Abortion

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

June 18, 2019

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to feel less bound to upholding precedent, advancing a view that if adopted by enough of his fellow justices could result in more past decisions being overruled, perhaps including the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Writing in a gun possession case over whether the federal government and states can prosecute someone separately for the same crime, Thomas said the court should reconsider its standard for reviewing precedents.

Thomas said the nine justices should not uphold precedents that are “demonstrably erroneous,” regardless of whether other factors supported letting them stand.

“When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it,” wrote Thomas, who has long expressed a greater willingness than his colleagues to overrule precedents.

In a concurring opinion, which no other justice joined, Thomas referred to the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe and said states cannot place an undue burden on the constitutional right to an abortion recognized in the Roe decision. Thomas, a member of the court at the time, dissented from the Casey ruling.

Thomas, 70, joined the court in 1991 as an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush. Thomas is its longest-serving current justice.

The court now has a 5-4 conservative majority, and Thomas is among its most conservative justices.

He demonstrated his willingness to abandon precedent in February when he wrote that the court should reconsider its landmark 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan ruling that made it harder for public officials to win libel lawsuits.

“Thomas says legal questions have objectively correct answers, and judges should find them regardless of whether their colleagues or predecessors found different answers,” said Jonathan Entin, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “Everyone is concerned about this because they’re thinking about Roe v. Wade.”

COURT DIVISIONS

The Thomas opinion focused on “stare decisis,” a Latin term referring to the legal principle that U.S. courts should not overturn precedents without a special reason.

While stare decisis (pronounced STAR-ay deh-SY-sis) has no formal parameters, justices deciding whether to uphold precedents often look at such factors as whether they work, enhance stability in the law, are part of the national fabric or promote reliance interests, such as in contract cases.

In 2000, conservative then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist left intact the landmark 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling, which required police to advise people in custody of their rights, including the rights to remain silent and have a lawyer.

Writing for a 7-2 majority, Rehnquist wrote that regardless of concerns about Miranda’s reasoning, “the principles of stare decisis weigh heavily against overruling it now.” Thomas joined Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent from that decision. But even Scalia, a conservative who died in 2016, had a different view of stare decisis.

In a widely quoted comment, Scalia once told a Thomas biographer, Ken Foskett, that Thomas “doesn’t believe in stare decisis, period,” and that “if a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let’s get it right. I wouldn’t do that.”

Stare decisis has also split the current court, including last month when in a 5-4 decision written by Thomas the justices overruled a 1979 precedent that had allowed states to be sued by private parties in courts of other states.

Justice Stephen Breyer, a member of the court’s liberal wing, dissented, faulting the majority for overruling “a well-reasoned decision that has caused no serious practical problems.” Citing the 1992 Casey ruling, Breyer said the May decision “can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.”

Thomas said the court should “restore” its jurisprudence relating to precedents to ensure it exercises “mere judgment” and focuses on the “correct, original meaning” of laws it interprets.

“In our constitutional structure, our rule of upholding the law’s original meaning is reason enough to correct course,” Thomas wrote.

Thomas also said demonstrably erroneous decisions should not be “elevated” over federal statutes, as well as the Constitution, merely because they are precedents.

“That’s very different from what the Court does today,” said John McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern University in Chicago.

McGinnis said the thrust of Thomas’s opinion “makes clear that in a narrow area he will give some weight to precedent. But at the same time, he thinks cases have one right answer, and might find more cases ‘demonstrably erroneous.’”

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN


Why have national Democrats and not national Republicans fallen under the tyranny of the 70-somethings? It seems so contrary to common expectation. Democrats are, as they often remind us, the party of progress and the future. The question seems to rival those enduring, unanswerable mysteries such as “What happens when you die?” and “Why did Mick Taylor quit the Rolling Stones?”

People in their mid-to-late 70s are thick on the ground nowadays, while in an earlier era, of course, you’d have been more likely to find them under it. This is especially true in the urban centers of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, according to a recent survey of census data by the Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. In particular, the Washington, D.C., area is a leader in “senior labor force participation,” by which the researchers mean the region is loaded with people who have passed the age of retirement yet somehow neglected to retire.

Look no further than the Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill. For whatever reason—perhaps they’re more easily bored by government work, or perhaps they’re more eager to cash in on government work—Republicans have less of a 70-something problem. House Republicans are relatively youthful, in chronology if not in disposition: They are led by a trio ages 54, 53, and 52. Indeed, the only 70-something among the GOP leadership on the Hill is the 77-year-old Mitch McConnell (I’m omitting the constitutional office of president pro tempore of the Senate, now occupied by the Republican Chuck Grassley, who is 85 but doesn’t look a day over 86.)

Going down the ranks, the public-affairs software firm Quorum reckoned that the average age of the Democratic House leadership is 72, fully 24 years more than the average of the Republican House leadership. Infamously, the three leading Democrats in the House are 79, 78, and 79, for a staggering combined age of 236, making the Democratic leadership team older, in aggregate, than the Constitution itself.

