Archive for supreme court ruling

Nightmare on First St! US might look very different in 2014 thanks to conservative Supreme Court justices


nightmare on first street Supreme Court of the United States
1 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20543

There were two articles in Sunday's Los Angeles Times that had me reaching for two bottles: Pepto Bismol and Jose Cuervo Gold. Both articles were about how the U.S. Supreme Court could very well steer to the right on social issues, one (written by Eric J. Segall) referring to that scenario as "a liberal nightmare."

He's not kidding; We should all be more than a little queasy at the prospects of impending major SCOTUS decisions further eroding what's left of democracy.

First an overview by David G. Savage of what we're up against when the Supreme Court begins its term on Monday:

supreme court cases

Savage describes this as "a clear opportunity to shift the law to the right on touchstone social issues such as abortion, contraception and religion, as well as the political controversy over campaign funding."

Worrisome much?

The Citizens United ruling has already been a windfall for fundraisers. And now the Supreme Court appears poised to allow more of the wealthy few to buy elections. Please read those links, because you will be and have been impacted by the outcome of bad decisions like CU as well as what's next on the agenda:

In other cases due to be heard this fall, the justices are likely to uphold state bans on college affirmative action and block most housing bias claims that allege an unfair impact on blacks and Latinos.

They may also give states more authority to restrict and regulate abortion.

On to the op-ed by Eric J. Segall, a law professor at Georgia State University and the author of "Supreme Myths: Why the Supreme Court Is Not a Court and Its Justices Are Not Judges." He begins his post with the chilling warning, "When the dust settles, if the conservative justices hold sway, Americans could find themselves living in a different country."

He then reminds us that the Citizens United decision "granted corporations and unions the same rights as private individuals to make independent political expenditures." What it did not do is address "the important distinction made in Buckley between groups or individuals giving money directly to a candidate or campaign versus the independent expenditures." My link above explains that in more detail. In short:

[C]onservative amicus briefs are urging the court to abolish that distinction and invoke the 1st Amendment to prohibit the regulation of campaign contributions... [T]his case could be the knockout punch that limits legislative efforts to reduce the corrosive effects of money on political campaigns.

And you thought all that influence the top 1% (coughKochBrotherscough) was bad now. Just wait.

On to the separation of church and state... or what's left of it:

The relationship between government and religious liberty is also at issue this term.... [Conservatives]... want the court to broadly hold that government endorsements of religion never violate the 1st Amendment's establishment clause unless the government is actually coercing religion. Such a finding would create a "coercion test," long the wish of Justice Antonin Scalia, which would allow the government to place religious symbols on public property without limitation and permit overtly Christian (or any other religious) prayers at legislative sessions without any judicial check.

He notes that if Justice Kennedy veers right on this one, "the wall between church and state, a wall that Scalia doesn't think exists, will be dramatically lowered."

gulpNext up: a big, sloppy French kiss-in-waiting to the GOP:

Souter and O'Connor are now gone, and Justices Scalia and Clarence Thomas have repeatedly urged the court to abandon the "undue burden" standard and replace it with a reasonableness test that would give lawmakers much more discretion to restrict abortions... Kennedy is again the key. Although it is unlikely he would vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade, if he turns right even a little bit, the ability of women to obtain safe and affordable abortions might be severely threatened.

Segall ties it all up with a very ugly bow:

Depending on how [Kennedy] votes, this country might look very different at the end of June 2014.

To those of you who continue to believe that elections don't matter, think again. It is the president who chooses Supreme Court justices, so stop whining and get yourselves to the ballot box. And while you're at it, help get out the vote wherever and how ever you can.

Unless, of course, rulings like the ones discussed in this post don't matter to you.



Supreme Court appears poised to allow more of the wealthy few to buy elections


citizens united cartoon smaller

The conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court may very well allow the wealthy few to have even more opportunities to drown out the rest of us.

Yes, again.

More big donors with more money than most of us will see in our lifetimes may get legal permission to pour more of their more money into more political fights and more candidates.

Most of us can't afford to donate huge sums of cash to buy elections, which means the very rich will have even more influence and control over financing campaigns and corporate causes, and therefore, have more say than we do about our lives.

This anti-democratic practice changed our election system for the worse and is destroying what's left of democracy and equal rights. The Supremes' 2010 Citizens United ruling got the ball rolling, and now there's this little bombshell via the Los Angeles Times:

In what may be Act 2 in the decline and fall of campaign funding laws, the Supreme Court appears poised to lift the lid on the total amount the wealthy can give directly to all candidates and political parties.

Increasingly, the money that funds election races for Congress and the presidency comes from a small sliver of the very rich, what the Sunlight Foundation called the "elite class that serves as gatekeepers of public office in the United States." The nonpartisan group has tracked how a growing share of election money comes from the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans.

In the first major case of its new term, the court could give those donors even more clout with lawmakers and their parties. The issue is whether federal limits, not on contributions to individual races but on how much a donor can give to all candidates for Congress or party committees in a particular election cycle, violate the right of free speech.

