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After reading Briana Bierschbach’s MinnPost article, it’s clear that the justices who voted to give Minnesota governors virtually unlimited negotiating powers should be impeached.

In a section titled “The governor just got more power”, Bierschbach quoted Steven Schier, “a political science professor at Carleton College,” as saying that “the Supreme Court is setting a precedent that will allow all future governors to veto legislative budgets to continue negotiations.”

That’s certainly the majority opinion was amongst the media and punditry but that isn’t the entire story. As Ms. Bierschbach notes from the ruling, “Our Constitution requires ‘three distinct departments: legislative, executive and judicial. Minnesotans may soon be deprived of their constitutional right to three independent branches of government.”

According to the ruling, the Supreme Court said that governors can’t use a constitutional tool to “achieve an unconstitutional result.” It’s indisputable that the people have “a right to three fully functioning branches of government.”

That brings me to my main point, which is that the Supreme Court should have ruled that, while the line-item veto is constitutional, its application in this instance produced an unconstitutional result. Remember, Gov. Dayton didn’t veto the state government finance bill. He just line-item vetoed the legislature’s operational funding.

If my understanding is right, and I’m 99+ percent certain it is, this paragraph is irrelevant:

“We are unaware of any authority that allows the Judicial Branch to authorize spending simply because parties ask a court to do so,” the ruling reads. “In fact our cases suggest that the Judicial branch does not have the inherent power to appropriate money.”

If the Supreme Court rules that Gov. Dayton’s application of the line-item veto was improper, they can simply strike it, which means that the bill that the governor signed and that the legislature passed will take effect. There wouldn’t be a need for the Court to appropriate money.

In the final analysis, the Supreme Court dodged its responsibility. They might get this right yet but, if they do, it’ll be luck, not principle, that will be the deciding factor. They should’ve ruled that Gov. Dayton’s use of the line-item veto was improper because it eventually leads to an unconstitutional result. Instead of using sound judicial principles, these 6 justices essentially said that they didn’t want to make a decision.

We don’t need justices with straw spines and a moist finger in the air. We need justices who use impeccable judicial principles in making the right decisions. At this point, that’s asking too much of these justices. They’ve shown that they aren’t principled jurists with a titanium spine.

That’s why impeachment is the right path to take. I know that there aren’t enough votes to convict. Still, it would highlight the fact that these jurists aren’t fit for office. That might be enough to defeat some of them in next November’s elections.

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Now that both sides have agreed to a mediator, the next question is whether that mediator will get Mark Dayton to negotiate in good faith. The odds of that are slim.

Based on past reporting, Gov. Dayton wants the GOP Tax Relief Bill significantly reduced. He wants the cigarette tax breaks eliminated. Further, he wants business property tax relief reduced. Meanwhile, Republicans have little incentive to modify their tax bill, which was already trimmed down from the 2016 bill that passed with overwhelming support.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the line-item veto was constitutional, which wasn’t surprising. They also ruled that a constitutional tool can’t be used to achieve an unconstitutional result. Part of their ruling stated emphatically that Minnesotans have the right to a fully functioning legislature. When the court said that, they telegraphed where this case was heading if a negotiated settlement isn’t reached.

Further reducing the Republicans’ incentive to renegotiate their tax relief bill is the fact that Mark Dayton signed the bill into law. The Court can’t negate that. They can’t order the legislature to reduce the size of the tax relief package. They couldn’t enforce that if they ordered it.

I wouldn’t blame Republicans if they didn’t give much in mediation. The Court ordered mediation because Mark Dayton negotiated in bad faith. The Court is asking them to negotiate in good faith, something that Dayton doesn’t have a reputation for doing.

Negotiations are expected to start next week. I’m not expecting miraculous results:

This article features a tweet from a “community college professor” who tweeted “I’m not wishing for it…but I’d be ok if #BetsyDevos was sexually assaulted. #SexualAssault #TitleIX”.

The professor’s name is Robert Ranco. He’s “currently an adjunct Professor of Paralegal Studies at Austin Community College, where he teaches the ‘Advanced Research and Writing’ class. He is also a member of The Carlson Law Firm.” What type of disgusting person would make a statement like that? Here’s hoping that Professor Ranco doesn’t have his contract renewed. Saying that you’re ok with a person getting sexually assaulted is about as disgusting as it gets.

