Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Merrick Garland attend Brett Kavanaughs swearing-in

Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Merrick Garland attend Brett Kavanaugh\s swearing-in
Melania Trump wears Dolce & Gabbana to Supreme Court investiture
This weeks election results suggest that Justice Brett Kavanaugh allowed Republicans to defy a Democratic blue wave and keep the Senate. Democratic senators in North Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri who voted against his confirmation lost their reelection bids by large margins, while the sole Democrat who voted for him held on in West Virginia. But Kavanaughs confirmation fight will have effects far beyond the elections to the core issues that are driving division between the parties: abortion, gay marriage, and privacy.

Before everything devolved into a degrading abuse of the confirmation process, Kavanaughs fiercest opposition came from the usual source: abortion supporters. Protesters interrupted his hearing repeatedly with their screams to defend abortion, and characters from feminist dystopian TV shows made their required guest appearances. Pro-choice groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on television ads warning of Roe v. Wades death knell. With characteristic subtlety, activists sent over a thousand hangers, symbols of self-administered abortions, to Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine), one of the critical confirmation votes.

On one hand, the fury was unwarranted. As a lower-court judge for the last score of years, Kavanaugh gave little indication he is champing at the bit to send Roe v. Wade to the dustbin of history. In his only case touching on abortion, Garza v. Hargan (2017), Kavanaugh took the position that an illegal-alien minor did not have a right to obtain an abortion while in government custody. But the majority also held that the government could transfer the alien to the custody of an immigration sponsor so she could then obtain an abortion. For what it is worth, the full twelve-judge D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, dominated by Obama appointees, overruled Kavanaughs panel and held that the alien minor had a right to an abortion even while in immigration custody. But conservatives had reason to find flaw with Kavanaugh too, because his panel allowed an escape hatch for the alien to seek an abortion.

Despite this position of compromise, the Left understandably considered the fight against Kavanaugh to be something of a final stand, because the fate of Roe v. Wade may well rest in the new justices hands. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whom Kavanaugh replaced, supplied the fifth vote on the Supreme Court to keep abortion rights on life support. Liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor have voted in lockstep to strike down virtually any effort by the states to regulate abortion. But only Kennedy could give them the majority they so desperately seek. Kennedys strained efforts to conjure forth a right to abortion from a spare constitutional text had resulted in confused, even mystical definitions of privacy. At the heart of liberty is the right to define ones own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life, Kennedy notoriously wrote in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, the critical 1992 case that upheld Roe. Kennedys self-defining aspirations created a new jurisprudence of subjectivity, wherein the Court would find rights wherever it so chose if some favored group felt its own concept of existence was threatened.

But with Justice Kennedys retirement, the era of constitutional mysticism has come to a close. Narrowing and ultimately overruling Roe will provide the common ground for the five conservative justices to finally define the Roberts Court. In 1992, Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from Casey v. Planned Parenthood when Kennedy joined Justices Sandra Day OConnor and David Souter (all three appointed by Republican presidents) and voted to defend Roe. Thomas, moreover, has long made clear that he pays no heed to incorrect precedent. Justice Samuel Alito has become a reliable, even stalwart defender of traditional values and conservative jurisprudence. Justice Neil Gorsuchs writings on natural law, assisted suicide, and euthanasia suggest that he would defend the states interest in preserving the life of the fetus. As a young lawyer in the Bush Justice Department, John Roberts drafted briefs asking the justices to overturn Roe. As chief justice, he has voted to uphold most state restrictions on abortion. If Roberts were to vote his beliefs rather than worry about the political standing of the Supreme Court (a big if after his vote to uphold Obamacare in 2012), Kavanaughs appointment should establish a 5–4 majority to end the regime of Roe.

Kavanaugh does not simply create a majority to overturn Roe. His arrival could trigger a wholesale reconsideration of the Supreme Courts misguided adventure into the world of unwritten, atextual, judicially created rights. For the last half century, the Left has turned to the Supreme Court to win what it could not in the normal political process. The Court has embedded the sexual revolution into the Constitution and found new progressive rights for privacy and dignity, as well as protections against animus, in a document that mentions none of the above. Conservatives should not seek to overturn Roe because they are obsessed with abortion; they should demand its reversal because it represents a politicization of the Supreme Court and an abuse of the Constitution to short-circuit democracy in the service of the latest left-wing ideals of the day.