The current law allows the rich to give millions to super PACs and other groups that pay for "independent" election ads. What they cannot do is give more than $48,600 total to all members of Congress or more than $74,600 to various party committees.

Those restrictions may end.

Guess who's behind the challenge. Just. Guess.

On Oct. 8, the Supreme Court will take up an appeal from the Republican National Committee, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon, who say contributions should be treated as "core political speech."

tadaa3McConnell is facing a primary challenge from a conservative tea partier and is also up against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has been leading him in the polls. So of course he's desperate to do something, anything, to change that.

If SCOTUS decides in his favor, then both political parties could each donate up to $3.6 million which "could be funneled by party leaders into a close race or races, tipping the balance of power in Congress."

Lee Drutman, a researcher at the Sunlight Foundation, said, "The data shows there are more big donors on the right than on the left."

No matter who has the most money to donate, this much is true: Money should be kept out of politics. We need a level playing field so we can have fair elections. All this monetary power and influence by a very few ends up corrupting our candidates and ultimately, the lawmakers and laws that affect every single American.

citizens united dollars are not citizens smaller


Both sides say Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality could doom state laws


gay rights marry who you love

Watch as Rachel Maddow and David Gregory destroy the GOP’s last argument against marriage equality:

Justice Kennedy addressed that issue specifically in his ruling. He says that by denying marriage rights to same-sex couples who have kids, you’re humiliating and demeaning those kids.

By denying their families equal protection under the law by the parents who are raising them and who love them and who make their family. So we can put it in the interests of children, but I think that cuts both ways. And the ruling cuts against that argument. I mean, gay people exist. There’s nothing we can do in public policy can do to make more of us exist or less of us exist.

And you guys for a generation have argued that public policy ought to demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist. But you don’t make any less of us exist, you are just arguing for more discrimination. And more discrimination doesn’t make straight people’s lives any better.

But-- wait for it...

... Legal experts say Justice Scalia was probably right... and I agree.

wait what smaller

And so does Rachel Maddow:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

omg wtf

Here's the rest:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Rachel Maddow:

Scalia "was saying, you realize this ruling means gay people are going to be able to get married, right? You realize that?" Yes, Justice Scalia, we realize that...

The Hill:

Legal experts say the Supreme Court's rulings this week on same-sex marriage send the clear signal the justices are likely to strike down state marriage laws that reach the High Court. [...]

It’s hard to see Kennedy making an about-face and saying it’s not demeaning when a state does it,” [Ilya Shapiro, a senior legal fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute] said.

Scalia saw the same clues in Kennedy’s decision. He wrote a scathing dissent excoriating Kennedy’s reasoning and dismissing the court’s claim that its decision was limited to federal law.

“By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition,” Scalia wrote [...] "As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe..."

As I said at the top of this post, legal experts (and Rachel) say Justice Scalia was probably right, and I agree.

But only just this once.


Marriage equality held up by "tiny-brained folks that went to their last dance still believing professional wrestling is legit"


gay rights fire hose extinguishes bigots

Today’s guest post by the one, the only, Will Durst:

The US Supreme Court must love the nightlife, because they just struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and invalidated California’s Proposition 8, which set off parties in every major city in the America. They were dancing in the streets so long and hard it was raining men… and women. 10,000 kudos to all our friends in the LGBT community for finally upgrading out of societal steerage into economy.

You have survived. Your hearts must be so over the rainbow, both the hearts and the rainbows are having babies right now. Cakes are being baked and balloons blown in your honor as we speak. You are one notarized slip of paper away from joining the heterosexual world in holy matrimony. Congratulations. You now have the legal right to be as miserable as the rest of us.

So sorry you had to wait. The deal is, a lot of bitter old people had to die first. You know. Tiny-brained folks that went to their last dance still believing professional wrestling is legitimate. So maybe this time, the answer to your question “do you really want to hurt me” will be a resoundingly choral “no.”

But that is nothing more than wet towels on the shower floor at the YMCA now, because you are within a hair’s breadth of becoming intimate with the blessed institution of marriage. You are family- almost. And many have shown interest in voluntary commitment to that institution. Good luck. But be careful what you wish for. Don’t want to rain on your parade, but you’ve just entered the wild and wacky world of unintended consequences.

A quick and dirty primer for the wedding deprived:

#1. Bigamy is the crime of having one spouse too many. The same has often been said of monogamy.
#2. When you see a married couple holding hands, chances are it’s to keep from strangling each other.
#3. In the beginning, marriage is a noun. Later on, it’s a sentence.
#4. After a few years, the only thing most couples have in common is they were married on the same day.
#5. Marriage may be a blessed sacrament, but so are the last rites.

And don’t forget, as beautiful and sacred as the start of a marriage can be, that’s how ugly and grotesque the ending can get. The bad news is 50% of all marriages end in divorce. The good news is the other 50% end in death. There’s truth in the old adage that the reason divorces are so expensive is because they’re worth it.

Alimony. Child support. In- laws. Headaches. Jealousy, betrayal, money. Hair in the sink. Puce cabinets. All that to look forward to: plus you are in imminent danger of experiencing direct contact with lawyers. The remakes of that 1934 Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire classic, “The Gay Divorcee” will be legion. But you will make even divorce look fabulous.

