Category Archives: Law

Gorsuch And The Administrative State

Along with the “liberals” on the court, he just struck a blow against it. As Will says, it would be nice to see the conservative justices see the light. But I suspect many conservatives will rail against him, calling him a “liberal,” “soft on crime and illegal aliens.”

[Update a while later]

This seems related: The SEC’s administrative judge scandal. I’d love to see this sort of thing struck down as unconstitutional. Same with the IRS tax court.

The New Commercial Space Bill

Brian Weedon analyzes it, on Twitter.

It looks like a significant improvement over the current situation. It’s worth noting that in moving regulation to the Commerce Department, it could set the groundwork for a U.S. Space Guard. There have been times in history in which the Coast Guard was under Commerce.

[Late-morning update]

The Bridenstine era at NASA (finally) begins.

I think he’ll be one of the best administrators in recent history. I should add that Rubio’s (and others’, like Bill Nelson’s) statement that NASA should be run by a “space professional” are historically ignorant. Jim Webb was not a “space professional.”

The DNC’s Lawsuit

The legal term for it “is bats**t crazy.”

Either the Dems really are nuts (not beyond the realm of possibility; Trump has driven many so far around the bend they need a JWST to see the bend from there), or this is a desperate fundraising ploy. Or (of course) both.

[Update a few minutes later]

The DNC is “on the verge” of a nervous breakdown? I think that ship sailed months ago:

Democratic strategist (apologize for that rancid term) Julius Epstein, looking justifiably anxious on Shannon Bream’s show Friday night, tried to argue this was a great opportunity for the Democrats to expose folks like Manafort and Kushner through discovery.

Good luck with that. Discovery in this matter would be disastrous for the Democratic Party. Wait until their leaders have to go on the stand to explain why the FBI wasn’t allowed to scrutinize the DNC servers that were supposedly invaded by the Russians. A raft of Democrat political factotums (Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, etc.) who made sweetheart deals and escaped true investigation by the FBI, perhaps even Hillary herself, will find themselves facing serious cross-examination for the first time. This civil trial would be curiously reminiscent of the OJ civil trial when the real truth came out. Wouldn’t you love to hear Strzok and Page deposed? How about Susan Rice?

Expect this to be dropped long before discovery.

The House Freedom Caucus

They’re the only ones with any guts in Congress, unafraid to point out the obvious:

In addition to the potential crimes connected to the Steele dossier and FISA abuse, the lawmakers believe that the leaking of classified information, Clinton’s concealment of campaign payments to an opposition research firm, and Lynch’s threats to an FBI informant mentioning “reprisal” if he came forward with anti-Clinton information in 2016 also warrant investigation. The informant had provided the Bureau with information on the Uranium One scandal involving the approval in 2010 to sell roughly 20 percent of American uranium mining assets to Russia.

“We write to refer the following individuals for investigation of potential violation(s) of federal statutes,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter released by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). “In doing so, we are especially mindful of the dissimilar degrees of zealousness that has marked the investigations into Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, respectively. Because we believe that those in positions of high authority should be treated the same as every other American, we want to be sure that the potential violations of law outlined below are vetted appropriately.”

Having real consequences for Democrats’ abuse of power would be quite the novel approach.

Commerce And SSA

I flew back to London yesterday from Bratislava (cheap non-stop flights from there, compared to Vienna) and I woke up to see that Vice-President Pence has announced a fairly significant policy change:

Space situational awareness data is currently provided by the Defense Department through organizations like the Joint Space Operations Center. The new policy, Pence said, would free up the military “to focus on protecting and defending our national security assets in space” by giving those responsibilities to the Commerce Department.

“This new policy directs the Department of Commerce to provide a basic level of space situational awareness for public and private use, based on the space catalog compiled by the Department of Defense,” Pence said.

The policy will also support partnerships between the government and private organizations for sharing space situational awareness data, technical guidelines and safety standards. “That will help minimize debris and avoid satellite collisions during launch and while in orbit,” he said.

This would not be the first time that Commerce has taken over a potential regulatory role once considered for the FAA. At the National Space Council’s February meeting, the council approved several recommendations, including those that would give Commerce responsibility for licensing “non-traditional” space applications, something the FAA had long been advocating to handle.

There are some interesting implications to this. A little over a third of a century ago, there was a bureaucratic battle over which federal agency would do launch licensing. In a meeting with Ronald Reagan, Transportation secretary Elizabeth Dole made a better case for her department than Malcolm Baldrige, then Secretary of Commerce, did for his, and the DoT got the job, which was later codified in the Commercial Space Launch Act, with the Office of Commercial Space Transportation reporting to the department secretary (first head of it was Courtney Stadd).

In the early 90s, under a “streamlining government initiative,” VP Al Gore demoted the office, putting it under the FAA, something that many (including me) criticized at the time, and for which we have been advocating reversal ever since (including a recommendation in my book). Now it would appear that not only the FAA, but the DoT itself, has lost a turf war (and I don’t mind).

But more interesting to me is the implication for an ultimate U.S. Space Guard. SAA was one of the primary drivers in advocating such an organization, as Jim Bennett described in The New Atlantis. The Coast Guard was at one time under the Department of Commerce, and the seed of this new organization could in fact grow into a more comprehensive one, perhaps with constabulary powers, and even over time uniforms and an academy.