U.S. National Park Service – 100th Anniversary

Since 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their national parks. With the help of volunteers and park partners, they are proud to safeguard these nearly 400 places and to share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year. But their work doesn’t stop there.

They are proud that tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individual citizens ask for our help in revitalizing their communities, preserving local history, celebrating local heritage, and creating close to home opportunities for kids and families to get outside, be active, and have fun.

Taking care of the national parks and helping Americans take care of their communities is a job they love, and they need – and welcome – they help and support.

On August 25, 1916 U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation creating the National Park Service. That marks 100 years of preserving, restoring, and sharing some of America’s most special places — from gorgeous, iconic landscapes like Yellowstone and Yosemite to the sites across the country that tell the stories of people and events that have shaped our history. Our parks are an essential part of our heritage and a source of great pride. And, most importantly, our parks belong to all of us.

That’s a lot to celebrate, so we’re starting now. Last month, President Obama kicked things off when he launched Every Kid in a Park — an initiative that will give every fourth-grade student and their families a free pass to National Parks and all other federal lands and waters for a full year.

And today, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation are continuing the celebration with the launch of #FindYourPark, a new campaign to encourage Americans to connect to our astounding network of parks and public lands — whether it’s for the first time or the hundredth.

First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush are spearheading this effort. As honorary co-chairs of the Centennial celebration, they’re challenging every American to get out and #FindYourPark.

You can find out more about the campaign at FindYourPark.com – a new website that features ways to find your park, share your park experiences and memories, and check out the stories others have shared. Already, celebrities like Bill Nye, Bella Thorne, Roselyn Sánchez, Terrence J, and Mary Lambert have posted their stories. And there’s more to come.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016
12:00PM EDT
National Archives Marks 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service
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#FindYourPark

National Pollinator Week 2016

“Pollinator Pathways ” 2012 Pollinator Poster bySteve Buchanan

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WHY POLLINATORS ARE IMPORTANT

Pollinators, such as most bees and some birds, bats, and other insects, play a crucial role in flowering plant reproduction and in the production of most fruits and vegetables.

Examples of crops that are pollinated include apples, squash, and almonds. Without the assistance of pollinators, most plants cannot produce fruits and seeds. The fruits and seeds of flowering plants are an important food source for people and wildlife.  Some of the seeds that are not eaten will eventually produce new plants, helping to maintain the plant population.

Over 75% of all flowering plants are pollinated by animals.

In the United States pollination by honey bees directly or indirectly (e.g., pollination required to produce seeds for the crop) contributed to over $19 billion of crops in 2010. Pollination by other insect pollinators contributed to nearly $10 billion of crops in 2010.

A recent study of the status of pollinators in North America by the National Academy of Sciences found that populations of honey bees (which are not native to North America) and some wild pollinators are declining.  Declines in wild pollinators may be a result of habitat loss and degradation, while declines in managed bees is linked to disease (introduced parasites and pathogens).

Find out more about migrating pollinators:

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Bee Deaths May Have Reached A Crisis Point For Crops

May 07, 2013 6:03 PM by DAN CHARLES – NPR

Pettis says beekeepers can afford to lose only about 15 percent of their colonies each year. More than that, and the business won’t be viable for long.

According to a new survey of America’s beekeepers, almost a third of the country’s honeybee colonies did not make it through the winter.

That’s been the case, in fact, almost every year since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began this annual survey, six years ago.

Over the past six years, on average, 30 percent of all the honeybee colonies in the U.S. died off over the winter. The worst year was five years ago. Last year was the best: Just 22 percent of the colonies died.

“Last year gave us some hope,” says Jeffrey Pettis, research leader of the Agriculture Department’s Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.

But this year, the death rate was up again: 31 percent.

Six years ago, beekeepers were talking a lot about “colony collapse disorder” — colonies that seemed pretty healthy, but suddenly collapsed. The bees appeared to have flown away, abandoning their hives.

Beekeepers aren’t seeing that so much anymore, Pettis says. They’re mostly seeing colonies that just dwindle. As the crowd of bees gets smaller, it gets weaker.

“They can’t generate heat very well in the spring to rear brood. They can’t generate heat to fly,” he says.

