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Archive for the ‘Supreme Court’ Category

Let’s just put bars around the country and turn over the government to CCA/updated

Posted by Charles II on April 2, 2012

Updated: Rachel tells Albert Florence’s story.


A new investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union shows police tracking of cell phones without court-approved warrants is more widespread than previously known. According to the ACLU, just a fraction of more than 200 police departments that admitted to tracking cell phones acknowledged they have routinely obtained warrants to do so. The tracking is said to be so commonplace that cellular providers are providing police with manuals outlining the range of data they store and the pricing for police to obtain it.

And, via Atrios but minus the AP content, this heartwarming story about our Supreme Court. The elements of it are these:

* Albert Florence, an African American, was ticketed in 1998 for a traffic offense. He paid a fine, but the fine was never purged from the database.
* In 2005, the van he was a passenger in (his wife was driving) was stopped. Florence does not allege that the stop was improper or racially-motivated.
* Even though Florence offered proof that he had paid the fine in the form of a letter to that effect, he was taken to jail and strip searched. Over the course of a week, he was transferred to another jail and again strip searched.
* Finally a judge examined the case and dismissed it.
* The conservatives of the Supreme Court just said that they were cool with these strip searches. After all, sometimes dangerous people like Tim McVeigh get stopped by traffic cops.

So, see, the law is simple: whatever officials or the wealthy do, whether it’s wiretapping you or strip searching people who have committed no crime, is ok.

Whatever you do is suspect.

We should just put bars around the country, declare it a prison, and turn the government over to the Corrections Corporation of America.


Posted in corruption, crimes, impunity, Supreme Court, wiretapping | 10 Comments »

As usual, only one man can summarize the healthcare case before the Supreme Court correctly

Posted by Charles II on March 30, 2012

In its entirety:

The following message was released today by the National Alliance of Funeral Directors:

This week, several Republican Supreme Court Justices have argued that the Affordable Care Act supported by the Obama Administration is unconstitutional. At the National Alliance of Funeral Directors, we couldn’t agree more.

It was Revolutionary War hero Patrick Henry who said, in 1775, “Give me liberty or give me death.” From that moment on, legal scholars have agreed that the Constitution guarantees every American the liberty to be dead. Here at the Alliance, we will fight for your right to be dead to the death.

Let’s take a look, if you will, at the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which protects every American’s right to shoot another American. It says nothing about giving the person who is shot health insurance to prevent him from dying. This cherished constitutional right to shoot people and make them dead is currently recognized in all fifty states, most recently Florida.

In commenting on the Affordable Care Act this week, Justice Samuel Alito compared the Obama healthcare plan to burial insurance. Coincidentally, burial insurance is the Republican healthcare plan, and one that we enthusiastically support. Under this plan, every American would be mandated to buy a coffin from one of our member-owned and operated funeral homes. May we recommend the Peaceful Valley Royale,™ a luxury mahogany casket with sienna satin interior and the finest imitation antique nickel handles ($2899).

As the organization representing America’s funeral directors, gravediggers, embalmers and cremators, we are confident that the Supreme Court will ultimately do the right thing and decide that healthcare flies in the face of every American’s constitutional right to the pursuit of deadness. And when they do, we’ll be waiting for you.


The National Alliance of Funeral Directors

Andy Borowitz

Posted in health care, judicial rulings, judiciary, Republicans as cancer, Supreme Court | 4 Comments »

Posted by Charles II on August 22, 2011

The New Yorker has a profile of Clarence Thomas and how his conservative “leadership” will declare unconstitutional the Obama healthcare plan– deepening the crisis into which the costs of health insurance are plunging America.

Now, I am very skeptical of Thomas’ supposed brilliance. His career is replete with favors by patrons and ethically questionable dealings. What his opinions may well reflect is the best law clerks–or research by right-wing think tanks– that money can buy. But the man did get through Yale law school. He is not stupid. And when one combines the power of money, a cramped but adequate intellect, a lack of principles, and unquenchable bitterness, one gets what Jeffrey Toobin describes (via t/o):

In several of the most important areas of constitutional law, Thomas has emerged as an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court. Since the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in 2005, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in 2006, the Court has moved to the right when it comes to the free-speech rights of corporations, the rights of gun owners, and, potentially, the powers of the federal government; in each of these areas, the majority has followed where Thomas has been leading for a decade or more. Rarely has a Supreme Court Justice enjoyed such broad or significant vindication.

