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My first reaction after reading this article is that Rebecca Otto is a spoiled brat who can’t take no for an answer. Despite the fact that there’s nothing in Minnesota’s constitution that assigns responsibilities to the auditor’s office, Otto insists that the auditor’s office was totally gutted by legislation.

The other reaction I had came after I read DFL Rep. Paul Marquart say “It is basically these three counties defending a state law … for all 87 counties. It is fair to spread [the expense] statewide.” What spinelessness. Why can’t Rep. Marquart criticize Otto? Saying that Otto’s lawsuit is frivolous is understatement. What’s worse is that it’s taxpayer-funded. Despite these things, Rep. Marquart didn’t hesitate in spending taxpayers’ money on the lawsuit.

This is proof that DFL legislators not having the spine to stand up to other DFL politicians. The reason behind the DFL’s silence is because the DFL isn’t for the working people. They’re for the special interests. Period.

I’ve written before that private auditors finish the job faster and cost less than the government auditors from Otto’s office. The DFL defends the government auditors by funding Otto’s lawsuit. I didn’t see Rep. Marquart fighting for taxpayers when this bill was being debated. Now it’s worse:

Now the reimbursement funds are caught up in the larger legal battle between the governor’s office and the Legislature. In a first-ever move in Minnesota, the DFL governor vetoed funding for the Republican-controlled legislature after what he called “last-minute legislative treachery”. The Legislature inserted a provision in a budget bill that would withhold funding for the Department of Revenue unless the governor signed its package of tax cuts.

Not only did Rep. Marquart vote for spending money on the lawsuit but he voted against tax relief for middle-class Minnesotans. I know this because all DFL representatives and senators voted against the tax relief package. Further, the DFL legislators voted against that tax relief after voting overwhelmingly for a bigger tax relief package in 2016, an election year.

This is what a picture of spinelessness looks like:

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This article highlights additional parts of Judge Guthmann’s ruling in the Legislature’s lawsuit against Gov. Dayton that don’t sound good for Gov. Dayton.

First, in my post, I highlighted Judge Guthmann’s statement saying that “the public would be irreparably harmed” by being deprived “of a basic constitutional right – a fully functioning Legislative Branch.”

In Judge Guthmann’s injunctive ruling, he wrote “In addition to the parties’ Stipulation that Count I of the Complaint is ripe for decision, the court also finds that the issues presented to the court in Count I of the Complaint are ripe and require a ruling from the court.”

Some Twin Cities pundits have suggested that it’s best that Judge Guthmann order the two sides to sit down and work out their differences. I’ve never agreed with that approach. The constitutional issues are too important. Gov. Dayton’s claims are too reckless. It isn’t possible to reconcile Gov. Dayton’s filings with principles befitting a democracy. If the courts finally rule that Gov. Dayton “has the absolute authority to line-item veto anything for any reason,” it’ll demolish the checks and balances in Minnesota’s constitution.

This article is proof that Rebecca Otto doesn’t understand the constitution. In Brian Bakst’s article, he writes “State Auditor Rebecca Otto will file a petition this week with the Minnesota Supreme Court, asking for review of a law allowing counties to hire private accountants for financial evaluations done. In May, the state Court of Appeals upheld the 2015 law as constitutional in a 2-1 ruling. The majority judges said Otto hadn’t surrendered authority because she retained the power to set standards for audits and could reject audits it found inferior.”

The truth is that Minnesota’s constitution only establishes the office of auditor. The duties and responsibilities of the Auditor are assigned to it by statute. Later in Bakst’s article, he quotes Otto as saying “The courts have affirmed that auditing counties is a core function of this constitutional office, which we’ve been saying all along, and that there is a true controversy here.”

That isn’t being disputed. What’s being disputed is whether those responsibilities were assigned to the auditor’s office through the Constitution or through legislation. A little over 2 years ago, I wrote this post about the auditor’s office. Here’s what I wrote on June 10, 2015:

I’ve read Article V. That’s where the Constitution establishes the office of State Auditor. Nowhere in Article V does it list the auditor’s responsibilities. Article V, Sect. 3 outlines the governor’s responsibilities. That’s the only constitutional officer whose responsibilities are defined in Minnesota’s Constitution.

Since the legislation passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Dayton doesn’t attempt to abolish the State Auditor’s office, there isn’t a constitutional issue. The office is still intact. It’s just that the auditor’s responsibilities have changed. Here’s where things get tricky for the DFL.

Twenty-eight counties currently have the right to hire private auditors. That carve-out isn’t in the Constitution, meaning that changed through the passage of a state statute. If that change can happen through passing a state statute, why can’t other changes happen via state statute?

