Currently viewing the tag: "Position"

“If I were president, on Day One I would issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states,” writes Mitt Romney. “The executive order would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services and all relevant federal officials to return the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design health-care solutions that work best for them.”

I’m not exactly sure what Romney means by this. An executive order can’t overturn the requirements in the Affordable Care Act. It can’t free Michigan from having to comply with federal law. So is he simply endorsing Wyden-Brown? Stating a philosophical principle? Promising to err on the side of federalism when such questions come before his administration?

Still, for all its vagueness, it’s very different than “If I were president, on Day One I would issue an executive order directing every member of my administration to do everything possible to slow or block the implementation of health-care reform.” Presumably, Romney will eventually say that, too, but he seems to be trying out a federalism line first.

And I hope he sticks with it. After all, it’s edging mighty close to the health-care policy I recommended Romney adopt:

Over the years, various politicians have proposed federalist pathways to universal care. The federal government would set out some basic conditions — X percentage of residents covered with insurance that’s at least up to X standard — and provide some funding, and states could go their own way. Ron Wyden and Scott Brown, in fact, have a proposal to turn the Affordable Care Act into that bill, at least for the states that want to take advantage of it.

With the Republican argument against the Affordable Care Act trending in a federalist direction, you could imagine some conservative politician who actually wanted to solve the coverage problem embracing something like this. Romney hasn’t been known for his courage as a campaigner, but if he wanted to go on offense, he could develop a proposal along these lines and use it to both frame his effort in Massachusetts as a good thing — after all, he did bring near-universal coverage to his state — and create a policy platform that allows him to offer actual solutions to the nation’s problems (an important part of any general election campaign) while maintaining a harsh critique of Washington.







Ezra Klein

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A new Pew Research Center poll articulates what many pundits have been saying: despite the daily crises, denuciations from some on the right and left, charges that he has been too soft, too war like, dithering, jumping into a policy without thinking, President Barack Obama seems positioned well for 2012 at this early stage in the game.

Barack Obama currently fares as well against a generic opponent in the upcoming presidential election as George W. Bush did in April 2003, a time when Bush’s job approval rating was much higher than Obama’s is today. He also tests considerably better than Bill Clinton did in March 1995.

Nearly half (47%) of registered voters say they would like to see Barack Obama reelected, while 37% say they would prefer to see a Republican candidate win the 2012 election, according to the survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press conducted March 8-14 among 1,525 adults. In April 2003, 48% of registered voters said they would like to see Bush reelected in 2004; 34% said they would prefer to see a Democrat win.

At the time, the Iraq war was viewed as moving to a successful conclusion and Bush’s job approval rating among the public stood at 72%. In a survey released earlier this month, 51% of the public approved of the way Obama is handling his job as president.

In part, Obama is benefitting from the fact that the GOP has yet to coalesce behind a candidate. About one-in-five (21%) Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say they would like to see Mitt Romney win the nomination while about the same percentage (20%) chooses Mike Huckabee; 13% back Sarah Palin, 11% opt for Newt Gingrich and 8% back Ron Paul. At this early stage in the race, 15% of GOP voters have no preference.

Pew also notes that part of the reason GOPers may not be doing that well in the polls is that the Republican race is generating much less interest that four years ago and generating less media coverage (even though many GOPers now go for the talk radio style zinger sound byte which guarantees face and space time).

Through the first 10 weeks of 2007, coverage of the campaign accounted for about 7% of all news coverage on average, according to an analysis of coverage by Pew Research’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Through the first 10 weeks of this year – a period that has seen a series of major international stories – coverage of the 2012 campaign has accounted for only about 1% of the newshole.

This could be due to all of the big other stories that turned news coverage to focus on the Middle East and Japan, plus the GOP field not offering anyone so far who is an unusual or breakout candidate.

Obama continues to benefit by high marks for likability.

The survey finds that Barack Obama’s personal favorability remains fairly strong: 58% of the public say they have a favorable opinion of him while 39% view him unfavorably. Michelle Obama’s favorable ratings continue to be higher than her husband’s. Currently, 69% say they have a favorable opinion of Michelle Obama, compared with 21% who have an unfavorable opinion of her.

