Why SCOTUS Pick Should Be Pryor

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U.S. Circuit Court Judge William Pryor

 

It has been announced that President Donald Trump is going to publicly announce his nominee for the opening in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Monday evening.

The announcement is to take place during a live television broadcast at 8:00 pm EST. This is a high profile time slot, and is entirely befitting the important nature of this vital nomination.

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest federal court in our nation. Established in 1789 by our original U.S. Constitution, the SCOTUS has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all courts in the land.

Thus, SCOTUS is the final arbiter on nearly all court cases of vital national interest. Decisions are rendered by a majority vote of the Chief Justice and eight associate justices, all of whom serve a lifetime term.

That last part is vitally important. Once a justice is appointed to the SCOTUS, they serve until they either die, retire, resign, or are impeached and convicted by the U.S. Congress. Since no SCOTUS justice has ever been successfully impeached and convicted, appointees are almost certainly going to serve as long as they wish.

The only U.S. President to serve a full term in office and not have the opportunity to appoint a justice to the SCOTUS was Jimmy Carter. Now, less than two weeks into his first term in office, President Trump gets that opportunity.

Trump’s pick is vitally important for a number of reasons, but primarily because the court vacancy that he is filling has been open for nearly a year. Last February 13, longtime noted SCOTUS justice Antonin Scalia passed away suddenly in his sleep at age 79.

There is a longstanding political tradition that SCOTUS nominees are not appointed when an opening occurs during a Presidential election year. President Obama chose to nominate Merrick Garland for the opening anyway, but that nomination was never considered by Congress.

Scalia was considered the anchor of the “originalist” or “constitutionalist” arm of the SCOTUS. In other words, the most “conservative” of all the justices.

Most court watchers consider that there are three such “conservative” justices remaining: Chief Justice John Roberts (62), Samuel Alito (66), and Clarence Thomas (68). The more “liberal” leaning justices are Ruth Bader Ginsburg (83), Stephen Breyer (78), Sonia Sotomayor (62), and Elena Kagan (56).

The eighth justice currently serving is Anthony Kennedy (80), who is considered a libertarian, and who while Alito was alive was considered the “swing vote” of the court in many 5-4 decisions.

President Trump was a great admirer of justice Scalia. He has vowed to select a nominee “in the mold” of the man whom he called “a great judge” during the presidential campaign.

Though the President had as many as two dozen names being considered for the position at one time, three names have come to the fore in recent days as the likely finalists: William Pryor, Neil Gorsuch, and Thomas Hardiman.

I believe that the pick should and will be 54-year old William Pryor, a U.S. Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Though all of the finalists would certainly be described as conservative-leaning, there are absolutely no questions whatsoever about Pryor in that regard.

Earlier this week, Alex Swoyer at The Washington Times reported on a group of lawyers and academics who had “crunched the numbers” on the three men. They came up with Pryor as the clear leader in the “Scalia-ness” factor.

“Jeremy Kidd, a law professor at Mercer University who led the study, said they looked at the judges’ fealty to the Constitution’s original meaning, their devotion to Justice Scalia’s writings and their willingness to strike out in writing their own opinions rather than sign on to colleagues’ rulings — a hallmark of Scalia’s tenure on the high court.”

Pryor is a Roman Catholic born and raised in the south. He earned his BA at what is now the University of Louisiana-Monroe, and his doctorate from Tulane University. Pryor then served as a law clerk for a couple of years before working as a private attorney and professor.

He became Alabama’s deputy attorney general from 1995-97, and then served for more than seven years as the Attorney General of Alabama before being appointed to his current position with the 11th Circuit by President George W. Bush in February 2004.

If there is one thing that you can say with absolute certainty about President Trump, it is that he says what he means and means what he says.

When this President says that he will pick someone like Scalia, then he will pick someone like Scalia. No one fits that definition more closely than Pryor.

Many of the talking heads believe that Gorsuch will be the pick. He would be a good pick that most conservatives and supporters of the President could get behind

Some have commented that the nominee will be Hardiman, believing that he will perhaps be more easily confirmed while still turning out to be a conservative justice.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter yesterday commented that “with Hardiman, Trump’s immigration policies won’t stand a chance. Hardiman is the Jeb Bush of judges.”

