Monday, June 28, 2010

Judge Martin Feldman, American Hero

He may be overturned or forced to recuse himself by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, but Louisiana federal judge Martin Feldman, a Reagan appointee, has joined Chris Christie and Harry Alford in In General Counsel's roster of American heroes for trying to prevent the Obama administration from totally destroying the economy of the states that border the Gulf of Mexico:
The Obama administration’s efforts to suspend deepwater oil drilling were dealt another setback in court on Thursday when the federal judge who struck down the administration’s six-month moratorium refused to delay the decision’s effects.
The Interior Department petitioned Judge Martin L.C. Feldman of the United States District Court in New Orleans to grant a stay of his decision, which lifted a ban on new drilling projects and on work on the 33 rigs already in place in the Gulf.
But Judge Feldman said he was denying the delay for the same reasons he gave for his June 22 decision: that the moratorium was doing “irreparable harm” to the businesses in the gulf that depend on drilling activity and that the government had not given sufficient basis for the moratorium.
The White House imposed the moratorium in May, about a month after a fatal explosion and fire on April 20 on the Deepwater Horizon rig, which left an undersea well spewing crude oil into the gulf. The moratorium, intended to give time for improvements in rig safety measures, was “blanket, generic, indeed punitive,” the judge ruled.
Update: On July 9, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld Judge Feldman's ruling while the government's appeal is pending. The case before the Fifth Circuit is on the fast track for a late August hearing.

Supreme Court Upholds Second Amendment Gun Rights

If a Supreme Court nomination proceeding falls in the woods, and no one hears it, does it make a sound? With all that is going on in the news cycle, the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings have become almost an afterthought (the same thing occurred with the Sotomayor confirmation). The Democrats have the votes for confirmation, so it's pretty much just political theater.

When it comes to who gets appointed to lifetime positions in the federal judiciary, elections have consequences as the old chestnut goes. Absent the unforeseen, another liberal will unfortunately join the High Court. Democrats have a history of trashing the judicial nominations made by Republican presidents, but Senate Republicans don't play that same loathesome game.

In the meantime, you don't have to be a gun owner to applaud the Supreme Court's decision that upheld the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding U.S. citizens for what the Court called "the core lawful purpose of self-defense."
The Supreme Court ruled for the first time Monday that the Second Amendment provides all Americans a fundamental right to bear arms, a long-sought victory for gun rights advocates who have chafed at federal, state and local efforts to restrict gun ownership.
The court was considering a restrictive handgun law in Chicago and one of its suburbs that was similar to the District law that it ruled against in 2008. The 5 to 4 decision does not strike any other gun control measures currently in place, but it provides a legal basis for challenges across the country where gun owners think that government has been too restrictive. 
Writing for the 5-4 majority in McDonald v. Chicago, Justice Alito ruled that the Second Amendment "is fully applicable to the States."
Two years ago, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. ___ (2008), we held that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense, and we struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in the home.The city of Chicago (City) and the village of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, have laws that are similar to the District of Columbia’s, but Chicago and Oak Park argue that their laws are constitutional because the Second Amendment has no application to the States. We have previously held that most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights apply with full force to both the Federal Government and the States...
Our decision in Heller points unmistakably to the answer. Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present day, and in Heller, we held that individual self-defense is “the central component” of the Second Amendment right...
In sum, it is clear that the Framers and ratifiers of the Fourteenth Amendment counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.