So, right now, relax. Tell yourself, “I’m too sexy for any downer talk.” Take a walk on the wild side because you’re coming out to be Dancing Queens and Kings, Just wake me up before you go- go. Her name was Lola. She was a showgirl. Sorry. Couldn’t figure out how to slip that in. And what the hell, join the Navy.

5 time Emmy nominee, Will Durst’s new one- man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG” is presented every Tuesday, at the Marsh, San Francisco. Go to… for more info. Or For discount tickets, use code “boomer.”

BREAKING: Supreme Court rejects bid to stop gay marriages in California


gay rights rainbow equal sign

As expected...

Breaking, via an email alert from the L.A. Times:

The Supreme Court rejected an emergency request to stop same-sex marriages in California, a lawyer said today.

Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., one of the lawyers who challenged Proposition 8, said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy denied a request by Prop. 8 sponsor ProtectMarriage to halt the marriages. Kennedy, who handles such petitions from Western states, did not comment on the denial, Boutrous said.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order late Friday that allowed gay marriages to resume, a move ProtectMarriage said was premature and in violation of procedural rules. The appeals court acted after the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Prop. 8 sponsors could not stand in the place of state officials to defend the measure in federal court.

For the latest information go to


Prop. 8 sponsor petitions to stop same-sex marriages in California


george h w bush, dana carvey not gonna do itThis will never happen.

Via a Los Angeles Times email alert:

ProtectMarriage, the sponsors of Proposition 8, filed an emergency petition to the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday to stop same-sex marriages from continuing in California.

The petition says the decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to permit weddings starting Friday afternoon was "premature."

"When the Ninth Circuit originally put in place its stay to prevent same-sex marriage pending Supreme Court action, it stated clearly that 'the stay shall continue until final disposition by the Supreme Court,' " the group said in a written statement.

For the latest information go to

Good luck with that.


VIDEO-- Rep. @KeithEllison introduces Right to Vote Amendment. Please share this one.


NN13 Keith EllisonAt NN13, a few of us lucky bloggers were invited to meet with Rep. Ellison. I snapped this during that pow wow.

I was fortunate enough to meet and spend some quality time with Rep. Keith Ellison at Netroots Nation last week. I came away liking and admiring him even more than I had previously, which is saying something. He's an awfully nice guy, sharp, and a creative thinker with plenty of ideas on how to get things done in Washington.

I know, I know, "getting things done in Washington" is an oxymoron.

But that won't stop Keith E. Why, look, here's a creative idea now!

Via Progressive Change Campaign Committee:

The Supreme Court crippled voting rights this week by striking down a key part of the landmark Voting Rights Act.

Rep. Keith Ellison and Rep. Mark Pocan have introduced a Constitutional amendment that reverses the Court decision and invalidates voter suppression laws. Sign on as a citizen co-sponsor.


SECTION 1: Every citizen of the United States, who is of legal voting age, shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.

SECTION 2: Congress shall have the power to enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation.

Rep. Ellison and Rep. Pocan will use your citizen signatures to lobby members of Congress - we'll keep them updated on how many people have signed. We'll also inform the media that the public is fighting back.

Do your thing, voters... lobby Congress. Sign. Take action. Fight back. Here's a chance to try to DO something...

...besides thanking Keith Ellison, I mean.

Just for good measure, today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, because our voices really do matter:

Re "Justices rein in Voting Rights Act," June 26

The decision to effectively invalidate the Voting Rights Act is the Roberts court's most hypocritical ruling.

The Supreme Court's conservative justices have said that nine unelected judges should not overrule the voters' elected representatives unless the Constitution demands it. Here, the court threw out a 98-0 Senate vote in 2006 to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, thousands of pages of congressional voting rights research and almost 50 years of effective legislation.

Five justices state that, in their view, circumstances no longer warrant voting rights protections, ironically because the Voting Rights Act has been so effective. Millions of minority voters whose districts have been gerrymandered and whose polling places and hours have been cynically eroded in the last few years will be shocked to hear that protections are no longer needed.

So much for a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

Ken Goldman

Beverly Hills


Thank goodness we have Antonin Scalia and the four other conservative justices on the Supreme Court to protect us from the "racial entitlement" of free and unfettered voting.

Now that racial discrimination has apparently been eliminated from our great nation, it's time that we stopped using the Voting Rights Act. It seems the Supreme Court believes we can now rely on the good intentions of the states that historically imposed race-based voting requirements designed to disenfranchise nonwhites.

Two hours after the Supreme Court announced its decision, Texas advanced proposals to revive its restrictive voter ID requirements and its gerrymandered districts. What wonderful news for opponents of democracy.

Of course, if there is any doubt about states' ability to protect voting rights, we can be confident that the GOP majority in the House will take action. Right?

James U. Mundy III



Conservatives see striking down a key protection of the Voting Rights Act as crucial for their chances in future elections. Instead, they ought to really look toward the future and offer an agenda the majority of Americans might get behind.

What a novel idea.

Dennis Grossman

Woodland Hills