Feinstein’s Lost Clout Over Kavanaugh, Now Powerless on Judicial Appointments in Senate

Dianne Feinstein in Outer Space

For decades Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein of California has had powerful and even unusual influence on judiciary nominations in California for District Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and even appointments of US attorneys across the state.

Yet a recent action by the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee and a Senate vote on fifteen new nominees, makes it clear that Feinstein has totally and completely lost her ability to influence judicial appointments in the state, and it is all because of her shabby performance in the nomination, and attempt to delay the nomination, of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, coupled with a touch of betrayal from her own party leader in the Senate.

Under Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama, Feinstein always had an important role in who was ultimately appointed to a Federal judiciary position in California. As a California Senator and top ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Feinstein was able to wield the mighty “blue slip,” a Senate custom, which gave her a practical veto on many Presidential nominations in the state. Even when Republican George W. Bush was President, Feinstein took on an outsized power to review, reject and approve Bush appointees in California, even before they got to the Senate floor, through a controversial judicial “commission” setup up during Bush’s term.  The result was Bush was forced to compromise again and again on California judicial appointments, and was only able to appoint and confirm a handful of solidly conservative judges in California during his eight years as President.

The power Feinstein had on these appointments for three decades has surely helped make the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unquestionably the most liberal circuit court in the nation. Up until last week, only six of twenty-nine appointees on that Court were Republicans. Yet now, Feinstein’s reign in liberalizing California Federal appointments is over. And it appears the Senator Democratic leader Chuck Schumer may have helped Senate Republicans to cut Feinstein’s influence as well.

This is because last week, after the Kavanaugh confirmation was behind them, the Senate quietly confirmed fifteen additional Trump Administration judicial appointments, including Republican Ryan Nelson to the Ninth Circuit. Further, last week the Judiciary Committee approved two more Trump Administration Ninth Circuit nominees, (one of whom, Patrick Bumatay, is not only a Republican, but will be the first openly gay judge to ever serve on the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco) who will surely be confirmed by the full Senate after the November election. All three of these nominees were actively opposed by Feinstein and subject to her “blue slip” opposition. Schumer made a deal with Senate Republicans, despite Feinstein’s opposition, and according to news reports, what he got were two lower court nominees for East Coast courts who had been initially appointed by Obama but never confirmed. Thirteen out of fifteen was a pretty good deal for Senate Republicans to get quick approval now, and in the coming “lame duck” Senate, such a deal won’t be necessary because of Republican control. Thus, we can expect three new Republican members on the Ninth Circuit by the end of this year, all over Feinstein’s now powerless objections.

Feinstein had tried to make a last minute offer to the Trump Administration by publicly stating last week she would agree to seating Orange County Superior Court Judge and former Clinton-impeachment House Manager Jim Rogan to the Ninth Circuit, in return for also seating Nancy Koh, a Bay Area district court judge who had been nominated by Obama for the Ninth Circuit but whose nomination stalled in the Republican Senate. It appears that Senate Republicans and the Trump Administration didn’t think Rogan, a favorite of former “Never Trump” Republicans in California, or making a deal with Feinstein, who had held back Christy Blasey Ford’s letter against Brett Kavanaugh until the last minute and which was disclosed without Ford’s approval, was worth it. The result is that Feinstein was totally and completely cut out of the recent successful action moving three new Republicans forward to help remake the liberal Ninth Circuit, and that Feinstein was undercut by her own Senate leader in that process. Senate Republicans are still fuming over Feinstein’s role in attempting to derail that Kavanaugh confirmation, and their recent actions prove it. With Republicans looking to continue and perhaps even increase their control of the Senate as a result of the upcoming midterm elections, Ranking Member Feinstein’s influence on the Federal judiciary nationwide and especially in California appear deader than a doornail.

