Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Worth Fighting For

The death of Antonin Scalia resurrects the decision he wanted us to forget: his protagonist’s  role in the Supreme Court decision that gave us eight years of George W. Bush.2014supremecourt640

As in November 2000, Republicans are again trying to hijack the Constitution and undermine the democratic process.

Back then, Gore did in fact win the presidency, not only in popular vote nationally, but also by the electoral vote in Florida. Republicans railroaded Bush into office. In November 2000, a consortium of major news media investigated and found that Gore had won in Florida. They did not push the “send” button when the Democrats gave in for fear that the institution of the U.S. government would be in jeopardy if they protested the Supreme Court’s decision.

Now Democrats face another monumental choice:  to push and rally public opinion for confirmation and then to make sure they have an electable candidate for president.

One Supreme Court justice still serving and now praising Scalia said that the Bush v. Gore decision was tantamount to a coup d’etat. (The comment was made off the record.)

Get over it. It’s so old by now,” Scalia said once and again when people harped on the majority-Republican Court’s decision to hand the presidential election to Bush. As Scalia is eulogized as a brilliant and a charming friend by those who knew him and even those who disagreed with him, look no further than Bush v. Gore. We will not soon “get over it.” That decision will be forever tied to Scalia and his dominant role on the Court in the late 20th and early 21st Century.

Scalia, the man who championed decisions based on the letter of the Constitution, did not have a constructionist explanation for his vote in that shattering decision — the Court majority chose its favorite to be the 43rd president of the United States.

Republicans now argue that the appointment of a new justice should be “left to the people,” meaning the 2016 presidential election should be a referendum on the Supreme Court.

They would thus declare that President Barack Obama — chosen by a majority of the people — is not entitled under the Constitution to appoint a new Supreme Court justice.

President Obama’s authority to replace Scalia is a settled matter by virtue of the 2012 presidential election. And he says he will fulfill his part of the bargain of popular democracy and will nominate a Supreme Court justice.

Democracy is worth fighting for.

I side with Paul Krugman’s modest suggestion: “Maybe we should all start wearing baseball caps that say, ‘Make America governable again.’ “

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The Health Care Vote Should be Easy for the Supreme Court, but…..

The New York Times continues to use its opinion pages to lay out a legal case for protecting Health Care Reform. How different is mandated health insurance from the Medicare checkoff on our pay stubs every week?

Will politicized anti-Obama justices listen to reason and solid arguments? Doubtful, but perhaps Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing voter, will.

[We note that justices Scalia and Thomas, deeply in the political bag, were feted at an anti-health care bill dinner the same day the Supremes decided to take on the case—where is the outrage?]

Harvard Law Professor Einer Elhauge was a perfect OP-Ed choice to say that the pending Supreme Court decision on health care has precedents and should be clear-cut. Elhauge is the founding director of the Petrie-Flom Center in Health Law Policy.

“The crux of the constitutional complaint against the mandate is that Congress’s ability to regulate commerce has never been understood to give it the power to force Americans to buy insurance, or anything else. But not only is there a precedent for this, there is also clear support for it in the Constitution. For decades, Americans have been subject to a mandate to buy a health insurance plan — Medicare. Check your paystub, and you will see where your contributions have been deducted, whether or not you wanted Medicare health insurance.”

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Justices Scalia, Thomas Honored at Fundraiser Sponsored by Health Care Reform Opponents | Truthout

by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report
A few hours after the Supreme Court justices met last Thursday, November 10, to consider hearing challenges to the national health care overhaul, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were the honored speakers at a fundraiser for a conservative legal group that was sponsored in part by health care reform opponents involved in the litigation.

Justices Scalia, Thomas Honored at Fundraiser Sponsored by Health Care Reform Opponents | Truthout.

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Health Care and US

First comes the news—The U.S. Supreme Court will decide–four months before 2012 presidential elections-whether President Obama’s health care reform measures are constitutional in whole or in part.

Next comes the frank question: Will the Supreme Court make a decision based on the merits, or will this politically divided legal entity go with the flow of its Republican-influenced majority?

The New York Times had some interesting points to make on the subject after reporting the fact. The health care bill has brought sweeping changes to the United States already that will be difficult to roll back.

