On April 10, after Senate lawmakers pushed the button on the nuclear option, Neil Gorsuch became the 113th person to ascend to the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States. As the Washington Post reports, the process involved two oaths, the second of which is called the Judicial Oath. In this oath, Justice Gorsuch swore to "do equal right to the poor and to the rich."
As an update to yesterday's post about the nuclear option paving the way for Neil Gorsuch to the SCOTUS bench, the news is that Senate Republicans have pushed the button. The Los Angeles Times calls it a "history-making showdown." It's known as the "nuclear option" for a reason: the longstanding precedent in Supreme Court nominations is to get a supermajority of 60 votes to break a filibuster, not a simple majority. So Gorsuch will be Justice Gorsuch very soon.
First, the nuclear option
The "nuclear option" is a reference to extremes. At the moment, Senate Democrats have secured enough votes to block Gorsuch's confirmation to the Supreme Court, which means that Senate Republicans might now consider using the nuclear option.
The nuclear option is a process by which lawmakers override rule-making precedent to allow for a simple majority of votes, rather than a supermajority. The nuclear option, if Senate Republicans move ahead with it, could clear a path for Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch, because a simple majority vote would end the Democratic filibuster.
Lawmakers have pushed the button on the nuclear option in other circumstances, such as in 2013, during the Obama administration. In this instance, lawmakers voted to end the use of filibuster against all executive and judicial branch nominees except for Supreme Court nominees. Nominations to the Supreme Court have remained untouched, but as CBS News characterizes it, the nuclear option would "explode" that precedent.
"Our communities cannot breathe, and we thought that our right to breathe would be worth more than a few billion dollars in transportation improvements."
- Katie Valenzuela Garcia, advisor to the California Air Resources Board
Remember the VW diesel emissions scandal?
The EPA went after the automaker in 2015, alleging that VW cheated its way around the Clean Air Act by programming cars to rig the results on emissions tests. Its cars weren't as environmentally friendly as the automaker claimed. As a result, consumers didn't have the "Clean Diesel" cars they thought they'd purchased. More troubling was research published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, which estimated that 59 people would die prematurely from the increased pollution.
Don't you mean the First, Second or Fifth? No. The Seventh.
The First Amendment on religion and free speech gets plenty of media attention. The Second Amendment divides the country left and right - phrases like "cold dead hands" come to mind. And "pleading the Fifth" is part of the daily lexicon.
The Los Angeles Times reports that traffic deaths "rose sharply" in L.A. in 2016, despite the city's Vision Zero goal to cut fatalities by 20 percent by the end of this year. Contrary to the goal, deaths among pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists went up by roughly 43 percent in 2016. Why is this happening? The Times reporters describe a handful of possible explanations.
In his book The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution, legal scholar and author Ganesh Sitaraman makes the case for a strong middle class. Drawing on his studies at Harvard Law, constitutional scholarship, and experience at Vanderbilt Law School and the Center for American Progress, Sitaraman argues that the U.S. requires a healthy middle class and low levels of inequality in order to fulfill the intentions our Founding Fathers set forth in the U.S. Constitution.
A Q&A with a former nightclub owner
In the aftermath of Oakland's Ghost Ship fire tragedy, many are still looking for answers. We know the warehouse was home to a vibrant underground music scene, a collective that at any given time ranged from resident musicians and artists, who lived there on a semi-permanent basis, to partygoers visiting for the first time on a weekend night.
What outsiders may not realize is that spaces like the Ghost Ship grew out of manufacturing's general decline, which left large vacant mills dotting the urban landscape. Property speculators buy cheap, with visions of rebuilding, redeveloping, and creating vibrant communities not unlike what existed at the Ghost Ship.
But the risk-reward gamble - in which some landlords seem to largely ignore fire code safety and related property concerns - may turn out to be too steep a bet. On condition of anonymity, a former East Coast nightclub owner shed some light on what's at stake.
In the Q&A below, the former nightclub owner brings us back to the Station Night Club fire in Rhode Island, which took place roughly 14 years ago, in 2003.
What's at stake (in a nutshell):
At heart, federal lawmakers are gunning for the civil justice system.
A set of Republican-backed bills currently in debate all favor, in one way or another, the business and insurance industries.
These bills are fundamentally opposed to the rights and interests of any American who is injured (or whose loved one is killed) because of corporate wrongdoing, from dangerous pharmaceutical drugs to defective products. These bills will limit the rights of a seriously injured patient to fair compensation for lifelong injuries (in the form of limits on damages, no matter how bad the injuries are).
Federal lawmakers and the powerful industries that support these bills want Americans to believe that they are "protecting access to care," and that lawyers do nothing but file frivolous lawsuits against deep pockets, and other such falsehoods, but let's call a spade a spade.
The lawmakers and lobbyists are lying to you.
"Even people who knew the building would have a hard time getting out."
- Friend of Ghost Ship owners/managers
Since the Ghost Ship fire on Dec. 3, the lawyers of Girardi | Keese have been leading an investigation on behalf of a number of survivors and families of victims who lost their lives. Our investigation has revealed new and damaging information against the Ghost Ship owners/managers, as well as against the city of Oakland for its failure to conduct safety inspections.