There has been a lot of banter from both presidential candidates about a potentially rigged or stolen election, and many on both sides of the aisle predict a lengthy legal battle over the presidency.
President Trump has warned that the outcome could be in dispute for “months and months” or “for years” due to mail in ballot fraud.
So instead of dwelling in speculation..... let’s run through the realities of an inconclusive presidential election.
First of all, it’s Congress, not the courts, that certify the results of a presidential election. Each state chooses its electors and those electors’ votes are transmitted by the state elections boss, usually a secretary of state, to the Senate.
On January 6, 2021 a joint session of the next Congress will meet to
ratify the electoral findings and declare the candidate that has won a majority of the vote..... getting 270 votes or more, the president of the United States.
One scenario is that not all the states would have their results by then or, what Trump and Biden have both suggested, is that the results may be rigged or disputed. Now that’s where things could get very interesting.
The courts have their own place in this, but that happens long before Congress gets to act. State elections officials have to certify their electors before the Monday after the second
Wednesday in December, which this year .... is Dec. 14. All of the legal positioning that takes place will have to happen between November 3rd and then.
We all recall the drama around the 2000 election that what was in legal dispute over the power of Florida’s secretary of state to certify the results despite demands from Al Gore’s campaign that recounts continue. The court deferred to state authorities and Florida certified its electors.
Taking into account how long counting has taken in some state primaries this year it’s not unreasonable to think that we could see legal battles until the last minute, but one way or the other, they’re obliged to convene their electors and transmit the results by certified mail by Dec. 14.
So what if some states don’t finish in time or what if secretaries of state certify electors with claims widely in dispute? Then we turn to the Constitution.
If the disputed or incomplete results will not prevent a candidate from reaching 270 votes then it’s no big deal. Congress would ignore what’s missing and still pick a president.
But what if the number of missing or disputed electors is large enough or the election close enough that the absence prevents either candidate from getting to 270? Then the House gets to choose. This would also be the case in a 269-269 tie, the House would select one of the candidates.
Here we have some precedent. In 1877, the results from three states were in dispute in a race close enough to call the final result, in this case, Congress created a bipartisan panel to review the results. The House certified the panel’s findings and awarded the presidency to Rutherford Hayes.
But regardless of how Congress arrives to its conclusion, on Jan. 6 the members will either certify the results or the House will get to work making its choice. In this case, the House acts differently than usual. The delegations from each of the 50 states get only one vote. California and Deleware would be equals.
Currently, Congress is pretty narrowly divided with 25 Republican, majority delegations, 24 Democrat, majority delegations and one tie, Pennsylvania. We don’t know what the next Congress will look like exactly, but we can assume it won’t be wildly different.
There are currently four states with caucus control decided by one seat: Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Michigan. One imagines there would be a great deal of deal making in such places. And it would be heated, indeed.
But whatever happens, the House will pick a president before noon on Jan. 20 when the current president’s term expires.
Our Founders, who created our Constitution contemplated the possibility of contested elections and on three separate occasions, it has been our Constitution that has been applied, leaving
Congress to resolve such disputes. If we end up screwing up this election beyond repair or if the participants try to wreck the republic in order to keep or obtain power, it won’t be the end of us.
Instead, it could be a historical lesson in civics and politics for us all.
This week, Americans will have their final chance before the election to listen to the presidential candidates present their competing visions for the country.
Based on the debate's announced topics -- COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership -- the differences should be clear.
Fighting COVID-19 provides President Donald Trump the opportunity to point out that former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden's administration left us with little capacity to deal with a pandemic. While Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were calling Trump racist, he closed down travel from China, which clearly saved American lives. While New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was sending nursing-home residents infected with SARS-CoV-2 back to infect other family members, Trump was sending a ship to New York to reduce the burden on hospitals and rallying American companies to supply the needed surge in personal protective equipment and medical supplies. The sad reality is that people die in a pandemic. But Trump's early action clearly saved lives. The vaccine is on its way, and the economic damage done through good intentions must be negated by an active, robust economy going forward.
American families will be better off under a Trump administration. A Stanford University study released this week revealed that the policy that would be implemented if Biden and Kamala Harris are elected would result in a $6,500 drop in median household income, with 4.9 million fewer jobs. Their plan is so egregious that rapper-actor 50 Cent has endorsed Trump. He understands that a vote for Biden-Harris is a vote for a 62% tax rate in New York.
Trump's focus on law and order is also better for families. To build a prosperous family, you must be able to work, shop for groceries and get gas without being afraid that you will be a victim of violence. Rioters who destroy businesses hurt entrepreneurs and the ability of workers to provide for their families.
