Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

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Leah Litman: Is Roe in Danger? Liberal Justices Seem to Think So

Conservative justices took a step in laying the foundation for the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

The Supreme Court made clear on Monday that Roe v. Wade may soon no longer be the law of the land. The decision, Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt, actually has nothing to do with abortion; it concerns when one state may be sued in another state’s courts.

But Hyatt has everything to do with the Supreme Court’s respect for precedent. And respect for precedent is one of the few things, if not the only thing, that stands between the conservative Roberts court and overruling Roe v. Wade. Hyatt made clear that the five conservative justices are perfectly content to overrule a precedent merely because they disagree with it. That should raise alarm bells about Roe, particularly as states enact draconian restrictions on abortion.

In Hyatt, the justices were asked to overrule the court’s 1979 decision in Nevada v. Hall, which held that an individual could sue a state in the courts of a different state.

The doctrine of stare decisis directs judges, including Supreme Court justices, to adhere to prior decisions even when they think those prior decisions are wrong. Under the doctrine, justices shouldn’t overrule an earlier ruling unless several things are true: The decision is unworkable and has generated inconsistent results; it rests on outdated facts; and it represents an outdated mode of legal thinking. The court is also not supposed to overrule precedent where parties have relied on the decision to structure their lives.

Paul Krugman; Killing the Pax Americana

Trump’s trade war is about more than economics.

O.K., they weren’t supposed to start the trade war until I got back from vacation. And I really have too many kilometers to cover and hills to climb to weigh in on a regular basis or at great length. But since I’m currently sitting in an outdoor cafe with my coffee and croissant, I thought I might take a few minutes to address two misconceptions that, I believe, are coloring discussion of the trade conflict.

By the way, I don’t mean Trump’s misconceptions. As far as I can tell, he isn’t getting a single thing about trade policy right. He doesn’t know how tariffs work, or who pays them. He doesn’t understand what bilateral trade imbalances mean, or what causes them. He has a zero-sum view of trade that flies in the face of everything we’ve learned over the past two centuries. And to the (small) extent that he is making any coherent demands on China, they’re demands China can’t/won’t meet.

But Trump’s critics, while vastly more accurate than he is, also, I think, get a few things wrong, or at least overstate some risks while understating others. On one side, the short-run costs of trade war tend to be overstated. On the other, the long-term consequences of what’s happening are bigger than most people seem to realize.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: A new poll tax will suppress Florida’s voting reform

One of the most inspiring victories of the 2018 elections was in Florida, where voters approved a constitutional amendment that reenfranchised an estimated 1.4 million people with felony convictions. In a state where gubernatorial and Senate races were decided by fractions of a percentage point, a transpartisan coalition propelled Amendment 4 to a landslide victory with 65 percent of the vote. It was an unexpectedly decisive outcome that showed how some issues really do cross partisan politics — and a powerful example of democracy working as it should.

It should surprise no one, then, that Florida Republicans are determined to thwart the will of the people.

This month, the Florida legislature passed along partisan lines a bill that requires former felons to clear new financial hurdles before they become eligible to vote. Amendment 4 plainly stated that most people with felony convictions would regain their rights upon completing “all terms of their sentence including parole or probation,” but under the Republican legislation, they will also be obligated to pay related fines, fees and restitution. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who campaigned against Amendment 4 last year, plans to sign the bill in the coming days.

For many of those affected, the new law will impose a financial burden that is impossible to meet. As Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern explains, “Florida is a pioneer of ‘cash-register justice,’ charging defendants ‘user fees’ to finance its criminal justice system and saddling them with massive fines upon conviction.” The state charges people with felony convictions for everything from the court costs to medical care in prison to drug testing upon their release. In some cases, the charges add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, Stern writes, putting many “in a crippling financial hole from which few ever escape.”

Eugene Robinson: Trump has no idea what he’s doing

The thing to keep in mind about President Trump, as he thrashes around like a weak swimmer in a strong current, is that he has no idea what he’s doing. None. Not a clue.

I know that he can be clever politically, in a tactical sense. I know that his lies are often both deliberate and effective. I know that his utter shamelessness can sometimes come off as some kind of warped genius. But the only thing that’s profound about Trump is the truly spectacular depth of his ignorance. As evidence, take a glance — if you dare — at your 401(k).

The president’s decision last week to unilaterally boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports produced an entirely predictable response — retaliatory tariffs from Beijing on $60 billion worth of U.S. products, a freakout by the financial markets and a screaming plunge in the Dow and other major indexes.

Michelle Goldberg: Twitter Isn’t Real Life (if You’re a Democrat)

The online left doesn’t like Joe Biden. Voters seem to.

On Twitter during late 2015 and early 2016, Donald Trump’s front-runner status was evident, even if it hadn’t yet fully sunk in with the tribunes of conventional wisdom. Trump’s following far outstripped his rivals. His tweets drove news cycles, and channeled the resentments of a furious base. In October 2015, The New York Times described Twitter as a “powerful bulwark” of support during a shaky moment in Trump’s campaign, noting that he was retweeted twice as often as Hillary Clinton and 13 times more than Jeb Bush. The platform helped make him president.

Yet when it comes to Democratic politics, Twitter is proving a lot less influential.

It’s not just that Twitter traffic doesn’t appear to reflect the priorities of the Democratic electorate. Spending too much time on the platform can be actively misleading about the state of the party, as you can see in the polling surge of Joe Biden, a man despised by the online left. Biden has fewer Twitter followers than the first-term congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and less than half as many as Senator Bernie Sanders.

He’s utterly at odds with the style of progressive politics that dominates the internet, failing to properly apologize for touching women in ways that made them uncomfortable, offering half measures on climate change, and praising “my Republican friends in the House and Senate.” But among Democratic voters, he is leading the field by double digits.