Tag Archives: discrimination

SCOTUS punts on two gerrymandering cases

The U.S. Supreme Court began the day with 19 argued cases yet to be decided. This included two of the most highly anticipated cases of this term involving political gerrymandering, Gil v. Whitford (Wisconsin) and Benisek v. Lamone (Maryland).

Today the U.S. Supreme Court disappointed everyone by punting on these two cases. It was an anticlimactic end to these gerrymandering cases, which are likely to return in the future with additional cases moving through the appellate courts pipeline.

In Gil v. Whitford (.pdf) Chief Justice Roberts held that “The plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate Article III standing.”

The right to vote is “individual and personal in nature,” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U. S. 533, 561, and “voters who allege facts showing disad- vantage to themselves as individuals have standing to sue” to remedy that disadvantage, Baker, 369 U. S., at 206. The plaintiffs here al- leged that they suffered such injury from partisan gerrymandering, which works through the “cracking” and “packing” of voters. To the extent that the plaintiffs’ alleged harm is the dilution of their votes, that injury is district specific. An individual voter in Wisconsin is placed in a single district. He votes for a single representative. The boundaries of the district, and the composition of its voters, deter- mine whether and to what extent a particular voter is packed or cracked. A plaintiff who complains of gerrymandering, but who does not live in a gerrymandered district, “assert[s] only a generalized grievance against governmental conduct of which he or she does not approve.” United States v. Hays, 515 U. S. 737, 745.

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Not a masterpiece, but a mess from Justice Kennedy

The U.S. Supreme Court today announced its long-anticipated opinion in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (.pdf), in a 7-2 plurality decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Justice Kagan filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Breyer joined. Justice Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Alito joined. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Justice Gorsuch joined. Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Sotomayor joined.

Justice Kennedy’s opinion, as he is wont to do in these type of cases, tried to satisfy both sides producing a narrow decision that, in practice, will only invite further litigation on the specifics of each case in the future. That is a dissatisfactory result for all.

Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog has the Opinion analysis: Court rules (narrowly) for baker in same-sex-wedding-cake case:

The Supreme Court ruled today in favor of Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who refused to make a custom cake for a same-sex couple because he believed that doing so would violate his religious beliefs. This was one of the most anticipated decisions of the term, and it was relatively narrow: Although Phillips prevailed today, the opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy rested largely on the majority’s conclusion that the Colorado administrative agency that ruled against Phillips treated him unfairly by being too hostile to his sincere religious beliefs. The opinion seemed to leave open the possibility that, in a future case, a service provider’s sincere religious beliefs might have to yield to the state’s interest in protecting the rights of same-sex couples, and the majority did not rule at all on one of the central arguments in the case – whether compelling Phillips to bake a cake for a same-sex couple would violate his right to freedom of speech.

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The Religious Right’s ‘blitz’ on American democracy

Last week Ireland, long a Roman Catholic country, held a vote to repeal a constitutional provision criminalizing abortion.  Ex-pat Irish citizens from around the world flew home to cast their votes. It wasn’t even close. Ireland votes overwhelmingly to overturn abortion ban:

The Irish have swept aside one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the developed world in a landslide vote that reflects Ireland’s emergence as a socially liberal country no longer obedient to Catholic dictates.

With all ballots counted and turnout at a near-historic high, election officials reported Saturday that 66.4 percent voted to overturn Ireland’s abortion prohibition and 33.6 percent opposed the measure.

The outcome of the referendum Friday was a decisive win for the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution. The 1983 amendment enshrined an “equal right to life” for mothers and “the unborn” and outlawed almost all abortions — even in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormality or non-life-threatening risk to maternal health.

“What we have seen today is a culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 or 20 years,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

The United States, however, is now moving in the exact opposite direction. Religious Right extremists have taken Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale not as a dystopian vision of a totalitarian Christian theonomy that has overthrown the United States government, but as a handbook on how to actually make it a reality.

