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The Scalia Vacancy On The Supreme Court

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Anton Scalia Is Dead

If the Republican Party of 2016 were students of history, and not just do-nothing nihilists, they would vote on the new Supreme Court Justice within a day or two of Obama nominating him. Even if there were hearings to discuss the “fitness” of the candidate, the vote shouldn’t take more than a month. The NYT made a handy-dandy graphic for reference.

The Senate has never taken more than 125 days to vote on a successor from the time of nomination; on average, a nominee has been confirmed, rejected or withdrawn in 25 days.

But as we all know, the Republicans’ main gambit during the Obama administration has been “party over country”, as proven again and again and again by their actions of delaying the simplest action.

I bet you didn’t realize that the term of the president has been truncated, now it isn’t four years, but three years, per the GOP anyway. 

So what to do? Sally Kohn argues Obama should make a recess appointment:

Article II, Section 2 of our Constitution reads: “Power to nominate the Justices is vested in the President of the United States, and appointments are made with the advice and consent of the Senate.” Last we all checked, President Obama is the President of the United States. Appointing a Supreme Court justice is his privilege and responsibility. Republicans, incidentally, are pointing to Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee who Senate Democrats successfully blocked. But Democrats didn’t announce, hours after the vacancy was created and before any names were floated, that they would unanimously block any justice Reagan would nominate. Their opposition was specifically limited to Bork. And when Bork was blocked and Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy, he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Today, Republicans haven’t declared their opposition to a specific candidate. They have declared their opposition to President Obama nominating anyone. So what are President Obama’s options? Since he has said he will nominate a justice to fill the vacancy and not bow to this ridiculous Republican temper tantrum, my sense is he has two realistic options. The first is to nominate a superstar moderate to fill the vacancy—someone it will be very politically hard for Republicans to oppose.

Obama’s second option is a recess appointment. It just so happens that the Senate is currently in recess until Feb. 22nd. While a Supreme Court ruling in 2014 constrained such appointments, the way Senate Republicans have taken this current break might make it possible for President Obama to legally make an appointment.…Obama has strong wind at his sails to do this, with McConnell and others already declaring their blanket opposition to backing any nominee, and I’m not gonna lie, it would be a really powerful “Fuck you” gesture to make to a Republican Party that has been nothing but problematically petulant since Obama took office.

(click here to continue reading Obama has two choices in filling the Scalia vacancy – Quartz.)

My guess is that “No Drama” Obama won’t choose this path though, despite it being reasonable. I do hope Obama at least nominates a candidate in a week or so, and then consistently pushes the Senate to perform its “advise and consent” role. Lame-duck interm appointments and executive appointments may be frowned upon (for some reason), but Obama has more than 300 days left in his term! My understanding of lame-duck was it is from November of an election year to the next inauguration the following January. 

Barack Obama - 49th Ward mural
Barack Obama – 49th Ward mural

Joan Walsh has more on that topic:

Leave it to Senator majority leader Mitch McConnell to defile Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s “originalist” constitutional legacy, when he’d barely been gone 24 hours. McConnell says President Obama can’t appoint Scalia’s successor; the choice must be left to “a new president,” although Obama has more than 11 months left in his term.

Thus did McConnell seem to unilaterally rewrite the Constitution to strip a year from the president’s final term. All 43 presidents before him had four-year terms (unless they died in office or resigned, of course), but when it comes to arguably the president’s most important job, McConnell would limit Obama to three years.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said in a statement Saturday evening. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.” Note to McConnell: A majority of the American people elected Barack Obama, twice. He is the first American president to get more than 50 percent of the popular vote, twice, since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is in fact our right to have a voice in the selection of a justice. Obama is our voice.

(click here to continue reading Mitch McConnell Wants Obama to Have a 3-Year Last Term | The Nation.)

as does Senator Elizabeth Warren:

The sudden death of Justice Scalia creates an immediate vacancy on the most important court in the United States. Senator McConnell is right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. In fact, they did — when President Obama won the 2012 election by five million votes.

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. I can’t find a clause that says “…except when there’s a year left in the term of a Democratic President.” Senate Republicans took an oath just like Senate Democrats did. Abandoning the duties they swore to uphold would threaten both the Constitution and our democracy itself.

It would also prove that all the Republican talk about loving the Constitution is just that — empty talk.

(click here to continue reading (2) U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.)

We’ll see what happens, I suspect the topic will be in the news until the Democratic Party nominee wins the 2016 election.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 15th, 2016 at 10:04 am

Posted in government,politics

Tagged with ,

Corporate Christian Taliban Attempting to Ruin America

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Sprang from Shame and Pride
Sprang from Shame and Pride

Historians of the future may very well date the decline of the American civilization to the outcome of this Supreme Court ruling. I’m actually not kidding: remember this phrase? Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. If the Roberts Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, they will have contradicted this amendment.

