Tag Archives: Supreme Court

SCOTUS Term Means One Thing: We need Obama

Here’s why an Obama victory is so important. And here also is why Obama thinks he can tack right for the general election and still win an enthusiastic progressive vote.

It’s the Supreme Court, baby!

The Supreme Court term just ended with 17 5-4 decisions.  Keep this in mind: Just one conservative appointment (likely replacing libs. Stevens or Ginsberg) cancels out the part of Justice Anthony Kennedy that sometimes drifts left.

The number of 5-4 cases is less than last year by 1/2 which shows that Chief Justice Roberts is consolidating right wing control over the Court.  Roberts’ cohesion brand of administering the Court keeps the Court from drifting farther to the right only because of the four steady moderate/liberal votes, and the  sometimes 5th Kennedy vote.  With one more conservative justice, Roberts could ignore the moderates– Souter, Breyer, Ginsberg and Stevens– and cohere his mark into a long lasting right majority.  Everyone loses here (voter exclusion, national ID and star chambers anyone?) as a result.

The only 5-4 decisions that went the way of the moderates (some say liberal) have to do with the:

1) death penalty (unconstitutional for rape of a child);  and 2) Gitmo detainees having habeas corpus rights.

On the other hand, 5-4 decisions going the way of the right (no moderates here):

3) gun rights; 4) campaign finance law (millionaires xception)

and consider

6-3 decisions including:

5) voter IDs; 5) international law based rehearing for death row inmate

Here’s the gist.

Without a President Obama appointing 2 pro-constitution/ civil liberties justices, basic liberties that have wavered on the brink in recent years will be lost.

A McCain presidency would do away with habeas; strip important safeguards from potentially innocent inmates; prevent minorities from voting, and skewer elections away from poor ad minority voters and towards the very rich.  

Reason enuf. 


More Guns in D.C.. Brilliant!

In striking down DC gun laws, the Supreme Court today has taken a big step towards privatizing justice on the streets of DC and such other violent cities as Baltimore, Detroit…

For background, the Supreme Court has finally gotten around to a constitutional question that was relevant in the days of citizen militias but has been an anachronism since the early days of industrialization. And in saying, for the first time, that individuals have the right to bear arms, the Court’s 5-4 conservative majority adds yet another notch to the Bush legacy.  

The Bush legacy diminishes the value of human life.  It also has to do with the neoliberal privatization.  Here’s how. It diminishes the claim that governments has a monopoly on the use of coercive force in society; Now gun holders– in private groups, gangs, and militias may compete against the state on its own turf.  a winning day for Blackwater and other private militias..

Now, analogize America’s cities to Baghdad, and picture them being patrolled by Blackwater and KBR.  Also, picture the dim reality in which families are still sending their sons and daughters, souses and siblings basic protective gear, including bullets.   Given the government’s privatization of war and law enforcement and its meager support for our own troops,  the court’s decision to enhance the power and legitimacy of nongovernmental militias is cause for alarm. 

The Court’s second amendment logic– stretched just a bit– presumes individual troops are responsible for bringing their own tevlar vests, guns, bullets and other resources needed to secure the peace.  This is the logic of the Court’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment: the individual has the right to bring arms to the militia (public or private).  The market shall decide the kind ad amount of bullets and the protective layers in vest, tanks and other patrol vehicles. 

On the other hand, if the “enemy” has funds it can now purchase and possess the best and highest quality arms; notice how the court just switched the competitive advantage to the other side. Analogize back to the streets of baltimore, DC and Detroit, and you see the practical effects of the Court’s decision. Go Crips. Go Bloods,  go MS-13! go BLACKWATER!

Yep, securing the right of potential evil doers to do evil is the Bush way.

Supreme Court Stops Review of Executive Powers over Border Fence

When the Supreme Court refused to stop Secretary of Homeland Security today from ignoring more than 30 mostly environmental laws pertaining to the construction of the border fence with Mexico, the Court, in effect, gave Michael Chertoff’s plenary powers to Chertoff’s ‘waiver authority’ over the border.  By refusing to hear the case on the merits, the Court is also contributing to the Bush Administration’s growing legacy of eviscerating constitutional separation of powers and the rule of law.  In these waning days of the worst presidency ever, this case is yet another example of John Yoo’s failed unitary executive thesis in action

But alas, because the fence deals only with immigration law, long the unwanted stepchild of administrative law; with immigrants the demonized other in american politics since 9/11; and since it deals with only a border fence in a desolate part of Arizona/Senora (San Pedro Riparian National Conservation near Naco), few people will spend much ink condemning this nondecision, but condemnation is what this act today deserves.

But according to Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club spokesperson,

“This decisions leaves one man—the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security—with the extraordinary power to ignore any and all of the laws designed to protect the American people, our lands, and our natural resources.” (NYT David Stout)

When any one human power has such power, that person is a sovereign– a monarchical tyrant who stand outside the rule of law. Such exceptions to constitutional norms should not be countenanced by the Court, and certainly not by the American people.  This is some, horrible legacy being left to the Bush successor and to the american people who will be forced to endure exceptions to constitutional norms tucked away in increasing numbers of of laws, regulations and policy.  

Did Supreme Court “Gin” System for McCain?

Justice Scalia is on record saying he doesn’t want folks to dwell much on the Florida recount and 2000 Bush v Gore decision. Quite the originalist,  and disregard for precedent notwithstanding, the decisions is dead as a doornail just like, Scalia suggests, the constitution itself.

Sure, it unconstitutionally imposed George W Bush on the country for the last 7 1/2 years, framing a presidency upon extralegal and unconstitutional moorings. And in this regard, the administration did not disappoint.