While the President certainly does not consult Ms. Coulter on his nominations, there is one thing she knows, and that is conservatism.

There is simply no way that Trump rolls the dice and takes a chance that this nominee will turn out like President Ronald Reagan’s unreliable appointee Kennedy.

If the pick is indeed announced as Pryor, the backlash from liberal circles will be immediate and loud. There will be a major nomination battle at his hearing.

Getting him appointed to the court may even actually require use of the so-called “nuclear option” by the U.S. Senate. If that turns out to be the case, then so be it.

In the end, getting a legitimate conservative jurist appointed to the SCOTUS is the single most important reason that I voted for President Trump. I know that to be true for many more of his supporters as well.

At 8:00 pm tonight, I expect President Donald Trump to step before the American people and nominate William Pryor to the open seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

If some other name is indeed announced, I won’t necessarily be unhappy. But I will be surprised.

For the Pittsburgh Pirates, No News is Bad News

For the Pittsburgh Pirates and their passionate fan base, the 2016 season was one of extreme disappointment. After three consecutive playoff appearances, the beloved Bucs missed the postseason party.
The Pirates struggled to a record of 78-83 last season, good only for third place in the National League Central Division.
In each of the prior three years, Pittsburgh came in second place, with the team repeatedly falling just short of a division crown. The club finished within two games in 2014 and 2015 after falling three games short in 2013.
In 2016, the Bucs fell 7.5 games short of the second-place St. Louis Cardinals. But that was not their biggest concern heading into the offseason. Pittsburgh also finished a distant 25 games behind the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs in the division race.

PITTSBURGH ENTERED THE OFFSEASON WITH DECISIONS TO MAKE

At the very least, the Pirates management went into the offseason needing to figure out a way to close the 8.5-game gap between themselves and the two NL Wild Card teams.
Pirates
There was much talk about Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington pursuing pitching. At one point, the Pirates were reportedly hot after Chicago White Sox lefty Jose Quintana.
Talk was also hot at one point in regards to Pittsburgh trying to deal away former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen for prospects. This would possibly signal that the team was looking to contend a couple of years down the line.
Clearly, the Bucs needed to do something. The status quo was not going to work out. Huntington either had to pull off a deal or two aimed at pushing the current team back into Wild Card contention, or he had to start rebuilding.
In the end, the GM accomplished neither. The Pirates were unable to either acquire Quintana or deal away McCutchen.

OFFSEASON ADDITION AND SUBTRACTION DOESN’T ADD UP

The one positive accomplishment of the offseason was the re-signing of their own free agent starting pitcher Ivan Nova.
The losses from last year’s third-place club don’t seem all that big on the surface, but they absolutely took away from the team’s veteran depth. Reliever Neftali Feliz, pitchers Ryan Vogelsong and Jeff Locke, and bench position players Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce are all gone.
Coming into the fold is veteran right-handed pitcher Daniel Hudson, who turns 30 years old early in spring training. Hudson worked his way back from missing nearly three full seasons to become a reliable reliever the last two years in Arizona. Over 134 games he allowed 139 hits in 138 innings, with a 129/47 K:BB ratio.
If Hudson stays healthy, he could make up for the loss of Feliz as skipper Clint Hurdle‘s primary setup man.
But these were the only moves of any real significance made by a team that finished with a losing record. Replace the setup man and keep the pitching rotation together. That’s it.

CAN THE PIRATES CONTEND WITHOUT MOVES?

For the Pirates to get back to playoff contention, they are going to need a return to All-Star form from McCutchen.
Pittsburgh is also going to need a leap forward in production from a pair of youngsters in right fielder Gregory Polanco and first baseman Josh Bell.
Pittsburgh is also going to need all three of their potential young stud starting pitchers to stay healthy. Gerrit ColeJameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow making 30+ starts each would go a long way toward a Wild Card berth.
Even with all the right answers from their in-house players, the Bucs are not likely to catch the Cubs this season. They will need all those right answers just to battle for a postseason berth.

