The Score: Import Taxes, Redoubled Jeopardy, Weed Laws, Uranium Mining, Legislative Districts

This week on The Score – What happens if the United States raises import taxes on Mexican goods? How are Americans protected against double jeopardy? Have the Virginia Attorney General’s views on marijuana law changed? We continue our chat with Sam Peak and Rachel Tripp.

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New, Then Old
In the first part of this week’s episode of The Score, we have a couple of newly recorded interviews. Later in the show, we revisit some recent (and older) conversations on topics that were in the news in the past few days.

First, we pick up where we left off last week, with our conversation with two Young Voices contributors, Sam Peak and Rachel Tripp. We had a wide-ranging chat about immigration policy, tariffs, and President Trump’s visit to Europe for the D-Day anniversary, among other things.

Rachel Tripp Sam Peak Young VoicesSam Peak has recently written “Missouri and Kansas could do more for rural residents’ health care needs” and “Kansas leaders should take action to protect Dreamers” (both in the Kansas City Star), “If NFL Players Can Get Paid, So Should Kidney Donors” (Foundation for Economic Education), and “We need to keep top international talent, but Trump spouse visa plan would drive it away” (USA Today). He is on Twitter as @tiger_speak.

Rachel Tripp recently contributed articles to Spiked (“Misogynists are a minority” and “#MeToo is making life difficult for women on Wall Street“) and to the Foundation for Economic Education (“Why Data Privacy Is a Controversy That Shouldn’t Exist“). She is on Twitter as @retripp.

U.S.-Mexico Trade
Simon Lester Cato Institute trade policyAlthough the United States seems to have reached an agreement with Mexico on immigration controls, there is still the specter of future tariffs on Mexican goods entering our economy. Earlier this month, I spoke to Simon Lester, a trade policy analyst at the Cato Institute in Washington, where he is associate director of the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies. asked him what the ramifications of higher import taxes on goods from Mexico would be. He said there’s a simple answer and a more complex answer.

Lester recently asked “Is the Trump Administration Pushing for a Cold War with China?” (Cato at Liberty) and “Will the New NAFTA Boost Digital Trade?” (The National Interest). He has also written “Trump on Tariffs: Consistent, and Consistently Wrong” (New York Daily News) and the Cato White Paper, “The Ideal U.S.-U.K. Free Trade Agreement: A Free Trader’s Perspective” (with Daniel J. Ikenson and Daniel Hannan) — a topic we addressed on The Score last week with Ryan Bourne.

Simon Lester is on Twitter as @snlester.

Double Jeopardy Wins
Supreme Court Gamble double jeopardyJames Holzhauer may have caught the attention of millions of TV viewers with his skills at navigating daily doubles and double jeopardy, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that accused criminals are not free from being tried twice for the same crime if both a state and the federal government prosecute them.

In the case of Gamble v. United States, the Court decided by a vote of 7-2 that the “dual sovereignty” doctrine withstands constitutional scrutiny. Only Justices Neil Gorsuch and Ruth Bader Ginsburg disagreed.

In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote:

Insofar as the expansion of the reach of federal criminal law has been questioned on constitutional rather than policy grounds, the argument has focused on whether Congress has overstepped its legislative powers under the Constitution. [citation omitted] Eliminating the dual-sovereignty rule would do little to trim the reach of federal criminal law, and it would not even prevent many successive state and federal prosecutions for the same criminal conduct unless we also overruled the long-settled rule that an “offence” for double jeopardy purposes is defined by statutory elements, not by what might be described in a looser sense as a unit of criminal conduct.

Justice Gorsuch begins his dissent:

A free society does not allow its government to try the same individual for the same crime until it’s happy with the result. Unfortunately, the Court today endorses a colossal exception to this ancient rule against double jeopardy. My colleagues say that the federal government and each State are “separate sovereigns” entitled to try the same person for the same crime. So if all the might of one “sovereign” cannot succeed against the presumptively free individual, another may insist on the chance to try again. And if both manage to succeed, so much the better; they can add one punishment on top of the other. But this “separate sovereigns exception” to the bar against double jeopardy finds no meaningful support in the text of the Constitution, its original public meaning, structure, or history. Instead, the Constitution promises all Americans that they will never suffer double jeopardy. I would enforce that guarantee.