For more: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/05/07/181990532/bee-deaths-may-have-reached-a-crisis-point-for-crops

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How You Can Help

Pollinators need your help! There is increasing evidence that many pollinators are in decline.  However, there are some simple things you can do at home to encourage pollinator diversity and abundance.

1) Plant a Pollinator Garden

 The most obvious need for pollinating species is a diversity of nectar and pollen sources.  Consider the following when choosing plants for your garden:

  • Choose plants that flower at different times of the year to provide nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season
  • Plant in clumps, rather than single plants, to better attract pollinators
  • Provide a variety of flower colors and shapes to attract different pollinators.  NAPPC’s Pollinator Syndromepdf file icon table provides information on the types of flowers that different pollinator groups (bats, hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, etc.) find attractive.
  • Whenever possible, choose native plants.  Native plants will attract more native pollinators and can serve as larval host plants for some species of pollinators. Check field guides to find out which plants the larval stage of local butterflies eat. Pollinator friendly plants for your area can be found in NAPPC’s Ecoregional Planting Guides. Contact your local or state native plant society for help. Information on finding native plants and native plant societies for your area

2) Build a Bee Block

3) Avoid or Limit Pesticide Use

Pesticides can kill more than the target pest. Some pesticide residues can kill pollinators for several days after the pesticide is applied. Pesticides can also kill natural predators, which can lead to even worse pest problems. Consider the following when managing pests in your garden:

  • Try removing individual pests by hand if possible (wearing garden gloves)
  • Encourage native predators with a diverse garden habitat
  • Expect and accept a little bit of pest activity
  • If you must use a pesticide, choose one that is the least toxic to non-pest species, does not persist on vegetation, and apply it in the evening when most pollinators are not as active. Read and follow label directions carefully.

For more: http://www.fws.gov/pollinators/PollinatorPages/YourHelp.html#garden

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Native Bees

Follow these simple steps to create a pollinator-friendly landscape around your home or workplace.

  • Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall.
    Help pollinators find and use them by planting in clumps, rather than single plants. Include plants native to your region. Natives are adapted to your local climate, soil and native pollinators. Do not forget that night-blooming flowers will support moths and bats.
  • Avoid modern hybrid flowers, especially those with “doubled” flowers.
    Often plant breeders have unwittingly left the pollen, nectar, and fragrance out of these blossoms while creating the “perfect” blooms for us.
  • Eliminate pesticides whenever possible.
    If you must use a pesticide, use the least-toxic material possible. Read labels carefully before purchasing, as many pesticides are especially dangerous for bees. Use the product properly. Spray at night when bees and other pollinators are not active.
  • Include larval host plants in your landscape.
    If you want colorful butterflies, grow plants for their caterpillars. They WILL eat them, so place them where unsightly leaf damage can be tolerated. Accept that some host plants are less than ornamental if not outright weeds. A butterfly guide will help you determine the plants you need to include. Plant a butterfly garden!
  • Create a damp salt lick for butterflies and bees.
    Use a dripping hose, drip irrigation line, or place your bird bath on bare soil to create a damp area. Mix a small bit of table salt (sea salt is better!) or wood ashes into the mud.
  • Spare that limb!
    By leaving dead trees, or at least an occasional dead limb, you provide essential nesting sites for native bees. Make sure these are not a safety hazard for people walking below. You can also build a bee condoby drilling holes of varying diameter about 3 to 5 inches deep in a piece of scrap lumber mounted to a post or under eaves.
  • You can add to nectar resources by providing a hummingbird feeder.
    To make artificial nectar, use four parts water to one part table sugar. Never use artificial sweeteners, honey, or fruit juices. Place something red on the feeder. Clean your feeder with hot soapy water at least twice a week to keep it free of mold.
  • Butterflies need resources other than nectar.
    They are attracted to unsavory foodstuffs, such as moist animal droppings, urine and rotting fruits. Try putting out slices of overripe bananas, oranges and other fruits, or a sponge in a dish of lightly salted water to see which butterflies come to investigate. Sea salt provides a broader range of micronutrients than regular table salt.
  • Learn more about pollinators
    Get some guidebooks and learn to recognize the pollinators in your neighborhood. Experiment with a pair of close-focusing binoculars for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

For more: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/gardening.shtml

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Nature’s Partners: Pollinators, Plants and You

The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign’s Pollinator Partnership™ has launched a new curriculum, Nature’s Partners: Pollinators, Plants and You, designed to help students in grades 3-6 study the interactions of plants and pollinators. The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign is coordinated by the non-profit Pollinator Partnership, formerly known as the Coevolution Institute. The Fish and Wildlife Service has partnered with the two groups to protect pollinators by working together to help conserve pollinators and raise awareness of the importance of pollinators.