THE ‘CUTCH’ QUESTION

What if McCutchen continues to struggle, losing even more trade value? He turned 30 years old in October and is in the final guaranteed season of his contract. There is a reasonable $14.75 team option for 2018. How should the club approach that option if he deteriorates further?
If the Pirates were going to deal McCutchen, the offseason would have seemed the time to do it. A contender could then have watched him acclimate in spring training, and then plugged him into their starting lineup from the beginning.
The failure of management to generate any real news of significance this offseason, one way or the other, could come back to haunt the Pirates. Not just in the 2017 season, but possibly for years to come.

Colorado Rockies All-Time 25-Man Roster

The Colorado Rockies were born when the city of Denver was granted an expansion franchise by Major League Baseball in 1991. The club then began play in the National League West Division in the 1993 season.
Over the ensuing quarter century the franchise has not experienced very much on-field success. They have yet to capture a division crown, and there have been just three trips to the MLB postseason.
Early in their history, from 1995-97, the Rox treated their fans to three consecutive winning seasons. This has been the only time they have produced that long a stretch of winning baseball.

THE BLAKE STREET BOMBERS

The 1995 team was an offensive juggernaut that finished in second place, just a game short of a division title. But those Rockies captured the NL Wildcard to become the first Colorado team into the playoffs.
Nicknamed the “Blake Street Bombers”, they were led by four men who each cranked more than 30 home runs. The Rockies would lose in that 1995 NLDS by 3-1 to the eventual World Series champion Atlanta Braves.
After that brief run of success it would be a long decade before Colorado would contend once again.

THRILLING RUN TO THE WORLD SERIES

In 2007, the Rockies set a franchise record by winning 89 games during the regular season. The club finished just a game off the division-winning pace of the Arizona Diamondbacks, tied with the San Diego Padres.
The Rockies then hosted San Diego in a one-game play-in to determine who would get the lone NL Wildcard berth. It would prove to be perhaps the most dramatic game in team history.
Colorado jumped in front early, but the Padres put up a five-run inning in the top of the 3rd to take a 5-3 lead. The hosts kept chipping away, and took a 6-5 lead into the top of the 8th inning. But San Diego tied it up on a two-out RBI double by Brian Giles.
The two teams fought into extra innings before the Padres finally broke through in the top of the 13th with a pair of runs. San Diego then turned the ball over to one of the greatest closers in the history of the game, Trevor Hoffman.
Instead of rolling over, the Rockies fought back. The first three batters got to Hoffman for a pair of doubles and a triple to tie it up, and then a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jamey Carroll brought home the game-winner.
Those Rockies rode the excitement and momentum of that rally all the way to a World Series berth. First they swept the Philadelphia Phillies 3-0 in the NLDS, then the division rival Dbacks in four straight in the NLCS.
Then in the franchise’ only Fall Classic appearance to date, Colorado was swept out in four straight games by the Boston Red Sox.

TOUGH PLAYOFF LOSS, THEN COLLAPSE

Two years later, the Rockies returned to the postseason. That 2009 club set the franchise record by winning 92 regular season games, finishing three games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In the NLDS, the Rockies were taken out 3-1 by the defending World Series champion Phillies. It was a bitter defeat. With the series knotted at 1-1, the Phils captured each of the final two games in Colorado by one run, with both games coming down to the final inning.
The Rockies fell to 83 wins the following season, and have not experienced a winning campaign since. Entering the 2017 season, Colorado has experienced six straight losers. However, some exciting young talent has the club and its fans believing that streak of futility is about to end.

TOUGH CHOICES AND APOLOGIES

Putting together the Colorado Rockies All-Time 25-Man Roster was not as difficult as some other teams with a longer, more storied history has been.
Still, there were a few tough decisions at the back-end of the pitching staff and position player lists. In the end, I went with just a 10-man pitching staff. Fact is, that is a generous number when you examine the history of this team.
The usual “apologies” segment includes a bunch of players who were in contention for those back-end roster spots.
Current young stud Jon Gray just hasn’t been around long enough or shown enough yet to crack the list. Other arms left out were Huston StreetJose JimenezBruce Ruffin, and Rafael Betancourt. Also missing are Curt LeskanicRex BrothersChad BettisAdam OttavinoKevin Ritz, and Matt Belisle
So who did make this roster? As you will see and can probably already anticipate, there are a bunch of mediocre arms, but some explosive bats. Let me know who you would have named, and who you would have left off your own roster.