This week, the owners of two secular, for-profit corporations will ask the Supreme Court to take a radical turn and allow them to impose their religious views on their employees — by refusing to permit them contraceptive coverage as required under the Affordable Care Act.

The showdown will take place Tuesday when the Supreme Court hears arguments on two consolidated challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The owners of Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts-and-crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinetmaker, want to be exempted from the sound requirement that employer health plans cover without a co-payment all birth control methods and services approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

These companies are not religious organizations, nor are they affiliated with religious organizations.

(click here to continue reading Crying Wolf on Religious Liberty – NYTimes.com.)

How exactly will corporations practice their religion? Will this be a requirement on quarterly statements to Wall Street investors? Who decides which sect the corporation adheres to? Is it a shareholder vote? Set by the Board of Directors? By the CEO?

And what about the employees – are they automatically enrolled in whatever religion the corporation follows? What if the employee is a non-believer? Will they be fired? Burned at the stake? What about potential customers of religious-affiliated corporations? Will shoppers have to prove their loyalty to the deity-of-choice before being allowed to complete their purchase? to enter the establishment? What if a Mammon-worshipping Ohioan became president of a large news and entertainment conglomerate? Would he be able to forcibly convert his minions into evil creatures? Oh, wait, that already happened.

Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy
Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy

And another thing: there are all sorts of crazy commandments in the Christian Bible, can a corporation pick and choose which to follow? Maybe if they are granted this birth-control dispensation, they would also be required to follow all the rules suggested in Leviticus. Such as Leviticus 19:19

19:19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

or Leviticus 25:24

25:23 The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.

Hmm, that might change Hobby Lobby’s real estate plans…

What Do You Do for Money?
What Do You Do for Money?

What about Matthew 6:1, which seems to directly contradict the Corporate Christians public gnashing of teeth:

6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6:3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Getchyer Kitschhere
Getchyer Kitschhere

More from the New York Times Editorial Board:

There are several reasons why the court should find that the law does not apply, starting with the fact that secular, for-profit corporations are not “persons” capable of prayer or other religious behavior, which is a quintessentially human activity. Also, as an amicus brief filed by corporate law scholars persuasively argues, granting the religious exemption to the owners would mean allowing shareholders to pass their religious values to the corporation. The fundamental principle of corporate law is a corporation’s existence as a legal entity with rights and obligations separate from those of its shareholders.

Thomas Jefferson is rolling in his grave that this is even being considered a question…

Written by Seth Anderson

March 23rd, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Sympathy for the Devil Worshipers

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Sympathy for the Devil

Sympathy for the Devil

The Christian Taliban has infiltrated everywhere, including the Supreme Court, as evidenced by this discussion regarding The Town of Greece vs. Galloway

Standing before the court, the residents’ lawyer, Douglas Laycock, suggested that a nonsectarian prayer would be satisfactory. Justice Alito wasn’t so sure.

“How could you do it?” Justice Alito asked. “Give me an example of a prayer that would be acceptable to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus … Wiccans, Baha’i.”

“And atheists,” Justice Antonin Scalia added. “Throw in atheists, too.”

Mr. Laycock reminded the justices that atheists were already out of luck based on the court’s prior decisions. Then, riffling through his documents, he suggested, “The prayers to the Almighty, prayers to the Creator.”

“To ‘the Almighty,’” Justice Alito said skeptically. “So if — if a particular religion believes in more than one god, that’s acceptable to them?”

Justice Scalia, often impatient in religion cases, couldn’t resist. “What about devil worshipers?”

Over the laughter of the courtroom, Mr. Laycock said meekly, “Well, if devil worshipers believe the devil is the almighty, they might be okay. But they’re probably out.”

And so it went, the justices trying in vain to determine what sort of prayer, if any, would be sufficiently nonsectarian, and who should be responsible for making that determination. None of them seemed to relish the idea of playing at prayer editor.

As the argument progressed it was increasingly difficult to discern any grounds on which to justify legislative prayer other than the fact that it’s something we’ve always done — which was the basis for the court’s ruling upholding such a prayer in the Nebraska legislature in 1983, when it last considered the question.

Lawyers…

(click here to continue reading Sympathy for the Devil Worshipers? – NYTimes.com.)

Dance of the Devil Corn

Dance of the Devil Corn

and the only real solution that comports with our secular Constitution: don’t allow government sanctioned prayers at all! Why is this a difficult concept?

But there is an alternative to “eliminating” prayer — a moment of silence, which is what the town of Greece did for years without complaint. It allows everyone to pray exactly as they wish; it even makes room for the atheists and devil worshipers.

