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Guest Post - SCOTUS thread
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 10.27.20

Lurid Keyaki suggests: Can run with this.

Heebie's take:

Most Americans know that, in Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court effectively ruled that Bush would be the next president of the United States. But few can likely explain the court's justification for that holding, and for good reason: It doesn't make any sense, and the Supreme Court has not invoked it since. In an unsigned opinion that allegedly spoke for the five conservative justices, the court held that Florida's recount used procedures that violated "the equal dignity owed to each voter." Because the standards used to recount ballots varied between counties, the court concluded, the process violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause. Then, in an unprecedented move, the court declared that this analysis was a ticket good for one ride only, and that lower courts should never invoke its made-up principle again. This disclaimer acknowledged that SCOTUS had never applied such strict scrutiny to ballot tabulation and never would again.
This rationale shocked legal observers at the time, because Bush's lawyers had barely bothered to raise it. It was an afterthought in their briefings and oral arguments, a backstop tacked onto their chief argument: that, in ordering a recount, the Florida Supreme Court had unconstitutionally usurped the authority of the Florida legislature. This argument was so extreme that Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy refused to support it, leaning instead on the risible equal protection rule that carried the day.
But the other three conservative justices--William Rehnquist, joined by Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas--embraced it in a separate opinion. Rehnquist's concurrence rested on the electors clause of the Constitution, which says that "Each State shall appoint" presidential electors "in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct." He accused the Florida Supreme Court of having "impermissibly distorted" the state's election code when it ordered a recount. Because the court ran afoul of the "clearly expressed intent of the legislature," Rehnquist concluded, it had violated the electors clause.:

My ultra-naive response is that if the Supreme Court rules that state Supreme Courts can't usurp the power of state legislatures, it's only a hair's breadth further to wonder about Marbury v Madison and the federal Supreme Court itself. But then again, optimistic spin is how I respond to scary things. (However, for optimistic spins, no one can touch Kevin Drum. General optimism on the subject of democracy in the US, and optimism specific to this issue of voting and state courts.)

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Feed them to the lions
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 10.26.20

I'm sure you all saw this, since it's been out for awhile, but there was so much to discuss last week that I put it on the backburner:

A story published last fall by The Daily Princetonian found that the Gold Coast of Connecticut pumps more athletic recruits into Ivy League schools than any other region in the nation. Kids' sports look a little different here--as they do in upscale neighborhoods across America. Backyards feature batting cages, pitching tunnels, fencing pistes, and hockey rinks complete with floodlights and generators.* Hotly debated zoning-board topics include building codes for at-home squash courts and storm-drainage plans to mitigate runoff from private ice rinks. Whereas the Hoop Dreamers of the Chicago projects pursued sports as a path out of poverty and hardship, the kids of Fairfield County aren't gunning for the scholarship money. It's more about status maintenance, by any means necessary.

I mean, what a complicated cage to trap yourself in. Class anxiety is its own reward, I guess.

There's also this one:

Before the pandemic, most agents would sell islands as a boutique fraction of their broader real estate business.
Now that many sellers report seeing a surge in island interest, several brokers said it was taking over more of their business.

The poor dears are overwhelmed.

"Before, an island was a toy," said Marcus Gondolo-Gordon, the chief executive of Incognito Property based in England. Now clients describe dreams of a "a bloody long boat ride" to ensure that no one will cruise up and infringe on their isolation, he said. They also want access to fresh water, solar panels and a house that is ready to sleep in, tomorrow.
Quickly setting up an island for self-sufficiency is going to be hard, Mr. Gondolo-Gordon has to tell them. Construction on private islands takes far more time than on the mainland or even on typical, nonprivate islands. And brokers cannot guarantee that islands will be safe havens from civil unrest. For example, just this week he looked at a lovely island in the eastern Mediterranean -- a steal at $7.4 million. But there are some tensions in those waters, which are contested by Turkey and Greece.

Some children in Africa have never even seen me play the world's smallest violin.

"You're going to have to read the news," he tells clients. And they'll also have to consider that their shoreline will most likely be affected by climate change. When they cannot handle this, he advises them to rent a superyacht.
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