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Comment Archives: Stories: Opinion: Letter From The Editor

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette

Potential voters who distrust the government are disproportionately represented in Trump's followers. People who distrust the government are less likely to feel that their votes will be counted or that their votes will affect the outcome of the election and will stay home rather than vote. For Trump to tell these people that the system is rigged against him (and them) reinforces this distrust. And Trump's loss becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jenna C'est Quoi on 10/21/2016 at 11:29 AM

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette


If an argument has merit, it doesn't matter where it comes from. Similarly, if an argument has no merit, it doesn't matter if it comes from your own family. It's wrong.

Also, the arguments of lawyers are not infinite, although it may feel that way sometimes. In reality, they tend to cease when there is no case. There is no case here, or there would be a case here. Obama clearly would like to see his nominees confirmed, so if he felt that he had a Constitutional argument, it would be ongoing. Maybe he will. He's a pretty smart guy. But he hasn't. So it appears Oaktree is right.

It is interesting to me that you discount even Harvard's journals when you disagree with them. They wouldn't have published an article that was simply partisan. Harvard is hardly a Liberty University, Jeff.

Perhaps you could provide an article from a similarly respected journal that supports your perspective. That would certainly stimulate an interesting discussion. I look forward to it.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Thoughtful on 10/20/2016 at 1:48 PM

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette

So let me get all lawyerly now.

Withholding advice can reasonably be construed as having no opinion on the matter, or not wishing to insert oneself into the discussion.

Withholding consent or withholding denial, as I said above, could be construed as implicit consent, and legally has been. For example, if you fail to actively protect your trademark, and that trademark is used by another company, you can lose your ownership of the trademark. In other words, by failing to deny consent, you implicitly grant consent for the use of that trademark.

So, legally, the president could argue that the Senate's failure to act shows disinterest in the subject and no desire to defend their Constitutional prerogatives, thereby granting implicit consent in his choice.

Honestly I don't know what they're afraid of, not holding hearings or a vote. They can hold a hearing and vote him down and people could howl to the heavens, they would still be within their rights to do so. Not acting at all just doesn't make sense, except as a distraction, getting people to argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jeff on 10/20/2016 at 12:42 PM

Re: “The Death of Status Symbols

Just read a large marketing study from 2013 focused on "Millennials With Children." 71% of millennials with children live in suburban or rural areas. Lots of good comments here: I agree and am happy that a lot of "status" symbols may be dead (at least in the near term), but I think critical urban planning prophets are grossly missing the ball by thinking of millennials as strictly educated childless nomads. The public schools thing is probably the horse before any cart, but I'm frankly annoyed by all the urban planning decisions that cater to a demographic that is probably in a finite window time wise.

Catering to childless 20 somethings that have the free time and are "liquid rich" because they have the flexibility to spend an inordinate amount of their income in the experience / entertainment industry is not a sustainable demographic to plan around. Many of the millennial families that live in midtown can only do so because they have generational familial wealth that enables them to do so. That is a fact, whether or not they disguise it by not being otherwise into material consumerism. Real progress would be trying to figure out how to keep middle class young families in the core---and the realization that this includes even double working parents with college degrees who have high incomes, but maybe zero liquid / available familial wealth. Those are just the facts.

Posted by tigerfan311 on 10/20/2016 at 12:42 PM

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette

Also, would this be the same Adam White who is at the Hoover Institution and writes for neoconservative rag the Weekly Standard?

Hardly an unbiased legal opinion on the subject, I think.

Posted by Jeff on 10/20/2016 at 12:32 PM

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette

Infinite are the arguments of lawyers to prove what they set out to prove, rather than to prove the facts, even when published in the Harvard Law Review. It's like arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It begins with the belief in angels.

As a person somewhat familiar with the use and meaning of language, historical lawankery notwithstanding, let's examine the words.

Advice - is something you give or withhold. Withholding advice, by definition, is not advice, it is the avoiding of advising.

Consent - is also something you give or deny. Failure to respond to a request, by definition, is not the same as giving consent, or of withholding consent. It is no action at all.

The Constitution obliges the Congress to advise and consent, and thus, by the common understand of the words today and yesterday, is a demand for action, not inaction. Failure to advise is not a form of advice, and failure to consent OR deny can just as easily be construed as consent as denial.

But even if you argue that failure to give consent is a denial of consent (which it can be, but it is expect that the subject should make some response unless incapacitated, which makes denial of consent implicit), this particular form of failure to give consent is undemocratic and unconstitutional for the simple reason that it does not say that the president shall seek the advice and consent of the Senate majority leader, it says explicitly the Senate. The Senate is a body of people, not a single person, and a single person can't speak for the entire body on any Constitutionally mandated duty. The Senate must give advice and consent and the senate has not been allowed to. At the very least they should have to vote whether or not they will give advice and consent.

Posted by Jeff on 10/20/2016 at 12:24 PM

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette

@Packrat - You could be right. As I say, Constitutional Law isn't my forte. I just enjoy the history. But the arguments White makes here seem to be where we stand. Honestly, there's way too much passive mechanism in our government to suit my liking to begin with. Sending stuff to committee just to die, failure to ratify, letting things time out, rather than actively voting on them. The whole thing is so... 18th Century... It's exasperating.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by OakTree on 10/20/2016 at 11:36 AM

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette

"Article concludes that this evidence does not support an assertion that the constitutional provision for advice and consent contains an implicit obligation to act on the President’s nominations..."

That's probably true, Oak. But I don't know if it's part of the design of the system as much as it is an oversight of the constitution. I would argue that common sense (not admissible as a legal argument maybe) would dictate that while the Senate is certainly entitled to vote down a President's nominee, to refuse to even consider a nominee at all (especially one as legally qualified as Garland) is shirking the duty to advise and consent.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Packrat on 10/20/2016 at 11:30 AM

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette

@Jeff - I understand your argument, but disagree.