For some — including several members of the current court — a “silence only” policy is surely a step too far. But it would be a reasonable compromise in a pluralistic society, and for justices who don’t want to become de facto prayer editors, it’s a bright line on an otherwise blurry canvas of conflicting tests and standards that have rarely satisfied anyone.

Don’t these fools read their own sacred texts? You know, the Constitution and its amendments? Like the first one!

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

(click here to continue reading First Amendment to the United States Constitution – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Contrasting Religions
Contrasting Religions

If the government sanctions a particular kind of prayer as being the “right kind” of prayer, who could argue with a straight face that this is not the government establishing a preferred religion? Only the Christian Taliban would be so bold. When is the last time you read about a city council mandating a Pastafarian chant before a city council meeting? Right, never. Only the Christians do this repugnant shit.

And Scalia and Alito ought to be impeached if they rule in favor of the Town of Greece, NY 

Somebody Please Tell This Machine I'm Not A Machine

Somebody Please Tell This Machine I’m Not A Machine

Carl Esbeck is much more knowledgeable about the subject, and writes:

Can government knowingly take sides in a matter of religious belief or practice?  More to the point, can government actively support a practice that is explicitly religious, such as prayer?  This is the issue in Town of Greece v. Galloway as it ought to be framed.

Quoting with approval from Marsh v. Chambers, the Town’s main brief states that the purpose of legislative prayer is “[t]o invoke Divine guidance on a public body entrusted with making the laws.”  The practice not only calls upon a God or gods, but to a Divinity interested and active in human affairs.  Why else invoke guidance?  This act of prayer is thus consistent with some religions but not others.  Deists, for example, believe in an impersonal God.  A policy of legislative prayer is doubtlessly taking a side, and no phony pluralism dressed up as “nonsectarian” prayer – a vague theism not actually practiced by anyone – can cover up that fact.

(click here to continue reading Town of Greece symposium: Can government actively favor a religious practice? : SCOTUSblog.)

and concludes:

A related corruption is civil religion, the conflating of piety with patriotism. Civil religion is the confusion of religious faith with one’s love of country, an elevation of certain ceremonies, traditions, and habits of a nation to the level of the sacred. In Weisman, Justice Kennedy for the Court noted its false allure. After acknowledging the attempt by school officials to advance a “common ground” prayer, he said the Court’s precedents “caution us to measure the idea of a civic religion against the central meaning of the Religion Clauses . . . which is that all creeds must be tolerated and none favored. The suggestion that government may establish an official or civic religion as a means of avoiding the establishment of a religion with more specific creeds strikes us as a contradiction that cannot be accepted.”

Ultimately religion does not exist to sustain the political order. It’s not a program for municipal improvement or to bless those who take up civic duties. When government uses religion as a tool to achieve its political goals, the danger to religion is that it becomes a courtier in the halls of State.

 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 7th, 2013 at 11:15 am

Term Limit For The US Supreme Court

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Oath
Oath

I hesitate to give Rick Perry any credit for this idea, as I doubt he could even spell Supreme Court, much less suggest changes to it. I do like the idea itself though, as reported by The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg:

A Constitutional Amendment creating 18-year terms staggered every 2 years, so that each of the nine Justices would be replaced in order of seniority every other year. This would be a prospective proposal, and would be applied to future judges only. Doing this would move the court closer to the people by ensuring that every President would have the opportunity to replace two Justices per term, and that no court could stretch its ideology over multiple generations. Further, this reform would maintain judicial independence, but instill regularity to the nominations process, discourage Justices from choosing a retirement date based on politics, and will stop the ever-increasing tenure of Justices.

This ingenious idea has been kicking around in legal circles for decades. It tiptoed into wider view (PDF) in 2002, via a Washington Post op-ed piece by two prominent law professors of opposite ideological and political leanings: Yale’s Akhil Reed Amar, a Democrat, a former clerk for Stephen Breyer, and a stalwart of the liberal American Constitution Society; and Northwestern’s Steven G. Calabresi, a Republican, a former clerk for Antonin Scalia, and a co-founder of the conservative Federalist Society. In 2006, Calabresi and his colleague James Lindgren fleshed the idea out in a long article in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. Justices would still get lifetime appointments. After their eighteen years with the Supremes, they could choose to serve on other federal courts, bringing their experience and, in some cases, their wisdom to the appellate bench. Even if they didn’t exercise that option, though, their salaries would continue for life. If a Justice died or retired before his or her eighteen years were up, a substitute would be appointed via the usual process—Presidential nomination, Senate confirmation—to serve out the remainder. The interim Justice would not be eligible for reappointment to the Supreme Court, but he or she would have the same sweet post-Court deal. And what lawyer wouldn’t jump at the chance to be a Justice of the highest of high courts, if only for a year?

