Friday, July 1, 2016

Celebrate The Fourth...


...and offend a liberal!

Founder's Quote, 1 July 2016

Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be, that there is not sufficient virture among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another. - Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Federalist No. 55 — 1788

Police Called To Classroom Over Racist Comments...About Brownies?

....so let me get this straight: a third-grader made some comment about brownies being served at an end-of-the-year celebration...and they called the cops over it?
According to Philly.com, a third grader “made a comment about the brownies being served to the class,” after which another student cried “racism,” prompting the school to call the Collingswood Police Department:On June 16, police were called to an unlikely scene: an end-of-the-year class party at the William P. Tatem Elementary School in Collingswood.
A third grader had made a comment about the brownies being served to the class. After another student exclaimed that the remark was “racist,” the school called the Collingswood Police Department, according to the mother of the boy who made the comment.
“He said they were talking about brownies…Who exactly did he offend?” said Stacy Dos Santos, the child’s mother, obviously angry about the school’s overreaction. “He was intimidated, obviously. There was a police officer with a gun in the holster talking to my son, saying, ‘Tell me what you said.’ He didn’t have anybody on his side.”
The story doesn’t end there. Not long after contacting the boy’s father and grilling the preadolescent perp for his microaggressions toward brownies, the police referred the incident to New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency. (Independent Journal Review)
...I think the gentlemen below had it right after all....

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Founder's Quote, 30 June 2016

In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever character composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason. ... Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob. - Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Federalist No. 55 — 1788

Nothing To See Here...


...yeah, nothing to see here... *sarcastic eyeroll* 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Founder's Quote, 29 June 2016

Without wishing to damp the ardor of curiosity or influence the freedom of inquiry, I will hazard a prediction that, after the most industrious and impartial researchers, the longest liver of you all will find no principles, institutions or systems of education more fit in general to be transmitted to your posterity than those you have received from your ancestors. - John Adams, letter to the young men of the Philadelphia — 1798

Race May Be Used As One Of Multiple Factors In College Admissions, SCOTUS Rules

...and to think, fellow conservatives pinned their hopes on getting rid of affirmative action on a mediocre student....
For the last several years, supporters of affirmative action have awoken every day justifiably fearing that the courts would bring race-conscious university admissions policies to a swift end. The 2006 appointment of Justice Samuel Alito gave conservatives a solid majority on the Supreme Court, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, the closest thing the Court has to a swing voter on issues of race, has not historically been sympathetic to affirmative action.

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which the Supreme Court decided on Thursday, was the vehicle opponents of affirmative action chose in order to kill the programs. And, as this case proceeded through one of the most conservative federal appeals courts in the country and then, to two separate trips to the Supreme Court, it looked likely that affirmative action was on its death bed. Worse, for defenders of race-conscious programs, Justice Elena Kagan was recused from Fisher, so Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent death appeared unlikely to change the outcome in this case.

At yet, affirmative action will survive. As ThinkProgress quipped shortly after the second round of Supreme Court oral arguments in Fisher, Justice Kennedy spent the entirety of this litigation playing the role of the Dread Pirate Roberts from Rob Reiner’s classic film The Princess Bride. In that film, the Dread Pirate keeps a captive alive, telling him each night that “I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” Yet in the end, the pirate does not kill his captive, instead turning over his ship and his title to the new Dread Pirate.

As it was in the movies, so it was Thursday in the Supreme Court — sort of. Though Kennedy appeared likely to kill affirmative action at many turns throughout this case, he cast the key fourth vote to uphold it over the dissents of his three most conservative colleagues. But, while Fisher is a victory for affirmative action, it is only a partial one. Kennedy’s opinion makes it clear that universities have a high and ongoing burden if they want to maintain affirmative action programs. It could also potentially inspire a rash of harassment suits targeting these programs. (Think Progress)
Background: The plaintiff in this case, Abigail Fisher, had applied to the University of Texas back in 2008 and was denied admission, which - given the fact that, according to most news reports, she was a mediocre student at best - should've ended the case right there...unfortunately, Fisher, who is white, decided to sue the university system on the grounds of discrimination, arguing that Texas's admissions program was in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

Now, Texas's admissions program for UT-Austin (a/k/a the University of Texas) is a two-step process...first, the university allows any student across the state of Texas who graduates in the Top 10% of their high school graduating class (the state's Top-10 rule) admission to the university irrespective of race. Afterward, any open positions remaining in each year's freshman class are filled according to UT-Austin's pre-Top 10 admissions policy, which - among other things - takes in race as one of several factors.