The party’s congressional gerontocracy has now inevitably bled into the field of presidential candidates. The front-runner, Joe Biden, is 76. Second place, according to most polls, belongs to Bernie Sanders, who’s a year older than Biden. They hope to replace the oldest man ever to be elected president. He’s younger than both of them. If either Biden or Sanders gets to the White House and then wins a second term, we will be governed by a man in his early 80s, nearly two decades older than Franklin D. Roosevelt was when, having won his fourth term, he pegged out from overwork. Needless to say, Sanders and Biden are each much spryer than FDR. Imagine Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins Returns clicking his heels in the Oval Office.

To be sure, anyone who criticizes our gerontocracy must insert a “to be sure” paragraph right about now, praising the gumption and resilience of our oldsters, marveling at their energy and their bottomless reservoirs of wisdom. Stipulated! Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Biden, and Sanders—and especially the McDonald’s-loving 72-year-old incumbent—are walking testaments to the advances made by geriatric medicine since the 1950s, when they were teenagers. The idea that with length of days comes wisdom is a commonplace of our patrimony, from Aristotle and Job to Shakespeare and Austen. And all the flattering things we are required to say about old age and the people caught up in it do serve as a much-needed counterbalance to our culture’s childish obsession with youth.

But this traditional picture of old age as the repository of wisdom comes with certain complications. Gerontocracy is rule by people who insist on turning the peak of their career into a plateau. Aristotle and the others acknowledged that it carries hidden and insidious effects, and reveals unflattering qualities in the gerontocrats themselves. We can see this most obviously in the effect it has had on the Democratic Party generationally. There is a huge gap between where the energy and creativity of the party lie, with a group of dynamic activists and House members in their 30s and even their 20s (thank you, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), and the ruling class of 70-somethings layered far above like a crumbling porte cochere.

In the farm system that trains and seasons the leaders of tomorrow—assuming tomorrow ever comes—that gap signifies a lost generation. One day, presumably, power within the party will pass, and when it does, if present trends continue, it will leapfrog from seniors born around the time of V-J Day to people who can barely remember 9/11. More likely than not, members of Generation X will never get their turn—an entire cohort condemned to the fate of Prince Charles. After the indignities that Boomers inflicted on Generation X, from disco to postmodern literary theory, this scarcely seems fair.

The situation pushes some Gen Xers to take extreme measures. The far-fetched presidential campaigns of backbenchers such as Tim Ryan and Seth Moulton are best understood as cries for help, as ambitious young politicians try to free themselves from the professional bottleneck created by unbudgeable leadership.

Some 70-somethings are easier to forgive than others. Pelosi and her team are simply aging in place, clinging to a version of the jobs they’ve held for a decade or more; inertia could be as much to blame for their refusal to move along as an unslakable thirst for power and attention. There’s less to forgive in the actions of Biden and Sanders. Three years ago, both were given the chance to leave the field gracefully. But they. Will. Not. Go. Away.

Sanders, holding political positions virtually identical to those of his rivals, offered a less plausible case for his candidacy than Biden did. Biden’s case, which you could strain to make if you were willing to risk a herniated disk, was ideological: He filled a slot that no one else would fill. He was carrying the pragmatic liberalism of an earlier time into a scrum of leftish contenders who believe that pragmatism is for chumps.

That case was dashed last week with Biden’s head-snapping reversal of his 40-year support of the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion. Far from serving as an alternative to the radicalism of one segment of his party, Biden showed that he is willing to be its slave—if that’s what it takes to win approval for his dream of apotheosis. Such groveling is unlovely enough in people in the robust prime of life; it is doubly so in old people, who, by virtue of their age and experience, are supposed to know their own mind.

The only cure for the desire to be president, a wise politician once said, is embalming fluid. Let’s stipulate to that, too. We all need purpose and meaning in life. The trick for old folks is to adjust their search for purpose and meaning as they follow nature’s course and give way to their juniors. The avenues to self-fulfillment that were open to them as younger men and women are now the rightful territory of a newer generation, and dignity requires them to find other paths of service and satisfaction.

I can easily imagine a host of dignified futures for our 70-something presidential candidates, far from New Hampshire and Iowa. Sanders could work as a tour guide in Nicaragua or a docent on fundraising cruises for The New York Review of Books. Biden, for his part, could take on the once-popular, now-neglected role of “elder statesman,” happy to serve when called to a blue-ribbon panel or as a special envoy to trouble spots here and there, to offer advice when his advice is sought, and otherwise to lead a life of recreation, reading, and contemplation. No one will think less of either of them.

Instead, they have chosen the way of vanity and self-indulgence, to the detriment of the political cause they say they want to advance. Sanders and Biden have made themselves the equivalent of the old dude cruising the pool at Club Med in his sagging Speedo, capped teeth gleaming, knobby shoulders and fallen pecs bronzed and shiny with tanning oil, gold chains twinkling through the chest hair. I’m not saying one of them won’t succeed in his quest—though I have my doubts about both—but in a saner world, it would be obvious that the quest itself is unseemly. They do no credit to their peers with their refusal to acknowledge their natural and inevitable station in life. And they do no favors to the younger people—from Pete Buttigieg, age 37; to Kamala Harris, age 54; and even to Elizabeth Warren, age 69—who are eager, as they are entitled to be, to take their shot.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.


