SCOTUS Salutes Trump's Power Over Military
It’s hard enough to be the president under normal circumstances. But try doing it while others are constantly trying to usurp your constitutional authority. That’s the position Donald Trump’s been in for two whole years. Every time he acts, the courts react — at best, putting his policies on hold. At worst, refusing to consider them. Yesterday, finally, one set of justices got it right — but the White House had to go all the way to the top to find them.
It took five members of the Supreme Court — including this administration’s two nominees — to put an end to the activist nonsense on at least one issue: the president’s transgender military restriction. Although the justices didn’t rule on the policy, they did agree that other courts were out of line to block it from taking effect until the policy was adjudicated in the courts. For months, radical judges had been tying the Pentagon’s hands from moving forward with the plan. By a 5-4 vote, Justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh reversed the lower courts’ orders and gave the military the green light to proceed.
The White House had asked SCOTUS to go ahead and decide the issue. But, as so many legal experts have pointed out, it’s extraordinarily rare for the justices to bypass the lower courts. Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued this was an issue of national security and it was “necessary to place the Department of Defense in the strongest position to protect the American people.” For now, five justices are at least showing some deference to the commander-in-chief, a courtesy other courts refuse to give him.
Of course, the idea of presidential authority never used to be a radical concept. After eight years of watching Barack Obama exercise his power — and hijack everyone else’s — Donald Trump decided to paint inside the constitutional lines. That’s why this new wave of judicial activism is so outrageous. “We have seen some federal judges at the trial level act like they are nothing short of the resistance of Donald Trump,” Breitbart’s Ken Klukowski fumed. Instead of just siding against the administration — which is bad enough when it violates the plain text of the law — more courts are using their injunction power like a political weapon. With it, even a single, unelected, lower-court judge can stop the administration’s agenda in its tracks.
“For plaintiffs who hire the best lawyers,” Ken explains, “they know not only what districts to file in, but also to make sure those districts are also under the jurisdiction of the U.S. court of appeals that’s also left-leaning.” That means a single ruling from a single lawsuit could be a two-year dagger in the heart of any of President Trump’s policies. “In just his first year, district judges issued nationwide injunctions on his travel ban, refugee policy, phaseout of the Obama-era DACA amnesty, efforts to speed up deportations of Iraqis, stripping of federal grants from sanctuary cities, attempts to change Obamacare’s contraceptive coverage and moves to reinstate a ban on transgender troops,” the Washington Times points out.
The difference between a narrow ruling and a national injunction can be massive, law professor Howard Wasserman warns. “Instead of allowing many judges to reach independent judgments, they resolve the question for all courts,” argues the Atlantic. “The government has little choice but to appeal, sometimes all the way up to the Supreme Court… That’s no way to govern a country. Injunctions should provide relief to the parties who sue, not to people who don’t sue…”
But for Trump’s opponents, who’ve never been able to succeed on their extremism legislatively, this is Judicial Activism 2.0. David French calls it “Trumplaw:” the process of crafting a new standard of court review, one that does violence to existing precedent, good sense, and even national security for the sake of defeating Donald Trump.
Step One: The Obama administration uses its executive power to implement a progressive policy (such as DACA or the contraceptive mandate).
Step Two: The Trump administration uses its executive power to repeal the Obama-administration action and implement a more conservative policy.
Step Three: Progressive plaintiffs file suit in a friendly jurisdiction using dubious legal theories to seek a broad injunction against the Trump-administration action.
Step Four: Progressive judges join the #Resistance, write obviously flawed opinions, and seek to freeze Obama’s policies in legal amber.
It’s refreshing to see at least five members of the Supreme Court try to rein in the lower court judges who are bent on telling the commander-in-chief how to run the military. The people charged with keeping our nation safe can’t do their job when rogue judges keep injecting their personal agendas into every social issue that reaches their courts. It’s the president’s job to decide military policy — and it’s time for the nation’s judges to let him.
Originally published here.
Planned Parenthood: Making a Killing
For once, Planned Parenthood is being honest about its number-one mission: abortion. And thanks to the organization’s latest annual report, Americans are seeing just how profitable that mission has been.
The group’s sense of timing is interesting, to say the least. The same weekend that tens of thousands of Americans were marching in Washington to protest abortion, Planned Parenthood decided to tell everyone what a cash cow abortion has been for them. Despite their apocalyptic emails and truth-optional fundraising appeals, Leana Wen’s organization isn’t hurting as much as it claims. Even under a pro-life president who’s done everything in his power to redirect money and influence away from Planned Parenthood, the group had an amazingly violent year.