While his detractors label him as racist, Trump has delivered real results for blacks, just as he has for all Americans. Trump signed the First Step Act, funded historically black colleges and universities, and created Opportunity Zones. The historic growth in jobs that occurred under Trump's administration fueled a sharp increase in minority employment. While Biden is focused on pitting racial groups against one another, Trump is focused on providing opportunity for all, regardless of race.
Under Trump's leadership this year, the Great Outdoors Act was signed into law, an accomplishment that none of the last five presidents had been able to achieve. It provides permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. A Biden-Harris administration would pass the Green New Deal, which is job-killing legislation. The Democrats base this on a false choice that we can have either a good economy or a better environment. Trump understands that American ingenuity -- through innovation and tax incentives -- will allow both to happen.
National security is a topic where Trump stands ahead of Biden. He puts America and Americans first, negotiating with other countries to get the best deal for the American people. This stands in stark contrast with the Obama-Biden administration, which started off with an apology tour and was consistent in blaming America first.
As for leadership, while others will focus on Trump's tweets, comments and personal abrasiveness, the contrast is unmistakable. While Biden-Harris might appear to have good motives, their policies are inadequate, ill-conceived and mistaken. Based on the Stanford report, their policies would result in a greatly reduced America. Biden has been leading for 47 years; he has had his chance -- and he has failed.
Trump's leadership has yielded real results. A Gallup poll last week noted that 56% of Americans said they were better off today than they were four years ago. While the news media focuses on divisiveness, Americans understand that shared values hold us together as a nation; that freedom allows us as individuals to make our own choices; that we have the right to speak freely about our beliefs and the right to vote for the person we believe will be best for our country.
The choice is between Trump, who has confidence in the American people and the foundation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and Biden, who believes we will be better off if we cede more control to the government.
Trump understands that confidence is contagious. America is not perfect, but it's the safest, freest, most prosperous nation in the world. Immigrants rush to come into our country, not because we are an evil place with systemic problems but because we believe people have the right to chase their dreams as they see fit, in an environment based on the rule of law, freedom, liberty and a respect for individuals.
"Public broadcasting" is a comical phrase. Its audience is not the public. It is the left. PBS and NPR don't care one iota what everyone else thinks ... even if everyone else pays a chunk of their budget through taxes.
On the morning before the last presidential debate, Kelly McBride, NPR's "public editor" -- the person who is supposed to bring outside perspectives from the public into the NPR bubble -- tweeted, "Why haven't you seen any stories from NPR about the NY Post's Hunter Biden story?" Below a link to her newsletter was a quote in bold type from Terence Samuel, NPR's managing editor for news: "We don't want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don't want to waste the listeners' and readers' time on stories that are just pure distractions."
In McBride's newsletter, Samuel added: "And quite frankly, that's where we ended up, this was ... a politically driven event and we decided to treat it that way."
This is beyond sick coming from NPR. Nina Totenberg made Anita Hill a legend with sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas that were never proven. It was the very definition of a "politically driven event," a story leaked to Totenberg by Senate Democrats to sabotage the Thomas nomination. No one at NPR said that was an unvetted waste of time, a "pure distraction."
Every allegation of sexual assault made against Brett Kavanaugh was a "politically driven event," and Christine Blasey Ford, the most acclaimed accuser, couldn't even define a time or a place to her supposed meeting with Kavanaugh. This is why NPR's declarations about "pure distractions" look extremely partisan.
The essence of McBride's argument is simply, "Consider the source." If it came from a Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper and two supporters of President Donald Trump, then it has to be garbage. "Intelligence officials warn that Russia has been working overtime to keep the story of Hunter Biden in the spotlight. Even if Russia can't be positively connected to this information, the story of how Trump associates Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani came into a copy of this computer hard drive has not been verified and seems suspect."
They put NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik on the case -- a man who routinely rains fire on Fox News and who wrote an entire book ripping into Rupert Murdoch. This was a promotional blurb for his book from Booklist: "One cannot, even facetiously, describe this account ... as 'fair and balanced.' It is neither." Folkenflik said the New York Post story was "suspect" and the main reporter worked for Sean Hannity. He scorned it as "speculative partisan advocacy. "
When she became NPR's "public editor" in April, McBride promised, "As I watch NPR, I promise to do so through the eyes of you, the audience -- the core audience, and also those of you dipping your toes in around the edges of NPR." She asked how NPR could broaden its audience. "Although I'm the advocate for the audience that NPR has right now, I'll be mindful of NPR's mission to broaden it. Through encouragement and accountability, I hope to hold the door open for new and diverse communities to connect with public radio."
