Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy speaks before administering the oath of office to Judge Neil Gorsuch as U.S. Supreme Court associate justice in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg)

Anthony Kennedy Hands Trump The Keys To The Future

Today’s Agenda

  • Anthony Kennedy’s retirement
  • Civility
  • Tech IPOs
  • The trade wars
  • Companies bulking up and trimming down

Kennedy v. Employment

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The U.S. Supreme Court just ended one of its most conservative terms in history. Turns out it was just a taste of what’s coming.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was mostly conservative but occasionally supported some key liberal issues, is retiring. President Donald Trump gets to pick his replacement, in probably the country’s most significant political moment since Trump’s election. Trump has promised to pick a conservative replacement, and some on his shortlist will likely take positions to the right of Kennedy on abortion, criminal justice, LGBTQ rights and more. It certainly seems unlikely a Trump conservative will share Kennedy’s sensibilities – which, as Noah Feldman writes, led him to afford the same dignity to gay people as to, say, Exxon Mobil Corp.

Kennedy wrapped up his career by repeatedly casting the fifth conservative vote in a series of bitterly divided decisions with long-lasting implications. Future terms, with an even more conservative justice, will likely both deepen the court’s divisions and push it rightward.

In a ruling last week, for example, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch questioned the “dormant commerce clause,” the century-plus-old precedent that states can’t regulate interstate commerce, points out Ramesh Ponnuru. If another Trump appointee joins their cause, then the court could be on the verge of establishing a dangerous new paradigm in which “grasping state governments [find] creative ways to extract rents from interstate commerce,” Ramesh warns.

And today, in a blow to the labor movement, the court ruled public-sector employees can’t be made to pay union dues. This wasn’t a shocker – not like yesterday’s rubber-stamping of Trump’s travel ban (in which Kennedy conveniently dropped his “dignity” standard, as Noah points out). It may not even kill public-sector unions, which have designed workarounds to prepare for this moment. But it also seemed to lay the groundwork for a future court to find private-sector unions are illegal, too. Kennedy’s retirement makes that even more likely.

Today’s union ruling also demonstrated conservatives are now fully in charge of deciding what constitutes “free speech” in America, Noah writes. That, and a whole lot more, are apparently in the president’s hands now.

Civility V. Trump

Given how comfortable Trump’s supporters in the media, politics and rank-and-file are with incivility, it’s tempting for Trump’s critics to vent frustration in equal measure. But doing so won’t help turn the tide, Bloomberg’s editors write: “[Trump’s] elevation of the worst of American politics requires that the rest of us try harder to prevent its triumph.”

Tech IPOs v. Terribleness

A couple of years ago, Shira Ovide crunched the numbers and found tech IPOs were fairly terrible – no more reliable for investors than flipping a coin. Now? They’re not so terrible – which could explain why there are suddenly a lot more of them:

Trump v. Free Trade

Trump has spent the past couple of days attacking Harley-Davidson Inc. for moving some manufacturing overseas in response to Euopean tariffs that are retaliations for pointless tariffs by Trump. This is the equivalent of shooting the friendly-fire victims of your own weapons – and there will be many more if Trump doesn’t come to his senses soon, write Bloomberg’s editors.

On the bright side, Harley’s move overseas is just an example of how the market tends to rebalance itself whenever people decide to launch dumb trade wars, writes Tyler Cowen. As long as things don’t get too far out of hand, then the damage to the global economy may not be very great, Tyler says.

Chart Attack

Big food companies such as Conagra Inc. and General Mills Inc. are making risky – but smart –  deals to survive a new era, writes Tara Lachapelle.

General Electric Co. is finally starting to break itself up. Now it needs to be a little more like Berkshire Hathaway Inc., writes Brooke Sutherland.

Speed Round

Hey, remember how Trump was supposed to lower drug prices? How’s that going? – Max Nisen

Why global strongmen aren’t going away. – Pankaj Mishra

The Trump-Putin summit will be a giant waste of time. – Leonid Bershidsky

Trump’s bullying of Iran’s oil buyers will create an oil-supply hole that Saudi Arabia can’t fill. – Julian Lee 

China can’t bail out Iran’s economy. – Geneive Abdo

We make it impossible for people to effectively recycle waste. – Faye Flam 

London may have found a way to make Uber behave. – Alex Webb 

How the Gates Foundation’s public-school experiment went horribly wrong. – Cathy O’Neil

ICYMI

Germany’s out of the World Cup early. Stocks recoiled after the White House turned the Trade War switch on again. The House failed to pass an immigration bill again.

Kickers

World Cup stoppage time is wildly inaccurate.

Take a trip down the Mississippi to see how Trump’s trade war will hit Louisiana.

Ten fiction editors on what they’re reading this summer.

Here are the best books about cults (I have read way too many of these).

Note: Please send suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

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