• Category Archives Supreme Court
  • Federal Law Against Same-Sex Couples Ruled Unconstitutional

    From our friends at the ACLU via ENEWSPF:

    In two related cases, a federal district court in Massachusetts has ruled that critical portions of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violate the federal Constitution. In striking down the section of the statute that bars federal legal protections to legally married same-sex couples, Judge Joseph Tauro found that the law violates states’ rights to define marriage and violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause by treating married same-sex couples differently from married different-sex couples. Prior to the passage of DOMA, the federal government always recognized the states’ right to define marriage. The cases were brought by the Massachusetts attorney general and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

    A bill is currently pending in the House of Representatives that would repeal DOMA and respect state marriages by providing federal protections for married same-sex couples. The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that, once the federal government recognizes the marriage of a same-sex couple, it would continue to recognize that marriage even if the couple moved to another state that would not have allowed the couple to marry in the first place.

    The following can be attributed to James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project:

    "Today’s decision is an important step forward for marriage for same-sex couples. There are thousands of same-sex couples lawfully married in the five states and Washington, DC that currently allow them the freedom to marry. Today’s ruling recognizes that the federal government has literally no justification for refusing to respect those marriages.

    "To finish the job, Congress should pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which is pending in Congress and would completely repeal DOMA. We applaud this decision and congratulate GLAD and the Massachusetts attorney general for their work in bringing the cases."

    This is good news for all of us who hope for true equality in this country. We are very happy for all of our GLBT friends.

    One day, this will all seem oh-so-silly.

    DOMA has got to go.


  • Myths And Falsehoods About Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court Nomination

    ENEWSPF is carrying a quite comprehensive article from Media Matters for America that addresses – heck, blows out of the water – every myth and falsehood that has been floated about Elena Kagan, including the following:

    • Myth: Kagan is "anti-military"
    • Myth: Kagan is "radical"
    • Myth: Kagan’s praise for an Israeli Supreme Court justice shows she’s a radical (NEW)
    • Myth: Kagan’s thesis shows she’s a socialist
    • Myth: Conservatives can credibly argue that Kagan’s personal and political views are relevant to confirmation process
    • Myth: "Kagan Standard" means Kagan must answer questions about issues that will come before the Supreme Court
    • Myth: Kagan’s Goldman Sachs role taints her nomination
    • Myth: Conservative opposition is based on the substance of Kagan’s nomination
    • Myth: Obama used "empathy" standard rather than fealty to law in choosing Kagan
    • Myth: Kagan is unqualified because she hasn’t been a judge (UPDATED)
    • Myth: Kagan has said judicial experience is an "apparent necessity"
    • Myth: Republicans would be justified in opposing Kagan because she lacks a judicial paper trail
    • Myth: Kagan is "Obama’s Harriet Miers"
    • Myth: Kagan’s record shows that she will rubber-stamp war-on-terror policies
    • Myth: Kagan’s 23-year-old statements about the Establishment Clause suggest she’s hostile to religion
    • Myth: Kagan’s recusal obligations would be "extraordinary"
    • Myth: Kagan "can become" too "emotionally involved on issues she deeply cares about"
    • Myth: Kagan not "fair-minded, impartial" and doesn’t have "proper temperament to be a judge"
    • Myth: Kagan is anti-free speech
    • Myth: Kagan supports banning books
    • Myth: Kagan wanted to "ban pamphlets" by individuals (NEW)
    • Myth: Kagan is anti-Second Amendment
    • Myth: Kagan compared the NRA to the Klan (NEW)
    • Myth: Kagan banned ROTC from campus
    • Myth: Kagan "cover[ed] up" plagiarism at Harvard Law
    • Myth: Kagan’s citation of Marshall’s statement that the original Constitution was "defective" is controversial
    • Myth: Kagan’s memos to Justice Thurgood Marshall prove she’s outside mainstream (NEW)
    • Myth: Kagan’s campaign donations are unusual
    • Myth: Kagan supported Saudi sponsors of terrorism
    • Myth: Kagan accepted a gift by Saudi prince that brought Shariah at Harvard (NEW)
    • Myth: Kagan acted improperly in Warner Creek case
    • Myth: As SG, Kagan indulged her own views rather than defending the law
    • Myth: Kagan is avoiding "traditional interviews" with the press
    • Myth: Kagan supports holding terror suspects "without due process" (NEW)
    • Myth: Kagan believes that foreign law trumps constitutional law (NEW)
    • Myth: Kagan wants to protect sex offenders in the Catholic Church (NEW)
    • Myth: Kagan supports cloning human beings (NEW)

    Read the entire article here.


