If Brett Kavanaugh Drops Out, Will Trump Pick Amy Coney Barrett?

What happens if Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh drops out of consideration, or is voted down outright by the U.S. Senate, over the sexual assault allegations made against him by Christine Blasey Ford? What does President Donald Trump do then? Specifically, who does Trump pick to replace Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy?

One name among the rumored finalists on Trump’s SCOTUS shortlist jumps out as a likely contender. That name is Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

Barrett, 46, was confirmed to the 7th Circuit just last October after an extremely contentious confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In particular, Barrett, a committed Catholic who has written frequently about matters of faith and law, was sharply queried by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) about whether her religious views would prevent her from serving as an impartial jurist. “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that people have fought for for years in this country,” Feinstein declared.

Feinstein’s remarks transformed Barrett into an overnight folk hero among social and religious conservatives, who saw the Democratic senator as launching a repugnant attack on one of their own. Those same conservatives would undoubtedly relish the opportunity to see Barrett square off against Feinstein again in the context of a Supreme Court confirmation battle.

What is more, in an ironic twist for Kavanaugh’s liberal opponents, folks on the left may well view Barrett as the more “conservative” of the two.

What I mean by that is that while Kavanaugh took great pains during his confirmation hearings to sing the praises of stare decisis and spoke repeatedly of respecting Supreme Court precedents like Roe v. Wade, Barrett is already on record in favor of the controversial idea that the Supreme Court may overturn a precedent simply because a new majority disagrees with the methodological approach of its predecessor.

As Barrett argued in a 2013 Texas Law Review article, given the sharply competing interpretive methodologies on the current Supreme Court, “a more relaxed form of constitutional stare decisis is both inevitable and probably desirable, at least in those cases in which methodologies clash.” She added: “I tend to agree with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it.” Statements like that from Barrett will be music to the ears of anti-Roe activists.

In short, if the Kavanaugh nomination falls apart, Trump has a ready replacement whose elevation will undoubtedly thrill many of his supporters on the right.

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California Police Chief Claims Legal Weed Delivery Could Lead to ‘Assaults and Homicides’

A proposal under consideration in California would allow marijuana businesses to deliver weed straight to people’s doorsteps, even in places where it’s illegal to sell pot.

Sounds convenient, right? Not according to Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing, president of the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA), who warned the proposal could lead to robberies, assaults, and homicides.

It’s been nearly two years since California voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana for recreational use, and more than eight months since the measure took effect. But marijuana sales are still banned in almost 85 percent of cities and counties in the state, according to Weedmaps. As a result, advocates on both sides are still debating whether or not cannabis retailers should be able to deliver their products to homes in localities where selling pot isn’t allowed.

A 2017 state law says “a local jurisdiction shall not prevent transportation of cannabis or cannabis products on public roads” by marijuana retailer licensed to make home deliveries. Alex Traverso, a spokesperson for the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), tells the Los Angeles Times that the proposal currently being considered would “clarify” that licensed retailers can “deliver to any jurisdiction within the state of California.”

In recent days, the BCC has held several public hearings to gauge public opinion on the proposal. Bureau chief Lori Ajax will also consult with Gov. Jerry Brown before making a decision.

Approving the proposal would simply reaffirm the decision California voters made in November 2016, say its supporters. The proposal’s detractors say that selling delivering weed to people’s doorsteps violates local bans on pot sales. They also claim it will lead to more crime.

“This will make it easier and more lucrative to rob a delivery person than a liquor store,” Swing tells the Times, explaining that the proposal would permit delivery drivers to carry as much as $10,000 in cash apiece. “Robberies are the tip of the iceberg. They can lead to other crimes, including aggravated assaults and homicides,” Swing adds.

The CPCA is working with the League of California Cities to lobby against the proposal. Their website, StopWanderingWeed.com, emphasizes the need to “protect our children and schools.” At the top of the website is an illustration of a group of schoolchildren looking up a truck with a marijuana leaf logo imprinted on it.