And now, scanning the horizon to see how it might affect yet another presidential election, the Court recently focused its attention on the state of Indiana (Crawford v Marion City Election Bd.).  In the wake of this decision, as the NYT reports, Missouri lawmakers are seeking a constitutional amendment that would mandate proof of citizenship to vote.

If a referendum on this matter is held in Missouri in August as currently planned, and it passes, the vote could swing this key swing state to McCain.  If other nativist state legislature get wind of it, the Court’s Indiana Case will then open the door for other states to similarly disenfranchise racial minorities under the auspices of excluding non-citizens.  

At issue is the desire to exclude noncitizens from the polls. Apparently, the fear of an immigrant casting a vote for president is mobilizing nativists and xenophobes to plan a constitutional amendment mandating proof of citizenship to vote. A passport, birth certificate… many folks don’t possess either.  Once again, immigration is being used as the wedge to exclude minorities from the political system.

If McBush wins Missouri this November, chances are it won’t be because of his compelling policy positions. Rather, it is likely to be because 240,000 mostly African American voters will be denied their vote.  


Supreme Court Hearts Big Brother

Perhaps John Paul Stevens, 88 years old, just signaled that perhaps he is ready to retire, providing yet another reason why this is an incredibly important presidential election.

The Supreme Court just announced its decision (6-3) on Tuesday in the Voter ID case in Indiana, which promises to create some confusion in next Tuesday’s primary voting there. The Case focused on the state’s right to impose voter ID requirements on a voter’s constitutional right to vote. Unlike the literacy test and poll tax, which the Court has deemed to be unconstitutional, the Court this time sanctioned the states to suppress voting (disenfranchising voters) by requiring a government issue photo ID before casting a vote.

Problem here is that 18% do not have such photo identifications; 16% elderly voters do not have the required photo ID and 16% of voters without a college education do not have such a photo ID. Related problems include cost of the ID and cost of the secondary documents needed to get the ID.

In addition to suppressing votes, the photo ID requirement plays into a larger condition exacerbated by Bush’s America: namely a national ID narrative, and Orwellian surveillance state. The Real ID Act, enacted in 2005, requires a “national” drivers’ license that private corporations– like Accenture, Unysis– input personal biographical information into a national database, sells the data to other companies and advertisers as well as shares it with insurance companies and potential employers.

Important firewalls protecting private data are circumvented as individual voters and drivers lose control over their own personal info. In addition, persons and groups of people (like the poor, black and elderly) who are not included in the data base, even more insidiously become the excluded other in society.

The bottom line is that you ain’t nobody in this new world, if Acenture or Unisyss don’t know your bio and medical condition, and if they don’t have your information, you can’t vote, and are not considered a citizen. Is this what Jefferson wanted?

C’mon Nader, Not Now!

Nadar’s just announced plans for the presidency are just plain nuts. The annoucement was self-indulgent and arrogant, which is sad to see.

On the issues, Ralph Nader is as solid and on target as ever. His January 14, ’08 article “What the Candidates Avoid,” accurately sums up the limitations of even such progressive democratic candidates like Obama and Edwards (in January). Nader reminds us about the limitations of the two party system, corporate crime, and structural inequality. He reminds us that corporations have gained an unfair advantage not only over citizens but also over the government itself. He is right.

I was also pleased to see Nader support Edwards earlier this year. Reinforced my own support for Edwards.

I voted for Nader in 2000 from the safe haven of Massachusetts, and when the Supreme Court gave the election to Bush, I didn’t blame Nader for taking votes in Florida. It was clear that Gore had waged a lousy campaign, but had I been living in Florida in 2000, I would have voted for Gore. Sorry, Florida voters who voted for Nader in 2000, you blew it. You served up conditions for a coup that Jeb and his crew just couldn’t ignore.

Nader himself recently said he believed Gore won the election but that it had been “stolen from him… by the (Florida) Secretary of State and Jeb Bush.”

Even in 2000, it was clear that the Bush alternative was dangerous. And seven years later, it is clear we weren’t scared enough. Permanent war, recession, hallowed out government… The constitution is in shambles and corporations are running amuck with what’s left in a way that Naomi Klein captures well in Shock Doctrine.

Here’s the nugget. Politics is as much about judgment as about principle. Nader is great on principle, but lousy lousy on political judgment.

Ralph’s political judgment has always been impeded by righteousness, but his Meet the Press announcement Sunday was too much. Times are unimaginably different now than in 2000, making it plain to see the real difference and distinction between democrats and republicans. Abu Grahb, Gitmo, extraordinary renditions, the Patriot Act, Valerie Plame-gate, telecom immunity, all of which should be sufficient to make the point, but with the incumbent just scrapes the surface.

Now imagine Nader confusing Barack Obama with John McCain, who favors a hundred year war in Iraq, makes deranged Beach Boy jokes about bombing Iran, and has a well documented commitment to deregulation and penchant for corporate lobbyists.

Does he also confuse the incredible difference between having a possible Justice Laurence Tribe in an Obama Administration or a possible Justice Theodore Olsen in a McCain Administration. Stevens is 87, Kennedy is 71 and Ginsburg is 74. The new president will have an unprecedented opportunity to reshape the court or reinforce the current conservative trend. How many more deregulators does Nader want to see appointed to the Court over the next 4-8 years?

Hey Ralph, What’s up? Exactly how bad do things need to get?

Why not join progressive minded voters in holding Obama’s feet to the fire (he’ll need pressure from the left to force him to do many things he might otherwise not want to do), but join us!