That's obviously baloney. NPR is catering every day to its "core audience" of left-wing partisans, and its dismissal of any kind of Biden family scandal reeks of a disdain for "(holding) the door open" to all the taxpayers who pay some of NPR's bills. Just like Folkenflik's book, it's easy to proclaim that one cannot, even facetiously, describe NPR as fair and balanced. It is neither.
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.
In the world’s largest seagrass restoration project, scientists have observed an ecosystem from birth to full flowering.
As part of a 20-plus-years project, researchers and volunteers spread more than 70 million eelgrass seeds over plots covering more than 200 hectares, just beyond the wide expanses of salt marsh off the southern end of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Long-term monitoring of the restored seagrass beds reveals a remarkably hardy ecosystem that is trapping carbon and nitrogen that would otherwise contribute to global warming and pollution, the team reports October 7 in Science Advances. That success provides a glimmer of hope for the climate and for ecosystems, the researchers say.
The project, led by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and The Nature Conservancy, has now grown to cover 3,612 hectares — and counting — in new seagrass beds. By comparison, the largest such project in Australia aims to restore 10 hectares of seagrass.
The results are “a game changer,” says Carlos Duarte. “It’s an exemplar of how nature-based solutions can help mitigate climate change,” he says. The marine ecologist at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia is a leader in recognizing the carbon-storing capacity of mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses.
The team in Virginia started with a blank slate, says Robert Orth, a marine biologist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point. The seagrass in these inshore lagoons had been wiped out by disease and a hurricane in the early 1930s, but the water was still clear enough to transmit the sunlight plants require.
Within the first 10 years of restoration, Orth and colleagues witnessed an ecosystem rebounding rapidly across almost every indicator of ecosystem health — seagrass coverage, water quality, carbon and nitrogen storage, and invertebrate and fish biomass (SN: 2/16/17).
For instance, the team monitored how much carbon and nitrogen the meadows were capturing from the environment and storing in the sediment as seagrass coverage expanded.
It found that meadows in place for nine or more years stored, on average, 1.3 times more carbon and 2.2 times more nitrogen than younger plots, suggesting that storage capacity increases as meadows mature. Within 20 years, the restored plots were accumulating carbon and nitrogen at rates similar to what natural, undisturbed seagrass beds in the same location would have stored. The restored seagrass beds are now sequestering on average about 3,000 metric tons of carbon per year and more than 600 metric tons of nitrogen, the researchers report.
Seagrasses can take a hit. When a sudden marine heat wave killed off a portion of the seagrass, it took just three years for the meadow to fully recover its plant density. “It surprised us how resilient these seagrass meadows were,” says Karen McGlathery, a coastal ecologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
She believes the team’s work is more than just a great case study in restoration. It “offers a blueprint for restoring and maintaining healthy seagrass ecosystems” that others can adapt elsewhere in the world, she says.
Seagrasses are among the world’s most valuable and most threatened ecosystems, and are important globally as reservoirs of what’s known as blue carbon, the carbon stored in ocean and coastal ecosystems. Seagrasses store more carbon, for far longer, than any other land or ocean habitat, preventing it from escaping to the atmosphere as heat-trapping carbon dioxide. These underwater prairies also support near-shore and offshore fisheries, and protect coastlines as well as other marine habitats. Despite their importance, seagrasses have declined globally by some 30 percent since 1879, according to an Aug. 14 study in Frontiers in Marine Science.
“The study helps fill some large gaps in our understanding of how blue carbon can contribute to climate restoration,” says McGlathery. “It’s the first to put a number on how much carbon restored meadows take out of the atmosphere and store,” for decades and potentially for centuries.
The restoration is far from finished. But already, it may point the way for struggling ecosystems such as Florida’s Biscayne Bay, once rich in seagrass but now suffering from water quality degradation and widespread fish kills. Once the water is cleaned up, says Orth, “our work suggests that seagrasses can recover rapidly” (SN: 3/5/18).
McGlathery also believes the scale of the team’s success should be uplifting for coastal communities. “In my first years here, there was no seagrass and there hadn’t been for decades. Today, as far as I can swim, I see lush meadows, rays, the occasional seahorse. It’s beautiful.”
Critical race theory, or CRT, is in the news these days but many people still may not know what it really means. They think CRT is part of the Rev. Martin Luther King's civil rights efforts. In truth, it is directly opposed to the central concept and vision he most stood for. One of the last and greatest civil rights leaders of our time – and one of King's closest friends and advisers – did understand CRT, and explicitly rejected it.
Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker was a legend in the American civil rights movement. Executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the critical years of 1960-1964, he was a co-founder of CORE (the Congress of Racial Equality), chief of staff to King, and King's "field general" in the organized resistance against notorious Birmingham safety commissioner "Bull" Connor. Walker compiled and named King's "The Letter From Birmingham Jail." He was with King for the march on Washington that produced the "I have a dream" speech, and in Oslo for the
Nobel Peace Prize.
Afterward, Dr. Walker came north to New York City to serve as minister of the Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem. He was one of the nation's most respected ministers until his death in 2018. In his book "David and Goliath," Malcolm Gladwell dedicated a chapter to Dr. Walker and his work in Birmingham. The cover of Ebony magazine called Walker "The Man Behind Martin Luther King." In short, no one may have known King's thoughts better or been closer to them than Dr. Walker.
Even as he aged, Dr. Walker never backed down from the passionate pursuit of civil rights for all. Later in his life, he was chairman of the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network and a supporter of reparations for African Americans. I got to know him soon after Amadou Diallo had been horribly gunned down in New York City in 1999. We joined together to form New York's first and longest-surviving charter school, now named the Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem. We stayed friends from that time until he died.
In 2015, Dr. Walker and I co-authored an essay about education reform and race relations, where we wrote: "Today, too many ‘remedies’ – such as Critical Race Theory, the increasingly fashionable post-Marxist/postmodernist approach that analyzes society as institutional group power structures rather than on a spiritual or one-to-one human level – are taking us in the wrong direction: separating even elementary school children into explicit racial groups, and emphasizing differences instead of similarities.
“The answer is to go deeper than race, deeper than wealth, deeper than ethnic identity, deeper than gender. To teach ourselves to comprehend each person, not as a symbol of a group, but as a unique and special individual within a common context of shared humanity. To go to that fundamental place where we are all simply mortal creatures, seeking to create order, beauty, family, and connection to the world that – on its own – seems to bend too often towards randomness and entropy."
Before publishing this essay, I questioned Dr. Walker to make sure he really wanted to be on record with this opposition to CRT. I was worried this might put him in a bad way with other civil rights leaders. But he had never backed down in his life, and he reiterated that this was his position.
In hindsight, I believe that Dr. Walker was not so much against anything, as for something. He was for what Dr. King was for, and for what so many well intended people are for who may misunderstand the difference between CRT and traditional (i.e., King-style) civil rights.
Dr. Walker was for a fundamental respect for all people, without regard to their ethnic group or religion or the color of their skin. Dr. Walker's civil rights views tie back to religious values, to humanism, to rationalism, to the Enlightenment. The roots of CRT are planted in entirely different intellectual soil. It begins with "blocs" (with each person assigned to an identity or economic bloc, as in Marxism). Human-to-human interactions are replaced with bloc-to-bloc interactions.
As Dr. Walker tried to make clear, thinking in terms of blocs of people, rather than of people as individuals, leads to a whole set of insidious results. How can two people bind together in friendship if they are members of power blocs that are presumed to be inherently opposed? How can a person prove his innocence if he is branded as inevitably a part of a guilty group? Why should an individual strive to succeed by individual merit if group dynamics are presumed to be overwhelming and inescapable? How can we ever find peace among the races and religions if we won't look to each other, person by person, based on actual facts and actual intentions?
The saddest thing is to see well-intentioned people, trying to achieve Martin Luther King's dream by employing CRT methods that are the opposite of King's dream. King asked for everyone to be judged by the content of their own individual character, not by their inescapable genetic links to post-Marxist style analytical power groups. Supporters of civil rights should follow the example of Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, and not allow the two incompatible definitions of civil rights – King's and CRT's – to be confused with one another.
The Center Square
Mr President, have your Chief of Staff call FBI Wray and tell him to bring the Hunter Biden evidence to your office along with the forensic experts who examined everything and find out for yourself if the computer is Hunter Biden’s, and if everything is authentic from the experts themselves, all while maintaining the Chain of Custody.
If it is, and you and I know it is, then order Wray to open a “Special Investigation “and direct AG Barr to set up a dedicated Grand Jury to hear all the evidence against Hunter Biden and Joe Biden…now… for Extortion, Treason and all the other crimes they committed!
Also what about the “old” Benghazi allegations, with the “new” evidence?
These are the same allegations, I made, not long after Benghazi…that the munitions used were dealt by the State Department, picked up and delivered by the CIA… eventually to the wrong
Rebels…who attacked our embassy!