Linking marijuana to crime—particularly violent crime—is a common scare tactic. In February 2017, for instance, Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed concern about the “violence around marijuana.” But the evidence doesn’t back up those sorts of arguments.

According to a Snopes fact-check, there’s “no credible evidence” linking legalization of recreational marijuana to an increase in violent crime. In a piece for Reason last October, Steve Chapman made a similar point:

Studies show that after Colorado permitted recreational pot, there was no increase in adolescent use or traffic fatalities. In Washington, which voted for legalization in 2012, crime rates proceeded to decline. California found that when medical dispensaries closed, neighborhood crime didn’t fall; it rose.

Along those same lines, a June 2017 study in The Economic Journal found that legalizing medical marijuana in states bordering Mexico actually led “to a decrease in violent crime,” as Mexican drug cartels lost their stranglehold on the weed market.

Allowing California marijuana retailers to make home deliveries statewide will not magically make crime skyrocket. California voters have already made their choice on the matter, and the BCC shouldn’t stop consumers from enjoying weed delivered straight to their front doors.

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Texas Border Patrol Agent Confesses to Killing Sex Workers

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent in Texas moonlighted as a serial killer who specifically sought out sex workers as his targets. Thirty-five-year old Juan David Ortiz confessed to the killings after being arrested on Saturday.

A 10-year veteran of CBP, Ortiz was caught after one of his intended victims escaped and sought help from a state trooper refueling his car at a nearby gas station. Ortiz confessed to kidnapping and assaulting the woman who escaped, and to murdering four others whose bodies were found near a rural interstate in Webb County over the past two weeks with gunshots to the head.

District Attorney Isidro Alaniz told the Laredo Morning Times that Ortiz qualified as a “serial murderer.” Now, said Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar, “the county, the city can rest assured we have the serial killer in custody.”

But sex workers in Texas and elsewhere can hardly rest safe; there’s a reason so many rapists and murderers target them, and it’s rooted in their outlaw status. The criminalization of prostitution forces people to work without the protections afforded in decriminalized and legalized industries, and recent misguided efforts to get tough on “sex traffickers” have only made things worse for those selling sex.

Increasing penalties and stings on anyone associated with sex workers makes it harder for them to work with anyone else, including other sex workers, in ways that drastically increase safety. And sex workers say that the shutdown of Backpage and other sites that allowed adult ads, the new federal ban on prostitution advertising (SESTA-FOSTA), and the response to SESTA-FOSTA from digital platforms has forced them into more dangerous working conditions, including picking up customers on the streets.

Dangerous clients aren’t the only ones who benefit from prostitution criminalization. There’s an ongoing onslaught of stories of police exploiting and abusing sex workers—something they can get away with because they hold their freedom in their hands. The range of recent abuses includes sexually assaulting those they arrest, killing a woman who fought back, protecting organized prostitution rings run by former colleagues, and using “human trafficking” as a pretense to round up immigrants.

Ortiz is only one in a long line of law-enforcement agents who rely on sex workers’ state-sanctioned second-class status to get away with crimes against them.

He is also the second Laredo-area Border Patrol agent in 2018 to be charged with multiple murders. In August, Ronald Anthony Burgos-Aviles was indicted on two counts of capital murder involving the April deaths of his girlfriend and their 1-year-old daughter.

According to Ortiz’s arrest-warrant affadavit, he picked up all of his victims on or around Laredo’s San Bernardo Avenue. Police have not released information about his motive. He is being held on a $2.5 million bond.

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Coca-Cannabis? It Could Be Coming Soon.

Cola-Cola could have a new way of opening happiness.

Bloomberg reports that Coca-Cola could be the first major soft drink maker to tap into the legal marijuana market. While the company says “no decisions” have been made, it reportedly is investigating the possibility of integrating cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a non-psychoactive compound extracted from cannabis, into its drinks.