Gorsuch’s views align more with those of Charlottesville attorney Elliott Harding, who wrote a friend-of-the-court brief with the Rutherford Institute

I interviewed Harding last September for The Score and it seems timely to run that audio again this week. (Elliott Harding is on Twitter as @Harding4VA.)

From the Archives 1
Attorney General Mark Herring Charlottesville September 2014Also in the news this week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced he was going to seek legislation to decriminalize marijuana use and possession. This differs from his position in the recent past, as you will hear in this interview with him from September 2014, just five years ago. Herring had just received an award and spoken to the crowd at the Charlottesville LGBTQ pride celebration.

At the time, I reported:

Asked specifically if he opposes drug-law reform efforts, Herring said flatly: “I don’t support legalizing all of those dangerous drugs like heroin and opiates that are killing and claiming so many lives of young people.”

With regard to marijuana legalization, Herring hesitated and added, “I’m not trying to be evasive. I know a couple of states have begun to take those steps and before Virginia takes those steps I think we ought to see what [are] the experiences in the other states and then assess it.”

That position is almost identical to that of Herring’s predecessor as attorney general, Republican Ken Cuccinelli.

In February 2013, when he was running for governor, Cuccinelli explained to an audience of Albemarle County Republicans that “having data from a couple of states, whole states, that go down this path may not be good news but it will be interesting and it will be something we can learn from,”

Cuccinelli added that legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington state is “a peculiar subject but I do think it’s important that states try some things they think are appropriate and whether the federal government approves or not, the rest of us watch and learn.”

Before we talked about drug law reform in this interview, I asked him about how he had changed his mind about marriage equality. Since June is traditionally gay pride month, both parts of this conversation from the archives are timely this week.

From the Archives 2
The Supreme Court was busy this week. It upheld a lower court ruling that Virginia’s legislative districts were designed improperly and pushed back against an effort by Republicans in the House of Delegates to restore their original districts from 2011. The Court decided the case on the narrow grounds that Republican members of the House of Delegates lacked standing to sue.

Michael McDonald gerrymandering redistricting As it happens, in 2010, I had an opportunity to ask an expert in legislative redistricting about how Virginia would put its districts together after that year’s census. At the time, Michael P. McDonald taught political science at George Mason University; he is now associate professor of political science at the University of Florida. I spoke to him in August 2010.

With some prescience, McDonald suggested there could be a role for the courts:

“That’s one thing that the voters of Virginia can know to be true,” he said, “that the federal courts will step in if the state government can’t produce a redistricting plan.”

The courts, he added, “will basically draw their own map or they will accept a map that was not considered during the legislative process.”

McDonald is co-editor (with John Samples, who has been a guest on The Score) of The Marketplace of Democracy: Electoral Competition and American Politics (2006) and co-author, with Micah Altman and Jeff Gill, of Numerical Issues in Statistical Computing for the Social Scientist (2003). Look for him on Twitter as @ElectProject.

No Uranium
Scott Melnbye UraniumThere was one other Virginia-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court this week. The justices ruled that Virginia’s law against uranium mining was constitutional and could continue to be enforced. (The case is Virginia Uranium, Inc. v. Warren.)

Earlier this year, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, I met Scott Melbye, the executive vice president of the Uranium Energy Corporation. He was at CPAC to promote uranium mining in the United States, which – he argues – would have benefits both for energy users and for national security. I also asked him to comment on Virginia’s law, in the brief excerpt reproduced here. For the full interview, look here.

Production of next week’s episode of The Score is still in progress. Check back here for updates and feel free to make comments or suggestions.