In a column in Politico by Kenneth Vogel and Josh Gerstien on 10/4-5/16…“Lawyers for the Justice Department on 10-5-16, in federal court, in Phoenix dropped the case against the arms dealer, an American named Marc Turi, whose lawyers also signed the motion.”
“The deal averts a trial that threatened to cast additional scrutiny on Hillary Clinton’s private emails as Secretary of State, and to expose reported Central Intelligence Agency attempts to arm rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi.”
Turi came up with the idea and took it to Clinton ,who said “No”…then Hillary took the idea it to Obama who said “Yes”. Now they had a “fall guy” Marc Turi!
Also a former CIA Operative came forth, 2 or 3 days ago with documents, wiretap tapes and photos that corroborate all that Turi alleged… that the Sate Dept (Clinton and Obama) did… in fact provide the munitions that were used to kill the Ambassador, and brave souls who died defending them/him! They also , allegedly show, how and why Obama paid $152 Billion dollars in Blackmail money to Iran and $2 Billion in cash that was sent BACK to WDC for the named politicians and others involved, to keep quiet!
Mr President, if you don’t get more involved in what is happening NOW…it will be lost forever.
All the MSM, Twitter, Facebook, all the medias you call Fake News are doing exactly what you have been saying and now you can prove it…if you get involved and look at the evidence yourself with your AG and just verify it!
This is by far the biggest scandal this country has ever had, you simply must stop the evil forces around you from burying all the evidence!
This is what I have been calling for since the first 4 years of the most corrupt President this Nation has ever had…Hussein Obama. I knew …just knew.. someone would eventually come forth with the evidence and he has…don’t let this opportunity slip away…get to the bottom of what happened!
Pumpkins are a variety of winter squash like butternut or acorn squash and are a good source of vitamins. Winter squash are left on the vine until they are mature and have a hard rind, and then they are baked for eating. Summer squash are picked off the vine while still green and have a soft rind and can be eaten raw or cooked. They do not store well and are eaten fresh.
Pumpkins can be stored at low humidity at 50 to 55 degrees F until next spring. For best storage, they should have a 3- or 4-inch piece of stem and should not have been exposed to a frost.
They should be cured properly before storage. Cure the pumpkins at a temperature of 80 to 85 F (27 to 29 degrees C) and at a relative humidity of 80% to 85% for about 10 days. Curing helps to harden their skins and heal any cuts and scratches. Immature fruit that are not fully orange and don't have a hard skin should be used quickly, as they don't store well.
A light frost this fall will kill the vines but not harm the fruit. A hard frost will damage the pumpkins, so harvest them before then. Don't store them outdoors, where a frost will damage them. Frost-damaged pumpkins are often fine for jack-o'-lanterns but not for storing all winter.
Cut the pumpkins off the vine with a pruner or knife. Leave at least a 3-inch handle, but don't carry the pumpkins by the handle. Fruits with handles last longer in storage. Be careful to not cut or bruise the fruit, as that is an infection point for bacteria and fungi.
Store the pumpkins in a spot where they won't touch one another. Don't stack them. All contact points are potential problem areas for infections. Don't store them with ripening fruit, such as apples, that release ethylene gas, which shortens the storage time. Good air circulation helps prevent mold. Throw away pumpkins as soon as you see any signs of decay.
If you want to have a decorated pumpkin but also save it for later eating, you can use tempera paint or markers to make your designs on the outside without cutting it open.
You can save the seeds for planting next year. The only problem is that they may be hybrids that won't give you the same kind of pumpkins next year. If the package was labeled as an heirloom, you will get crops next year that match this year's crop, provided there were no other pumpkin varieties nearby that could have cross-pollinated your plants to produce the seeds you have now.
For a real, fresh pumpkin taste in pies and pumpkin bread, don't use canned pumpkin. Do this instead: First, peel the rind to remove it, and then boil the flesh until soft. Drain the pot, and mash the pumpkin until it is soft. It can then be frozen. It will last for months. If you use fresh pumpkin in a recipe for pumpkin bread or pie, you will taste the difference and not want to go back to the canned stuff.
Small pumpkins can be eaten as a vegetable -- steamed, boiled, or battered and fried. They can also be sliced and eaten raw with dip as an appetizer.
Justice Samuel Alito had a straightforward question, but the lawyer arguing on behalf of the petitioners in Obergefell v. Hodges did not have a coherent answer.
Her central argument in the case: The 14th Amendment's command that the states shall not "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" protected a "right" for people of the same sex to marry each other.
Alito did not buy it.
"Suppose we rule in your favor in this case and then after that, a group consisting of two men and two women apply for a marriage license," Alito said.
