of the issue or the need to work out
            compromises, but it must be noted that delaying the bigger issues until close
            to the end of a session definitely increases the power of the leadership to
            “encourage” the members to vote for measures that they would
            otherwise find less than fully acceptable. It is nothing new. It happens every
            session under every kind of leadership.

            At the
            same time, although the time may be limited, there may also an advantage in the
            being the second of the two chambers to consider a bill when time is running
            out on the session if the bill is likely to be changed substantially in the
            second chamber. The very fact that time
            is running out makes it harder for the first chamber to resist those changes
            when the measure is returned to it for acceptance of the other chamber’s
            amendments.

            However,
            being too fast in passing bills can pass the initiative and the power to make
            decisions to the other chamber. This
            makes balancing the amount of time a bill is held up against the amount of time
            the other chamber will have to consider it a matter of careful consideration.

            Former
            Lt. Governor Bullock sometimes did not seem to understand the need to find such
            a balance to protect the Senate’s position on an issue. The problem was that Bullock almost had a
            passion for speeding the issues thru the Senate, often it seemed just to show
            that it could be done. For example, one
            session he pushed the Senate Finance Committee into reporting the general appropriations bill in a record
            amount of time so that he could claim that the Senate had completed its work in
            the shortest time in legislative history. (The author had to conduct a study to
            prove that claim.) The result was that
            the committee reported the budget bill on Feb. 25th and it passed
            the Senate on March 3, less than two months into the session.

            The
            problem was that some of the issues involved in developing the state budget had
            not been resolved in the amount of time Bullock allowed for the bill to be
            drafted and debated. The result was that he passed the initiative and the
            responsibility—and the credit—for making those decisions to the House.

            (Bullock
            also liked to have major issues passed by the Senate by a 31 to 0 or unanimous
            vote. This policy similarly sometimes
            resulted in three less than desirable effects:

            First, it
            produced sour feelings by some senators who felt pressured to go along with the
            lieutenant governor when they would otherwise not wish to do so;

            Second, just as
            in the case of his desire for speed, it could leave the final decisions and the
            real initiative to the House.) and

            Third, the measure had to be so compromised to win
            31 votes that it could fail to achieve its intended purpose.)

        • Kozmo

          Some analysis of how many of those terrific jobs pay a wage sufficient for a family or single mother to live on might be instructive.

      • Beerman

        I repeat myself on this blog every time the Texas abortion issue comes up:

        Sister Joan Chittister, Order of Saint Benedict, quote sums up the hypocrisy of right-wing anti-abortion movement in Texas: “I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that makes you pro-life. In fact I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

  • TacoRub

    Is anyone keeping score of the beatings Abbott and his motley crew have taken from the Prez and now SCOTUS? The Guv and his poor excuse for a DA have wasted tax payer monies to delay the inevitable beat downs and now the masochism continues as Patrick takes on transgenders in bathrooms of their choice.

    • WUSRPH

      According to the Texas Tribune as of earlier this year Texas had lost 10 of the suits, won 6, withdrawn 8 (perhaps because they knew they would lose) and had 16 “pending”. This count, however, may not take into account Paxton’s loses.

      • Kozmo

        There should be a tracking scoreboard to show Texas taxpayers how much they are being charged on a daily basis for so much partisan anti-Obama, anti-DC legal grandstanding.

  • WUSRPH

    Bad joke:
    I was somewhat distracted the other day in moving my mother-in-law from San Antonio to a “memory care” facility in Austin which may explain why I asked myself what was the big deal about Bill Clinton meeting with Loretta Lynn when I first heard the story.

  • WUSRPH

    I know that Trump–as he proves everyday—knows little or nothing about American history, but I wish he would stop trying to take James G. Blaine’s well-deserved title of the “most corrupt” nominee for president of a major political party away from him and give it to Hillary. Blaine, the 1884 GOP nominee, worked very, very hard to earn that title.

  • Kozmo

    It’s easy to be “agnostic” about abortion restrictions until you yourself or someone near and dear to you is facing an unwanted pregnancy (for any reason).

  • John Bernard Books

    SCOTUS has been trending left with 56% of their rulings this year plucked out of thin air.

