Constitution

Federal Judge Rules Pennsylvania’s Stay-Home Order Unconstitutional

Featured image Over the last six months, many have wondered: how can governors issue executive orders closing businesses and directing us to remain in our homes, except as the government permits us occasional outings? What happened to the Constitution? Federal judge William Stickman addressed those questions today, as he ruled substantial portions of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s shutdown orders unconstitutional: The declaratory judgment says “(1) that the congregate gathering limits imposed by »

PL Podcast: The Three Whisky Happy Hour, with Guest Bartender John Yoo

Featured image Settle in for an extra-long bonus episode, as Lucretia and I depart from our nascent Islay-Highland-Irish whisky flight format because we have a guest bartender and malt master on with us for this weekend’s episode—John Yoo! John not only knows the deep history of fine Japanese whiskies, but also the Constitution and presidential power. He has a terrific new book coming out on Tuesday, Defender in Chief: Donald Trump’s Fight »

DOJ defends fairness in sports

Featured image Earlier this year, Idaho enacted the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. It goes into effect next month. The Act contains two main provisions. First, covered athletic teams shall be expressly designated as one of the following based on biological sex: (a) Males, men, or boys; (b) Females, women, or girls; or (c) Coed or mixed. Second, “[a]thletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open »

“Americans Don’t Get Ruled”

Featured image Michael McHaney is a state court judge in Clay County, Illinois. On Friday, he ruled from the bench in a case brought by a Clay County small business owner against Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, contesting the validity of Pritzker’s shutdown order. Via RedState, these are excerpts from Judge McHaney’s ruling: Since the inception of this insanity, the following regulations, rules or consequences have occurred: I won’t get COVID if I »

Normal Americans Consider the Shutdown

Featured image Rebellion against governors’ irrational and unscientific shutdown orders is growing across the country. As we have noted before, the revolt is especially strong in rural areas. What is striking is how sane and thoughtful the critiques from red America are, compared with the submissive hysteria that dominates most urban areas. This is just one example among many, an account in the Mille Lacs Messenger, a central Minnesota newspaper, of a »

Trump/Barr DOJ strikes another blow for religious freedom [UPDATED]

Featured image In response to the Wuhan coronavirus, Breea Clark, the Democrat mayor of Norman Oklahoma, locked the city down. When she decided gradually to reopen Norman, the ban on churches and other houses of worship from holding religious services — as well as a general ban on “large gatherings” — remained in place. Restaurants, retail stores, and salons were allowed to reopen if they adhered to social distancing policies, but regular »

Appeals court invents fundamental right to a basic minimum education

Featured image The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in an opinion signed by a pair of judges appointed by Democratic presidents, has found that the U.S. Constitution somehow confers on citizens a fundamental right to an education that “plausibly provides access to literacy.” Judge Eric Murphy, an excellent Trump appointee, dissented. The lawsuit arises out of Detroit, Michigan. The plaintiffs are students in Detroit’s worst performing schools. They claim »

Common sense about states rights during a pandemic

Featured image Attorney General Barr went on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show yesterday. He discussed possible conflicts between federal law and what state governors are doing in response to the Wuhan coronavirus. Barr stated: Well, they can be in tension, and there are potentials for collision. I think you know, when a governor acts, obviously states have very broad police powers. When a governor acts, especially when a governor does something that intrudes »

More Online Resources to Pass the Time

Featured image Two items to help you pass the lockdown. I have started rolling out for VIP members a few short custom videos drawn from my classes that many readers have long asked for, with more to come, but I decided I would share with all of our readers my most recent short background video (10 minutes) that I prepared for my students about the famous 1978 Penn Central case, which is »

Hayek on Emergency Powers of Government

Featured image People are rightly wondering about the legal and constitutional authority to impose strict lockdowns on both the population and the economy, and more broadly wondering whether, like “emergencies” in the past, our current response will lead to a permanent expansion certain kinds of government power (and spending!), and thus yet another ratchet to larger government and a further diminution of individual liberty. Many “temporary” measures and policies seem to have »

House lacks standing to enforce McGahn subpoena, appeals court rules [UPDATED]

Featured image As Scott noted this post, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled yesterday that that Article III of the Constitution forbids federal courts from resolving the dispute between the House of Representatives and the executive branch over whether former White House Counsel Don McGahn must comply with a subpoena to testify before the House. The decision is, of course, a victory for President Trump. It means »

Liberals Versus the Constitution

Featured image It was jarring to the ears to hear Democrats piously invoking the words and “original intent” of the Founders during the impeachment farce, because as everyone knows liberals would re-write the Constitution wholesale if they had the power to do so. The list of things they despise in our Constitution is quite long, i.e. get rid of the electoral college, abolish the Senate, etc. I’ve seen lists with as many »

George Anastaplo on Impeachment and Statesmanship

Featured image I was rummaging around in my library yesterday looking for a particular essay on Plato by the late George Anastaplo of Loyola University and Rosary College in Illinois, and by accident I happened upon a lecture he gave in February 1974—note carefully the date—entitled “Impeachment and Statesmanship.” (The essay appears in his collection Human Being and Citizen: Essays on Virtue, Freedom, and the Common Good.) Needless to say I had »

The Power Line Show, Ep. 164: Special Impeachment Edition!

Featured image This special edition of the Power Line Show offers a panel discussion on impeachment that I hosted and moderated yesterday before a packed house at Berkeley Law School. Its purpose was not to rehash or thrash out the specific issues of the Trump impeachment as much as to illuminate what the founders had in mind when they wrote impeachment into the Constitution, and what we have learned from the two »

Supreme Court to Rule on Faithless Electors

Featured image The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari in two cases that could have important impact on the functioning of the Electoral College. The issue presented in both cases, one from Colorado and one from Washington, is whether a state can, by law, require its electors to vote according to their pledges or the state’s majority vote. The issue, previously obscure, came into focus in 2016 when ten electors refused to »

The Power Line Show, Ep. 162: Stephen Knott on “The Lost Soul of the American Presidency”

Featured image This week’s guest is Stephen F. Knott of the Naval War College, discussing his terrific new book, The Lost Soul of the American Presidency: The Decline into Demagoguery and the Prospects for Renewal, just out from University Press of Kansas. Knott, one of the nation’s pre-eminent scholars of Alexander Hamilton, thinks the American presidency has slipped from the modest republican design of the Founders almost from the very beginning, starting with »

House passes meaningless, unwise resolution on use of force against Iran

Featured image Yesterday, the House passed a resolution designed to prevent President Trump from taking additional military action against Iran without specific congressional authorization. The resolution calls on the president “to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran” unless Congress declares war or enacts “specific statutory authorization” for the use of armed forces. Three Republicans and an independent voted for the resolution. Eight »