  • Justice Samuel Alito Says ‘Not True’ During State Of The Union When Prez Calls Out SCOTUS

    Watch Justice Samuel Alito’s lips. He’s sitting on the far left (no pun intended) behind Cheif Justice John Roberts. Justice Alito says, "Not true," when President Obama shares his reservations about the latest Supreme Court ruling regarding corporate spending in elections.

    Watch the video closely.


  • Obama Declares ‘I Don’t Quit’ in First State of the Union Address

    From the Chicago Sun-Times:

    Declaring “I don’t quit,”‘ an embattled President Barack Obama vowed in his first State of the Union address Wednesday night to make job growth his topmost priority and urged a divided Congress to boost the still-ailing economy with fresh stimulus spending. Defiant despite stinging setbacks, he said he would not abandon ambitious plans for longer-term fixes to health care, energy, education and more.

    “Change has not come fast enough,” Obama said before a politician-packed House chamber and a TV audience of millions. “As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may be, it’s time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.”

    Obama looked to change the conversation from how his presidency is stalling — over the messy health care debate, a limping economy and the missteps that led to Christmas Day’s barely averted terrorist disaster — to how he is seizing the reins.

    A chief demand was for lawmakers to press forward with his prized health care overhaul, which is in severe danger in Congress, and to resist the temptation to substitute a smaller-bore solution for the far-reaching changes he wants.

    “Do not walk away from reform,” he implored. “Not now. Not when we are so close.”

    Republicans applauded the president when he entered the chamber, and even craned their necks and welcomed Michelle Obama when she took her seat. But the warm feelings of bipartisanship disappeared early.

    I don’t know how “embattled” President Obama is right now. Every president is “embattled.” I found the tone of the SOTU remarkable. But Congress needs to remember how to be a parliament, and they’re not there yet. Republicans say, “NO!” Democrats let the tail wag the dog and give up the fight. The intelligence factor in Congress is rather low right now, I fear, on both sides of the aisle. Republicans are too dumb to realize that there is more to life than cheap politics, and Democrats are too dumb to know how to make Congress work.

    Too bad.

    I’m glad this president does not “give up.” We still have work to do.


  • Weekly Address: President Obama Addresses This Week’s Supreme Court Decision (Video and Text)

    Washington, D.C.–January 23, 2010.

    One of the reasons I ran for President was because I believed so strongly that the voices of everyday Americans, hardworking folks doing everything they can to stay afloat, just weren’t being heard over the powerful voices of the special interests in Washington. And the result was a national agenda too often skewed in favor of those with the power to tilt the tables.

    In my first year in office, we pushed back on that power by implementing historic reforms to get rid of the influence of those special interests. On my first day in office, we closed the revolving door between lobbying firms and the government so that no one in my administration would make decisions based on the interests of former or future employers. We barred gifts from federal lobbyists to executive branch officials. We imposed tough restrictions to prevent funds for our recovery from lining the pockets of the well-connected, instead of creating jobs for Americans. And for the first time in history, we have publicly disclosed the names of lobbyists and non-lobbyists alike who visit the White House every day, so that you know what’s going on in the White House – the people’s house.

    We’ve been making steady progress. But this week, the United States Supreme Court handed a huge victory to the special interests and their lobbyists – and a powerful blow to our efforts to rein in corporate influence. This ruling strikes at our democracy itself. By a 5-4 vote, the Court overturned more than a century of law – including a bipartisan campaign finance law written by Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold that had barred corporations from using their financial clout to directly interfere with elections by running advertisements for or against candidates in the crucial closing weeks.

    This ruling opens the floodgates for an unlimited amount of special interest money into our democracy. It gives the special interest lobbyists new leverage to spend millions on advertising to persuade elected officials to vote their way – or to punish those who don’t. That means that any public servant who has the courage to stand up to the special interests and stand up for the American people can find himself or herself under assault come election time. Even foreign corporations may now get into the act.