WH Pollinator Garden

PBO Pollinator Memorandum

6/20/14 President Obama issued a memorandum directing U.S. government agencies to take additional steps to protect and restore domestic populations of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies – critical contributors to our nation’s economy, food system, and environmental health.

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Pollinator Partnership:  http://www.pollinator.org

National Pollinator Week : June 20 – 26, 2016

#PollinatorWeek

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Antiquities Act of 1906 – 110th Anniversary

The Antiquities Act of 1906, (Pub.L. 59–209, 34 Stat. 22516 U.S.C. § 431–433), is an act passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt on June 8, 1906. This law gives the President of the United States the authority to, by presidential proclamation, create national monuments from public lands to protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features. The Act has been used over a hundred times since its passage. Its use occasionally creates significant controversy.

History

The Antiquities Act resulted from concerns about protecting mostly prehistoric Indian ruins and artifacts – collectively termed “antiquities” – on federal lands in the West, such as at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Removal of artifacts from these lands by private collectors – “pot hunters,” in the language of the time – had become a serious problem by the end of the 19th century. In 1902, Iowa Congressman John F. Lacey, who chaired the House Committee on the Public Lands, traveled to the Southwest with the rising anthropologist Edgar Lee Hewett, to see for himself the extent of the pot hunters’ impact. His findings, supported by an exhaustive report by Hewett to Congress detailing the archaeological resources of the region, provided the necessary impetus for the passage of the legislation.

For more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiquities_Act

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National Monuments 

National Monuments Established by President Obama 

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The Great Society – 52nd Anniversary

Great Society Chart May 22, 1964 – The U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson (D) announces the goals of his Great Society social reforms to bring an “end to poverty and racial injustice” in America.

The Great Society program, with its name coined from one of Johnson’s speeches, became Johnson’s agenda for Congress in January 1965: aid to education, attack on disease, Medicare, Medicaid, urban renewal, beautification, conservation, development of depressed regions, a wide-scale fight against poverty, control and prevention of crime, and removal of obstacles to the right to vote. Congress, at times augmenting or amending, enacted most of Johnson’s recommendations. Johnson’s achievements in social policy were made possible by liberal strength, especially after the Democratic landslide of 1964.

After the Great Society legislation of the 1960s, for the first time, a person who was not elderly or disabled could receive need-based aid from the U.S. government.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyndon_B._Johnson#Great_Society

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President Lyndon B. Johnson’s
Remarks at the University of Michigan

May 22, 1964

President Hatcher, Governor Romney, Senators McNamara and Hart, Congressmen Meader and Staebler, and other members of the fine Michigan delegation, members of the graduating class, my fellow Americans:

It is a great pleasure to be here today. This university has been coeducational since 1870, but I do not believe it was on the basis of your accomplishments that a Detroit high school girl said, “In choosing a college, you first have to decide whether you want a coeducational school or an educational school.”

Well, we can find both here at Michigan, although perhaps at different hours.

I came out here today very anxious to meet the Michigan student whose father told a friend of mine that his son’s education had been a real value. It stopped his mother from bragging about him.

I have come today from the turmoil of your Capital to the tranquility of your campus to speak about the future of your country.

The purpose of protecting the life of our Nation and preserving the liberty of our citizens is to pursue the happiness of our people. Our success in that pursuit is the test of our success as a Nation.

For a century we labored to settle and to subdue a continent. For half a century we called upon unbounded invention and untiring industry to create an order of plenty for all of our people.

The challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization.

Your imagination, your initiative, and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.

The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning.

For entire speech: http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/archives.hom/speeches.hom/640522.asp

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The Great Society at 50

May 19, 2014 by Karen Tumulty Washington Post

One day shortly after starting his new job as presidential adviser and speechwriter, Richard N. Goodwin was summoned to see the boss. Not to the Oval Office, but to the White House swimming pool, where Lyndon B. Johnson often went to ruminate.

