Posts tagged "SCOTUS"

thepoliticalfreakshow:

The situation with Cliven Bundy of Nevada should be a no-brainer for people from both the left and the right. Bundy has been stealing from the taxpayers for years, illegally grazing his cattle on federal lands while refusing to pay for the privilege. Both liberals and conservatives pay taxes, so such blatant theft should outrage everyone equally. Indeed, conservative media claims to take theft from taxpayers very seriously, with Fox News spending so much time on the minuscule problem of food stamp cheats that the number of minutes spent on it has likely long ago exceeded the number of pennies lost to this non-problem.

Bundy has stolen far more than any hypothetical food stamp cheat ever did, but when the government tried to show up and take what was theirs, he met them with armed resistance, pushing him from the “ordinary fraud” category to the “violent criminal” column.

And yet, for some reason, Bundy’s outrageous theft of services from the taxpayers is not being taken seriously by the right-wing press. As Roy Edroso of Village Voice and Eric Boehlert of Media Matters have chronicled, the conservative response to the whole incident has ranged from minimizing the seriousness of the crime to outright cheering Bundy on in his efforts to use the threat of violence to continue stealing from the taxpayers.

It’s tempting to write this reaction off as a matter of idiocy married to identity politics. Bundy is a white guy in a cowboy hat wielding guns, which reads as “one of us” to many on the right, so they refuse to accept that he’s a bad guy no matter how much he threatens violence against federal officers simply for enforcing a law that applies to everyone. And no doubt that is part of what’s going on here. But really, what’s going on runs deeper than a knee-jerk desire on the part of the right to believe every white guy in a cowboy hat is a good guy. This is the logical extension of a push that’s grown in recent years from conservatives to argue that they, and only they, have special rights to simply disregard any law they don’t want to follow. And unfortunately that’s an argument that may be making headway this year in the Supreme Court.

The past couple of years have seen a surge in conservatives demanding special rights to disobey universally applicable federal laws on the grounds that they don’t believe in them. This argument has largely been treated favorably by right-wing media that would definitely not extend that courtesy to anyone else. The Hobby Lobby case is simply the most prominent. To recap, Hobby Lobby is arguing before the Supreme Court that because they don’t believe certain forms of contraception are allowed by their god, they shouldn’t be required to meet federal minimum standards requiring that contraception for healthcare plans offered to employees as part of their compensation package, even if the employees don’t believe in a birth control-hating god.

It’s alarming to think that Hobby Lobby is arguing that anyone should be able to ignore any law they want just by stating they don’t “believe” in it, but reading between the lines of their lawyer Paul Clemente’s arguments before the Supreme Court, it’s clear they think this right to exempt yourself from federal regulations should be exclusive to Christian conservatives.

When Justices Kagan and Sotomayor pressed Clemente to explain how being able to opt out of the contraception mandate wouldn’t lead to being able to opt out of offering insurance that covers vaccines or blood transfusions, Clemente waved their concerns off, saying that contraception was “so religiously sensitive, so fraught with religious controversy” in a way those other things aren’t. But, of course, there are religious groups that do think vaccines or blood transfusions are just as “fraught” as contraception, if not more so. The only difference is those groups don’t have the backing of the Christian right. Even without stating so explicitly, therefore, Clemente’s arguments rested on the assumption that the opt-out opportunities he’s pushing for would be for Christian conservatives and only them. The rest of you can go hang.

Similar logic was in play with the push in various states to pass laws giving rights to businesses to discriminate against customers or employees on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, as long as they ascribed their desire to do so on the grounds of “sincere religious belief.” Being allowed a special exemption to universally applicable laws doesn’t get any more blatant than that. There wasn’t even an attempt at propping up the illusion of fairness by, say, allowing gay or female business owners to discriminate against religious bigots. Being a religious conservative was the only way to be eligible for this special privilege of treating customers and employees like dirt if you want to.

While that spate of bills was defeated after public outcry, the narrative that conservatives have a special right — privilege, really — that no one else should have to defy any laws they happen not to like had rooted itself into right-wing media, which enthusiastically championed the idea that conservatives should be able to opt out of all sorts of laws as long as they wielded “religious belief” as an excuse.

Cliven Bundy doesn’t use religion as his excuse, but he still insists that since he doesn’t believe in the “United States government as even existing,” then he shouldn’t have to follow its laws. It’s a logical extension of the anti-gay and anti-contraception “opt out” arguments, rooted as it is in a belief that conservatives have a unique claim to simply reject any laws they don’t want to follow, even as they, like Bundy, take advantage of the amenities of citizenship.

