Clinton on SCOTUS

 Posted by at 15:32  Election 2016, Politics
Mar 292016
 

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivered what I consider to be the most important speech thus far in the 2016 election season. She spoke in Madison, Wisconsin about Republican obstructionism in general and of the Supreme Court nominee in particular. She talked about how the Republican party found itself in its current state. She talked about several important issues that you should probably care about. Regardless of your current ideology, you probably should take time to listen to the entire speech.

I was amazed at how little attention the media paid to this speech. It deserved a lot more. Seems they are too obsessed with The Donald to spend time on anything else.

Supreme Court nominee

 Posted by at 13:47  Politics
Mar 162016
 

President Obama has nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court of the United States…

The President has fulfilled his Constitutional duty. We shall now see if the Republicans in the Senate will fulfill theirs. Here is the oath of office taken by each and every member of the United States Senate:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

Related Dallas Morning News editorial: “Obama’s done his job, now it’s time for senators to do theirs

The transcript of the remarks by President Obama and Judge Garland follows the break.

Continue reading »

Constitutional Duties

 Posted by at 22:52  Politics, Republicans
Feb 142016
 

Mandatory reading:

Elizabeth Warren Humiliates Mitch McConnell For Threat To Block Obama SCOTUS Nominee

After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he would lead Republicans in obstructing President Obama yet again, this time by leading his party to abdicate their Constitutional duties, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) reminded McConnell that President Obama’s will is the will of the people and that he won by five million votes.

Senator Warren said in a statement, “Senator McConnell is right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. In fact, they did – when President Obama won the 2012 election by five million votes.”

Then Warren proceeded to remind McConnell about that thing Republicans are always claiming to worship – the Constitution, specifically Article II, “Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate.”

Wait for it… “I can’t find a clause that says ‘…except when there’s a year left in the term of a Democratic President.’”

Warren reminded McConnell that Republicans took an oath just like Democrats did and if they fail to do their duty, their talk about loving the Constitution is empty, “Senate Republicans took an oath just like Senate Democrats did. Abandoning the duties they swore to uphold would threaten both the Constitution and our democracy itself. It would also prove that all the Republican talk about loving the Constitution is just that – empty talk.”

Senator Warren is absolutely correct. The idea that Republicans get to obstruct the power of the presidency invested in Obama by the people in not one but two elections is outrageous.

Republicans think that obstructing President Obama’s nominee is good politics and will help them in the 2016 election. However, 2016 was already set to be a tough year for Republicans in the Senate. Mitch McConnell must be suffering from Fox induced epistemic closure if he doesn’t see that these tactics will not sell in blue or moderate states.

Furthermore, as I pointed out last night, if Republicans want to run against President Obama again, they just found a way to do it. And since they have never come close to beating him, that doesn’t seem very smart.

The next time a Republican waves their pocket version of the Constitution around as they drone on about the debt as an excuse for why they have not shown up to work for weeks, someone ought to remind them that they can’t pick and choose what works for them from the Constitution like they do from the Bible.

Also see: “Elizabeth Warren unloads on Republicans for saying they’ll block Obama’s attempt to replace Scalia

Please spread far and wide.

Jun 262015
 

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. Today, they have ruled that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right in all fifty states. No state, from this moment forward, is allowed to ban same-sex marriage. I honestly thought this would never happen in my lifetime. I was wrong, and I am amazed and delighted.

Republican heads are today exploding all across this great land, especially here in Texas.

The ruling of the Court may be read here. Basically:

The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

The vote was, as expected, 5-4, with the four conservative members of the Court voting against equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

The ruling takes effect immediately.

A transcript of President Barack Obama’s remarks following the ruling may be read after the break.

Continue reading »

Nov 262013
 

This blows my mind…

Supreme Court to take up Obamacare contraception case

Washington (CNN) — The high-stakes fight over implementing parts of the troubled health care reform law will move to the U.S. Supreme Court in coming months, in a dispute involving coverage for contraceptives and “religious liberty.”

