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Yes on 66. No on 57 and 62.

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California's ballot propositions have their numbers now.  If you want to vote against the soft-on-crime nonsense that is likely responsible for the surge noted in the two previous posts, vote Yes on 66 (Fixing the Death Penalty), No on 57 (the Jailbreak Initiative), and No on 62 (Repealing the Death Penalty).

Dueling Initiatives

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Alex Matthews has this story at Capitol Weekly on the dueling California death penalty initiatives.
Matt Apuzzo reports for the NYT:

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch plans to announce on Friday that she will accept whatever recommendation career prosecutors and the F.B.I. director make about whether to bring charges related to Hillary Clinton's personal email server, a Justice Department official said. Her decision removes the possibility that a political appointee will overrule investigators in the case.

The Justice Department had been moving toward such an arrangement for months -- officials said in April that it was being considered -- but a private meeting between Ms. Lynch and former President Bill Clinton this week set off a political furor and made the decision all but inevitable.
Of course, under the "unitary executive" structure of the federal government, all executive decisions are ultimately under the control of the President, but to squelch an indictment now Mr. Obama would have to do so personally, without Ms. Lynch as a buffer.  The political consequences of doing so can be extraordinarily high, as President Nixon discovered after the Saturday Night Massacre.

Update:  Devlin Barrett has this article in the WSJ:
Jason Riley nails it at the WSJ.

Throw the Bums Out?

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Are American voters in a sour, anti-incumbent, throw the bums out mood?  The persistently low ratings of Congress would indicate peril for incumbents, right?

California has 53 congressional districts, and in 49 of them an incumbent was running for reelection in Tuesday's primary.  Care to guess how many incumbents finished less than first in those 49?
Last winter, California Governor Jerry Brown wanted to put on the ballot a new initiative to facilitate large-scale releases of felons from prison.  He had a problem, though, in that it was too late in the initiative cycle to begin an initiative from scratch and get it on the November 2016 ballot.

Gov. Brown's solution was to strike a deal with proponents of an unrelated juvenile justice initiative that had already gone through the early stages of the process.  Can he do that?  The bill allowing amendment of pending initiatives is only two years old, and there are unanswered questions.  Today the California Supreme Court answered one of the questions and cleared the way for the Jailbreak Initiative to be put on the ballot this fall.

The statute at issue, California Elections Code ยง 9002(b), requires that the amendments be "reasonably germane" to the original measure.  Does that phrase stretch far enough to take an initiative that is entirely about juvenile justice and graft on a measure that largely dismantles the determinate sentencing reforms of 40 years ago, which apply only to convictions in adult court?

There are times when a person must admit that he was just plain wrong, apologize, and move on.  Most of us learn this when our age is in single digits.  Does Donald Trump know it at just shy of 70?

We have the test case before us.  His attack on Judge Gonzalo Curiel is hands-down the stupidest thing he has said to date.  "Indefensible" hardly does it justice.  Paul Gigot has this editorial in the WSJ.

Donald Trump keeps giving his political opponents ammunition, most recently with his continuing attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over lawsuits against Trump University. But it's important to distinguish between what is merely obnoxious and the truly odious in his remarks.

Fleshing Out the Trump Administration

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There are five months or so until the election.  At this point, the major polls have Clinton and Trump tied.  Among registered voters, WaPo/ABC has Trump ahead by 2; for NBC, it's Clinton ahead by 3; for NYT/CBS Clinton is up by 6; and Fox has Trump up by 3. Likely voters tend to be slightly more Republican and a slightly better predictor of actual results.  Thus, for now, it's a tie.

With that as the state of play, I'm happy to join the game going on elsewhere in this town, to wit, suggesting names for Trump's VP and the Supreme Court nominees.

N,B. This is not an endorsement of Trump.  CJLF does not endorse candidates, and I personally am not at this point.  My favorites, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio,  didn't get this far.
In an age where the federal government is a gargantuan burlesque of the Framers' vision  --  of late instructing local schools about who can use which shower and bathroom, and local judges about when they may (and may not) enforce traffic fines against scofflaws  --  it's easy to see the appeal of libertarianism.

Easy, that is, until libertarians start talking:

During the [Libertarian Party Convention] presidential candidate debate, the room went wild for suggestions of abolishing the Federal Reserve, state-sponsored education, and gun control.

"I believe in a world where gay married couples can defend their marijuana fields with submachine guns, aw yeah baby!" conservative libertarian Austin Petersen said.

"Crystal meth should be as legal as tomatoes," another candidate Daryl Perry declared. 

I'm all for the right to defend your person and your home with force, including, in cases of imminent danger of grave bodily harm, guns.  But using an AK-47 to defend your pot grow, is, well......

What else is there to say here, except that those in search of a third party should check out whether those things in their sandwiches are really tomatoes. 

Crime has a predictable history as a campaign issue.  For the past couple of elections, when crime was low and falling, it was barely mentioned.  But when crime is surging, as it was in 1968, 1972, and 1988, crime policy became a major battleground. Richard Nixon, though widely thought to be a shady character, rode it to two easy victories.