  • WUSRPH

    Since the new Trump tweet attack on Hillary was taken from an anti-Semitic White Supremacist web site, I have one question:

    Why are The Donald or his staff paying attention to and copying stuff from such a group? Fellow Travelers perhaps?

  • John Bernard Books

    Dems can’t just make it up as they go along….
    “The prosecutor at the center of the Freddie Gray case has been slapped with a complaint seeking her disbarment. A law professor at George Washington University School of Law has filed the disciplinary complaint with the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland against Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. LawNewz.com has learned that the complaint seeks the disbarment of Mosby for her conduct regarding the investigation and prosecution the six police officers for the death of Freddie Gray.”
    http://lawnewz.com/high-profile/freddie-gray-prosecutor-marilyn-mosby-slammed-with-complaint-seeking-her-disbarment/

  • WUSRPH

    IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

    The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

    When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. —

    Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

    He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

    He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

    He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

    He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

    He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

    He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

    He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

    He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

    He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

    He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

    He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

    He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

    For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

    For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

    For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

    For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

    For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

    For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

    For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

    For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

    He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

    He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

    He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

    He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
    In Jefferson’s draft there is a part on slavery here

    In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

    Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

    We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

    JOHN HANCOCK, President

    Attested, CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary

    • John Bernard Books

      Thank You Wassup, I couldn’t have found this without you posting it here, wasting miles of bandwidth.

    • Beerman

      Thanks for this post, hope you have a great and safe July 4th.

    • BCinBCS

      Thanks, W.
      Well worth reading again.

  • WUSRPH

    http://tinyurl.com/hy42frh

    Something for those of you who do not understand what makes the United States of America so different from other nations and why we must always struggle to preserve and protect its special nature.

    • BCinBCS

      In the Washington Post article that WUSRPH linked, the author, Michael Gerson, quoted Abraham Lincoln about the shared ancestry that all Americans have with the Founding Fathers, whether they be descendants of the Mayflower or new arrivals.

      In that vein, I invite everyone at BB to watch this commentary given by the author and playwright Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm, Restrepo, Korengal) on the NewsHour on Independence Day about emigrants and the military:
      .
      http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/on-fourth-of-july-celebrate-heroes-who-fight-for-others/

  • John Bernard Books

    Dems say he is the backbone of America
    “Arias-Santiago, originally from Guatemala, is in the country illegally, police have said. He lives on Leigh Avenue in Princeton and federal immigration authorities were notified of his arrest.”
    http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2016/07/princeton_sex_assault_suspect_charged_in_2nd_incid.html

  • John Bernard Books

    Everyone seems to be missing the most important point about these off the wall rulings by SCOTUS. Justice Kennedy is a Libertarian or a member of the extreme right.
    Prez Ike warned us about the extreme left, Justices Kagan, Soto Mayer, Ginsburg, Breyer and the extreme right Kennedy.
    And some surprised when they unite against the majority of Americans.

  • John Bernard Books

    Dems vote in republican primary again….
    “Republican turnout was up 62% this year.
    Democratic turnout was down 21% this year.
    Despite her tight race with Socialist Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton received 1,019,237 fewer votes this year than in 2008.

    DEMOCRAT PARTY TURNOUT–
    ** In 2008 there were 38,111,341 Democrat votes in the primary. In 2016 there were 29,939,251. A net decrease of 8,172,090 (-21%)

    REPUBLICAN PARTY TURNOUT–
    ** In 2012 there were 19,214,513 Republican votes in the primary. In 2016 there were 31,108,968. A net increase of 11,894,455 (+62%)

    Republicans had 1.1 million more primary voters this year than the Democratic party.
    These are stunning numbers!”
    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/07/final-analysis-gop-primary-turnout-62-year-dem-primary-turnout-21-year/

    Until republicans leaders learn how to stop democrats from cheating. The cheating will continues. It is the only dems can win.

  • John Bernard Books

    Oops she was careless…..

  • WUSRPH

    Clinton case: Sorry about that Donald…but the FBI says no criminal acts involved but criticizes for bad judgment. You will have to try to beat her the regular way.

    • I was just looking for the comment where someone said that the FBI was for sure going to find the evidence to convict Hillary so I could post about this. And how deluded we were to defend her…

      I can hear the gnashing of teeth already…

      • WUSRPH

        And the screams of “fix”…but they would not have been satisfied with less than a death penalty….no matter what the evidence.

