Liberty and ObamaCare

The Affordable Care Act claims federal power is unlimited. Now the High Court must decide.

(Published in The Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2012)

Few legal cases in the modern era are as consequential, or as defining, as the challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that the Supreme Court hears beginning Monday. The powers that the Obama Administration is claiming change the structure of the American government as it has existed for 225 years. Thus has the health-care law provoked an unprecedented and unnecessary constitutional showdown that endangers individual liberty.

It is a remarkable moment. The High Court has scheduled the longest oral arguments in nearly a half-century: five and a half hours, spread over three days. Yet Democrats, the liberal legal establishment and the press corps spent most of 2010 and 2011 deriding the government of limited and enumerated powers of Article I as a quaint artifact of the 18th century. Now even President Obama and his staff seem to grasp their constitutional gamble.

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Bringing ‘Alien Torts’ to America

A court case that could invite specious international damage claims to the U.S.

(published in The Wall Street Journal, Feburary 28, 2012)

By DAVID B. RIVKIN JR. And LEE A. CASEY

This Tuesday the Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases that should interest every U.S. company doing business overseas, and especially those operating in the developing world. Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. and Mohamed v. Palestinian Authority raise the issue of whether corporations can be sued for violations of international law under U.S. statutes, including the Alien Tort Statute.

The ATS was adopted in 1789 by the first U.S. Congress. The statute permits suits by aliens in federal courts for certain alleged international-law violations, but it was moribund for nearly 200 years and its purpose remains opaque. The best guess is that Congress wanted to provide a means by which the U.S. could fulfill its international obligations to vindicate a very discrete set of damage claims by diplomats and other foreign nationals injured or abused by Americans.

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Birth-control mandate: Unconstitutional and illegal

It violates the First Amendment and the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

(published in The Wall Street Journal, February 15, 2012)

By David B. Rivkin and Edward Whelan

Last Friday, the White House announced that it would revise the controversial ObamaCare birth-control mandate to address religious-liberty concerns. Its proposed modifications are a farce.

The Department of Health and Human Services would still require employers with religious objections to select an insurance company to provide contraceptives and drugs that induce abortions to its employees. The employers would pay for the drugs through higher premiums. For those employers that self-insure, like the Archdiocese of Washington, the farce is even more blatant.

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Is Newt Gingrich right about abolishing courts?

(from WSJ.comDecember 20, 2011)

Opinion Journal: Editorial board member Jason Riley interviews David Rivkin

WSJ: I wanted to talk to you about Newt Gingrich’s attacks on the judiciary.  He wants to subpoena judges to appear before Congress and explain their decisions, he wants to shut down entirely some appellate courts, and he says the executive branch should be free to ignore judicial decisions.  What’s your reaction to this rhetoric?

David Rivkin: Not a good one. Strong medicine, but the cure is worse than the disease. Let me say that judicial activism, defined as judges not construing the statutes in the Constitution in accordance with its original meaning, is a real problem.”

It’s been a problem, certainly going back to the 1980s. It was one of the pivotal points of Reagan’s elections in ‘80 and ’84, [and] a standard tenet of all of the Republican candidates. But the  proper cure is slow and steady: appoint good judges, fight to get them through the Senate, and, frankly, wage a public debate about the proper role of judges–delegitimize legislating from the bench.

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