“We are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world,” Coca-Cola spokesman Kent Landers tells Bloomberg.

Drinkable marijuana products are already on the market, but they appear to be nearing a major breakthrough.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of innovation in this space, in terms of what kinds of drinks and orals are developed,” Lance Anderson, a Texas-based attorney who works on marijuana branding and intellectual property, told me in July. “We are about to witness a true renaissance of the industry, and I look forward to it.”

Marijuana-infused drinks essentially come in two varieties: those made with CBD and those made with THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of cannabis. Other products—including some beers, such as New Belgium’s Hemporer HPA—are made with hemp to give them the smell and taste of marijuana, but without any measurable amounts of CBD or THC.

Bloomberg reports that Coca-Cola’s interest in CBD-infused drinks includes the potential for beverages that ease inflammation, pain, and cramping.

While it is known primarily as a soda company, Coca-Cola owns a wide range of drink brands, including bottled waters, sports drinks, and coffees. It only makes sense to include marijuana-infused drinks, a potentially growing market, in that portfolio. (Don’t forget that Coke, before becoming an iconic American soda, began life as a cocaine-infused beverage marketed as a pain reliever.)

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but drinks containing THC can be sold legally in dispensaries in states where recreational marijuana is legal. The market for CBD-infused drinks, like the ones Coca-Cola is potentially interested in manufacturing, may be significantly larger, since CBD products are legal in dozens of states for medical purposes and could be rescheduled or legalized at the federal level independent of other cannabis products. The Food and Drug Administration in June gave its approval to the the first cannabis-derived medicine, a CBD-oil substitute known as Epidiolex.

Even though there are no plans for specific drinks yet, the very fact that Coke is investigating the possibility of a CBD product shows how far the needle has swung on marijuana legalization. Our politics are lagging behind, but American culture is increasingly accepting of marijuana products in many forms, and those market signals are being received.

Taste the feeling, indeed.

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Gary Johnson Running a Distant Third in New Poll

Ruh-roh. ||| Albuquerque JournalIn a significant mood-dampener for the Libertarian Party, two-time Libertarian presidential nominee and two-term Republican governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson finished a distant third place in an Albuquerque Journal poll that came out this weekend. The September 7–13 survey of 966 likely voters, carried out by Research & Polling Inc. (which FiveThirtyEight gives a pollster rating of “A”), found Democratic incumbent Sen. Martin Heidrich with 47 percent support, compared to 26 percent for novice GOP candidate Mick Rich and just 16 percent for Libertarian standard-bearer Johnson.

The news comes as a rude reversal of an Emerson College poll last month, which had Johnson in second place with 21 percent, not only far ahead of Rich’s 11 percent (and closer to Heinrich’s 39) but receiving more support than the GOP nominee from Republican voters. In the newer poll, Rich trounces Johnson among Republicans, 62 percent to 18 percent. (Emerson, which has a FiveThirtyEight rating of B+, surveyed 500 registered voters. It had a margin of error of 4.6 percent, compared to the Journal‘s 3.1 percent.)

Averaging the two polls—the only independent surveys taken since Johnson formally entered the race—leaves the Libertarian and Republican tied at 18.5 percent, well behind Heinrich’s 43. Fold in four additional polls paid for by the involved parties, and you get a Dem/GOP/L.P. percentage split of 44 to 26 to 20. There’s a reason why none of the election forecasters have budged from their predictions that New Mexico remains a safe Democratic seat.

Heinrich’s lead would certainly be less comfortable had Rich dropped out, but that ship sailed in late August. “Obviously if he was not in this race, this race would be significantly different,” Johnson’s longtime political strategist Ron Nielson told me a month ago.

Johnson received 9.3 percent and 3.6 percent of the presidential vote in New Mexico in 2016 and 2012, respectively. He won the governorship by 10 percentage points (with 49.8 percent of the vote) in 1994, and nine points (54.5 percent) in 1998. As of the end of August, 45.9 percent of registered New Mexico voters are Democrats, 30.4 percent are Republicans, 21.9 percent don’t belong to a political party, and just 0.7 percent are Libertarian.