    I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest. The last thing we need to do is hand more influence to the lobbyists in Washington, or more power to the special interests to tip the outcome of elections.

    All of us, regardless of party, should be worried that it will be that much harder to get fair, common-sense financial reforms, or close unwarranted tax loopholes that reward corporations from sheltering their income or shipping American jobs off-shore.

    It will make it more difficult to pass commonsense laws to promote energy independence because even foreign entities would be allowed to mix in our elections.

    It would give the health insurance industry even more leverage to fend off reforms that would protect patients.

    We don’t need to give any more voice to the powerful interests that already drown out the voices of everyday Americans.

    And we don’t intend to. When this ruling came down, I instructed my administration to get to work immediately with Members of Congress willing to fight for the American people to develop a forceful, bipartisan response to this decision. We have begun that work, and it will be a priority for us until we repair the damage that has been done.

    A hundred years ago, one of the great Republican Presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, fought to limit special interest spending and influence over American political campaigns and warned of the impact of unbridled, corporate spending. His message rings as true as ever today, in this age of mass communications, when the decks are too often stacked against ordinary Americans. And as long as I’m your President, I’ll never stop fighting to make sure that the most powerful voice in Washington belongs to you.

    Source: whitehouse.gov


  • NYTimes: The Supreme Court’s Blow to Democracy

    From the New York Times:

    With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.

    Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy.

    As a result of Thursday’s ruling, corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. If a member of Congress tries to stand up to a wealthy special interest, its lobbyists can credibly threaten: We’ll spend whatever it takes to defeat you.

    The ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission radically reverses well-established law and erodes a wall that has stood for a century between corporations and electoral politics. (The ruling also frees up labor unions to spend, though they have far less money at their disposal.)

    The founders of this nation warned about the dangers of corporate influence. The Constitution they wrote mentions many things and assigns them rights and protections — the people, militias, the press, religions. But it does not mention corporations.

    The Times is right. If Congress does not act, your vote will be meaningless. You are a person. A corporation is not. Corporations will now be able to give as much money as they want to any and all politicians.

    This is incredibly insane.


  • Olbermann: U.S. Government Completely For Sale

    With no limits on campaign financing, corporations will take over the government.

    I was flabbergasted by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which overruled two precedents: Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, a 1990 decision that upheld restrictions on corporate spending to support or oppose political candidates, and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, a 2003 decision that upheld the part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 that restricted campaign spending by corporations and unions, the New York Times said today.

    The ramifications of this are incredible. Everything Keith Olbermann says in the video above is true. Sometimes Keith overreacts. Not this time.

    I didn’t get a chance to listen to Thom Hartmann today, but I’m sure he was beside himself. Hartmann has been arguing for a long, long time that corporations are not people. He’s right. A corporation is a legal entity which exists on paper only. The First Amendment should not apply at all, but it was the First Amendment which persuaded five of nine justices otherwise.

    This is incredibly unnerving. The New York Times editorial board is correct: "Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy."


  • President Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize: It’s About Hope

    Barack Obama

    (PHOTO: ENEWSPF)

    The news of President Barack Obama has circulated and percolated throughout the world for just over three hours now. I’m not even taking a look at what anyone on the far right is saying at this point. No doubt the right wingnuts now have to figure out how to turn this into a political liability for Obama. That should be interesting to watch.

    Here’s the fact: President Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Why?

    Many on the right and the left and those more moderate are asking themselves this question. No doubt President Obama is asking himself the same questions right now. As a friend on Facebook commented, "Here’s hoping Obama’s real reaction upon hearing the news this morning was, like everyone else’s, ‘WTF?’ "

    I have not yet begun to survey opinion from around the world. I can only offer my own assessment. Yes, it’s true that Obama did not succeed in locking the Olympic bid for Chicago, but, in all honesty, is Chicago ready to join the Federation? (Yes, that’s the Trekker in me.) The Olympic bid was more about Rio de Janeiro. After Chicago lost in the first round of voting, the votes went overwhelmingly for Rio.

    Chicago 2016 was not about Obama. It was about a young man beaten to death in the streets of Chicago just a week before the vote. It was about the many, many doubts regarding the ability of Chicago politicians to do the Olympics honestly.

