Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Federal court reinstates anti-voter-fraud law in Wisconsin, Democrats hardest hit

If it’s not close, they can’t cheat. And in Wisconsin, they can’t cheat anyway.

National Review reports:

Voter-ID opponents have suffered another stunning blow.

On Friday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the injunction that had been issued against Wisconsin’s voter-ID law by a federal district court in April. The court told Wisconsin that it “may, if it wishes (and if it is appropriate under rules of state law), enforce the photo ID requirement in this November’s elections.” In reaction, Kevin Kennedy, the state’s top election official, said that Wisconsin would take all steps necessary “to fully implement the voter photo ID law for the November general election.” The appeals court issued its one-page opinion within hours of hearing oral arguments in the appeal.

As I explained in an NRO article in May, the district court judge, Lynn Adelman, a Clinton appointee and former Democratic state senator, had issued an injunction claiming the Wisconsin ID law violated the Voting Rights Act as well as the Fourteenth Amendment. Adelman made the startling claim in his opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2008 upholding Indiana’s voter-ID law as constitutional was “not binding precedent,” so Adelman could essentially ignore it.

However, that was too much for the Seventh Circuit. It pointed out, in what most lawyers would consider a rebuke, that Adelman had held Wisconsin’s law invalid “even though it is materially identical to Indiana’s photo ID statute, which the Supreme Court held valid in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008).”

It was also obviously significant to the Seventh Circuit that the Wisconsin state supreme court had upheld the state’s voter-ID law in July, since the three-judge panel cited that decision, Milwaukee Branch of NAACP v. Walker, too. In fact, the appeals court said the state court decision had changed the “balance of equities and thus the propriety of federal injunctive relief.”

In other words, there was no justification for striking down a state voter-ID law that was identical to one that had been previously upheld by both the Supreme Court of the United States and that state’s highest court.

[...]This is also another big defeat for Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced in July that the Justice Department would be intervening in this lawsuit. The Department lost a lawsuit that claimed South Carolina’s voter-ID law was discriminatory in 2012, and a federal judge recently refused to issue an injunction against North Carolina’s voter-ID law in another lawsuit filed by Justice.

This is a big win for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who faces a tough Democrat challenger backed by powerful unions in November.

 

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Supreme Court rules in favor of religious liberty and against labor unions

Life News first, on the Hobby Lobby religious liberty vs abortion subsidies case.

Excerpt:

The Supreme Court ruled today that the Christian-run Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to obey the HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare that requires businesses to pay for abortion causing drugs in their employee health care plans.

The Obama administration was attempting to make Hobby Lobby and thousands of pro-life businesses and organizations comply with the HHS mandate that compels religious companies to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs for their employees. However, the U.S. Supreme Court today issued a favorable ruling in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a landmark case addressing the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of business owners to operate their family companies without violating their deeply held religious convictions.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito handed down the decision for the high court, saying, “The Supreme Court holds government can’t require closely held corporations with religious owners to provide contraception coverage.”

The court ruled that the contraception mandate violated the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, a 1993 law and it held that the mandate “substantially burdens the exercise of religion” and that HHS didn’t use the “least restrictive means” to promote this government interest, tests required by RFRA.

“HHS’s contraception mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion,” the decision reads, adding that the “decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates.” The opinion said the “plain terms of Religious Freedom Restoration Act” are “perfectly clear.”

“If the owners comply with the HHS mandate, they believe they will be facilitating abortions, and if they do not comply, they will pay a very heavy price — as much as $1.3 million per day, or about $475 million per year, in the case of one of the companies,” the opinion reads. “If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would.”

[...]The Hobby Lobby decision only applies to companies, including Conestoga Wood Specialties, which had a companion case pending before the Supreme Court. Non-profit groups like Priests for Life and Little Sisters are still waiting for a ruling about their right to opt out of the mandate.

[...]Americans “don’t give up their rights to religious freedom just because they open a family-run business,” Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented Hobby Lobby. This is a landmark decision for religious freedom. The Supreme Court recognized that Americans do not lose their religious freedom when they run a family business.”

Barbara Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby, also responded: “Our family is overjoyed by the Supreme Court’s decision. Today the nation’s highest court has re-affirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of our country’s founding principles. The Court’s decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith. We are grateful to God and to those who have supported us on this difficult journey.”

You can read the reactions from people on the left on Twitter, in which they threaten to burn Hobby Lobby stores to the ground. Note that Hobby Lobby is only objecting to covering 4 out of 20 prescribed contraceptives required by Obamacare, just the ones that can cause abortions. They don’t want to pay money to other people to make it cheaper for them to kill unborn children. Makes sense, right? Not to the left.

And now the second decision, which was reported on in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Home-based care workers in Illinois aren’t full-fledged public employees so they can’t be forced to pay dues to a union they don’t want to join, a divided Supreme Court said. But the limited ruling stopped short of barring organized labor from collecting fees from government workers who object to union representation.