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A Banned Magazine Is Trying to Take Florida Prison System to the Supreme Court

Prison Legal News, a long-running and indispensable legal resource for inmates across the country, filed a petition to the Supreme Court Friday asking it to review the Florida Department of Corrections’ total ban on the magazine.

Florida prisons have impounded every issue of Prison Legal News since 2009. In May the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the policy, overturning a lower court’s decision in favor of the magazine. The 11th Circuit found that the Florida’s DOC’s justification for the ban—advertisements for several services not allowed in the prisons, such as pen pals and three-way calling—was legitimately related to security.

Prison Legal News argues that the ban is a solution in search of a problem, that it violates the First Amendment rights of inmates as well as those of the publication, and that it paves the way for broad censorship in other prison systems, all while never demonstrating any actual rise in security threats during the many years the magazine was distributed among Florida inmates.

The magazine has a notable voice in its corner: former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who has argued more than 90 cases before the Supreme Court and is a co-counsel on the petition.

In that petition, Prison Legal News calls the 11th Circuit decision “an outlier ruling upholding an outlier policy.” As it notes, Florida is alone in its position. Although the publication has battled censorship in 29 states, making it perhaps the most frequently banned magazine in the country, neither the federal prison system or any other state prison systems bans the magazine in its entirety.

The petition continues:

By ratcheting up the deference owed to prison officials and ratcheting down the quantum of evidence those officials must supply to justify wholesale censorship of core free speech rights, the Eleventh Circuit’s decision is grossly out of step with this Court’s precedents. And it is flatly inconsistent with the rulings of other circuits that have faithfully applied this Court’s decisions to reject censorship of the “core protected speech” that Prison Legal News offers in its magazines.

Although the censorship of PLN has been limited to Florida, the threat to First Amendment rights if the decision is left standing certainly does not end there. The Eleventh Circuit’s decision provides both an invitation and a roadmap to silence PLN and any other publication that seeks to inform prisoners of their rights or to expose unlawful conduct by prison officials. There is little doubt that the ruling below will prompt other prison systems to follow Florida’s lead. Rather than let that trend blossom into further censorship, this Court should step in now to vindicate the First Amendment.

The petition notes that the ban blocks inmates from reading about civil rights abuses and new legal developments in the very prisons they’re housed in. Such bans are not unusual on an issue-by-issue basis. Reason Magazine, for instance, frequently has issues impounded by prison censors, including in Florida, for presenting threats “to the security, good order, or discipline of the correctional system.”

Numerous First Amendment groups are expected to file amicus briefs in support of Prison Legal News.

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The Brett Kavanaugh Sex Assault Controversy Will Only Get Worse: Podcast

||| Jeff Malet Photography/NewscomShould a late-breaking, single-sourced accusation about a drunken teenaged assault 35 years ago be enough to scuttle a Supreme Court nomination? That’s the super-charged political debate the United States is having right now, and it definitely split the room on the Monday editor-roundtable version of the Reason Podcast.

Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman, Nick Gillespie, and yours truly each have their own ideas about what could and should happen next with the Senate confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, now that Christine Blasey Ford has forward publicly to accuse him of drunkenly pinning her down, covering her mouth, and trying to rip off her clothes when they were high school students in the ’80s. We also lay blame for our current deficit-tastic political moment, and we give away way too many spoilers (well, Suderman does, anyway) to a new movie out in theaters.

