Boots & Sabers

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Category: Law

Power to the People

Here is my full column that ran last week in the Washington County Daily News. I’m glad to see that the rest of the rulings continued this theme.

It was a blockbuster week of rulings from the Supreme Court of the Unites States. With a few more important rulings to be released this week, we see a positive trend emerging from the rulings. SCOTUS is stripping back the power of government and returning it to the people.

 

Arguably the two most important rulings of this session have to do with gun rights and abortion. In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, the court was asked to evaluate if New York’s restrictive gun laws violated the 2nd Amendment. The law in New York prohibits people from carrying a firearm unless they obtain a permit to do so from the government. To obtain the permit, the applicant must cite a specific reason and it is up to the arbitrary judgment of the government official as to whether the given reason is good enough to get a permit. SCOTUS struck down New York’s gun restrictions. What is interesting, however, is that the court did not strike it down based on the 2nd Amendment protection of the right to keep and bear arms. Instead, the court struck it down based on the 14th Amendment’s protection for citizens being denied “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Taking the rights guaranteed in the 2nd Amendment as already clarified by earlier case law, Justice Clarence Thomas brilliantly sums up the ruling by saying, “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.”

 

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court issued a narrower ruling that, “the Constitution does not confer a right to an abortion.” Thus, “the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

 

Abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, but in Roe v. Wade the earlier court engaged in judicial activism to thrust the power of the federal government into the regulation of abortion. In Dobbs, the court corrected that wrong and transferred the power to regulate abortion from the unelected federal court system to the elected representatives of the people. This is how it was up until Roe.

 

While the court did confirm that aborting a baby is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution, it did not say that the Constitution protects someone from being aborted. The Constitution does protect citizens from being deprived of life without due process, but to make such a ruling, the court would have had to define when life begins. That was not the question before the court and to rule on that issue would have been an act of judicial overreach. Perhaps a future court will have the opportunity to consider that question.

 

In both cases, we see the court reducing the power of government. In the case of Bruen, the court checked any government from restricting the 2nd Amendment without the same kind of extraordinary justifications we require of government to restrict other rights enumerated in the Constitution. This will have a cooling effect on zealous gun grabbers.

 

In the case of Dobbs, the court returned the power to regulate abortion to the people to exercise through their elected representatives. While the federal legislature could take up the issue, reaching a consensus across the broad ideological spectrum represented in the national legislature would be difficult. The state legislatures will more practically take up the arduous task of regulating such a politically contentious issue. Since the government closest to you generally governs the best (a reliable, if not unfailing, truism), the court’s ruling has empowered the people.

 

As the courts final rulings are released, we may hope to see more of this trend of limiting the power of government and returning powers heretofore usurped by government to the people.

SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Biden on Immigration

While the policy is abhorrent, cruel, and destructive to the nation, I think the court got it right on the law. Essentially, one administration should be able to change discretionary policy that a previous administration made. This ruling will be important in 2025. Also, I agree with Kavanaugh in his consent opinion:

One final note: The larger policy story behind this case is the multi-decade inability of the political branches to provide DHS with sufficient facilities to detain noncitizens who seek to enter the United States pending their immigration proceedings. But this Court has authority to address only the legal issues before us. We do not have authority to end the legislative stalemate or to resolve the underlying policy problems

SCOTUS Reins In Power of Regulatory Agencies

Excellent.

But he added that the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to do so.

 

‘A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,’ he wrote.

Much like with the other rulings, this court is returning power to the people and their elected representatives from courts, executives, and agencies who have usurped that power over time. We WANT big questions to be debated and decided by the representative part of our government. Yes, it’s harder that way. It’s cumbersome, slow, inefficient, and often ineffectual. But representative government is far superior to the arbitrary rule of bureaucrats whether they wear black robes or suits.

Evers and Kaul Sue Over Wisconsin’s Abortion Law

Interesting.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s Democratic attorney general filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the state’s 173-year-old abortion ban, arguing that statutes passed in the 1980s supersede the ban and it’s so old no one can say it passed with the consent of modern generations.