        • This is true.

        • BCinBCS

          Yea, W, my conservative friends are having a melt-down.

  • John Bernard Books

    FBI rewrites statue to let Hillary off the hook…..
    “In essence, in order to give Mrs. Clinton a pass, the FBI rewrote the statute, inserting an intent element that Congress did not require. The added intent element, moreover, makes no sense: The point of having a statute that criminalizes gross negligence is to underscore that government officials have a special obligation to safeguard national defense secrets; when they fail to carry out that obligation due to gross negligence, they are guilty of serious wrongdoing. The lack of intent to harm our country is irrelevant. People never intend the bad things that happen due to gross negligence.”

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/437479/fbi-rewrites-federal-law-let-hillary-hook

    So what kind of a deal did Bill offer Loretta…….

  • WUSRPH

    Interesting story on the Texas Tribune on how Paxton has accepted $329,000 in “gifts” from “family friends” to help cover his legal costs.

    • SheDevil2016

      How does one obtain access to your informative e-mails? Asking for a friend . . .

      • WUSRPH

        Most of the recipients are people I worked with or around…..a few are friends of those people who were recommended to me. I usually have to know the persons or know about them.

      • WUSRPH

        If you have Lily”s address….she has mine…contact me and I’ll put you on the list.

        • Sacagewea

          Out of an abundance of caution, Lilly and I didn’t exchange e-mails. I’ll think about this a bit.

  • WUSRPH

    http://tinyurl.com/gnj93ve

     

    Interesting article from the New Republic on how Trump’s repeated use of tweets using racist symbols or false statistics about the race of criminals, etc. is not a “blunder” but a deliberate “wink and a nod” toward White Supremacists and Anti-Semites.

  • John Bernard Books

    The NY Post screams…..
    “The fix was in.

    Tuesday, FBI Director James Comey painted a devastating picture of Hillary Clinton’s reckless lawbreaking with her emails and the damage it likely caused — but then recommended no charges against her.”
    http://nypost.com/2016/07/05/fbi-boss-outrageous-double-standard-in-letting-hillary-skate/

    Imagine that a news paper screaming the fix was in……

  • John Bernard Books

    Never again will anyone believe in our government, except the low information voters and paid government workers.

  • Wilson James

    Texas overreaches and gets burned. Our one-party zealots just can’t seem to keep themselves from wasting taxpayer money tilting at windmills.

    • WUSRPH

      Your use of the word “zealots” to describe those state officials who are continuing to push for restrictions on the abortion despite their recent overwhelming loss in the SCOTUS hit a nerve with me. It immediately gave rise in my mind to two questions.

      First, whether “zealot” is always a derogatory term, as you appeared
      to have used it; and

      Second, if zealotry is not always a bad thing and many believe it is an important moral issue, why, as you suggest,would it be improper for the Legislature to continue to be zealous in its effort to outlaw abortion?

      The first question made me consider whether there is such a
      person as a “good zealot” or is zealotry—defined as “fanatical and
      uncompromising pursuit of religious, political, or other ideals; fanaticism”–always a bad thing? Or, are there not some causes that are so important that, as Barry Goldwater put it, “extremism in the
      defense of liberty is no vice…(and)… moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue”?

      E.G. Were those zealous Americans, the Abolitionists, who led a 60 year battle to end slavery in America wrong to be so avid in their efforts? Was their effort marked by too much zealousness? Did it harm America? Or was it, in the light of history, a good thing that someone was so committed to the cause that America was eventually forced to directly face the question? Or, would it have been better had they kept quiet or that they were more willing to compromise with the equally zealous pro-slave forces so that we might have avoided the Civil War?

      At the time the majority felt that both sides were “zealots” and viewed both with disdain. Today, however, few argue that slavery was
      right or that those who opposed it were wrong in their zealotry even in light of the bloody cost of righting that wrong.

      But, as your entry suggests, many question whether the continued zealotry shown by those who oppose abortion is justified or is simply a waste of time. There are probably two reasons for such a belief—either a disagreement with their cause or a conviction that the recent SCOTUS decision demonstrates that there is little likelihood that their efforts will be successful. In my view, both are valid reasons for not wasting time on abortion during the next legislative session.