The conventional view of Thomas takes his lack of participation at oral argument as a kind of metaphor. The silent Justice is said to be an intellectual nonentity, a cipher for his similarly conservative colleague, Antonin Scalia. But those who follow the Court closely find this stereotype wrong in every particular. Thomas has long been a favorite of conservatives, but they admire the Justice for how he gives voice to their cause, not just because he votes their way. “Of the nine Justices presently on the Court, he is the one whose opinions I enjoy reading the most,” Steve Calabresi, a professor at the Northwestern University School of Law and a co-founder of the Federalist Society, said. “They are very scholarly, with lots of historical sources, and his views are the most principled, even among the conservatives. He has staked out some bold positions, and then the Court has set out and moved in his direction.”

The article includes some repellent hagiography, describing Thomas’ constitutional fundamentalism as humility (!), for example. And yet, this admirable humility before a document written by wealthy, unenslaved men to govern much poorer men, women, and slaves becomes a contempt for precedent when dealing with prior Court rulings. Indeed, Thomas imagines what original intent must have been, going so far as to use a survey of child-rearing in the 18th century to support a ban of video games. In a challenge to the Brady gun bill, the plaintiffs had not based their argument on the Second Amendment, so Thomas invented their argument for them!

And as to how it affects the healthcare law. Thomas’ wife, Ginni, is a movement activist. It is not credible that Thomas himself is not, but he pretends to be an impartial judge. And so we are left to imagine what Thomas and the other activist judges will do with the following:

the Supreme Court will almost certainly agree to review the case this fall, with a decision expected by June of next year.

Four more circuit courts of appeals are slated to weigh in on the constitutionality of the health-care law. In due course, the Justices will have their turn. I asked [Virginia Attorney General and global warming denier Ken] Cuccinelli what role Thomas might play in the resolution of the health-care case. “I don’t like to make predictions,” he told me. “But I know I’ve got his vote.”

Posted in corruption, Supreme Court | 4 Comments »

Those who make peaceful reimbursement impossible

Posted by Charles II on April 27, 2011

Via ql at Atrios’s dive, KTUU-TV (MSNBC) reports that:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court gave corporations a major win Wednesday, ruling in a 5-4 decision that companies can block their disgruntled customers from joining together in a class-action lawsuit. The ruling arose from a California lawsuit involving cellphones, but it will have a nationwide impact.

In the past, consumers who bought a product or a service had been free to join a class-action lawsuit if they were dissatisfied or felt they had been cheated. By combining these small claims, they could bring a major lawsuit against a corporation.

But in Wednesday’s decision, the high court said that under the Federal Arbitration Act companies can force these disgruntled customers to arbitrate their complaints individually, not as part of a group. Consumer-rights advocates said this rule would spell the end for small claims involving products or services.

Breyer [dissenting] added that a ban on class actions would prevent lawyers from representing clients for small claims. “What rational lawyer would have signed on to represent the Concepcions in litigation for the possibility of fees stemming from a $30.22 claim?” he wrote. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined his dissent.

So, if companies cheat their customers for less than about $50,000 each (the approximate sum at issue that it takes to get a lawyer to represent you), no law applies and they’re home free. What do consumers have left to defend themselves? The five Justices who delivered this monstrosity are nothing better than criminals in black robes.

Posted in abuse of power, activist judges, Supreme Court, You're On Your Own-ership Society | 1 Comment »

Could Citizens United vitiate Taft-Hartley?

Posted by Charles II on March 2, 2011

Via Avedon, there’s a fascinating post on by BigTentDemocrat on TalkLeft on whether the Citizens United ruling, by striking down restrictions on speech via corporate contributions, could have made Taft-Hartley’s restrictions on speech by strikes obsolete. As Wisconsin staggers toward a general strike, this could be an argument that could lock up the courts.

Not that the courts are incapable of infinite hypocrisy when it comes to protecting the interests of the very wealthy and taking the widow’s mite, but this is how non-violent struggle works: force the people doing wrong to be so blatant about it that their own children turn away from them in disgust. In Wisconsin, they have certainly achieved that level of hypocrisy, unlawfully excluding the public from the statehouse, recklessly welding shut windows that might be the only escape in a fire, and especially claiming that this is about balancing the budget.

The people intent on ripping up the social contract written during the New Deal forget that the contract bought them 70 years of labor peace. The new social contract they will end up being forced to negotiate– whether it happens in five months or in fifty years– will not be so generous to the wealthy.

Posted in Law of Unintended Consequences, Supreme Court | Comments Off on Could Citizens United vitiate Taft-Hartley?

Lies enthroned

Posted by Charles II on October 24, 2010

Perjuring oneself to get placed on the highest court in the land is an abomination in the biblical sense.