“Trump Now May Well Appoint 1/3rd of Supreme Court by 2020!” – Jim Lacy on “Weekend Breakfast”

In this video airing on Sunday morning, October 7 on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Weekend Breakfast,” California Political Review Publisher Jim Lacy comments in real time on the 50-48 U.S. Senate vote confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, explains that the Democrats “really overplayed their hand,” that Republicans are now re-invigorated for the midterm elections and predicts that by the end of his term Donald Trump will have appointed 3 of the Supreme Court’s 9 members.  “Can you imagine if Donald Trump has appointed 1/3rd of the Supreme Court?!”

 

 

I’m With Republicans for De Leon. Feinstein Does Not Deserve Our Support.

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According to a very recent Public Policy Institute of California Poll, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s lead over Kevin De Leon for re-election to her U.S. Senate seat has been cut in half, down from 22 points earlier this summer to 11 points now.  Some observers say Feinstein’s drop in the Democrat-on-Democrat runoff, can be attributed to her insidious performance in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.   They say Republican voters who are “orphaned” in the Democrat-only election, who were previously lined up to vote for the much older Feinstein over former State Senate President Kevin De Leon, are having trouble sticking with Feinstein over the shabby treatment she has given President Trump’s nominee in the Committee.

Count me in as one of those conservative voters who will reject Feinstein on November 6 and vote for De Leon instead!

Some Republicans I have listened to on the subject have made the case that Feinstein is more moderate than De Leon, and that she has a lot of experience and is wiser.  A few have made the ridiculous argument that because of her age, she is not likely to serve out her term, like De Leon would, providing an opportunity for a Republican “Governor Cox” to be able to appoint her successor.

But the fact is Cox will not be elected Governor, and by any objective standard, Feinstein, who has a single digit lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, is really not markedly more conservative than De Leon.  On every important issue that conservatives care about, Feinstein and De Leon are the same.  They are both essentially democratic socialists, its just that De Leon is transparent about it, and emphasizes it, while Feinstein is opaque about it, and de-emphasizes it.

And since there is little real difference, other than age, on the big issues, my view is this: why not go “full Disneyland” and send De Leon to the U.S. Senate?  Given his youth and inexperience, he will be ineffective for many years.  The ideas he will promote, some shared with Feinstein, will be too crazy even for his own party (sanctuary state, non-citizens having voting rights, abolish the Border Patrol), which wants most of all to win national elections, not just in California.  He will be a disaster for his party in the Senate.  He will be a thorn in their side.

And now given Feinstein’s awful treatment of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, I would much rather have the predictable lack of accomplishment of Kevin De Leon in the Senate than a more effective Dianne Feinstein.

I want to see Feinstein held accountable for the dirt she has done on the Judiciary Committee.  Holding back accuser Dr. Ford’s private letter for months when the claims could have been thoroughly reviewed in that time by the FBI is not just political outrage, it is a moral outrage!  She has allowed her colleagues to establish a terrible tone on the Committee where she serves as ranking member, such as her friend Senator Blumenthal, who publicly stated that Kavanaugh “is a serial rapist.”  Nothing could be further from the truth!  The “wishful thinking” of a frenzied liberal media salivating for a chance to thump Trump has been stoked by these false claims and manufactured crisis about an FBI investigation, and it all comes back to Feinstein.  She waited until the very last minute, even after meeting with him and not bringing it up, even after 30 hours or so of hearings with him.  She flew false flags with Kavanaugh.  Kavanaugh’s nomination, whose reputation as an appellate judge is stellar, who had passed 6 previous FBI investigations, was almost in the bag.  But Feinstein was determined to play underhanded and to deviously derail it with the most vile of unsubstantiated accusations, and promotion of the most terrible tone of any Senate hearing, ever.

I am outraged at what Dianne Feinstein has done to Brett Kavanaugh.  The one power I have to address this outrage is to not vote for her.  But that is not enough in my opinion.  Democrats who rule in California have succeeded in disenfranchising Republicans like me out of the option of voting for a Republican party candidate in the General election.  But they can’t stop me from just ignoring my ballot in this election.  So I am going to do what those Democrats would think unthinkable of me.  I am going to vote for Kevin De Leon for the U.S. Senate this November and heartily encourage all my Republican friends to do the same.  Let’s make the treatment of Brett Kavanaugh the reason why Dianne Feinstein is finally retired from politics.  It will not make the Senate more liberal, it will simply make California’s liberal Senate representation less effective.  And I believe, God will still help us even with Kevin De Leon.