Why have national Democrats and not national Republicans fallen under the tyranny of the 70-somethings? It seems so contrary to common expectation. Democrats are, as they often remind us, the party of progress and the future. The question seems to rival those enduring, unanswerable mysteries such as “What happens when you die?” and “Why did Mick Taylor quit the Rolling Stones?”

People in their mid-to-late 70s are thick on the ground nowadays, while in an earlier era, of course, you’d have been more likely to find them under it. This is especially true in the urban centers of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, according to a recent survey of census data by the Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. In particular, the Washington, D.C., area is a leader in “senior labor force participation,” by which the researchers mean the region is loaded with people who have passed the age of retirement yet somehow neglected to retire.

Look no further than the Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill. For whatever reason—perhaps they’re more easily bored by government work, or perhaps they’re more eager to cash in on government work—Republicans have less of a 70-something problem. House Republicans are relatively youthful, in chronology if not in disposition: They are led by a trio ages 54, 53, and 52. Indeed, the only 70-something among the GOP leadership on the Hill is the 77-year-old Mitch McConnell (I’m omitting the constitutional office of president pro tempore of the Senate, now occupied by the Republican Chuck Grassley, who is 85 but doesn’t look a day over 86.)

Going down the ranks, the public-affairs software firm Quorum reckoned that the average age of the Democratic House leadership is 72, fully 24 years more than the average of the Republican House leadership. Infamously, the three leading Democrats in the House are 79, 78, and 79, for a staggering combined age of 236, making the Democratic leadership team older, in aggregate, than the Constitution itself.

The party’s congressional gerontocracy has now inevitably bled into the field of presidential candidates. The front-runner, Joe Biden, is 76. Second place, according to most polls, belongs to Bernie Sanders, who’s a year older than Biden. They hope to replace the oldest man ever to be elected president. He’s younger than both of them. If either Biden or Sanders gets to the White House and then wins a second term, we will be governed by a man in his early 80s, nearly two decades older than Franklin D. Roosevelt was when, having won his fourth term, he pegged out from overwork. Needless to say, Sanders and Biden are each much spryer than FDR. Imagine Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins Returns clicking his heels in the Oval Office.

To be sure, anyone who criticizes our gerontocracy must insert a “to be sure” paragraph right about now, praising the gumption and resilience of our oldsters, marveling at their energy and their bottomless reservoirs of wisdom. Stipulated! Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Biden, and Sanders—and especially the McDonald’s-loving 72-year-old incumbent—are walking testaments to the advances made by geriatric medicine since the 1950s, when they were teenagers. The idea that with length of days comes wisdom is a commonplace of our patrimony, from Aristotle and Job to Shakespeare and Austen. And all the flattering things we are required to say about old age and the people caught up in it do serve as a much-needed counterbalance to our culture’s childish obsession with youth.

But this traditional picture of old age as the repository of wisdom comes with certain complications. Gerontocracy is rule by people who insist on turning the peak of their career into a plateau. Aristotle and the others acknowledged that it carries hidden and insidious effects, and reveals unflattering qualities in the gerontocrats themselves. We can see this most obviously in the effect it has had on the Democratic Party generationally. There is a huge gap between where the energy and creativity of the party lie, with a group of dynamic activists and House members in their 30s and even their 20s (thank you, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), and the ruling class of 70-somethings layered far above like a crumbling porte cochere.

In the farm system that trains and seasons the leaders of tomorrow—assuming tomorrow ever comes—that gap signifies a lost generation. One day, presumably, power within the party will pass, and when it does, if present trends continue, it will leapfrog from seniors born around the time of V-J Day to people who can barely remember 9/11. More likely than not, members of Generation X will never get their turn—an entire cohort condemned to the fate of Prince Charles. After the indignities that Boomers inflicted on Generation X, from disco to postmodern literary theory, this scarcely seems fair.

The situation pushes some Gen Xers to take extreme measures. The far-fetched presidential campaigns of backbenchers such as Tim Ryan and Seth Moulton are best understood as cries for help, as ambitious young politicians try to free themselves from the professional bottleneck created by unbudgeable leadership.

Some 70-somethings are easier to forgive than others. Pelosi and her team are simply aging in place, clinging to a version of the jobs they’ve held for a decade or more; inertia could be as much to blame for their refusal to move along as an unslakable thirst for power and attention. There’s less to forgive in the actions of Biden and Sanders. Three years ago, both were given the chance to leave the field gracefully. But they. Will. Not. Go. Away.

Sanders, holding political positions virtually identical to those of his rivals, offered a less plausible case for his candidacy than Biden did. Biden’s case, which you could strain to make if you were willing to risk a herniated disk, was ideological: He filled a slot that no one else would fill. He was carrying the pragmatic liberalism of an earlier time into a scrum of leftish contenders who believe that pragmatism is for chumps.

That case was dashed last week with Biden’s head-snapping reversal of his 40-year support of the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion. Far from serving as an alternative to the radicalism of one segment of his party, Biden showed that he is willing to be its slave—if that’s what it takes to win approval for his dream of apotheosis. Such groveling is unlovely enough in people in the robust prime of life; it is doubly so in old people, who, by virtue of their age and experience, are supposed to know their own mind.