Robert Parry explains:

On Friday, former federal prosecutor Lillian McEwen, one of Thomas’s girlfriends in the 1980s, broke a long silence and confirmed that Thomas did engage in sexual harassment of women at work and did discuss pornography in the way that Anita Hill and other women described to the Senate during Thomas’s confirmation hearings in 1991.

During those hearings, Thomas angrily denied the allegations, calling them “a high-tech lynching.” Simultaneously, his right-wing allies mounted an aggressive campaign to destroy the credibility of Hill and other accusers.

The tactics worked. Thomas narrowly won Senate confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he has remained a reliable vote for every right-wing position that the justices consider.

However, it is now obvious that Thomas committed perjury as a necessary element of gaining his seat as one of nine justices on the Supreme Court – and only its second African-American. Though perjury before Congress is a felony, the Right appears to have suddenly lost its enthusiasm for demanding impeachment as the proper remedy for high officials caught lying under oath.

The sexual harassment was bad.

Lying about it was worse.

But lying about it in order to be able to judge–from the highest court– the truthfulness of others?

Clarence Thomas is an abomination, a lie enthroned, placed there by people calling themselves Christians, but very far from Christ in spirit.

Posted in abuse of power, activist judges, anti-truth, corruption, Supreme Court | 4 Comments »

Supreme Court gives us “free speech”

Posted by Charles II on January 21, 2010

The right to free speech has just been upheld by the right-wing of the Supreme Court. That is, corporations will be free to run a limitless number of political campaign ads, drowning out all other voices. A group of a few thousand people, the boards of directors and officers of the Fortune 500, have hundreds of billions of dollars at their disposal to influence campaigns that presently cost at most a tiny fraction of that.

Labor unions, with literally millions of dollars at their disposal, will be able to do the same thing. In other words, Democrats, who put the votes on the court to do this, will be free to either cave in to corporate demands or be defeated at the polls.

Yet another 5-4 decision disrespecting the rights of the overwhelming majority of Americans in favor of the “rights” of a non-living entity. FFFFFF
Added (crossposted at AtLargely):

There might be a way to gum up the works: Require that corporations receive approval from a majority of shareholders for each and every expenditure of funds.

The expenditure of funds for political advertising, particularly of a specific candidate, is not obviously in the interests of the shareholders. Therefore, it should be voted on. And, if voting takes time, and if there is a threshhold requirement for participation, it might be hard enough and dangerous enough to the officers and Board that they might not use it in the manner that the Robert Court clearly intends.

(Not that anyone listens to Eeyore. ::sigh::)

Posted in capitalism as cancer, Constitutional crisis, Supreme Court | 2 Comments »

Senator Klobuchar Makes A Good Point

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 16, 2009

You’ll never hear about on any of the evening TV news channels, but the two Minnesotans on the Senate Judiciary Committee had no trouble at all outshining their Republican counterparts.

Case in point: Senator Amy Klobuchar mentions the fact that back when Judge Sotomayor had appeared before the Senate to be confirmed in two prior Federal appointments, nobody once took her to task for her “wise Latina” comments.

Posted in Minnesota, Senate, Supreme Court | 4 Comments »

Elections Have Consequences

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 30, 2009

In 2000, Ralph Nader — who wanted Bush to win — took just enough votes from Al Gore, especially in Florida, to allow George Bush to steal the election. That allowed Bush to pick two archconservative judges, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, to fill the US Supreme Court vacancies left by Rehnquist and O’Connor. — and to shove this insult to civil rights and to Sonia Sotomayor, their decision on the Ricci suit, down our collective throats.

Imagine if Al Gore had been able to fill those slots instead. Ricci would have been 6-3 in favor of the black firefighters, instead of 5-4 against — and John Paul Stevens or Ruth Bader Ginsburg (or maybe even Sonia Sotomayor) would have written the majority opinion.
Added by Charles, 7/1. A letter from 2004, with emphasis added:

An Open Letter to Ralph Nader Voters

Dear Voters,

Many of us – former Nader’s Raiders and leaders of his organizations – voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. Many did not.

This November, none of us will vote for Ralph. We believe there is nothing more important than defeating George W. Bush.

Ralph argues that he is creating an independent political voice. In 2000, when he ran as the Green Party candidate, that may have been true.

In 2004, as the candidate of the increasingly reactionary, anti-immigrant Reform Party, and the recipient of financial and political support from right-wing funders and operatives, it is not credible. Unfortunately, Ralph is party to a disingenuous effort to split the progressive vote in key states.
With the major party candidates in a dead heat, Nader is poised to tip the election to Bush – again.

