Monday, August 3, 2015

Supremely Awful Arguments: Constitutional Nonsense (Part 1)

Arguments the Justices sometimes make.
Pure nonsense. [And that's euphemistic.]

We hear plenty of these arguments from talk show hosts, from "expert" commentators, and from the Justices themselves--either fuming or ecstatic about some constitutional ruling. They are spewed by both conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, on and off the bench. But only when those arguments support their respectively preferred results. They are otherwise disregarded--as they should always be.

To be clear. This is NOT about whether a particular constitutional ruling (e.g., on same-sex marriage, campaign finance, abortion rights, gun rights) is legally correct or sound policy. This is solely about the bona fides of some of the arguments repeated incessantly as though they were compelling. In fact, they are utterly without merit in constitutional cases. Again, pure nonsense.

Let's begin with this favorite:
This matter should be left to the states

Where to start with this one?

First, it totally begs the question.
It begs the question at the very heart of virtually every constitutional issue for which it is raised.
That question is whether a constitutional right is involved in the first place.
If such a right is involved, then it's certainly not up to the states whether to honor that right or violate it.
[N.B., we are discussing United States Constitutional rights. The states are generally free to protect a claimed right under their own State constitutions or their own laws--whether or not the same right is protected under the federal constitution or other federal law. We are here addressing arguments made about United States Constitutional matters at issue at the United States Supreme Court]

It's certainly not up to the states whether to honor or violate freedom of speech, or free exercise of religion, or the right to counsel, or the right to trial by jury, or the prohibition against forced self-incrimination or against cruel and unusual punishment--or any other right protected under the United States Constitution.

Nor is it up to the states whether to treat persons equally on the basis of race, or gender, or religion, or ethnicity, or any other classification that the United States Constitution protects against discrimination.

No, the states don't get to choose when it comes to United States Constitutional rights.
If such a right is involved, the states are not free to violate it.
So the threshold question--before leaving it to the states--is whether such a right is involved.
If no such right is involved, then the matter can be left to the states.

Stated otherwise, to argue that the matter should be left to the states is to presume that no United States Constitutional right is involved. But that's the essential question to be decided.

And who decides that?

Second, under our system, the courts decide whether a constitutional right is involved and whether it has been violated. Ultimately, regarding the United States Constitution, it's the United States Supreme Court that has the last word.
Not the states.

States don't get to decide whether same-sex marriage, campaign spending, abortion rights, gun rights, or any other claimed right or liberty is protected under the United States Constitution.
States don't get to choose whether they can abridge, infringe, or deny a claimed right that is protected under the United States Constitution.

No, in our system, the judicial branch decides those matters--i.e., judicial review.
And the ultimate authority in making such decisions under the United States Constitution is the United States Supreme Court--i.e, Chief Justice John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, the Federalist Papers.

So, in cases involving a claim of right under the United States Constitution, it is of course pure nonsense to argue that the issue should be left to the states.
Nonsense to argue that the states get to construe the United States Constitution for themselves.
Nonsense to argue that the states get to decide what is a United States Constitutionally protected right.
And, if it is such a protected right, nonsense to argue that the states get to decide whether to honor or violate it.
Unless, of course, we are to do away with the Supreme Court's power of judicial review.

And unless we do that....

No, whether something is a United States Constitutional right--and thus must be honored--is not up to the states.
Whether it's gun rights or campaign spending that conservatives and Republicans generally favor.
Or the right to choose or rights of the criminally accused that liberals and Democrats generally support.
Whether those rights must be recognized and protected under the United States Constitution is a matter for the United States Supreme Court, not the states.

Now, with all the foregoing in mind, consider this:
A case at the United States Supreme Court to interpret the United States Constitution and to decide whether something is a United States Constitutional right and whether such a right has been violated.
An argument is made that the matter should be left to the states.
Left to the states--not the United States Supreme Court--to interpret the United States Constitution?
Left to the states--not the United States Supreme Court--to decide whether or not something is right protected by the United States Constitution?
Left to the states--not the United States Supreme Court--to decide whether to honor or violate a United States Constitutional right?