The Times reports:

“No matter what the Supreme Court decides about the constitutionality of the federal law adopted last year, health care in America has changed in ways that will not be easily undone. Provisions already put in place, like tougher oversight of health insurers, the expansion of coverage to one million young adults and more protections for workers with pre-existing conditions are already well cemented and popular.
And a combination of the law and economic pressures has forced major institutions to wrestle with the relentless rise in health care costs.”

The first question at hand for the Supreme Court is to consider the fact that the bill forces people to buy health insurance. It does so in many ways as a compromise replacement for what should be in place—universal health care. But in the twisted, vested-interest, insurance-industry controlled, Republican Congress, we’re stuck with the bill we’ve got. And the same uninformed Americans who “think” that President Obama is an alien and that man never landed on the moon also buy the notion that universal health care is akin to godless communism.

That would be fine if we were talking about a loony fringe – but we’re talking about a crowd that comprises most of the Republican Party.

Another question: if one part of the bill is struck down, should the entire bill be declared unconstitutional?

Back then to the Supreme Court. What faith do we have in a humanistic outcome? Who knows. This is not quite the Rehnquist Court of November 2000 that engineered the closest thing to a coup that the United States has ever seen—throwing the presidential election to George W. Bush.

But this is a court with four stalwart Republican votes, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, and four liberal Democrats: Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer. The odd man out as always is the middle-range Anthony Kennedy, who will likely decide whether health care stands and how the result plays out in the presidential election.

In a beautiful world, the choice should be on the merits. The New York Times in an editorial maps out the reality of the choices.

“This can be a highly politicized court, and, for the public good and its own credibility, it must resist that impulse. If the court follows its own precedents, as it should, this case should not be a close call: The reform law and a provision requiring most people to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty are clearly constitutional.”

Problem is that the similarly configured Renquist court did lose credibility. How will it rule this time?

Good luck to us all.

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American Democracy: Will you be able to vote?

If you enjoyed the presidential election of 2000, you’ll have a great time with what’s coming in 2012. Governors and state legislatures around the nation — color them red states — are taking mighty efforts to further gerrymander the people’s right to vote.

"No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent."

Led by Florida and Texas, Republican-dominated state legislatures are seeking to demand picture IDs and positive proof of citizenship before people can vote. The decision will certainly curtail the voting ability of the poor and undereducated. All will be forced to pass a litmus test before they can vote.

This amounts to little more than a poll tax, papered over with blather about non-existent dangers of fraud– a further attempt to stop voting by the underclasses. It is nothing new in Florida, which decided the 2000 election, and where unseen hands wrongly expunged thousands from the electoral rolls as possible convicted felons. Leaving hanging chads aside, reports in the Sunshine State showed the tendency to find more faulty voting machines and systematic intimidation at minority polling places than elsewhere.

The Brennan Center for Justice
reports that 21 million American citizens do not have picture IDs, although there is no constitutional reason why that should stop them from voting.

“Spreading fear of a nonexistent flood of voter fraud,” writes The New York Times, Republican legislators “are demanding that citizens be required to show a government-issued identification before they are allowed to vote. Republicans have been pushing these changes for years, but now more than two-thirds of the states have adopted or are considering such laws. The Advancement Project, an advocacy group of civil rights lawyers, correctly describes the push as ‘the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights in a century.’ “

Are you paying attention? In the United States –where a coalition of working class African-Americans and Hispanics tipped the scales to elect Barack Obama in 2008 — state legislatures are about to restrict voting rights. Who do you think this organized Republican campaign is intended to benefit?

First came a landmark, highly partisan and criticized 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2010 that allows unregulated corporate financing of elections, the work of a conservative bloc that also decided the outcome of the 2000 election. With this latest decision, the wealthiest can spend as much money as they want to sway the minds of the collective electorate. We will see a personality-driven, lie-besmirched campaign for the presidency and Congress in which untold billions — six or seven billion it is estimated — will be spent in the battle for victory.

If you’re not fired up about the problem, try some quotations over history about democracy: one of my favorites is from John Adams [to get even more passionate about our democracy, watch or watch again the HBO TV miniseries about John Adams. Next go see the current film, The Conspirator, a well-wrought film about the rule of law.]

Here’s what Adams said:
“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

Get fired up and prove that John Adams was wrong. Fight laws that will restrict voting rights.

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