Saturday, September 30, 2017
The Enduring Significance of the Defeat of “Repeal and Replace”
Friday, September 29, 2017
Why the Court can't really solve the problem of fair representation
Great hopes are being placed by many that the Court will help to staunch the cancer on American democracy that is partisan gerrymandering. I certainly hope there are five Justices who agree that Wisconsin (and many other contemporary states) are acting unconstitutionally. But it is a mistake to believe that even your favorite opinion (whatever that might be) would truly alleviate the problems posed by the House of Representatives. It is doomed to be "unrepresentative" in many important ways so long as it remains within the stranglehold of the 1842 congressional act, reaffirmed in 1967, that requires single-member districts. What is needed, in all states with more than, say, six representatives, is multi-member districts with candidates elected on the basis of proportional voting. This would not only go far to eliminate the ravages of contemporary partisan gerrymandering, but would also assure, say, that Republicans in LA would be able to elect a representative, just as Democrats in West Texas would finally get some genuine representation.
More on Puerto Rico
As part of the blog about our new book, Fault Lines in the Constitution, my wife Cynthia and I have just posted a discussion about Puerto Rico. It doesn't add very much to Gerard's excellent post, save that we hope that at least some of our audience includes the teenagers to whom our book is directed and their teachers. I do suspect that this will be a decisive moment in the relationship between the US national government and what is now the world's largest remaining colony (defined by the absence of any voting representation in the metropolitan government, unlike, for example, the French territories). One can only imagine what would be happening if Puerto Rico, which is the same population roughly as Connecticut, had that state's two senators and five members of the House (not to mention seven electoral votes). I would think, at the very least, that events of the past week have weakened the attraction of Commonwealth status, and I will be curious, should this turn out to be the case, if the defectors support statehood or independence (or, of course, independence should a bigoted Congress reject statehood because the dominant language of Puerto Rico is Spanish. And, of course, it would be extremely interesting, to put it mildly, to see what the response of the US would be to a truly serious secessionist movement patterned after 1776.
The Supreme Court's New Term
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Kudos to Michelle Goldberg on her joining the New York Times op-ed group
It is overdetermined that I am elated that Michelle Goldberg is now a regular op-ed writer for the New York Times. Her first column this morning, which for some reason I seem unable to link to, was on the degree to which we are subject to minority rule in the US, and she was kind enough to quote me. I confess I am very pleased about that. But I'm even more pleased by the fact that she is now the first pundit who is willing to "connect the dots" between the defects of our political system and the Constitution. As many of you know, I have been very frustrated with Tom Friedman and Paul Krugman over many years because they repeatedly write very eloquently about the dysfunctionality of our present polity, but never once engage in "dot connecting." Krugman especially is content to engage in vigorous denunciation, much of it certainly deserved, of Republican leaders, without ever asking why we accept with such equanimity at constitutional system that, during the Obama presidency even in 2009-2011, allowed the minority party in the Senate such power to obstruct the Obama program. I'm on record as saying that Mitch McConnell was behaving quite rationally as an opposition leader, but that the Constitution should be blamed for giving him so much power. Thank goodness, in at least one sense, that the Republicans won the Senate, for now it is crystal clear that the inability to repeal Obamacare is not because of obstructionist Democrats but, instead, because of the growing rifts within the Grand Old Party itself. We would be getting an entirely different narrative if 51 Democrats had ostensibly prevented repeal.
Introducing the Emerging Threats Essays—A Series of Papers About New (or Newish) Challenges to the Freedoms of Speech and the Press
Monday, September 25, 2017
Puerto Rican Statehood
Gerard N. Magliocca
Sometimes a disaster or a crisis is required to bring about long-overdue change. Whatever people may say about the Federal Government's response to Hurricane Maria so far, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Puerto Rico would be getting more (and faster) aid if the island was a state with two senators and at least one voting representative in Congress.
Top Ten Upsides of a Nuclear War with North Korea
And, Right on Cue...
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Free Speech on Campus
The State of "Our Democracy" -- Sitting in for Sandy Levinson
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
The Senate's latest health care proposal: Once again, it's all about the tax cuts
The Graham-Cassidy proposal currently before the Senate looks different than the House ACHA and Senate BCRA bill in one important respect. It does not eliminate most of Obamacare's taxes. ACHA and BCRA were little more than a tax cut for wealthy donors disguised as a health care bill. By contrast, Graham-Cassidy appears, on its face, to keep taxes in place and to strike a blow for federalism.
Monday, September 18, 2017