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who won in an open contest for the GOP-held Senate seat in Tennessee, said the Kavanaugh fight was pivotal. Kavanaugh, and Trumps determination to make the Supreme Court a decisive issue in the midterm campaign, were largely responsible for creating a “movement” that carried her to victory over Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen, Blackburn said.

The Court careened off the constitutional rails in 1965. In Griswold, the justices struck down a Connecticut law that prohibited married couples from using birth control because it violated a new right to privacy. Lacking any support in the constitutional text, the Griswold majority inferred the right from the penumbras, formed by emanations from other constitutional rights. The Warren Courts shady constitutional analysis also resurrected a long-vilified doctrine: substantive due process. While the Fifth and 14th Amendments declare that no person can be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, that text fairly screams out for courts to define fair process — does an individual have a right to a trial, to a lawyer, to confront witnesses, to provide evidence? What the due-process clause does not create is new substantive rights; indeed, it only requires the state to provide a fair process before taking them away. Eight years later, Roe v. Wade naturally followed. A majority of a still liberal Court peered into the constitutional shadows and found a right to abortion that had gone undiscovered for nearly two centuries.

With 51 seats heading into Tuesdays vote, the Republicans could emerge with as many as 54 by the time all the votes are counted in contested states. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the Kavanaugh hearings an “adrenaline shot” that put Republicans over the top in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and, possibly, Arizona.

Roe was the case that launched a thousand flights of jurisprudential fancy. Weve already quoted Justice Kennedys strange mysticism in Casey. Gay rights would soon join the voyage. In Lawrence v. Texas, Justice Kennedy, writing for the Court, struck down a Texas law criminalizing homosexual relations between consenting adults. As Justice Thomas noted in his dissenting opinion, the law was uncommonly silly, but constitutional. Instead of relying on the political process and the states to regulate sex, as our nation had for two centuries, Kennedy invented a new constitutional right to intimate relations. He wrote: liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes . . . certain intimate conduct. Lawrence itself involved liberty of the person both in its spatial and in its more transcendent dimensions. We have yet to find a constitutional text that mentions liberty in its more transcendent dimensions. In Lawrence, Roe gave rise to amateur poetry masquerading as constitutional analysis.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said on the campaign trail in Nevada last week that he didnt believe the issue would have legs through Election Day due to the issues that would inevitably crop up between then and when polls opened, namely the pipe bombs and the shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

All of this led up to gay marriage, with Justice Kennedy once again holding the reins. We may support or oppose gay marriage (or abortion, or the criminalization of sodomy) as citizens at the ballot box, but our policy preferences should not bear on the proper interpretation of the Constitution. In Obergefell, however, the Court elevated the demands of the gay-rights movement over more than two centuries of state control over marriage. Relying on Griswold and Lawrence, Justice Kennedy wrote for a five-justice majority that substantive due process produced a constitutional right to marry someone of the same sex over the will of approximately two-thirds of the states. Justice Kennedys vacuous reasoning did not disappoint: The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. Who determines that lawful realm, and who decides which identities count? The Supreme Court.

“I think the Republicans, the core voters that were critical to us, were highly offended by the questioning of the presumption of innocence and the tactics,” he said. “We were worried about lack of intensity on our side and I think the Kavanaugh fight certainly provided that. It was extremely helpful.”

Who needs a written constitution when five justices can just rewrite whenever they see fit? As Justice Scalia wrote in his dissent in Obergefell: This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves. If we are to return to the rule of law rather than the rule of the Supreme Court, conservative justices must restore the Constitution by removing the Court from these policy debates. If the people want to constitutionalize legal abortion or same-sex marriage, we can choose to do so.

Though not enough to save the House, hearings in the Senate that discussed unsubstantiated allegations of sexual assault angered a complacent GOP electorate, Republicans said. The issue motived base GOP voters in several deep-red states that helped decide Senate Control in the next Congress.

But it may be a bridge too far and too fast to expect Chief Justice Roberts, and perhaps also Justice Kavanaugh, to reverse years of substantive due process in one fell swoop, overturn Roe and Casey on abortion, and return abortion and marriage to the states. Neither seems to share the urge toward sweeping reform of the Court and the Constitution held by Justices Thomas and Scalia. Conservatives will have to chart a more gradual path toward reversing the half-century-old liberal project to remake the Supreme Court into a political institution.

But the Kavanaugh effect came through for party that was starving for months for a message to latch on to, including a successful economy that was not even close to doing the trick for them heading into November. Without it, Republicans believe things could have turned out differently.