Pew also finds Obama with a slim lead among independent voters:

Among independent voters, 40% say they would like to see Obama reelected, while 34% would prefer to see a Republican win the White House. At this point, roughly a quarter of independents (26%) offer no opinion. In the 2008 election, Obama outpolled McCain among independents, 52% to 44%.

Also:

  • House Speaker John Boehner’s ratings haven’t moved much. Not bad not great and some have near heard of him.
  • Poll ratings for George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have risen.
  • Pew also notes some differences between Obama and Bush:

    While Obama is viewed favorably today (58%), Bush’s favorable ratings in April 2003 were much higher (72%). More than six-in-ten (63%) viewed the GOP favorably in April 2003; today 48% have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party.

    Yet Obama and his party hold several advantages. For one thing the Republican Party’s image is fairly negative. Just 42% have a favorable opinion of the GOP while 51% view the party unfavorably. The public currently has a mixed view of the Democratic Party (48% favorable vs. 45% unfavorable).


    The Moderate Voice

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    USA Today
    Morehead State's Terrance Hill put Eagles in position to win
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    After Thursday's stunning upset of fourth-seeded Louisville, Morehead State's Demonte Harper received plenty of attention — and for good reason. Harper sank the game-winning 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds remaining to give the Eagles a 62-61 second-round
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    Morehead State Stuns LouisvilleNew York Times
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    by Javier Manjarres

    After a recall election trouncing of 88%-12%. embattled Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and County Commissioner Natacha Seijas are out.  Miami-Dade voters were outraged at the Mayor for for raising property taxes and increasing the pay of his cronies at ‘county hall’ during the height of a recession, not to mention the taxpayer subsidizing of this BMW 500i. Now it’s up to the rest of the County Commission to decide as to whether they will appoint an interim mayor or hold a special election to vote in a new one. Several candidates for the Mayor’s position have already thrown their ‘hats’ in the race, a race that considering the Miami’s history of ‘spicy’  and controversial elections will surely offer of plenty of chum for the readers of the Shark Tank.

    This morning, former State Legislator and Attorney Marcelo Llorente held a press conference to publicly declare his campaign for  mayor.  Llorente had already announced his intention to run for the position a couple of years back before Alvarez’ tax hikes and ‘Beemer-gate’ scandals had even occured.  Llorente stated that he would end the corruption and misappropriation of taxpayer monies and implement a ‘zero- tolerance’ policy in the county.  When  asked for specifics about the corruption, Llorente said, “ it’s unacceptable to be reading when HUD takes over housing authority, or when the  Federal department  of transportation has to suspend  $ 185 million in grants to our transit department because of mismanagement, that  in essence is corruption, and we have to have a zero-tolerance policy for it.” Llorente coupled his announcement with the first of the many video campaign commercials to come: Watch ‘NOW’ video

    Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez has also thrown his hat into the mayoral race and sent out a statement strongly criticizing the rampant corruption and restated his earlier position supporting the recall election:

    “I’ve always been an outspoken critic of the blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars and misplaced priorities at County Hall. I supported this recall election and, like so many, was outraged by Alvarez’s abuse of power in utilizing county employees and resources to fight it.

    Now, voters have spoken - and we have a new opportunity to put an end to the long series of bad decisions and flawed financial planning that have wasted our money and raised our property taxes. Nearly 90% of them stood on behalf of the same fight I have been fighting for years:  that we need leaders who aren’t going to raise taxes and squander the revenue to bolster their pet projects, give salary increases to their friends, or to buy themselves a nice suite at the new stadium we all just paid for. - Carlos Gimenez

    Current Mayor of Hialeah Julio Robaina is also running for the job, and he’s considered to be the frontrunner in race due to his strong name identification around the county, but he has not yet made a statement nor has he been able to be reached for comment.

    The Shark Tank

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    Hillary Clinton sounds for all the world like a woman who intends to leave the public stage come January 2013:

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer she does not want to serve a second term as secretary of state or run for president of the United States.

    Blitzer sat down with the former 2008 presidential candidate in Cairo.

    Full transcript:

    Q- If the president is reelected, do you want to serve a second term as secretary of state?

    No

    Q- Would you like to serve as secretary of defense?

    No

    Q- Would you like to be vice president of the United States?