    To begin, I don’t think we as Americans have the least understanding how world opinion about the United States has shifted since the November 2008 election. No, we’re not out of the woods yet. But consider this from Reuters:

    The United States is the most admired country globally thanks largely to the star power of President Barack Obama and his administration, according to a new poll.

    It climbed from seventh place last year, ahead of France, Germany, theUnited Kingdom and Japan which completed the top five nations in the Nation Brand Index (NBI).

    "What’s really remarkable is that in all my years studying national reputation, I have never seen any country experience such a dramatic change in its standing as we see for the United States for 2009," saidSimon Anholt, the founder of NBI, which measured the global image of 50 countries each year.

    He believes that during the previous administration of George W. Bush the United States suffered in the world ranking with its unpopularforeign policies but since Obama was elected, and despite the recent economic turmoil, the country’s status has risen globally.

    "There is no other explanation," Anholt said in an interview, referring to the impact of Obama.

    The Obama Administration means the return of diplomacy to the world stage. From the New York Times:

    The Nobel Committee announced in Oslo that it has awarded the annual peace prize to Barack Obama, just nine months into his presidency, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”The award cited in particular Mr. Obama’s effort to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenal. “He has created a new international climate,” the committee said.

    The announcement shocked people from Norway to the White House. “There has been no discussion, nothing at all,” said Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, in a brief telephone interview.

    Mr. Emanuel said that he had not yet spoken directly to the president. A senior administration official said in an e-mail message that his press secretary, Robert Gibbs Mr. Gibbs called the White House shortly before 6 a.m. and woke the president with the news.

    “The president was humbled to be selected by the committee,” the official said, without adding anything further.

    The White House has made no official comment.

    I don’t think we as Americans realize how far we had fallen in the eyes of the world during the Bush Administration. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize is about America regaining honor and respect throughout the world. At least to a point. This prize is as much about the future as it is the past. My students asked, "What has he done? He just got elected!" But the committee is not simply recognizing Obama’s accomplishments as president. Obama has spent his adult life in service to others. As a United States Senator, Obama was campaigning for a return to diplomacy, for a radical shift in United States foreign policy. He has begun to implement the siesmic shift in policy we need in this country and throughout the world: a return to diplomacy.

    Have we arrived? No. The United States is still mired in two wars. Iran — the government, not all Iranians — is still a threat.

    The last president labeled himself a "war president." May this award be a constant reminder to President Obama that it is possible to strive, every day, to be a "peace president."

    French President Nicolas French President Nicolas Sarkozy said today President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize marks "America’s return to the hearts of the people of the world."

    Are Obama’s — and America’s — greatest days ahead?

    The world hopes so. This award is about that hope.


  • Would Senator Schumer Consider Thomas Paine an Unpaid Journalist?

    Disturbing news for bloggers out of Washington, D.C. today.

    Okay, so why is today any different from any other day?

    From Andrew LaVallee at the Wall Street Journal:

    A recent amendment to the federal shield bill being considered in the Senate will exclude non-”salaried” journalists and bloggers from the proposed law’s protections.

    The law, called the Free Flow of Information Act, is intended to prevent journalists from being forced to divulge confidential sources, except in cases such as witnessing crimes or acts of terrorism. The amendment, introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) last week, limits the definition of a journalist to one who “obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity–

    a. that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means; and

    b. that—

    1. publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;

    2. operates a radio or television broadcast station, network, cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier;

    3. operates a programming service; or

    4. operates a news agency or wire service.”

    As an unpaid blogger — according to this definition — let me say this: government should not have the right to define what is and is not “the press.”  If a resident of any town wants to sit down with a word processing program and print the news on 8.5″ x 11″ and become the next town crier, how can Washington say this journalistic neophyte is not legit?

    The government cannot do this.  The government must not take this step.  Schumer is wrong. If this amendment does pass, the Supremes would be well advised to declare it unconstitutional.

    Why?  Consider this…

    What would Chuck Schumer have done with Thomas Paine? Would Schumer first have to consider if Paine was paid for Common Sense?  Would he conclude that Paine was just an independent blogger, you know, throwing his opinion around?

    Would Chuck Schumer be the guy turning Thomas Paine over to the British?

    You gotta wonder.