On abortion, the new Roberts Court can begin by restoring state discretion to sensibly regulate abortion. The Court could find that the states interest in the life of the unborn outweighs the mothers privacy or autonomy interests in the third trimester — when babies can usually survive if born prematurely — unless the mothers life is in danger. The subjectivity of Caseys current test, which asks whether a state regulation places an undue burden on abortion, will forever invite the Court to be the final decision maker on every abortion regulation. Neither state officials nor lower-court judges can truly predict whether regulation of the medical training and standards of abortion clinics, or efforts to prevent partial-birth abortion, create an undue burden. Instead, all such cases must go to the Supreme Court, which aggrandizes its power first by constitutionalizing abortion and then by creating a vague test that drives all important cases up to its docket.

“What we Democrats did is show the nation that the Republicans want to fill up the bench and President Trump wants to fill up the bench with judges, justices who are against womens right to healthcare,” Schumer said, rattling off a list of issues many GOP-backed judges are against.

The Roberts Court could also set out some clear bright-line rules. First, the Court could allow states to define as a person an unborn child that has achieved viability outside the womb, which makes an unborn child a person for purposes of the Constitution. This would recognize the right of the state to bring the unborn child within the protections of a states laws to protect life. Likewise, the Court could allow states to criminalize abortions that kill an unborn child that can survive outside of its mothers womb. Some states could choose to follow this path, and some would not. But by creating bright-line rules, the Roberts Court will allow states more space to articulate and defend their interests in abortion or in fetal life.

Look, I had a president, who nearly won a 50-percentage-point win in my home state, come here three times, I had no idea what that meant, but I knew that I just need to be me and trust the voters, he said Tuesday, before the polls closed.

The Roberts Court could apply the same approach to same-sex marriage. For now, if the justices are unwilling to reverse Obergefell, they at least could prevent its judicially invented, atextual approach from overcoming the longstanding constitutional rights of others. It could find, as it largely punted on last years Masterpiece Cakeshop case, that states cannot coerce individuals into participating or assisting in gay marriages if they hold sincerely held religious beliefs otherwise. They could prevent employers, colleges, and universities that receive state funds from discriminating against students and faculty who wish to exercise their rights to free speech against gay marriage (or for it, for that matter).

Republicans noted that among the throng of red-state Democrat incumbents on the ballot Tuesday, one of the two victories was delivered by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the only Democrat who voted to confirm for Kavanaugh in the full Senate vote.

But the central task for the Roberts Court is to replace the constantly evolving definition of privacy under substantive due process with a new test more closely tied to the constitutional text. What would that something else be? One possibility is the 14th Amendments privileges-and-immunities clause. Justice Thomas has pointed out that this clause, which the Supreme Court incorrectly read into oblivion in The Slaughter-House Cases in 1873, includes unenumerated rights. The problem for liberals, and the hope for conservatives, is that the framers of the privileges-and-immunities clause had a more radical vision of individual rights than is currently held today, one centered in economic rights. Radical Republicans of the Reconstruction Congress viewed one of the great sins of slavery as the denial of the right to free labor. Their 14th Amendment would provide more grounds for the recognition of rights against state economic regulation, such as onerous licensing and occupational requirements, overregulation of private property, and interference with private contracts. The justices could root their analysis of abortion, gay marriage, or the latest progressive invention in whether the framers of the 14th Amendment would have believed it to qualify as a privilege or immunity — the answer to Roe, Casey, or Obergefell would be no, in light of the extensive state regulation of intimacy before and long after enactment of the Reconstruction Amendments.

Manchin, who broke with his party to back Kavanaugh, told the Washington Examiner that he had to do what was right and vote with his state in mind, noting that the president had an overwhelming victory in West Virginia two Novembers ago.

The new conservative majority on the Court might shy away from such a radical restructuring of its jurisprudence on privacy. But these first steps would make a great contribution to our constitutional and political system well beyond the narrow issues of abortion or gay marriage. Pulling the Court out of privacy would rejuvenate our politics. Under the baleful influence of the Warren years, the Supreme Court has steadily added more and more important social issues to its docket. Every time it claims constitutional power over another social issue, it deprives the peoples elected representatives in our statehouses or in Congress of the ability to determine the policies that govern them. As it assumes the jurisdiction of a legislature, the Court has steadily become more political. It is no surprise that the Kavanaugh nomination took on the character of an electoral campaign. Anyone who cares deeply about abortion, gay marriage, race, religion, or speech can achieve policy changes only by influencing the appointment of justices to the Supreme Court, rather than working to win elections and appeal to our elected representatives. They will view the decisions of the justices on these issues as political, rather than legal, in nature.

