While my Republican brethren bray across the cablesphere about yesterday’s SCOTUS decision upholding Obamacare, I went a’reading to see what the long-time SCOTUS reporters had to say.
Writing about the majority opinion Linda Greenhouse wrote:
The chief justice’s masterful opinion showed that line of argument for the simplistic and agenda-driven construct that it was. Parsing the 1,000-plus-page statute in a succinct 21-page opinion, he deftly wove in quotations from recent Supreme Court opinions.
Who said that we “must do our best, bearing in mind the fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme”? Why, it was Justice Scalia (actually quoting an earlier opinion by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor) in a decision just a year ago.
And who said that “a provision that may seem ambiguous in isolation is often clarified by the remainder of the statutory scheme” because “only one of the permissible meanings produces a substantive effect that is compatible with the rest of the law”? Why, Justice Scalia again.
The Court didn’t rewrite the law. They just read it, as is their job.
. . . we celebrate our independence. Because 238 years ago a brave group of revolutionaries threw off a colonial power. That’s something that has happened around the world many times – both before and since. But . . .
. . . I think our greater achievement is this: for 225 years we have maintained a continuity of government (even in war), peacefully transferring power (that one’s just since Washington to Adams, so 214 years) over and over . That’s a testament to the brilliance of our constitution and our continuing respect for it. Good for us!
Inside the majestic building housing the Supreme Court of the United States (truly a gorgeous building), the Justices yesterday ruled that the 35-foot buffer zone around an abortion clinic “violated protestors’ freedom of speech”. Outside that same building, the exclusion zone for protestors is 250 feet.
So SCOTUS has decided: protections accorded human beings by the Bill of Rights are extended, yet again, to Corporations.
- Since corporations are persons and speech is money, political donations are from them are unrestricted. It’s Free Speech, protected by the First Amendment.
- And now, some for-profit corporations have been granted Freedom of Religion and the attendant protections to exercised those ‘freedoms’ even when in opposition to the civil laws of the land.
Heed Thomas Jefferson:
“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”
Say no more.
Posted in Civics, Constitution, corporate power, Government, human rights, Politics, religion
Tagged Bill of Rights, corporations are people, freedome of religion, Human rights, money is speech, Politics, religion, SCOTUS
Rep. Steve King:
“I think it’s a constitutional violation” and “We’ve never had a president with that level of audacity and that level of contempt for his own oath of office.”
House Speaker John Boehner:
“There’s a Constitution that we all take an oath to, including him!”
And then, of course, there’s this:
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) said Tuesday night he left President Obama’s State of the Union speech early after “hearing how the president is further abusing his Constitutional powers.”
“I could not bear to watch as he continued to cross the clearly-defined boundaries of the Constitutional separation of powers,” Stockman said in a press release shortly after Obama’s speech ended. “Needless to say, I am deeply disappointed in the tone and content of tonight’s address.”
Stockman said Obama was promising to “break his oath of office and begin enacting his own brand of law through executive decree.”
Posted in broken government, Civics, Constitution, History, Obama, partisanship
Tagged congress, Constitution, Obama, partisansip, Politics, presidential executive orders
Interesting that President Barry made this exact point yesterday. I guess he’s reading my Facebook feed cuz I said this on Monday in a comment thread – and in a post here. And I wish he’d said it sooner.
Obamacare is the law, as passed by the Congress, signed by the President, upheld by the US Supreme Court, and reaffirmed by the American people when they re-elected that President. That’s the way the US gov’t is designed to work. Half of those who tell pollsters they disapprove do so because it doesn’t go far enough – they wanted a single payer plan. The demand to defund or delay Obamacare comes from a single branch (and only a small minority of that branch) trying to undo – by holding hostage – a law created in the way designed by the Constitution.
UPDATED BELOW: From Forbes magazine this morning:
But a new survey of 1,976 registered voters finds that only 33 percent believe that the health law should be repealed, delayed, or defunded. 29 percent believe that “Congress should make changes to improve the law,” 26 percent believe that “Congress should let the law take effect” and see what happens, and 12 percent believe that the law should be expanded. The bottom line? Voters are skeptical that Obamacare will live up to Democrats’ hype. But they also believe that it should be given a chance to succeed.
