Justice Kennedy’s retirement and what it could mean for the direction of the country


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NEWS OF JUSTICE KENNEDY’S RETIREMENT: WHAT IT MEANS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, last week, big news broke on the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he’d be retiring July 31st, 2018. Harry, as many people will review the career of Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court, he no doubt is going to have mixed reviews. Your thoughts?

DR. REEDER: Justice Kennedy was a Ronald Reagan appointee. Some people may be old enough to remember that it was quite an ordeal in that, I think, one of the most brilliant that has ever existed with an impeccable track record, Judge Bork, was nominated. He was more or less a mentor to Justice Scalia, who died recently, on this matter of what is originalism or what we also call strict interpretation based upon the Constitution as it was written in its context and apply it to today’s context.

Senators Kennedy, Biden and others undertook a campaign to destroy Judge Bork, which succeeded in removing him. The next nominee that was put forward, Justice Ginsburg, it had been uncovered his practice of smoking marijuana as a law student and later on as a law professor. He withdrew.

ALTHOUGH ELECTED A CONSERVATIVE, KENNEDY’S SUPPORT OF SEXUAL REVOLUTION LED TO DANGER IN FAMILY ISSUES AND FIRST AMENDMENT

And then came Ronald Reagan’s third nominee, which was Justice Kennedy. Because he came under Reagan and because of his past record, he was considered to be a relatively reliable conservative justice but he has, over the period, made it very clear he is no Scalia, he is no Justice Bork, he is not an originalist in that sense.

Having said that, he is almost always reliable on the First Amendment issues. However, he has been a proponent of the sexual revolution as he has not upheld the sanctity of marriage, and its historic definition, in his leadership and opinion on the Obergefell case. He has a new civil right tied to the sexual revolution in terms of the striking down of all the sodomy laws, not only the affirmation of same-sex marriage but also the removal of all historic ethic that placed sexuality within the context of marriage.

Interestingly, he, himself, in his opinions realized that he had put in danger the free practice of religion because all major religions observe the fact that sexuality belongs in marriage and marriage is one man and one woman and he can see the collision. Tom, because of the profile I’ve laid out and sketched out, he has become known as “the swing vote” — which way is he going to go in most cases?

Well, with his retirement — he’s 81 years of age — President Trump has a second opportunity to place a justice on the Supreme Court and he has already said that he will pick from that list that he announced during his candidacy.

His stated commitment to appoint Constitutionalists and the publishing of that list of 25, I think may have won him the election because most Evangelicals would have had a very difficult time voting for him otherwise. Many who had issues with President Trump from a number of vantage points, I think, went to the poll and pulled the lever almost exclusively on this Supreme Court issue. And, if I may say, politically, it seems to have borne out. Gorsuch, by all accounts, has manifested not only judicial consistency as an originalist, but also has manifested a certain amount of brilliance in the public statements that he has made in the various cases.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MIDTERMS?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, you mention many conservative evangelicals who went to the poll in the last presidential election and voted for Trump for the Supreme Court decision alone — will that have carryover to these midterms?

DR. REEDER: There are two thoughts. One is while you are assured of having the votes to get through the nominee, go ahead and get it before the election and get it done before November. The other one is, well, no, hold this back and then use this to stoke the base of the conservatives — the evangelicals, the constitutionalists — to make sure that the president does have a majority in the Senate in order to get this nominee through.

There’s a third thought and the third thought is go ahead and get it done while you can get it done and then the fact that you could get it done, you make that the point of the next election that there is likely going to be at least one, possibly two more Supreme Court appointments with Stephen Breyer’s age at 79 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s age at 85. The fact that you’re able to get it through becomes the rallying point — you need to help us maintain that — so I think, politically, that’s what they’re working through.

Through a Christian and world and life view, I’m grateful for the turn that Justice Kennedy has made in the last three decisions and upholding First Amendment issues, particularly the free practice of religion, then I think it’s very important that the Supreme Court should be comprised of originalists — that is, those who see their job not to make law from a “living Constitution,” but to interpret the law from its context and apply it to today’s cases and that we maintain that genius of the American experiment. In fact, I want to talk about that some tomorrow as we focus our program upon the July the Fourth celebration and its ingenious dynamic of the three branches of government.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO KEEP OUR GOVERNMENT TRUE TO PURPOSE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, this is a significant decision. As we have seen with the previous justices that were put on the Supreme Court, it affects the direction, the morality and the conscience of the nation for decades to come.