New Poll: Proposition 6 Gas Tax Repeal Losing

Proposition 6 is on track to fail in November, according to a new poll by Probolsky Research.

Their latest polling shows 48% of voters oppose the measure when presented with the title they will read on their ballots.

Surprisingly, fewer than 60% of Republican voters support the gas tax repeal.

As the voter contact campaign begins to kick into gear, the polling firm stated that it expects changes in the numbers.  The poll can be accessed at this website: https://www.probolskyresearch.com/category/news-insight-and-research/

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Jim Lacy on midterm election analysis, Trump tweets, and booming U.S. economy – VIDEO

In this video airing Sunday, August 5 on Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Weekend Breakfast,” California Political Review Publisher Jim Lacy handicaps the US midterm elections, discusses Trump and the media, explains the constitutional process of impeachment and why the President could not be impeached, and details the booming U.S. economy under Donald Trump.

In Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, only six GOP appointees of twenty-nine seats

As the Trump Administration focuses on its important Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, we are also reminded that of the twenty-nine members of the important U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, only six of the members were appointed by Republican presidents, resulting in the most liberal and highly overturned circuit court in the nation.  Sixteen of the current members were appointed by Democrats, and the vacancy rate is the highest in the nation, with seven positions not yet filled by President Trump.

“Scott Pruitt Wasn’t Elected President, Donald Trump Was!” – Jim Lacy on BBC World News – Video

In this clip from BBC World News airing on July 5, California Political Review Publisher Jim Lacy comments on the resignation of Scott Pruitt as Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, defends the President’s economic policies, and fields questions about the potential political impact of the resignation.

Becerra Loses Again – More tax dollars wasted on political posturing in court

Pro-life pregnancy centers secured an important First Amendment protection against compelled speech this week, and simultaneously, delivered another devastating loss to beleaguered California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

“Today is a victory for more than just the dedicated volunteers who staff pregnancy care centers,” said Catherine Glenn Foster, the president of Americans United for Life, in a statement. “It is also a victory for the thousands of women who go to the centers seeking life-affirming care and support.”

On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a 2015 California law, misleadingly known as the Reproductive FACT Act, violates the Constitution. The law required pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to publicize abortion services.

“The licensed notice is a content-based regulation of speech,” the majority opinion states. “By compelling individuals to speak a particular message, such notices ‘alter the content of [their] speech.’”

US Justice Foundation: Influential Amicus Brief

The 5-4 decision, authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, echoed arguments presented by the United States Justice Foundation in its influential amicus brief.

“If the FACT Act involved any topic other than abortion, it likely already would have been found in violation of the First Amendment principles that the government may neither compel nor suppress speech that it believes is misleading,” the US Justice Foundation wrote in its amicus brief.

The case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Xavier Becerra, dominated the headlines as an abortion rights case. Yet, legal experts universally agreed that the central question was whether California’s law violated the First Amendment.

“No one would require Alcoholics Anonymous to promote liquor stores,” writes Thomas A. Glessner, president of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, the petitioners in the case. “Pro-life clinics deserve the same respect.”

California lawmakers attempted to force Christian crisis pregnancy centers to contradict their religious beliefs by forcing the clinics to share information about abortion services with their patients.

“It is a sign of the times that the FACT Act is described not as promotion of abortion, but as a “reproductive health” measure,” the United States Justice Foundation argued in its amicus brief. “The California legislature unrighteously assumes the opposite — the highest good is abortion, not birth.”

Case Highlighted California Hypocrisy

In addition to violating free speech rights, the Supreme Court pointed out that California’s law was “too narrowly limited in scope and only attempted to impose this speech on crisis pregnancy centers opposed to abortion rather than any health center that offers services like birth control or family planning.”

