A bill has been introduced in California's state legislature which would prevent the state's law enforcement officers (and any other state resources) from being used to: "investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for marijuana activity that is authorized by law in the State of California." The bill is based on a similar bill which would declare California a "sanctuary state" for undocumented immigrants. Either one would be the first of its kind on a statewide level. The marijuana sanctuary bill (AB 1578) would send a clear signal to both Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the state is not going to take part in any new federal War On Weed. It just passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee by a vote of 5 to 2.
Archive of Articles in the "The Constitution" Category
It turns out that Donald Trump is pretty good at predicting his own future behavior. You just have to change the names, that's all. A while back, Trump tweeted out the following: "Now that Obama's poll numbers are in tailspin -- watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate."
This could be a historic week for the Senate, as it now seems likely that the Republicans will change the chamber's rules to remove the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. This is known, in Washingtonese, as "going nuclear" or "dropping the nuke." That's a pretty powerful metaphor, which was intended to show the far-reaching consequences of making such a move. But as we begin this epic debate, it would behoove everyone inside the Beltway (especially those working in the media) to review a quick rundown of how, exactly, we got to this point. Because this won't be the first Senate filibuster nuke, and it may not be the last one -- at this point, who knows if the legislative filibuster will survive for much longer?
A second nuke is about to be dropped in the Senate. Metaphorically, of course. Democrats are about to mount a filibuster against Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, and in response Republicans are about to do completely away with the ability of the Senate to filibuster Supreme Court nominees. That all seems certain, at this point. But it does raise a larger question: is the practice of filibustering legislation also in danger of extinction?
That question is becoming more and more acute for the rest of the world, in reference to President Donald Trump versus the rest of the Trump administration. If you were the foreign minister from a country in Europe, for example, would you believe what Trump says about American policy towards Europe and Russia, or would you believe his minions, such as the Vice President Mike Pence or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson? This dilemma could become a sort of low-level ongoing crisis, since Trump's comments are so far removed from what others in his administration are saying. Who are you going to believe? The boss, or the underling who is making much more sense? That's a pretty risky geopolitical gamble to make, no matter which side you choose to believe.
The two formerly-individual holidays celebrating Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's Birthday have been merged into a single federal holiday -- a holiday which, while intended to honor both Washington and Lincoln, has now become somewhat "genericized" (in name, at least) into a celebration of all our presidents. But what about the forgotten presidents? [Or, to be scrupulously accurate, "presidents"?]
While much of Washington is currently atwitter (and a-Twitter, of course) over the growing possibility that in the near future, one or more top White House advisors may be shown the door (centering, so far, around Mike Flynn, Sean Spicer, and Reince Priebus), I personally think Trump should consider cutting his losses in a different way. Palace intrigue is always fun to speculate about, of course, but aside from personalities, President Donald Trump should really consider just cutting his losses on the whole idea of a "temporary ban" on immigration. He should, in short, declare victory and move on.
Donald Trump just got thumped by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. There's no denying it. Even Kellyanne Conway can't spin her way out of this one. Three judges unanimously wrote a 29-page opinion explaining why Trump needed to be thumped. This means he can't even whine that it was a "partisan" decision, since these judges were appointed by Democratic and Republican presidents. Even more satisfying is the fact that even if the temporary restraining order which blocked implementation of Trump's Muslim ban is appealed to the Supreme Court, a 4-4 tie vote would just reconfirm the thumping the Ninth Circuit just gave Trump. We certainly hope this turns out to be just the first in a long line of setbacks the court system deals out to Trump, on a regular and continuing basis.
I had fully intended to write another column postulating that our president and a few of his advisors are nothing short of blithering idiots (you know, the usual thing), but then I got hooked into the modern world of technology and instead sat through the entire hour-long oral arguments hearing in Washington v. Trump, which turned out to be fascinating. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals helpfully live-streamed the audio of a conference call where the lawyers from the Trump administration and the state of Washington made their case to a three-judge panel, on the merits of the temporary restraining order that a district judge in Washington issued that shut down President Trump's executive order banning people from seven countries from entering the United States. So any citizen could, in effect, sit in the courtroom and hear the cases made. I have to admit a certain level of wonky awe that this is the world we live in -- where such things are not just possible, but are now routine.
But we digress. Donald Trump's Muslim ban, signed into existence as we were writing last week's column, was certainly the biggest story of the week. Spontaneous protests sprang up at international airports across the country as the chaotic implementation made it plain that this executive order just wasn't thought through all that much. Nobody knew what the order did cover and didn't cover, all the way from White House officials down to the border guards who were expected to somehow implement this vague and badly-defined policy. Clarifications had to be issued on a daily basis. The draft of the order simply did not go through any of the normal vetting channels, with some cabinet-level officials only seeing it hours before it was signed. The Trump administration is now starting to resemble (take your pick) either the gang who couldn't shoot straight or the Keystone Kops.