Sunday Sermon: Are Catholic Schools ‘Better’ Than Public?

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See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ” ~ St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians (New Testament, Colossians 2:8)

It’s a question that does not have a simple answer: are Catholic schools “better” than public schools here in the United States?

You will hear and read many Catholic school parents and students make the claim that they are indeed better in every way.

But you can also find many proponents of the American public school system who will claim that there is nothing inferior about the education they provide.

There have been a number of formal studies made on the issue. Mai Miksic with the CUNY Institute for Public Policy took on the question in his June 2014 piece “Is the ‘Catholic School Effect’ Real“?

Miksic’s piece concludes that “there is no lack of rigorous research…indicating a possible Catholic school advantage.”

However, Miksic also correctly points out that many proponents of Catholic schools point to simplistic statistics such as higher standardized test score results achieved by their students.

Education is, in the end, about much more than test scores.
And a system that works for one student is not necessarily going to work for another. One thing that we know about our kids is that they are not cookie cutter products.

No matter what argument that you want to make for or against Catholic schools, there is one area of education that is far greater in those institutions. One area that the vast majority of Americans agree upon.

In a June 2016 survey by the Gallup organization, a full 89% of Americans said that they believe in God. If given the choice of “not sure”, the figure remains overwhelmingly high at 79% who are believers.

In research conducted by the respected Pew Research Center, their “Religion Landscape Study” found that over 70% of Americans today still identify as Christian.

If your kids attend Catholic school, they are going to learn about God, about Jesus Christ, and about a whole host of other Christian ideas.

Gaining a respect for the truth that God exists is vital for a child’s appreciation of his or her special place in the world. Learning the teachings of Jesus Christ in a proper setting provides an introduction to foundational principles to guide them through life.

Public schools in today’s America are allowed to teach about religions, but they are not permitted to teach religion. They begin from the false premise that all religions are the same or equal, and that to teach one as more “true” than others is prejudicial at best, and simple indoctrination to fantasy at worst.

This is not the way that it always has been here in America. There was a time – a long, long time – when teaching the precepts of the Christian faith was a vital part of every American child’s education.

Only in the previous century, when so-called progressives began to gain control of American academic institutions and made inroads into the court systems of our country, was God largely banished from public classrooms.

No matter what is taught in schools, a sound religious home life is important for children. It is the parents responsibility to educate their kids from the youngest age. That education must include a strong faith component.

We all come to our faith at different times and in different ways. Despite my own Catholic education through the entirety of grade school, high school, and even college, my faith was not an important part of my life until recent years.

There are no guarantees. Just because your child attends Catholic schools does not mean that they will become a model citizen. It does not mean that they will automatically make all good choices, that they will never sin.

It certainly does not mean that they are “better” than kids who attended public schools.

But on the whole, the numbers don’t lie. Your kids are generally going to be better and more fully educated at a Catholic school.

National test scores, high school graduation rates, college acceptance and attendance, and a variety of other educational areas all favor a Catholic education for your kids.

There is, of course, a cost for this education. Catholic schools are not free.

Tuition is high in many cases. That can be a challenge for many families who would, except for this one major drawback, prefer to send their kids to Catholic schools.

This is one reason that school choice is such an important issue, and that the area of school vouchers is such an important one for folks to educate themselves on.

This is the beginning of Catholic Schools Week. The theme this year is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service.”

All during the week, schools and parishes across the country will be involving their students and communities with activities in this theme.

If you are the parents of a child preparing for their school years, or the parents of a child who is currently attending public school, take the time to look into the possibilities offered by your local Catholic school.

I have personally had the experience of attending Catholic schools, and of sending my children to both Catholic and public schools. There have been good and bad experiences at both. In my opinion, the good of the Catholic school experience far outpaces the alternative.