Those 28 counties have been permitted to hire private auditing companies for quite some time, meaning that Rebecca Otto hasn’t objected to the hiring of private auditors in years. Otto is only selectively opposed to the hiring of private auditors.

Further, from a public policy standpoint, letting counties hire private auditors makes sense. Private auditors do the job quicker and at a less expensive price. Since the auditor’s responsibilities are assigned through statute, not the Constitution, it makes too much sense to not authorize qualified private auditors to perform these audits.

Finally, it’s foolish not to either abolish the auditor’s office as a constitutional office. Wouldn’t it make more sense to move the auditor’s office, the attorney general’s office and the secretary of state’ office into being appointed by the governor? If not, why not?

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In his lawyers’ briefs, Gov. Dayton’s arrogance shines through in stunning, repulsive fashion. This article highlights both sides’ arguments.

Let’s start with the arguments that Gov. Dayton’s attorneys made. In their filing, Gov. Dayton’s attorneys said “The Governor has explicit and unqualified authority under the Minnesota Constitution to veto any line item of appropriation. The Minnesota Constitution authorizes the Governor’s line-item vetoes, without any qualification as to the Governor’s subjective intent or purpose.”

Technically, that’s true. Then again, no right is absolute. Each right must pass a balancing test. That’s why rights don’t come “without any qualification.” It’s arrogant for Gov. Dayton’s attorneys essentially argue that a governor’s right to shape appropriations through the governor’s line-item authority is more important than the people’s right to representation. The line-item veto is a budget tool, nothing more. If the line-item veto disappeared, governors would have one less tool to shape budgets. If the legislature disappeared, the people would lose their representation. It isn’t difficult to argue that the people Losing their right to representation is infinitely more important than giving governors an additional budget tool.

The Legislature’s argument is that “Without injunctive relief, Plaintiffs are unable to fulfill their constitutional obligations, will not be able to represent their constituents, and the People of the State of Minnesota are deprived of their constitutionally-mandated voice in the administration of their government.”

If Minnesota governors lost the line-item veto, they’d lose a budget-shaping tool. If the people lost their right to representation, democracy would immediately disappear. In filing their brief, Gov. Dayton’s attorneys are arguing against democracy. In filing their brief, the Legislature’s attorneys argue for full-throated democracy.

If the court get this one wrong, the judges that sided with Gov. Dayton should be immediately impeached and removed from office.

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This morning on At Issue, Ember Reichgott-Junge said something off-the-charts stupid in terms of understanding the Constitution. She was asked about Gov. Dayton exercising his line-item veto on the legislature’s budget. Reichgott-Junge said that it’s a political issue and that she thought the court would refuse to accept the Republicans’ lawsuit. Sarah Janacek disagreed with ERG, saying that this also has a constitutional aspect to this lawsuit, which is obviously true. Later in the segment, Ms. Reichgott-Junge said that a judge could just order the legislature and the governor to sit down and work out their differences.

That’s just kicking the can down the road. Neither side will budge an inch until public opinion starts going against them. If I had to bet, I’d bet that Gov. Dayton would lose this PR fight. It’s one thing to play hardball to get some tax cuts passed. It’s quite the other thing to shut down an entire branch of government for the next 4 years. That’s what Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto did.

First, this is a fight Gov. Dayton shouldn’t have picked. It shows him to be a petulant, little man. Next, this is a PR fight that Gov. Dayton won’t win because he’s acting like a spoiled brat who didn’t get his way.

Since announcing that he wasn’t seeking re-election, Gov. Dayton has picked fight after fight, sometimes against Republicans, sometimes against Democrats. (Think about his fights with Tom Bakk about commissioner pay raises and Sen. Bakk’s agreeing to a bipartisan budget agreement with Speaker Daudt.) Since that announcement, he’s been an ornery cuss, getting grumpier and more unreasonable by the week.

It’s time Gov. Dayton stopped acting like a total jerk. It’s time, too, for Gov. Dayton’s apologists to stop apologizing for his inexcusable actions. He’s done things the past 2-3 years that’ve made nonpartisans scratch their heads.

Apparently, Brian Fallon didn’t get beat up enough during the election when his candidate, Hillary Clinton, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. After defending the worst presidential candidate in recent history, Fallon has decided that he’d like to match constitutional wits with Alan Dershowitz. Fallon wrote this op-ed to spin the Democrats’ BS that President Trump’s firing of an insubordinate acting AG was scandalous.

Fallon’s lightweight arguments aren’t persuasive. In the op-ed, Fallon said “It is an entirely appropriate exercise of the attorney general’s authority to determine whether, and how, to defend a president’s executive orders in the face of legal challenge. In this case, while Trump’s executive order may avoid explicit mention of banning Muslims or assigning preference to Christian refugees, the order will certainly have that discriminatory effect.”

