Category Archives: Supreme Court

John Roberts Takes His Place in History

Official 2005 photo of Chief Justice John G. R...

Official 2005 photo of Chief Justice John G. Roberts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chief Justice John Roberts, by siding with the four liberal members of the United States Supreme Court and writing the opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), has moved into the history books. A conservative Catholic, Roberts must have struggled with this case, with one shoulder angel urging him to uphold conservative tenets and overturn the law, and the angel on the other side shouting into his other ear that this case would have an importance far beyond today.

Judges are human beings. They all have life experiences that inform their decisions, no matter what they may say about their ability to be completely neutral. But they are also extremely sensitive to their own reputation, and with

English: Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of...

English: Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Supreme Court justices, with how they will be remembered by historians. Some, like Clarence Thomas, seem deaf and dumb to the rest of the world. Thomas has been embittered by the way he was treated during his youth, and his confirmation hearing was scandalous. His penchant for asking no questions from the bench during oral arguments is no doubt related to his own life, and he is far to the right of even someone like Scalia.

English: Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of ...

English: Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Antonin Scalia himself is showing signs of early dementia, as he rails against his fellow justices and the president in his dissents and majority opinions.

Many lay people wonder how the justices can make a decision based on each side giving a half-hour argument, with the justices interrupting each attorney repeatedly. But the Court has already read and studied the submitted briefs and basically made up their minds before the oral arguments. So this is just the icing on the case.

Roberts is most concerned with his place in history. If he voted down the law, he would be remembered as the chief justice who did away with the only health care bill to pass Congress in over 100 years. This obviously was repugnant to him, so he chose to stand with the bill’s supporters and be known as the Chief Justice who found the Affordable Care Act constitutional. He did it by finding that it was not a fee but a tax, which was constitutional under the Taxing clause. This logical argument has already by picked up by Senator Mitch (“Do-Nothing”) McConnell as a negative quality of Obama. Fulminating that the administration has snuck a tax in while all Republicans were watching, he promised to dismantle it completely and give the American public a bill with no tax and takes care of them. [When that happens, this writer will be happy to walk across the Mediterranean to celebrate.]s

So Roberts has moved into the textbooks, McConnell is apoplectic, and who knows what the Tea Party is thinking.  There have been Supreme Court decisions in our history that were incredibly wrong-headed, from the vantage point of today: Dred Scott v. Sanford (slaves do not have standing to file a claim in an American court because they are property), U.S. v. Ju Toy (upholding the Chinese Exclusion Act and affirming that US Port Inspectors and the Secretary of Commerce had the power to determine who would be admitted to the country), and Korematsu v. the United States (upholding the government’s decision to intern Japanese-American citizens on the West Coast during World War II). But for the rest of us, today is a time to celebrate a decision that will actually helps the country move forward.This decision will stand with Loving v. Virginia (it is legal for people to marry a member of a different race), Roe v. Wade(a woman may  choose to have an abortion legally), and Lawrence v. Texas (same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults is legal), instances where these nine people made decisions to progress.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Congress, Conservatism, Conservatives, Hatred, Political, Politics, Supreme Court, Tea Party

On Hating Brown People

English: United States Supreme Court building ...

English: United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C., USA. Front facade. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Supreme Court yesterday pretty much eviscerated Arizona’s harsh immigration law, SB 1070. According to the Court, there were four major provisions in that law for review:

Section 3 makes failure to comply with federal alien-registration requirements a state misdemeanor; §5(C) makes it a misdemeanor for an unauthorized alien to seek or engage in work in the State; §6 authorizes state and local officers to arrest without a warrant a person “the officer has probable cause to believe . . . has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States”; and §2(B) requires officers conducting a stop, detention, or arrest to make efforts, in some circumstances, to verify the person’s immigration status with the Federal Government.