The Amendment—call it the Perry Plan—would solve any number of problems. From 1789 through 1970, the average tenure of a Supreme Court Justice was about fifteen years. For Justices who have retired or died since then, the average tenure has been twenty-six years. This isn’t just an artifact of longer life spans. As the Court’s importance has grown—Marbury v. Madison made it the only one of the three federal command posts that is functionally sovereign, and the polarized gridlock of the elected branches has only made it more powerful—and as it has become more “political,” aging Justices have tended to hang on well into senescence, especially when the sitting President is of a different ideological persuasion. Presidents, for their part, seek to extend their influence into the far-distant future, by finding the youngest nominee they can get away with. (Another incentive: while younger is not always wiser, it does make for a shorter paper trail.) The prospect that a Justice will be handing down decisions for close to half a century turns confirmation fights into political Armageddons. The randomness of openings abets the now-or-never mentality. Richard Nixon named four Justices during his five years in the White House; Jimmy Carter, during his four years, named zero. The Perry Plan would change all that. Voters would know that every President, every two years, would get to nominate someone for the Court.

(click here to continue reading Rick Perry’s Supreme Court Idea : The New Yorker.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

January 24th, 2012 at 10:40 am

Posted in government

Tagged with

Jimi Hendrix Is Cited During Supreme Court Arguments

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Whipped Into A Frenzy
Whipped Into A Frenzy

The times they are a-changing…

Jimi Hendrix made an appearance at the Supreme Court on Wednesday in an argument over whether Congress acted constitutionally in 1994 by restoring copyright protection to foreign works that had once been in the public domain. The affected works included films by Alfred Hitchcock and Federico Fellini, books by C. S. Lewis and Virginia Woolf, symphonies by Prokofiev and Stravinsky and paintings by Picasso.

The suit challenging the law was brought by orchestra conductors, teachers and film archivists who say they had relied for years on the free availability of such works.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. posed the general question in the case this way: “One day I can perform Shostakovich. Congress does something. The next day I can’t. Doesn’t that present a serious First Amendment problem?”

Then the chief justice, a pioneer in the citation of popular music in legal discourse, asked the question slightly differently, invoking Hendrix, the great rock guitarist, to test the limits of the government’s position. “What about Jimi Hendrix, right? He has a distinctive rendition of the national anthem, and assuming the national anthem is suddenly entitled to copyright protection that it wasn’t before, he can’t do that, right?”

The solicitor general, Donald B. Verrilli Jr., making his debut in the post, said there were good reasons to allow Congress to restore copyright protection to works that had entered the public domain, even at some cost to free expression by performers and others. Responding to the chief justice’s hypothetical question, Mr. Verrilli said that “maybe Jimi Hendrix could claim fair use.”

(click here to continue reading Jimi Hendrix Is Cited During Supreme Court Arguments – NYTimes.com.)

fair use since the Jimi Hendrix version alters the anthem a bit, but unfortunately, even fair use is a tenuous legal foundation these days. Just ask Scott Baio, or Shepard Fairey

Near the end of his argument in the case, Golan v. Holder, No. 10-545, Mr. Falzone returned to the chief justice’s reference to performers like Hendrix.

“There can’t be any doubt, as I think Chief Justice Roberts got at, that the performance has a huge amount of original expression bound up in it,” Mr. Falzone said. “It’s the reason it’s different to see King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Company; it’s the reason it’s different when John Coltrane plays a jazz standard.”

Written by Seth Anderson

October 6th, 2011 at 8:19 am

Virginia Thomas is Creepy

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Almost twenty years after the notorious 1991 conformation hearing, Virginia Thomas – wife of ultra-conservative Clarence Thomas, and a notorious Rethuglican Tea Bagger herself – calls up Anita Hill out of the blue, and creepily demands an apology. If I was Ms. Hill, I would turn the message over to the FBI too, there seems to be a veiled threat contained therein. Maybe Ms. Thomas had a few too many limoncellos?

Limoncello

Andrew Gully, senior vice president of the Brandeis University communications office, confirmed that Ms. Hill had received the message and that she had turned it over to the campus department of public safety. That office, in turn, passed it on to the F.B.I.

ABC News quoted from the voicemail:

“Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginny Thomas,” it quoted from the voicemail. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. Okay have a good day.”

Ms. Thomas has long been active in conservative circles in Washington, and in the past year has rose to greater prominence as the founder of a new nonprofit activist group, Liberty Central, which opposes what she characterizes as the leftist “tyranny” of the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats.

Her activities with the group have raised questions of judicial ethics because the group, which pays her, has accepted large contributions from unidentified donors. She began the group with two gifts of $500,000 and $50,000 from undisclosed contributors, tax forms show.

(click to continue reading Thomas’s Wife Reaches Out to Anita Hill – NYTimes.com.)

It has been a long time since I revisited the facts of the contentious proceedings, but shouldn’t Justice Thomas be proffering the apology?