Meanwhile, Prof. Dershowitz wrote that “Sally Yates is neither a hero, nor a villain. She made an honest mistake when she instructed the entire Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s wrong-headed executive order on immigration. The reasons she gave in her letter referred to matters beyond the scope of the attorney general. She criticized the order on policy grounds and said that it was not ‘right.'”

Firing Sally Yates wasn’t just proper. It was essential. She disagreed with President Trump’s policy. Prof. Dershowitz said that that’s wrong:

There are significant differences between the constitutional status of green card holders on the one hand, and potential visitors from another country who are seeking visas. Moreover, there are statutory issues in addition to constitutional ones. A blanket order to refuse to defend any part of the statute is overkill.

If she strongly disagreed with the policies underlying the order, she should have resigned in protest, and left it to others within the Justice Department to defend those parts of the order that are legally defensible.That’s what happens when you send a boy king to do a man’s job.

In picking Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court, President Trump didn’t hit a home run. Metaphorically speaking, he hit a grand slam in his first major league at-bat. It’s apparent that it’s a grand slam when the NY Times publishes an op-ed gushing about Judge Gorsuch.

Neal Katyal’s op-ed isn’t something that you’d expect to find on the NY Times’ op-ed page. The fourth paragraph of Katyal’s op-ed is gushy, saying “I believe this, even though we come from different sides of the political spectrum. I was an acting solicitor general for President Barack Obama; Judge Gorsuch has strong conservative bona fides and was appointed to the 10th Circuit by President George W. Bush. But I have seen him up close and in action, both in court and on the Federal Appellate Rules Committee (where both of us serve); he brings a sense of fairness and decency to the job, and a temperament that suits the nation’s highest court.”

On the opposite side of the political spectrum, the editors at National Review wrote “Originalism has faced resistance in modern times mostly because liberals would rather not go through the formal process of amending the Constitution in order to edit it to their liking, removing its structural limits on governmental power and putting their preferred policies beyond democratic review. Gorsuch’s record gives us cause to believe that he would use his vote and his voice to side with the actual Constitution.”

President Trump looked totally confident when he announced his pick:

President Trump explained why he picked Judge Gorsuch. He outlined the lengthy, impressive list of qualities Judge Gorsuch possesses. After President Trump finished his presentation, he turned the microphone over to Judge Gorsuch.

One thing that seemed to jump out at everyone was when Judge Gorsuch said that a judge that agrees with every ruling he’s made “is probably a bad judge.” The clear intent of that statement is that judges that agree with their rulings are most likely substituting their policy preferences for the text on the page. For instance, a judge that bans flag-burning isn’t doing his/her job. Few people think that burning the flag is the right thing to do. Most people would criticize it. The First Amendment, though, says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” It doesn’t prohibit people from saying things we find hateful.

Based on what’s out there, Judge Gorsuch understands that perfectly. That’s why we should think he’s the best possible pick to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Democratic Party of Hubert Humphrey, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Scoop Jackson is ancient history. The Democratic Party of Barack Obama, Harry Reid, aka The One-Man Pocket Veto, and (especially) Chuck Schumer can be described succinctly. They party of Obama, Reid and Schumer is all obstruction, all the time.

This article highlights just how unhinged today’s Democratic Party is. The article opens by saying “Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Monday predicted that Democrats would launch a filibuster against whoever President Trump picks for the Supreme Court. ‘This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat,’ Merkley told Politico. ‘We will use every lever in our power to stop this. … I will definitely object to a simple majority.'”

This isn’t surprising. Democrats are upset because they thought they’d get former President Obama’s third term. They thought they’d win back the majority in the Senate, too, so they could confirm lots of liberal justices. Instead, they nominated a corrupt politician who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Instead, they gained 2 seats in the Senate when they needed 5.

The important point, though, is that today’s Democratic Party isn’t interested in being public servants who listen to their constituents. Today’s Democratic Party isn’t interested in putting America first. Today’s Democratic Party is mostly about complaining when they don’t get their way. Today’s Democratic Party is about obstruction when people say no to their ideological wish list.

Simply put, Sen. Merkley has passionately and emphatically stated that his fidelity is to the Democratic Party, not the people he was elected to represent or the Constitution he swore an oath to defend.

The Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), which has ties to McConnell, quickly sent out emails questioning whether the red-state Democrats would back Merkley’s filibuster.

Of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the group said: “Will he stand with the people of his state who overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump to be able to pick a Supreme Court nominee? Or will he stand with [Sens.] Elizabeth Warren [Mass.], Bernie Sanders [Vt.], and the rest of the Democratic caucus that only cares about its far left base of permanent protesters?”

If Democrats want to filibuster President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, let them. That will expose them as obstructionists who obstruct for the sake of appeasing their political base. Democrats don’t care about this:

Democrats only care about maintaining power.

