Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2014

Currently: 77° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

WHERE I STAND:

There’s no need for a crisis, Senator

Dean Heller

Dean Heller

Please forgive me. I am having a constitutional crisis!

I have been around politics my entire life, so there is very little that I don’t understand about the motives of politicians or the methods they employ. There comes a time, however, even in my cynical world, that what is being done and said in the name of good government, well, defies good sense.

This is one of those times and Sen. Dean Heller is the fellow responsible for testing the limits of both my ability to understand the political beast and any effort to find reason in his most unreasonable actions.

I am talking about his refusal to allow President Barack Obama’s nomination of Clark County District Judge Elissa Cadish to move forward through the U.S. Senate confirmation process. You see, the Senate has these arcane, yet civil, rules of procedure that are based on the simple concept that, above all else, senators act in a civil and responsible manner.

Those of us old enough to remember know the stories of bitter political foes who would verbally duke it out on the Senate floor and then, when the yelling was over, would dine together and figure out how to bridge the gaps in their political philosophies so the American people could be well-served. That was the tradition of the Senate, and it worked very well until recently.

Today, the political parties and the people are so polarized that no one talks to anyone, let alone reasons together, and, as a result, the people’s business does not get done. And, yet, the Senate still has those rules and traditions that are based on a civility and collegiality that no longer exist.

Sen. Heller is a prime example of a man taking advantage of a reasonable rule by acting in a most unreasonable way. And, contrary to any belief he may have that this, too, will be forgotten by Nevadans — as most things are — I believe he is wrong.

The Senate has a practice that allows both senators from each state to weigh in on the appointment of judges to the federal court. Unlike past tradition, in which the senior senator of the party of the president got to decide on judicial appointments (that tradition is based on the constitutional “advice and consent” obligation of the Senate), today both senators have a say. That works when people act responsibly and reasonably. But what happens when one of the senators acts in a way that not only defies logic but also defies the public’s desire for a strong and intelligent judiciary?

We are about to find out in Nevada.

Heller thinks he hit the political mother lode by denying a confirmation hearing to what the Review-Journal, the Las Vegas Sun and practically every lawyer and judge in the land thinks is a very well qualified federal judicial candidate. By invoking his “privilege” to just say no, Nevada’s aberrant senator has put his foot on the throat of Judge Cadish’s judicial nomination and shown an incredible disrespect to the Nevada voters who put her on the court in the first place.

And he is blaming his actions on the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is proof that our new and inexperienced senator doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about.

Judge Elissa Cadish questions attorneys after a grand jury indicted Dr. Dipak Desai Friday, June 4, 2010.

Judge Elissa Cadish questions attorneys after a grand jury indicted Dr. Dipak Desai Friday, June 4, 2010.

In an interview on Jon Ralston’s “Face to Face” program, Sen. Heller said he opposed the Cadish nomination because, basically, he believes in the Second Amendment and she doesn’t. Of course that is an outright fabrication, and anyone with half a legal brain should tell him. But for some reason they won’t.

What Heller is hoping is that gun enthusiasts will think he stood up for them and then forget about what he really did and move on. What his obstinacy will do is deny Nevada an excellent federal judge at a time when we need good judges and plenty of them. The very people he thinks are buying his baloney are the ones who will lose because all Americans — even gun-owning Americans — want blind, speedy and responsible justice, and he is denying us that chance.

And all because he doesn’t know what he is talking about. He says he believes in the Second Amendment and not a case-by-case review of what it means. While I am not sure I know what he is talking about — that makes two of us, Senator — the Supreme Court’s determination of what the Second Amendment means was done on a case-by-case basis. It only took two centuries for that to happen!

That is how the Supreme Court works, Senator. And if our young senator had read the two cases that decided the Second Amendment issue, he would have read a majority opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia that said, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited … Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”

That kind of language screams out the words “case by case.”

Perhaps Sen. Heller doesn’t believe in the Supreme Court either, just the Second Amendment. Nothing surprises me about how low any politician will go to feed red meat, however tainted, to any part of his base. But in this case, he has gone too far. And he has done so for the very reason that the Tea Party, the independents and the vast majority of people in both major political parties say they are so sick and tired of politicians.

Because it is all about his getting elected and not what is good for the American people.

Good judges are good for the American people. Senators who understand what the Constitution and the Supreme Court says are good for the American people. Politicians who pander to the public solely for some political advantage are bad for the American people.

You know what else is bad for the American people?

Senators who diminish or punish responsible members of the public like Judge Cadish just because they have an opinion. Just like Dean Heller is doing. And that is why I am having a constitutional crisis.

Heller prefers the Second Amendment — or what he thinks is the Second Amendment — over the very plain language of the First Amendment. You know, the one that says every American has the right to his or her own opinion. And the right to express it.

Sorry, Senator, you don’t get to pick and choose which amendment you want to adhere to. That is why we have the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary. And they balance all of our rights, Senator, wait for it — on a case-by-case basis!

That is what the Constitution and hundreds of years of experience, precedents and legal decisions by people far more knowledgeable than our junior senator have provided this great country.