The crux of the case wasn't with the Top-10 part of the university's admissions policy but with the other part of it, where race does play a factor (the reason it doesn't in regards to the former is because that rule, as extablished by Texas law, applies across-the-board irrespective of race). Now, I have no problem with race being used as a factor in admissions so long as it doesn't go against the Court's Bakke decision, which is at present the gold standard for how race should be used as a factor (i.e. not as the prevailing factor in admissions but as one of multiple factors in the admissions process).

So, why was this case important? Had Fisher won here, it would've wreaked havoc on admissions policies across the country as supporters of the plaintiff here could've used it as a cudgel to hammer back at not only the Bakke decision but on the whole idea of equal protection under the law; in addition, as I intimated earlier, Abigail Fisher is no Allan Bakke; unlike Bakke, who was a stellar student by all accounts denied entry based on race, Fisher was, at best, a 3.5 GPA student who tried to get in simply because she was white and got into fit of pique over the fact that, in this case, the university rightfully did the correct thing and didn't admit her.

That said, the issue of whether race should be a factor in university admissions isn't over by any means; from what I've read, the plaintiffs' attorneys have said that they intend to seek out other students around the country affected by similar policies...all I can say here is - besides good luck - is that before you try to use the 14th Amdt. as a cudgel against these policies, pick a better student to attempt the effort with.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Founder's Quote, 28 June 2016

The true principle of government is this - make the system compleat in its structure; give a perfect proportion and balance to its parts; and the powers you give it will never affect your security. - Alexander Hamilton, Remarks in the New York Ratifying Convention — 1788

Monday, June 27, 2016

SCOTUS Throws Out Texas Abortion Law, Reaffirms Right-To-Choose

If this law doesn't put a stake through TRAP laws, what does?
Putting the right to abortion back on the same constitutional footing the Supreme Court laid down nearly a quarter-century ago, a divided Supreme Court on Monday swept away new forms of state restrictions on the way clinics can function.  Together with recent refusals by the Court to allow states to narrow the scope of the abortion right itself, the new ruling in Whole Woman’s Health Clinic v. Hellerstedt thwarted a wave of new laws against women’s choice to end pregnancy.
The Court’s vote was five to three, indicating that the outcome was not affected by the vacancy left by the death in February of Justice Antonin Scalia.  Justice Stephen G. Breyer, handed the assignment to write for the majority by the more senior Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, relied heavily upon the Court’s famous 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey that Kennedy had helped to put together. (SCOTUSBlog)
Long story short: the decision does two things - (1) it re-affirms the judiciary's role in determining the constitutionality of laws restricting rights protected under the Constitution and (2) the law in question - Texas's H.B. 2 - was so facially unconstitutional that, although the law contained a "severability" provision, every part of the law was basically overturned in today's decision. In addition, the decision here likely also means that similar laws in Alabama and Mississippi - laws also in front of the Court at present - are likely to go out the window as well based on today's case.

What's interesting about this case, from a political standpoint, is that the forced-birth crowd (for the record, I refuse to call them 'pro-life'; pro-life means, among other things, recognizing the right of a woman to carry a pregnancy to term irrespective of what you or I or anyone else may think or say) had tried over the past few years to whittle away at Roe v. Wade by adding restrictions which, on the surface, don't touch abortion per se' but effectively restrict the exercise of abortion as a protected right under the Constitution, hoping to get such a law before the High Court in the off-chance that the Court might overturn Roe...well, they got their opportunity here and lost, big-time.

Founder's Quote, 27 June 2016

It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe. - James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance — 1785