Goodwin found the leader of the free world naked, doing a languorous sidestroke. Johnson invited him and top aide Bill Moyers to doff their own clothes: “Come on in, boys. It’ll do you good.”

It was an un­or­tho­dox manner of conducting official business. As they bobbed in the tepid water, the president “began to talk as if he were addressing some larger, imagined audience of the mind,” Goodwin later wrote in his memoir. The 32-year-old speechwriter forgot his chagrin as he was drawn by “the powerful flow of Johnson’s will, exhorting, explaining, trying to tell me something about himself, seeking not agreement — he knew he had that — but belief.”

This happened in early April 1964, just a little more than four months after a tragedy in Dallas had made Johnson the 36th president of the United States.

“I never thought I’d have the power,” Johnson told Goodwin and Moyers. “I wanted power to use it. And I’m going to use it.”

For more at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2014/05/17/the-great-society-at-50/ http://youtu.be/kx0K637mBVE?t=1m51s

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U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit 2016

US-Nordic

Statement by the Press Secretary on the U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit

President Obama will host the leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden at the White House for a U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit on May 13, 2016.  This event follows the convening of Nordic leaders during the President’s trip to Sweden in September 2013.

This summit will be an opportunity to continue our close collaboration with the Nordic countries on a range of issues, including countering terrorism and violent extremism, protecting the environment, coordinating on Arctic issues, promoting the Global Health Security Agenda, advancing sustainable development, enhancing nuclear security, providing humanitarian assistance, and addressing the migration and refugee crisis in a humane and orderly way.

This summit will deepen U.S.-Nordic cooperation while highlighting America’s continued commitment to European security, trans-Atlantic trade, and the promotion of common democratic values.  The President and Mrs. Obama will host the Nordic leaders for a State Dinner on the evening of May 13.

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U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit 2016

President Obama welcomes  His Excellency Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland; Her Excellency Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; His Excellency Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden; His Excellency Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark; and His Excellency Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, Prime Minister of the Republic of Iceland to the White House for a U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit
White House

President Obama and the leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden hold meetings at The U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit
White House

President Obama the leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden delivers remarks at The U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit
White House

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host the leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden at The U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit State Dinner
White House

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May 13, 2016
President Obama hosts U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit
White House

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#NordicUSAsummit

#StateDinner

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Earth Day 2016

Earth Day
Earth Day is April 22

Environmental Action means taking the simple steps in the place where we live. By choosing to act on five or more of these ideas you are joining thousands of others who are doing all they can to be a good and responsible citizen of the world.

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Environmental Action You Can Take:

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The Obama Administration is committed to protecting the air we breathe, water we drink, and land that supports and sustains us. From restoring ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay and the Everglades, to reducing mercury pollution from power plants, we are bringing together Federal agencies to tackle America’s greatest environmental challenges such as:

#ParisAgreement

#EarthDayEveryDay

#ActOnClimate

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April 22, 2016
Earth Day

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2016 Election Will Be One of the Most Pivotal Moments of Our Time

The Supreme Court was organized in 1789

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The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. Article III of the U.S. Constitution created the Supreme Court and authorized Congress to pass laws establishing a system of lower courts. In the federal court system’s present form, 94 district level trial courts and 13 courts of appeals sit below the Supreme Court

About the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the U.S. Official Website
Supreme Court Historical Society

Current Supreme Court Justices

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Why the 2016 Election Will Be One of the Most Pivotal Moments of Our Time

Every four years the political parties describe the impending presidential election as a historic event – and every once in a while it’s true

December 3, 2015 By Sean Wilentz – RollingStone

More than 150 years ago, in 1858, as the national crisis over slavery heightened, Abraham Lincoln famously remarked that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” and that the “crisis” would be “reached and passed” only when the house divided would “become all one thing or all the other.” Now, the long conflict over social equality, political democracy and American government that began during the Progressive era, followed by the New Deal and the Great Society, is reaching its inescapable conclusion. If the Republicans win the presidency in 2016, they will also almost inevitably control both the Senate and the House of Representatives, giving them virtually unfettered command over the entire federal government to go along with their domination of the great majority of the state governments. The Republican president could easily be in a position to appoint new justices to the Supreme Court for an unstoppable right-wing majority that would last for a generation to come. Bush v. Gore, Citizens United and Shelby County v. Holder (the 2013 ruling that greatly weakened the 1965 Voting Rights Act) would be merely the prelude to tilting political and social power. If, however, the Democrats win the presidency in 2016, they will almost certainly take back the Senate and make gains in the House – and the Democratic president will likely be able to appoint new justices to the Supreme Court that will eventually comprise a liberal majority. Between these two stark alternatives, there is no middle ground. In 2016, the country will become either one thing or the other.

