States Vie for Pro-Life Martyrdom in Effort to Capture SCOTUS Attention

2000px-Prochoice.svg

“Over 45 years ago, on January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court handed down an unambiguous 7-2 decision in favor of a woman’s right to make conscious choices about her own body. In the landmark case of Roe vs. Wade, the majority opinion cited the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments, concluding that that the Constitution protects an individual’s ‘zones of privacy.’ The Court found that this protected zone is “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”

Case, quite literally, closed. Right? Wrong. Because as long as there are political movements led by men, women’s body parts and general freedoms will always be on the negotiating table – with, and most often without, our consent. Just a few years after the SCOTUS decision, writes Bennett Roth of Roll Call:

‘By 1980, the ‘right-to-life’ movement was a key pillar of the conservative coalition that helped elect Ronald Reagan, an anti-abortion Republican president whose administration sought to impose restrictions on groups receiving family planning funds.’

On the road to victory, Reagan carried the Evangelical Christian agenda and moved it right into the White House. And as a country, we’ve had a hell of a time shaking its hold on our national politics.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Advertisements

GOP’s 2016 SCOTUS Artifice A Short And Long-Term Strategic Failure

“The bottom line: when the Republican Party took its unified February gamble to stonewall replacing Scalia, the reasoning was already tough to follow. Moreover, the offered logic wed them permanently to the position. After all if you claim you’re exercising stubbornness in the name of democracy, it’s hard to shift gears if say, your candidate is a maniac, has no chance of winning the election and/or SCOTUS decides not to play along with the reliable ideological divide.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Kasich’s Garland Confusion Reminds Voters He’s The Clumsy GOP Establishment

Kasich

“In a bizarre way, Kasich’s tenuous grasp of Garland talking points puts him firmly in step with the general Republican establishment, which has demonstrated vacillating, illogical “strategy” since Antonin Scalia died last month. The fingers in the ears approach to the universally respected Garland is hard to comprehend. The party is clearly worried about Trump as standard bearer and its many implications, including any SCOTUS choice he might render. Why then are they willing to roll the dice, risking a Trump, Clinton or Sanders recommendation? Where is the bravado coming from?”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Scalia’s Own Words Challenge Republican Intransigence On SCOTUS Nominee

Scalia

“If David Axelrod is to be believed, Scalia himself would recoil at the idea of a year-long SCOTUS vacancy. Appearing on CNN this week, the former Chief Strategist of President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns reminisced about a 2009 conversation he had with Scalia over the then-pending replacement of David Souter. Axelrod recalls Justice Scalia saying, ’I have no illusions that your man will nominate someone who shares my orientation…But I hope he sends us someone smart.’

I never believed it possible to agree with Antonin Scalia on anything, but it’s another 2016 first. Let’s have someone smart. Soon. Floating any other option is just stupid. More evidence for the rest of the planet that our great experiment in democracy has devolved into a stagnant sideshow mocking its own structure.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

He’ll Be Back: Antonin Scalia’s 2016 SCOTUS Racism Could Be Record Setting

scalia

“There are a number of important cases to be decided by the court in 2016 in addition to Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. Issues regarding legislative gerrymandering, collective bargaining and capital punishment are among a series of bellwether determinations before the justices. Given Scalia’s continually vocal opposition to leveling the playing field according to true democratic principles, we can probably expect him to come down on the wrong moral side of each decision.

Enjoy the judicial-free calm before the winter storm.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

SCOTUS to Decide in 2014 If It Will Continue to Confer Personhood Rights on Corporations (November 13, 2013)

Hobby Lobby

In September 2009, the right-leaning Supreme Court of the United States rendered the controversial Citizens Uniteddecision. In its judgment, the SCOTUS determined that “Political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections.” In other words, business entities were conferred the same First Amendment rights that you or I would have with regard to promoting or disparaging our chosen candidates. With its decision, the Supreme Court willfully opted to ignore two essential differences:

  1. Corporations lack two feet and a heartbeat.
  2. Regular folks typically do not have access to the same millions (or billions) that a company desiring to wade into politics can leverage, rendering the playing field inherently unequal.

Legitimate fears that the nation was on a slippery legal slope that would eventually confer full personhood on corporate entities commenced. Independent Bloomberg editors ran a piece in June of 2012 entitled, The Supreme Court’s Cowardice. The writers pointedly concluded: “The First Amendment ain’t beanbag. What undermines the ruling’s legitimacy is its flights of fancy about the world of political finance. In an assertion of shocking naivete, Kennedy, writing for the court’s 5-4 majority, said corporate independent campaign expenditures ‘do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.’”

