People have decried Justice Clarence Thomas for his continued and consistent opposition to all race-based law. This manifests itself in his opposition to Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, as well as all forms of affirmative action. Many have referred to him as Uncle Thomas, a reference to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, for his stance on these issues.
Thomas attended Yale Law School, was tapped by President Ronald Reagan to serve as Assistant Secretary of Education for the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education, and then to chair the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After the end of Reagan’s second term, President George H. W. Bush nominated him to the Supreme Court, where he has worked ever since.
In at least a few of these roles, it seems likely, if not certain, that Thomas benefitted from affirmative action. That is, he would not have been considered were he not an African-American. Why then, many ask, would someone whose career was boosted by such programs oppose the very things that got him where he is today?
Because Affirmative Action gives with one hand and takes with the other. (more…)
This is the last Open Mic before Independence Day. And, this week, the former Confederate States gained independence from Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. Same-sex married couples gained independence in most of the United States from being treated differently by the federal government than are opposite-sex married couples. Same-sex couples in California gained the right to be mutually dependent as married couples. Devo drummer Alan Meyers gained independence from his mortal coil. And Texans gained a glimmer of the possibility of independence from one-party rule.
What are your plans for the upcoming holiday? Picnics? Fireworks? Barbecues? Today doesn’t have to be about politics. Let’s have a little fun! It’s summer, after all.
Don’t see an article on a particular topic, but want to talk about it somewhere? This is Open Mic. Talk about whatever you want, but stay respectful.
We create a new Open Mic every week to give a clean slate, but feel free to add to this topic at any time.
We’ve had articles about the Republican tendency to deny science, to redefine words, to avoid reality. It is entirely possible, of course, that this tendency to see (or at least, to express) the world through a partisan lens is not unique to Republicans. Humans have a tendency to structure the world as we want it to be. The poet Anaïs Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Change of topic, except it isn’t. The purpose of Logarchism rests upon the conviction that there are facts underlying the political realities of modern America. By confronting and admitting data and logic, we could have a conversation between liberal and conservative viewpoints. Upon admitting some basic reality, perhaps we could find common ground — if not ground for agreement, at least ground for common purpose.
A recent study simultaneously supports the idea that this may be possible, and the reality that division makes it difficult. Given incentive to admit to realities, partisan differences don’t disappear, but they do substantially shrink. As a rule, Americans do know what is real. They sometimes deny it for the sake of the game that politics has become.
Can we get beyond that, and begin to think of a larger cause? (more…)
Today, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced its decisions in two cases, heard together, that signal a sea change in the attitudes of the nation toward same-sex marriage: Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Schwartzenegger or Perry v. Brown) and United States v. Windsor (formerly Windsor v. United States).
In Hollingsworth, by a 5–4 vote, Chief Justice Roberts (joined by Justices Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan) writing for the majority held that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to decide the constitutionality of Proposition 8. An odd lineup of Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Alito and Sotomayor dissented. The decision of the Ninth Circuit is vacated and remanded. This means, I believe, that the District Court decision written by Judge Vaughan Walker is the law as it now stands.
In Windsor, by a 5–4 vote, Justice Kennedy writing for the majority held that the Defense of Marriage Act is “unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.” Federal benefits, however, will only be available to those in a legal marriage.
More about these cases and the impact of the ruling after the jump. (more…)
Today we will hear from the Supreme Court for the final time of this season. And today we will hear how the Court will rule on same-sex marriage, in the forms of California Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.
The decisions will be handed down at 10:00 AM EDT (7:00 AM PDT). Join us as we follow the announcements.
This article will be updated with more information on the decisions as it becomes available.
- U.S. Supreme Court to decide gay marriage cases Wednesday
- The US Supreme Court Will Issue Its Rulings On Same-Sex Marriage Tomorrow Morning
- The Supreme Court Will (Finally) Rule on DOMA & Prop 8 on Wednesday (Really)
- Supreme Court: Tomorrow Is Decision Day
The Supreme Court issued opinions today on Koontz v St. Johns River Water Management District, Adoptive Couple v Baby Girl, and Shelby County v Holder.
All three decisions were 5–4, and all three landed on the conservatives’ side, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the opinions on Koontz and Adoptive Couple. Chief Justice John Roberts took Shelby. Adoptive Couple had Justice Stephen Breyer siding with the conservatives, while Justice Antonin Scalia wrote his own dissent separate from the other liberals.
In Koontz, the question at hand appeared to revolve around the government’s ability to restrict property use in mitigating environmental damage. However, that wasn’t really the crux of the case, nor of the decision. Rather, the Water Management District claimed that they didn’t have to demand proportional mitigation in cases where the permit is ultimately denied, even though case law dictated that they must in cases where the permit is issued. The District further claimed that, even if they did have to demand proportional mitigation, Koontz used the wrong legal protocol and therefore the case should be dismissed. The conservatives disagreed on both of these points.
The Koontz dissent was written by Justice Elena Kagan, and the liberals joined her. In it, the Court proves to be unanimous that the District’s arguments are specious. However, Kagan notes that the relevant case law applies only to the transfer of real property, while the majority opinion extends it to expenditures. Expenditures have never been protected under the Takings Clause, so the liberal Justices fear the camel’s nose under the tent. It is certain to generate a new round of lawsuits in environmental protection cases.
Adoptive Couple is an unusual case, in that the conservatives focused on a particular portion of the law without looking at the entire law in context. That is, they took a phrase out of context and built the entire decision upon it. This was Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s key argument in opposition to the majority opinion. She notes that the law was written specifically to counter the breaking up of Native American families through adoption, and that, in such a context, the biological father in this case has more rights than his counterparts among other races. This case is also notable for the number of different interpretations, which is likely to complicate future decisions based upon this case.
In Shelby, the Court once again turns to Congress to fix that which the Court claims is broken. In this case, the conservative wing issues a sly wink, striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act and presenting the opportunity for Congress to pass a replacement. It’s hard to believe that the conservative Justices aren’t fully aware that a replacement will not be forthcoming.
Justice Clarence Thomas went so far as to oppose the continuation of Section 5. Meanwhile, the liberals’ opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, notes that the conservatives’ opinion essentially makes the Voting Rights Act a victim of its own success, and further observing that Congress has continued to support Section 4, renewing it at each sunset.