Adam White writes in an interesting article for Harvard's 'Journal of Law and Public Policy' that:

"..The meaning of 'advice and consent' is not self‐evident, and the means of its proper application are not obvious. In attempting to ascertain the original meaning of this constitutional provision, we must first look to the debates at the Constitutional Convention and in the subsequent state ratification conventions..."

"..Part I of this Article traces the framing of the Constitution’s provision for Senate advice and consent of judicial appointments from the Constitutional Convention through the ratification debates. Part II explores the history of advice and consent in Massachusetts, outlining the historical relationship between the Governor and the Executive Council, and detailing long‐ ignored evidence contained in the official eighteenth‐century records of the council. Part III focuses on Madison’s alternative to advice and consent —a discretionary Senate veto— and offers a framework for analyzing the textual differences between the veto and advice and consent. Marshalling these findings, this Article concludes that this evidence does not support an assertion that the constitutional provision for advice and consent contains an implicit obligation to act on the President’s nominations..."…

It's a fairly well thought out piece, and I tend to agree with him. The last sentence in the above quote being the pertinent one: "..does not support an assertion that the constitutional provision for advice and consent contains an implicit obligation to act..."

This is the contemporary state of the Constitutional argument as far as I am aware. Of course I'm no Constitutional Law professor. But inasmuch as President Obama actually IS ONE, if there were a Constitutional basis to compel Congress to act, I'm sure the Solicitor General would be litigating that matter right now, in order to get Congress off its collective duff.

The consensus appears to be that this is part of the design of the system, as I stated.

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Posted by OakTree on 10/20/2016 at 11:01 AM

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette

Oak, they do have a duty to advise and consent. That is an active role, not a passive role. The fact that they aren't even holding hearings, much less a vote, is shirking their constitutional duties. They can vote against the president's nominations, but they do have to vote. Unfortunately, the Constitution fails to provide a solution for when Congress fails to fulfill this role.

Unlike when the president fails to sign something into law - it becomes law automatically. Because, you know, the executive is an active role as well. I don't think the authors of the Constitution ever imagined a Congress that would not fulfill its most basic legislative roles.

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jeff on 10/20/2016 at 9:50 AM

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette

And now Esquire is reporting the Russians hacks go very deep indeed. Think they can't hack the mom-and-pop election operations that go on in this country?

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jeff on 10/20/2016 at 9:45 AM

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette

Treaties aren't ratified either, unless the Senate concurs, Pete. The legislature will sometimes fail to ratify certain things they don't like. Just like the President will fail to sign things into law sometimes. This is the way it is supposed to work. I understand that you don't like that. But failing to work with the President to fill judicial vacancies isn't shirking their duty. It's merely one of a number of ways that our Legislative branch of government can exercise checks and balances on the Executive branch. If you look at history, it is indeed apparent that the currently sitting Legislative branch is using this strategy to a much larger degree than it has in other administrations. This piece by the Brookings Institute gives some numbers:…

But the power to appoint governmental agents, or not to do so as the case may be, isn't just an Executive function. The Legislative branch can say no. Either actively or passively.

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by OakTree on 10/20/2016 at 9:34 AM

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette

If Republicans were so concerned about the Constitution, they'd actually do their job. They apparently are confused about their role when it comes to SCOTUS.

"He (the President) shall have the Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments."

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Posted by on 10/20/2016 at 9:00 AM

Re: “SCOTUS Death Roulette

It's actually a smart tactical move to raise hell about vote rigging and election fraud right now and get everybody from the president to Paul Krugman poo-pooing the very idea. Preposterous! Insanity! Dangerous rhetoric!

Then, when the Russians hack the election results, nobody can say squat. They will have to meekly accept President Trump's impossible last hour vote surge in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Colorado, and Pennsylvania.

Just saying.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jeff on 10/20/2016 at 7:27 AM

Re: “The “Natural State”

Bruce is right, but I cannot vouch for Dr. Mohler one way or another.

Posted by Thoughtful on 10/18/2016 at 1:05 PM

Re: “The “Natural State”

Packrat, I agree, which is why I called the SBC membership "deluded" above.

That they are deluded in general has been my opinion since my personal apostasy. That they are deluded as to the moral requirements of their own theology is, I believe, what Dr. Mohler is suggesting.

By the way, Dr. Mohler's claim to know "principled men and women of Christian character and conviction" who are voting for Trump sounds analogous to Bruce's claim that many "fine and upstanding" people smoke pot. Maybe the operation of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of believers is no different than the mind-numbing effect of pot.

Posted by Brunetto Latini on 10/18/2016 at 12:15 PM

Re: “The “Natural State”

Bruno, rank and file southern Baptists and other evangelicals aren't any more likely to follow the SBC leader in this regard than rank and file Catholics are to follow the lead of their local diocesan bishop. Trump is going to kill it with Southern Baptists.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Packrat on 10/18/2016 at 8:33 AM

Re: “The “Natural State”

Magic 8-Balls says evangelicals will publically say they support Trump and privately vote for Clinton, because who really wants Armageddon anyway?

Posted by Jeff on 10/18/2016 at 7:50 AM
Posted by Brunetto Latini on 10/17/2016 at 6:54 PM

Re: “The “Natural State”

@Brunetto--I don't keep up with what the SBC is doing, but I'd be surprised if they weren't supporting Donald Trump for president. Not withstanding his recently publicized remarks, I doubt they are trying to convince their congregants that he's the anti-Christ. That's a term they usually reserve for Hillary.

Posted by Jenna C'est Quoi on 10/17/2016 at 5:13 PM

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