Weekend Quick Takes

A busy week in the news, as the Supreme Court declines to review a lawsuit on the election results, another historic peace deal in the Middle East and news on law and order. Summaries of these, in this edition of Quick Takes

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Election Challenge for Second Time in a Week

The Supreme Court declined to hear a case where Texas sued other states for how they ran their elections. This is the second lawsuit about alleged election fraud that the Supreme Court declined to hear within a week.

Trump had called this ‘the big one’, thinking that the Supreme Court, where he had appointed three members, would give him a favorable hearing. Yet it was not to be and they rejected it out of hand. In addition to thirty-four other state and federal lawsuits filed seeking to change the election results, there is no other option before the Electoral College votes on Monday.

As an aside, liberals who said that ‘conservative’ judges could change the balance of the Supreme Court on the election made the mistake in thinking those judges take an activist view, as so-called liberal judges do. But a ‘conservative’ judicial philosophy says that the courts simply interpret the law and that the legislative and executive branches make the laws. Such was the case here. The Supreme Court deferred to the election law of the states involved. An activist judge might tend to take a case and see if they, personally, thought the law made sense. Thus, one more example of why courts should be unbiased interpreters of the laws on the books and not tools where they substitute their own judgment for those of elected officials.

Another Victory for Peace in the Middle East

On Thursday Israel and Morocco agreed to normalize relations as President Donald Trump, in his final weeks in office, announced the fourth Arab-Israeli agreement in four months on Thursday.

The agreement was brokered by the US and was encouraged by settling disagreements between the US and Morocco on other diplomatic issues.

After decades of no discernable progress in Middle East peace talks, the deal continues a remarkable recent trend. In addition to the four Arab countries that have agreed to deals, the Muslim-majority country of Kosovo also recently agree to normalize relations with Israel and even to put its embassy in Jerusalem.

As promising as these developments are for the Middle East and the world, there is an element of concern. President-elect Biden has said that he will appoint John Kerry to a senior foreign policy role. Kerry, as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration said that he would never pursue independent peace without first getting a peace agreement with the Palestinians. In an infamous panel discussion sponsored by the Brookings Institute a month before he left office, Kerry said emphatically that independent peace between Israel and Arab countries would never happen “Let me be clear”, he emphasized. Four years later, what he said could never possibly happen has indeed come to pass.  Let’s hope the incoming foreign policy team learns the lessons.

Predictable Results

Radicals on the Minneapolis City Council voted to cut $8M from the police budget. This comes after an earlier cut to the budget.

Of course, this comes in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The officer has been criminally charged, as have others on the force but that has not been enough and the cuts to the budget and the demonization of all police on the force has had very predictable results.

There have been so many retirements and resignations from the force, that the city is looking elsewhere (the state police, surrounding towns, etc.) to get enough officers to perform basic police functions. More sadly, more than 500 people have been shot in the city this year which is twice as many as last year. Murders have spiked more than 50% and the city has seen violent crime rise to the highest level in five years, with almost 5000 violent crimes reported in the city so far in 2020.

Predictable results. But public safety is clearly not the top priority of the city council and mayor.

Taxpayers Must Pay for Inmate Elective Surgery

A federal judge has ordered the state of Wisconsin to provide long-sought gender confirmation surgery (a euphemism for ‘sex change surgery’) to a transgender inmate, which would make her the first in Wisconsin to have the procedure.

The judge ruled to force the state and taxpayers to foot the bill in the case of Nicole Campbell. Also known as Mark Campbell, who in 2007 began serving a 34-year-sentence for sexual assault of a child.

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