How did we arrive at this decisive moment? Two powerful historic developments have driven American politics over the past half century. The Republican Party has been transformed by a conservative movement that has pushed it ever further to the right. The Democratic Party, stunned by the conservative counterrevolution, has struggled to reinvent itself and its politics, while facing the increasingly formidable resources of the right. These shifts are responsible for the polarization and dysfunction that have gripped American government since the 1990s. But they began in 1968.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-the-2016-election-will-be-one-of-the-most-pivotal-moments-of-our-time-20151203

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies at 79

Feb 13, 2016 By EMILY SHAPIRO – abcnews

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has died at age 79, two law enforcement sources told ABC News today.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. said in a statement: “On behalf of the Court and retired Justices, I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away. He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Maureen and his family.”

Scalia died today in Texas of apparently natural causes, according to law enforcement sources. Father Mike Alcuino from the Diocese of El Paso administered last rites to Scalia this afternoon, a diocese official said.

Scalia, a conservative, was the longest-serving current justice on the Supreme Court. He was nominated to the court by President Reagan and took his seat Sept. 26, 1986.

For more: http://abcnews.go.com/US/supreme-court-justice-antonin-scalia-dies-79/story?id=36920029

President Barack Obama shares his priorities for appointing the next Supreme Court Justice

President Barack Obama Guest

Posted Wed, February 24th, 2016 8:00 am SCOTUSblog

The Constitution vests in the President the power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court.  It’s a duty that I take seriously, and one that I will fulfill in the weeks ahead.

It’s also one of the most important decisions that a President will make.  Rulings handed down by the Supreme Court directly affect our economy, our security, our rights, and our daily lives.

Needless to say, this isn’t something I take lightly.  It’s a decision to which I devote considerable time, deep reflection, careful deliberation, and serious consultation with legal experts, members of both political parties, and people across the political spectrum.  And with thanks to SCOTUSblog for allowing me to guest post today, I thought I’d share some spoiler-free insights into what I think about before appointing the person who will be our next Supreme Court Justice.

First and foremost, the person I appoint will be eminently qualified.  He or she will have an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity.  I’m looking for a mastery of the law, with an ability to hone in on the key issues before the Court, and provide clear answers to complex legal questions.

Second, the person I appoint will be someone who recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law.  I seek judges who approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand.

But I’m also mindful that there will be cases that reach the Supreme Court in which the law is not clear.  There will be cases in which a judge’s analysis necessarily will be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment.  That’s why the third quality I seek in a judge is a keen understanding that justice is not about abstract legal theory, nor some footnote in a dusty casebook.  It’s the kind of life experience earned outside the classroom and the courtroom; experience that suggests he or she views the law not only as an intellectual exercise, but also grasps the way it affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times.  That, I believe, is an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes.

For more: http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/02/a-responsibility-i-take-seriously/
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GOP Moves To Block Obama From Naming Scalia Successor

February 13, 2016 ByTIERNEY SNEED – tpm

Almost immediately after the first public confirmation that Justice Antonin Scalia had died, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that the GOP-controlled Senate would block President Obama from nominating Scalia’s successor.

“The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said in a statement. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

McConnell’s statement came as a chorus of conservatives called for the confirmation process to be delayed until the next President takes office in January 2017. Not longer after, Sen. Chuck Grassley — the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, through which Supreme Court nominations come through — also issued a statement that said “it only makes sense” to wait until the next president is elected to replace Scalia.

Minority Leader Harry Reid countered in his own statement Saturday that said the “Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible.”

“It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat,” Reid said. “Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.”

The move would deny President Obama the opportunity to name his third Supreme Court justice and potentially to change the court dramatically from a conservative to liberal majority.