    No

    Q- Would you like to be president of the United States?

    No

    Q- Why not?

    Because I have the best job I could ever have. This is a moment in history where it is almost hard to catch your breath. There are both the tragedies and disasters that we have seen from Haiti to Japan and there are the extraordinary opportunities and challenges that we see right here in Egypt and in the rest of the region. So I want to be part of helping to represent the United States at this critical moment in time, to do everything I can in support of the president and our government and the people of our country to stand for our values and our ideals, to stand up for our security, which has to remain first and foremost in my mind and to advance America’s interests. And there isn’t anything that I can imagine doing after this that would be as demanding, as challenging or rewarding.

    Q- President of the United States?

    You know, I had a wonderful experience running and I am very proud of the support I had and very grateful for the opportunity, but I’m going to be, you know, moving on.

    Of course, this doesn’t meant that Clinton wouldn’t stay on if President Obama asked her to, much like Robert Gates has stayed on for two years after the President who first nominated him for Secretary of Defense left office, but that does strike me as a rather emphatic answer. Also, there will be those who will simply refuse to believe that she, and her. husband, will simply leave electoral p0litics and I’m sure we’ll see a nice healthy dose of “Hillary in 2016″ speculation four years from now. However, as I’ve noted before, Clinton will be 69 years old in 2016 and she may not be in the mood for what would be another open race for the Democratic nomination.

     




    Outside the Beltway

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    Hillary Clinton sounds for all the world like a woman who intends to leave the public stage come January 2013:

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer she does not want to serve a second term as secretary of state or run for president of the United States.

    Blitzer sat down with the former 2008 presidential candidate in Cairo.

    Full transcript:

    Q- If the president is reelected, do you want to serve a second term as secretary of state?

    No

    Q- Would you like to serve as secretary of defense?

    No

    Q- Would you like to be vice president of the United States?

    No

    Q- Would you like to be president of the United States?

    No

    Q- Why not?

    Because I have the best job I could ever have. This is a moment in history where it is almost hard to catch your breath. There are both the tragedies and disasters that we have seen from Haiti to Japan and there are the extraordinary opportunities and challenges that we see right here in Egypt and in the rest of the region. So I want to be part of helping to represent the United States at this critical moment in time, to do everything I can in support of the president and our government and the people of our country to stand for our values and our ideals, to stand up for our security, which has to remain first and foremost in my mind and to advance America’s interests. And there isn’t anything that I can imagine doing after this that would be as demanding, as challenging or rewarding.

    Q- President of the United States?

    You know, I had a wonderful experience running and I am very proud of the support I had and very grateful for the opportunity, but I’m going to be, you know, moving on.

    Of course, this doesn’t meant that Clinton wouldn’t stay on if President Obama asked her to, much like Robert Gates has stayed on for two years after the President who first nominated him for Secretary of Defense left office, but that does strike me as a rather emphatic answer. Also, there will be those who will simply refuse to believe that she, and her. husband, will simply leave electoral p0litics and I’m sure we’ll see a nice healthy dose of “Hillary in 2016″ speculation four years from now. However, as I’ve noted before, Clinton will be 69 years old in 2016 and she may not be in the mood for what would be another open race for the Democratic nomination.

     




    Outside the Beltway

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    Benign waste of time.


    Unlike many on the Right, I don’t consider this a nadir for the American presidency. It’s bad optics, to be sure, since the White House is doing its best to avoid taking specific positions on less pressing issues like the federal budget, no-fly zones in Libya, and whatever else is considered “the fray” these days. [...]

    Read this post »

    Hot Air » Top Picks

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    (Eugene Volokh)

    Matter of Zornow, decided by a New York trial court on Dec. 23, 2010, but just recently posted on Westlaw, involves Joan Zornow, a 93-year-old woman who is unfortunately suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s. Given the risk that her condition would deteriorate further, a “living will” was created for her — it’s not clear from the opinion exactly by whom — containing “a blanket directive denying her mother food and water if it could not be administered orally” as well as a directive “that she be denied hospitalization for future medical conditions.” Zornow’s children disagreed about whether this was proper, so the matter came before the court. One important fact: Zornow was “a practicing Catholic,” and before she became ill she was apparently “a daily communicant at Mass.”