Well said. But as we approach the end of 2013, it seems that Court may decide to undertake another key case in the New Year that will provide it with an opportunity to reverse its gradual and unconscionable determination that the Bill of Rights extends to DBAs. Alternatively, as many liberals and independents justifiably fret, SCOTUS may instead cement corporate claims to privileges and rights historically reserved for people by taking another look at the First Amendment. Only this time, the Supreme Court may weigh-in on a company’s freedom of religious practice.

The New York Times ran an article this week with the rather boring title, Court Confronts Religious Rights of Corporations. Don’t let the dull syntax fool you. This is a big deal and we should all be paying attention. Centered around Hobby Lobby, a successful chain of retail craft stores, writer Adam Liptik characterizes the complaint as follows:

“The stores play religious music. Employees get free spiritual counseling. But they do not get free insurance coverage for some contraceptives, even though President Obama’s health care law requires it.

Hobby Lobby, a corporation, says that forcing it to provide the coverage would violate its religious beliefs.”

Apparently, a federal appeals court agreed with Hobby Lobby’s owners, paving the way for the issue to be decided anew by SCOTUS. After all, the justices were the inspiration for the latest convocation of First Amendment rights to a corporate ledger. Per the Times piece, “the United States Court of Appeals for the 10thCircuit said it had applied ‘the First Amendment logic of Citizens United.’”

It’s important to note that the Supreme Court is still deciding whether or not it will hear arguments in the case. Let’s hope they do. If not, the 10th Circuit’s ruling will become de facto law. Academics as well as regular peons (us) are concerned about the expanding implications of a right wing view of companies as people. Per the Times: “‘This is a perfect storm,’ said Richard Garnett, a law professor at Notre Dame, adding that it is also a worrisome one. ‘Debates about campaign finance in Citizens United and abortion and Obamacare,’ he said, ‘could distort the court’s analysis of religious freedom.’”

It may seem obvious to most of us, but corporations are NOT human beings. They cannot bleed, do not experience emotions and in many cases, are seamlessly formed and dissolved without giving pain to anyone at all. What’s next? Do we arm Hobby Lobby with cannons to randomly shoot at customers it deems offensive to its moral code? If Hobby Lobby commits a crime, do we invite Target, Walmart, Home Depot and Best Buy to comprise a jury of its peers?

Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is.

Justice Roberts’ Health Care Decision: Just Say Yes to the Constitution (June 29, 2012)

It’s been a humdinger of a week for the old Supreme Court of the United States, hasn’t it? Fresh off another closely watched decision, and the unanimous vote to retain the central plank of Arizona’s abysmal 2010 immigration law, the nation hung in suspense as the court undertook a review of the hotly debated healthcare reform legislation otherwise known as Obamacare.

The pessimistic amongst us (including this writer) feared the worst. The right-swinging SCOTUS would surely shoot down the so-called “individual mandate” portion of the Affordable Healthcare Act, the piece that offers a step toward universal coverage while ultimately attempting to lower the burden of the insured to cover so many unsubsidized emergency room visits. Hell, there was every reason to suspect that the entire baby would be tossed with the proverbial bathwater. The partisan rancor which has engulfed Capitol Hill and all but quashed anything akin to rational, nonpartisan debate (name the topic) has migrated over to the Supreme Court Building in recent years. If the justices voted along two-party lines, which is no longer as preposterous a notion as it once seemed, then this thing could easily have gone 5-4 against.

But then an amazing thing happened: Chief Justice John Roberts played the spoiler. To underscore the unanticipated nature of Robert’s vote, consider that no less a bland source than Wikipedia has this to say about the predictability of the judge’s vote: “It is popularly accepted that Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito comprise the Court’s conservative wing.”

Now it is granted that Roberts’ decision to uphold the constitutionality of the individual mandate differed from the opinions offered by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. While the latter viewed the provision of the Affordable Healthcare Act through the prism of Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce, Roberts offered that the mandate is actually a tax. Tomato, tomatoe – the law was upheld and people with pre-existing conditions can look forward to a day when they are released from the insurance penalty box. The reform is by no means a perfect piece of legislation and if anything, many Americans are left with the impression that President Obama did not go far enough to overhaul the nation’s inefficient and cruel system, but my goodness, if moderate steps are erased, what are the chances of a more revolutionary effort succeeding?

So what did happen with Roberts anyway? Was his a vote cast to mitigate the public impression that the SCOTUS is too politically partisan to continue assessing objective questions of law and liberty? Was it a closet endorsement of the President’s attempt to overhaul a greatly broken drain on our domestic spending (which a true fiscal conservative would support)? Was the surprise decision a confirmation of Robert’s genuine belief in the government’s right to tax?

These are questions that need to be pondered if we are to anticipate future outcomes from the Court, and we ought to remain concerned with the late partiality of certain justices toward pleasing a political base. But you know what? This is a week to celebrate the increasingly rare opportunities when we can take pride in our democratic system, the checks and balances installed by our ancestors. There are moments when it all works as it should. This is one of them.