Subscribe, rate, and review our podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below:

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

‘Geometric Dreams’ by Asthmatic Astronaut is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Relevant links from the show:

Brett Kavanaugh’s Sexual Assault Accuser Has Come Forward, and Her #MeToo Story Might Disqualify Him,” by Robby Soave

High-School Assault Accusation Could Kill Kavanaugh Confirmation. Should It?” by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Politico Symposium on How to Handle the Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Accusation,” by Ilya Somin

The Senate Needs to Hear Out Kavanaugh’s Accuser,” by Nick Gillespie

Groping Toward Sanity,” by Cathy Young

Who Killed the Deficit Hawks? You and Me, but Especially Paul Ryan,” by Nick Gillespie

Trump Has Always Been the ‘King of Debt,’ but Now He’s Sticking Taxpayers With the Tab,” by Eric Boehm

Congress Just Passed a $150 Billion Spending Package Without Any Consideration for Looming Trillion-Dollar Deficit,” by Eric Boehm

#MAGA: Federal Deficit Jumps 32 Percent, Hits $895 Billion for Fiscal 2018!” by Nick Gillespie

How GOP Fiscal Sanity Died, in 7 Easy Steps,” by Matt Welch

The 19 Percent Solution,” by Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy

Trumpocalypse Reality Check: Government Spending This Century Has Grown from $3.2 Trillion to $7 Trillion,” by Matt Welch

Are Teachers Really ‘Not Paid for the Work [They] Do’? Time Says Yes, Reality Begs To Differ,” by Nick Gillespie

Don’t miss a single Reason Podcast! (Archive here.)

Subscribe at iTunes.

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EU Passes Censorship-Inducing Online Copyright Regulations

CopyrightDespite many, many warnings from technology companies and scholars that they were going to wreck the internet, European Union lawmakers have passed a host of new regulations greatly expanding online copyright enforcement demands.

Last week the European Parliament approved a heavily amended version of the European Copyright Directive by a vote of 438 to 226. Tech companies and digital activists have been warning all summer that this will demolish online sharing in order to serve the financial interests of entertainment and media companies.

Two parts of the bill, Articles 11 and 13, have drawn the most fire. Article 11 has been derisively described as a “link tax.” It would give media outlets the power to demand licenses (and therefore charge fees) for sharing even small snippets of content from news stories, even just preview images or a couple of sentences. Scholars have warned that this could have a devastating effect on information sharing in education and science, and on sites like Wikipedia. This section has been amended to allow for hyperlinks to other pages, but Cory Doctorow notes that the law is still vague about what constitutes a link. In Germany and Spain, which passed similar laws, simply linking to news stories was forbidden without paying the licensing fee. (The laws also completely failed to help media outlets make money. Indeed, they lost even more readers)

But most of the attention is on Article 13, which forces online platforms to create an automated database-centered system of content filtering to try to block copyrighted content from being uploaded to the internet. Many countries (including the United States) have laws that can be used to compel online platforms to take down copyrighted content. This is different. Article 13 demands that platforms must implement technology that prevents copyrighted material from being uploaded in the first place.

To say this is a potential censorship nightmare is to overlook the censorship nightmare we’re already in online. Also highlighted by Doctorow was the very telling experience of a German music professor who attempted to upload recordings of classical music to YouTube. These performances are now in the public domain, but the professor discovered that they were getting tripped up by YouTube’s automated ContentID system and immediately getting taken down because they allegedly matched copyright-protected works.

The professor had to appeal each and every takedown. The appeals were accepted and his videos were reposted. But they never should have been taken down in the first place.

YouTube is owned by Google. This is not some cheap filter like you have at the local library to stop people from looking at porn: The ContentID system cost $60 million to build. And neither side is happy with it, claiming that it’s either not catching enough copyrighted materials or, as in our professor’s case, blocking content that it should not.

Article 13 is going to require pretty much every major site to follow in YouTube’s footsteps, even though the video giant can’t get it right. We’re not just talking about Facebook and Twitter here. Even dating sites are going to have check the images you upload of yourself against a database. Even Etsy is going to have to make sure those are actually your craft products you’re trying to sell.

