Tag Archives | Supreme Court

Activist Comics: Disclosure

If someone was talking shit about you, wouldn’t you want to know who it was? And if it was $145 million worth of shit you were buried under, wouldn’t you be outraged and demand to know who was dumping all this excrement on top of you, and why?

Well, here we are: After $145 million of anonymous spending in the midterm elections, the American public remains none the wiser as to who not only wanted to spend fortunes influencing politics, but needed to do it without exposing their identities and their motives. Insomuch as political spending is largely an investment made by eager pay-to-players looking to get a massive return in the form of tax breaks, contracts, or legislative deference, how much worse must these interests be if they need to keep their motives secret?

There are some — such as Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas, and fulminating lawyer James Bopp — who believe there should no disclosure on spending in elections at all, because that might expose a particular donor to criticism from others, which then would make them hesitant to give large sums to unpopular causes, and that is JUST LIKE restricting their First Amendment right to free speech.… Read the rest

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How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties

Anthony Kennedy official SCOTUS portrait crop.jpg

Justice Kennedy, the author of the Supreme Court’s ‘Citizens United’ opinion.

Pay 2 Play politics has been the name of the electoral game in America since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Jim Rutenberg has a great essay in the New York Times Magazine showing just how bad things have become:

…Before 2002, parties could accept unlimited donations from individuals or groups (corporations, labor unions, etc.) so long as they devoted the funds — so-called “soft money” — to the amorphous act of “party building.” The McCain-Feingold law, as it came to be known, banned soft-money contributions, and it also prohibited political groups that operate outside the regulated system and its donation limits — like the Wylys and their Republicans for Clean Air — from running “issue ads” that appear to help or hurt a candidate close to an election. It implemented tough fines and even prison terms for those who illegally coordinated with the official campaigns.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Why I can’t resign now

400px-Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg_official_SCOTUS_portrait

via Politco:

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is pushing back against suggestions that she should soon retire, saying President Barack Obama would be unable to get a justice like her through the Senate.

“Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have?” the 81-year-old justice told Elle Magazine in an interview excerpt released Tuesday. The wide-ranging interview portrays Ginsburg — seen as a member of the court’s liberal wing — as attuned to the dynamics in Congress and some of the greater political and social discussions in the U.S.

In the interview, she suggested that Senate Republicans would likely block any potential nominee like her.

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Federal Judge Richard George Kopf Tells Supreme Court They Should STFU

Richard G. Kopf, District Judge

Richard G. Kopf, District Judge

Federal Judge Richard George Kopf runs a personal blog, “Hercules and the umpire,” and has some choice words for the Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case:

In the Hobby Lobby cases, five male Justices of the Supreme Court, who are all members of the Catholic faith and who each were appointed by a President who hailed from the Republican party, decided that a huge corporation, with thousands of employees and gargantuan revenues, was a “person” entitled to assert a religious objection to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate because that corporation was “closely held” by family members. To the average person, the result looks stupid and smells worse.

To most people, the decision looks stupid ’cause corporations are not persons, all the legal mumbo jumbo notwithstanding. The decision looks misogynistic because the majority were all men. It looks partisan because all were appointed by a Republican.

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Hobby Lobby Ruling: Employers Don’t Have to Cover Birth Control

HobbyLobbyStowOhioIt’s a kick in the teeth to the promoters of “ObamaCare,” but this narrow limitation of the Affordable Care Act is really just a minor hiccup compared to the large number of people now enrolled. NBC News reports on the US Supreme Court ruling in the so called Hobby Lobby case:

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a limited decision, ruled Monday that closely held, for-profit companies can claim a religious exemption to the Obamacare requirement that they provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives.

For-profit corporations — including Conestoga Wood of Pennsylvania, owned by a family of Mennonite Christians, and Hobby Lobby, a family-owned chain of arts and crafts stores founded on Biblical principles — had challenged a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

It requires companies with more than 50 employees to cover preventive care services, which include such contraceptives as morning-after pills, diaphragms and IUDs.