The court, in a 5-4 opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, said the aides weren’t full public employees even though they are paid by the state with Medicaid funds. Because of that status, the workers—often family members of the disabled—couldn’t be required to pay what are known as agency fees to a public-sector union that provides them representation.

Justice Alito said requiring mandatory union fees violated the First Amendment rights of aides who didn’t want to join or support the union. Monday’s ruling split along ideological lines, with conservative justices in the majority and liberal justices in the dissent.

The high court avoided the broadest possible ruling in the case, declining a request by the challengers to limit the ability of public-sector unions to collect fees from all workers who decline to join labor unions. Labor lawyers said that while unions dodged that bullet in Monday’s ruling, they may not be able to in the future. The ruling “sets the table for more challenges to agency fees down the road. And this fact will not make unions sleep any easier,” said Michael Lotito, a labor lawyer at Littler Mendelson P.C.

[...]The National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, an antiunion group in Springfield, Va., sued on behalf of eight Medicaid-paid aides, some of whom are covered by the SEIU agreement, saying the Illinois arrangement had forced parents and other relatives taking care of disabled people into union associations they didn’t want. The foundation said Monday’s ruling would free “thousands of home-care providers from unwanted union control.”

And lastly, somehow I missed a third good Supreme Court decision, which unanimously sided with the the pro-life Susan B. Anthony list. That decision came out in mid-June.

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State department: not building the Keystone XL pipeline could increase greenhouse gas emissions

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

Not building the 875-mile Keystone XL Pipeline could result in the release of up to 42 percent more greenhouse gases than would be released by building it, according to the State Department.

Not building the pipeline “is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the [Canadian] oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States,” the department noted in a long-awaited environmental report released January 31st.

But the “No Build” option is likely to result in an increased number of oil spills, six more deaths annually, and up to 42 percent higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the State Department concluded.

The proposed 36-inch pipeline would transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day from western Canada through the Bakken oil fields of Montana and South Dakota before connecting to an existing pipeline in Nebraska on its way to Gulf Coast refineries.

The project will create an estimated 42,100 jobs and add $3.4 billion to the U.S. economy.

This report follows last week’s report showing that the pipeline would have no major environmental impact.

Excerpt:

The long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared a major hurdle toward approval Friday, a serious blow to environmentalists’ hopes that President Barack Obama will block the controversial project running more than 1,000 miles from Canada through the heart of the U.S.

The State Department reported no major environmental objections to the proposed $7 billion pipeline, which has become a symbol of the political debate over climate change. Republicans and some oil- and gas-producing states in the U.S. — as well as Canada’s minister of natural resources — cheered the report, but it further rankled environmentalists already at odds with Obama and his energy policy.

Now the State Department is one of the most liberal departments in the government. Unfortunately, this has not appeased the great climate science experts in Hollywood, who donate so much money to Democrat election campaigns. So long as the money keeps flowing from the high school drop-out celebrities, don’t expect this pipeline to get built. For the Democrats, it’s all about staying in power.

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Wisconsin judge defends free speech rights of conservative groups against Democrat fascists

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

From the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Chalk up a big victory for the First Amendment. On Friday a Wisconsin judge struck a major blow for free political speech when he quashed subpoenas to conservative groups and ordered the return of property to the targets of a so-called John Doe campaign-finance probe.

John Doe probes operate much like grand juries, allowing prosecutors to issue subpoenas and conduct searches while gag orders require the targets to keep quiet. We wrote about the kitchen-sink subpoenas and morning raids by special prosecutor Francis Schmitz that targeted dozens of conservative groups that participated in the battle to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker (“Wisconsin Political Speech Raid,” Nov. 16, 2013).

Now we learn that Judge Gregory A. Peterson ruled on Friday that at least some of those subpoenas were improper. They “do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws,” he wrote. His opinion remains under seal but we obtained a copy.

The quashed subpoenas were sent to Friends of Scott Walker, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Inc., the Wisconsin Club for Growth, and Citizens for a Strong America, as well as their officers and directors. Judge Peterson’s order doesn’t apply to other subpoena targets, but they can presumably get the same result if they file a motion with the judge and have a similar factual basis.

[...]“There is no evidence of express advocacy” and therefore “the subpoenas fail to show probable cause that a crime was committed,” Judge Peterson wrote. Even “the State is not claiming that any of the independent organizations expressly advocated” for the election of Mr. Walker or his opponent, he added. Instead they did “issue advocacy,” which focuses on specific political issues.

This means that prosecutors essentially invented without evidence the possibility of criminal behavior to justify the subpoenas and their thuggish tactics. At least three targets had their homes raided at dawn, with police turning over belongings, seizing computers and files, and even barring phone calls.

The judge’s order vindicates our suspicion that the John Doe probe is a political operation intended to shut up Mr. Walker’s allies as he seeks re-election this year. No one has taken public credit for appointing the special prosecutor, but we know the probe began in the office of Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf.