Universal health care (which Obamacare is most assuredly not – at least not yet) has been a political objective, indeed a platform goal, of the Democratic Party since Truman (Teddy Roosevelt and Nixon liked it too). So it has been a stated goal of at least half this nation for decades. It is now the law, as passed by the Congress, signed by the President, upheld by the US Supreme Court, and reaffirmed by the American people when they re-elected the President who sponsored it. That’s exactly the way our Federal government was designed to work.
The House GOP is not pursuing the will of the American people, they are pursuing a Party objective. They forget that they are only one of three branches of government (and only half of that branch!).
Our Founders knew well to build in protections against
a tyranny of the minority. UPDATE: commenter Alan Scott points out – correctly – that I am wrong here. Our Founders built in protections against a Tyranny of MAJORITY. My bad.
The minority half of one branch of our government is on the wrong side of this.
Posted in broken government, Civics, Congress critters, Constitution, Government, health care, History, Politics
Tagged ACA, congress, federal government, Obamacare, Politics, three branches of government, US Constitution
Ladies and gentlemen! Citizens of television land! I call you to gather at the CSpan for the Greatest Show on Earth!! Ted Cruz has taken the floor.
This is the third real filibuster in the last few years and that should be a good thing. I much prefer it to the invisible procedural nonsense of placing holds. Last year, Bernie Sanders (D-VT) did eight hours and last winter Rand Paul did thirteen hours. I don’t think either changed any minds, but they were presented honestly and honorably.
But this one? After hours of Ted Cruz sends the whole populace rushing for the showers, other Congress Critters might decide that doing business in the shadows was the better idea after all.
. . . I choose to celebrate the continuity of our government. We’ve managed it for 237 years. That’s an achievement and a testament to the brilliance of our constitution and our continuing respect for it. So good for us. Herbunk created this a few years ago and he just reposted for 2013. Also, it may be the best morph ever.
When he is bad, he is very very bad, but when he is good, he is very very good. Here in his Washington Post column Charles Krauthammer (also senior serious intellectual, FOX News) looks at SCOTUS’ DOMA decision and explains quite well what it means.
He’s not particularly judgmental about either the issue or about the Court’s action. He breaks the decision down to its essentials and says – as I believe – that Federal recognition is now inevitable. Because, as he noted, the Court used the rationale of ‘equal protection under the law’. By saying so in the decision, he says, they pretty much guarantee that full recognition is on the docket next session and it will happen.
. . . if the argument is equal protection, one question is left hanging. Why should equal protection apply only in states that recognize gay marriage? Why doesn’t it apply equally — indeed, even perhaps more forcefully — to gays who want to marry in states that refuse to marry them?
If discriminating (regarding federal benefits) between a gay couple and a straight couple is prohibited in New York where gay marriage is legal, by what logic is discrimination permitted in Texas, where a gay couple is prevented from marrying in the first place?
Krauthammer finds none. He notes the broad smile on the face of David Boise who argued for the Prop 8 ruling and says:
He understood immediately that once the court finds it unconstitutional to discriminate between gay and straight couples, nationalizing gay marriage is just one step away.
Yup. I think Boise and Charles have it exactly right. This week’s half measure is temporary. The fat lady hasn’t quite finished singing yet.
I think I did pretty well with my SCOTUS predictions, which means everyone must “bow to my majesty” (much preferable to being “mocked without mercy”).
- DOMA – The Supremes knock it down as unconstitutional. NAILED IT!
- California Prop 8 – Unconstitutional. NAILED IT! (Sheepish Update: Turns out this one is limited to CA and is based on standing. So maybe only half for me here. Can I count the two ‘halfs’ as ‘one’. I say yes. So still Two Out of Three. So there.)
- Affirmative Action – limited decision, but basically will say the program has – in some instances – run its course. They side for the Plaintiff. ALMOST HALF RIGHT? They held back for sure by sending it back and hinted at future favorable rulings if a Plaintiff has ‘standing’.
(Here’s something from back when this lad had a voice, a beautiful one):
As it is, so it’s ever been.