DR. REEDER: Yes, it certainly does and so, as a believer, I believe that the American experiment that this would be a country governed by law not only necessitates a branch for lawmakers — that is, the legislators, the Congress — and also a branch for the execution of the law — that is, the presidency — but we desperately need competent and qualified justices who understand the role of the judiciary — not to become the executive branch, not to become the legislative branch, but to truly be the judiciary to make judgements based upon the law.

One of the great blessings for a nation is to have a justice that is “blind” in the sense that it doesn’t matter who is before the court, that they will get a fair interpretation of the law — it’s not just the rich, it’s not just the powerful, but all who stand before the law get the appropriate judgements of the law. And the opinions of the Supreme Court obviously set the precedents for the rest of the courts — the appeals court, the district court and the local courts.

What I would say, Tom, is that I, of course, am going to pray for this appointment, that it will be a good one. I’m not sure what they’ll do politically — I’ll leave that to the political pundits and the strategists — but I will pray that there will be an excellent appointee and I pray that that one, in their development after in office, will be consistent as an originalist and a strict constructionist of the Constitution and its proper application and will have wisdom from above.

PRAYERS FOR A JUST AND WISE COURT THAT PLEASES GOD

I love the prayer that used to accompany every single court. It’s interesting, Tom, recently, there was a lower court decision that went to the Supreme Court that the Supreme Court did not address concerning prayer for a commission meeting in Rowan County, North Carolina. That’ll probably come back to the Supreme Court.

However, beyond commission meetings, we almost always used to begin the session of a court with a prayer: “God, save this court.” And what the prayer meant was God, keep the court faithful and effective in bringing forth cases, process and judgements that are not only manifest with wisdom — perhaps even the wisdom of Solomon as he would sit in cases — but, beyond that, would also let justice roll down like rivers so that the citizens of this country all have the equal protection of the inalienable rights have been God-given and the courts would preserve that.

This is going to be a very important appointment and I am certainly in prayer that it would result in a justice that understands the role of a judge and will do so with wisdom and who will relish justice even in the midst of mercy. And dare I pray that the Lord would grant us a judge who would walk humbly with God — in other words, an echo of the words of the prophet: “And what does the Lord require of you, O man, but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

COMING UP TOMORROW: CELEBRATING INDEPENDENCE DAY

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, as you mentioned earlier, tomorrow is Independence Day, our Fourth of July. It is our nation’s 242nd birthday. We’ll celebrate our nation’s independence on Wednesday’s edition of “Today in Perspective.”

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

2 hours ago

Ivey urges patience as vaccine rollout picks up pace; State still compares poorly to others

Governor Kay Ivey is urging Alabamians to be patient with the rollout of their state’s coronavirus vaccination system. Her comments come as Alabama has received criticism for its slow process compared to other states, though the pace has increased in the last week.

Compared to other states and territories, Alabama has ranked at or near the bottom in terms of shots given per thousand people, and in terms of the percentage of doses in its possession that it has gotten into arms.

The pace of administration notably quickened in the last five days, rising from 87,138 total shots administered as of Monday to over 130,000 on Friday, meaning around 50% of the state’s shots given out have been administered in the workweek ending on January 15.

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According to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s (ADPH) dashboard on Friday afternoon, 130,394 doses of one of the two coronavirus vaccines have been given out of the 370,575 that have been delivered to the state.

“[State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris] and his team are continually working to more efficiently get this vaccine into the arms of Alabamians,” promised Ivey on Friday.

Since receiving its first doses in December, Alabama has focused on vaccinating health care workers and nursing home residents.

On Monday, January 18, eligibility to get the vaccine expands to any Alabamian aged 75 and over, along with first responders like police officers and firefighters.

ADPH announced earlier in the week that the hotline it created to handle appointment calls from people in the newly eligible categories was beingly regularly overwhelmed, and all slots to get a vaccine at county health departments have been filled through the end of January.

The agency said only eligible citizens, can still call the hotline and have their information added to a waiting list.