Dean Heller has created a constitutional crisis in my mind and the only way to resolve it is to use Heller’s logic.

I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America. And Sen. Dean Heller does not.

Crisis averted!

Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 19 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Well written and logical. Of course logic and common sense are lacking in today's political scene. As I have commented on before, Kadish should be confirmed, and not held hostage to a political ploy. An opinion on anything is still just an opinion.

  2. "Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, ..."

    Define "the" mentally ill. "Felons" is a legal term of art, "the" mentally ill is not.

    It is an interesting language game.and highly entertaining. I am 75, "the" Blacks was equally so in my youth.

    Enjoy.

    Harold A. Maio, retired mental health editor

    Referring page:
    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/apr...

  3. The only "Constitutional Crisis" that exists is simply the manifestation of arcane rules that Harry Reid has made a career out of. Harry himself has highlighted, footnoted and wielded these rules like a deranged virtuoso and now the hen has come home to roost. Everybody thinks there is a crisis?

    Drama much??

    It absolutely floors me how the quashing of a nomination can lead to a crisis. Bork??

  4. Ahh Brian, there is no need for any crisis. No need to start a war with Iran other than the Generals and Admirals want to head a growth industry in "national" defense. No need to increase tax rates to overpay government employees to the detriment of taxpayers, the economy, survival. True, Senator Heller is flamboyant but if not processing an unacceptable proposed judge would save taxpayers a million or two.... Another drop in the bucket / budget? How many drops to get a glass full? Stop increasing spending and start decreasing unneeded expenditures.

  5. Good Ol' Dino...

    Making political hay in an election year.
    Nothing to do with the woman nominated, her qualifications to sit on the bench, her true motivations, the right to bear arms, NOTHING TO DO with the matter at hand...
    It's ALL POLITICAL GRANDSTANDING.
    Way to go, Dino!!!
    You are officially a 'political animal.'

    My favorite 'Hellerism';
    "Is the government creating 'hobos' with benefit extensions?"
    Now, THAT was a CLASSIC!!!

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/feb...

  6. Apparently in all of Mr Greenspun's political years, he never met a man named Harry Reid.

    The media claims he represents nevada in the US Senate. You would never know for all the political pork he sent elsewhere in order to get ObamaCare passed. But I digress.

    Harry Reid has made a career and a few million dollars in special interest donations, from holding up important legislation, derailing confirmations and stopped job creating bills from being passed.

    Mr Heller is just taking a small piece out of the Harry The Hater text book on political warfare.

    So instead of lecturing the student on how to play the game, maybe you should spend some time lecturing his teacher.

  7. "...what happens when one of the senators acts in a way that not only defies logic but also defies the public's desire for a strong and intelligent judiciary? ..... Heller thinks he hit the political mother lode by denying a confirmation hearing to what the Review-Journal, the Las Vegas Sun and practically every lawyer and judge in the land thinks is a very well qualified federal judicial candidate."

    Greenspun -- judicial politics is one of the most obscure, misunderstood and neglected areas of public knowledge. This is tragic considering how much is trusted to their pens. In the wrong hands, which is far too often, the stroke of a pen destroys lives and the very Rule of Laws each swore oaths to uphold and administer. Even more of a tragedy is the average citizen is clueless how low the quality is of the average sitting judge.

    One poster on one of your first Discussions on this topic mentioned personal knowledge of Cadish behind the scenes. It wasn't flattering and showed she may actually be incompetent. Many judges are not only that but ignorant and arrogant as well. Yet we give them lifetime job security to carry on this kind of corruption. Heller's caution may very well be justified.

    "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." -- H.L. Mencken

  8. All I, or any citizen wants to know, is the reasoning, evidence, and logic behind Senator Dean Heller's decision to halt the appointment of Justice Cadish.

    Senator Heller, please answer. Let's put this to rest and move on. If you refuse, many will think twice about you at election time. Seriously.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  9. Mr. Greenspun that was the best article I've ever read of yours. You finally have proven to me you are the son of Hank. Great job!! Keep that fire in the belly; it feeds the drive to excellent reporting.

  10. Mr. Greenspun is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Brookings Institution, an elitist, leftist think tank based in Washington DC, which is studded with a galaxy of haute monde members of the vaunted Council on Foreign Relations. The Council on Foreign Relations was founded in the Woodrow Wilson era to help create policies in our land so as to comfortably merge the US into a One-World Socialist Police State under the United Nations.

    One of the amusing traits of Mr. Greenspun is to use the Marxist Principle of Reversal, by accusing Senator Dean Heller of not knowing the Constitution, specifically, the Second Amendment, whereas, Mr, Greesnpun is the one not knowing the Consitution, by supporting someone who is against the Second Amendment. Mr. Greenspun also knows that the United Nations wants our guns, in order to promote civilian disarmament under guise of "preventing violence." "Preventing violence" really means to empower the United Nations World Government with violence against a helplessly disarmed people of the world.