The only cure for the desire to be president, a wise politician once said, is embalming fluid. Let’s stipulate to that, too. We all need purpose and meaning in life. The trick for old folks is to adjust their search for purpose and meaning as they follow nature’s course and give way to their juniors. The avenues to self-fulfillment that were open to them as younger men and women are now the rightful territory of a newer generation, and dignity requires them to find other paths of service and satisfaction.

I can easily imagine a host of dignified futures for our 70-something presidential candidates, far from New Hampshire and Iowa. Sanders could work as a tour guide in Nicaragua or a docent on fundraising cruises for The New York Review of Books. Biden, for his part, could take on the once-popular, now-neglected role of “elder statesman,” happy to serve when called to a blue-ribbon panel or as a special envoy to trouble spots here and there, to offer advice when his advice is sought, and otherwise to lead a life of recreation, reading, and contemplation. No one will think less of either of them.

Instead, they have chosen the way of vanity and self-indulgence, to the detriment of the political cause they say they want to advance. Sanders and Biden have made themselves the equivalent of the old dude cruising the pool at Club Med in his sagging Speedo, capped teeth gleaming, knobby shoulders and fallen pecs bronzed and shiny with tanning oil, gold chains twinkling through the chest hair. I’m not saying one of them won’t succeed in his quest—though I have my doubts about both—but in a saner world, it would be obvious that the quest itself is unseemly. They do no credit to their peers with their refusal to acknowledge their natural and inevitable station in life. And they do no favors to the younger people—from Pete Buttigieg, age 37; to Kamala Harris, age 54; and even to Elizabeth Warren, age 69—who are eager, as they are entitled to be, to take their shot.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

(Reuters) – Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to feel less bound to upholding precedent, advancing a view that if adopted by enough of his fellow justices could result in more past decisions being overruled, perhaps including the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Writing in a gun possession case over whether the federal government and states can prosecute someone separately for the same crime, Thomas said the court should reconsider its standard for reviewing precedents.

Thomas said the nine justices should not uphold precedents that are “demonstrably erroneous,” regardless of whether other factors supported letting them stand.

“When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it,” wrote Thomas, who has long expressed a greater willingness than his colleagues to overrule precedents.

In a concurring opinion, which no other justice joined, Thomas referred to the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe and said states cannot place an undue burden on the constitutional right to an abortion recognized in the Roe decision. Thomas, a member of the court at the time, dissented from the Casey ruling.

Thomas, 70, joined the court in 1991 as an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush. Thomas is its longest-serving current justice.

The court now has a 5-4 conservative majority, and Thomas is among its most conservative justices.

He demonstrated his willingness to abandon precedent in February when he wrote that the court should reconsider its landmark 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan ruling that made it harder for public officials to win libel lawsuits.

“Thomas says legal questions have objectively correct answers, and judges should find them regardless of whether their colleagues or predecessors found different answers,” said Jonathan Entin, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “Everyone is concerned about this because they’re thinking about Roe v. Wade.”

COURT DIVISIONS

The Thomas opinion focused on “stare decisis,” a Latin term referring to the legal principle that U.S. courts should not overturn precedents without a special reason.

While stare decisis (pronounced STAR-ay deh-SY-sis) has no formal parameters, justices deciding whether to uphold precedents often look at such factors as whether they work, enhance stability in the law, are part of the national fabric or promote reliance interests, such as in contract cases.

In 2000, conservative then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist left intact the landmark 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling, which required police to advise people in custody of their rights, including the rights to remain silent and have a lawyer.

Writing for a 7-2 majority, Rehnquist wrote that regardless of concerns about Miranda’s reasoning, “the principles of stare decisis weigh heavily against overruling it now.” Thomas joined Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent from that decision. But even Scalia, a conservative who died in 2016, had a different view of stare decisis.

In a widely quoted comment, Scalia once told a Thomas biographer, Ken Foskett, that Thomas “doesn’t believe in stare decisis, period,” and that “if a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let’s get it right. I wouldn’t do that.”

Stare decisis has also split the current court, including last month when in a 5-4 decision written by Thomas the justices overruled a 1979 precedent that had allowed states to be sued by private parties in courts of other states.

Justice Stephen Breyer, a member of the court’s liberal wing, dissented, faulting the majority for overruling “a well-reasoned decision that has caused no serious practical problems.” Citing the 1992 Casey ruling, Breyer said the May decision “can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.”

Thomas said the court should “restore” its jurisprudence relating to precedents to ensure it exercises “mere judgment” and focuses on the “correct, original meaning” of laws it interprets.

“In our constitutional structure, our rule of upholding the law’s original meaning is reason enough to correct course,” Thomas wrote.

Thomas also said demonstrably erroneous decisions should not be “elevated” over federal statutes, as well as the Constitution, merely because they are precedents.

“That’s very different from what the Court does today,” said John McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern University in Chicago.

McGinnis said the thrust of Thomas’s opinion “makes clear that in a narrow area he will give some weight to precedent. But at the same time, he thinks cases have one right answer, and might find more cases ‘demonstrably erroneous.’”