“Callers will be contacted as soon as more appointments are available,” relayed ADPH. The number for the hotline is 1-855-566-5333.

RELATED: Jefferson County running independent COVID-19 vaccination process from rest of state, creates separate hotline to call

“I am thankful so many Alabamians are willing and ready to get their COVID-19 vaccines. Please continue to be patient as we are in the very early stages of distribution,” said Ivey on Friday.

The Anniston Star reported in recent days that an online web portal to schedule vaccine appointments is in the works, but still a ways off.

Both vaccine products approved for use, from medical companies Pfizer and Moderna, require two doses given three to four weeks apart before their effectiveness takes hold.

Alabama has roughly 326,000 health care workers and around 350,000 citizens aged 75 or above, according to ADPH. Recent estimates of the number of police officers and firefighters in the state were not readily available.

The federal government has currently allocated Alabama 640,150 doses of coronavirus vaccine.

“Our current supply remains limited, but we are committed to vaccinating as many Alabamians as possible. We will get shots in the arm and off the shelf. In the meantime, be patient, wear your mask and practice good common sense. Let’s get this thing behind us,” Ivey concluded.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

3 hours ago

Former Crimson Tide national champion Martin Houston running for mayor of Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa businessman, pastor and former University of Alabama football player Martin Houston on Thursday announced his entry into the Tuscaloosa mayoral race.

During a press conference at his campaign headquarters in downtown Tuscaloosa, Houston was introduced by Crimson Tide legend Gene Stallings, who was Houston’s coach during Bama’s 1992 national championship season.

Watch Stalling’s remarks and the entirety of the announcement here.

Speaking to a small group of supporters and media at the live streamed event, Houston laid out his vision for Tuscaloosa, focusing on increased transparency, inclusion, diversity and economic growth.

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“I first knew that Tuscaloosa was an extremely special place during an official college visit to Alabama in 1988,” said Houston, who played fullback and running back for the Tide for the 1989-1992 seasons. “What I thought was just a four-year decision to play football turned into something much more. Tuscaloosa is where I married my childhood sweetheart, raised our children, and found my purpose. For 32 years, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to serve as a businessman, a pastor, a volunteer, and a coach here.”

At the university, Houston received both the Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence and Charlie Compton Christian Leadership Awards. He was also the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ “Christian Athlete of the Year” in 1992. He went on to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1993 until a knee injury ended his NFL career.

Now, Houston is senior director of Membership Growth for Alabama One, serves as the lead pastor at Harvest Church in nearby Coker and hosts “The Martin Houston Show” on Tide 100.9. Additionally, he is a faith-based, inspirational speaker and is the chief empowerment officer/lead communicator for “The Empowerment Center.”

Houston and his wife of 31 years, Cassandra, have four children and three grandchildren.

“We all know the potential that our city has. It’s time to raise the bar and take Tuscaloosa from being just a good city to a great one,” he remarked on Thursday.

“I know that many of you feel disrespected, disconnected, and disenfranchised,” Houston added. “I want everyone to know that I hear you. Everyone in Tuscaloosa deserves a place where they can be heard. When I’m your mayor, everyone will have that place—that seat at the table.”

The pastor noted, “Tuscaloosa needs a candidate who is of the people, by the people, and for the people. I am running so I can make Tuscaloosa a better place for everyone to live, work, play and worship.”

“We can and will do this with focused, determined efforts to be an economically sound City driven by innovation, diversity and inclusion at every level,” he pledged. “Your voice matters and in the coming weeks, I look forward to earning your trust, your respect and your vote.”

Earlier the same day, incumbent Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announced that he is seeking reelection to a fifth term. This will be Maddox’s first municipal bid since being the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2018.

He released this campaign video on Thursday:

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Tuberville: Trump made a ‘mistake’ at rally but ability of armed intruders to get into the U.S. Capitol ‘very concerning’

Trump ally Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) admits President Donald Trump made a “mistake” with his rhetoric at a rally staged in Washington, D.C., before a joint session of Congress met to certify the 2020 Electoral College results. However, he also said he had questions about how the event unfolded.

During an appearance on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Tuberville explained the challenges Trump has faced, even as his term is coming to an end, adding that the president may not have been aware of how influential he is with his base. However, the football coach-turned-U.S. Senator said there were some peculiar circumstances regarding the crowd that day.