      However, it is equally clear that many who oppose a women’s right to choose are just as firmly convinced that their zealotry is justified
      by the morality of their position and feel obliged to use any all efforts and mechanisms, including the government, to advance it.

      This has always been a tough one for me. On one hand, it appears that, under the First Amendment, they appear to have a constitutional right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances” but, right or not, I would argue that the same amendment bars them from using government to achieve that goal because theirs is a “religious“ and “moral issue” to which the whose solution, If any,belongs to the world outside the Wall of separation between Church and State established by that very Amendment. (See footnote, below)

      My objection to involving the State is based on my view that the authors of the First Amendment saw that to make our political system work, (when it does) required an unspoken understanding or
      agreement that we, as a government will not impose the moral beliefs of one group on others but will leave those matters to the world of the personal conscience. This conviction was not based on any moral code; but is a pragmatic one, rooted in their understanding of human nature and of history, which convinced them that our freedoms and government can be maintained only when government is neutral in questions such as these.

      In fact, it is my contention that the very purpose of the Wall is to exclude the government from involvement in matters that belong to the world of personal moral decisions. For as, James Madison, explained: “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.” To me, the battle over abortion is just the kind of ceaseless strife to which Madison referred and that is why I insist that the State must be neutral and stay out of
      the struggle.

      Footnote:

      At its heart, the issue involved in the fight over abortionis not a legal issue but a question of when, if ever, a fetus becomes a living human being. The question of “when” life begins and a fetus becomes a “human” with human rights has been a core concern for most of Christianity. Before St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century, the general consensus was that a fetus became a human when the soul was infused by God. After all, it is the soul, or the existence,
      thereof, that is what is supposed to make us “different” from other animal life and which requires that we treat our fetuses different from those of any of the other live-birth creatures.

      As a rule of thumb, prior to Aquinas, the time of infusion was considered to be at the “time of quickening” (which was often about 20 weeks) when the fetus began to move in the womb since it was then that it became apparent that there might be some sort of living object involved. Before that point, abortion was tolerated if not approved. After quickening, it was not. Aquinas, who grafted the natural law of the Greeks’ into Christianity, held, however, that
      since no one could really know when the soul was infused, one had to assume either at birth or at conception…and, to be safe, he picked conception. And, that is where it has been since in religious terms.

      In this case, we have one side that does not believe that the fetus is a living independent or that, soul or not, that question is not one to be solved by laws. The other group disagrees. Neither represents a real majority of the public. Where they differ is that one wants to use the power of the State to force the others to accept its beliefs and its will and the other does not.

      P.S. None of this musing will have any bearing on what the Legislature does. After all, there will always be politicians who are perfectly willing to waste time and money if it will allow them to polish their record with important groups.

  • WUSRPH

    http://tinyurl.com/zu6ozor

     
    Some information on the amount of and location of the cuts in spending the “state leadership” is asking state agencies to make. It will be good background information when, or if, BB starts talking about the next state budget.

    • BCinBCS

      I read the article by Eva Castro to which you linked. It would appear that Abbot and Company are hell-bent on following the failed economic policies of Brownback in Kansas and Jindal in Louisiana rather than the successful economic policies of Brown in California. Will Texas ever learn?

      (Texas’ economic policies kinda remind me of that Einstein quote.)

  • John Bernard Books

    See we don’t actually need a constitution or silly laws. If you didn’t intend on breaking the law it isn’t a crime. I did not know this…..

  • John Bernard Books

    As Bubba says it all depends on what your definition of top secret or classified is…..sound famiLIAR?
    Dems say Hillary was doing 67 in a 65 zone….
    http://www.theamericanmirror.com/trump-releases-video-contrasting-clinton-comey-statements/

  • John Bernard Books

    Hillary vindicated?
    “It’s a bizarre argument anyway. Hey, we told you she’s only a liar and an incompetent, not a criminal! That could only be a winning argument in this cycle, and even that’s not a certainty at the moment.”
    http://hotair.com/archives/2016/07/05/ap-gee-hillary-lied-to-us-huh/

    I can only imagine what 4 years of her lies and incompetence will do to our country…..