Later, Professor Ranco tweeted “Yes, @twitter. My words were harsh. I don’t wish harm on anyone. I wish there’s some way #BetsyDevos would understand and care about others.” Rather than stop there, Ranco tweeted “Twitter trolls are now due process experts! Priceless. #TitleIX” If that isn’t dripping condescension, it doesn’t exist. Why does Professor Ranco think it’s beyond Twitter users’ ability to understand one of the foundational principles of the Constitution? Here’s another of Professor Ranco’s tweets:

While I don’t know this for certain, I’d say there’s a 90+ percent chance that Ranco is a Democrat. First, he’s a lawyer. Next, he’s a college professor. While that doesn’t guarantee that he’s a Democrat, it’s still highly likely that he’s a bitter Democrat.

Last night, Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters sat during the National Anthem in an all-too-familiar display of ingratitude. First, let’s clear up the misconception that players can protest the Anthem because it’s protected by the First Amendment. The football pundits that have said that, aka Trey Wingo, don’t know what they’re talking about.

When they’re in uniform, their team has the undisputed right to dictate behavior. That’s because the team controls work product. From the time an employee punches in until that employee punches out, that employee’s employer can dictate to them what they shall do and how they must behave. But I digress.

Later in the article, it says “Peters’ protest comes days after Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett – who has also sat for the anthem – accused Las Vegas police of unfairly targeting him because of his race. Vegas police have pushed back on the accusation, saying officers chased down Bennett because he ran from an active shooting scene.”

NFL teams go out of their way to emphasize how they “give back” to their communities. It’s a little disingenuous for them to say they’re giving back while displaying such anti-patriotic behavior. It gives fans the opportunity to question whether NFL teams understand their fans.

When Commissioner Goodell first suspended Ray Rice for 2 games for physically assaulting his then-fiancé, people were rightfully outraged. People, including me, accused Goodell of being out of touch. I suspect that NFL teams’ PR departments came up with the “giving back” spin to somewhat mitigate their players’ negative reputations. Peters is one of those players whose reputation requires, putting it charitably, mitigation.

One retired player whose reputation is solid is Burgess Owens. Check out what he said on Fox & Friends this morning:

That’s what an adult with integrity sounds like.

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If self-described Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders is out-of-touch with Americans, it’s about the so-called campus rape crisis. In this recent tweet, Sanders said “Secretary DeVos made an outrageous announcement that she plans to overturn an Obama initiative that protected women.” President Obama’s initiative overprotected women by trampling male students’ rights on campus.

In the opening paragraph of their WSJ op-ed, KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor said “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has made clear her intention to correct one of the Obama administration’s worst excesses—its unjust rules governing sexual misconduct on college campuses. In a forceful speech Thursday at Virginia’s George Mason University, Mrs. DeVos said that ‘one rape is one too many’ but also that ‘one person denied due process is one too many.’ Mrs. DeVos declared that ‘every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.'”

A few paragraphs later in their op-ed, Johnson and Taylor wrote “But as Boston College’s R. Shep Melnick has noted, that was ‘just a minor part of the OCR’s procedural requirements.’ Worse were ‘the agency’s rules on cross-examination and appeals; its informal pressure on schools to institute a ‘single-investigator model’ that turns one person appointed by the school’s ‘Title IX Coordinator’ into a detective, judge, and jury; and the intense pressure for schools to show they are ‘getting tough’ on sexual assault.'”

Compare Johnson and Taylor’s op-ed with Sen. Sanders’ official statement on the matter:

Today, Secretary DeVos made an outrageous and unfortunate announcement that she plans to overturn an Obama initiative than protected women on college campuses from sexual assault. Campus sexual assault is a major problem, and it must be dealt with. We must do everything possible to make sure our campuses are safe for all students. This decision does a disservice to those who have worked hard to address sexual violence. Congress must now act to undo another terrible decision from the Trump administration.

