TCR believes in courts that don't legislate, that follow the law, and that don't create rights or responsibilities where none exist by the law or are explicitly in the Constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court, ending its 2014-2015 term, in multiple cases has essentially thrown the Constitution out the window.
So we end the term with a lot of bad decisions and a handful of good ones and new issues to be decided on next year.
First, the bad: (1) Obamacare, in a sequel to last year's decision, that the federal government can order individual citizens to buy the medical insurance the government wants them to buy, which is nowhere in the Constitution. Obamacare was not passed as a tax. The latest decision also ignores the wording of the law. The court put its own judgment in the place of Congress. In essence, saying the Congress "meant" to include all federal subsidies to federal exchanges if the states declined to participate. Of course, there is nothing in the Constitution that allows that either.
(2) The gay marriage decision, which is not in the Court's providence, as historically the federal government has nothing to do with family law. Again, there is nothing in the Constitution about that. Like Roe vs. Wade, the Court has interfered with a states' right to decide the issue, and many have. Instead, the Court jumps in, and throws out state marriage laws it doesn't like, redefining marriage and substituting its opinion for that of the people, i.e. legislating from the bench.
(3) Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project is another questionable decision that creates disparate impact liability in the Fair Housing Act of 1988 where none exists legislatively. While all admit it was a practice neutral on its face and non-discriminatory in its intent, it has a disproportionate effect on some protected groups. In plain English, the Court says discrimination can be viewed from a result.
(4) The Supreme Court also decided to limit EPA rulings on coal, fire, and electric utilities. The Court said the EPA couldn't limit without considering many other factors. The problem here is that out of control agencies force compliance, and by the time the Courts get involved it is too late and companies are already complying.
(5) Coming next year is a court review of Texas' abortion facility regulations, whether public employees can be compelled to pay fees to unions they don't want to join, and a new reapportionment case, Evenwel v. Abbott, where there is a challenge to the "one person, one vote" requirement of equal populations among Congressional districts, and seeks to have the Court order apportionment based on registered voters and not population. This could be big in preserving or extending GOP dominance in the House of Representatives.
Obama's Slow Retreat On Iran,
Nuclear War Gets Closer
The Obama-Kerry deal with Iran is getting worse all the time. TCR has detailed for months how bad it is for the free world and our allies.
So what's the latest? Obama's friends, like former aide Dennis Ross, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, and others, are now detailing what a bad deal it is. Ross, commenting on Iran's unfrozen assets, will move about $150 billion to them, which will fuel the terror state agenda for Iran.
Moreover, Freidman calls it a bad deal and further comments, "But it is stunning to me how well the Iranians, sitting alone on their side of the table, have played a weak hand against the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany, and Britain on their side of the table... But beware: This deal could be as big, if not bigger, an earthquake in the Middle East as the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. And what both had in common is that we were totally unprepared to manage the aftershocks the morning after. The Arab world today has almost no geopolitical weight. Egypt is enfeebled, Saudi Arabia lacks the capacity to project power and Iraq is no more. An Iran that is unshackled from sanctions and gets an injection of over $100 billion in cash will be even more superior in power than all of its Arab neighbors."
What are the latest Iranian requested concessions? Now Iran wants UN sanctions on its ballistic missile program lifted as part of a long-term nuclear accord, and all the frozen money and sanctions lifted on the front end of any deal. Those indispensable inspections by IAEA and other verifiable compliance measures, forget about that, says Iran.
The Congress needs to vote no on the Obama-Kerry appeasement project with Iran when it comes up.
A Growth Friendly Consumption Tax Idea
Is Worthy Of Consideration
As promised in a recent issue of TCR, here is an interesting tax reform idea the conservative scholars at the American Enterprise Institute have delivered. It's a new idea to replace individual and corporate income taxes, estate and gift taxes.
So here's how it would work:
"The individual and corporate income taxes and the estate and gift tax would be replaced by the Bradford X Tax, a progressive consumption tax. The X tax consists of a flat-rate, firm-level tax on business cash flow and a graduated-rate household-level tax on wages and fringe benefits."
"For married couples, the first $80,000 of taxable earnings would be taxed at 15%, the next $160,000 of earnings would be taxed at 25%, and earnings above $240,000 would be taxed at 35% (bracket ranges would be half as large for unmarried taxpayers). Households would be allowed a nonrefundable credit of $1,000 for each adult and $500 for each dependent. There would be no standard deduction or personal exemptions. An earned income tax credit and credits for charitable contributions, health insurance, mortgage interest payments (on mortgages of up to $250,000), and deductions for child care costs and large employee business expenses would be permitted.
"Business firms' cash flow would be taxed at a flat rate of 37%. Firms would immediately expense (rather than depreciate over a period of years) all investment, including equipment, structures, land, and inventories. Business tax preferences, except a reformed and permanent research tax credit, would be abolished.
"The tax proposal increases saving and promotes long-run economic growth by removing the marginal tax penalty on new saving and investment. Because no household-level tax is collected on interest, dividends, capital gains, or other income from savings, there is no household-level penalty on saving. And there is no net business-level tax on a marginal new investment because the tax savings that firms receive from immediately deducting investment costs fully offsets the present value of the taxes on the investment's subsequent cash flows."
TCR Comment: This is an idea worth considering along with others to simplify and lessen our tax burden. One thing is clear, our present tax system is not sustainable.
Thoughts On The Legislature, Part III
By Judge Rory R. Olsen
The next thought is not something that just happened for the first time in the last legislative session. Nor is it a thought to which I can claim any ownership. What is the thought? It is that twenty-six and twenty-seven year olds who lack the life experience to understand what they are talking about largely run the legislative process.
My experience is that most legislators with any degree of seniority at all, will have some permanent Austin staff. These staffers tend to be mature adults. I have never had a bad experience with permanent staff, since they tend to be a professional bunch of people, just like you would find in any government or business office.
Unfortunately for all of us who have to deal with the legislature, legislators tend to add to their staff for the legislative sessions. Who do they hire? In my experience they tend to hire lots of student interns and even more recent college or law school graduates.
The good thing about these young employees is that they are bright eyed, eager and aiming to please. The bad thing about these young people is that they lack life and professional experience. For example, in the ending days of the last session, I contacted the office of a state senator and spoke to a young lawyer. He was a nice, bright young man. Unfortunately for our discussion he had not ever actually been involved with an actual lawsuit in the subject matter that we were discussing, so he only had a slight theoretical grasp of the subject that I needed to discuss with him. I spent forty minutes on the phone patiently explaining the law to him and giving him code citations. Once I managed to get him up to speed on the subject, we were able to work out an amendment to the bill in question. Of course, had I been dealing a more experienced lawyer, I never would have had the problem in the first place.
Friends who work in Austin have told me worse stories about having to deal with some legislator's staffer who was on leave from UT law school and had never taken a course in the subject matter in question. I would be hard pressed to think of a less useful way of employing a lawyer's time than in conducting an impromptu class for the benefit of one legislative staffer.
This problem will go away when legislators are given budgets large enough for them to hire and retain more permanent, professional staff. Until then, expect more of the same.
Judge Rory R. Olsen is the presiding judge of Harris County (Texas) Probate Court at Law No. 3.
TCR on the Air
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About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his sixteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last fourteen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 12 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his 13th year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston, longest running political talk show in Texas history. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.