Tag: gorsuch

Rand Paul’s Critical Supreme Court Nominee Vote

By Kenneth Casey | United States

With President Trump promising to announce his nominee to replace the recently retired Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court on Monday, CBS reported that there are two leading contenders. President Trump has been talking to Senators on Capitol Hill recently. He is trying to assure he will have the votes necessary to confirm whoever he nominates to the court.

Opposition to Potential Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh

One of the leading contenders to be Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is Brett Kavanaugh. He currently serves on the D.C. Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals.

One Republican Senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, has voiced potential concerns over the potential nomination of Kavanaugh. Paul cited concerns over Kavanaugh’s support in “cases involving executive privilege and the disclosure of documents to Congress“. Washington Post also notes that Kavanaugh’s writing on Obamacare has bothered some conservatives. This may also be a reason to provoke Paul’s unrest.

A Critical Vote

His vote is so crucial because the Republicans in the Senate only have a 51-49 majority. So, if no Democrats vote in favor of Trump’s nominee, just one Republican could put the nomination in jeopardy. Other Republican votes to keep an eye on for similar reason include Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. Both very economically conservative, the two men may share similar concerns about Kavanaugh’s lack of conservatism and establishment ties.

Libertarian-leaning Paul is not the only right-wing figure concerned with Kavanaugh’s establishment ties. Glenn Beck has tweeted several concerns over the potential Supreme Court nominee, including his request to President Bush that he nominate Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court, his opinion on Obamacare and liberals he’s surrounded himself with. Moreover, prominent conservative lawyer James Bopp, most well known for his part in Citizens United V. FEC, urged President Trump to not nominate Kavanaugh.

Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are also potential no votes on a Trump nominee. Both support abortion rights, and the latter has come out and said she will not vote for someone who displays hostility towards Roe V. Wade.

Some Democrat votes to watch include Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, all moderate Democrats up for re-election this year in states that overwhelmingly voted for Trump. All voted in favor of Neil Gorsuch in April, so they may also support another Trump nominee.


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Supreme Court Decision Preserves Religious Freedom

By Kaihua Zhou | United States

Recently, the Supreme Court determined that Jack Phillips, a baker, had a right to refuse to produce a wedding cake for a gay couple. This decision is based on sound reasoning.

By recognizing Phillips’ freedom of self-expression, the Court honors the right to express themselves. This principle extends to unpopular and even offensive speech. Consider the case of a woman who made highly racist comments to James Ahn, an Asian American, while driving. Such speech is despicable. It is immoral, but not illegal. However, there are situations where moral choices are illegal. Is an individual’s choice to follow their religious beliefs immoral? Most would assert that this choice is praiseworthy. Yet, Sikh service members were forbidden to wear beards and turbans in 1981 despite these gestures being sincere expressions of their faith. Thankfully, two Sikh service members regained this right in 2016. As Americans, we treasure diversity and inclusion. By protecting the Sikhs, we ensure universal protection for all minorities.

This principle extends even farther. In wartime, states have an obligation to protect their citizens. Occasionally, states choose to enact drafts to fulfill this duty. Honoring the principle of self-expression, the United States has exempted consciousness objectors on the basis of “religious training and/or belief.” War presents a clear threat. Yet we honor self-expression even in such dangerous circumstances.

This brings us to Phillips’ case:

David Mullins, one partner in the gay couple, has argued that Phillips denied him “basic access to public life.” This is a compelling argument. Can the state coerce an individual to grant access to public life? Surely, LGBT individuals have a right to particapate in public life. This principle extends to all. Reviewing the Ahn example, Ahn deserved to have his dignity respected. However, he was not. Even if one considers Phillips a bigot, the state respects a bigot’s rights to self-expression, under certain conditions.

Does baking a cake count as self-expression? It certainly is a creative act with an implied message. Phillips considers it to be one:

“I don’t create cakes for Halloween, I wouldn’t create a cake that would be anti-American or disparaging against anybody for any reason, even cakes that would disparage people who identify as LGBT. Cakes have a message and this is one I can’t create”

By creating cakes, Phillips participates in public life. The same can be said of the Sikh service members and conscious objectors. By compelling him ( or any other group) to refrain from self-expression would be limiting his access to public life. Compelling him ( or any other group) to engage in a expression would similarly limit his access. Freedom is for all, not just for those who hold popular opinions. This is true in Phillips’ court case and it is true for all.


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