Will something similar happen this time, as Donald Trump talks tough while Hillary Clinton embraces the mantra of "over-incarceration"?  Sen. Jeff Sessions thinks it might.  As the Washington Examiner reports:

FBI Director James B. Comey had an odd plea to Washington reporters when he met them earlier this month. Please, he said, write about the surge of murders rocking the nation's cities.

"I raise it with you all because I hope it's being reported on at local levels, but in my view, it's not in the attention of the national level it deserves," he said. "I am in many ways more worried, because the numbers are not only going up, they're continuing to go up in most of those cities faster than they were going up last year. I worry very much. It's a problem that most of America can drive around."

The media dished out a few stories and moved on. But soon the issue will receive attention on the national political stage as the two likely presidential nominees prepare to address it.

"Crime is a factor that I think is going to play bigger in this election than people realize because crime is going up, drug addiction is surging -- 120 deaths a day from drug overdoses. It's just a stunning number," [said] Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican and adviser to Donald Trump.

One must wonder whether Trump's recent big advance in the polls reflects the country's increased alarm about spiking drug abuse and murder.

Three explanations strike me as plausible.

First, he believes that every ex-con deserves to "participate in democracy" regardless of how grievous his crime or how thoroughly it demonstrated contempt for law.

Second, he wants to increase the number of Democratic voters in Virginia to help his pal Hillary in the forthcoming Presidential election.

All the News That's Fit to Slant

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The New York Times occasionally has excellent and insightful news articles.  Then there's stuff like this, "reporting" on Donald Trump's speech accepting his NRA endorsement:

Mr. Trump, whose record of sexist remarks, among other things, has left him at a potentially crippling disadvantage among female voters, polls show, appealed directly to women in his speech, imbuing his defense of gun rights with an undercurrent of fear.

"In trying to overturn the Second Amendment, Hillary Clinton is telling everyone -- and every woman living in a dangerous community -- that she doesn't have the right to defend herself," Mr. Trump said. "So you have a woman living in a community, a rough community, a bad community -- sorry, you can't defend yourself."

If Mr. Trump's comments seemed reminiscent of an era when crime rates were far higher -- the Willie Horton ads attacking Michael S. Dukakis, the Democratic nominee, in the 1988 presidential race came to mind -- they also appeared somewhat at odds with the broad bipartisan consensus on the need to reduce incarceration rates and prison populations: Mr. Trump sought to frighten voters about the idea of criminals being released from prison.


The idea that this is a news story, as opposed to an editorial hatchet job, is preposterous.  Let's take it one line at a time.





Donald Trump's Pretty-Short List

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For many of us who were less than enthused to see Donald Trump win the Republican nomination, the general election choice nonetheless seemed to be a clear one based on the kinds of judges the respective nominees would appoint, especially to the Supreme Court.  The Trump campaign apparently wants to reinforce that point by releasing a list of possible Supreme Court appointments.  Bill noted the release a few minutes ago, and Jill Colvin and Mark Sherman have this report for AP.  The list is:

Steven Colloton of the Eighth Circuit (Iowa)
Allison Eid of the Colorado Supreme Court
Raymond Gruender of the Eighth Circuit (Mo.)
Thomas Hardiman of the Third Circuit (Penn.)
Raymond Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit (Mich.)
Thomas Lee of the Utah Supreme Court
Joan Larsen of the Michigan Supreme Court
William Pryor of the Eleventh Circuit (Ala.)
David Stras of the Minnesota Supreme Court
Diane Sykes of the Seventh Circuit (Wis.)
Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court

I am not familiar with the jurisprudence of all 11, but I do think that William Pryor would make a very fitting successor to Justice Scalia.  Confirmation would be a bloody fight, but if we hold the Senate it is a fight we would win.

The larger question is whether Mr. Trump can and will pivot from the crass bluster that got him this far into a man of serious policy, capable of winning the general election and then being an effective President.  Many have serious doubts, but this looks like a good start.

Trump's Supreme Court Candidates

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ABC News has a story out today listing eleven candidates Donald Trump says he would consider for the Supreme Court.

I know three of them slightly, none of whom I am going to name.  They would be excellent. My one big regret about this list is that it does not include former Solicitor General Paul Clement.

The difference in probable Supreme Court picks between Sec. Clinton and Donald Trump remains, in my view, the most important reason to be, if not enthusiastic about Trump, at least not in hellish despair.
In my last post, I gave a preview (courtesy of Harvard Law Prof. Mark Tushnet) of how dreadful a Clinton-appointed Supreme Court would be.

I am unhappy to report that that's not the principal reason Sec. Clinton should be denied the keys to the White House.  The principal reason is that, as she has already made clear, she will use the awesome power to prosecute as a political tool  If that is not the road to tyranny, what is?

That's a bold proposition, sure.  I invite readers to draw any other conclusion after reading the following account by Stephen F. Hayes in the Weekly Standard.

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