    Now as I understand New York law, some such directives are permissible if they are dictated by the patient’s wishes, and if the patient hasn’t expressed those wishes, a court may review the facts to decide what the parent likely wished. Thus, for instance, “patient’s statement to her nurse that if she became unable to take food orally, she wished to receive artificially administered food and water” (to which the judge points) might suffice to invalidate the living will. And if someone testifies that the patient had always listened closely to her priest’s Catholic teachings in moral matters, and the priest testifies that those teachings forbid the termination of food and water, or the refusal of life-saving hospitalization, I think that evidence should be highly relevant. The question is what the patient likely would have wanted, and the patient’s religious beliefs may well bear on that.

    But some of the judge’s opinion, it seems to me, goes far beyond that. Maybe I’m mistaken, but the judge’s opinion reads at least in part as a judgment about what Catholics ought to believe — buttressed by remarkably extensive quotations from Catholic teachings — and not just what this particular woman likely did believe. For instance, the judge writes,

    Under this statute the finders of fact and surrogates, in ascertaining the Catholic’s beliefs as applicable to a particular medical condition, may encounter, and should be alerted to, various groups or persons improperly contesting the authority of the Magisterium, or the Catholic Church’s official position or its doctrines, and claiming a right to declare principles in opposition to or inconsistent therewith: …

    I would think that, given the Establishment Clause, American judges (writing in their official capacities, as opposed to expressing their personal views in their personal lives) can’t decide what constitutes “improperly contesting the authority of the Magisterium, or the Catholic Church’s official position or its doctrines.” (See, e.g., Presbyterian Church in the United States v. Mary Elizabeth Blue Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church (1969), one of the many cases holding that secular courts may not determine the true interpretation of religious doctrine.) If some Catholics take a different view from the Catholic hierarchy — as, I understand it, very many American Catholics do, on subjects such as contraception, abortion, the death penalty, and likely even withdrawal of food and water from those who are in a coma, or outright euthanasia — that position is equal before American law to the position of the Catholic hierarchy.

    It would be just as wrong, I think, for a judge to apply official Catholic doctrine in guessing the preferences of a Catholic who seems to have rejected that doctrine, as it would be for a judge to apply dissenting Catholic doctrine in guessing the preferences of a Catholic who seems to follow the official Catholic line. It is every American’s right “right to declare principles in opposition to or inconsistent” with “the Catholic Church’s official position or its doctrines,” and to argue that those principles are indeed the ones that Catholics should hold, or that a particular Catholic did hold.

    I’d say the same about this passage:

    It is noted that one of the children here, after consultation with a priest, believed that the blanket directive to prohibit food and water from his mother when she became unable to take food orally regardless of her medical condition was consistent with Catholic principles. (Transcript of 9/2/10 Colloquy). It is not clear whether he misunderstood, misapplied, or was misadvised. Nevertheless, it points out the need for the guardian/surrogate under the statute for vigilance to search out proper authority well trained in Catholic moral theology in determining their charges’ religious beliefs to be applied to the applicable medical situation.

    “Catholic principles” as perceived by the Catholic vary from Catholic to Catholic. Under American law, it is up to each Catholic to decide what she wants, notwithstanding what “proper authority well trained in Catholic moral theology” might think. Perhaps under Catholic teachings, parishioners are the “charges” of such “proper authority,” but not under American secular law. The only question has to be what the particular Catholic believed; “Catholic principles” as set forth by the “proper authority” are relevant only insofar as we have reason to think that the particular patient adhered to those principles. Perhaps in this particular case there was evidence that Joan Zornow did indeed want to follow the “proper authority.” But the passage above — especially in the context of the extended theological discussion throughout the rest of the opinion — suggests to me that the judge is speaking more broadly, about Catholics generally.

    I’d say the same about this passage:

    The potential question earlier raised, but not reached, is if a Catholic or non-Catholic determines to forego water and food administered artificially in situations of legally allowed euthanasia under the statute or law, but morally disallowed for Catholics, may any Catholic, especially Catholic surrogates, and Catholic health care providers etc. make or implement such decisions.

