BreitbartTV editor and radio talk show host Larry O’Connor offered a unique perspective on current issues of Constitutional law as he substituted today on the Dennis Miller radio show. Joined by another frequent Breitbart.com contributor, Ken Klukowski (Liberty University School of Law), the subject was the unprecedented set of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have already come down this year, or are expected in the near future. Here’s a brief synopsis of the discussion:
Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC – This decision found that churches and religious organizations do have the right to hire and manage their own employees under the First Amendment. Klukowski remarked that the architect of the argument (struck down) that there is no ministerial extension of the First Amendment is Sri Srinivasan – who recently was appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court by Obama. This position is considered a stepping stone to the Supreme Court; Srinivasan would clearly be on the short list for appointment if Obama gets a second term – another good reason to avoid that happening.
Knox v. SEIU – The Supreme Court found that unions must give non-union workforce members timely notice (as opposed to yearly) and options to protest extra fees assessed them for union political activities. Although the decision was 7-2, Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented from portions of the majority decision.
FCC v. Fox – The decision held that fines for use of expletives during live broadcasts are unconstitutional as a violation of due process. SEC regulations were not clear at the time of the violations involved. Although it would be more encompassing had the Supreme Court struck down under the First Amendment, it is now clear that broadcasters can be fined for fleeting expletives.
Still to come:
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services v. Florida (ObamaCare) – Klukowski identified the three possible outcomes:
1) The law could be upheld without a unanimous written majority (5) decision. Justice Kennedy indicated during the oral arguments that although the commerce clause should not generally allow the extension of Federal power over individual liberty, the individual mandate might be a unique exception – thus opening the door to an infinite number of new “exceptions” to personal freedom.
2) The individual mandate could be held unconstitutional, as well as the two sections of the legislation covering pre-existing condidtions.
3) Just the mandate could be held unconstitutional, negating the entire ObamaCare law.
Justice Ginsburg recently commented that the decision would be “complicated and long.” Klukowski added that Ginsburg has stated in the past that, “When it comes to the Supreme Court, those who know don’t talk and those who talk don’t know.”
U.S. v. Alvarez – Also known as the Arizona immigration issue, this law actually does not involve constitutional issues other than whether AZ SB1070 conflicts with Federal laws covering immigration, (where Federal law would prevail.) There are four narrow provisions of the law that potentially are in conflict; two are expected to be unheld and the other two are in doubt. A split decision is likely.
Mount Soledad Memorial Association v. Trunk – If the Supreme Court chooses to decide this case, it will be deciding one of the major religious freedom issues in American history. The litigants are asking for the removal of the Mount Soledad War Memorial cross in San Diego on the grounds that it violates the establishment clause of the Constitution.
U.S. v. Alvarez – Also a possibility for the Supremes is this challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Stolen Valor Act, which involves a politician who lied about receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor during his campaign for political office.