The Supremes voided §§ 3, 5(C), and 6, saying they preempted the federal government’s power in that area granted by Congress. Regarding §2(B), the Court held:

It is not clear at this stage and on this record that §2(B), in practice, will require state officers to delay the release of detainees for no reason other than to verify their immigration status. This would raise constitutional concerns. And it would disrupt the federal framework to put state officers in the position of holding aliens in custody for possible unlawful presence without federal direction and supervision. But §2(B) could be read to avoid these concerns. If the law only requires state officers to conduct a status check during the course of an authorized, lawful detention or after a detainee has been released, the provision would likely survive preemption—at least absent some showing that it has other consequences that are adverse to federal law and its objectives. Without the benefit of a definitive in- terpretation from the state courts, it would be inappropriate to as- sume §2(B) will be construed in a way that conflicts with federal law. Cf. Fox v. Washington, 236 U. S. 273, 277. This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect.

Essentially, the Court said that, since the law hasn’t gone into effect yet, they can’t void it. But it stated that, if the police were only conducting a status check on someone during their lawful detention for another matter, it would probably be ok. But once the law goes into effect, the Court can look at it again.

Where does this law come from? Why this hatred of brown people? I suppose this could be asked of any new group that seeks refuge in a country that was built on immigration. The original Germans from the Rheinpfalz who came here in the late 1700s and later became the

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 24:  (L-R) Arizona stat...

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 24: (L-R) Arizona state Sen. Steve Gallardo; Russell Pearce, sponsor of the controversial immigration law Arizona SB 1070; former Sen. Dennis DeConcini, and Todd Landfried testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill April 24, 2012 in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing entitled ‘Examining the Constitutionality and Prudence of State and Local Governments Enforcing Immigration Law’ prior to the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments on the legislation tomorrow. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Pennsylvania Dutch and the Amish must have been looked down on by the colonists. I must imagine that the incoming  German immigrants that reached tidal wave status in the latter half of the 1800s had to be an object of scorn. Clearly, the Irish, fleeing the killing potato famine and desperate to feed themselves and their families were vilified. Here we have clear evidence, with signs and advertisements in newspapers  that stated “No Irish Need Apply.” The Jews who came here were characterized as big-nosed monsters, and described sometimes as practicing rites requiring them to drink the blood of  Christian infants. Italians, whose wave began in the early 1900s, were characterized as thieves and sneaks. Essentially, any new group coming to these shores to seek the American dream has been vilified and put upon during their early years.

Part of the problem people already here had with immigrants was their reluctance to speak English (one of the more difficult languages in the world to conquer) and their tendency to stay together in neighborhoods, or ghettos. In my own family I know that my great-great grandmother, born in 1870 to immigrant parents from the Rheinpfalz, spoke German only as a child and went to German schools in a community now known as Lindenhurst but then called Breslau, after the second largest city in Prussia before the end of World War II. Why is it so frightening to many conservative Americans that modern immigrants from Mexico are more comfortable speaking Spanish? These people get exercised if a ballot is written in both languages. I sometimes wonder if they’re like my great-uncle Jerry, who honestly believed that when people were conversing in a foreign language around him, they were talking about him. The arrogance was, and is, mind boggling. And these same people come up with horrendous legislation in return.

English: Photo of Kris Kobach

English: Photo of Kris Kobach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The people who write these laws (Russell Pearce in Arizona, and most especially the Attorney General of Kansas, Kris Kobach, who drafted that legislation and others around the country) that clearly intend to make life a living hell for the undocumented are invariably white conservatives. Their fear is that ‘their’ nation will not be theirs any more, that the reign of the White Anglo Saxon Protestant is over. But rather than welcoming the newcomers and helping them assimilate, they lash out at them. Epithets are spewed, positions are taken (in the name of protecting the country) and outrageous ideas are seriously entertained. Does anyone actually believe that we’re going to wall off the southern boundary of our country and that will solve the problem?