The possibility of a Republican Senate thwarting a Supreme Court nomination for the remainder of Obama’s presidency sets the stage for a major political battle running parallel with the 2016 elections.

For more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/conservative-senate-block-noms

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Republicans Will Nominate a Candidate Who Would Violate the First, Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendments
If the GOP had any respect for the Bill of Rights, it would reject Trump.

7/17/16 By John Nichols – TheNation

Cleveland—As Republican Party “constitutionalists” prepare to nominate authoritarian billionaire Donald Trump for the presidency this week in Cleveland, the American Civil Liberties union has determined that the candidate’s proposals would violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments of the Constitution.

It is not news that Trump has, during the course of his campaign for the GOP nomination, put himself at odds with basic premises of a Bill of Rights that defends a free press, guarantees freedom of religion, and guards against torture and abuses of privacy. But when his proposals are pulled together—as the ACLU has done in a new analysis of the Republican candidate’s public statements and policy positions—the extent to which Trump would shred the Constitution in general and the Bill of Rights in particular is breathtaking.

“Taken together, his policies and positions, if put into place, would violate the Constitution and federal and international law,” says Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, which reviewed the candidate’s agenda and determined that “Trump’s proposals would violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments of the Constitution.”

Trump has from the start of his campaign sparked controversy with statements, actions, and proposals that disregard the First Amendment. He and his aides have created blacklists of journalists, and the candidate has expressed an interest in rewriting libel laws in order to intimidate, punish, and potentially silence critics of powerful individuals and interests. Trump has, as well, proposed schemes to discriminate against Muslims and to spy on mosques and neighborhoods where Muslims live—with steady disregard for the amendment’s guarantee of protection for America’s diverse religious communities.

But that’s just the beginning of Trump’s assaults on the Constitution. Trump has encouraged the use of torture and blatantly disregarded privacy protections that have been enshrined in the founding document since the 18th century. He has attacked the basic premises of a constitutionally defined separation of powers, with rhetorical assaults on individual jurists and the federal judiciary so extreme that House Speaker Paul Ryan described one such attack as “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” He has proposed instituting religious tests. He has shown open and consistent disregard for the promise that all Americans will receive equal protection under the law.

“If implemented, Donald Trump’s proposed policies will spark a constitutional and legal challenge that would require all hands on deck at the ACLU,” says Romero. “The ACLU and its more than 300 attorneys in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., stand ready to challenge and impede implementation of his unlawful proposals, should he attempt to see them through.”

It should never come to that.

For more: https://www.thenation.com/article/republicans-to-nominate-a-candidate-who-would-violate-the-first-fourth-fifth-and-eight-amendments/

Tom Toles editorial cartoon

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* FACT: Six Justices have been confirmed in a presidential election year since 1900.

For more than two centuries, it has been standard practice for Congress to confirm a president’s Supreme Court nominee, whether in a presidential election year or not. Of the six justices confirmed since 1900, three have been Republicans. The most recent Justice to be confirmed in an election year was Justice Kennedy — appointed by President Reagan — who was confirmed by a Democratic-controlled Congress in February of 1988.

* FACT: Every nominee has received a vote within 125 days of nomination.

Since 1975, the average time from nomination to confirmation is 67 days. In fact, since 1875, every nominee has received a hearing or a vote. The longest time before confirmation in the past three decades was 99 days, for Justice Thomas, and the last four Justices, spanning two Administrations, were confirmed in an average of 75 days.

The Senate has almost a full year — more than 300 days — to consider and confirm a nominee.

* FACT: It will be harmful and create unsustainable uncertainty if Congress fails to act on the President’s nominee.

The Supreme Court could go the better part of two Terms with a vacancy if the Senate rejects its Constitutional responsibility. It’d be unprecedented for the Court to go that long with an empty seat. Here’s why it’s harmful:

The Court’s 4-4 decisions have no value in establishing precedent on which future decisions can rely. They also cannot establish uniform nationwide rules. That means if multiple courts ruled differently on an issue before it arose at the Supreme Court, a 4-4 ruling would leave those different rules in place in different states. The result is an unsustainable uncertainty — for the law, for individual liberties, and for our economy.

Learn more and stay up to date at wh.gov/SCOTUS.

 

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