Archive for the ‘Supreme Court’ Category
It’s been rumored, in some of the print media, Sen. Rubio will drop out of the Republican race after the Florida primary this coming Tuesday, and throw his support behind his soon-to-be-former opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz in what appears to be a last-ditch attempt to stop Donald Trump from amassing the delegates to claim the Republican nomination.
Should “The Donald” win the nomination — and the likelihood of that happening increases day-by-day — he would become the standard-bearer of the Grand Old Party; a homophobic, bigoted, billionaire, misogynist, reality TV star who attracts right wing, lunatic fringe, conspiracy theorizing, violence-prone nut-cases to his cause. And the GOP elite and powerbrokers don’t think the Trump campaign represents “core Republican values”. Think about it! This is the party that campaigned for ‘Citizens United”, restricting voting rights (including restrictive voter ID laws) and against funding for Planned Parenthood, the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare), immigration reform, marriage equality, and gun control (along with a host of other issues of vital interest to the citizens of this country). And who do they think would be a better representative of “core Republican values”?
Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz. Senator Ted Cruz, who since being elected to the Senate in 2013, has managed, almost single-handedly, to shut down the government over ‘Obamacare’; referred to the raising of the debt ceiling to avoid another government shut-down “a complete Republican collapse”, called the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, “a liar” on the floor of the Senate, and thus alienating all his fellow senators. During his campaign Cruz has vowed to repeal “every blessed word of Obamacare”, dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and eliminate the Dept. of Education. He has enthusiastically encouraged the Republican-led Senate to not hold hearings to confirm (or reject) President Obama’s pick to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court as a result of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death and, in related comments, said he would not allow “our” Supreme Court (meaning his and his Christian-cloaked Tea Party cohorts’ Supreme Court) to be “stolen” by liberals who would destroy the Constitution. Sen. Cruz fashions himself a “strict originalist” when it comes to interpreting the Constitution, which means he feels the Justices should cleave to the ideas and meanings the framers originally intended; making the Constitution, as we understand it, irrelevant in today’s society but very relevant to the 18th century. This is the man the Republican party would choose, in place of Donald Trump, to be the representative of “core Republican values” in 2016.
Donald Trump would be a huge embarrassment to the Republican establishment; a caricature of what they see as a “true” Republican. But a manageable embarrassment. He is, after all, a neophyte when it comes to politics. Trump may be a “wheeler-dealer” but he would need people around him who could advise as to when to “wheel” and when to “deal”. If the GOP isn’t going to support his campaign, the least they could do is offer him some much-needed “assistance” should he win in November.
Ted Cruz, on the other hand, is a horse of a different — very different — color. The junior senator from Texas has already in his brief Senate career shown his willingness to disrupt the traditional workings of government. Like a petulant child, he would rather there be no game unless everyone agrees to play by his rules. Sen. Cruz is, like his colleagues in the Senate, unwilling to compromise, but unlike his colleagues in the Senate, he is unwilling to compromise with members of his own party, not just those on the “other side of the aisle”. He has said he will tear up the Iran Nuclear Arms deal brokered by President Obama, and thereby destroy whatever modicum of trust the President has managed to extract from, not only the hard-liners in that country, but the other eleven signatories of the agreement. As if this weren’t enough to give pause, Sen. Cruz has stated he would make the Middle East sand “glow in the dark”; a more than vague indication he is willing to use nuclear weapons. Ted Cruz would be more than an embarrassment for the GOP. He would be a disaster for the Republican Party and a catastrophe for the rest of the world.
In the matter of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding campaign financing, McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, I’d like to pass along a few thoughts. First among them is the fact this particular decision should come as no surprise to anyone, especially those who follow the workings of the Court. What did surprise me was how blatant and heavy-handed were the means used.
Conservatives have long endeavored to rescind some (or all) the government’s restrictions in the area of campaign financing, and with the enthusiastic assistance of Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito they have succeeded admirably.
