I have three items for you tonight - the green new deal, an abortion ruling, and a case about discrimination against Israel.
First, a green new deal resolution was introduced in the House this past week with 67 co-sponsors. I couldn’t find any articles analyzing the constitutionality of the resolution, which troubles me. Here you have an outlandish proposal and nobody is even asking whether it’s constitutional. When I looked over the resolution myself, I found a lot of familiar ingredients, and nothing jumped out at me as being unconstitutional, when the resolution is taken at face value. The ingredients have long been considered constitutional, things like regulating agriculture and the environment; government spending on infrastructure and public transit; and upgrading buildings. The promise to get rid of planes was widely ridiculed, but it’s from an earlier draft that talked about having so much public transit and hi-speed rail that jet travel would no longer be necessary, not taking planes by eminent domain under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The resolution talks about moving to 100 percent renewable energy, but government policy has long favored some forms of energy over others. The proposal is short on specifics, but it does not say that fossil fuels must be left in the ground, which would raise regulatory taking issues under the 5th Amendment. Even if regulatory taking issues come up in the implementation of the resolution, those cases are tough to make. What about guaranteeing everyone a job, whether they want to work or not? It might not be good policy, but we’ve had social programs in this country for a long time. No, the biggest constitutional objection to the green new deal I can see at present is the spirit of the thing. The massive “10-year national mobilization” would turn everything upside down and interfere with everyone’s lives. The government is not supposed to be that intrusive. It sounds more like North Korea, where people are mobilized to pick berries and nuts for Dear Leader, than America to me. We’re supposed to have limited government in this country, not massive government overreach, or mass mobilizations in peacetime whenever politicians say jump.
Second item: There was a lot of commentary this past week about Chief Justice Roberts going over to the dark side and joining the four liberals on the Supreme Court in temporarily blocking abortion restrictions from taking effect in Louisiana. The Tea Party and thus my commentaries usually stay away from social issues, but Roberts’ decision is instructive in understanding how the Supreme Court works in general. Roberts is, first and foremost, an institutionalist. He can be expected to act in what he considers to be the best interests of the Supreme Court as an institution. The Supreme Court is always reluctant to overturn precedent, and is even more reluctant to do so when the case is at an intermediate stage. The posture of the abortion case this past week was not a final ruling; it was a request for an injunction while the case proceeds below. Roberts was not going to get into whether or not to overturn Roe v. Wade or other aspects of abortion jurisprudence on an interim procedural matter. What he will do when another abortion case is finally and squarely presented is still anybody’s guess.
Finally, keep your eye on BDS. There’s a First Amendment issue that may end up in the Supreme Court. BDS is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. This past week, a federal judge upheld an Arkansas law forbidding state agencies from dealing with companies that boycott Israel. The ACLU had argued on behalf of a newspaper that the law violates free speech, citing precedents from civil rights boycotts. The newspaper had refused to sign a pledge never to boycott Israel as demanded by a state college that was an advertiser in the paper. The court ruled that a business boycott is commercial conduct and not a speech issue at all, citing Supreme Court precedents. But courts in Kansas and Arizona have gone the other way and the issue is currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. I expect one or more of the anti-BDS cases to eventually make its way to the Supreme Court.