In March, GOP-run Mississippi enacted the strictest abortion law in the nation, for the intended purpose of a legal challenge that may get in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to directly challenge Roe v. Wade (which permits abortions in the first 24 weeks). Mississippi gov signs nation’s toughest abortion restrictions:

Mississippi’s governor signed a law Monday banning most abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation, the tightest restrictions in the nation.

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The bill was drafted with the assistance of conservative groups including the Mississippi Center for Public Policy and the Alliance Defending Freedom [based in Scottsdale, Arizona].

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Poor People’s Campaign kickoff on Monday

Here is something you can persuade your local church congregation into supporting and participating in. After all, WWJD?

On Monday, thousands of low-wage workers, clergy and activists will gather at the U.S. Capitol and more than 30 statehouses across the country to kick off the Poor People’s Campaign (organization website), a civil disobedience movement that aims to push the issue of poverty to the top of the national political agenda. Here’s how the Poor People’s Campaign aims to finish what MLK started:

Inspired by a 1968 initiative planned by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the multiracial coalition will involve 40 days of protests and direct actions to highlight the issues of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism. Organizers are pitching it as one of the largest waves of nonviolent direct action in U.S. history.

About 41 million Americans live below the official poverty line, the majority of them white. Organizers with the Poor People’s Campaign say official measures of poverty are too narrow, and the number of poor and low-income Americans expands to 140 million if food, clothing, housing and utility costs, as well as government assistance programs, are taken into account.

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With friends like these … Senate Democrats pass the ‘bank lobbyist act’

Only a decade after the banksters of Wall Street engaged in  casino capitalism and the largest fraud ever perpetrated in human history, nearly destroying the world’s financial system and causing the Great Recession, the banksters of Wall Street have reasserted their stranglehold over members of the U.S. Congress.

In a 67-31 vote, the U.S. Senate approved the most sweeping changes yet to Dodd-Frank that have earned bipartisan support. All present Republicans and 16 Democrats and Independent Angus King voted to approve the measure, sending it to the House.

Bennet (D-CO), Carper (D-DE), Coons (D-DE), Donnelly (D-IN), Hassan (D-NH), Heitkamp (D-ND), Jones (D-AL), Kaine (D-VA), Manchin (D-WV), McCaskill (D-MO), Nelson (D-FL), Peters (D-MI), Shaheen (D-NH), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Warner (D-VA); King (I-ME).

The Washington Post reports, Senate passes rollback of banking rules enacted after financial crisis:

The Senate on Wednesday passed the biggest loosening of financial regulations since the economic crisis a decade ago, delivering wide bipartisan support for weakening banking rules despite bitter divisions among Democrats.

The bill, which passed 67 votes to 31, would free more than two dozen banks from the toughest regulatory scrutiny put in place after the 2008 global financial crisis. Despite President Trump’s promise to do a “big number” on the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, the new measure leaves key aspects of the earlier law in place. Nonetheless, it amounts to a significant rollback of banking rules aimed at protecting taxpayers from another financial crisis and future bailouts.

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Breaking: Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rules Trump Muslim travel ban is unconstitutional

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, ruled on Thursday in a 9-4 decision that the latest iteration of President Trump’s travel ban is unconstitutional, citing that it unlawfully discriminates against Muslims. Opinion (.pdf).

The Hill reports, Appeals court rules latest Trump travel ban is unconstitutional:

A Virginia-based federal court of appeals on Thursday ruled the latest version of President Trump’s travel ban unconstitutional, citing that it unlawfully discriminates against Muslims.

In a 9-4 decision, a majority of the judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said it examined official statements from Trump and other executive branch officials, along with the proclamation itself, and found it “unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam.”

The court is the second federal appeals court to rule against the travel ban.

The most recent iteration of the ban bars people from eight countries — six of which are predominantly Muslim — from coming to the U.S.

The Supreme Court had decided in December that it would allow the latest travel ban to take effect while litigation ran its course [in this case].

It has now run its course. You can rest assured that Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III will file an appeal back to the U.S. Supreme Court from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision.

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