We do not agree with Ralph that there is little difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. We know that the country cannot afford another four years of Republicans controlling the White House, both chambers of Congress, the Supreme Court and the entire federal Judiciary. The price of a protest vote is too high for families who live from paycheck to paycheck, for those concerned about the realities of war, for those who lack decent jobs and access to health care, and for the environment.

While Ralph has pursued politically expedient alliances with the right wing, truly progressive leaders – from peace activists to unions to former Dean supporters – have made substantial progress organizing within the Democratic Party.

United, progressives can build a base for a transformed party funded by small donors, imbued with progressive values and energized by a vision of a democratic majority. Divided, we will give four more years to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Ashcroft. The progressive vote can be the key to this election.

We know Ralph Nader better than anyone else. We were inspired to public service by his vision and his integrity. Now we are disappointed and saddened to see him embrace the support of reactionary forces who oppose everything we and Ralph have fought for and whose real agenda is to reelect George Bush.

Join us. Cast your vote for a progressive future and support John Kerry.

Nader’s Raiders,
Brian Ahlberg – MN PIRG
Judy Appelbaum – Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, Summers 1974, 75

Matt Baker – Organizing Director, NJPIRG 1992-98
Sheila Ballen – Executive Director, Pennsylvania PIRG
Samuel Boykin – Field Director, NJPIRG 2000-03

Michael Berg – Congress Project 1972
Robert Brandon – Director, Public Citizen’s Tax Reform Research Group 1972-77
Mike Calabrese – Former Director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch 1980
Marc Caplan – Executive Director, CCAG 1974-80
Michael Caudell-Feagan – USPIRG 1985-86; Nat’l Assoc. for Pub Interest Law 1986-91
Nancy Chasen – Lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch 1973-75

Sarah K. Chiles – Northeast regional coordinator, Americans against Political Corruption

Elizabeth Collaton – Research Director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch 1985

Karen Croft – Staff, Center for the Study of Responsive Law1979-80
Gina Collins Cummings – Organizing Director, New Jersey PIRG, 1984 – 1994
Beth DeGrasse – Former Director, PIRG Voter Registration Campaigns

James Dickson – Director of Organizing, CCAG 1976-78
Angela Di Leo – Staff, Florida PIRG 1984 – 86
Kirsten Dunton – Organizing Director and Staff Attorney, State PIRGs 1989-2003

Joe Tom Easley – Center for the Study of Responsive Law, 1969-74

Larry Eason – Director, Training and Media Center, PIRG 2000-2001
Donna Edwards – Public Citizen’s Congress Watch 1990s

David Eppler – Staff Attorney, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch 1989-92
Sherry Ettleson – Staff Attorney, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch
Andrew Feinstein – Attorney, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch 1975-79
Curtis Fisher – Executive Director, New Jersey PIRG, 1996 – 2002
Mark Floegel – USPIRG; Public Citizen’s Congress Watch 1980s; VPIRG Communications Coordinator 2002-2004

Arthur L. Fox – Public Citizen’s Litigation Group 1972-90

Pamela Gilbert – USPIRG 1984-89; Staff Attorney, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch 1989-94

John Gilroy – Nader Difference in ’84 Campaign; Organizer, Citizen Utility Board 1985; ED, VTPIRG 1988-92

David Hamilton – National Field Director, USPIRG 1987-90; Energy Lobbyist, USPIRG 1990-92
Joan Holt – NY PIRG 1979-88
Anita Johnson – Attorney, PIRG; Public Citizen’s Health Research Group 1971-77

Richard Kirsch – Public Citizen 1974-77

Ann Krumblotz – Staff, Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1978-80
Mindy Lubber – Program Director, Massachusetts PIRG
Mark Lynch – Staff Attorney, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch
Tim Massad – Center for the Study of Responsive Law; Wisconsin Citizen Utility Board 1978-81

Neil McBride – Aviation Consumer Action Project 1971-72
Steve McCarthy – Executive Director, Oregon PIRG, 1972-74
Rich McClintock – Executive Director, Colorado PIRG

Chris McGinn – Deputy Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch 1991-98
David Moulton – Staff Attorney, Congress Watch
Michael Pertschuk – Chair, Federal Trade Commission

Donna F. Parsons – Director, CCAG 1981-87
Peter Petkas – PIRG, Corporate Accountability Research Group 1970
Ronald Plesser – Director, Freedom of Information Clearinghouse 1972-75
Rick Plunkett – MN PIRG 1976-81; CA Campus Organizer 1979-80

Tom Powers – Florida PIRG Organizing Director, FFPIR Nat’l Campus Program Director, PIRG work 1986-1995.
Nancy Rader – CalPIRG 1983-87; Public Citizen 1988-90
Miles Rapoport – Executive Director CCAG 1979-84
Neal Ritchie – ED, MN PIRG
Marty Rogol – General Counsel, CCAG 1971-73; Director, Nat’l PIRG 1974-78