“[A] lot of people up there cannot stand an outsider being in office, and that’s Donald Trump,” he said. “He made a mistake last week. I don’t think he even really realized how powerful he is with his base. Now, I watched all the footage of the riot. I’d never seen a Trump rally, which he has had over 600 of them, with people come wearing helmets and backpacks and those things. I don’t know who was involved in it, but it happened, and it should have never happened.”

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Tuberville also said he had concerns about the incident and what could have been done to prevent it, noting the FBI did not relay the threat to Trump.

“[It’s] very concerning,” he said. “I live next to the Capitol. I walk around it every day. I get up early in the morning, and I can walk to work. I get up, do a little exercise. It is a beautiful place. We have 2,000 people that work for the Capitol Police that day, obviously. Now my understanding is that the FBI knew they had gotten word there was going to be trouble at the Capitol the day before it happened. That word never got to the President of the United States. As a Senator, I want to know why that wasn’t passed on down the line. Is the FBI holding secrets? I don’t understand that. But, you’ve got 2,000 Capitol Hill police, and my understanding is they thought, ‘Hey, there are never any problems with Trump rallies because they come and they go.’ There’s been 600 of them, but this was different. I don’t know why it was different. I don’t know why we had people get involved in the things that they get involved in. We had people killed in this. We had a policeman get hit with a fire extinguisher. He got hit in the head, and he later passed on. We had a lady that was a veteran that was shot.”

“I went home about four in the morning, that night after we went on with confirming Joe Biden,” Tuberville added. “I was just taken aback from knowing our country is much, much better than what we went through that day. And it should never happen. Now you can see — they’re probably going overboard now. There are going to be 10,000, 20,000 National Guard people around every building. It looks like a third-world country, and it makes you feel bad for what our forefathers had built.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

4 hours ago

Mo Brooks says Democrats looking to censure, expel and prosecute him are behaving like communists

Much to the pleasure of the Alabama political media, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) is right in the firing line when it comes to the Republicans the national media and their Democrats are attempting to blame for the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week.

There have been numerous reckless reactions to this by in-state media, who claim to be above political mudslinging and who supposedly just want to bring the facts to the people.

Al(dot)com’s John Archibald declared that the announcement that the Space Command HQ was coming to Huntsville was “sedition on commission.”

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The Space Command HQ was a payoff, for sedition, Archibald claims. Alleging a crime without reason or merit. Journalism.

His colleague and intellectual equal J.D. Crowe drew a picture depicting Brooks and every other Alabama Republican who voted for election oversight as members of the Klan and accused them of treason.

Alleging a crime without reason or merit. Journalism.

All of this is based on three accused wrongdoings:

1. Brooks was an outspoken proponent of having votes on election irregularities, even though he knew those votes would fail.

This is a completely legal and justified action provided for in the U.S. Constitution.

2. He spoke at a rally six hours before the shameful and seditious actions that took place that day and used the phrase: “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”

Not great stuff here by Mo Brooks, but it is not a crime, and it is pretty amazing that a prosecutor is suggesting it be prosecuted.

3. He planned the rally itself.

This allegation is weird, and, until Thursday, Brooks had not been asked about the allegation directly.

It is based on the now-deleted Periscope video by Ali Alexander in which he claims, “We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting.”

What does this mean?

That Brooks himself worked to book the space, the sound equipment and sent the mass emails for the riot.

That seems unlikely. A pressure campaign on members of Congress to vote with him? That’s not normal.

The obvious implication that whoever planned the rally also planned the siege is not backed up by facts.

Brooks was asked about the allegation, if you can even call it that, during a Thursday appearance on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show.”

He said, “I don’t recall ever having met the guy, ever having communicated with the guy, ever having seen the guy. I don’t know where he’s coming from.”

But don’t let that stop the mob from alleging a massive conspiracy, which they are doing by tying in guided tours of the U.S. Capitol in the days preceding the riots.

Brooks thinks Alexander may have been “inspired” by his appearances on radio and TV, suggesting that may have led to him wanting to plan the rally.

But Brooks also pointed out that the rally was not the issue (which it wasn’t).

