Archive for recess appointments

Supreme Bullshit!

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The Roberts Court will likely go down in history as one of, if not the worst Supreme Court in our relatively short history.

Today, we were anticipating the final four decisions for this session. But this ego-maniacal set of justices are prolonging our misery for one more weekend. Today, they gave us two unanimous decisions that make any reasonable person ask what these idiots are smoking!

The first decision offered today was written by one of the "liberal" justices, Stephen Breyer. In NLRB v. Noel Canning,   SCOTUS decided the fate of "recess appointments." At issue:

(1) Whether the President’s recess-appointment power may be exercised during a recess that occurs within a session of the Senate, or is instead limited to recesses that occur between enumerated sessions of the Senate; (2) whether the President’s recess-appointment power may be exercised to fill vacancies that exist during a recess, or is instead limited to vacancies that first arose during that recess; and (3) whether the President's recess-appointment power may be exercised when the Senate is convening every three days in pro forma sessions.

The court in this case held  that recess appointments made during pro forma sessions of the Senate are invalid. In plain English, this means:

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Barack Obama's recess appointments to fill slots on the National Labor Relations Board in 2012 were unconstitutional.

The unanimous opinion, written by liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, said that Congress, and only Congress, decides when it is in session and when it is in recess. It ruled the Senate was not in a formal recess when Obama made the 2012 appointments — therefore, they were illegal.

Oy. If that wasn't bad enough, the second and final decision offered today should satisfy anyone's perverse need for something horrendously sickeningly abusive and dead wrong.
In McCullen v. Coakley, the justices were considering the question of buffer zones at Women's Reproductive Health clinics

:(1) Whether the First Circuit erred in upholding Massachusetts’s selective exclusion law – which makes it a crime for speakers other than clinic “employees or agents . . . acting within the scope of their employment” to “enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk” within thirty-five feet of an entrance, exit, or driveway of “a reproductive health care facility” – under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, on its face and as applied to petitioners; (2) whether, if Hill v. Colorado permits enforcement of this law, Hill should be limited or overruled.

In this miscarriage of justice- and by unanimous decision(!), the court struck down the buffer zone law. In plain English, as the NY Times explains:

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that barred protests near abortion clinics.

The law, enacted in 2007, created 35-foot buffer zones around entrances to abortion clinics. State officials said the law was a response to a history of harassment and violence at abortion clinics in Massachusetts, including a shooting rampage at two facilities in 1994.

The law was challenged on First Amendment grounds by opponents of abortion who said they sought to have quiet conversations with women entering clinics to tell them about alternatives to abortion.

The court was unanimous about the bottom line but divided on the reasoning. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote a relatively narrow majority opinion. He was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. He suggested that the state could pursue other alternatives.

Justice Antonin Scalia, in a concurrence joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas, said the majority’s approach was too tentative. The law, he said, is “unconstitutional root and branch.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. filed a separate concurrence.

In 2000, the Supreme Court upheld a similar Colorado law in Hill v. Colorado. That law established 100-foot buffer zones outside all health care facilities, not just abortion clinics. Inside those larger zones, the law banned approaching others within eight feet for protest, education or counseling without their consent.

Massachusetts experimented with a similar law but found it inadequate.

That leaves two more cases for them to weigh in on, including the Big Kahuna on religious rights of corporations to impose its owners religious beliefs on its employees in Sebelius v Hobby Lobby, which will be handed down on Monday.

Today, in response to the buffer zones (McCullen v Coakley), I was joined by Katie Klabusich who blogs about her work as a dedicated activist who helps establish clinic defense escort programs, providing logistical and moral support to reproductive access groups at KatieSpeak.com

Needless to say, this was not the decision they'd been counting on. While the groups fighting for women's rights regroup and decide up a proper response and course of action, Katie suggests following the Clinic Vest Project on Twitter. While you're at it, add NARAL and the Center for Reproductive Rights to you follow list too. And stay tuned...

On Thursday mornings, we have two regular segments, both of which were quite fitting for today.

Amy Simon, cultural herstorian and the woman behind She's History joined us to talk about some fabulous females who challenged religious zealotry - from Katie Kelly, a lifelong Mormon who was trying to become a Mormon minister and was expelled from the church this week, to Anne Hutchinson back in the 16th century who dared to challenge the the authorities who charged her with violating the "Fifth Commandment"!

And, as was truly needed today, Stephen Goldstein joined in for the No More Bullshit Minute! The author of  The Dictionary of American Political Bullshit  joins in every Thursday morning to help us extricate the bullshit from American politics. Today, in response to the bullshit from the Supreme Court, we examined the bullshit surrounding "The Constitution" and "activist."

If you'd like to review a copy of The Dictionary of American Political Bullshit for Amazon just send me a note with your name and address. We'll send them out to the first five who request!

And that's it for a Thursday. Back tomorrow for Flashback Friday when we'll dig into my archives for my first interview with Ray Davies of The Kinks. That's one you don't want to miss.  See you tomorrow... radio or not!

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Shhh. Listen. Hear Anything?

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Serenity

Ah, the quiet serenity of Congress on adjournment. No more harsh screaming across the aisles. No more chest pounding as to who's more right wing that the next guy. No more useless repeal Obamacare votes.

During this month long break from the frenetic Congressional world of gridlock, I'm going to go out on a limb. I think Congress is actually going to get a lot done -- by leaving town.

Kreskin predicts

My prediction is --  think Kreskin Predicts for you old enough to remember the Amazing Kreskin -- that the next "scandal" in Washington is going to be Recessgate. It's going to be all about recess appointments and Article II of the US Constitution.

I predict that executive orders are going to be flying fast and furious a week after the last stragglers of congressional legislators have left town. Obama is going to use the powers that he has to make appointments, activate portions of stalled bills and he'll force the GOP's hand.

