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Liberal Supreme Court Justices Vote in Lockstep, Not the Conservative Justices

September 10, 2019 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

Ever since Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement last year, commentators have prophesied that President Donald Trump’s replacement of that moderate jurist would lead to a conservative majority running roughshod over core liberal concerns. That’s why opposition to the milquetoast establishmentarian Brett Kavanaugh was so fierce, even before the 11th-hour sexual-assault allegations



Justice Kavanaugh was supposed to have single-handedly overturned Roe v. Wade, but a funny thing happened on the road to apocalypse. Particularly in petition rejections and other procedural votes, Kavanaugh has demonstrated a pragmatic approach. And a term with few big controversies showed the liberals voting together much more than the conservatives.

Liberal justices vote together at high rates

There were 67 decisions after argument in the term that ended in June. In those cases, the four justices appointed by Democratic presidents voted the same way 51 times, while the five Republican appointees held tight 37 times. And of the 20 cases where the court split 5-4, only seven had the “expected” ideological divide of conservatives over liberals. By the end of the term, each conservative justice had joined the liberals as the deciding vote at least once.

That dynamic isn’t something that sprang up in the Trump era or with the court’s newest personnel. In the 2014-15 term, with Kennedy at the height of his “swing vote” power — the last full term before Justice Antonin Scalia’s death and resulting year-long vacancy — the four liberals stuck together in 55 of 66 cases, while the four conservatives (not counting Kennedy) voted as a unit in 39.

Even in 2013-14, when liberals and conservatives voted with their respective coalitions equally (54 times in 67 cases), 42 of those decisions were unanimous and there were only ten 5-4 rulings. In other words, when conservative justices vote together at the same rate as their liberal counterparts, it’s because the entire court is united.

Speaking of politically fraught cases that end up 5-4, it’s notable that there’s never a question of how the liberal justices will vote. Speculation runs rampant over whether one of the conservatives will go wobbly — whether …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Trump Deserves a National Security Adviser Who Agrees with Him and Can Translate His 'America First' Vision into Concrete Action

September 10, 2019 in Economics

By Christopher A. Preble

Christopher A. Preble

For those who argued that Donald Trump’s foreign policy views were dramatically different from those of his predecessors, the skeptics always had a ready answer: John Bolton. Now that Trump has unceremoniously dismissed his hawkish national security adviser, that could pave the way for the change that Trump had promised and that the public anxiously wants.


Over the course of his presidential campaign, Trump was rewarded for his willingness to challenge the policy elite. He even railed against the Iraq War, initiated by a Republican president, in a Republican debate in South Carolina — and won the primary there. Unlike nearly all of his rivals, Trump correctly sensed that Americans were disinclined to spend vast sums, and risk the lives of American troops, on regime-change wars and costly, open-ended nation-building projects abroad.

In a major foreign policy speech delivered as he was closing in on the GOP nomination, Trump explained that “foolishness and arrogance [had] led to one foreign-policy disaster after another.” And he pledged “to shake the rust off America’s foreign policy” and “invite new voices and new visions into the fold.”



But, once elected, he did nothing of the sort. Instead, he populated his administration with people committed to maintaining the status quo, including H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, Jim Mattis as secretary of defense, and John Kelly as secretary of homeland security, later White House chief of staff.

To be sure, these establishment figures occasionally steered Trump away from bad — and perhaps even disastrous — decisions. McMaster, Mattis and Kelly, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, delayed, but ultimately couldn’t derail, Trump’s single-minded desire to leave the Iran nuclear deal. Bolton’s most enduring achievement, albeit a dubious one, may be in working with Tillerson’s replacement, Mike Pompeo, to set the United States on a possibly irrevocable path to war with Iran.

The next national security adviser will be judged by his or her ability to translate Trump’s “America First” vision into concrete action. That will involve countless decisions, starting with the appointment of like-minded …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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September 11: Six Ways Uncertainty Reigned Aboard Air Force One

September 10, 2019 in History

By Amanda Onion

On September 11, the Secret Service decided the safest place for the president was on board Air Force One. But being in the skies added to the day’s confusion.

On 9/11, millions of Americans became glued to their televisions, watching in horror as hijacked planes attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But there was one critical group of people who, for a time, received only snippets of information—and misinformation—as the day unfolded. They were the passengers of Air Force One—including the president of the United States.

“Flying on Air Force One, we were so far removed from what was going on, the danger on the ground, and there was so little information, clear information coming in to us,” Ann Compton, an ABC News White House correspondent who was on board the president’s Boeing 747 on 9/11, told HISTORY.

David Wilkinson, a Secret Service agent who traveled with the president on 9/11, recalled to HISTORY, “I could tell you one thing emphatically, and that is: No one knew what was going on.”

While the Secret Service believed the safest place for the president was in the skies on Air Force One, they were also constantly reacting to reports of perceived threats. Below are six ways the passengers and crew of Air Force One were in the dark on September 11, 2001.

1. The Pilot Thought There Could Be a Stinger Missile on the Runway During Takeoff

US Secret Service and Military police go on high alert and double up security checks for all passengers boarding Air Force One as President George W. Bush departs Sarasota, Floridas after learning about the attacks on September 11, 2001.

President George W. Bush was in Sarasota, Florida visiting a school when news of the attacks reached his team. After delivering a brief statement to the nation (”Terrorism against our nation will not stand,” he said), he and the rest of the passengers of Air Force One were rushed on board.

As they started to take off at 9:55 a.m., they received a report that someone with a stinger missile might be positioned at the end of the runway. (It turned out to be untrue.)

“As we started to taxi, the Secret Service advises that someone has come up to the end of the runway with what they perceived to be a long-gun,” Air Force One’s pilot, Col. Mark Tillman told HISTORY.

Tillman turned Air …read more