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham

(Reuters) – Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to feel less bound to upholding precedent, advancing a view that if adopted by enough of his fellow justices could result in more past decisions being overruled, perhaps including the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Writing in a gun possession case over whether the federal government and states can prosecute someone separately for the same crime, Thomas said the court should reconsider its standard for reviewing precedents.

Thomas said the nine justices should not uphold precedents that are “demonstrably erroneous,” regardless of whether other factors supported letting them stand.

“When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it,” wrote Thomas, who has long expressed a greater willingness than his colleagues to overrule precedents.

In a concurring opinion, which no other justice joined, Thomas referred to the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe and said states cannot place an undue burden on the constitutional right to an abortion recognized in the Roe decision. Thomas, a member of the court at the time, dissented from the Casey ruling.

Thomas, 70, joined the court in 1991 as an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush. Thomas is its longest-serving current justice.

The court now has a 5-4 conservative majority, and Thomas is among its most conservative justices.

He demonstrated his willingness to abandon precedent in February when he wrote that the court should reconsider its landmark 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan ruling that made it harder for public officials to win libel lawsuits.

“Thomas says legal questions have objectively correct answers, and judges should find them regardless of whether their colleagues or predecessors found different answers,” said Jonathan Entin, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “Everyone is concerned about this because they’re thinking about Roe v. Wade.”

COURT DIVISIONS

The Thomas opinion focused on “stare decisis,” a Latin term referring to the legal principle that U.S. courts should not overturn precedents without a special reason.

While stare decisis (pronounced STAR-ay deh-SY-sis) has no formal parameters, justices deciding whether to uphold precedents often look at such factors as whether they work, enhance stability in the law, are part of the national fabric or promote reliance interests, such as in contract cases.

In 2000, conservative then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist left intact the landmark 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling, which required police to advise people in custody of their rights, including the rights to remain silent and have a lawyer.

Writing for a 7-2 majority, Rehnquist wrote that regardless of concerns about Miranda’s reasoning, “the principles of stare decisis weigh heavily against overruling it now.” Thomas joined Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent from that decision. But even Scalia, a conservative who died in 2016, had a different view of stare decisis.

In a widely quoted comment, Scalia once told a Thomas biographer, Ken Foskett, that Thomas “doesn’t believe in stare decisis, period,” and that “if a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let’s get it right. I wouldn’t do that.”

Stare decisis has also split the current court, including last month when in a 5-4 decision written by Thomas the justices overruled a 1979 precedent that had allowed states to be sued by private parties in courts of other states.

Justice Stephen Breyer, a member of the court’s liberal wing, dissented, faulting the majority for overruling “a well-reasoned decision that has caused no serious practical problems.” Citing the 1992 Casey ruling, Breyer said the May decision “can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.”

Thomas said the court should “restore” its jurisprudence relating to precedents to ensure it exercises “mere judgment” and focuses on the “correct, original meaning” of laws it interprets.

“In our constitutional structure, our rule of upholding the law’s original meaning is reason enough to correct course,” Thomas wrote.

Thomas also said demonstrably erroneous decisions should not be “elevated” over federal statutes, as well as the Constitution, merely because they are precedents.

“That’s very different from what the Court does today,” said John McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern University in Chicago.

McGinnis said the thrust of Thomas’s opinion “makes clear that in a narrow area he will give some weight to precedent. But at the same time, he thinks cases have one right answer, and might find more cases ‘demonstrably erroneous.’”

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham

FILE PHOTO: Italian director Franco Zeffirelli arrives to attend Luciano Pavarotti's funeral at the cathedral of Modena
FILE PHOTO: Italian director Franco Zeffirelli arrives to attend Luciano Pavarotti’s funeral at the cathedral of Modena September 8, 2007. REUTERS/Daniele La Monaca/File Photo

June 15, 2019

By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters) – Franco Zeffirelli, who directed the world’s greatest opera singers and brought Shakespeare to the cinema-going masses, has died. He was 96.

In a statement, his foundation said he died in Rome on Saturday. “Ciao Maestro,” said the announcement.

Often appreciated more by the public than critics, Zeffirelli was the last of a generation of Italian film giants who came of age after World War Two, including Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti and Vittorio De Sica.

He directed more than two dozen films, working with stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Laurence Olivier, Alec Guinness, Faye Dunaway, and Jon Voight.

“Franco Zeffirelli, one of the world’s greatest men of culture, passed away this morning,” Dario Nardella, the mayor of Zeffirelli’s home city of Florence, said in a Twitter post. “Goodbye dear Maestro, Florence will never forget you.”

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said Zeffirelli would “remain in the hearts and the history of this country.”

Zeffirelli’s opera productions for the stage included singers such as Maria Callas, Placido Domingo, Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Renata Scotto and Jose Carreras.

In a 2013 interview to mark his 90th birthday, he said the general public would remember him most for his 1968 film of “Romeo and Juliet,” the 1977 television mini-series “Jesus of Nazareth,” and “Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” his 1972 film tribute to St. Francis of Assisi.