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This article puts forth an interesting legal theory, though I’m not sure it’s applicable. The novel legal theory revolves around whether President Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities is unconstitutional. I’m betting this theory fails.

In the article, Damon Root brings up the original Obamacare lawsuit, otherwise known as National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, aka NFIB v. Sebelius. Mr. Root notes that “At issue was whether Congress exceeded its Spending Clause powers when it threatened to cut off all existing Medicaid funding to any state that refused to expand Medicaid in accordance with the new health care law. The federal government’s Medicaid expansion amounted to a ‘gun to the head,’ the Supreme Court held. ‘A State that opts out of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion in health care coverage…stands to lose not merely ‘a relatively small percentage’ of its existing Medicaid funding, but all of it.'” That sort of ‘economic dragooning…leaves the States with no real option but to acquiesce.'”

The difference between the commandeering of state budgets in NFIB v. Sebelius and cutting off of law enforcement grants is that the ACA told states that they had to expand Medicaid. The federal government, through the ACA, said that states that didn’t expand Medicaid would lose all Medicaid funding. The withholding of funding to sanctuary cities isn’t commandeering because these sanctuary cities opted to apply for grants in exchange for helping the Department of Homeland Security with immigration-related issues.

In NFIB v. Sebelius, the federal government told states what they had to do without giving them an option. Cutting off funds to sanctuary cities isn’t the same because these cities applied for (think requested) federal grants. In exchange for these grants, those cities sign maintenance of service agreements that obligate them to specific things. In this instance, that means helping DHS capture illegal aliens.

The short story is simple. These sanctuary cities want the money but they refuse to enforce the law. That isn’t commandeering. That’s negotiating in bad faith.

What’s ignored is what’s important. After Congress appropriates the money, it’s the Executive Branch’s responsibility to ensure that the money is spent in accordance to the law. With sanctuary cities, they aren’t spending the money in accordance with our nation’s laws. It isn’t just within the Trump administration’s rights to monitor how cities spend this grant money. It’s their affirmative responsibility to verify that this grant money is spent in compliance with our nation’s laws.

Summarizing, commandeering is when the federal government tells local governments what they must spend their money on. In this instance, cutting off grants that cities requested in exchange for doing things that the federal government wants done isn’t commandeering. That’s simple contract law.

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Sen. Feinstein’s statement on President Trump’s executive order on extreme vetting represents the Democrats’ national security policy. In her statement, Sen. Feinstein, (D-CA), said “Under the president’s executive order, Syrian refugees can only come to this country if they are Christian—regardless of the level of persecution or need. To me, this an unbelievable action. It’s one thing to see that an individual is properly vetted. It’s an entirely different matter to say that because someone comes from a particular country or is a member of a particular faith that he or she has no access to this country.”

Sen. Feinstein isn’t telling the truth. Follow this link to read President Trump’s executive order on extreme vetting. The part that jumped out at me was the part that said “In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”

Then there’s this section:

Sec. 5. Realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for Fiscal Year 2017. (a) The Secretary of State shall suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. During the 120-day period, the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Homeland Security and in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, shall review the USRAP application and adjudication process to determine what additional procedures should be taken to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States, and shall implement such additional procedures. Refugee applicants who are already in the USRAP process may be admitted upon the initiation and completion of these revised procedures. Upon the date that is 120 days after the date of this order, the Secretary of State shall resume USRAP admissions only for nationals of countries for which the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence have jointly determined that such additional procedures are adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States.

It’s a dark moment when a supposed expert in national security plays games with America’s safety. Here’s Sen. Feinstein’s full statement:

Andy McCarthy’s article either proves that Sen. Feinstein is dumber than a sack of hair about the commander-in-chief’s authority or she’s dishonest. Either Sen. Feinstein knows about this provision or she hasn’t done her homework:

Federal immigration law also includes Section 1182(f), which states: “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

The thing that’s frightening is that Democrats sat silent when President Obama tried rewriting existing laws through executive orders but are besides themselves when President Trump issues an EO that states that his administration will follow existing laws:

To temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period described in subsection (a) of this section, to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).

In other words, President Trump’s EO that temporarily stops refugees from entering our nation cites the specific law he’s obeying.

Think of this. A bill is passed by Congress, then signed by the president. How can something that gets bipartisan support and is signed by the president be un-American? Further, the Constitution gives the Executive Branch the affirmative responsibility of protecting the United States from terrorist attacks.

President Trump’s EO follows US law and the Constitution. That’s what Sen. Feinstein calls un-American. It’s frightening that Sen. Feinstein either doesn’t understand the Constitution or is too dishonest to admit that the Democratic Party is willing to ignore the Constitution for political gain.