No wonder conservative media is so warm to the guy. To be clear, none of these actions should be confused with civil disobedience, though some have tried. Civil disobedience is about changing unjust laws, not trying to get a special exception from the law for you and people like you. The only reason right-wing media is giving sympathetic coverage to Bundy is that he’s identifiable as a conservative and therefore his desire to make money off the backs of taxpayers without paying his fair share gets sympathetic treatment. But if he was black or female and got away with even a dollar more food stamps than he was owed, he would be treated like public enemy No. 1 by Fox News. Being able to shrug off laws you don’t like is a privilege reserved for the few in the world of conservative media.

crooksandliars:

SCOTUSBlog Denied Press Credentialing

Anyone who follows the Supreme Court even just occasionally has heard of SCOTUSblog. They are the first go-to to get all of the information and analysis of Supreme Court arguments and analysis with facts, rather than partisanship or opinion. Networks turn to them, as do ordinary people like me.

A couple of weeks ago there were rumbles that they were having difficulty getting their press credentials, and now there’s a blog update:

Last week, the Senate Press Gallery denied SCOTUSblog’s application for a press pass, and advised us that it would refuse to renew the credential it had previously granted Lyle when it expires next month. We were disappointed in that decision, and we are grateful for the support that we have received through social media, emails, and phone calls.

We thought it would be useful to write and explain the state of play regarding our credentialing. SCOTUSblog is not now, and has never been, credentialed by the Supreme Court. The Court’s longstanding policy was to look to credentials issued by the Senate. We pursued a Senate credential for several years, modifying several policies of the blog to address concerns expressed by the Gallery. Last year, we finally succeeded – the Senate Press Gallery credentialed Lyle as a reporter for SCOTUSblog. We then presented that credential to the Supreme Court, thinking that the issue was resolved.

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h/t: Catherne Thompson at TPM

mediamattersforamerica:

Educate yourself: http://mm4a.org/1fIW9lp
Our democracy depends on it.

liberalsarecool:

Five conservative judges are changing the laws set by Congress. They are changing the election system and the protections established over centuries in order to provide unlimited campaign funding for the mega-wealthy.

The right wing talks of tyranny and here it is.

(via reagan-was-a-horrible-president)

crooksandliars:

Sen. Sanders: Supreme Court Undermines Democracy By Allowing Billionaires To Buy Elections

Sen. Bernie Sanders discusses the latest disastrous ruling to come out of the Supreme Court, giving the likes of the Koch brothers even more power to buy our elections with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman: Sen. Bernie Sanders: Supreme Court Undermines Democracy by Allowing Billionaires to “Buy Elections”:

AMY GOODMAN: As the 2014 election season gets underway, the Supreme Court has issued a major ruling on campaign finance in a case described by many as “the next Citizens United.” In a 5-to-4 vote Wednesday, the court’s conservative justices eliminated a long-standing limit on how much donors can give in total to federal candidates, party committees and political action committees in a two-year election cycle. Without any aggregate limit, a donor can now give millions of dollars directly to candidates and parties.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, quote, “There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders. … Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects.”

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See Also: BREAKING: Right-Wing Activist Judges at SCOTUS rule in favor of McCutcheon

h/t: Andy Kroll at Mother Jones

More proof that right-wing activist judges are destroying this nation, with the McCutcheon v. FEC ruling being the latest. This is WORSE than Citizens United!! 

h/t: Molly Redden at Mother Jones

H/T: Tim from LA at PoliticusUSA

McCutcheon v. FEC is Citizens United on steroids.

It has barely been a month since Arizona’s “practice or observance of religion” legislation giving any person or group the “ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief” was vetoed by the governor who helped write the legislation. Arizona evangelicals were incensed their attempt to expand religious liberty to mean religious freedom to impose Christianity on any Arizonan or disregard any state or federal law failed, but little did they know that within a month of defeat the Supreme Court would decide whether or not to make the failed Arizona legislation the constitutional law of the land in a federal “practice or observance of religion” case. The so-called Hobby Lobby case will allegedly answer whether or not a private secular corporation is a religious person that can disregard federal law and impose its religion on female employees, and like Arizona’s failed “religious liberty” legislation, a decision for Hobby Lobby will be a national religious tyranny license with far-reaching implications.