  • WUSRPH

    I don’t know about you, but I am beginning to suspect that Donald Trump is secretly trying to help Hillary get elected. Hillary is under attack for the e-mail mess and what does he do….praise Saddam Hussein….and distract attention from her troubles. Either he’s trying to help her or he is just totally weird.

  • John Bernard Books

    Hillary violated 18 U.S.C § 793F but the media is helping OJ look for Nicole’s killer….
    “18 U.S.C § 793(f)(1) makes it a federal felony for anyone in possession of this type of national defense photos, maps, etc. who “through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody . . . .””
    http://www.redstate.com/matthewclark/2015/08/13/hillary-clinton-meet-18-usc-793/

    FBI agents have her sewed up and Americans are being played.

  • donuthin2

    Looks like Ryan, one of the more rational republicans, is acting a little crazy now.

  • WUSRPH

    Isn’t it interesting how The Donald can always find something to admire and praise in the behavior of noted totalitarians like Saddam and Putin? And it usually seems to be the way they dealt with their enemies without all those little niceties of laws and justice that American’s are supposed to believe it. Nope, no due process or the rule of law for Trump. Just torture and then kill ’em (and their wives and children, too.) Putin and Saddam were particularly good at doing it to their internal, domestic enemies. Wonder it The Donald thinks that is a good idea, too?

    • donuthin2

      Just give them a fair trial and hang’em.

      • WUSRPH

        He’s not even talking about a trial….Just shooting them outright…Worked for Saddam so why not for America?

  • WUSRPH

    The GOP is desperate to keep E-mailgate alive as long as possible. They will probably hold hearings for at least a couple of weeks and drag out producing some sort of a report until late October. Anything but campaign on the issues.

  • John Bernard Books

    Dems desperately want discussion of Hillary’s criminal activities to go away….
    “Thus we have the FBI Director rendering a scathing public indictment of Hillary Clinton is every particular of the case. In fact, he goes out of his way to demolish everything she has said. And then he, Pontius Pilate-like, walks away leaving the American founding concept of the rule of law in utter shambles.”
    http://www.redstate.com/streiff/2016/07/06/real-reason-loretta-lynch-met-bill-clinton-airport/

    So much so that they are willing to compromise our entire justice system.

  • WUSRPH

    http://tinyurl.com/j22f6jk

    National Review reports on Cruz’s efforts to get ready for another run in 2020. Appears he also thinks Trump will loose. Elaborate plans show that he did not learn his lesson this time.

    • José

      I still wonder if Cruz has completely ruled out 2016! This year’s GOP race has been full of surprises. Maybe there’s another one coming. Trump seems to go out of his way to make the delegates rethink whether they really have to nominate him.

      • WUSRPH

        With only a couple of weeks to go and no mass revolt yet, I doubt there is any chance the GOP will not slit its throat and nominate Trump. They have gone thru the motions in years past when it was obvious to everyone but Trolls that they could not win and they will probably do the same this year. Altho a few still believe or want to.

        Cruz is smart enough to know that he cannot win this year. He also realizes that he does not want to get the blame for The Donald’s loss. As such, I doubt he will ever “formally” endorse Trump but, as I have said before, he will be using those two new PACs he has created to be out on campaign trail making as many appearances as he can for as many down-the-ballot candidates as will let him appear for them.

  • WUSRPH

    http://tinyurl.com/hgqxhfo

    A disturbing analysis of the role of White Trash in American history and of Donald Trump. A part of our history we like to ignore. You can be it without being born into it.

    • John Bernard Books

      “White trash is a derogatory American English racial slur referring to poor white people, ”
      stop the racism by democrats.

  • John Bernard Books

    Hillary runs from press
    “It’s been seven months since the presumptive Democratic nominee held a press conference (for comparison it’s been less than two weeks since Donald Trump had two back-to-back during a trip to Scotland.) And reporters covering the candidate are frustrated.”
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/07/06/clinton-press-conference/86769752/

    Tx Rep (D)Shelia Jackson Lee will knock you dow to get on Tv and Hillary runs……away. 7 months?

  • John Bernard Books

    Welp Crooked Hillary has some ‘splaining to do….
    “But, when it comes to Clinton’s correspondence, the most basic and troubling questions still remain unanswered: Why are there gaps in Clinton’s email history? Did she or her team delete emails that she should have made public?”