I predict Obama's going to silence his liberal critics by doing this and showing some balls. He's going to upset the apple cart called the GOP Congressional Quagmire (or business as usual). They've already threatened to shut the government down. I predict Obama calls their bluff.

I predict he announces limitations on the NSA's snooping domestically. He'll have his fingers crossed, behind his back when he says it, but he's going to look to appease the left.

I predict there will be some sort of jobs authorization plan, a liberal/progressive interpretation of his powers. Even if these are reviewed by SCOTUS when they return in October for their constitutionality, the effects will be felt immediately. And public opinion will trump the GOP's austerity program.

I predict judges -- at least in the District of Columbia. After all, the President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

I predict he's arranged, in a gentleman's agreement with a few resignations coming in soon that he'll fill in August. Their replacements are already standing by.

I predict that under the Article II of the Constitution, the president appoints ambassadors, ministers, consuls, and other officers as allowed by Congress. The president can fill vacancies in offices without Senate approval if the Senate is out of session.

I predict wherever necessary, the President will issue rules, regulations, and instructions called executive orders, which have the binding force of law upon federal agencies but do not require congressional approval. Every opportunity will be tapped. Look for some sort of global warming or infrastructure plan to be put into effect.

I predict none of this will happen. How's that for playing it safe?

Fortune teller

Obama's only got three years of his final term left. He squandered away the first year trying to work with the Obstructionist party. He has found that like American Express Cards, his political capital isn't accepted here. He's too proud and intelligent of a man to want "I Couldn't Get Anything Done" to be  his legacy. The man's not a quitter. He may not be up to all of our expectations, but who is? There's Catholics right now running around scared because Pope Francis dared to ask "Who am I to judge" when asked about gay priests. So there's no pleasing all the people, all the time.

Capitol Building at night

Obama is fully aware that we the people elected him on the promise of change. Well maybe we're on the cusp of seeing that -- starting with the flexing of the Chief Executive's powers during the congressional hiatus, when the capitol has gone dark.

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VIDEO: Harry Reid may "recommend to the president he recess appoint all these people — every one of them."

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Via Think Progress:

Last Friday... Senate Republicans refused to allow the Senate to move forward with a vote on 90 pending nominees to federal positions...

Reid’s statement is the second time in two months that he’s indicated the highly unproductive status quo is not acceptable.... His statement on Friday is another hopeful sign that Reid’s caucus might be prepared to take real action to ensure that the Senate minority can no longer threaten our government’s ability to function.

As Think Progress points out, the GOP is shooting themselves in the foot. By constantly obstructing, they're forcing the recess appointments, which pretty much defeats the whole purpose of obstructing.

Then again, Republicans aren't known for their logic.

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"He will win a second term. The angrier they get, the better this president looks in his defense of the middle class."

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Today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Rattled by recess appointments

Re "With Senate idle, Obama goes to work," Jan. 5

So congressional Republicans are furious at what House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) called President Obama's "extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab."

Excuse me? George W. Bush made 171 such "unprecedented" recess appointments, including that of John Bolton as ambassador to the U.N.

How long will the GOP get away with such duplicity? It's high time Obama and others in Washington call their bluff.

Liz White
Los Angeles

***

The Republicans' outrage at Obama's appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau tells me one thing: He will win a second term. The angrier they get, the better this president looks in his defense of the middle class.

Does this mean he finally gets it?

Dennis Grossman
Woodland Hills

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White House leaves door open to more recess appointments

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This also leaves the door open to more good news posts like this one. Via Roll Call:

After showing last week that President Barack Obama is not afraid to defy GOP filibusters of his nominees, the White House is leaving the door open to more recess appointments — some of which could continue to help him showcase his campaign theme that he is the remedy to Capitol Hill's gridlock.

When President Obama used his presidential powers to finally make Richard Cordray the official head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and then to appoint three National Labor Relations Board members, many of us stood up and cheered. All that GOP obstruction, all the blocks, all the filibusters finally drove him to act on his own, which was exactly what was necessary in order to overcome the spiteful, destructive Republican brick walls.

Obama could still choose to tap a number of stalled nominees in his effort to position himself as the champion of the middle class and consumers — the same theme struck in last week's appointments.

As Roll Call reports, there are still-- count 'em-- 181 nominations pending in the Senate, and many of those have been for at least six months.

Other recess appointment possibilities could help win favor with another important constituency — Hispanic voters. Those include Adam Namm to be ambassador to Ecuador and Roberta Jacobson to be assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere. Senate Republicans filibustered the nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte to be ambassador to El Salvador last month. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is holding up Namm's and Jacobson's appointments.

And don't get me started on judicial nominees.

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Video- Neal Cavuto: Can Obama Be Impeached For Recess Appointments? Fox News Legal Analyst: No

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Note to Cavuto: President Obama is a highly regarded constitutional lawyer. I'm thinking he might be up on that stuff... VIa.

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VIDEO: House Republicans cut off C-SPAN, refuse to allow Democrats to speak on floor

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Think Progress has more details:

The theatrical stunt also serves to underscore Provident Obama’s claim this week that Congress is effectively in recess, thus allowing him to make recess appointments, even though the Senate has been holding 30-second long pro-forma sessions.

Good on you, President Obama, for doing what you did to deal with the usual GOP obstruction.

This morning, Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Denham, under orders from Speaker Boehner, refused to allow Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn to speak on the floor and call for the payroll tax cut conference committee to get to work.

It's time for House Republicans to immediately begin working with Democrats on a long-term agreement to extend the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans—and avoid taking us to the point of brinkmanship once again.

Americans are out of work and we've got work to do, but Republicans are out of session. We can't wait.

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