In fifty years we will look back on this time and wonder how our fellow countrymen (and women) could have been so stupid. Because in the current 11 million undocumented people exist doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, university professors, and business creators. Take a look at this list to see what immigrants can do for this country:

Immigrants on the Forbes 400

The Forbes 400 is a list published by Forbes magazine of the richest 400 Americans. It was first published in 1982. It is ranked by net worth and is published annually in September and 2010 marks the 29th issue. In the Forbes 400, there are 35 individuals who are immigrants. Here is a comprehensive list of these immigrants, including their nationality, net worth, age, organization, title and source of wealth (arranged by net worth).

Name Nationality Net Worth Age Organization Title Source
Sergey Brin Russia $19.8 B 37 Google Co-Founder Google; Self-made
George Soros Hungary $14.5 B 80 Quantum Fund Founder Hedge funds; Self-made
Leonard Blavatnik Russia $10.1 B 53 Access Industries Founder; Chairman; President Access Industries; Self-made
Rupert Murdoch Australia $7.6 B 80 News Corp. CEO News Corp; Self-made
Pierre Omidyar France $6.7 B 43 Ebay Founder; Chairman Ebay; Self-made
Micky Arison Israel $5.9 B 61 Carnival Corporation CEO Carnival Cruises; Inherited and growing
Patrick Soon-Shiong South Africa $5.2 B 59 Abraxis BioScience Founder; Chairman and CEO Generic drugs; Self-made
Roger Wang China $4.2 B 62 The Golden Eagle International Group Chairman; CEO Retail; Self-made
Victor Fung China $3.55 B 65 Li & Fung Group Chairman Retail; Self-made
Robert Friedland Canada $3.4 B 60 Ivanhoe Mines, Inc. Executive Chairman; CEO Mining; Self-made
Haim Saban Egypt $3.4 B 66 Media Proprietor Media Proprietor Television; Self-made
Barbara Piasecka Johnson Poland $2.9 B 74 Johnson & Johnson None Johnson & Johnson; Inherited
Steven Ferencz Udvar-Házy Hungary $2.8 B 65 Air Lease Corp. CEO International Lease Finance; Self-made
Edgar Miles Bronfman Canada $2.6 B 81 Inherited None Seagram’s liquor; Inherited and growing
John Catsimatidis row 16, column 2 $2.6 B 69 Kingston Technology President; Co-Founder Computer memory; Self-made
David Sun Taiwan $2.6 B 59 Kingston Techonology Co- Founder Computer memory; Self-made
John Tu Taiwan $2.6 B 69 Kingston Technology President; Co-Founder Computer memory; Self-made
Igor Olenicoff Russia $2.5 B 68 Olen Properties Founder Real estate; Self-made
Nicolas Berggruen France $2.2 B 49 Berggruen Holdings Founder; President Investments; Inherited and growing
Bharat Desai Kenya $2.2 B 58 Syntel CEO; Chairman Syntel; Self-made
Mortimer Benjamin Zuckerman Canada $2.1 B 73 Boston Properties Co-Founder Real estate; Media; Self-made
Min Kao Taiwan $1.7 B 62 Garmin Corporation Co-Founder Navigation equipment; Self-made
Alexander Rovt Ukraine $1.7 B 58 IBE Trade Corp President Fertilizer; Self-made
James Kim Korea $1.6 B 75 Amkor Electronics Executive chairman Microchips; Inherited and growing
Eduardo Saverin Brazil $1.6 B 29 Facebook Co-founder Facebook, Self-made
Evgeny Markovich Shvidler Russia $1.6 B 47 Millhouse, LLC Chairman Millhouse LLC, self-made
Kavitark Ram Shriram India $1.6 B 54 Google Co-Founder Venture capital; Google; Self-made
Peter Andreas Thiel Germany $1.5 B 43 Paypal Co-Founder; Former CEO Paypal; Facebook; Self-made
Vinod Khosla India $1.4 B 56 Khosla Ventures Founder Sun Microsystems; Venture capital; Self-made
Thomas Peterffy Hungary $1.4 B 66 Interactive Brokers Group Founder; CEO Interactive Brokers Group; Self-made
Romesh T. Wadhwani India $1.4 B 63 Symphony Technology Group Founder; Chairman Software; Self-made
Alexander Knaster Russia $1.3 B 52 Pamplona Capital Management Director Oil; Telecom; Banking; Self-made
Michael Moritz Wales $1.3 B 56 Sequoia Capital Partner Venture capital; Self-made
Jerry Yang Taiwan $1.3 B 42 Yahoo Co-founder; Former CEO Yahoo; Self-made
C. Dean Metropoulos Greece $1.2 B 64 C. Dean Metropoulos & Co Executive Chairman Investments; Self-made