Phillies Rebuild Now Largely Completed

The Philadelphia Phillies have suffered through five consecutive non-winning seasons. 
The last time that the club fielded a winner was with the franchise record 102 victories of the 2011 campaign.
Phillies leadership spent much of the last three years turning the final pages from the previous championship era. With the trade of Carlos Ruiz and the buyout of Ryan Howard‘s contract, those final pages have now been turned.
The club has traded veterans for prospect packages. There have been high draft picks resulting from the losing campaigns. These have combined to provide a vastly improved farm system.
Some of those highly ranked young acquisitions and prospects have begun to emerge in the big leagues already.

REBUILDING ASSETS ALREADY HERE

In the rotation, Aaron NolaVince VelasquezJerad EickhoffZach Eflin, and Jake Thompson have all made their debut.
In the every day lineup, the club has made a longterm commitment to outfielder Odubel Herrera. First baseman Tommy Joseph appears ready for a full-time shot as well.
Phillies
Top prospect lists are being released for the 2017 season by a number of respected evaluation sources. These lists almost universally show shortstop J.P. Crawford, catcher Jorge Alfaro, and outfielder Mickey Moniak as the club’s top three prospects.
An examination of the club’s current prospect depth reveals a number of intriguing players beyond that trio.
Outfielders Roman Quinn and Nick Williams and pitcher Ben Lively in particular could emerge during the upcoming 2017 season.
In addition to what is already here, the Phillies will have the 8th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft this coming June. And there is a very real chance that veteran starting pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and/or Clay Buchholz could bring back yet another decent piece in trade this coming summer.

REBUILD IS OVER, BUT VITAL STEPS REMAIN

The fact is that any “rebuilding” player who is likely to help the Phillies become a contender again within the next 2-3 years is already here. They can now be found either on the current roster or in the minor league system.
Much of the 2017 and 2018 seasons will be about the Phillies giving as many of the young players as possible a legitimate opportunity. The kids need a real chance to prove whether they can indeed contribute to a contender.
But the “rebuild” portion of the program is largely over. The players are here. It is now about them getting that shot, and at least a handful of them proving that they belong.
There will be two more steps that will be pivotal to actually contending. Those steps will come through trades, and through players added via free agency.

THE SUCCESSFUL PHILLIES REBUILD OF MY YOUTH

I grew up with the 1970’s Philadelphia Phillies teams, beginning to follow the club closely after the move to Veteran’s Stadium in 1971.
After fielding winning teams from 1962-67, including nearly winning the 1964 NL pennant, a similar rebuilding period was required. The club was going through that period as I began to follow them.
Phillies
Larry BowaGreg LuzinskiMike Schmidt, and Bob Boone were not necessarily the club’s top prospects in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
Bowa had been a scrawny shortstop signed as an amateur free agent back in 1965. Boone was picked by the Phils in the sixth round in the 1969 MLB Amateur Draft.
Schmidt was the club’s second round pick in the 1971 MLB Amateur Draft. He was chose after the selection of righty pitcher Roy Thomas in the first round. Only Luzinski, taken in 1968 at 11th overall, was a first round draft pick.
If Baseball America or MLB Pipeline had been around then, a Phillies top prospects list would have included the likes of Thomas, outfielder Mike Anderson (6th overall pick 1969), and lefty pitcher Mike Martin (5th overall 1970).
The point is that not every first round pick or highly ranked prospect is going to work out. Some lesser prospects, such as Bowa and Boone, will emerge to become vital to the team’s success.

1980 CHAMPS KEY TRADES AND FA MOVES

In 1972, a swap of talented starting pitchers saw the Phillies send right-hander Rick Wise to Saint Louis for left-hander Steve Carlton.
Between the years 1975-78, the Phillies under GM Paul Owens made key trades. Position players such as Garry MaddoxBake McBrideManny Trillo, and Greg Gross were brought on board. Pitchers like Dick RuthvenTug McGraw, and Ron Reed were acquired. These players each proved vital to winning the 1980 World Series.
In 1978 and 1979 the Phillies signed Pete Rose and Del Unser, adding pivotal players to that World Series mix via free agency.
The modern-day Phillies have now largely completed the rebuilding portion of their return to contention program. The prospects will all sort themselves out over these next couple of years. Some will emerge, some will fall back, and some will be dealt away.
Now comes a just as important time for GM Matt Klentak and club president Andy MacPhail. They must make the trades and sign the free agents who will pull it all together into a contender once again.