“Romeo and Juliet”, one of several times Zeffirelli brought Shakespeare to the screen, was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director Oscars. His 1990 “Hamlet” starred Mel Gibson.

One of the high points of his opera career was a triumphant production of Verdi’s Aida at Milan’s La Scala in 2006, which won more than 15 minutes of applause on opening night.

However, Zeffirelli’s unconventional ventures into opera were often welcomed more abroad than at home, particularly in the United States, where he had more than a dozen top productions at the New York Metropolitan Opera.

In 1994 Zeffirelli, who directed several productions at London’s Covent Garden, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his “valuable services to British performing arts”.

A homosexual and devout Catholic, he revealed in his 2006 autobiography that he had been seduced by a priest when he was a teenager. But he said it was not molestation because there was no violence.

Zeffirelli hated the term “gay”, saying it was “undignified”.

“How can you say that Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were ‘gay’?” he asked Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper. “Being homosexual carries with it a great weight of responsibility and difficult social, human and cultural choices”.

MOZART-LOVING MOTHER

Zeffirelli was born in Florence on February 12, 1923, to Alaide Garosi Cipriani, a seamstress, and Ottorino Corsi, a cloth salesman. Because they were married to other people, the law at the time meant he could not take either of their surnames and had to be registered by another one.

His mother, who loved Mozart, chose “Zeffiretti” after the Italian word for “little zephyrs” (breezes) in an aria in the Austrian composer’s Italian-language opera “Idomeneo”. But a transcription error by a city hall clerk made it forever “Zeffirelli”.

“Relatives and friends were horrified and very worried for the future which lay ahead of her,” he told a Catholic magazine in 2003. “Some advised her to have an abortion, but she refused. She believed that the child which was about to be born was a monument to her great love.”

His mother died of tuberculosis when he was six and he was raised by an aunt and at times by a group of eccentric ex-pat English women in Florence known as “Gli Scorpioni” (The Scorpions) for their biting wit.

Under their influence and tutelage, he learned to love English and Shakespeare, an experience that formed the basis of his 1999 film “Tea With Mussolini,” starring Joan Plowright, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Cher.

“They taught me all the important things in life,” he told an interviewer in 1999. “These ladies helped me to understand my own city, my own culture and my own upbringing.”

In World War Two, Zeffirelli fought as a partisan before becoming an interpreter for the Scots Guards.

After the war, he studied architecture at the University of Florence and was drawn into theater and film, working initially as an assistant to Visconti, the director, for whom he designed the set for the first Italian production of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1949.

Away from the screen and the stage, Zeffirelli was often in the news for his outspoken views.

In 1993, he was criticized by the Vatican for saying there should be capital punishment for women who have abortions.

From 1994 to 2001 he served as a senator for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia party, hoping to inject culture into politics. He later said he regretted the decision.

Speaking in 2017 about his Christian faith, he told the Catholic newspaper Avvenire: “Faith is a gift, I am certain of that. I have it and I must hold on to it tightly. I know the past will never return but I am not saddened because I’ve had a full life, even though it began uphill.”

(Reporting by Philip Pullella and Gavin Jones.; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Mike Harrison)

Source: OANN

President Trump announced his candidacy four years ago Sunday to the cheers of paid actors in Trump Tower and to the horror of many conservative leaders, who vowed to defeat him.

On Tuesday, Trump will launch his reelection bid before about 20,000 supporters in a Florida arena, and to applause from many former skeptics who say they misjudged him.

In 2016, Trump nearly toppled the Republican “big tent.” Wide-eyed social conservatives noted he used to back abortion rights. Security hawks gaped at dovish remarks on the Mideast and Russia. Free-market conservatives called him a protectionist who supported single-payer healthcare.

But as president, Trump has quieted concerns, winning deep tax cuts, appointing conservative judges, and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, while wowing hawks by moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

“Who would have thought a supporter of Planned Parenthood would be the strongest pro-life president in history?” marveled Brent Bozell, the Media Research Center president and nephew of conservative icon William F. Buckley. “At the end of the day I think that Trump has done more for the concept of American exceptionalism than any president since Ronald Reagan.”

In 2016, Bozell contributed to the conservative National Review’s “Never Trump” edition, an effort to halt Trump’s momentum in the Republican primaries, featuring condemnation from Glenn Beck, Bill Kristol, Dana Loesch, and others.

“I think that people were looking at his record, which was in the opposite direction of the rhetoric, and a lot of people were Doubting Thomases,” Bozell told the Washington Examiner.

For the magazine, Bozell wrote that “Trump might be the greatest charlatan of them all,” expanding on Fox News that Trump was “a shameless self-promoter, a huckster.”

“God help this country if this man were president and he continued on in this way,” Bozell exclaimed at the time.

Many, but not all, of Bozell’s fellow Trump skeptics have changed their tune, including Loesch, a syndicated radio host and author, who scoffed in 2016 at Trump’s recent “conversion” to conservatism and worried about his business dealings.

“He has checked so many boxes for conservatives and Republicans, I don’t know how anyone can be dissatisfied,” Loesch said, praising Trump’s rollback of regulations, support for the military, and the roaring economy.