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/07/hillary-clinton-missing-emails-secretary-state-department-personal-server-investigation-fbi-214016#ixzz4DgHNjR15

    Hillary had her panties in a wad over Nixon and gaps in his tapes.
    Now she has missing emails…?
    Karma babe.

  • John Bernard Books

    Clinton Foundation founded by pedophile
    “Attorneys for convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein touted his close friendship with Bill Clinton and even claimed the billionaire helped start Clinton’s controversial family foundation in a 2007”
    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/07/06/billionaire-sex-offender-epstein-once-claimed-co-founded-clinton-foundation.html

    Crooked Hillary’s hubby’s pedophile friends.

  • John Bernard Books

    Government workers need to feel superior because most have graduated in the bottom 50% of their class…..

  • John Bernard Books

    Wouldn’t you like to know how much this costs…..

  • John Bernard Books

    Back on topic after having some fun with the criminals in the democrat party.
    Democrats haven’t won a statewide election in over 20 years, so they can’t write the pc laws they want. So they sue to undo the legislation done in Austin. If they can get it in front of the looney Sparks in Austin or exSen Van de Putte’s bro-in-law in SA they can rewrite the legislation from the bench.
    It then goes to the 5th circuit and is usually thrown out but sometimes sneaks through to SCOTUS. SCOTUS always overturned the legislated from the bench laws until Scalia’s death. If dems can get Hillary in and it looks like the fix is in then they can rewrite Texas laws.
    If you think the federal government is pc now, wait till Hillary and Lizzie and their all girl cabinet interferes in your daily lives. Hell maybe goofy can finally get me barred from here. Girl power……

  • Sacagewea

    Judging from the number of “This loser is blocked” comments, someone in Missouri City is having a meltdown.

    • BCinBCS

      Yea, Sac, I haven’t blocked him yet (came real close last week) and I can tell you that he’s posting all sorts of half-baked and distorted information from Red State, Fox News and other RWNJ sites. He’s not nearly as bad as he was before blocking was an option but you’re not missing anything.

      • John Bernard Books

        “He’s not nearly as bad as he was before blocking was an option”
        oh yes I am, I’m as bad as I wanna be.
        If you losers don’t like it change the channel. As of today we’re still living in a free society.

  • John Bernard Books

    Uh oh what happens when you lie under oath?
    “Did you investigate for HRC lying under oath to Congress?
    Not without a referral.
    Do you need a referral?
    Sure do.
    Believe me you’ll have one in a few hours.”
    http://ktrh.iheart.com/onair/michael-berry-13986/watch-how-fbi-director-comey-reacts-14886129/

    This gets gooder and gooder…….

  • John Bernard Books

    Wait Sandy Burgular, Cheryl Mills, Loretta Lynch were all co workers…..
    “Curiously, Berger, Lynch and Cheryl Mills all worked as partners in the Washington law firm Hogan & Hartson, which prepared tax returns for the Clintons and did patent work for a software firm that played a role in the private email server Hillary Clinton used when she was secretary of state. “http://www.wnd.com/2016/07/comey-has-long-history-of-clinton-related-cases/#YFyy7MOsjXIIEZm4.99”

    Keeps getting gooder and gooder…..

  • John Bernard Books

    We’re finally getting there….
    “FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may not have been “sophisticated enough” to understand what the classified markings on emails meant. This lack of “sophistication” was used to explain Clinton’s lack of knowledge that she was breaking the law and hence an absence of intent.

    Clinton has now been identified, under oath by the head of the FBI, as perhaps nothing more than a rube unable to understand basic classifications that tens of thousands of others interspersed throughout the federal government are required to follow.”
    http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/presidential-campaign/286916-clinton-not-sophisticated-enough-to-understand-email

    Is she just another typical bored state worker?

  • John Bernard Books

    Chicago Tribune says Hillary disqualified….
    “Hillary Clinton has disqualified herself from the presidency.
    No matter what your tribal politics may be, after FBI Director James Comey’s withering testimony before Congress on Thursday over her email scandal, there really is no way around it, is there?
    She disqualified herself by her own hand.”
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/kass/ct-hillary-clinton-emails-comey-kass-0708-20160707-column.html

    The article states she failed miserably at protecting the secrets of our nation, actually she didn’t try.