Yes, there is a certain appeal to the "leave it to the states" argument in our federal system of government in which the states do retain sovereignty over many matters.
But not about the meaning of the United States Constitution, and not about honoring or violating a United States Constitutional right.

So leave it to the states?
(Yes, I'm now repeating myself for emphasis about this utterly nonsensical argument that's repeated ad nauseam.)
That begs the entire issue of whether a United States Constitutional right is involved.
That must be answered first.
If the question is answered in the affirmative, then the states certainly don't have a choice.
Only if it's answered in the negative--only if there is no right protected under the United States Constitution--may it be left to the states to decide whether or not to recognize such a right themselves under their own laws.

Then there's the closely related argument:
Leave this matter to the "people"--i.e., to the voters

As before, not if a United States Constitutional right is involved.
Whatever was said above about the "leave it to the states" argument applies here as well.
Just as nonsensical.

No, whether something is a United States Constitutional right is not subject to a vote by the people.
And no, if something is a United States Constitutional right, it's not subject to a vote by the people to honor or violate it.
Again, unless we are to do away with the United States Supreme Court's power of judicial review.

And yet, we hear these arguments repeatedly. By those who don't know any better and, worse, by those who do or should.

Next Supremely Awful Argument: It's not mentioned in the Constitution.
We'll deal with that in the next post.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Saratoga Highlights 2014 (Top Ten: #'s 6 - 10, & a Human!)

In the last 2 posts we looked at Highlight #'s:
1, V.E. Day, winning the Travers
2, Itsmyluckyday, winning the Woodward

3, Moreno, winning the Whitney
4, Wise Dan, winning the Bernard Baruch
5, Palace, winning the Forego

On to #'s 6 to 10--and that Human.

Highlight # 6
The Big Beast, winning the King's Bishop

Yes, very big, and his previous win at Saratoga a month earlier was beastly. So trainer Tony Dutrow decided to promote his 3 year old potential star from that 6 furlong allowance race to this Grade 1 at an eighth of a mile longer. He did not disappoint.
(click any photo to enlarge)
The Beast Gaining
Adam Coglianese

The Beast's Neck
at the Finish
Lauren King c/o AC
Kept relaxed behind front running Fast Anna and Wildcat Red, the Big Beast got his cue from Javiar Castellano into the stretch. By the final pole, it was clear that The Big Beast had the momentum. At the finish, he had pulled a lengthening neck ahead, leaving all the others behind, including odds-favorite Coup de Grace and Noble Moon.

Highlight # 7
Wicked Strong, winning the Jim Dandy

Wicked Strong
Chased by Tonalist
Bob Mayberger
Six weeks earlier, he finished 4th in the mile and a half Belmont Stakes. Now, at Saratoga, in the Jim Dandy at 3 furlongs shorter, Wicked Strong faced Belmont winner Tonalist once again, as well as Commanding Curve (2nd in the Derby), Kid Cruz (1st in the Dwyer), and several other talented 3 year olds.

Wicked Strong
Pulling Away
Adam Coglianese

Unlike in the Belmont where he paced several lengths behind, this time Wicked Strong was kept close to the front runner by rider Rajiv Maragh. Equipped with blinkers for the first time, he took the lead from Legend at the turn and headed home. Tonalist, moving into 2nd, gave chase. But the Jimmy Jerkens trainee never gave way and was a powerful 2 and 1/2 lengths ahead at the wire.

Highlight # 8
Stopchargingmaria, winning the Alabama

Being Chased
Chelsea Durand c/o AC
She was 2nd best as a 2 year old the year before at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Spinaway. But she began the 2014 meet with a 5 length romp in the Coaching Club Oaks. She returned 4 weeks later for the Spa's premier race for 3 year old fillies run at a long 1 and 1/4 miles.