First, Congress won’t act on this. Further, they shouldn’t act on Sen. Sanders’ silliness. Finally, if they were to pass a law codifying President Obama’s Title IX assault, it wouldn’t be implemented because a judge would slap a TRO on it prohibiting its implementation because it violates students’ civil liberties. Specifically, it would violate students’ Fifth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The Fifth Amendment says “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”

Sen. Sanders isn’t the only Democrat that’s out in left field on this. During Mrs. DeVos’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Bob Casey, (D-PA), stated “To say that it’s an epidemic is also understatement.” I won’t challenge Sen. Casey’s later statement that one in five female college students has been sexually assaulted. Rather, I’d question Sen. Casey and Sen. Sanders if stripping male students of their Constitution-given rights would make female students safer. I’d submit it wouldn’t.

Johnson and Taylor also said this:

Second, it would allow the department to implement Title IX policy through new, carefully considered regulations after a period of public notice and comment. The FIRE study identifies provisions that would be necessary to achieve a minimum of fairness in campus tribunals—the presumption of innocence, clear notice of alleged violations, sufficient time for the accused student to prepare his defense, impartial fact-finders, access to all relevant and exculpatory evidence, the right to cross-examine the accuser, a meaningful right to legal representation, and a meaningful right to appeal.

As four Harvard law professors— Jeannie Suk Gersen, Janet Halley, Elizabeth Bartholet and Nancy Gertner —argued in a recent article, a fair process requires “neutral decisionmakers who are independent of the school’s [federal regulatory] compliance interest, and independent decisionmakers providing a check on arbitrary and unlawful decisions.” The four had been among more than two dozen Harvard law professors to express concerns about the Obama administration’s—and Harvard’s—handling of Title IX. So too had 16 University of Pennsylvania law professors, as well as the American Council for Trial Lawyers.

It’s important that the Obama administration’s guidance be scrapped. Still, it’s important that the system protect students’ safety without trampling other students’ civil rights.

Jazz Shaw’s post about Big Labor’s latest fundraising effort raises questions about their integrity and their intentions. Jazz quotes from this article, which talks about the “Texas Organizing Project Education Fund, a labor-affiliated group looking to make inroads in right-to-work Texas, launched the Hurricane Harvey Community Relief Fund in the wake of the flooding that has devastated the Houston area.”

What caught Jazz’s attention is when the article said the “donation page says the fund will ‘move the material aid the most vulnerable hit by Harvey’ but that ‘material’ goes beyond standard humanitarian aid. Donations, the page says, will help the SEIU-funded group organize workers.” The article is filled with one weasel word after another. For instance, the union’s website says “Your donation is vital to ensuring that we have the resources we need to organize and fight for Texans devastated by Hurricane Harvey.” In another place, it says “100 percent of the money raised into this fund will be spent directly on ensuring low income and people of color are not forgotten in the relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts.”

Let’s go through this step-by-step. The union’s website didn’t mention was materials they’d be buying and distributing. They didn’t elaborate on what percentage of the money raised would go towards union organizing and what percentage of that money would go towards actual relief for victims. Furthermore, what do they mean when they say that “100 percent of the money raised into this fund will be spent directly on ensuring low income and people of color are not forgotten in the relief”? Is the website insinuating that the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and Samaritans Purse won’t distribute relief in a just and fair manner?

If that’s what they’re saying, what’s their proof? If that isn’t what they mean, then they’d better explain what they meant. The further you read into the article, the more red flags appear. Like this one:

The group has yet to decide on exactly how the fund will be distributed, but said the fund’s expenditures “will range from personal hygiene items to legal aid and advocacy.” The exact budgetary strategy will not become apparent “until after the floods recede” and pledged the group would be transparent with its expenditures.

There are tons of loopholes in those statements. First, the Hurricane Harvey Community Relief Fund didn’t articulate why they’d be providing “legal aid and advocacy” funding. Further, they didn’t explain how that fits into the vital mission of providing food and shelter for those displaced by Harvey’s flooding. Finally, with so much immediate need, why did they say that they’ll wait “until after the floods recede” before distributing this aid? Is this what they mean by advocacy?

If that’s what they mean, how is that vital to helping victims of flooding and displacement? At this point, I’d recommend that LFR readers avoid this fund. Getting money into the hands of Samaritans Purse or other reputable organizations is the best way to help.

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Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., addressed an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, saying that the time for half-measures is over. This morning, Ambassador Haley “asked the body’s Security Council to impose the strongest possible sanctions against North Korea in response to the rogue nation’s most recent nuclear test”, adding that “the time for half measures … is over.” Later in her statement, Haley said “We cannot kick this can down the road any longer. There is no more road left.”