Data was obtained from Forbes.com.

The picture painted by most conservatives is that Hispanic immigrants (read Mexicans) are lazy, shiftless, money-grubbing leaches who come here only to get on welfare, take away jobs from deserving Americans, have their babies here to gain citizenship, and take advantage of our health care system by clogging emergency rooms everywhere. Nothing could be further from the truth. These immigrants want to work, they want to be part of this country. And here in Nevada, it’s an even greater irony, because they are emigrating to a land that was theirs for centuries before we took it away from them.

Hatreds die hard, but they find it difficult to survive in a person if they meet the object of their scorn and find them human like themselves.


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Filed under Hatred, Human rights, Immigrant, Immigration, Immigration reform, Police, Politics, Supreme Court

Dog Days of Summer Starting Earlier?

John Roberts - Caricature

John Roberts – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Here it is, June 22, and the days are starting to get shorter again. The heat is up in the east, and it’s settling in nicely in the west for its long summer run. Normally, things slow down come August, but it appears the dog days are starting earlier this year, especially for us bloggers.

Look at politics. Chief Justice John Roberts has signaled, by actually saying nothing, that the SCOTUS will probably go into overtime on finalizing its opinion on the Health Care law. If it’s another 5-4 decision split exactly according to the politics of the appointing president (i.e.: the 5 votes belong to justices appointed by Republican presidents, etc.), then summer could start heating up pretty quickly. It might be that an issue that affects all of us, and which almost half of us oppose (the bill in general) but less than 40% support it, being decided by a single vote could truly put many noses out of joint. It would be to the country’s advantage if the justices were able to decide 6-3 or 7-2. But as of today it’s all quiet on the Potomac.

Mitt Robme is said to be softening his views on immigration. That is, he’s willing to consider granting green cards to immigrants who serve in the military. That’s sweet, but it is like Caligula deciding to spare a Christian in the Coliseum because the emperor felt he’d do well in the Pretorian guard. Robme’s thinking simply excludes any immigrants who won’t serve. So the Republican grand plan to deal with the 11 million Hispanics in the country without documents is to allow those who can join the military to become citizens.

Mittster

Mittster (Photo credit: DoubleSpeak Media)

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s a step, but even smaller than a baby step. Yes, it’s true that, based on the Social Security Administrations analysis of the age groups of undocumented immigrants, most are below thirty. So the question becomes, just how many of those young people can and will enlist? And that’s where we left the Mittster, trying to score points with Hispanics by softening his originally razor-sharp opposition to those people he assumed would “self-deport” when they couldn’t get jobs here.

The Roman Catholic Church is quiet today, too. No more scandals about child abuse have been reported, no chants of Catholic-bashing, and no Vatican tongue-lashings for nuns are evident. We must thank God for that. I’m sure She’s taking a breather, too.

For a blogger, this is slim pickings. There’s no really juicy story to respond to or to explain. Maybe it’s good that it comes at the end of the work week, when I can recharge my batteries with two days off.

Let’s hope for more scandal and false pieties next week!

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Filed under Barack Obama, Congress, Hispanic, Hypocrisy, Immigration, Immigration reform, Politics, Religion, Roman Catholic Church, Supreme Court