1st at the Finish
Lauren King c/o AC

Off as the even-odds favorite, the Todd Pletcher trained Stopchargingmaria was kept close to pacesetting Size by rider Johnny V. By the stretch she had taken the lead and the front runner was moving backward. But several others were giving chase, including a steadily closing Joint Return, followed by Miss Besilu and Fortune Pearl. At the finish line, she had held on by half a length, and Owner Mike Repole was back in the winner's circle with his wife Maria for who the filly was named.

Highlight # 9
Close Hatches, winning the Personal Ensign
Close Hatches
Wiring the Field
Adam Coglianese

It was a field full of winners. Stakes winners: Antipathy (Shuvee), Majestic River (Molly Pitcher), Fiftyshadesofhay (Ruffian), Belle Gallantey (Delaware Handicap), Princess of Sylmar (Kentucky Oaks, Alabama, etc.)--and Close Hatches. Let's just say the 4 year old filly was on her way to 4 in a row, including 3 Grade 1's.

Close Hatches
Finishing the Romp
Lauren King c/o AC
Despite the talented challengers, the fact is that none of them could challenge her at all on this day. Out in front at the start of the 1 and 1/8 mile Grade 1 for 3 and up fillies and mares, the Bill Mott trained Wonder Woman under Jockey Joel Rosario just destroyed the rest of them in a performance to behold. She stayed in front through the distance, and reached the finish line 5 lengths before anyone else.

Highlight # 10
Condo Commando, winning the Spinaway
Condo Commando
Loving the Splash
Chelsea Durand c/o AC

The Rudy Rodriguez trained filly won her 1st race--a 5 and 1/2 furlong sprint for 2 year olds a month earlier at Saratoga--by 12 lengths! Now, in the 2nd race of her career, the Grade 1 for juvenile fillies over 7/8ths of a mile, she made it look even easier.

A 'Splash-tastic'
13 Length Win!
Adam Coglianese
After a rough start out of the gate, jockey Joe Bravo took Condo Commando to the lead and well...For most of the 1 minute and 24 seconds and change, she put on a veritable solo performance. The talented Angela Renee, By the Moon, Darling Sky, and others, simply tried to finish in the same zip code.

As Tom Durkin roared in his very last call of his career at Saratoga, "Splash-tastic!"

Highlight Un-Numerable
Tom Durkin's
Last Day
Adam Coglianese
Tom Durkin, Winning at Saratoga for 25 Years

As legendary as Saratoga Race Course itself.
Tom Durkin, NYRA announcer since 1990, retired from the booth on August 31 last year, ending his storied career with another storied call in the Spinaway Stakes. (See above.)

Tom Durkin
Adam Coglianese
If the winner of that race was "splash-tastic," then Durkin has been "Fan-tastic" for all his fans who have loved his being so "Call-tastic" for so brilliantly calling some 80,000+ races over the years.

Yes, race fans--and the millions more not-so-fans who nevertheless tuned in to the classic races each year--will sorely miss that "mellifluous baritone voice and his vivid imagination" (as the New York Times' Joe Drape put it). But for those of us who visit Saratoga during the coming meet (and for some of us that's almost daily), there will be The Tom Durkin Replay Center at the race course where some of Durkin's classic calls can be heard while watching videos of the races.
Bob Mayberger
Tom Durkin
The Voice
Bob Mayberger

It has really been a treat--no, a feast!--to listen to Tom Durkin all these years. Even if I had heard The Voice just once, calling Rachel Alexandra's victory in the 2009 Woodward, that would have been enough for a lifetime.

Wishing you all the best of the best Mr. Durkin--which is exactly what you gave us.

So that's Saratoga Highlights 2014.
Ready for the meet? Opening Day tomorrow, Friday July 24.
Hoped this helped get you psyched for a great 40 days worth of the best.

