LCMS congregation will go before the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case from an LCMS congregation.  Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri, was denied a state grant to improve its school’s playground, in the name of the separation of church and state.  This could prove to be an important case in drawing those lines.  Watch for  Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley. [Read more...]

So is Ted Cruz eligible or not?

Donald Trump is a “birther,” casting doubt on Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president, since the Constitution requires that the holders of that office be “natural-born citizens.”  Recently he has raised the issue about Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada of a Cuban father and an American mother.  Most observers have said that since both babies had an American parent, they have been citizens from birth and thus eligible under the Constitution.

But now an expert in Constitutional law is saying that at the time the Constitution was written, “natural-born citizen” had the specific common-law meaning of  being born on a nation’s soil.  Cruz has always been a citizen, since Congress passed a statute granting citizenship to children of a citizen, but he is not a “natural-born” citizen.  Obama was born in Hawaii, so he is natural-born.  But Cruz is not.

Cruz’s old law professor at Harvard, the prominent liberal Laurence Tribe, tweaks his former A-student for his originalist interpretation of the Constitution, saying that if he holds to his view that the document means what its authors originally meant, then he would not be eligible.

What do you think?  Isn’t Trump right that Cruz needs to get a court opinion on this before he goes much further?

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Justice Scalia says government can favor religion

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a Catholic high school that the Constitution allows for favoring religion over “nonreligion” and that the government need not be completely secular. [Read more...]

On Trump, the Constitution, and how he’s like Obama

Rich Lowry has a great column on Donald Trump’s disregard for the Constitution.  Also how he is like Obama in being willing to use “executive” power in defiance of Constitutional limits.  There was a time, Lowry writes, when conservatives and tea party activists were all about upholding the Constitution.  Now, many of those folks are supporting Donald Trump and his “post-Constitutional” policies. [Read more...]

Supreme Court can’t tell what “legislature” means

Lost in the tumultuous week of Supreme Court rulings over Obamacare and gay marriage was another odd ruling.  To combat gerrymandering, the people of Arizona passed a referendum that would take away the state legislature’s power to draw electoral boundaries and give it instead to a non-partisan commission.  That sounds like a good outcome, since gerrymandering–drawing districts to protect the incumbents–is a plague on democracy.  The problem is, the Constitution explicitly, in so many words, gives that power to the “legislature.”

But not wanting the Constitution to get in the way of their favored policies, the court ruled in favor of the commission.  George Will tells the tale and recounts Chief Justice Robert’s vigorous–if surprising, given his Obamacare ruling–dissent on the necessity of attending to the language of the Constitution. [Read more...]

The right to dignity

To find a right to abortion in the Constitution, the Supreme Court justices in Roe v. Wade construed from the text a “right to privacy.”  To find a right to gay marriage in the Constitution, Justice Kennedy, with the concurrence of the majority, has construed a “right to dignity.”

Law professor Jonathan Turley, who supports gay marriage, said that the judges could very well have ruled to that effect by invoking the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, as lower courts have done.  But instead it invokes the section on “due process” and asserts this new right to “dignity.”  Prof. Turley, who shows how Justice Kennedy has been building up to this notion in a number of his other rulings, is worried about this new legal doctrine, saying that it opens up all kinds of legal and civil liberty cans of worms. [Read more...]