It’s not just the major movie studios and the record industry who will be able to throw works into this database and claim ownership. Anybody will be able to. Doctorow notes the enormous potential for abuse and censorship:

But under Article 13, everyone gets to play wholesale censor, and every service has to obey their demands: just sign up for a “rightsholder” account on a platform and start telling it what may and may not be posted. Article 13 has no teeth for stopping this from happening: and in any event, if you get kicked off the service, you can just pop up under a new identity and start again.

We already know that politicians and government representatives have been abusing copyright enforcement systems to take down online criticism. Businesses and companies abuse the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to try to censor videos criticizing their products.

Fortunately, there are still more negotiations to go, and another vote by the European Parliament in 2019. Maybe that will give lawmakers the opportunity to actually take a look at the bill they passed. As Quartz has noted, somebody snuck in an amendment that appears to block people from filming sports events and using the footage for their own purposes. It turns out the parliament member responsible for crafting the legislation in the first place didn’t even know it was there.

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In Constitution Day Speech, Betsy DeVos Says ‘Government Muscle’ Is Not the Answer to the Campus Free Speech Problem

DeVosToday Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said free speech in education is necessary for the pursuit of objective truth during her Constitution Day remarks at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

The secretary had harsh criticisms for university administrators who are “complicit in creating or facilitating a culture that makes it easier for the heckler to win” on college campuses.

“As the purpose of learning is forgotten, ignored, or denied, we are inundated daily with stories of administrators and faculty manipulating marketplaces of ideas,” said DeVos.

DeVos cited cases I’ve covered here at Reason as evidence of the problem. (She referenced one of the most egregious examples of campus censorship: Black Lives Matter shutting down an ACLU event at William & Mary last fall because “liberalism is white supremacy.”)

According to DeVos, young people have less appreciation for the freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment. She cited a Brookings Institution poll in which more than half of the surveyed students didn’t think the Constitution protected certain views.

Even so, DeVos decisively opposed the idea that a new law, or a heavy-handed federal approach, would be the best way to fix what’s wrong in schools.

“The way to remedy this threat to intellectual freedom on campuses is not accomplished with government muscle,” she said. “A solution won’t come from defunding an institution of learning or merely getting the words of a campus policy exactly right. Solutions won’t come from new laws from Washington, D.C., or from a speech police at the U.S. Department of Education.”

Instead, DeVos opined that the campus free speech problem is really a crisis of civic values. She commended the University of Chicago and called on more institutions to adopt—voluntarily—its free speech principles.

DeVos also took questions from the audience, which consisted mostly of K–12 students. These kids weren’t afraid to criticize the secretary: One asked rather pointedly about her qualifications, and DeVos was more than happy to respond. Good on DeVos for not expecting any kind of emotional safe space when she delivered her remarks, and good on the kids for taking the opportunity to grill the secretary. This is the kind of meaningful debate that so many of us would like to see more of on college campuses, even when the speaker is Charles Murray or Heather MacDonald or Ben Shapiro or someone else left finds intolerable.

DeVos’s impulses on campus free speech and Title IX issues continue to be solid. She has addressed the former problem without proscribing a government cure that would be worse than the disease, and she has charted a reasonably restrained course for addressing the latter.

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The Reason Staff Shares Their Favorite Constitutional Amendments

|||Oleg Dudko/Dreamstime.comThe United States Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. Since then, the document has grown by 27 amendments. To celebrate the Constitution’s 231st birthday, I asked the Reason staff to pick one of their favorite amendments and tell us why they like it so much.

Katherine Mangu-Ward, Editor in Chief

Which amendment did you pick?
The 13th.
Why?
It’s important to admit when you make mistakes, and slavery was our biggest one as a nation.

Jesse Walker, Books Editor

Which amendment did you pick?
The 3rd.
Why?
The 1st and 4th and 5th may sound better, but those amendments have been shot full of holes. This is the one item in the Bill of Rights that is still clearly working.