“[F]rankly, a rally is a great idea …  that was a great rally,” Brooks advised. “The rally wasn’t the problem. The problems were these militant groups, along with rally attendees at the U.S. Capitol. That was the problem.”

He continued, “I did not invite anyone, I did not set the time, I did not set the speakers.”

“I have had no communications with anybody involved in the operational planning,” Brooks added.

But this is not going to stop anytime soon. Censuring is all but a certainty; expulsion seems unlikely because of the hurdles required. But an attempted prosecution could be in the congressman’s future because Democrats are emboldened and want to hold as many Republicans as they can accountable.

The District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine is looking for charges.

“I know I’m looking at a charge under the D.C. Code of inciting violence, and that would apply where there’s a clear recognition that one’s incitement could lead to foreseeable violence,” Racine stated.

If all of this seems like a far-fetched nightmare where political speech is criminalized, you are right.

Brooks compared this reaction by his Democratic colleagues and D.C.’s attorney general as dictatorial forces like you would see in communist China or the Soviet Union.

Based on their fervor to make their political foes pay right now, you would be hard-pressed to describe it any other way.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

4 hours ago

Where to get locally made king cakes in Alabama

It’s officially Carnival season — the period of time after epiphany (January 6) and before Lent (starts Ash Wednesday) — which means Mardi Gras celebrations are beginning to kick off. And you know what goes hand in hand with Mardi Gras? King cake. No Mardi Gras would be complete without this sugary sweet delicacy topped with colorful icing. Thought to have been brought from France to New Orleans in 1870, king cake tastes like a cross between coffee cake and French pastry. Sometimes stuffed with filling and always stuffed with a plastic baby, the oval-shaped cake is iced with the colors of justice (purple), faith (green), and gold (power).  If you can’t make it to New Orleans this year, here’s where you can get locally made king cakes in Alabama.

6 Places to get King Cakes in Alabama

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Edgar’s Bakery – Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, multiple locations in Birmingham

The king cake from Edgar’s Bakery has been named one of the best king cakes in the nation, according to USA Today. This popular bakery offers traditional or filled king cakes (choose from strawberry, cream cheese, or pecan praline). And the best part about Edgar’s king cakes is that they can be shipped nationwide. So if you don’t have a location near you, don’t fret, sweet goodness can still come your way!
Price: $30

Savage’s Bakery & Deli – Birmingham

Savage’s Bakery has been making their famous cookies, cakes, and pastries since 1939. It’s no surprise they also make a killer king cake. They offer a filling of traditional cinnamon or cream cheese and two sizes of the cake. Savage’s also ships nationwide.
Price: $16 (small), $21 (large)

Pollman’s Bake Shop – Mobile

Pollman’s is known as THE spot in Mobile to get a king cake. They’ve been pumping out king cakes — made fresh every day during Mardi Gras season — since 1950. In fact, they were the first bakery in Mobile to make king cakes. The thick king cakes come in three sizes and are topped with colorful sugar. Pollman’s also makes cute decorated Mardi Gras cookies. You can order Pollman’s cakes to be shipped.
Price: $16.99 (small), $18.99 (large), $32.99 (extra large)

(Angie Mosier for Hero Doughnuts/Contributed, YHN)

Hero Doughnuts & Buns – Birmingham

Hero is known for its huge, fluffy, brioche-style donuts (and handmade buns for sandwiches). In Mardi Gras season, they make king cake donuts and full king cakes (which they call King Rings). The donuts are available daily during season, and King Rings are made to order with a 48-hour notice. The cakes serve 14–16 people. This shop is the king cake hero you didn’t know you needed.
Price: $30 (King Ring)

Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro – Huntsville

Mason Dixon Bakery is known for being a place that’s inclusive of all dietary needs and offers allergen-friendly foods and baked goods. During Carnival, they offer a traditional king cake as well as a dairy-free option for those with sensitivities. The cakes are large enough to feed 12.
Price: $35 (standard), $40 (dairy free)

Sugar Rush Donut Company — Mobile

This donut shop offers king cakes year-round, so you can get your fix anytime. Covered in a generous amount of icing and sprinkled in the traditional colored sugar, they are decadent and delicious. The donut shop also offers king cake donuts, when you want a quick fix on the run.
Price: $18.99 (small) or $24.99 (large)

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.