Restoring these issues to the political process will result in a diversity of policies on many issues. Our federal system already allows such difference on matters of life and death, such as the death penalty or euthanasia. The states, and the people, will become more responsible — leading to a more robust democracy rather than the increasingly fragile one we have today. It may ask too much for the Court to clip its own wings. But with Kavanaugh now there, it might just have the moxie to make the hard choice of correcting its indefensible privacy jurisprudence. After all, the best way for the Court to stay out of politics is for the Court to stay out of politics. And putting a stake in the heart of substantive due process, whether piecemeal or all at once, will go a long way towards that constitutionally required outcome.

“That had as much of an effect galvanizing people to vote Democratic as it did to galvanize people to vote Republican, and in the long run its going to hurt them far more,” Schumer insisted.

— John Yoo is the Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. James C. Phillips is an attorney in private practice and a non-resident fellow at Stanford Law Schools Constitutional Law Center.

Melania Trump donned a somber black dress to watch Brett Kavanaugh formally take his seat as the 114th justice on the Supreme Court Thursday.

Republicans fell short in Montana and West Virginia, although the issue nearly put them over the top in contests that were previously considered off the table.

The 48-year-old first lady joined her husband, President Donald Trump, at the traditional investiture ceremony, wearing the same Dolce & Gabbana coat dress that she wore to Barbara Bushs funeral service in April.

She accessorized the look with a pair of $625 black Manolo Blahnik pumps and elbow-length leather gloves, which she left on while posing for photos with the Supreme Court justices. 

Outfit: Melania Trump donned a black Dolce & Gabbana coat dress to watch Brett Kavanaugh formally take his seat as the 114th justice on the Supreme Court Thursday

Added touch: She accessorized the look with a pair of $625 black Manolo Blahnik pumps and elbow-length leather gloves. At one point, she was seen carrying one of her gloves 

Melania had a bright smile on her face as she stood between Trump and Kavanaugh, who was joined by his wife, Ashley. 

Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Jr., Elena Kagan, and Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. all posed for pictures, but Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was noticeably absent from the photos.

The 85-year old was admitted for observation and treatment according to a statement put out by the Supreme Court.

Earlier in the day, Melania was seen being escorted to her car in the motorcade before traveling to the Supreme Court for the investiture ceremony. 

The whole group: Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Jr., Elena Kagan, and Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. all posed for pictures, but Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was noticeably absent

Her highlighted brown hair was down and loose around her shoulders, and she shielded her eyes from the morning glare with a pair of dark sunglasses. 

At one point, Melania was seen wearing only one glove as she made her way into the vehicle. She held the glove in her left hand, possibly removing it to use her cellphone. 

The outfit, all black, was certainly a somber choice for the day, particularly in the context of her having worn it once before to Barbara Bushs funeral.

Ginsbergs hospitalization has been on the minds of many this morning, with several political leaders offering well wishes. 

And naturally, the shooting at a country music bar in southern California on Wednesday night has been on the countrys mind. 

Melania again took off one of her long black gloves, perhaps to give herself some added dexterity, to sign a guest book in the Supreme Court building. 

Melanias gloves are being compared today to those worn by another model turned political wife, Louise Linton, who was gently mocked for her sartorial flair at a visit to a U.S. Mint facility with her husband, Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, a year ago. 

Flashback: Melania had previously worn the dress at the funeral for former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martins Episcopal Church on April 21, 2018

After a gunman opened fire and killed 12 people at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks at 11.20pm, the president took to Twitter to share his thoughts.

Law Enforcement and First Responders, together with the FBI, are on scene. 13 people, at this time, have been reported dead. Likewise, the shooter is dead, along with the first police officer to enter the bar…. 

….Great bravery shown by police. California Highway Patrol was on scene within 3 minutes, with first officer to enter shot numerous times.  

That Sheriffs Sergeant died in the hospital. God bless all of the victims and families of the victims. Thank you to Law Enforcement.

Other close observers of Melanias wardrobe might guess that FLOTUS outfit choice has a hidden political meaning, as many have speculated in the past that she has sent messages with her clothes. 

Occasion for black: On Wednesday night, 11 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a California bar

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