The court’s ruling Monday was 5-4, written by Justice Samuel Alito, and the decision appeared to be extremely limited.

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U.S. Supreme Court Updates Legal Understanding of Privacy Rights

The United States Supreme Court has banned warrantless cell phone searches, effectively updating the legal framework of privacy rights to keep up with 21st century technology. This report from the Washington Times:

No mobile phone

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot go snooping through people’s cell phones without a warrant, in a unanimous decision that amounts to a major statement in favor of privacy rights.

Police agencies had argued that searching through the data on cell phones was no different than asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cell phone is more fundamental.

The ruling amounts to a 21st century update to legal understanding of privacy rights.

“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

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Supreme Court Declines To Intercede On Behalf Of Reporter James Risen: What’s Next?

state of warNew York Times reporter James Risen, author of “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration”, won’t give up one of his sources, and now that the Supreme Court won’t hear his case, he could be facing some serious prison time. The Washington Post has a run-down on what’s likely to happen now:

So what does this mean for Risen’s case? Will the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter be sent to prison? What does he have to say about the decision? And how does this fit into the Obama administration’s war on leaks? Here’s a primer on what is going on, where things stand and what could happen next.

Who is James Risen?

Risen is a reporter for the New York Times who writes about national security issues. In 2006, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his stories about the Bush administration’s domestic wiretapping program.  He continues to write about national security, and published a front-page story Sunday about how the National Security Agency is intercepting massive numbers of images shared to social media platforms to use in facial recognition programs.

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US Supreme Court Opens Up Federal Elections To Richest Bidders

Make no mistake, the US Supreme Court’s decision to remove limits on monetary donations to candidates for federal political office is a game changer. The New York Times editorial board weighs in on the implications:

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States of America.

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States of America.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued its crusade to knock down all barriers to the distorting power of money on American elections. In the court’s most significant campaign-finance ruling since Citizens United in 2010, five justices voted to eliminate sensible and long-established contribution limits to federal political campaigns. Listening to their reasoning, one could almost imagine that the case was simply about the freedom of speech in the context of elections.

“There is no right more basic in our democracy,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote in the opening of his opinion for the court in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, “than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

But make no mistake, like other rulings by the Roberts court that have chipped away at campaign-finance regulations in recent years, the McCutcheon decision is less about free speech than about giving those few people with the most money the loudest voice in politics.

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Citizens United 2.0: Major Supreme Court Ruling Will Further Expand Reach Of Money In U.S. Elections

supreme courtThe Supreme Court’s conservative majority feels that any limit on the flow of money into political campaigns is a violation of free speech, the New York Times reports:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a major campaign finance decision, striking down some limits on federal campaign contributions for the first time. The ruling, issued near the start of a campaign season, will change and most likely increase the already large role money plays in American politics.

The decision, by a 5-to-4 vote along ideological lines, with the court’s more conservative justices in the majority, was a sequel of sorts to Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. But that ruling did nothing to affect the other main form of campaign finance regulation: caps on direct contributions to candidates and political parties.

Dissenting from the bench, Justice Stephen G. Breyer called the decision a blow to the First Amendment and American democracy.

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Complicit Corruption: Calling Out the Supreme Court on Citizens United

“Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.” – Thomas Jefferson

This past Wednesday, Kai Newkirk – co-founder of 99Rise.orgstood up during a session of the Supreme Court and (while being secretly videotaped, presumably by another member of his organization) made the following bold announcement:

“I rise on behalf of the vast majority of the American people who believe that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and our democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder. Overturn Citizens United. Keep the cap in McCutcheon. The people demand democracy!”

This is the first time that video footage has ever been taken within a session of the SC (these sessions are open to the public, yet photography and recordings are banned) and Newkirk will face federal prosecution in March for having the balls to stand up in front of these crooks and say what everyone else is already thinking.… Read the rest

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