The justices agreed on Tuesday to review provisions in the Affordable Care Act requiring employers of a certain size to offer insurance coverage for birth control and other reproductive health services without a co-pay.

At issue is whether private companies can refuse to do so on the claim it violates their religious beliefs.

Oral arguments will likely be held in March with a ruling by late June.

I simply cannot wrap my mind the fact the business owners may soon be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. Remember that this conservative court has already ruled that corporations are citizens and as such are entitled to free speech. It isn’t much a stretch to imagine to they will also declare that businesses are entitled to religious freedom.

Separation of church and state no longer exists in the United States of America. As much as I hate to admit it, it is not hard for me to imagine a time in the not too distant future when religious extremists will completely and openly rule this country just as they do now in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. I hope I do not live to see that day.

Summer of 2013

 Posted by at 09:53  Politics
Jun 262013
 

The summer of 2013 is only a few days old, but already it has made its mark on history.

Last night, the people of Texas stopped their “representatives” in the State Senate from enacting the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation. It may be too soon to celebrate on this one, however, as Texas Republicans are not beyond playing dirty politics to get their way. There is a possibility that Rick Perry could call a second special session of the legislature in order to get this bill passed. (Update: Perry has, as expected, called a second special session of the Texas state legislature. It will begin on Monday, July 1.)

In other news, the Supreme Court this morning ruled in favor of equal rights for all citizens of the United States of America. First, they ruled that the party in favor of California’s Proposition 8 did not have standing before the court and the ruling of the lower court on this issue will stand. Same sex marriages will soon resume in California. Second, they ruled that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Same sex couples who are married in one of the twelve states that currently recognize the civil rights of same sex couples can no longer be denied all the federal benefits enjoyed by married heterosexual couples.

So far a very good day in America.

UPDATE: President Barack Obama released the following statement on the Supreme Court decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act:

I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.

So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.

The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.

Health Care good to go

 Posted by at 10:00  Politics
Jun 282012
 

The Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act. This is great news for Americans, but bad news for Republicans who had their victory parties all planned…

Supreme Court upholds health care law

In a dramatic victory for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upheld the 2010 health care law Thursday, preserving Obama’s landmark legislative achievement.

The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who held that the law was a valid exercise of Congress’s power to tax.

The 2010 law, the Affordable Care Act requires non-exempted individuals to maintain a minimum level of health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

It is rare that the Roberts court gets anything right. They got this one right.

UPDATE: Presidential remarks…

UPDATE #2 – how they voted. For health care: Roberts, Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan. Against health care: Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Kennedy.

UPDATE #3: Non-presidential remarks:

 

Texas Health Care

 Posted by at 22:11  Politics
Jun 262012
 

Later this week (they are saying Thursday), we shall find out whether the conservatives on the Supreme Court are going to invalidate all or part of the Affordable Health Care Law. While you’re waiting, here’s a little something you should read: “Rest Of The Country Should Take A Good Look At The Situation In Texas.”

Here’s just a bit to get you started…

Last year, Luis Duran drove almost 200 miles to San Antonio to have a colonoscopy because he didn’t want to wait six months for an opening at a county clinic.

A few days later, the doctor in San Antonio – a friend of a friend who had performed the screening for free – called to break the news that Duran, 51, had advanced colon cancer and needed immediate surgery.

“I kind of broke down,” recalled Duran, a machine operator whose employer had terminated his health policy. “I said, ‘Doctor, I don’t have insurance, and I don’t have much money, but I won’t refuse to pay. Please help me.'”

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and the problem of the uninsured is no exception. The Houston metropolitan area has one of the highest rates of uninsured people in America, and a health safety net imploding under the demands of too many people and too few resources. Almost one in three residents – more than a million people — lack health insurance, and about 400 are turned away every day from the county hospital district’s call center because they can’t be accommodated at any of its 23 community or school-based centers.

Those seeking care at the public hospital’s ER, meanwhile, arrive with blankets and coolers full of sandwiches and drinks in anticipation of waits that may go 24 hours or longer.