Charlie Sykes, the famous Wisconsin-based radio talk show host, had more to say about it on Right Wisconsin.

He writes:

The IRS scandal — which is ongoing — is not that Tea Party groups may have engaged in political activities; it is the abuse of government power to target, harass, and intimidate political opponents. It involves singling out conservative Tea Party groups for special scrutiny and harassment if they sought tax exempt status. 

But that pales next to the Doe, which targeted dozens of conservative groups and individuals and subjected them to criminal investigations. Prosecutors cast a breathtakingly wide net –- 29 separate groups, including Wisconsin Club for Growth, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Americans for Prosperity, American Crossroads, and the Republican Governors Association, along with other innocent bystanders.

In the IRS scandal, Tea Party groups were threatened with the denial of tax exempt status and subject to legal and financial inconvenience. In Wisconsin, conservatives were threatened with imprisonment.

[...]The anti-Walker probe included raiding the homes of targeted activists, seizing their private correspondence, phones, and computers – including the computers, phones, and emails of their spouses and other family members. Under the Doe’s draconian gag orders, conservatives subjected to such raids were threatened with imprisonment if they spoke about it. And because the probe was secret, the prosecutors could not be held accountable for their conduct. 

[...]So, what is the motivation/agenda behind the witch-hunt?  The office of Milwaukee Democrat district attorney, John Chisolm, presided over a three-year-old long John Doe aimed at Scott Walker that resulted in charges only against a handful of functionaries. Dozens of members of Chisholm’s office signed Walker recall petitions; the chief investigator had a recall sign in his front yard, and some of Chisolm’s aides reportedly were panting at the prospect of charging Walker himself.  Their disappointment has been palpable.

Sources describe deputies Bruce Landgraf and David Robles as particularly vindictive and aggressive in pursuing the new probe.

I just finished reading Governor Scott Walker’s new book about his effort to limit public sector unions in Wisconsin, and their (failed) effort to recall him. I believe this man has what it takes to be President one day. I believe in experience, and Walker is getting a lot of experience passing bold, innovative reforms as governor of Wisconsin. He could. Go. All. The. Way.

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One-third of recent college graduates say they should have skipped college and gone to work

From Forbes magazine, a word of caution to young people, especially to young men who intend to marry and have children.

Excerpt:

Here’s an indication of how burdensome student loans have become: About one-third of millennials say they would have been better off working, instead of going to college and paying tuition.

That’s according to a new Wells Fargo study which surveyed 1,414 millennials between the ages of 22 and 32. More than half of them financed their education through student loans, and many say the if they had $10,000 the “first thing” they’d do is pay down their student loan or credit card debt.

That’s no surprise when you consider student borrowing topped the $100 billion threshold for the first time in 2010, and total outstanding loans exceeded $1 trillion for the first time in 2011.  Student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt in the U.S. which stands at about $798 billion.

The problem sometimes is that not all college educations are worth their cost since they can’t guarantee a high-paying job to help pay off that student debt. A report from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys says the rising student debt problem can have a bad impact on the economy. Even in the best of economic times when jobs are plentiful, young people with considerable debt burdens end up delaying life-cycle events such as buying a car, purchasing a home, getting married and having children.

There’s nothing wrong with a good education in a trade school or community college.

The actual number for outstanding student loan debt is about $600 billion, and it’s gone up a lot under Obama.

Excerpt:

The outstanding balance for all of the direct student loans the federal government has issued topped $600 billion in April, according to newly released data from the U.S. Treasury.

The total balance hit $600.457 billion by the end of April, says the Treasury, up from $592.142 billion at the end of March.

The Federal Direct Student Loan Program already has built-in debt forgiveness plans for people who end up earning low incomes or for those who entered lines of work preferred by the government.

In January 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, the balance was $119.803 billion and has since increased more than fivefold.

The $480.654 billion increase since January 2009 in what is owed to the Treasury in direct student loans represents a climb of about 250 percent in just over four years.

Before Obama’s first term, federally guaranteed student loans were made both by the government directly and by private lenders using their own capital through what was called the Federal Family Education Loan program. Language inserted into the the Obamacare law signed in March 2010, however, abolished the latter type of federally guaranteed student loan, giving the U.S. Treasury a monopoly over those loans.

As the Congressional Research Service has described it, this Obamacare provision made the U.S. Treasury the exclusive “banker” for federally guaranteed student loans. Thus, U.S. taxpayers essentially own these loans.

The troubling thing is that since the schools have spent all the time teaching children about global warming and the proper use of contraceptives, it’s unlikely that they will be able to find real jobs in order to pay off their loans. They aren’t learning how to manage money in school, and parents aren’t taking the responsibility to teach kids about money at home. The sad thing is that they have been taught by their teachers to keep voting for more politicization of education and more government spending on fashionable causes. But at least they feel superior about it. For now.

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