In 2009, in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, these same justices held that corporations, independent of the people employed therein (and in complete contradiction to the very idea of “personhood”), are “persons” and as such entitled to First Amendment rights of free speech; which, in this instance, means corporations are free to dispense trainloads of money in elections.
Now, in McCutcheon, the Court not only removed the most important restrictions on campaign financing, the aggregate amounts, the Court also admonished the government for instituting the restrictions in the first place. As Chief Justice Roberts, (writing for the majority) states: “The Court has identified only one legitimate governmental interest for restricting campaign finances: preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption . . . Moreover, the only type of corruption Congress can target is quid pro quo corruption.” (For those among you who don’t “do” Latin, allow me to translate. Quid pro quo can be (loosely) as, “You stuff my pockets; I’ll stuff yours”).
Chief Justice Roberts continues: “Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but NOT in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties, does not give rise to quid pro quo corruption”. (Will someone please explain for me, “Why would anyone, other than the candidate, spend “large sums of money” on an election?”) “Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums garner “influence over or access to” elected officials or political parties”. So, according to Roberts & Co., if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . .it’s probably a rhinoceros.
At the outset, I want to say I had some reservations about posting this here but then I re-read the “About Walking the Cat” page and decided it was as appropriate as any other post I’ve written, so . . .
I am troubled by comments made by Justice Antonin Scalia during oral arguments in a case before the Court regarding certain sections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Justice Scalia’s reference to VRA as “. . .racial entitlement” is appalling on its face, but a larger issue resides in the attitude this comment represents as it relates to the function of the Court.
It was never the intention of the framers of the Constitution that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) should be a vehicle for legislation. It was designed to be a check against “unruly” legislation; to insure those laws passed by Congress comport with the Constitution. I don’t believe it is within the Court’s purvue to examine the motivations of individual legislators as to why they voted, pro or con, on a particular piece of legislation. Using such as argument the Court could examine every law enacted by Congress going back to the founding of the country; even to question the very decision to declare independence from England in the first place.
Yet Justice Scalia sees it as his responsibility to do just that. After labelling VRA as “racial entitlement”, he continues: “It’s been written about. whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes. I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution.”
Further along in the argument(s) Justice Scalia reaffirms his belief in the reasons some senators voted to enact (and reenact) VRA. After noting the existence of “black districts by law” (the results of state’s practice of gerrymandering), he adds, “And even the Virginia Senators, they have no interest in voting against this (VRA) . . .and they are going to lose — they are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act.”
I find this last statement mind-boggling. Apparently, in Justice Scalia’s mind, senators should not vote for or against bill based on what their constituents think. Never mind that, in the case of VRA, some of those whose rights are being protected could conceivably be persuaded to vote for them (I know it’s not likely to happen, especially for conservative senators, but it’s conceivable). Senators (and Congressmen, too) always take into consideration what their constituents think about the laws they are expected to vote on (at least they should be thinking about it); if they don’t, they abrogate their responsibility as elected officials and risk being voted out of office by that same constituency (as they should be).
The Voting Rights Act is important legislation and it should be reenacted; not only because it protects the rights of blacks (for whom it was enacted in 1965), but because it protects the rights of all of us. In 2011, seven states, all of which were (and still are) controlled by Republicans, attempted to establish restrictive voter ID laws in an effort to block (or at least restrict) those voters (not only blacks, but Hispanic, the poor, the elderly) they felt likely to vote for “the other guy”. Those efforts were blocked by the Justice Department, in two states, under Section 2 of VRA. The Voting Rights Act is vibrant and necessary legislation; as much now as it was when first enacted in 1965.
If Justice Scalia wishes to determine the constitutionality of law based on his assessment of the motivation(s) of lawmakers; whether or not their motivation was sufficient to warrant a vote for passage of a given piece of legislation, he should, perhaps, retire from the bench and take up psychology.