Adam Ruben –Field Director, USPIRG 1999-2002
Leslie Samuelrich – PIRG 1985-91 – Organizer, ConnPIRG; Director, National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness
Samantha Sanchez – Attorney, Public Citizen’s Tax Reform Research Group 1973-75
Kerry Schumann – Director, Wisconsin PIRG
Gary Sellers – OSHA Project Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1969
Megan Seibel – Executive Director Colorado PIRG
Bob Shireman – Chairman, CalPIRG 1981-83; Legislative Advocate 1984-86
Lucinda Sikes – CalPIRG 1983-86; USPIRG 1989-92; Public Citizen’s Litigation Group 1993-89

Daniel Silverman – Former Nat’l Field Director, USPIRG; Former Vice-Chair, Board of CalPIRG
David Stern – Executive Director, Nat’l Assoc. for Public Interest Law
Gene Stilp – Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1980-81

Rob Stuart – Program Director, NJ PIRG, 1984 – 91; ED, VT PIRG 1991 – 93

Tom Subak – State Campaign Director, CalPIRG 1995-98
Andrea Sullivan – Organizing Director, NJPIRG, 1983 – 84
Thomas D. Sutton – ETS Study Group 1970s; Public Citizen’s Congress Watch 1979-81

Michael Totten – Critical Mass Energy Project 1982-83
James Turner – Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1968-72

Michael Waldman – Attorney Lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch
Ken Ward – ED, RI PIRG 1981-82; ED, NJ PIRG 1983-96
Bill Wasserman – Organizer, Cal PIRG 1981-86; Organizer, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch 1986-89
Kathleen Welch – Executive Director, Nat’l Association of Public Interest Law
Harrison Wellford – Food Safety Project, Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1969
David Wood – General Counsel, Public Interest Research Groups
Frances A. Zwenig – Attorney-Advocate, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch

Posted in Al Gore, Bush, election theft, Florida (where magical things happen), Supreme Court | 29 Comments »

Punching People’s Buttons

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 17, 2009

John Aravosis, who we last saw fomenting hatred against then-DNC Chair Howard Dean for getting rid of one gay DNC worker and replacing him with another, has done it again. His framing of the DoJ’s brief against the Smelt DOMA challenge (a framing that even a critic of the brief finds questionable) ignores some basic facts, facts that you have to read Laurence Tribe to find out:

As someone who wants to see DOMA dismantled and invalidated, I would love it if this ninth circuit case would evaporate into the ether.

Even though I personally believe that DOMA is unconstitutional, I think that this particular lawsuit is very vulnerable; it’s not anywhere near as strong as the one that was brought in the federal district court in Massachusetts [a suit filed by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders].

In an environment where the Supreme Court is still quite conservative, what makes a suit a strong one is that it finds a point of entry in which it’s possible to invalidate a law in a number of its applications by using more of a scalpel that might appeal to five justices rather than a bludgeon that will almost certainly ask more of the court than it is willing to do.

What’s strong about the Massachusetts case is that these are concrete situations of people who are legally married under the laws of states like Massachusetts or Vermont, and who are being discriminated against by the federal government with respect to federal benefits simply because they are same-sex couples. There’s no other difference between them and other couples in that state, and the court could agree with that without accepting any of the broader theories advanced in the [Smelt] lawsuit in the central district of California, which is basically a bet-the-farm lawsuit that almost dares a conservative Supreme Court to slap it down.


There are ways for the president to get rid of DOMA. He can advocate for its repeal, he can eventually urge the solicitor general to join in a more surgical attack, but he certainly isn’t obliged to go along with every plaintiff who brings a lawsuit.

The important point here is that the solicitor general traditionally seeks to dismiss lawsuits against federal laws whenever there is a plausible basis to do it. A lot of the outcry about the administration’s position doesn’t take that institutional reality into account.

Meanwhile, Obama shows off his evil homophobic side by hiring gay activist John Marble to work for openly-gay John Berry at the Office of Personnel Management, the Federal government’s human resources division. In addition, by the time you read this, Obama will have likely signed a presidential memorandum that has been in the works since around the time Berry was nominated to become the director of OPM, a memorandum that will provide benefits to same-sex partners of Federal employees, as many as can currently be provided by law (and yes, DOMA, which will have to be overturned by the Congress that created it, sits like a big toad blocking many key benefits).h

Posted in gay rights, President Obama, Supreme Court, WTF? | 1 Comment »

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