    What business is it of a secular court to decide what “any Catholic” may or may not do? Again, if a particular person (Catholic or not) came to court, testified that he had a sincere religious objection to participating in such a decision, and therefore claimed the right to some exemption from a requirement to so participate, a court would have to decide whether the exemption should be granted, applying the secular legal standards embodied in the relevant exemption law. (The claim might be brought, for instance, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or under the New York Constitution, which has been interpreted as mandating constitutional exemptions for religious objectors from generally applicable government rules.) But no secular court can set up a rule for “any Catholic”; from the perspective of American law, it is up to each Catholic to choose which beliefs of the church to accept.

    I realize that the Catholic church is a hierarchical church, and that the Church expects it member to follow the Church’s teachings. But that is the Catholic expectation. From the perspective of American law, Catholic dissenters — or even Catholic heretics and Catholic schismatics — are entitled to be treated the same way as those who follow official Catholic teachings on all things. (Naturally, they aren’t entitled to take over Catholic churches, but that’s because those churches are owned by a particular quasi-corporate organization that has the right to control its property, just like GM or Harvard University has the right to control its property. That organization has no similar right over its parishioners.)




    The Volokh Conspiracy

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    Über-rich media mogul Richard Scaife, who has been described as a “Republican George Soros” due to his philanthropic support for a wide swath of conservative causes, has come out of the closet … as an über-liberal.

    In a column in the Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review titled “Don’t defund Planned Parenthood,” Dick reveals that his grandma was a friend of everybody’s favorite racist/eugenicist busybody: Margaret Sanger. While we can’t fault a man for the companions of his relatives, we can take him to task for lauding Sanger’s “vision,”  “bravery,” and “intellect,” which he does in this piece.

    But that’s not all.

    Scaife writes:

    “ … I am aggravated by the continuing attacks on Sanger and her primary legacy, the Planned Parenthood network that still serves so many Americans today.

    Now the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives — urged on by conservatives opposed to abortion — has voted to defund Planned Parenthood.

    On this issue, Republicans and conservatives are dead wrong.

    Abortions are a minor aspect of Planned Parenthood’s mission to provide reproductive health care, education and other services to Americans, regardless of income.”

    Mr. Scaife, pray tell, where in our great Constitution, is our Congress given the authority to fund death camps for the preborn? To fund genocide for minorities? In fact, to fund reproductive health care?

    But that’s not all.

    On the same day that Scaife’s column ran, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review also featured a piece by Donald Collins titled “Population Armageddon nears,” describing the catastrophes that await Planet Earth if too many babies have the bad sense to keep being born.

    Collins, like his jefe, also has harsh words for congressional conservatives. He writes:

    “ .. our own House of Representatives has been recently overstocked with neo-Neanderthals who fail to connect the dots on denying women access to contraception and this looming [population] crisis. Defunding Planned Parenthood is akin to denying that sex never produces results unwanted by women.”

    Mr. Collins’ bio describes him as “co-chair of the National Advisory Board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.” That would be FAIR, the Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to immigration enforcement, an organization whose most faithful allies in Congress are those ‘neo-Neanderthal’ Republicans.

    The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has made its editorial position perfectly clear: Principled conservatives who deviate from the elitist-establishment, culture-of-death script are not wanted or appreciated.


    Big Journalism

    The New York Conservative Party could pick their nominee for the 26th District special as early as this week, and after sitting down with Iraq War veteran David Bellavia on Wednesday the party’s chairman still sounds sold on Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, who got the GOP nod last week.

    “We had a good meeting. He’s a pleasant individual. [Bellavia] laid out his case and I discussed with him some of what I see as his problems,” Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long told Hotline On Call. “I made it very clear that I felt that [Corwin] had a leg up on him because she’s had our endorsement before.”

    Corwin has been endorsed by the party in her previous state races, and according to their legislative rankings she is the second most conservative lawmaker in Albany. Long also pointed to the fact that the Monroe County Conservative Party voted last week to endorse Corwin as another positive for her campaign.

    Long said the party’s executive committee, who will make the decision, could meet later this week or early next week to vote on their nominee, in part so that no one is “looking over their shoulders” and “so that we can clarify where we stand.”

