Monthly Archives: July 2015

Things the Court Got (Half) Right

Posted in Weekly Newsletter, Wisconsin News on by .

Supreme_Court_US_2014Sifting the wreckage deposited by the U.S. Supreme Court’s end-of-term decisions, it’s possible to find a handful of rulings for which we may be thankful. One of those affords some measure of protection to private citizens against government seizure of private property.

Notably, the favorable ruling in Horne v. U.S. Department of Agriculture came one day short of a decade after an abominable decision concerning eminent domain powers, tiptoeing toward correction of the Court’s mistake in Kelo v. New London.

We wrote several weeks ago about the Horne case, brought by a California raisin grower who balked at the seizure of large percentages of his crop by a New Deal relic called the Raisin Administrative Committee, the continued existence of which, if nothing else, proves that government overreach was not invented by the current crew of amateur totalitarians.

The Court ruled 8-1 that the government cannot confiscate personal property—raisins in this case but the possibilities are endless—without just compensation.  An optimist might also conclude that a brick has been pulled out of the foundation of federal programs designed deliberately to distort pricing in agricultural markets.

In Michigan v. EPA, the Court again went halfway toward correcting bad behavior, this time by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Court ruled, 5-4 that the rogue EPA could not lawfully proceed to regulate power plant mercury emissions without considering the cost, but declined to vacate the rule in place since 2012.  Further proceedings were ordered.

The Cato Institute’s Pat Michaels somewhat overstated the magnitude of the legal victory but in no way exaggerated the preposterous lengths the EPA has gone to justify what was, at its enactment, the costliest regulation ever.

Slim pickings, but steps in the right direction—and reminders of the judiciary’s limitations in securing our freedoms.

Hurrah for the Fourth of July!

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

vector flag bubble speech. Eps10Nobody should be more grateful than Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature for the recent holiday weekend, and not just because they needed a break from the stress of budget-writing—though it’s apparent they did.

Things closing last Friday for the Saturday holiday gave the other 5.7 million Wisconsinites a chance to miss the Joint Finance Committee’s extraordinarily ill-advised effort to exempt most communications involving state lawmakers from coverage by open records law. This ham-fisted insult to government transparency was walked back before the weekend was half over, in hopes of minimizing the damage.

Which is a good thing, but it leaves us to wonder, what on Earth was the GOP majority thinking, when they voted along party lines to insert the provision in the budget bill?

We were extremely disappointed to learn Tuesday that Democrats were right when they said the obviously boneheaded idea had been vetted by the governor.  For their own good, Republicans need to be asked just what prompted this fiasco.

It seems hardly plausible that the collective GOP memory—elephants and all that—has a five-year expiration date. It was justified public anger in 2009-10 over government secrecy—read: ObamaCare—that planted the seeds of the present majorities.  That some Republicans took office with trainloads of indignation but little memory of the Legislature’s past travails can’t excuse forgetting what brought the majority within reach.

Worst of all, Thursday night’s blunder invited an already disillusioned electorate to take the easy way out and conclude, “It makes no difference; they’re all alike.”   Opportunities to prove that wrong are not infinite in number.