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Member Questions of the Week of May 24, 2010

Meredith McKinney of Castele Rock, CO asks: “How do you see the Supreme Court being reshaped with the new justices appointed? What can conservatives do to stop the trend of activist judges?
How justices affect the Court dynamic depends in part on their personalities, Heritage expert Robert Alt said at The Bloggers Briefing last Tuesday. In other words, not all activist judges have equal impact on Court outcomes. That’s why conservatives should be particularly concerned about a nominee like Elena Kagan, whose past comments suggest she might have activist tendencies. Because Kagan has a reputation for being intelligent, collegial and persuasive, she might be able to appeal to swing justice Anthony Kennedy and convince him to change his vote on key issues. Of course, intelligence, collegiality and persuasiveness are positive traits in a judge — but they’re not the most important. Above all, justices should possess fidelity to the Constitution. To ensure they do, conservatives need to know the Constitution themselves. And the best place to learn about U.S. founding principles is right here. So, keep reading!

Raymond Ramsey of Cave Creek, AZ asks: “Could you please explain the new Arizona anti-illegal immigration law?” OUR ANSWER: Arizona’s law authorizes state police engaged in a lawful stop, detention or arrest to request documentation from those whom they have reason to believe might be in the country illegally. Amendments to the measure, also signed into law,┬áspecifically prohibit using race, color or national origin as a factor to determine whether a reasonable suspicion exists that the person is unlawfully present in the U.S.┬áSome critics have suggested it preempts federal law, but that’s really not the case. Some applications of the law might raise novel issues that haven’t been definitively resolved by the federal courts, but most provisions simply build on existing laws and don’t plow much, if any, new ground. After all, it’s already a federal crime to be in the U.S. without proper documentation. This law simply makes it an Arizona state crime, as well. More importantly, it grants state officials the power to enforce what national officials aren’t enforcing when it comes to immigration — the rule of law. Heritage expert James Jay Carafano said it this way: “Arizona has acted because of a massive failure of the federal government to secure our national borders. The state now has the obligation to act responsibly in the course of implementing the law.”

Tim Kane of Tyler, TX asks: “The federal government is increasingly concerned with obesity. I’d like to know if food stamp recipients are more or less likely to be obese than the rest of us … Is government policy in some way encouraging obesity?” OUR ANSWER: According to Heritage expert Robert Rector, considerable evidence indicates that the Food Stamp program has the counter-productive effect of increasing obesity. For example, a recent study funded by USDA found that low-income women who participate in the Food Stamp program are substantially more likely to be obese than women in households with the same non-food-stamp income who did not receive food stamps. Over the long term, food stamp receipt was found to increase obesity in men, as well. While other research has failed to confirm this link between food stamps and obesity, the possibility that this program has harmful effects remains quite real.

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