To the layman (me), this seems like a legitimate question. If the state has two laws about the same thing, which one governs? I don’t think that the most recent one necessarily wins. In this case, the older law bans almost all abortions. The newer laws in which the legislature implemented regulations on abortions under the framework that the old law was invalid, but not repealed. Common sense says to me that you overlay the two sets of laws and that is the law. So, in effect, the newly valid older law essentially invalidates the new laws.

But… Rick Esenberg, esq., opined on the Jay Weber Show that the cases are invalid on procedural grounds. Normally, someone has to be impacted by a law in order to have standing to sue. So, if an abortionist did an abortion and was being prosecuted under the old law, the doctor would have standing to potentially sue on these grounds. But the governor and AG are essentially suing the legislature for a law that was passed before any of them were born.

What’s interesting is that Kaul’s and leftist DA’s refusal to prosecute anyone under the old law may mean that the law is never challenged in court at all. If the law is not being enforced, then nobody will ever be being prosecuted and have the standing to appeal over it. Kaul may need to prosecute and convict someone just to create a case to challenge the law. I still don’t think they would win, but at least they would have a case to use.

Power to the people

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

It was a blockbuster week of rulings from the Supreme Court of the Unites States. With a few more important rulings to be released this week, we see a positive trend emerging from the rulings. SCOTUS is stripping back the power of government and returning it to the people.

 

[…]

 

While the court did confirm that aborting a baby is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution, it did not say that the Constitution protects someone from being aborted. The Constitution does protect citizens from being deprived of life without due process, but to make such a ruling, the court would have had to define when life begins. That was not the question before the court and to rule on that issue would have been an act of judicial overreach. Perhaps a future court will have the opportunity to consider that question.

 

In both cases, we see the court reducing the power of government. In the case of Bruen, the court checked any government from restricting the 2nd Amendment without the same kind of extraordinary justifications we require of government to restrict other rights enumerated in the Constitution. This will have a cooling effect on zealous gun grabbers.

 

In the case of Dobbs, the court returned the power to regulate abortion to the people to exercise through their elected representatives. While the federal legislature could take up the issue, reaching a consensus across the broad ideological spectrum represented in the national legislature would be difficult. The state legislatures will more practically take up the arduous task of regulating such a politically contentious issue. Since the government closest to you generally governs the best (a reliable, if not unfailing, truism), the court’s ruling has empowered the people.

Supreme Court Affirms Religious Freedom

Another great SCOTUS ruling.

The court said, “The Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal; the Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.”

 

The case deals with First Amendment protections of personal religious expression and the school system’s fears of being seen as endorsing a religion, which deals with the Constitution’s “Establishment Clause.” There are also questions about the rights of school employees vs. the duty of that employee not to coerce students, particularly on religious matters.

 

The majority said he was offering a “quiet prayer of thanks,” while the school system expressed concern about the visibility of the prayer at mid-field.

In the majority opinion, Gorsuch wrote, “He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied. Still, the Bremerton school district disciplined him anyway. It did so because it thought anything less could lead a reasonable observer to conclude (mistakenly) that it endorsed Mr. Kennedy’s religious beliefs. That reasoning was misguided. Both the free exercise and free speech clauses of the first amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s. Nor does a proper understanding of the Amendment’s Establishment Clause require the government to single out private religious speech for special disfavor. The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”

Left Engage in Violent Protests

If the ruling had gone the other way, there would not have been riots. We all know it. Only one side of the ideological spectrum routinely resorts to violence and rage when things don’t go their way.

Furious pro-choice demonstrators took to the streets in cities including Washington DC, Phoenix, New York City and Los Angeles as they begged the Biden administration to find a way to overrule the decision.

 

A group was spotted burning the flag of the United States in the capital while others gathered outside Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ home.

 

In Arizona, cops were forced to fire tear gas at protestors after they appeared to breach the State Senate building in Phoenix, with staff evacuated but no one reported to have been injured.

 

And at least 25 were arrested in New York City after around 17,000 descended on Washington Square Park before marching through the streets to Grand Central Station, Times Square, and Bryant Park.