Thanks again to Bob Mayberger and Adam Coglianese (as well as Lauren King and Chelsea Durand) for all those great photos they provided.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Saratoga Highlights 2014 (Top Ten: #'s 2 - 5)

In the last post we looked at Highlight #1, V.E. Day, winning the Travers.
Let move on.

Highlight # 2
Itsmyluckyday, winning the Woodward

The Woodward, year after year one of America's premiere races--and my favorite--for 3 year olds and up, has a storied history. Some of the greatest races won by some of the greatest champions. Havre de Grace and Rachel Alexandra and Curlin and Lawyer Ron. And before them, there was Ghostzapper, Mineshaft, Lemon Drop Kid, Cigar, and Holy Bull among others.(See e.g., previous posts on the Woodward in 2011, in 2012, and in 2013.)

Last year's Woodward was a rematch between 4 year olds Moreno and Itsmyluckyday. Moreno had scored a few weeks earlier in the Whitney (see Highlight #3 below), but this time Itsmyluckyday was triumphant after a gruelling stretch run.
(click to enlarge any photo)
Itsmyluckyday(center) pressing Moreno
Bob Mayberger
Under rider Paco Lopez, Itsmyluckyday pressed Moreno throughout the race, and was tailed himself variously by Long River, Romanish, and Prayer for Relief. Then, just when it seemed the front runner might pull away, Itsmyluckyday came from 4 lengths behind, drew even, and ultimately won the duel by half a length.
Itsmyluckyday by Half a Length at the Line
Adam Coglianese
It was a huge victory for trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. who had not won at Saratoga in eight years, and for his prize colt who had just recently returned after a year out with a pelvic fracture.

Highlight # 3
Moreno, winning the Whitney

As a 3 year old, he led the field in the 2013 Travers until he was nipped at the finish by a hard charging (and eventual 3 Year Old Champ) Will Take Charge. (See Will Take Charge, Winning the Travers.) But he returned to the Spa in 2014 to defeat all comers in the even richer Whitney Stakes. (Last year, the purse for the Whitney was a million and a half.; the Travers was a million in 2013.)
Moreno Running His Race Up Front
Adam Coglianese
With Junior Alvarado aboard, Moreno proved to be the best of a talent packed field that again included Will Take Charge, as well as Palace Malice, Prayer for Relief, Last Gunfighter, Romansh, Departing and Golden Ticket.
Moreno Fends off Itsmyluckyday
Bob Mayberger
In accord with trainer Eric Guillot's plans, Moreno was allowed to run his race--up front and fast--and this time, at a furlong shorter than the Travers, he was able to fend off a different hard charging challenger, Itsmyluckyday, by more than a length. (As we discussed above in Highlight #2, the Moreno-Itsmyluckyday rivalry continued in the Woodward.)

Highlight # 4
Wise Dan, winning the Bernard Baruch

On the last weekend of the meet, the 7 year old Champ, two time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, returned to Saratoga again triumphant. In his previous visits, he won the Fourstardave in 2 consecutive years. But this time, it was just a few short months since undergoing colic surgery.
Wise Dan Takes the Lead
Bob Mayberger
Trainer Charlie LoPresti, owner Morton Fink, and rider Johnny Velazquez were all understandably emotional at the extraordinary courage and resiliency of their noble athlete. The fans were too.
Wise Dan Challenged by Optimizer
Bob Mayberger
Apprehension filled the crowd when Wise Dan reared in the gate and nearly unseated Johnny V. But they roared with delight when the champ took the lead from Five Iron and Sayaad in the stretch. And the decibels rose even higher when Optimizer put their favorite to the test.
The Champ Would Not Be Denied
Adam Coglianese
Wise Dan  would just not give. He held on to win by a nose. And he did so in just a few short seconds shy of the turf course record for the mile and 1/16 set in 1991.