“With all of my concerns, I was really hoping to be wrong. I wasn’t one of those individuals so self-centered I hoped the country would do poorly,” said Loesch, who works with the National Rifle Association but commented in a personal capacity.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of Trump’s former critics on national security issues, said Friday that Trump “has exceeded every expectation I had.”

“I ran out of things to say about him in the campaign. I voted for somebody I wouldn’t know if they walked in the door, Ed McMullin,” Graham told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, another former skeptic.

“Everything that you and I and people who were pooh-poohing Trump about, he’s proven to have risen to the occasion, to be a commander in chief that has our military’s back, that I respect,” Graham said, citing the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and new military funding.

The feeling isn’t universal. Trump’s conservative independent challenger in 2016, Evan McMullin, whose name Graham garbled, is pushing for impeachment proceedings over Trump allegedly obstructing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

“Too many in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, are letting partisan politics get in the way of doing the right thing,” the ex-CIA operative said recently.

Bozell said some Never Trumpers “are so offended by his personality and what they would see as a lack of decorum that I don’t think they will ever support him.”

Indeed, some conversions were slow. Beck last year said he would back Trump for reelection. Erick Erickson, editor of The Resurgent, got a call from Trump in January praising him for an article he wrote about a proposed border wall. Weeks later, Erickson declared, “I will vote for Donald Trump.”

Bozell said that despite his own criticism in 2016, he actually urged Trump to run in early 2015, before realizing to his disbelief that Trump was catching fire with the electorate. He thought Trump would lose but make a dent in the landscape. “I didn’t think he could win. But … I thought he might win in the future if he got out his dirty laundry,” Bozell said.

Loesch said she advises fellow conservatives that “if you have a problem with Trump the person, you have to look at the issues. How are your issues being advanced?”

“This is an avatar for our issues,” she said of Trump.

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed separate lawsuits Tuesday suing the Trump administration over the “conscience protection” rule that protects workers from being forced to provide abortion, sterilization, or voluntary euthanasia if they have religious objections.

Planned Parenthood claims in a press release that this rule allows for “discrimination” against women by their employers. Planned Parenthood Dr. Leana Wen says in the release that while everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, no one has the right to “use those beliefs” to harm women. The press release also includes a statement from Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy, who claims “widespread opposition” to the rule and explains that the rule would “further undermine the rights of people of color, LGBTQ people and women.”

In the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, the group claims that imposing the need to accommodate employer’s objections “violates the Establishment Clause” in the First Amendment. The suit goes on to explain that any law that “imposes on employers and employees an absolute duty to conform their business practices to the particular religious practices of the employee constitutes an impermissible religious preference.”

The ACLU makes similar objections in its own press release. In the release, Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, states that “personal views do not give people the right to withhold critical health care or endanger others’ lives.” In the lawsuit the group filed, the ACLU says the rule would cause “significant and irreparable harm on millions of individuals who rely on federally funded care.”

The lawsuits are in addition to an initial lawsuit against the rule filed in May. The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights announced the rule on May 7, the National Day of Prayer. The office’s director, Roger Severino, said the rule guarantees that healthcare professionals “won’t be bullied” out of their field because they object to “the taking of a human life.” This is a continuation of the Trump administration’s effort to protect those who object to abortion, which started with the addition of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division to HHS last year.

Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur who is seeking the Democratic nomination, at Sunday’s Iowa event. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—In both subtle and not-so-subtle ways, the sprawling field of Democratic presidential hopefuls made clear Sunday that Joe Biden has a large political target on his back.

Following a week in which Mr. Biden stumbled as he reversed his stance on abortion funding, several 2020 candidates sought to contrast themselves with the Democratic front-runner at the Iowa Hall of Fame celebration, one of the party’s annual fundraisers. The heightened combativeness served as a preview to the first primary debates late this month.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mr. Biden’s chief rival according to polls, said Democrats won’t defeat President Trump “unless we bring excitement and energy into this campaign.” He added, “The status quo—same old, same old kind of politics—will not do that,” in what many among the 1,400 state Democratic activists gathered at the event interpreted as a jab at the former vice president.

Without mentioning Mr. Biden by name, Mr. Sanders said there were some “well-intentioned Democrats and candidates” who thought the best way to achieve victory in 2020 is through a “middle ground strategy that antagonizes no one, that stands up to nobody and that changes nothing.”

Mr. Biden didn’t attend the gathering although Iowa will launch the Democratic nomination voting in less than eight months. Nineteen of his 22 rivals were scheduled to speak, with candidates each getting five minutes to make their pitch.

The former vice president, who also bypassed a California convention last weekend that attracted 14 candidates, instead plans to hold two days of campaign events in Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday, overlapping with Mr. Trump’s first visit to the state this year.

Mr. Biden’s campaign didn’t comment on his rival’s pitches and he tweeted Sunday that he was thrilled to watch his granddaughter graduate from high school.