 

They also stopped outside News Corp headquarters – home to Fox News and The New York Post – and yelled ‘Burn it down! Burn it down! F–k Tucker Carlson!’ Vandals also sprayed ‘F*** Fox’ on the side of the building.

 

Meanwhile pro-life protesters also amassed nationwide, some breaking down in tears as they celebrated the immediate end of abortions in 18 states.

SCOTUS Overrules Roe and Casey

Hallelujah. Pray for peace.

Held: The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives

5-1-3. I admit… I did not think I would see this in my lifetime.

Interesting note from the ruling:

our decision is not based on any view about when a State should regard prenatal life as having rights or legally cognizable interests,

So the ruling still leaves it to state legislatures to decide when life begins and when rights are imbued. In this way, the ruling leaves an open question for future litigation.

New York Mayor Promises to Continue to Violate Constitution

Of course.

Adams insisted that despite the ruling, ‘nothing changes today’ and that the city would be reviewing its procedures to ensure that only those who are ‘fully qualified’ can obtain a concealed carry permit.

But, also of course, Adams already carries a gun. In normal elitist fashion, he thinks that his life is more important than other New Yorkers’.

Mayor Eric Adams, who qualifies for a permit both as a former police officer and a public figure, also revealed on the campaign trail that he planned to carry a concealed gun in public after taking office.

SCOTUS Rules In Favor of Civil Rights in Bruen

They ruled that New York’s gun laws violate the 14th Amendment.

Held: New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.

 

[…]

 

A final word on historical method: Strictly speaking, New York is bound to respect the right to keep and bear arms because of the Fourteenth Amendment, not the Second. See, e.g., Barron ex rel. Tiernan v. Mayor of Baltimore, 7 Pet. 243, 250–251 (1833) (Bill of Rights applies only to the Federal Government). Nonetheless, we have made clear that individual rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights and made applicable against the States through the Fourteenth Amendment have the same scope as against the Federal Government.

 

[…]

 

At the end of this long journey through the Anglo-American history of public carry, we conclude that respondents have not met their burden to identify an American tradition justifying the State’s proper-cause requirement. The Second Amendment guaranteed to “all Americans” the right to bear commonly used arms in public subject to certain reasonable, well-defined restrictions

 

[…]

 

The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” McDonald, 561 U. S., at 780 (plurality opinion). We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.

Supreme Court Rules Supports Religious Rights

Good news!

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Maine can’t exclude religious schools from a program that offers tuition aid for private education, a decision that could ease religious organizations’ access to taxpayer money.

 

The 6-3 outcome could fuel a renewed push for school choice programs in some of the 18 states that have so far not directed taxpayer money to private, religious education. The most immediate effect of the court’s ruling beyond Maine probably will be in nearby Vermont, which has a similar program.

California Rules that Bees are Fish

SMH.

(WJW) – A California appeals court has ruled that four species of bees are now legally considered fish.

 

[…]

 

“We next consider whether the commission’s authority is limited to listing only aquatic invertebrates,” the ruling stated. “We conclude the answer is, “no.” Although the term fish is colloquially and commonly understood to refer to aquatic species, the term of art employed by the Legislature in the definition of fish in section 45 is not so limited.”

Abort Democrat policies, not babies

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week:

The issue of abortion had been simmering on the back burner of the midterm election as the nation awaited the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. After the egregious breach of trust and decorum when someone leaked the draft ruling, the issue may still be on the back burner, but it is boiling over.

 

While the leaked ruling is a draft and not the final version, it does indicate that the Supreme Court has decided to reverse and strongly reverse the terrible Roe v. Wade ruling in the same virtuous spirit as Brown v. Board of Education. Justice Samuel Alito’s draft is a masterpiece of legal reasoning written in a strident prose designed to firmly correct the court’s 50-year injustice.

 

When the Supreme Court issues its ruling, and assuming that it will be to reverse Roe, it will not make abortion illegal or legal in the United States. Such a ruling will simply divorce the federal courts from making that decision for anyone and restore the issue to the elected branches of state government to decide. Roe was a massive usurpation of rights and responsibilities left to states in our federal Constitution and hopefully Dobbs will return the issue to the appropriate public policy forum.