    After being passed over for the Republican Party nomination, Bellavia has said he would try to run on the Conservative Party line, but also hasn’t ruled out petitioning onto the ballot to run in the yet-to-be-called special election to succeed former Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), who quickly resigned last month after a report that the married congressman had replied to a personal ad on Craigslist with a shirtless muscle photo of himself.

    In an interview with Hotline On Call, Bellavia still struck a positive tone after his meeting with Long, saying he felt the Conservative Party’s process has been more open and fair than the Republicans’, which Bellavia and his supporters have said happened too quickly.

    “I was impressed that he took the meeting, that he honored his word,” said Bellavia. “I had a really good talk with him for over an hour. Thus far, it’s been a pretty fresh breath of air.”

    Hotline On Call

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    (CNN) - Sarah Palin is “appalled” by the Obama administration’s recent action regarding the Defense of Marriage Act. In a statement provided to the blog run by the National Organization for Marriage, the former governor explained her reaction to the administration’s stance on DOMA.

    In response to a question posed by Maggie Gallagher, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, the former governor of Alaska said, “I have always believed that marriage is between one man and one woman. Like the majority of Americans, I support the Defense of Marriage Act and find it appalling that the Obama administration decided not to defend this federal law which was enacted with broad bipartisan support and signed into law by a Democrat president.”

    Joining a procession of Republicans denouncing the administration’s move, Palin continued, “It’s appalling, but not surprising that the President has flip-flopped on yet another issue from his stated position as a candidate to a seemingly opposite position once he was elected.” The statement was posted on a blog for the organization, which supports “marriage and the faith communities that sustain it.”

    President Obama recently asked Attorney General Eric Holder to cease defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court. The bill faces two lawsuits in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that are based on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. And though candidate Obama once stated that he “believed marriage is between a man and a woman” while campaigning for the presidency, he has also admitted that his position was evolving on the issue shortly before the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a measure that prevented gay service members from openly serving in the U.S. military.

    Holder announced in a letter to members of Congress that the administration was reversing course and would stop defending DOMA because they believe that a key part of the law is unconstitutional.


    CNN Political Ticker

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    (CNN) - Sarah Palin is “appalled” by the Obama administration’s recent action regarding the Defense of Marriage Act. In a statement provided to the blog run by the National Organization for Marriage, the former governor explained her reaction to the administration’s stance on DOMA.

    In response to a question posed by Maggie Gallagher, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, the former governor of Alaska said, “I have always believed that marriage is between one man and one woman. Like the majority of Americans, I support the Defense of Marriage Act and find it appalling that the Obama administration decided not to defend this federal law which was enacted with broad bipartisan support and signed into law by a Democrat president.”

    Joining a procession of Republicans denouncing the administration’s move, Palin continued, “It’s appalling, but not surprising that the President has flip-flopped on yet another issue from his stated position as a candidate to a seemingly opposite position once he was elected.” The statement was posted on a blog for the organization, which supports “marriage and the faith communities that sustain it.”

    President Obama recently asked Attorney General Eric Holder to cease defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court. The bill faces two lawsuits in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that are based on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. And though candidate Obama once stated that he “believed marriage is between a man and a woman” while campaigning for the presidency, he has also admitted that his position was evolving on the issue shortly before the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a measure that prevented gay service members from openly serving in the U.S. military.

    Holder announced in a letter to members of Congress that the administration was reversing course and would stop defending DOMA because they believe that a key part of the law is unconstitutional.


    CNN Political Ticker

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    As protests against conservative attempts to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights have unfolded in states across the nation, a slew of Republican governors have said they will not pursue similar policy steps to those championed by Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI). “That’s not our path,” said Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI). “I and my administration fully intend to work with our employees and union partners in a collective fashion.” A spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) added, “This is Pennsylvania, not Wisconsin. We’ve had Act 195 [the collective bargaining law] since 1970, and I anticipate that we will continue to have it.”

    Earlier this week, it seemed that Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) was also unwilling to challenge collective bargaining rights for his state’s employees. “My belief is as long as people know what they’re doing, collective bargaining is fine,” Scott said in a radio interview. However, during a different interview with Bloomberg Television that is scheduled to air this weekend, Scott took a completely different stance, saying “it’d be great” to get rid of the collective bargaining rights of Florida employees:

    He said Florida would be better off if public employees couldn’t form unions and that it’s unfair to taxpayers that state workers don’t contribute to their pensions. While Florida’s constitution grants state workers the right to unionize and bargain for workplace rights, Scott said, “It’d be great to be able to change it.”

