A Tale of Two Stories

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A Tale of Two Stories

Today is going to be interesting as two major narratives could shape the future of this administration.  First off we the kick of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s SCOTUS confirmation hearing.  This was one of the biggest issues of the campaign.  It was also one of the reasons so many conservatives looked past Trump’s many indiscretions and put their faith in him.  Michel Crowley has a great write up today in POLITICO about recent confirmation hearings and how the Senators can get some info out of Gorsuch…

Ever since Judge Robert Bork offered the Senate an honest account of his judicial philosophy in 1987 and watched it torpedo his chances, nominees have steadfastly refused to engage on controversial legal issues…

So, faced with a nominee likely to shield himself by invoking “the Ginsburg Rules” (named after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s determination to offer no “hints” “previews” or “forecasts”), are there any questions that might offer a chance to draw Gorsuch into a genuine glimpse of his thinking?

Considering the areas likely to dominate the hearings, and in which the public has the greatest interest in knowing the answers, here are some proposed questions that might help cut through the usual charade and give us a chance for a genuine window into Gorsuch’s thinking.

Crowley goes on to mention originalism, the role of the courts, and abortion as the big issues the senators may be able to ask questions about that could actually produce some answers.  However, let’s not forget that the hearing even happening is a major accomplishment in itself.  The left is still furious that Merrick Garland never got a hearing.  I still think the Senate last year should have held a hearing and the voted against his confirmation.  This would have completely neutralized the argument the left is making now.  However, that is in the past and the left has moved on.  The activist wing of the party still believes they may have a shot at a filibuster.  They are going to throw everything at this confirmation process to try and convince just enough Dems to filibuster this nomination.  When I say everything, I mean everything.  Dahlia Lithwick, over at Slate.com, is arguing that Gorsuch’s stance on religious liberty should he the major issue of the hearing.

Why does this matter? Because as cries increase that Christian dissenters are harmed by civil rights laws, it’s important to understand the consequences for those who don’t share these perspectives. Conceptions of religious persecution lie at the heart of many front-burner social disputes, including those over LGBTQ rights, transgender bathroom access, abortion, access to birth control, sectarian prayer in public places, and marriage equality. That is why it is crucial for Senate Democrats to acknowledge openly that the potential nomination of someone like Neil Gorsuch was the primary reason Christian Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump last fall.

Gorsuch’s own faith is not at issue here. At a Supreme Court confirmation hearing, we should not be talking about the beliefs a nominee may hold in his heart. Instead, we need to focus on whether his accommodation of the beliefs of others overmasters not just scientific fact and neutral civil rights laws, but also the interests and values of people of different faiths and those who reject religion altogether.

Lithwick claims that because the arguments from Christians fly in the face of scientific fact there concerns should be ignored.  The idea that religious practices should only be allowed when they can be provable through science is terrifying.  Not only does this dismiss the major component of most religions, faith, but it also spits in the face of the first amendment.  There is no asterisk that says freedom but only for those who can use the scientific method to prove it.

This is what Gorsuch is going to be facing from the grandstanding Democrats.  The good news for Republicans is Gorsuch can circles around them intellectually without even breaking a sweat.  Should be a fun confirmation process.

The second big story of the day features a lot of familiar faces and names.  Russia, Comey, and Trump.  FBI Director James Comey testifies in front of the House Intelligence Committee today on Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 election and, of course, wiretapping…

FBI Director James Comey is set to testify Monday before a House committee investigating Russian activities during the 2016 presidential election, amid expectations he’ll provide long-awaited answers and evidence on that issue and whether President Trump was indeed wiretapped.

The Justice Department on Friday gave the House intelligence committee requested information about Trump’s claim of being wiretapped during the presidential election.

However, California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, the committee chairman, won’t say what was received.

Comey is going to be facing a pretty hostile Congress as both sides have a lot riding on his testimony.  The GOP would love to see the Russia controversy done once and for all.  I would even bet they would take a zero on the wiretap story as long as the Russia story died along with it.  The Democrats, on the other hand, want the exact opposite.  They very much want there to be something the Russia-Trump controversy mostly because they have spent the last 3 months beating the story to death.  The problem for the Democrats is if the Trump-Russia connection is true it is then probably also true someone wiretapped Trump Towers.  It is possible the Russia connection was not investigated enough before the election meaning you could get one without the other. However, based on how much President Obama seemed to hate Trump, that does not seem likely.

Today kicks off a hectic week.  We also have important ObamaCare repeal votes happening along with ongoing negotiations.  IT will be interesting to see which story the press picks up on.  Probably the one the democrats seem to be doing the best on.  ObamaCare repeal it is!


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