Eric Boehm, Reporter

Which amendment did you pick?
The 10th.
Why?
The Supreme Court has held that the 10th Amendment added nothing to the meaning of the Constitution—that is, that the document itself is clearly a limitation on the powers of the federal government. Still, I wonder where we’d be today without the explicit counterbalance that the 10th Amendment provides against the implied powers of the Commerce Clause and the Supremacy Clause. Not every policy problem has a federal solution, and the 10th says we shouldn’t always be looking for one; let the states find their own way.

C.J. Ciaramella, Criminal Justice Reporter

Which amendment did you pick?
The 14th.
Why?
States are cool, but sometimes they also suck. When Sheriff Hogg decides to step all over your due process, or the city council decides that certain civil liberties aren’t for those people, the 14th Amendment is there to smack them around.

Matt Welch, Editor at Large

Which amendment did you pick?
The 3rd.
Why?
When my daughter was like 5, I asked her on July 4 why the Americans had gotten mad at the king of England. Her answer? They didn’t like British soldiers sleeping in their houses whenever they wanted. There is wisdom both practical and metaphorical in that notion.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Associate Editor

Which amendment did you pick?
The 19th.
Why?
Because people should be treated equally under the law regardless of their sex or gender, and that includes U.S. women being able to participate in the same state-sanctioned symbolic rituals as their male counterparts.

Scott Shackford, Associate Editor

Which amendment did you pick?
The 9th.
Why?
How can you not love an amendment that makes it explicit that the purpose of the Constitution is to define the limits of government authority and to make it very, very clear that it’s not our lawmakers and judges who “grant” us rights like benevolent nobles?

Joe Setyon, Assistant Editor

Which amendment did you pick?
The 15th.
Why?
While the 13th and 14th amendments made slavery illegal and said African Americans had equal protection under the law, the 15th affirmed their all-important right to vote. Freedom is great and necessary, but if you can’t have a say in who makes the laws, are you really free?

Tammy Barry, Grantwriter

Which amendment did you pick?
The 1st.
Why?
Shot full of holes as it may be, the 1st Amendment secures (along with the 2nd) the Declaration’s promise that the government derives its just powers from us, the people. Without it, serfdom is a much more certain destination. Without it, we’d be travelling in an amorphous crazyland like Great Britain: criminalizing speech via arbitrary measures, and giving police license to monitor noncriminal speech as well.

Peter Suderman, Managing Editor (Online)

Which amendment did you pick?
The 21st.
Why?
If you enjoy a beer, a glass of wine, a shot of liquor, or a well-measured cocktail, raise a glass to the 21st Amendment, which in 1933 ended 13 years of Prohibition (and a wide array of unintended consequences) by repealing the 18th Amendment. In addition to ending the federal government’s poorly enforced and socially ruinous ban on booze, it also has the distinction of being the only amendment ratified by state conventions instead of state legislatures. Its existence is a victory for both personal autonomy and culinary artistry, and it provides hope that, with enough time and pressure, serious policy mistakes can (eventually) be corrected.

Brian Doherty, Senior Editor

Which amendment did you pick?
The 2nd.
Why?
The 2nd Amendment, whether deliberately or not, embodies a vital fact: Although government is supposedly utterly necessary for our safety and thriving, its ability to specifically defend our lives from direct threat is practically non-existent, and at the very least it ought not interfere with our ability to preserve ourselves and our loved ones lives from such threats.

Robby Soave, Associate Editor

Which amendment did you pick?
The 1st.
Why?
Censorship is the defining characteristic of a dictatorship. “So long as men can speak and write freely…they still have a chance to reform their society,” Ayn Rand once said. “When censorship is imposed, that is the sign that men should go on strike intellectually.” Rand made those remarks during the course of an interview with Playboy, which drives the point home, I think.

Zuri Davis, Assistant Editor

Which amendment did you pick?
The 8th.
Why?
A fair justice system requires the punishment to always fit the crime. In a perfect world, the equal application of the 8th Amendment would challenge such practices as mandatory minimums, the death penalty, and exorbitant sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

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