    “Our state workers don’t pay for anything into their pension plan. And we can’t afford that — it’s not fair to taxpayers,” Scott said. “If you didn’t have collective bargaining, would it be better for the state? Absolutely.”

    For one thing, as Tax.com’s David Cay Johnston laid out, the notion that Florida’s employees “don’t pay for anything” when it comes to their pensions is wrong: these employees have agreed to defer some of their compensation, and take it in the form of a pension rather than wages. For another, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) already stripped public employees of their collective bargaining rights, and even he couldn’t explain how it would help a state get into better fiscal shape. (Daniels also can’t quite pin down where he stands on the protest situation in his own state either.)

    Scott already plans to pursue an agenda of corporate tax cuts paired with destructive spending reductions that will hurt low-income Floridians, gut the state’s health care system, and cause the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. And after a momentary fit of reason earlier in the week, he seems to have added union-busting to the list.

    Wonk Room

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    Walter Dellinger

    Orin Kerr’s post on Volokh Conspiracy comparing what the Justice Department has announced it will do in DOMA cases to some of John Yoo’s theories of presidential power doesn’t give proper weight to the enormous difference between refusing to obey a law (which the Bush administration did — and secretly!) and obeying the law which the Obama administration will continue to do with DOMA. Informing the courts of the administration’s view that a law is unconstitutional, while facilitating the participation of amicus who will argue in defense of the law, is respectful of the role of the other branches, both Congress and the judiciary. This October 2010 article in the New York Times discusses the differences:

    [T]he government has an obligation to comply with the nation’s laws, regardless of whether the president agrees with a particular statute. Doing otherwise would also set a precedent justifying similar nullifications by future administrations. The next president might, for example, decide not to enforce the recent health care reform law; all he would need would be a single ruling against the law by a single district court judge, which he would then refuse to appeal.

    Presidents in rare instances can determine that a law is unconstitutional and decline to comply with it. But a 1994 opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel (where I was the head) concluded that a president can do so only under very special circumstances, including a conclusion on his part that it is “probable” that the Supreme Court would agree with him . . .

    [Presidents, however] have another option: while appealing the lower court’s decision, [the President] could have the Justice Department tell the appellate court that the executive branch believes the law is unconstitutional.

    In other words, the Justice Department would take the formal steps necessary to defend the law, but it would also make substantive arguments about why the law should be struck down. The Supreme Court could still vote to uphold the law, but the president’s position could significantly influence how the court rules.

    Doing so wouldn’t unfairly strip the law of adequate defense: if the administration took a stand against the law, the appellate courts would very likely allow lawyers for Congress or outside groups to appear and argue on its behalf.

    This approach is not unprecedented. In 1943, Congress passed a law prohibiting the payment of salaries to three particular government employees. Arguing that the law was unconstitutional, the employees sued and won in claims court. The solicitor general asked the Supreme Court to review the lower court’s decision, but he also told the justices that the administration agreed with the original ruling; the court ultimately struck down the law.

    That case and others like it provided a precedent for President Bill Clinton in 1996 both to comply with a law requiring the military to discharge service members who had H.I.V., and at the same time inform the courts that he found it to be unconstitutional. Thanks in part to support from the military, Congress repealed the law before litigation ensued.

    Telling the courts that a federal law should be struck down is not a position to be taken lightly by a president wary of overstepping his bounds. But if he concludes that the law restricts important liberties without advancing a government purpose, he has the right to say so. After all, while courts usually defer to Congress on such questions, the president is under no such obligation: he is a constitutional officer entitled to his own views on governmental necessity, particularly on matters of national defense.

    Walter Dellinger is the Douglas B. Maggs Professor of Law at Duke University. You can reach him by e-mail at wdellinger at omm.com

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    Via Greg Hengler, if the Ahmadinejad video is the most surreal clip we’ve ever posted, this one might be the most cynical. And yet, it’s an opportunity to make an important point: The true significance of this morning’s news isn’t merely that the DOJ will no longer defend DOMA, it’s that Holder’s letter laying out [...]

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