Ambassador Haley also said “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success,” later adding that “North Korea is begging for war.” Others on the Security Council will undoubtedly suggest that the U.S. return to the negotiating table. That’s foolish. As Ambassador Haley noted in her statement, we’ve been negotiating with them for 25 years. That hasn’t produced lasting peace. It’s given us nuclear proliferation to a rogue nation that’s threatening its neighbors and the U.S. with nuclear weapons.

Watching Ambassador Haley’s entire statement is enlightening:

Since then-President-Elect Trump picked her to be his ambassador to the U.N., it’s been clear that she’s an international rock star, stating U.S. positions clearly, powerfully and firmly. There’s no mistaking what her positions are. There’s no doubting that she isn’t into pussyfooting around.

I’d slightly modify Teddy Roosevelt’s saying to “Speak softly and carry a big stick” to fit Ambassador Haley’s style, which I’d describe as ‘Speak confidently and carry a big stick.’ I don’t like the thought of war. When a dictator starts aiming nuclear weapons at our closest allies and at us, though, it’s time to show everyone who the world’s only superpower is and that we won’t hesitate in defending ourselves. In a match of push-comes-to-shove, the U.S. arsenal is full of shove.

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This post by Powerline’s Scott Johnson predicts a sad outcome in the lawsuit filed by the legislature against Gov. Dayton. In his post, Johnson, an attorney, wrote “Based on the oral argument, it seems clear to me that the Supreme Court is poised to reverse Judge Guthmann’s ruling and remand the case to Judge Guthmann for an order funding the legislature’s core functions beyond October 1 for as long as necessary. If and when Governor Dayton prevails on appeal, he can be expected to call a special session of the legislature specifically limited to revisiting provisions of the state government finance bill that he found objectionable. Governor Dayton appointed four of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s seven justices. The playing field is tilted in his favor.”

God help us if Scott’s prediction is right. I don’t want to sound to dramatic but a ruling in Dayton’s favor is a ruling against checks and balances and a ruling that would essentially obliterate the concept of co-equal branches of government. Harold Hamilton summarizes things perfectly in his weekly commentary:

During oral arguments, Chief Justice Gildea cut right to the heart of matter by asking this question of Dayton’s lawyer: If the line-item veto power has no limits or qualification, is the governor not empowered to veto or threaten to veto funding for the judicial branch if he doesn’t like the way a court rules a case?

Dayton’s lawyers engaged in some verbal gymnastics before simply stating that such a question “isn’t before the court today.”

This is the tell-tale question.

For Dayton’s view to prevail, it must be admitted that the line-item veto has no limits. It means that the governor can threaten to veto funding to operate the legislature or the courts to leverage political outcomes. In short, it means that the governor can threaten the integrity of the courts and the legislature.

Scott is right. Gov. Dayton has successfully stacked the Court. If Gov. Dayton’s appointees rule in his favor, Republicans will use that ruling to eviscerate DFL candidates at all levels.

Imagine if you’re Dan Wolgamott, running against Jim Knoblach in HD-14B. Further, imagine having to defend the governor from your party essentially claiming that he should have the ability to negotiate in bad faith and get everything he wants from the legislature and the courts through the stroke of a pen.

That isn’t what a constitutional republic looks like. It’s what a third-world dictatorship looks like. It’s what totalitarianism looks like.

If Gov. Dayton’s appointees rule in his favor, that’ll be proof that Gov. Dayton’s appointees are Democrats first and constitution-minded jurists second. Minnesotans need to ask themselves if that’s what they want. Do they really want Democrats anywhere near the levers of power in St. Paul?

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In this post, I asked several questions, including why do Democrats think that unaccountable bureaucrats with a constituency of one person (the governor) are best-suited to do region-wide infrastructure planning?

People that don’t have to worry about accountability to citizens inevitably get corrupted or stop listening to the people or both.