ABC has more:

Mark Matthews of [ABC] affiliate KGO learned about this and reached out to Virginia Thomas.

Thomas emailed him, saying: “I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get passed what happened so long ago.    That offer still stands, I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same. Certainly no offense was ever intended.”

Hill tells ABC News: “Even if it wasn’t a prank, it was in no way conciliatory for her to begin with the presumption that I did something wrong in 1991. I simply testified to the truth of my experience. For her to say otherwise is not extending an olive branch, it’s accusatory.”

She continues: “I don’t apologize. I have no intention of apologizing and I stand by my testimony in 1991.”

(click to continue reading Virginia Thomas Leaves Anita Hill a Voicemail Asking for An Apology — Hill Says No – Political Punch.)

Written by Seth Anderson

October 19th, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Foreign-Funded US Chamber Of Commerce Running Partisan Attack Ads

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Hordes at Nadeau

If you hadn’t heard, the increasingly partisan U.S. Chamber of Commerce has become one of the biggest funders of attack ads against Democrats, thanks to generous contributions from Rupert Murdoch, and elsewhere…

The largest attack campaign against Democrats this fall is being waged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade association organized as a 501(c)(6) that can raise and spend unlimited funds without ever disclosing any of its donors. The Chamber has promised to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat candidates like Jack Conway, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jerry Brown, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). As of Sept. 15th, the Chamber had aired more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates alone, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project. The Chamber’s spending has dwarfed every other issue group and most political party candidate committee spending. A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding. And while the Chamber will likely assert it has internal controls, foreign money is fungible, permitting the Chamber to run its unprecedented attack campaign. According to legal experts consulted by ThinkProgress, the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations in American elections.

(click to continue reading Think Progress » Exclusive: Foreign-Funded ‘U.S.’ Chamber Of Commerce Running Partisan Attack Ads.)

and the USCC is trying to wiggle past any critical news coverage with obfuscation:

In fact, neither the [Washington] Post nor the [New York] Times “refudiated” the ThinkProgress report. Both merely quoted Chamber of Commerce officials who only discussed the limited “AmCham” funds, only one of several avenues for foreign funding of the Chamber. Both articles recognized that there is no outside oversight of the Chamber’s money flow. “Money, however, is fungible,” the New York Times editorial board explained, “and it is impossible for an outsider to know whether the group is following its rules.” As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes, “The Chamber still hasn’t addressed in any detail the core allegation against it.”

Only Gillespie has made the “charge of illegal criminal activity.” Although it is illegal to solicit foreign funds for electioneering, the essential fact is that there are no disclosure requirements that provide oversight to know whether or not the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is obeying the law. The Chamber successfully lobbied to kill the DISCLOSE Act, which would have closed the loopholes opened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

(click to continue reading Think Progress » Gillespie Claims NY Times And Wash. Post Have ‘Refudiated’ ThinkProgress On Secret Corporate Spending.)

Supreme Court.jpg

This all stems from the Citizens United case, of course, which is going to upend politics even more in coming elections, tilt the balance even more towards the wealthy. Pathetic, but we are rapidly becoming a third world country, with crony capitalism, an eviscerated middle class, etc. etc., yadda yadda.

Think Progress has a nice visual aid of what the USCC’s policies translate into: attack ads on Democrats.

I tried to find a list of the member companies of the USCC; I’d like to know them so I could conduct my own personal boycott, but they keep this information quite secret. As if they are embarrassed, or something. Remember, not long ago, Apple, Inc. resigned from the USCC over the USCC’s wrongheaded climate change stance. Who is left? I assume corporations like ExxonMobil, Home Depot, News Corporation, but who else? Oh yeah, even Exelon quit the USCC last year.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 12th, 2010 at 8:32 am

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with ,

Reading Around on July 8th through July 15th

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A few interesting links collected July 8th through July 15th:

  • CAFE MPG Standards and Driving – How CAFE rules will change the way we drive – Popular Mechanics – (Photo by swanksalot) The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations were recently stiffened by the largest degree in over two decades. Also, fuel-economy targets will be based on the car’s footprint—the area defined by multiplying the vehicle’s wheelbase by the track width—and every model must improve. It’s estimated that these changes will increase new-car fuel economy by about 24 percent by 2016. Here’s what automakers will do to get there.
  • Yellow Smart Car

  • LeBron James Is A Cocksucker – It doesn’t matter where he opts to go. If he goes to Chicago, he’s a cocksucker. If he goes to Miami, he’s a cocksucker. Even if he goes back to Cleveland, he’s a goddamn cocksucker. He’s a self-aggrandizing sack of shit, and ESPN is a bunch of pussy-whipped enablers for giving him a free hour of airtime
  • Kagan got “Nasty” – Elana Kagan filed an amicus brief arguing that 2 Live Crew’s album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be, which had been banned by a federal judge because of its sexual content, wasn’t obscene in part because no one could possibly be aroused by it. “Nasty does not physically excite anyone who hears it,” Kagan wrote, “much less arouse a shameful and morbid sexual response.” A higher court ultimately overturned the ban.