It did not take more than a quick perusal of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties counsel’s arguments before the High Court demanding religious liberty to disregard a federal law to understand that there is much more to the case than meets the eye. It was the claim by Hobby Lobby that its religious belief determined that certain forms of birth control such as Plan B and IUDs induce abortion that goes against the corporation’s religious belief. The attorney for the government explained that none of these contraceptives aborts a pregnancy, but only prevents implantation in the uterine lining that is the definition of pregnancy; therefore the contraceptives could not possibly induce abortion.

The response from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties came in the form of an amicus brief by former Democratic Senator Bart Stupac who wrote that “this doesn’t matter because although the government has made statements that terminating a fertilized embryo before it implants in the uterus is not an abortion, the relevant matter for claim of conscience is plaintiffs’ belief that a distinct human life begins at fertilization. It is no salve to be told that the government defines abortion differently.” However, it is not the government’s definition of abortion; it is humanreproductive biology that dictates there is no pregnancy until a blastocyst (when the embryo is a hollow sphere) implants in the uterine lining in the womb. A blastocyst is the second stage after a sperm cell punctures an ovum (fertilization) and becomes a single-celled zygote that is physically unable to implant in the uterine wall and likely sloughed off. Therefore, a zygote cannot be a living human being according to biological reality and Hobby Lobby’s Christian bible according to its god almighty.

It is the idea that Hobby Lobby’s religious “belief” is not supported by its own bible or biological reality that makes a favorable ruling tantamount to enacting Arizona’s “religious observance” legislation the law of the land.  The Arizonalegislation granted any individual or group freedom in the “practice or observance of religion the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.” If the Court rules for Hobby Lobby, then it acknowledges the corporation’s religious belief that human life begins at fertilization and sets a very dangerous precedent redefining pregnancy, making personhood the law of the land, and redefines abortion, miscarriage, and contraception as homicide; something the pro-life movement lusted after for decades. It also allows anyone to “act or refuse to act” if they claim they are motivated by “religious observance;” even if it is not “compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief” such as Hobby Lobby’s ridiculous assertion that “human life begins at fertilization.”

Despite the High Court is ruling regarding a corporation’s religious liberty, once the precedent is set in stone any small business owned by a racist can claim religious liberty to refuse to serve people of color, a homophobic owner can refuse to serve or hire gays, and any hardline evangelical can refuse to hire Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, Catholics, or women by claiming their religion forbids women working outside the home. In fact, there are no anti-discrimination or civil right laws that cannot be disregarded if anyone claims adhering to them violates their religious beliefs whether or not those beliefs are part of a religion. The real danger is the myriad edicts that are firmly rooted in the Christian bible anyone claiming religious freedom or conscience violation will be allowed to act upon regardless state or federal laws.

A ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby et al will adversely affect women first and it is game over for women’s reproductive rights because every Republican-controlled state will enact bans on abortion and contraception based on the idea that life begins at fertilization. As an aside, it was not until Republican man-god Ronald Reagan granted the Jerry Falwell, Paul Weyrich, and Francis Schaeffer “moral majority” political power that the idea a fetus is a living human being became mainstream. In fact, prior to 1982 the official position of the Southern Baptist Convention and Protestant evangelicals was that “god does not regard the fetus as a soul no matter how far gestation has progressed,” and that the “method of preventing pregnancy (including induced abortion) is not so much a religious as a scientific and medical question to be determined in consultation with one’s physician.” One wonders how much America’s women love Ronald Reagan now.

The religious right has panted for a “religious liberty” ruling abolishing the First Amendment’s “free exercise clause” in their behalf since 1982 to restrict other Americans from their right to religious freedom and they will not stop at dominating women. Although there was no mention of gays in Arizona’s “practice or observance of religion” legislation, it is believed that legally discriminating against gays was a major goal of the failed legislation.  A ruling for Hobby Lobby will set the precedent for any business or individual to discriminate against anyone as long as they claim it is part and parcel of their religious belief system, and one might be hopeful uber-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will join liberals on the bench and repeat his opinion to Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties their claim of corporate religious liberty is “an exaggerated view of religious freedom that serves to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” However, the High Court is ruling for a corporation and there is little doubt the conservatives will follow their Citizens United decision and come down on the side of the secular for-profit corporations regardless the absurd assertion they pray, worship, and demand religious freedom to become a law unto themselves.

If Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby goes HL’s way, it’ll set off a scary precedent. 

h/t: Rmuse at PoliticusUSA

h/t: Seth D. Michaels at TPM 

h/t: Dr. Tania Basu at RH Reality Check

rhrealitycheck

The ruling will be a very close one either way come June. Hopefully, SCOTUS sides with Sebelius. 

h/t: Ryan J. Reilly and Laura Bassett at HuffPost Politics