Sorry Ted Cruz, it is Obama’s Duty as President to Name a New Supreme Court Justice

In the great debate over civil rights and an independent judiciary that consumed the German Reichstag in October of 1877, the Catholic parliamentarian Ludwig Windthorst decisively broke with the Prussian Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, and his brand of conservatism: “‘Conservative' means to conserve the given, legitimate institutions in State and Church,” Windthorst said. “It does not mean to arm a government with omnipotence, with which it can modify those institutions at will. So long as you confuse conservatism with Polizeiwirtschaft (a police state) an alliance with you is certainly unthinkable." Nor does a genuine conservatism empower one party to remake all ...

Donald Trump’s New Punching Bag: Pope Francis

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Not content with spewing country club card room invective—“loser,” “jerk,” etc.—at other Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump now has turned on Pope Francis I. The pontiff is currently on a pastoral visit to Mexico, where over the course of the next few days he will meet with indigenous people and business leaders, celebrate Mass at the shrine of the country’s patroness, Our Lady of Guadalupe, visit a prison and lunch with seminarians. His itinerary consciously mirrors the journey of Mexican and Central American migrants northward to the Rio Grande and will culminate in Ciudad Juarez, where the pope will celebrate a ...

Antonin Scalia’s Death: Obama Must Nominate a Replacement Despite GOP Rancor

The unexpected death of Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has brought into sharp focus the fact this election cycle will decide not only control of the White House, but also the high court and the U.S. Senate—in other words, all three of the coequal branches of government. Scalia was a giant of the conservative jurisprudence that has come to play such a decisive role in our national life. His opinions on free speech and due process may have as many admirers on the left as they do on the right. Even so, his particular theory of constitutional interpretation—textualism, in which ...

Lee Baca Facing Six-Month Prison Term: What Happened to the Idealistic Sheriff from East LA?

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is one of America’s stranger law enforcement agencies, and its former head, Lee Baca, who admitted this week that he lied to federal investigators, is about as strange and troubling a public figure as one can imagine. The organizational oddity begins at the top, since the Sheriff is an independently elected official. That was common in the mid-19th Century, when the department was formed, but today only a handful of agencies retain that arrangement, none of them anything like the size of LA County. What that means is that the head of the nation’s fourth ...

Southern California’s Newspaper Readers Don’t Deserve More of Tribune’s Inept Management

For decades, the best newspaper in America on any given day was either the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal or the Los Angeles Times. Today, the LA Times not only has plummeted out of daily journalism’s top tier, but also become a ghostly poster child for everything that’s gone wrong with our newspapers since the advent of the digital age. Not long ago, the Times had a daily circulation of more than 1 million—virtually all of it to valuable home delivery subscribers—and a staff of more than 1,200 journalists. It maintained one of the world’s ...

Note to Donald Trump: Interrogation Under Torture Just Doesn’t Work

Of all the things I ever anticipated about the pursuit of opinion journalism, having to argue against torture was not one of them. And yet here we are again. The Bush-Cheney White House took advantage of the panicked aftermath to 9/11 to make the torture of captured Islamic extremists national policy, and had the CIA put together a secret international gulag in which to work their will out of sight. There’s probably a psychoanalytic explanation for all this—Bush and Cheney’s guilt over failure to prevent the deaths of so many Americans; perhaps panic over the blow to their masculinity delivered by ...

The People v. O. J. Simpson: Recalling the Trial and Johnnie Cochran

I’ve always been fascinated by space exploration and, as a boy, watched all of the Mercury, Gemini and early Apollo manned launches on television. Nowadays, I take a keen interest in the Martian exploration directed from the nearby Jet Propulsion Laboratory. But in all the imaginative literature about man’s adventures into the cosmos, I don’t think there was anyone who foresaw what actually has occurred—that we would go to the moon, and then, just stop going. It’s been more than half a century since the crew of Apollo 17 set foot on the lunar surface and there currently are no ...

Critics of Obama’s Mosque Visit are Profoundly Mistaken

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President Barack Obama’s remarks during his visit to a Maryland mosque this week were as uplifting as the immediate reaction to them was wearily depressing. Like the best of his addresses on race, ethnicity and religion, the president’s address to the congregants of the Islamic Center of Baltimore was thoughtful, humane, generous in spirit and faithful to the realities of our national history. It is in settings such as the mosque that Obama’s appeals to the better angels of our nature are most persuasive. This one is worth reading at length, and you can read the full text of his remarks ...