"Would there be any ground for denying them a license?" he asked.
"I believe so, Your Honor," said the lawyer.
"What would be the reason?" Alito asked.
"There'd be two," she said. "One is whether the state would even say that that is such a thing as a marriage, but then beyond that, there are definitely going to be concerns about coercion and consent and disrupting family relationships when you start talking about multiple persons."
To this, Justice Antonin Scalia responded succinctly, "Well, I didn't understand your answer."
The court ended up ruling 5-to-4 that the 14th Amendment did create a right to same-sex marriage. The dissenters included Scalia, Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts.
In a dissent joined by Thomas, Scalia explained why the 14th Amendment did not create a right to same-sex marriage.
"When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, every state limited marriage to one man and one woman, and no one doubted the constitutionality of doing so," Scalia wrote.
"That resolves these cases," he said.
Scalia was right.
Nonetheless, he was on the losing side in Obergefell because Justice Anthony Kennedy, who President Ronald Reagan nominated in 1987, joined with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in ruling that the 14th Amendment did protect a right for two people of the same sex to marry.
Kennedy, in fact, wrote the majority opinion. It was a study in incoherence.
"It cannot be denied that this court's cases describing a right to marry presumed a relationship involving opposite-sex partners," Kennedy conceded.
"In defining the right to marry these cases have identified essential attributes of that right based on history, tradition, and other constitutional liberties inherent in this intimate bond," Kennedy said.
"This analysis compels the conclusion that same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry," he concluded.
In explaining his pro-same-sex marriage conclusion, Kennedy went on to say that one "basis for protecting the right to marry is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childbearing, procreation, and education."
In a dissent joined by Scalia, Thomas pointed directly to the threat the court's decision posed to religious liberty.
"In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well," wrote Thomas. "Today's decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples."
"Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process -- as the Constitution requires -- the people could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process," wrote Thomas.
"Instead," he said, "the majority's decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty."
Alito agreed. Today's decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage," he wrote in an opinion joined by Scalia and Thomas. "It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy."
This week, the Supreme Court declined to take up Davis v. Ermold. Lawyers representing Kim Davis, a former county clerk in Kentucky, explained this case in their petition to the court.
"Respondents claim that Davis violated their right to marry when she raised a conscientious objection, according to her deeply held religious beliefs, to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples under her name and authority," it said. "In the context of this case, however, and under well-established precedent, Davis is entitled to qualified immunity from respondents' claims against her in her individual capacity."
Davis' conscientious objection did not prevent same-sex couples from getting licenses in Kentucky. "Kentucky law," the petition noted, "allows applicants to seek a Kentucky marriage license, which is effective throughout the state, in any county."
Alito joined Thomas in issuing a statement, indicating their agreement in the decision not to hear the Davis case -- but challenging the precedent of Obergefell.
"This petition implicates important questions about the scope of our decision in Obergefell, but it does not cleanly present them," wrote Thomas.
"As a result of this court's alteration of the Constitution, Davis found herself faced with a choice between her religious beliefs and her job," he said.
In a recent television appearance, I discussed my appointment to a presidential commission called "The Social Status of Black Men and Black Boys." I called fatherless households America's top domestic problem, a particularly severe phenomenon in the Black community where nearly 70% of kids begin their lives in households with unmarried mothers.
I then received the following letter:
"Dear Mr. Elder:
"I saw your interview today. ... I wanted to share some information about this.
"In the summer of 1969, I was a first-year obstetrics and gynecology resident at a hospital in New Orleans. I do not know if you are familiar with Charity Hospital. Unfortunately, it was closed by Hurricane Katrina. Up until then, it was nicknamed 'Big Mother' because most Black people in New Orleans were born there.
"As a first-year obstetrical resident, I delivered 150 babies in three months. Only one of the mothers was married. Most of these girls were 11 years old. (Most people do not believe me when I tell them that and -- unfortunately -- I do not have written statistics to prove it.) Obviously, there was no way 11-year-olds could serve as parents to these babies. Grandparents tried to do the best they could, but they were often too busy working to provide for the extended family. These little girls quickly learned (and/or taught each other) that having babies brought checks from the Aid to Dependent Children Program in the state of Louisiana. They learned that if they needed more money, they simply had to bear another child. The problem with the ADC Program was that these young mothers were denied the check if the father of the child lived with them. This never made any sense to me. Still, that was the rule.
