Cap and Tax Vote Today; Sessions on Sotomayor's Internationalism

The House vote on the highly controversial Waxman-Markey “global warming” tax bill is scheduled for today as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-Cal.) is placing her eggs in one big vote basket, believing she can intimidate enough people to get the votes to pass the most far-reaching tax increase in United States history.  At this writing, the number of Democrats who plan to vote against the bill is substantial enough to force Dems to bring in their biggest guns — President Obama and former Vice President Al Gore — to work the phones to bring in the undecideds.

Congress will leave today for the 4th of July recess, after which the Dems plan to ram the cap-and-tax bill through the senate and then finish turning America into a European welfare state by passing President Obama’s healthcare nationalization plan.

The President stepped up to the plate yesterday giving a speech to try to bolster a wobbly Democrat Congressional majority that is being forced by its far-left leadership to choose between the environmental extremist goose-step and, in a great many cases, being re-elected.  The national energy tax is highly unpopular across the country and its passage would likely result in many Democrats holding naturally Republican seats being thrown under the bus for the so-called greater good.  That’s the only good news that would come from the bill’s passage in the House.

Hill staff sources tell HUMAN EVENTS that the bill faces a much tougher struggle in the Senate.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) was on the media circuit to respond to the President’s speech, at one point reacting to the absurd notion the President put forth when he called the national energy tax a “jobs bill.”

“The Republicans have an ‘all of the above’ strategy that would increase our domestic exploration for oil and natural gas,” Pence said.  We’d subsidize the creation of new renewable forms of energy, including a tremendous investment in nuclear energy, but the Republican plan would actually create jobs, and the reality is what the President stepped to the podium today to advance will actually cost millions of American jobs, even if you count in the so-called green jobs that the President just referred to. One study after another suggests that, while there’s different estimates on what the cap and trade legislation will cost each American household, there’s really no dispute about the fact that this legislation will literally cost millions and millions of American jobs if it goes into effect.”

Pence was asked about all of the so-called green jobs the bill is somehow supposed to create overnight (quite a trick to create millions of jobs with a new energy scheme that does not yet exist and will not exist for a decade or more).

“I appreciate what the President said today,” Pence said.  “But I also remember what he said in January of 2008 to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Editorial Board.  The President said, ‘Under my cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily sky rocket.’ He said that will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers. … And I think the reason why they’re struggling so much to pass this legislation [today] here on Capitol Hill is because members of Congress and millions of Americans realize this is nothing more than a national energy tax.  The last thing we need during this difficult economic recession is to pass a national energy tax that will literally cost millions of American jobs.”

Gore Disinvited for Joint Hill Appearance with Pelosi

Former Vice President Al Gore was slated for a joint appearance with Pelosi on Capitol Hill to do one last high-profile media push for the national energy tax.  Democrat leaders have been scrambling to round up votes and they asked Gore to help.  It appears at the last minute they had a change of heart and had to tell Gore to stay home.  Rural Democrats are already in trouble because of this forced vote today then going home to face the voters at home over the 4th of July break.  They most certainly wouldn’t want folks in their home districts to see this vote as associated with Gore and other left-wing looney groups — which, of course, it is.

Sessions Talks Sotomayor and the Second Amendment

Speaking from the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) expressed concerns regarding Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s decisions in Second Amendment cases.  Sessions noted noting that Sotomayor has concluded that the right to keep and bear arms is not a fundamental right guaranteed to all Americans.  

“The individual right to keep and bear arms, a fundamental right guaranteed by the explicit text of the Second Amendment, is at risk.  Although the Supreme Court recently held that the Second Amendment is an individual right, many significant issues remain unresolved.  

“The Supreme Court — including whomever is confirmed to replace Justice Souter — will have to decide whether the Second Amendment has any force or whether, as a practical matter, to eviscerate its guarantees.  

