The signs are all around us that the government envisioned by the Framers—self-rule by the people—is on the decline.
In prior posts (here and here), I looked at the pro-union agenda of the Obama administration’s National Labor Relations Board, and the anti-employer policies undertaken by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Department of Labor. The leadership of the Department by Thomas Perez deserves a closer look, for Secretary Perez has brazenly promoted the objectives of organized labor at the expense of the rule of law.
Obama’s employment law agenda consists of laying siege to employers’ management rights.
When thinking about the National Labor Relations Board under President Obama, most observers recall the 2014 decision in NLRB v. Noel Canning, in which the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Obama’s kangaroo-court “recess appointments”—made when the Senate was not actually in recess—were invalid.
Noel Canning was a huge setback for the administration, requiring the NLRB to reconsider 700 decisions rendered during the period in which it lacked a legitimate quorum.
Few have noticed, however, that the Board has not altered its course since that defeat.
The Texas Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (link no longer available), striking down a state law requiring at least 750 hours of training in order to perform commercial “eyebrow threading”—a form of hair removal mainly performed in South Asian and Middle Eastern communities—has generated substantial notoriety for the court and for the Institute for Justice, which brought the lawsuit challenging the law.
We have seen many examples of an “engaged judiciary” at the state court level, and it isn’t always pretty.
It is not surprising that those at opposite poles of the ideological spectrum generally view public policy issues—and proposed solutions—differently. What is surprising is when conservatives adopt the rhetoric of the Left (along with the accompanying narratives, memes, and canards) regarding a subject as important as criminal justice.
Like unruly schoolchildren using the presence of a substitute teacher as an opportunity to misbehave, in Veasey v. Abbott, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, sitting en banc, has sent the jurisprudential equivalent of a spitball at the U.S. Supreme Court knowing that the deadlocked Court would probably take no corrective action.
On July 20, the Fifth Circuit, by a vote of 9 to 6, declared Texas’s voter-identification law unlawful even though the Supreme Court upheld a similar law eight years ago. The ruling was quite remarkable, coming as it does from a court of appeals generally regarded as the nation’s most conservative.
George Will has enjoyed a long career as a public intellectual, an especially illustrious one for a Right-of-center figure. For over four decades, Will’s commentary has appeared in intellectual magazines and newspapers including National Review, the Washington Post, and Newsweek. He has many books to his name as well as a widely syndicated newspaper column, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1977. A Ph.D. from Princeton, he’s also a familiar talking head on television, often sporting a bow tie and playing the role of the sober, erudite Washington insider.
Those four decades have been a tumultuous period in our political culture; it would not be surprising if Will’s political views had evolved over that time, and indeed they have. His 1983 book, Statecraft as Soulcraft, was a full-throated paean to strong-government Tory conservatism, in the Burkean tradition. He has lately been tacking in the libertarian direction.