Category Archives: Supreme Court

Weekly Quiz: Test Yourself on this Week’s Events

The weekly quiz is now live in Mypoliscilab. Good luck!

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Weekly Poll: Your Opinion on Same Sex Marriage

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to review two cases dealing with same sex marriage. Some observers believe this move might result in a decision that will affect gay rights nation-wide. What do you think?

The Colbert Report: Obamacare & the Broccoli Argument

The Tool of Taxation

Old hammer during reconstruction of the buildi...

Old hammer during reconstruction of the building in Pleszew. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In graduate school a professor of mine often referred to the “toolbox of government.”  The characterization must have resonated with me because I still use it in my own classes almost fifteen years later.  Of course he was referring to the variety of actions that governments at all levels have at their disposal to implement and otherwise enforce public policy.  For our purposes we can narrow the contents of the “toolbox” down to the bare minimum:

  • The power of government to deprive a person of liberty (think incarceration and in the most extreme form, the death penalty)—the hammer.
  • The power of government to deprive a person of property (think real property and money)—the hammer.

Confused?  Don’t be.  Chief Justice John Marshall (1801-1835) is credited with expressing the position that the power to tax is the power to destroy.  In this regard the power to tax is the power to punish those who violate the law, ignore regulations, or otherwise challenge the general welfare—the hammer.  The power to tax citizens and residents, businesses, corporations, is generally available to most governments—from Congress to your local water district.  Check your text books, one of the first concurrent or shared powers listed is the power to tax.  Moreover, taxes are ubiquitous—fees: taxes; assessments: taxes; dues: taxes; levies: taxes; taxes: taxes.  The power to tax is the power of government to deprive.

In the months following the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (Obama-care) , much will be made of the taxation aspect of the now upheld health care reform package—especially the individual mandate, which requires people capable of paying for health insurance to do so or risk a penalty (tax).  What do you think, is it the most intrusive tax ever devised by government (in this case by democrats)?  Is it a new tax?  Is it a tax increase (even though it only applies to people who don’t buy their own health insurance—and wouldn’t we otherwise call these people free-riders or equate them to people who don’t buy car insurance and drive up all of our rates)?  With all the hammers we get hit with every day, is this the one we’re really going to object to?  Ouch!  I know how to fix it; where’s my hammer?!

–DENNIS FALCON

Get Ready for Several Weeks of Useless Analysis

Inside CNN

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to render its ruling on the constitutionality of Obama Care. However, the media coverage of the ruling and the resulting political fallout will be the same. Regardless of the ruling, both republicans and democrats will try to spin the Supreme Court’s ruling in a way that benefits their side. Meanwhile, the news media will overflow with coverage concerning the political impact of the ruling, but will ultimately fail to explain the ruling divorced from the typical horse-race coverage.  Horse race refers to the news media’s focus on which candidate is up or down in the latest public opinion polls. My prediction is that the news media, regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obama Care, will bombard its audience with poll numbers for the next several days along with a bloviated analysis of said poll numbers with a pretentious and misguided sense of accomplishment for delivering what they consider to be the news. Get ready for several weeks of useless analysis and blatant political spin.

–TERRANCE MULLINS

Due Process and the American Creed

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jeffe...

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of independence (1776) were all of British descent. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution include references to due process any time a person is in jeopardy of life and property.  While the Amendments themselves do not specifically define what due process is, the Constitution itself provides elements of due process as have subsequent court decisions through the years.  For example, the right to know what one is charged with in all criminal matters is in the Bill of Rights, as are the rights to a public trial and the right to cross-examine witnesses who testify against you.  Any legal proceeding in the United States that fails to uphold these protections is not living up to the protections we claim to value so highly.

A former U.S. Senator is currently fighting for his freedom, as is a former Hall of Fame caliber baseball player.  All over America, people high and low are depending on due process to level the playing field, to diminish the power of Goliath, and to stand a chance when forces that want to destroy them are at play.  In some cases the guilty will go free; in others the innocent will be punished unjustly.  Regardless of the particulars, every American should take a solemn oath to protect and defend the tents of due process, just like the oath sworn by the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.

We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor

What do you think?  Is due process something most Americans understand?  Can you identify how various elements of due process have been important in your life?  How important is due process to the American creed? As for me, I pledge my life, my Fortunes and my sacred Honor.

–DENNIS FALCON

Weekly Poll: Your Opinion on the Affordable Care Act

According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News Poll, a majority of Americans do not support the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama two years ago. What do you think?