Something that Katherine Kersten wrote in this article should raise red flags. She wrote “The council’s vision to transform how the people of the Twin Cities region live and get around has two prongs. First, the Thrive plan will promote compact, high-density housing and “transit-oriented development” (TOD). TOD seeks to ‘pivot’ from an “auto-friendly” to a ‘transit-friendly’ transportation system by discouraging driving and pushing people to walk, bike or take public transit to work and leisure activities. Both Thrive’s housing and transportation policy plans exhibit a striking hostility to travel by car, and to the freedom and mobility that ownership of a personal vehicle brings.”

Here’s a question for LFR readers: should any government agency have the authority to push its citizens towards “transit-friendly” transportation systems? Here’s another question that dovetails off the first question: should an unelected government panel be allowed to “exhibit a striking hostility to travel by car”? Shouldn’t those decisions be made by the citizens themselves?

If you think that unaccountable bureaucrats that don’t have to listen to the people make better decisions than elected officials that have to answer to the people, I’d love seeing the proof for that. Honestly, I don’t think it exists.

Later in the article, Ms. Kersten wrote this:

The plan will lavish funds (at least $2.7 billion) on fixed-rail transit while virtually ignoring funding for expanding roads, which are vital to regional prosperity and on which 99 percent of area trips rely in some way. Despite the council’s drive for densification — which will jam more cars into a smaller space — the Thrive plan declares that “expanding the roadway system is not a sustainable way to address congestion, climate change, equity and livability.”

It’s time for the Met Council to disappear or, at minimum, to have their authority reduced. It’s obvious that they’re an organization with an ideological agenda. It’s obvious that they aren’t that worried about what the citizens of the Twin Cities want.

The transportation plan greatly favors the urban core over suburbs and exurbs and uses limited transportation funds as a bludgeon to promote its social agenda of dispersing poverty. In response, county boards of the five “ring” counties — Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Scott and Washington — have unanimously denounced the council’s plan.

And around and around we go. The Met Council doesn’t care what Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Scott and Washington counties want. They’re shaped almost exclusively around the belief that fixed rail transit is the way to go. It won’t take long for the people to reject that foolishness.

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Last night, St. Cloud City Councilmember George Hontos made a motion “for a study session on refugee resettlement.” When St. Cloud City Council President Carol Lewis voted against the motion, she said that the subject was “a federal issue, it may have some state implications, but we really have nothing we can say.”

A loyal reader of LFR contacted me to correct Ms. Lewis’ information. According to this loyal reader of LFR, the federal statute that deals with the Refugee Act of 1980, which “created The Federal Refugee Resettlement Program”, is quite specific. 8 U.S.C. § 1522(a)(2)(A) states that “The Director and the Federal agency administering subsection (b)(1), shall consult regularly (not less often than quarterly) with State and local governments and private nonprofit voluntary agencies concerning the sponsorship process and the intended distribution of refugees among the States and localities before their placement in those States and localities.”

Further, the statute states that “The Director shall develop and implement, in consultation with representatives of voluntary agencies and State and local governments, policies and strategies for the placement and resettlement of refugees within the United States.”

In summation, the State Department is required to regularly consult with local governments prior to the resettlement of refugees. Based on what the federal government and county and city governments have shared with the public, those consultations haven’t happened.

Let’s be clear, though. It’s entirely possible that the State Department has consulted with the various NPOs about the program. That’s possible because the various levels of government have been as transparent as a brick wall.

Later in the statute, it says “Such policies and strategies, to the extent practicable and except under such unusual circumstances as the Director may recognize, shall- provide for a mechanism whereby representatives of local affiliates of voluntary agencies regularly (not less often than quarterly) meet with representatives of State and local governments to plan and coordinate in advance of their arrival the appropriate placement of refugees among the various States and localities, and
(iii) take into account-
(I) the proportion of refugees and comparable entrants in the population in the area,
(II) the availability of employment opportunities, affordable housing, and public and private resources (including educational, health care, and mental health services) for refugees in the area,”

In other words, municipal and county governments and school boards must meet with the federal government and put together a plan that doesn’t overtax “educational, health care, and mental health services.” Additionally, this plan must be in place prior to the first refugee is resettled in a city.

The city of St. Cloud hasn’t shared any information on these required plans. That’s possibly because there isn’t a plan. That’s possibly because they’re just being exceptionally secretive. At this point, we don’t have proof that a plan was ever put in place. This video (from Tennessee) seems to indicate that the federal government isn’t taking their obligations seriously:

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