Written by swanksalot

July 15th, 2010 at 9:00 am

Tea Party at the Supreme Court

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Virginia Thomas has proudly lent her name to the anti-patriotic, anti-American, anti-progressive Tea Party movement.

Rites of a Spring

As Virginia Thomas tells it in her soft-spoken, Midwestern cadence, the story of her involvement in the “tea party” movement is the tale of an average citizen in action.

“I am an ordinary citizen from Omaha, Neb., who just may have the chance to preserve liberty along with you and other people like you,” she said at a recent panel discussion with tea party leaders in Washington. Thomas went on to count herself among those energized into action by President Obama’s “hard-left agenda.”

But Thomas is no ordinary activist.

She is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and she has launched a tea-party-linked group that could test the traditional notions of political impartiality for the court.

In January, Virginia Thomas created Liberty Central Inc., a nonprofit lobbying group whose website will organize activism around a set of conservative “core principles,” she said.

The group plans to issue score cards for Congress members and be involved in the November election, although Thomas would not specify how. She said it would accept donations from various sources — including corporations — as allowed under campaign finance rules recently loosened by the Supreme Court.

[From Justice’s wife launches ‘tea party’ group – latimes.com]

I cannot recall a similar public declaration of intent from the spouse of any Supreme Court Justice in our nation’s history. Can you? The equivalent would be if the wife of Justice Thurgood Marshall joined the John Birchers, or William Rehnquist’s wife started a local chapter of Sandinista National Liberation Front, or Justice John Marshall’s wife decided to hold a Friends of French Liberty soirée in her salon. None of these other things happened, but rules are always different for Rovian Republicans, aren’t they?

Under judicial rules, judges must curb political activity, but a spouse is free to engage.

Really, this could be grounds for impeachment – Clarence Thomas is no friend to liberty, no friend to America, no friend to the Constitution if you want to get down to it. Justice Thomas has often skirted close to the edge of impropriety, and doesn’t believe in the concept of conflict of interest, or recusal. Recusal wasn’t mentioned in the 4,543 words1 comprising the Constitution of the United States after all, so why would a strict constitutionalist like Justice Thomas believe in it?

Virginia Thomas has long been a passionate voice for conservative views. She has worked for former Republican Rep. Dick Armey of Texas and for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank with strong ties to the GOP.

In 2000, while at the Heritage Foundation, she was recruiting staff for a possible George W. Bush administration as her husband was hearing the case that would decide the election. When journalists reported her work, Thomas said she saw no conflict of interest and that she rarely discussed court matters with her husband.

Transcended by Tea

and of course, the rules of political engagement have recently changed:

As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Liberty Central can raise unlimited amounts of corporate money and largely avoid disclosing its donors.

Because of a recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, the group may also spend corporate money freely to advocate for or against candidates for office.

Justice Thomas was part of the 5-4 majority in that case.

Footnotes:
  1. including signatures, which is a stupid way to count, if you ask me []

Written by swanksalot

March 14th, 2010 at 3:42 pm

US asks Supreme Court to Review Tobacco Company RICO Ruling

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Wouldn’t this be funny, if the tobacco giants suddenly had to cough up $280,000,000,000? Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations sounds like an apt description of Altria and others, actually. Their business model was always pretty obvious: convince consumers that cigarettes weren’t all that bad for you, and especially that Brand A was better than Brand B.

The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Friday to review a 2006 federal fraud racketeering conviction against the tobacco industry and to authorize the district judge in the case to require tobacco companies to give up as much as $280 billion in “ill-gotten gains.”

In the 2006 decision, nine tobacco companies and two trade organizations were found to have deceived the public about the dangers of secondhand smoke and so-called light cigarettes, and to have manipulated the nicotine levels in cigarettes.

The companies “have marketed and sold their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs,” Judge Gladys Kessler, of the Federal District Court in Washington, wrote in a 1,653-page opinion after a nine-month trial.

The case was filed by the Clinton administration in 1999 under a civil statute normally used for organized crime.

Although the industry lost the case, it avoided crippling monetary damages. Judge Kessler had originally agreed to consider requiring the tobacco companies to give up profits if they lost the case, but she was overruled after the industry filed a pretrial motion with an appeals court.

[Click to continue reading U.S. Asks Justices to Review Tobacco Company Ruling – NYTimes.com]

I doubt the Roberts Court would allow such a drastic outcome of course, but might be a good time to short some tobacco stock, no?