Highlight # 5
Palace, winning the Forego

On that same amazing Woodward Day of Labor Day weekend, fans were treated to another triumphant return, This time it was New York bred 5 year old Palace, who had won the Vanderbilt a month earlier in the meet. This $20,000 claim by trainer Linda Rice has turned out to be one of the most brilliant adoptions in recent horseracing history. With the Forego, Palace had earned over a million and a quarter since he was claimed.
Takes the Lead
Bob Mayberger

Though he had already proven he was a top quality sprinter in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt, there was some doubt how he would handle the extra 1/8 of a mile in the 7 furlong Forego. At the top of the stretch, he passed Weekend Hideaway and Zee Bros for the lead. But Big Business, Vijack, and Capo Bastone were making their move from the rear.
 Palace by 3 and 1/2
at the Finish
Adam Coglianese
Palace apparently didn't mind the extra distance one bit. The closers couldn't catch him. Not even close. With Cornelio Velasquez at the reigns, he extended his half length lead at the top of the stretch to 3 and 1/2 at the finish line.

In the next post, Highlights 6 - 10, and a human!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Saratoga Highlights 2014 (Top Ten: #1)

The summer wind
came blowin' in
from across the sea
--Sinatra (Johnny Mercer, Henry Mayer, Hans Bradtke), SUMMER WIND
(link: Summer Wind)

Yes, the summer wind has finally arrived. Warm with the chance of pop up thunderstorms. And Saratoga's 40 days starts this week.
To get mentally, emotionally, and psychologically ready for the best races, horses, jockeys, fans.... (you know the rest), here's New York Court Watcher's annual look at highlights from the year before.
(click any photo to enlarge)
They're off in the 2014 Travers
Adam Coglianese
So with the help of some spectacular photography care of Bob Mayberger and Adam Coglianese--veritable feasts for the heart and soul--here are my humble selections for last year's Top Ten. (#1 was hinted above.)

Highlight # 1
V.E. Day, winning the Travers

It was a full field of highly talented 3 year olds: Bayern (1st in the Haskell), Commanding Curve (2nd in the Kentucky Derby), Kid Cruz (1st in the Dwyer), Mr. Speaker (1st in the Belmont Derby), Tonalist (1st in the Belmont Stakes), Wicked Strong (1st in the Jim Dandy), and a few other previous winners--including V.E. Day, who had won his third in a row 4 weeks earlier at Saratoga in a come from behind stretch run in the Curlin Stakes.

V.E. Day made it 4 in a row with the Travers.
(click to enlarge any photo)
Another Stretch Run for V.E. Day
Bob Mayberger
early on, it was Bayern in front with Tonalist and Wicked Strong in tow. V.E. Day was near the back of the pack in 6th or 7th. At the turn, Bayern fizzled out, Wicked Strong moved into first with Tonalist on his tail.
But just as it looked like Jim Dandy winner Wicked Strong was going to take it, Javier Castellano pulled V.E. Day to the outside and he picked up momentum. By the final pole, V.E. Day had passed Tonalist, he was still gaining, and everyone knew it would be close.
V.E. Day Surging
Adam Coglianese
Then, right at the finish line, V.E. Day got his nose in front of Wicked Strong for a thrilling end to the Midsummer's Derby.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens might have felt a bit bad for his stand out Wicked Strong. But not too bad since V.E. Day, the 19-1 longshot winner, was also part of his barn. 
19-1 V.E. Day Noses Out
Stablemate Wicked Strong
Bob Mayberger
In the next post, we'll move on to the next several highlights.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Saratoga Highlights, the 2014 Meet

Saratoga Highlights--Summer 2014 

Now in Preparation!!!
[actuallyTop Ten #1 now posted!]

A Few Days Away From This Year's Meet.
A perfect time to look back at the best of last year to help get psyched--yes I know, we're already psyched!

2014 MEET
And Bob Mayberger and Adam Coglianese have already provided their magnificent photos!!!

In the meantime, it's always a good time to review years past. So...

Click here to review the 2013 Highlights