 

Several liberal states have already passed laws legalizing abortion up to the point of infanticide. Other states have been increasingly restricting abortions. In both cases, states have been acting to ensure that their state laws will reflect the will of the people should Roe ever be overturned.

 

In Wisconsin, attempts to change abortion laws for the better or the worse have failed to make it into law. Consequently, should the Dobbs decision reverse Roe, Wisconsin’s current abortion law passed in 1849 will be in effect. That law makes it a felony to conduct or assist in an abortion in all circumstances except in the case that the mother’s life is at risk. For those of us who ardently oppose killing babies, the Wisconsin law is ideal. In a politically divided state like Wisconsin, we are in the minority. Public opinion polls for years have shown that a majority of people support abortion very early in a pregnancy with steadily declining support for abortion as the pregnancy progresses with late-term abortions being opposed by a strong majority of people. Should Roe be overturned, abortion policy will no longer be a theoretical policy plank in a party platform and Wisconsin’s elected officials will be responsible for their positions. Earlier this year, the Republicans failed to advance a bill that would have revise Wisconsin’s abortion statute to make abortion legal up until the point that the baby’s heartbeat is detectable. The abortion abolitionists and the secretly pro-abortion wings of the Republican caucus united to bottle up the bill without a vote. It may be an untenable position for Republicans to hold in the long term in a politically divided state. For the sake of the babies, let us hope that they can hold it.

 

While abortion policy is critically important to the thousands of babies who are murdered in Wisconsin every year, it is not as powerful a political issue as those on either side of the issue would like to think it is. There is a sliver of the electorate for whom abortion is the most important, and sometimes only, issue that decides their vote. Polls and electoral results in Virginia and Ohio seem to indicate that the anti-abortion single-issue voters outnumber the pro-abortion single-issue voters by a smidge. But either way, these voters tend to be extremely reliable voters and abortion stances are already strongly divided along party lines. There are a few pro-abortion Republicans left, but there are almost no anti-abortion Democrats to be found anymore. In other words, these voters were already very likely to vote, and their votes were already baked into the political projections.

 

If anything, Democrats are desperately hoping that a vigorous debate about abortion will distract some voters from the fact that Democratic policies are ruining our country. Runaway inflation not seen since the early 1980s is destroying our quality of life and erasing the economic gains of the middle and lower classes. Gas prices are through the roof. There are shortages of necessities like baby formula. Rising housing prices and interest rates are robbing young families of the dream of home ownership at the same time as rent is rising. Criminals are gutting neighborhoods.

 

If Democrats are hoping that a reinvigorated debate about abortion will save them from an electoral correction for their disastrous policies, they are mistaken. At the end of the day, most people care far more about themselves than they do about tiny innocent unwanted babies, but that is why abortion exists in the first place.

 

Federal Appeals Court Overrules California Gun Law

Good!

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that California’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic rifles to adults younger than 21 was unconstitutional.

 

In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the 2nd Amendment “protects the right of young adults to keep and bear arms, which includes the right to purchase them.”

 

The ruling reverses a lower court’s decision not to issue an injunction to block a 2019 state law that banned the sale of semiautomatic centerfire rifles to young adults, which the appeals court called a “legal error.”

 

“America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army,” Judge Ryan D. Nelson, an appointee of President Trump, wrote for the appeals court. “Today we reaffirm that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms.”

 

 

Abort Democrat policies, not babies

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

While abortion policy is critically important to the thousands of babies who are murdered in Wisconsin every year, it is not as powerful a political issue as those on either side of the issue would like to think it is. There is a sliver of the electorate for whom abortion is the most important, and sometimes only, issue that decides their vote. Polls and electoral results in Virginia and Ohio seem to indicate that the anti-abortion single-issue voters outnumber the pro-abortion single-issue voters by a smidge. But either way, these voters tend to be extremely reliable voters and abortion stances are already strongly divided along party lines. There are a few pro-abortion Republicans left, but there are almost no anti-abortion Democrats to be found anymore. In other words, these voters were already very likely to vote, and their votes were already baked into the political projections.