"A public health physician at Tulane Medical School, Dr. Joseph Beasely, recognized the problem and tried to do something about it. He worked out an arrangement with the heads of OB-GYN Departments at Tulane and LSU Medical Schools to set up a free clinic. We residents manned the clinic. We did free examinations, free sexual counseling (many of these mothers did not know where these babies came from), prescribed birth control pills, inserted IUD's, etc. The program proved to be a huge success. Unfortunately, a group of Black ministers shut us down after six weeks claiming we were committing 'genocide.'
"I do not know if you find this information useful, but I thought it addressed an aspect of what you were talking about. If you would like to discuss these matters in greater detail, please feel free to contact me."
This problem is not confined to the Black community. In 2006, the Manhattan Institute published a piece in their quarterly magazine, City Journal, by Heather Mac Donald called "Hispanic Family Values? Runaway Illegitimacy is Creating a New U.S. Underclass." She wrote: "Hispanic women have the highest unmarried birthrate in the country -- over three times that of whites and Asians, and nearly one and a half times that of Black women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Every 1,000 unmarried Hispanic women bore 92 children in 2003 (the latest year for which data exist), compared with 28 children for every 1,000 unmarried white women, 22 for every 1,000 unmarried Asian women, and 66 for every 1,000 unmarried Black women. Forty-five percent of all Hispanic births occur outside of marriage, compared with 24 percent of white births and 15 percent of Asian births. Only the percentage of Black out-of-wedlock births -- 68 percent -- exceeds the Hispanic rate. But the Black population is not going to triple over the next few decades."
The problem, Mac Donald wrote, is worse among some subgroups: "The rate of childbirth for Mexican teenagers, who come from by far the largest and fastest-growing immigrant population, greatly outstrips every other group. The Mexican teen birthrate is 93 births per every 1,000 girls, compared with 27 births for every 1,000 white girls, 17 births for every 1,000 Asian girls, and 65 births for every 1,000 Black girls. To put these numbers into international perspective, Japan's teen birthrate is 3.9, Italy's is 6.9, and France's is 10. Even though the outsize U.S. teen birthrate is dropping, it continues to inflict unnecessary costs on the country, to which Hispanics contribute disproportionately."
In 1965, the percentage of Blacks born out of wedlock was 25%, a number considered so alarming that it prompted then-Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan to write his controversial report: "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." Today, the percentage of white children born out of wedlock is 28%.
If protesters are truly concerned about the condition of Black and Hispanic urban Americans in particular, why the pathetic silence over the fatherless households, the principal reason for the very conditions they complain about?
Two recent reports detail how much Joe Biden's tax plans will cost taxpayers if he is elected president. The Center Square reported that the National Tax Limitation Committee and National Tax Limitation Foundation concluded Biden's plans would cost nearly $4 trillion in increased taxes over the next 10 years, which “would be the highest in American history – indeed, in world history.” A separate analysis by the nonprofit, nonpartisan, Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation found that Biden’s tax plan would reduce the economy’s size by 1.47 percent, reduce wages by a little over 1 percent, and result in 518,000 full-time job losses.
A separate report, authored by the nonprofit Employment Policies Institute, found that implementation of a nationwide $15 minimum wage would result in the loss of more than 2 million jobs. In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act that, if enacted, would create an incremental schedule to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2027. The bill also would increase the federal tipped wage incrementally to reach $12.60 by 2027, an increase of 491 percent. Both bills were blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate. Depending on election results, they could be revived in 2021.
After he ran for governor in 2014 and 2018 as an opponent of legalizing recreational marijuana, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf changed his stance on the issue – now that he faces term limits and won’t have to go before voters again. Tracking his history on the issue involves cabinet officials who were staunch advocates for legalization and tangential family links, but Wolf’s office continues to insist that the governor has no personal stake in recreational marijuana legalization.
Small businesses in the Garden State may be finding it more difficult to weather both the coronavirus pandemic and their state’s restrictions than their peers in other states, according to the head of the New Jersey chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. “I love seeing, in the national survey, that improvements are happening across the country,” Eileen Kean told The Center Square. “But New Jersey is a different situation. We still have a lack of consumer confidence, in terms of people going out in stores.”
A recent report from the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute found the city of Columbus paid more tax dollars for city workers performing union work, rather than government work, than all but one other city in the nation.
In statewide news, Ohio’s unemployment rate fell from August to September, and the state added nearly 40,000 new private-sector jobs. But, in reality, according to an independent think tank, the picture isn’t as rosy as the numbers.
In Illinois, where voters face a constitutional amendment question seeking to change the state's flat income tax with a scaling progressive tax in which higher earners pay higher rates – if Biden wins and the amendment passes – the state's highest earners could be paying nearly 60% in combined federal and state marginal taxes.