    It is no surprise that Mr. Greenspun's paranoid outburst against Senator Heller's refusal to approve anti-gun Cadish is a conditioned reflex implanted in Mr. Greenspun's brain by years of conditioning by his liberal milieu.

  11. O the horror!! O the injustice!! A good judge's nomination is being held up by an unreasonable, wicked Republican Senator!! And, good editor/publisher Greenspun sees a Constitutional crisis in the works.

    Yet... all these words of woe and doom, but never once does the poor potential nominees' words ever get recited. And wisely so, since it would reveal the real contorted posture of our good editor, from "where he stands".

    Judge Cadish responded to a questionnaire. In her answers she stated that she believed that the Second Ammendment to the Constitution is not "an individual right". She later clarified her position by stating that this was her personal opinion, and that she would uphold the law.

    Pardon me if I have dome doubts about how all this works, after all the talk about wise Latina women during Judge Sotomayors confirmation. Seems like a lot of personal experience and opinion there.

    I think we owe Senator Heller thanks for keeping off the Federal Bench people that have trouble understanding the plain language of the Constitution. The text reads "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". It does not say the right of the militia to keep and bear arms, but the right of the people.

    How this can be a Constitutional crisis for Mr. Greenspun is a mystery to me. The language is plain and the intent clear - much like the language that requires Congress to pass a budget - now neglected by the Senate for over three years. There is also that issue of the President's non-recess recess appointments to positions requiring Senate confirmation. Do the people so nominated actually hold office? How can THAT be legal? No angst there, Mr. Greenspun?

  12. Between Friday, April 6 to late Sunday, April 8, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that "4 people were killed and 19 Wounded in Weekend Shootings".

    America is the biggest supplier of automatic weapons and hand cannons to Mexico's drug cartels because they are so easy to obtain.

    Since Dean Heller's major objective is to make guns easier to buy and thus steal, Heller is actually responsible for much of the financial and killing success of the drug trade, but instead, he insists he is 'Patriotic'.

    His Religion hasn't done much for his rationality or humanity because crime benefits more from Heller's actions then innocent people.

  13. This is good old tit for tat. How many conservative assets trying to get through Harry Reid's senate have been somehow held up procedurally by the good old senator from Nevada. The list is so long it would fill up the pages of this newspaper. So the good judge is sunk on a "blue slip" just like so many people before her were treated by the other side of the aisle.

    And this surprises Mr. Greenspun? Senator Heller is returning the ill-will and arrogance dished out by Senator Reid. She knows this to be the case, and so do you Brian.

  14. Judge Cadish was clearly expressing her personal opinion of what the Second Amendment said when she answered in 2008. At that time, there had been no explicit decision one way or the other. It may be presumed she would have decided such cases at that time in a way to limit or eliminate individual gun ownership.

    Since then (later that year, in fact) SCOTUS handed down a decision that explicitly upholds the individual right to bear arms.

    Judge Cadish now states that since SCOTUS has spoken she believes there is such a right. But...

    SCOTUS also handed down an explicit statement with Roe v Wade. For decades now there have been various efforts to get around it, or even have it reversed. Just as there are judges who support these efforts with rulings that push the boundaries, it is not unreasonable to think that Judge Cadish will do the same with respect to efforts to get around the SCOTUS ruling on gun ownership in the name of regulation.

    Dean Heller has a legitimate concern here.

  15. No more "living constitution" judges.

    Only originalists, who are not prone to statist dismissal of enumerated rights they wish didn't exist.

    What liberals consider "eminently qualified" is code for staunch pro-Roe, anti-Second Amendment jurists, i.e. just the kind that should be strenuously avoided.

  16. Made up crisis....

  17. acejoker, the continuing discussion between you and the user RedRocky has been taken off the front page because it was going too far astray. The comments have not been removed. You can still see them by clicking on the "See all comments" link.

  18. Let me suppose that an answer was given by a WELL QUALIFIED judge that there was no 'constitutional right to an abortion' but would still uphold the law as written by the SC (and the only way that there 'is' such a right now is because the SC says so--it doesn't plainly say so in the document!!) would ANY democarat nominate or even vote for such a WELL QUALIFIED judge?????

    What if the second amendment said "the family unit being vital to the function of a free society, the right of the people to family planning shall not be infringed.' Would any liberal claim that that meant that state could make you get abortions or only the state could control who got an abortion, or that only the FAMILY UNIT--husband and wife and kids would need to act in concert, and thus ONLY MARRIED persons could get abortions??? Of course not, they would see the words to mean exactly what they say and there would be no problem with the 'right of the people'!!! So who has a problem with the plain language of the USC--liberals who wish very much to make it alllll just go away because it stands in their way JUST LIKE IS SUPPOSE TO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Would you hire a math teacher with great qualifications but who did not think that 0 was a number or that pi was an irrational number but would be easier it we told the kids it was 3.14????

  19. Every one has a right to voice an opinion, but that does not mean that others do not have the right to judge them by it---think of all the nasty names that people get hung for using.
    If the judge had called all men pigs that might be her opinion but it would show her to be exactly what she is--unqualified to be a judge on a quiz show let alone in a US or NV court.