June 14, 2013 in big brother, Civics, Constitution, Government, Politics
Tagged Big Brother, government, national security state, NSA, NSA cartoon, Politics
- UPDATE: Seems this program has been going on for years through two administrations and the authorization is renewed, almost automatically, every 90 days. Some nat’l security reporters point out that this has been reported on before and is the result of the big FISA public debate of a decade ago, but it disappeared from the public conversation. (We really need to do better than this.)
Not all things are the same: not all whistle blowers are honorable, but the tradition of revealing secret government activity to the press . . . that will always be the essential ingredient if the press is to fulfill its most important mission. Our press is charged to:
Speak truth to power
Connor Friedersdorf makes that point today:
The Unknown Patriot Who Exposed the Government’s Verizon Spy Program
In praise of whistle-blowers whose risky disclosures of official wrongdoing make the nation stronger rather than weaker . . . “The order was marked TOP SECRET//SI//NOFORN, referring to communications-related intelligence information that may not be released to noncitizens. That would make it among the most closely held secrets in the federal government”
This leaker is no doubt fully aware he/she has committed a crime but got the priorities exactly right. So to some unknown person – well done.
From one of our best investigative journalists, here’s Steve Coll, today in The New Yorker:
It seems likely that Holder or his deputies have authorized other press subpoenas and surveillance regimes that have not yet been disclosed. The Justice Department has acted belligerently even in cases where no grave harm to the public interest has been demonstrated, or where, as in the A.P. case, the leaks under suspicion have served to publicize the Administration’s successes. . .
He allows that the increase in investigations by Justice in recent years may relate to this:
Obama inherited a bloated national-security state. It contains far too many official secrets and far too many secret-keepers—more than a million people now hold top-secret clearances. Under a thirty-year-old executive order issued by the White House, the intelligence agencies must inform the Justice Department whenever they believe that classified information has been disclosed illegally to the press. These referrals operate on a kind of automatic pilot, and the system is unbalanced.
But ultimately, Coll says:
. . . The media are not just watchdogs barking at the White House and the C.I.A. The First Amendment aspires to a fuller compact among citizens, including between journalists and confidential sources, that is premised on the self-evident truth that secrecy and concentrated power are inherently corrupting.
Posted in big brother, Civics, Constitution, Government, Media, Politics
Tagged Eric Holder, first amendment, free press, Justice Department, Media, national security leaks, Steve Coll
Everyone is having their say about the IRS’ Lois Lerner who took the Fifth yesterday before a Congressional committee (just like that conservative icon Oliver North did). Here’s Fat Boy:
You have to be very careful in making judgments about people based on physical appearance, although I’ve gotten really good at it.
I guess we all see what we want to see when we look in the mirror. Anyway, I hear you Rush and I am being careful. I do think it through before I call anyone Fat Boy or “the morbidly-obese, four times married” . . . . and after thinking it through, I feel I am morally entitled to toss schoolyard insults at you, because that’s what you do for a living. Good for the goose, good for the . . .
Posted in Congress critters, Constitution, Government, irony, Politics, talk radio, taxes, The Daily Rush
Tagged Constitution, IRS, Lois Lerner, Oliver North, Politics, rush limbaugh, Taking the Fifth, talk radio
It’s the right response to the AP/Fox abuses.
I never liked him anyway. He heads a Justice Department that didn’t bring a single fraudster bankster to trial.
Don’t slam the door on your way out fella’.
UPDATE: Lois Lerner too.
In the eyes of many, I’m sure the police actions in Boston were appropriate because we’re at war with terror, or terrorism, or terrorists. Whatever. I don’t deny the threat but I abhor the notion that this is ‘war’. Anyway, take it away Ron:
Former Rep. Ron Paul said the police response to the Boston Marathon bombings was scarier than the bombing itself, which killed three and wounded more than 250.
“The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city . . . This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself” . . .
Paul said the scenes of the house-to-house search for the younger bombing suspect in suburban Watertown, Mass., were reminiscent of a “military coup in a far off banana republic.”
Not sure about that coup part, but certainly it looked like a military action.
“Forced lockdown of a city,” he wrote. “Militarized police riding tanks in the streets. Door-to-door armed searches without warrant. Families thrown out of their homes at gunpoint to be searched without probable cause. Businesses forced to close. Transport shut down.”
(Heads up WPressers . . . our blog platform ain’t allowin’ no pictures today. Or maybe WP is just picking on me?)