With falling temperatures arriving this autumn, Illinois’ largest restaurant association said it can no longer support Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 mitigation plan that prohibits dine-in service. Pritzker has threatened to take liquor licenses away from small businesses that don’t comply. The Illinois Restaurant Association said the new restrictions could force 20% of bars and restaurants to close and result in an elimination of 120,000 jobs.
Taxing retirement income has become a political talking point in the argument over the progressive tax ballot initiative. A financial industry advocate warned about the hit to Illinois residents’ 401(k) plans that would stem from a different proposal. Taxing financial transactions has found its way back into the conversation in a number of cities and states as a way to shore up budgets battered by COVID-19 shutdowns. While the amounts are different, the premise of placing a fee on each trade conducted in a city or state remains the same.
Owosso, Mich., barber Karl Manke, 77, garnered national attention and local rallies of support when he reopened his shop in May, against a since nullified executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer – an action that sparked multiple law enforcement citations as well as administrative actions brought against him by state Attorney General Dana Nessel. This week, Manke learned all criminal charges were dropped against him. However, Nessel has yet to rescind her office’s administrative penalties against the barber and author, which may include revoking his state license. At least 30 other Michigan-based businesses are facing state department-issued fines that the government claims remain valid. However, some other businesses question if the citations should be thrown out. On Oct. 2, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled against Whitmer’s attempt to extend her authority and thereby voided all COVID-19 executive orders issued by the governor since April 30. That Michigan Supreme Court ruling invalidated thousands of COVID-19 fines and criminal charges for violations of her executive orders. Among those orders was the threat of fines amid closures of salons and barbershops.
One piece of business finished during Virginia lawmakers' two-months-long special session was legislation to forgive residents' unpaid utility bills. If signed into law by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, all utility companies except Dominion Energy would be eligible to access $100 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to forgive utility debts for accounts that are at least 30 days behind on payments. Dominion Energy will be required to use about $127 million of its excess money to forgive accounts that are at least 30 days behind. In the past, excess money had been returned to customers. "All of the utilities, in effect, have been promised that they will eventually be made whole, and their unpaid and uncollectible bills will be covered by rate hikes on their remaining customers," said Stephen Haner, a senior fellow for state and local tax policy at the free-market Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. "The utilities are the only businesses that the General Assembly protected from the financial damage of the COVID recession."
Nearly 70% of Georgians indicated the state needs better oversight of the tax incentives it offers companies to do business in the Peach State. A Georgia Budget & Policy Institute (GBPI) poll showed 68.7% of Georgians support implementing a formal review process on the return on investment from incentives the state provides to companies each year. GBPI projected Georgia will grant $3.5 billion in tax exemptions to manufacturing companies this year. Government should avoid picking winners and losers, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation said. "Tax policy should not single out individuals, products, businesses or particular groups for preferential treatment," the GPPF said. "Taxes should be designed to raise revenue to fund necessary government programs, not to micromanage economic decisions in a complex economy."
As Colorado faces record wildfires, the state's largest public utility provider is asking for a monthly rate increase to residential bills that would total $17.2 million next year in order to recoup wildfire damages and improve mitigation.
Seattle Police Department officers are leaving the force in record numbers as the department faces pending budget cuts, data released by the Seattle mayor' s office showed. The city has seen 53 SPD officers turn in their badges this year. A typical September sees five to seven officers on average leave. In September 2020 alone, SPD saw the departure of 36 sworn officers and three officers in training, following a summer of racial strife and increased scrutiny of law enforcement around the country. After The Center Square sent an open records request to SPD, the agency said it might not be able to respond until "on or about" May 21, 2021, citing backlogs and staffing shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While SPD later fulfilled the request, the Washington Coalition for Open Government told The Center Square, "There’s been a growing problem with agencies intentionally restricting the number of hours a month that their staff can spend on public records requests, with those limits being arbitrary and not based on their historical demand for public records."
Like other states facing potential tax increases at the ballot box on November 3, Arizona’s Proposition 208 shows that a combined marginal tax rate would increase significantly higher than what the state’s taxpayers owe currently. The Tax Foundation said Tuesday that, should the 3.5% income tax surcharge to high-earners succeed and Joe Biden’s marginal increases become a reality, Arizonans would pay a 57.34% top combined income tax rate. That’s less than 3% points from California, the nation’s highest.
Chris Krug is publisher of The Center Square. Executive Editor Dan McCaleb, and regional editors J.D. Davidson, Derek Draplin, Brett Rowland, Jason Schaumburg and Bruce Walker contributed to the column.