“The Second Amendment says that ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.’  Not all of the amendments are so clearly a personal right.  The First Amendment, which protects our freedom of speech and religion, talks about restricting Congress.  In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court recently held that the Second Amendment ‘confer[s] an individual right to keep and bear arms.’  This is consistent with ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms.’  This was a welcome and long overdue holding.  

“Despite this holding, many important questions and issues remain.  For example, it is still unsettled whether the Second Amendment applies only to the Federal government or to the state and local governments as well.  This question will determine whether individuals will truly have the right to keep and bear any arms.  If a state or local government is not bound by the Second Amendment, then it may pass all sorts of restrictions on firearms use and ownership.  They may even ban the ownership of guns altogether.  Clearly, this is a critically important issue.

“President Obama, who nominated Judge Sotomayor, has a rather clear and limited view of what the Second Amendment means.  In 2008, he said that ‘just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can’t constrain the exercise of that right.’  These are exactly the issues that the Supreme Court has not resolved — can states and localities constrain the exercise of the right in any they want?

“In 2000, as a state legislator, he cosponsored a bill that would limit purchases of handguns to one per month.  In 2001, also as a state senator, he voted against allowing the people protected by domestic violence protective orders to carry handguns for protection.  This record is disconcerting, to say the least.

“So I turn now to Judge Sotomayor, whom President Obama nominated, and her record on the Second Amendment.  That record is fairly scant, but we do know that Judge Sotomayor has twice said that the Second Amendment does not give you and me a fundamental right.  The opinions she has joined have provided a breathtakingly short amount of analysis when confronted with novel and important constitutional questions.  Her opinions lack any real discussion of the importance of these issues.  Judge Sotomayor has gone from A to Z, without explaining how she got to B and C.  

“For example, in her most recent opinion in Maloney v. Cuomo, which asked whether Heller’s guarantees would apply to the states, Judge Sotomayor spent only two pages to explain how she reached her conclusion.  The Seventh Circuit answered the same kinds of questions by engaging in a careful analysis that occupied eight pages — four times that of Judge Sotomayor.  The Ninth Circuit, which disagreed with Judge Sotomayor’s conclusions, dedicated approximately 33 pages to considering the same kinds of critical questions.  Furthermore, in deciding that the Second Amendment is an individual right, the majority in the Supreme Court dedicated 64 pages to this important issue.  Including dissents and concurrences, the entire Court generated 157 pages of analysis.  Judge Sotomayor only wrote two pages in considering as issue at least as important as Heller.  Judge Sotomayor’s lack of attention and lack of analysis are troubling.  

“These truncated opinions also suggest a troubling tendency to avoid or casually dismiss difficult Constitutional issues of exceptional importance.  Other examples of this may include the New Haven Firefighters case, Ricci v. DeStefano, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court, and the Fifth Amendment case, Didden v. Village of Port Chester, which was recently discussed in detail in the New York Times.

“I am not going to ask her how she would decide cases in the future, but it is fair and reasonable to ask her how she reached her conclusions.  

“I am not the only one who has been troubled by Judge Sotomayor’s Second Amendment jurisprudence.  

“As I mentioned previously, the Ninth Circuit disagreed with Judge Sotomayor and held that the Second Amendment is actually a fundamental right applicable to the states and localities.

“Additionally, in a June 10 editorial, the liberal Los Angeles Times disagreed with Judge Sotomayor’s view in Maloney as to whether the Second Amendment applies against states and localities.  Moreover, in a June 10 op-ed published in the Washington Times, a leading academic argued that the decision in Maloney was fatally flawed.
“These are critical questions that will determine whether the people of the United States — all of the people — will have the right guaranteed by the Second Amendment.  

“Given the importance of these questions, it is more than reasonable for fellow senators to ask Judge Sotomayor to clarify how she reached her decisions in the cases she has joined and what she understands to be the relevant precedents.  I hope senators will ask probing and fair questions, and I hope Judge Sotomayor will provide full and satisfactory answers.”