 Such a blatantly discriminatory law would appear, on its face, to violate the Constitution. Nevertheless, California State Attorney General Becerra wasted taxpayer dollars to defend the poorly-drafted measure.

“Though this decision is worth celebrating, it’s lamentable that the Supreme Court was ever asked to consider such an obvious and malicious violation of the First Amendment,” National Review points out. “The FACT Act is perhaps the best example of the rapidly growing extremism of the abortion-rights movement — and, of course, of the intensely progressive bent of California’s state government.”

Steven Greenhut, the western region director for the R Street Institute, believes the case demonstrates hypocrisy in California’s pro-choice movement.

“The law spotlighted the hypocrisy of the “pro-choice” movement, which seems only to favor one particular choice,” writes Greenhut, a well-respected California journalist. “Crisis pregnancy centers are generally religious-based organizations, funded by donations, that provide a humane alternative to abortion. No one is dragging pregnant women into these centers.”

 Protection Against Pro-Life Discrimination

Dan Walters, a California opinion columnist, argues that even supporters of abortion should applaud the decision “for upholding the right not to be compelled by law to convey certain messages.”

“The legal and moral correctness of the decision is easily illustrated by flipping the circumstances,” he argues. “What if California law required clinics performing abortions to advise their clients about other alternatives?”

The Supreme Court’s decision in NIFLA v. Becerra reversed the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – ensuring that pro-life residents of California will not be subject to discrimination.

 “We applaud the US Supreme Court for sending a clear statement today that pro-life Americans cannot be discriminated against and targeted by government,” stated Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America. “Malicious abortion politics definitely were the motivation behind it, but the case centered on the inappropriate mandate of the state compelling pro-life clinics to promote abortion in violation of their consciences.”

She added, “The case was about forced speech.”

Cell phone privacy data victory! U.S. Justice Foundation brief on winning side in Supreme Court.

The United States Justice Foundation is celebrating a major Fourth Amendment victory at the United States Supreme Court.

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court sided with the U.S. Justice Foundation and ruled in favor of greater constitutional protections from warrantless government searches of cell phone data. USJF filed an amicus brief in the case, Carpenter v. United States, in an effort to persuade justices of the importance of preserving property rights in the digital era.

“A person does not surrender all Fourth Amendment protection by venturing into the public sphere,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion. “We decline to grant the state unrestricted access to a wireless carrier’s database of physical location information.”

The decision will require law enforcement agencies to obtain a search warrant before accessing extensive geolocation tracking data from a cellphone.

US Justice Foundation: Fighting Orwellian Tracking of Americans

Since 1980, the U.S. Justice Foundation has submitted testimony to the U.S. Senate on every Supreme Court appointee and routinely files amicus briefs in defense of constitutional principles. The Carpenter case was no exception and took up the matter of how to apply the Fourth Amendment right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” to cell phone geolocation data.

In its amicus brief, USJF and nearly a dozen other non-profit public interest organizations argued that the government has created a modern communications network that makes it impossible for citizens to protect their phone data from government intrusion.

“Indeed, in order to communicate in today’s modern world, defendants were forced onto government-controlled airwaves, on a government approved cellular network, using government mandated technology, transmitting government,” U.S. Justice Foundation wrote in an amicus brief. “Under such a system of pervasive control, the Orwellian tracking of Americans cannot be justified on a theory which presumes voluntary action and consent.”

During oral arguments, Justice Sonia Sotomayor echoed the U.S. Justice Foundation’s reference to George Orwell’s iconic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

“Most Americans, I still think, want to avoid Big Brother,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said during oral arguments last fall. “They want to avoid the concept that government will be able to see and locate you anywhere you are at any point in time.”

Chief Justice Roberts: Cell Phone Akin to Ankle Monitor

Nearly 400 million cell phone service accounts operate in the United States, Chief Justice Roberts noted in his decision.