Written by Seth Anderson

February 20th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Reading Around on January 28th

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Some additional reading January 28th from 18:37 to 21:45:

  • Hands-on with the Apple iPad – it does make sense :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Andy Ihnatko – The display is gorgeous — crisp, with strong color but lots of subtlety. A pro photographer friend with a best-selling photobook series told me he thought it was good enough to use as a commercial presentation portfolio
  • iPad About « The New Adventures of Stephen Fry – I have always thought Hans Christian Andersen should have written a companion piece to the Emperor’s New Clothes, in which everyone points at the Emperor shouting, in a Nelson from the Simpson’s voice, “Ha ha! He’s naked.” And then a lone child pipes up, ‘No. He’s actually wearing a really fine suit of clothes.” And they all clap hands to their foreheads as they realise they have been duped into something worse than the confidence trick, they have fallen for what E. M. Forster called the lack of confidence trick. How much easier it is to distrust, to doubt, to fold the arms and say “Not impressed”. I’m not advocating dumb gullibility, but it is has always amused me that those who instinctively dislike Apple for being apparently cool, trendy, design fixated and so on are the ones who are actually so damned cool and so damned sensitive to stylistic nuance that they can’t bear to celebrate or recognise obvious class, beauty and desire.
  • Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com – Justice Alito's conduct and the Court's credibility – There's a reason that Supreme Court Justices — along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff — never applaud or otherwise express any reaction at a State of the Union address. It's vital — both as a matter of perception and reality — that those institutions remain apolitical, separate and detached from partisan wars. The Court's pronouncements on (and resolutions of) the most inflammatory and passionate political disputes retain legitimacy only if they possess a credible claim to being objectively grounded in law and the Constitution, not political considerations. The Court's credibility in this regard has — justifiably — declined substantially over the past decade, beginning with Bush v. Gore (where 5 conservative Justices issued a ruling ensuring the election of a Republican President), followed by countless 5-4 decisions in which conservative Justices rule in a way that promotes GOP political beliefs, while the more "liberal" Justices do to the reverse

Written by swanksalot

January 28th, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Can Prosecutors Be Sued By People They Framed

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Just a horrible tale of prosecutorial misconduct and racism.

Do prosecutors have total immunity from lawsuits for anything they do, including framing someone for murder? That is the question the justices of the Supreme Court face Wednesday.

On one side of the case being argued are Iowa prosecutors who contend “there is no freestanding right not to be framed.” They are backed by the Obama administration, 28 states and every major prosecutors organization in the country.

On the other side are two black men — Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee — men who served 25 years in prison before evidence long hidden in police files resulted in them being freed.

[Click to continue reading Can Prosecutors Be Sued By People They Framed? : NPR]

Best Time of the Day

Of course, the Roberts Supreme Court leans so far to the right, I’m surprised they even bothered to put this case on the docket.

in this case, Harrington and McGhee maintain that before anyone being charged, prosecutors gathered evidence alongside police, interviewed witnesses and knew the testimony they were assembling was false.

The prosecutors counter that there is “no freestanding constitutional right not to be framed.” Stephen Sanders, the lawyer for the prosecutors, will tell the Supreme Court on Wednesday that there is no way to separate evidence gathered before trial from the trial itself. Even if a prosecutor files charges against a person knowing that there is no evidence of his guilt, says Sanders, “that’s an absolutely immunized activity.”

Whatever constitutional wrongs were suffered by Harrington and McGhee, he says, they were the result of their conviction at trial, not the investigation that preceded the trial. Without the trial, he contends, Harrington and McGhee “are simply unable to point to any deprivation of liberty that they suffered from the fabrication itself.”

Not so, says Clement, the lawyer for Harrington and McGhee. The prosecutorial immunity at trial doesn’t wash back and launder a frame at the investigative stage, he says.

Clement notes that the Supreme Court has given immunity to prosecutors only after an indictment takes place. Before that, Clement contends, prosecutors have the same limited immunity that police have — namely, they can be sued if they violate clearly established constitutional rights. And in this case, he says, by the time the indictment took place, “the prosecutors were already up to their necks in this conspiracy … to frame someone for the crime they didn’t commit. That violates the Constitution any way you look at it.”

I wish Harrington and McGhee luck in their pursuit of justice, they will need it. [via]

Written by Seth Anderson

November 5th, 2009 at 9:17 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Reading Around on July 18th

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Some additional reading July 18th from 20:56 to 23:29:

  • Falling Off the Turnip Truck… – ” four heads of cabbage? Some of us fled the shtetl and crossed the North Atlantic precisely to avoid having to eat four heads of cabbage n a single week…”
  • Drug WarRant – Prosecutors Scared of the Constitution – Of course prosecutors are scared by this ruling. It makes their job harder and it also means that more drug cases might go to trial in the hope that they could get a dismissal if the prosecutor can’t produce the analyst. The only way prosecutors manage the huge load of drug cases is to see to it that only 5% go to trial (through piling on charges to make the plea deal attractive in comparison to the alternative). If more drug cases go to trial, the whole system falls apart, particularly in a time when more money for courts is unlikely to be found.