Just when people thought the group couldn’t destroy any more unborn lives, Planned Parenthood announced that it had taken 11,373 more than 2016-17. That’s the total student enrollment at MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Think about that for a minute: This year’s abortion surplus at Planned Parenthood — not the total number, but the surplus, is enough to eliminate an entire student campus. Even more sickening, the overall casualties were 332,757 — multiple campuses of students who this world will never know. The highest body count, it bears mentioning, since Planned Parenthood’s 2011-2012 report.
Until recently (thanks for your candor Leana Wen), we were supposed to believe that abortion was just a fraction of Planned Parenthood’s services. A little more than three percent, the new report insists. If that’s the case, Alexandra Desanctis points out at NRO, then no one is quite sure what they’re doing, since other services are down across the board. “Planned Parenthood’s provision of contraception decreased by 80,000, cancer screenings by 45,000, and other ‘women’s health services’ such as well-woman exams and prenatal services decreased by 13,000. The only category of services that significantly increased, other than abortion procedures, was tests and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, which went up by 300,000.”
Not to mention, Desanctis argues, the three-percent nonsense is debunked by Planned Parenthood’s own report! They concoct this statistic “by dividing the abortion procedures for the year (332,757) by the number of "services” the group provided (9.7 million). The report defines a ‘service’ as a ‘discrete clinical interaction,’ such as the administration of an STI test.“ In other words, "If a woman visits a Planned Parenthood facility to obtain an abortion, and, while she’s there, is also given a pregnancy test, an STI test, a cancer screening, and contraception, the abortion procedure would be just 20 percent of the ‘services’ she received… Using this deceptive formula, the report manipulates the data to make it appear as if abortion is a tiny fraction of its work, though a much higher percentage of actual patients who visit Planned Parenthood clinics are there, first and foremost, to obtain an abortion.”
Of course, the most infuriating part of the report — from a taxpayer’s perspective — is this unexpected news: Planned Parenthood actually squeezed $20 million more dollars out of federal, state, and local governments than last fiscal year. At a whopping $563.8 million, how anyone can call this organization a “nonprofit” is beyond me! Surely that, coupled with the tidbit about spending $166 million on “movement building” (read: political activism), will revive the calls from the majority of voters who never thought taxpayers should be supporting them in the first place! If their affiliates can spend that kind of money campaigning and lobbying, certainly they don’t need ours.
Originally published here.
A Fifth Avenue to Defunding Planned Parenthood
Thanks to Planned Parenthood’s annual report, more Americans are starting to understand why the country’s biggest abortion business doesn’t need taxpayer money. Texas has always thought so, which is why the state has worked for years to put the brakes on the organization’s government-funded gravy train. Now, thanks to the Trump administration, the Lone Star State finally has the right to try again.
Under Barack Obama, it wasn’t just suggested that states send a portion of their Medicaid dollars to Planned Parenthood — it was required. Like a lot of Americans, President Trump didn’t think the government should be telling states how to spend their money. So, he overturned the rule and wrote his own, insisting that legislatures could decide for themselves.
Naturally, Planned Parenthood wasn’t exactly thrilled at the thought of losing Texas’s $3.1 million, so it took the state to court. Late last week, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court had its say — and, to the abortion group’s surprise, it ruled on behalf of taxpayers. Writing for the majority, Judge Edith Jones explained that the lower court had no reason to issue an injunction, especially when the $3.1 million that Texas is trying to withhold from Planned Parenthood is a “smidgen” of the $57 million its affiliates earn each year.
Just as importantly, the panel also handed a huge moral victory to the Center for Medical Progress, whose undercover videos have been ruled inadmissible in other courts. In this instance, Texas used the footage as one of its major arguments for defunding the group. “One of the incriminating videos,” LiveAction points out, “was shot inside Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Texas, where a Planned Parenthood employee explained that making it look like they didn’t profit from fetal tissue was ‘just a matter of line items.’ Another video featured abortionist Amna Dermish of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas discussing how she more effectively harvests fetal body parts during abortions.”
The Left has argued since the first tape was released in 2015 that the videos have been “doctored.” This court disagreed, reminding everyone that the footage had undergone forensic review and weren’t “deceptively edited.” If other judges agree, that will destroy one of Planned Parenthood’s central arguments.
For David Daleiden, who did America a favor by exposing Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts ring, the vindication was sweet. “The video camera doesn’t lie… The Court ruled that Texas may strip Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer subsidies, finding that Planned Parenthood uses criminal partial-birth abortions to sell baby parts. Now it’s time for the Department of Justice to do its job and hold Planned Parenthood accountable to the law.”
Until then, states have a compelling argument for taking matters into their own hands when it comes to Planned Parenthood dollars. If their policies end up in the courts, as the Left almost guarantees they will, then we can all be thankful that President Trump is putting his own stamp on those as well. With record numbers of men and women on the bench who respect the rule of law, it’s only a matter of time until America’s pro-life sentiment becomes its legal precedent.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.