“A cellphone faithfully follows its owner beyond public thoroughfares and into private residences, doctor’s offices, political headquarters and other potentially revealing locales,” he wrote. “Accordingly, when the government tracks the location of a cellphone it achieves near perfect surveillance, as if it had attached an ankle monitor to the phone’s user.”

Government agencies submit requests to third parties for cell site location information, more commonly known as CSLI. According to Wired, AT&T and Verizon received approximately 125,000 requests from law enforcement for CSLI data in 2017.

“Rapid technological change inevitably outpaces the glacial evolution of the law and the Carpenter case is a perfect example,” writes legal commentator Curt Levey. “The location data in question was obtained under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), which did not require prosecutors to meet the “probable cause” standard of a warrant.”

USJF pointed out that, is “created by the cell phone user, which is created by the “labor of his body and the work of his hands” — and at his expense.” That argument resonated directly with Chief Justice Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion.

“In light of the deeply revealing nature of CSLI, its depth, breadth, and comprehensive reach, and the inescapable and automatic nature of its collection, the fact that such information is gathered by a third party does not make it any less deserving of Fourth Amendment protection.”

Gorsuch Dissent: Proof Trump Appointed Thoughtful, Conservative Justice

In addition to the victory for Fourth Amendment property rights, the Carpenter decision confirmed that President Donald J. Trump appointed a thoughtful conservative justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Gorsuch’s acumen and comprehension of the issue is a thing of beauty and one everyone should take time to read, despite its length,” writes political commentator Taylor Millard. “Gorsuch should be applauded for his dissent and prodding of the majority towards a more originalist viewpoint of the Constitution. His arguments are beyond sound and something which is sorely missing in American legal theory – yet appears to be making a slight return.”

Although he dissented in the case, Justice Gorsuch’s opinion offered the strongest defense of property rights and indicated he would have gone even further than the majority in protecting constitutional principles.

Even our most private documents— those that, in other eras, we would have locked safely in a desk drawer or destroyed—now reside on third party servers,” Trump-appointed Justice Gorsuch wrote in his dissenting opinion. “Just because you entrust your data—in some cases, your modern-day papers and effects—to a third party may not mean you lose any Fourth Amendment interest in its contents.”

Gorsuch questioned the validity of the third-party doctrine established in United States v. Miller, a weak standard that allows government agencies to seize materials held by third-parties, such as financial institutions or technology companies.

“Justice Gorsuch is doing what a lot of Fourth Amendment scholars have wanted the Court as a whole to do for a long time — examine in a clear-headed way the meta question of how the Court decides whether something is a search,” writes Lior Strahilevitz, the Sidley Austin Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.

Significant, But Narrow Ruling

Advocates for constitutional principles heralded the Carpenter ruling as an important victory.

“The importance of today’s ruling in Carpenter v. U.S. should not be underestimated,” points out Damon Root, a senior editor at Reason and author of Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court. “Carpenter may well be remembered as the most significant decision issued this term.”

However, the decision was also narrow and left open the possibility for law enforcement agencies to obtain some cell phone data without a warrant.

“Roberts emphasized that today’s ruling “is a narrow one” that applies only to historical cell-site location records,” observes Amy Howe, a former editor and reporter for SCOTUSblog. “He took pains to point out that the ruling did not “express a view on” other privacy issues, such as obtaining cell-site location records in real time, or getting information about all of the phones that connected to a particular tower at a particular time.”Other organizations supporting U.S. Justice Foundation’s position include Gun Owners Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Inc., Citizens United, Citizens United Foundation, Downsize DC Foundation, DownsizeDC.org, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, The Heller Foundation, and Policy Analysis Center.

Jim Lacy on Trump/Kim Summit; G-7 Trade Debate, Australian Broadcasting’s “Weekend Breakfast”

In this video, California Political Review publisher and author Jim Lacy comments on questions about Donald Trump’s highly anticipated summit with Kim Jung Un on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and on the Trump Administration’s trade policies coming out of the recent G-7 meeting in Canada.