    And the system is corrupt. This Supreme Court ruling merely states that the prosecutors and judges must do their job as specified in the Constitution. If they can’t handle it, then maybe we’ll finally take a look at why we’re prosecuting so many people.

  • heroin
  • From Israel to the N.B.A., Missing the Hummus – NYTimes.com – The first Israeli in the N.B.A., Omri Casspi, is busily trying to adapt to life in the United States.

    For starters, he needs a cellphone with a local number. He just received a $4,500 bill for about two weeks of calls, which is expensive even by N.B.A. standards. He needs new chargers for all his gadgets. But he is struggling most to find comfort food.

    “Hummus,” Casspi said, with a hard h and a long u, stressing the first syllable in a way that conveyed utter seriousness. “You don’t have that here, though.”

Written by swanksalot

July 19th, 2009 at 12:05 am

3 Days of the Sotomayor

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Gail Collins (humorously) summarizes the Judge Sotomayor confirmation hearings, including this exchange between Judge Sotomayor and David Brooks right-thigh man, Senator Lindsey Graham of North Carolina1

Oath

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Judge, before I read a string of anonymous comments about your temperament problem, I’d like to make you repeat that wise Latina remark again just for the heck of it.

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: Thank you, Senator, for the opportunity to revisit that matter. I appreciate that the man who once said he’d drown himself if North Carolina went for Obama has a special contribution to make when it comes to the importance of thinking before you speak.

[Click to continue reading Gail Collins – 3 Days of the Sotomayor – NYTimes.com]

zing!

Footnotes:
  1. well, probably, since David Brooks will never confirm nor deny, we might never know who took liberties with David Brooks’ inner thigh []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 16th, 2009 at 7:43 am

Posted in humor,politics

Tagged with , , ,

Reading Around on June 15th

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Some additional reading June 15th from 18:15 to 19:26:

  • Iran’s Disputed Election – The Big Picture – Boston.com – re Iran’s Presidential Election, Tehran and other cities have seen the largest street protests and rioting since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Supporters of reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, upset at their announced loss and suspicions of voter fraud, took to the streets both peacefully and, in some cases, violently to vent their frustrations. Iranian security forces and hardline volunteer militia members responded with force and arrests, attempting to stamp out the protests – meanwhile, thousands of Iranians who were happy with the election outcome staged their own victory demonstrations. Mousavi himself has been encouraging peaceful demonstrations, and called for calm at a large demonstration today (held in defiance of an official ban), as Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has just called for an official inquiry into accusations of election irregularities. (Update: several photos of injuries from gunshots at today’s rally added below)
  • The Fiery Judge | Mother Jones – comparing the substance and tone of her questions with those of his male colleagues and his own questions.

    “And I must say I found no difference at all. So I concluded that all that was going on was that there were some male lawyers who couldn’t stand being questioned toughly by a woman,” Calabresi says. “It was sexism in its most obvious form.”

    And what if such criticism came from a woman lawyer? Well, says Calabresi, women can be just as sexist as men in their expectations of how a woman judge should act.

    NPR played a couple of snippets of Sotomayor in its piece so listeners could judge for themselves. Ann did: “Listening to the clips, Sotomayor sounds an awful lot like John Roberts — who did not face any concerns about his ‘fiery temperament’ during his confirmation hearings. Totenberg exposes this talking point for what it is: straight-up sexism, with some racism mixed in for good measure.”

  • Daily Kos: Obama: Iranian people “should be heard and respected” – “What I would say to those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process, I would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was. And they should know that the world is watching.And particularly to the youth of Iran, I want them to know that we in the United States do not want to make any decisions for the Iranians, but we do believe that the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected.”
  • Twitter Blog: Down Time Rescheduled – A critical network upgrade must be performed to ensure continued operation of Twitter. In coordination with Twitter, our network host had planned this upgrade for tonight. However, our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran
  • Competition For Dummies by digby Just think. This… – “Sadly, this is the result of misguided American exceptionalism (and years of convenient Republican gibberish.) Even people who by all rights should be well informed about the issues of the day just simply can’t wrap their minds around the fact that our health care system is not only bad by our own measurements but that it is far worse than the systems in other industrialized countries. Foreigners cannot possibly have better health care than America. This is the greatest country the world has ever known or ever will know! It’s impossible!

    Except it’s true.”

Written by swanksalot

June 15th, 2009 at 9:00 pm