“If the Affordable Care Act is overturned, the rest of the country should take a good look at the situation in Texas, because this is what happens when you keep Medicaid enrollment as low as possible and don’t undertake insurance reforms,” said Elena M. Marks, a health policy scholar at Rice University’s James Baker Institute for Public Policy and a former city health official.

I encourage you to click on the link at the beginning of this post and read the full article. Texas isn’t doing so well. If the ACA is invalidated, neither will the rest of the country.
 

Apr 022012
 

The battle lines for the 2012 presidential election have not yet been drawn, but we’re getting close. President Obama came very close today to drawing the line on health care…

With respect to health care, I’m actually — continue to be confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the law. And the reason is because, in accordance with precedent out there, it’s constitutional. That’s not just my opinion, by the way; that’s the opinion of legal experts across the ideological spectrum, including two very conservative appellate court justices that said this wasn’t even a close case.

I think it’s important — because I watched some of the commentary last week — to remind people that this is not an abstract argument. People’s lives are affected by the lack of availability of health care, the inaffordability of health care, their inability to get health care because of preexisting conditions.

The law that’s already in place has already given 2.5 million young people health care that wouldn’t otherwise have it. There are tens of thousands of adults with preexisting conditions who have health care right now because of this law. Parents don’t have to worry about their children not being able to get health care because they can’t be prevented from getting health care as a consequence of a preexisting condition. That’s part of this law.

Millions of seniors are paying less for prescription drugs because of this law. Americans all across the country have greater rights and protections with respect to their insurance companies and are getting preventive care because of this law.

So that’s just the part that’s already been implemented. That doesn’t even speak to the 30 million people who stand to gain coverage once it’s fully implemented in 2014.

And I think it’s important, and I think the American people understand, and the I think the justices should understand, that in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care. So there’s not only a economic element to this, and a legal element to this, but there’s a human element to this. And I hope that’s not forgotten in this political debate.

Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress. And I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example. And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.

Pay particular attention to the last paragraph. This president is not at all afraid of making the ruling of the Supreme Court on health care a campaign issue if he has to. This could get very interesting.

His remarks came during a joint press conference today with President Felipe Calderon of Mexico and Prime Minster Stephen Harper of Canada…

 

Supremes favor Westboro

 Posted by at 17:48  Politics
Mar 022011
 

I do not like the way the Supreme Court ruled today, but I don’t see how they could have ruled any other way. If we are to allow free speech in this country, we don’t get to pick and choose which speech to allow and which not to allow. As long as no other laws are broken, anybody is pretty much free to express themselves in any way they wish… even if it means making asses of themselves, as in the case of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Supreme Court allows military funeral anti-gay protests

(Reuters) – The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that members of a fundamentalist church have a free-speech right to hold anti-gay protests at military funerals to promote their view that God hates America for tolerating homosexuality.

In a case pitting free-speech versus privacy rights, the nation’s highest court held that the picketing at a private funeral and even hurtful protest messages were protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

The decision by an 8-1 vote was the latest in a long line of Supreme Court rulings that free-speech rights protected even outrageous or offensive conduct, including the burning of the American flag.

The ruling was a defeat for Albert Snyder, the father of a Marine killed in Iraq in 2006. He sued after the family’s funeral service at a Roman Catholic Church in Westminster, Maryland, drew unwanted protests by members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.

The protesters carried signs that stated, “God Hates You,” “You Are Going To Hell,” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”

phelps.jpg

Westboro Pastor Fred Phelps and other church members have protested hundreds of funerals of military members killed in Iraq or Afghanistan as part of their religious view that God is punishing America for its tolerance of gays and lesbians.

Phelps founded the church in 1955 and it has about 70 members made up mostly of his relatives.

In the court’s opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said the church’s beliefs and its signs related to issues of public importance, including political and moral conduct in the United States.

Roberts said the country may not agree with the church’s views, but said it cannot react to the pain the protesters inflicted by punishing the speaker.

“As a nation, we have chosen a different course — to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate,” he said.

This ruling sets a precedent for this court which, I believe, is going to prove very important in the not too distant future. Mr. Roberts and his fellow conservatives are going to find it very difficult to reverse themselves.