 

If anything, Democrats are desperately hoping that a vigorous debate about abortion will distract some voters from the fact that Democratic policies are ruining our country. Runaway inflation not seen since the early 1980s is destroying our quality of life and erasing the economic gains of the middle and lower classes. Gas prices are through the roof. There are shortages of necessities like baby formula. Rising housing prices and interest rates are robbing young families of the dream of home ownership at the same time as rent is rising. Criminals are gutting neighborhoods.

 

If Democrats are hoping that a reinvigorated debate about abortion will save them from an electoral correction for their disastrous policies, they are mistaken. At the end of the day, most people care far more about themselves than they do about tiny innocent unwanted babies, but that is why abortion exists in the first place.

SCOTUS Declines SALT Challenge

It’s been a pretty good news day.

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge to the $10,000 state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap, a Trump-era tax law that hit the pocketbooks of wealthy people in blue states.

 

New York led a group of states including ConnecticutMaryland and New Jersey in seeking to strike down the law that limits people to deducting $10,000 of state and local tax from their federal tax bill. The cap was enacted as part of the 2017 Trump tax bill as a way to offset other cuts.

 

The states had argued that the cap improperly encroached on their taxing ability.

Airlines Drop Mask Mandates After Ruling

Wonderful.

Most major U.S. airlines are no longer requiring travelers or employees to wear face coverings on domestic and some international flights.

 

The decisions came hours after a U.S. judge on Monday overturned a federal mandate for passengers to cover their faces. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said after the court ruling that it would stop requiring passengers on planes, trains and other public transportation to wear masks “at this time.”

 

The five largest U.S. carriers — American Airlines Group Inc., Alaska Air Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., Southwest Airlines Co. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. — said they were dropping their mandates effective immediately. Use of masks will be optional for both passengers and staff, they said.

I was in the Atlanta airport this afternoon when this ruling came down. There was a noticeable buzz. What’s interesting is that in the dozens of conversations I overheard (three hour layover… ugh), I didn’t hear a single person complaining. People were wondering if and when they could take their masks off. They were saying that it was about time. They were looking forward to traveling without a mask. But nary a comment in favor of requiring masks. I’m sure there are some people who want to continue the mandate, but they are few and far between.

Hats off to the airlines for dropping the mandates so quickly. I look forward to flying sans mask later this week.

Supreme Court Rejects Evers’ Racist Maps

They sure took the long road to get there, but they got to the correct destination.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court had adopted Evers’ map on March 3, but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned it on March 23. The high court ruled that Evers’ map failed to consider whether a “race-neutral alternative that did not add a seventh majority-black district would deny black voters equal political opportunity.”

 

Evers told the state Supreme Court it could still adopt his map with some additional analysis, or an alternative with six majority-Black districts. The Republican-controlled Legislature argued that its map should be implemented.

 

The Wisconsin court, controlled 4-3 by conservatives, sided with the Legislature.

 

“The maps proposed by the Governor … are racially motivated and, under the Equal Protection Clause, they fail strict scrutiny,” Chief Justice Annette Ziegler wrote for the majority, joined by Justices Patience Roggensack, Rebecca Grassl Bradley and Brian Hagedorn.

 

The Legislature’s maps, they wrote, “are race neutral” and “comply with the Equal Protection Clause, along with all other application federal and state legal requirements.”

SCOTUS Throws Out Legislative Maps

Good. The end result may be less advantageous for Republicans, but it is right on the law. 

The U.S. Supreme Court tossed the maps because it concluded the state justices did not adequately determine whether Assembly districts in Milwaukee complied with the federal Voting Rights Act.

 

[…]

 

Federal law is complicated because those who draw election maps must not consider race in some instances but are required to do so in areas with large minority populations to ensure those voters can elect candidates of their choosing.

 

The maps the state court adopted increased the number of majority Black districts from six to seven in Milwaukee. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state justices had not done enough analysis to determine whether the Voting Rights Act required the creation of the seventh district.

High court rules on redistricting

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last Tuesday.

Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court handed down its ruling regarding Wisconsin’s decennial political redistricting. The majority of the court decided to adopt the maps drawn by Gov. Tony Evers. While the subject of redistricting puts most voters to sleep and the end result of the ruling is unimpactful for most Wisconsinites, the court’s action sheds a bright light on the state’s befuddling high court and the rank insincerity of politicos everywhere.

 

The redistricting process happens every decade after the annual census in completed. The purpose of the process is to redraw all of the political boundaries to reflect population changes that have happened since the previous census. Given that the process directly impacts every politician in the state, except those who are elected statewide, politicians get very worked up about it. Almost nobody else cares even though they should.

 

The rules for redistricting are fairly simple: Draw lines that create political districts that are roughly equal in population, contiguous, and do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of race or other distinctions protected by the United States Constitution. In Wisconsin, the state Constitution also requires that each Senate district contain three Assembly districts and respect municipal boundaries. The politics of redistricting are far more complex.

 

In Wisconsin, redistricting is done through the regular legislative process. The Legislature meets, listens to public input, gets feedback from constituents, debates, argues, harangues, amends, and eventually passes a bill with the new district lines. From there, the governor either signs the new lines into law or vetoes them. If the Legislature and governor are controlled by different parties, which has happened more often than not in Wisconsin during redistricting years, the result is usually that the governor vetoes the redistricting law and the whole thing ends up in court. That is what happened this time. When the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided to take the case about redistricting, which is their duty, the majority decided to ask interested parties to submit their own maps and the court would pick whichever one caused the “least change.” Through this invented rubric, subsequently tortured into “core retention,” the court chose Governor Evers’ maps. The result is that Wisconsin’s legislative districts still lean heavily in the Republicans’ favor, but not quite as much as if the court chose the maps debated and passed by the Legislature. It is impossible for anyone to draw maps that favor Democrat majorities because the liberals in the state have decided to overwhelmingly live together in a couple of relatively small geographies instead of fanning out across the state to live with people who are not like them.

 

The ruling by the high court was written by Justice Brian Hagedorn. As the only man on the court, Hagedorn has taken it upon himself to be the court’s fulcrum with three conservative women justices on one side and three leftist women justices on the other. What is impossible to discern is any guiding judicial philosophy by Hagedorn. It is not fair to call him a juridical conservative or a judicial liberal because his decision making is not consistent enough to divine a coherent philosophy.

 

In reading the decision written by Hagedorn, which I encourage everyone to do, it reminded me of something written by a high school sophomore. His childlike arguments were not rooted in law or precedent, but in his own personal sense of fairness. He whimsically brushes away law when admitting that his invented, “parties struggled with reconciling it (the court’s invented “least change” rubric) with the United States Constitution, Wisconsin Constitution, and Voting Rights Act.” They struggled to reconcile it because it is unreconcilable, yet Hagedorn persisted.

 

There are two major things wrong with Evers’ maps — one legal and one political. The legal problem is that, as Hagedorn’s ruling explains in great detail, Governor Evers determined district lines based on race. Using race to decide district lines is unconstitutional unless it is done to remedy a previous racial injustice, which no one has alleged. In this respect, Evers’ maps are a clear violation of the 14th Amendment.

 

When the 14th Amendment was written after the Civil War, it was designed to prevent racist white citizens from bottling up black citizens into a few districts to minimize their political power. Yet, this is precisely what Evers and Hagedorn did. Evers used racial considerations to create one more majority-black Assembly district by diluting black Wisconsinites’ voice in other districts.

 

The political problem with Evers’ maps is that he created them in the first place. The purpose of using the legislative process to create the maps is to ensure that they receive all of the scrutiny and visibility that the legislative process requires and allows. The Legislature’s maps were created in the light of day, debated, tweaked, and passed. Governor Evers’ maps were created in his office by a group of faceless, nameless people who were probably not even wearing masks.

 

In a republic where the people are supposed to have a voice, one solitary white man in a black robe has chosen a map drawn by another solitary white man in a gray suit. Nobody else even had a seat at the table. That is not how representative government is supposed to work.

 

The decision has already been appealed to the United States Supreme Court. In the end, the resulting district lines will matter little to anyone who is not vying for public office, but the process by which we arrive at these decisions matter is we are to preserve our civil rights.

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