Joe Biden, seen last month in Philadelphia, didn’t attend the Iowa gathering. Photo: dominick reuter/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Last week, Mr. Biden said he now opposes a ban on the use of federal funds for most abortions, reversing his longstanding position amid pressure from fellow Democrats and abortion-rights groups. He said he could no longer support the Hyde Amendment, which bans government funding of abortions except for victims of rape and incest. Mr. Biden blamed Republican efforts to limit access to the procedure and overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

An Iowa Poll of likely Democratic caucus-goers released over the weekend showed Mr. Biden atop the field with 24%. The survey, sponsored by the Des Moines Register, CNN and Mediacom, showed Mr. Sanders supported by 16%, followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 15%, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 14% and Sen. Kamala Harris of California at 7%. No one else topped 2%.

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The biggest political event in Iowa this year was a mecca for those involved in Democratic presidential politics. Campaign workers and volunteers waved signs and led cheers outside the venue while candidates milled about the exhibit hall, seeking to impress Democrats who will be crucial in the state’s leadoff presidential caucuses.

Inside the hall, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York chatted with former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, and his wife, Christie Vilsack, as guests helped themselves to a buffet of chicken satay, spicy meatballs and spinach dip. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, meanwhile, greeted Doug Emhoff, the husband of Ms. Harris, while Marianne Williamson, an author and spiritual adviser, chatted with activists.

Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who has built a large organization in Iowa in his long-shot bid, said the party needed to have “bigger aspirations and bolder dreams” than simply defeating the president.

“Beating Donald Trump is the floor—it is not the ceiling. Beating him will get us out of the valley but it will not get us to the mountaintop,” Mr. Booker said. The senator also referred to abortion funding, saying, “abortion is health care, and health care is a right, not a privilege.”

Mr. Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor and military veteran, made a generational pitch, saying the party couldn’t succeed by returning to old policies. “We’re not going to win by playing it safe,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “We Democrats can no more promise a return to the ‘90s than the Republicans can deliver on a promise to return us to the ‘50s.”

Mr. Swalwell, meanwhile, said he would only appoint Supreme Court justices who would uphold Roe v. Wade. But he said that’s not enough. “Let’s repeal the discriminatory Hyde Amendment,” Mr. Swalwell said.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California at the Iowa event Sunday. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

Ms. Harris focused on her record as a prosecutor during a tongue-in-cheek speech, rattling off various forms of “fraud” that she would prosecute against the president. She said Mr. Trump committed “securities fraud” for striking up friendships with authoritarian leaders like Kim Jong Un of North Korea and Vladimir Putin of Russia, and tax fraud for the GOP’s tax rewrite of 2017.

She noted that Mr. Trump has on several occasions called himself the best American president. “Well, I say, let’s call Barack Obama because that’s identity fraud,” she said.

Before her address, Ms. Warren told reporters that she had no plans to attack fellow Democrats, even though she has sought to contrast her positions with Mr. Biden. “I’m not here to knock another Democrat, I’m just here to talk about my campaign,” she said.

Jim Garrett, a legislative director for a transportation union who attended the gathering, said he understood Mr. Biden’s absence from the event. “He’s going to have other opportunities,” he said. “What are you going to learn from him in five minutes that you don’t already know?”

Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur who is seeking the Democratic nomination, was the first to mention Mr. Biden by name, saying, “When I saw the program for today, I thought the same thing you all did, which is this: Joe Biden must really not like to travel.”

Write to Ken Thomas at ken.thomas@wsj.com and John McCormick at mccormick.john@wsj.com

The niceties have ended: 2020 Democrats are breaking their own pledge not to go after one another. The attacks of the past week show what a long primary they’re in for.

Why it matters: These jabs and skirmishes show a fracturing Democratic Party — exactly what some top Democrats wanted to avoid in order to maximize their chances of defeating President Trump.

Driving the news: Progressives and centrists are going at each other before any of them have stepped onto a debate stage. Virtually the entire field went after Joe Biden this week for supporting the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortion in most cases.

  • Elizabeth Warren said he was wrong at her MSNBC town hall, and Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted that Hyde should be repealed.
  • Biden clearly felt the heat. He announced Thursday that he no longer supports Hyde because Republicans have taken “extreme laws in clear violation of constitutional rights” of Roe v. Wade.
  • “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” he said.

John Hickenlooper and John Delaney got booed by a room full of progressives at the California Democratic Party convention for criticizing socialism, the Green New Deal, and Medicare for All.

  • That landed Delaney in hot water with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who tweeted a hint that he should drop out of the race.
  • Soon after Delaney responded by asking to debate AOC, Rep. Ilhan Omar stepped in to tell him (after AOC had already declined): “No means no.”

And don’t forget the candidates vs. the Democratic National Committee.

  • Jay Inslee went after the DNC when they denied his request to have a presidential debate solely about climate change. (He’s making the issue the central focus of his campaign.)
  • “The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time,” he wrote in an email to supporters.
  • Warren quickly joined in, saying Inslee is “exactly right,” and Beto O’Rourke jumped in, too.

Between the lines: Of course there’s a difference between calling out fellow Democrats for thinking they’re not progressive enough and disagreeing with the DNC on debates.

The bottom line: But if the last week is any indication, the gloves have come off and we should expect more Dem-on-Dem attacks to come. And the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee will enjoy every minute of it.


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