Tag Archives: activist judges

Supreme Court Sanctions Purchasing of Elections…

25 Jun

The Fecal Five Strike Again

The Fecal Five strike again.  In a very disappointing but not surprising ruling, the Supreme Court rejected corporate spending limits, thus affirming Citizens United.  This morning, in a 5 to 4 vote (big shock there) the U.S. Supreme Court declared that corporations may spend as much money as they wish to influence elections, thus striking down the Montana law limiting corporate campaign spending.

The five conservative activists judges maintain the “personhood” identity to corporations: “corporations have a constitutional right to be heard in election campaigns.”  Let me understand this.  We will give corporations huge tax breaks, or not tax them at all, but they have the right to spend endless amount of money to support a candidate?  Does this disturb anyone else?

Very sad for Montana, which was trying to limit corporate spending, so as to help prevent any type of corruption.  The New York Times reports:

But Montana aggressively defended its 1912 law against a challenge from corporations seeking to be free of spending limits, and the state Supreme Court sided with the state. The state court said a history of corruption showed the need for the limits, even as Justice Anthony Kennedy declared in his Citizens United opinion that independent expenditures by corporations “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

While Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer pointed out the obvious flaws in Kennedy’s argument around corruption and corporate spending, their efforts were to no avail.  My chief concern right now is the potential for the corrupt purchase of the Presidential election. More from the Times:

Ginsburg issued a brief statement for herself and Breyer saying that campaign spending since the decision makes “it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations ‘do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.'”

Ginsburg appeared to be referring to the rise of unregulated super PACs that have injected millions of dollars into the presidential and other campaigns. She said the case “will give the court an opportunity to consider whether, in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway.”

Another larger looming question is what do we do with the Fecal Five who seem to have complete control over the Supreme Court?

Bigot of the Week Award: September 30, Justice Antonin Scalia

30 Sep

Bigot of the Week

As usual there were an embarrassing number of candidates that could have earned the dishonorable BWA.  The recent speech delivered to Catholic Duquesne University School of Law by the long-standing homophobic bigot Justice Scalia of the Fecal Five earns him this week’s BWA.

Scalia’s speech served to promote a long-standing tradition of homophobic bigotry that he feels should be protected in religious schools:

Our educational establishment these days, while so tolerant of and even insistent upon diversity in all other aspects of life seems bent on eliminating diversity of moral judgment — particularly moral judgment based on religious views… I hope this place will not yield — as some Catholic institutions have — to this politically correct insistence upon suppression of moral judgment, to this distorted view of what diversity in America means.

“Distorted view of what diversity in America means,”  wow!  Talk about an arrogant, rich, white, heterosexual (?) man speaking from great privilege; how on earth did this man get to  be a Supreme Court Justice? Aside from not understanding the definition of diversity, he clearly has no idea of what the definition of Judge is.  Memo to Justice Ginsberg, can you please let Scalia read your copy of the job description for a Supreme Court Justice?   Click here to see the full article. I continue to be amazed at how obsessed Scalia is with gays.

I have to also give a dishonorable mention to Southwest Airlines for their forcing a lesbian couple off the aircraft and proving to all of us there is a clear double standard for heterosexuals and those of us in the LGBT community.

South Worst

Wednesday Word of the Week, June 22

22 Jun

Just doing his job.

Today’s word is: JUDGE

someone whose job is to make decisions in a court of law – Macmillan Dictionary Online

Over the past year, we’ve seen some significant attention paid to judges (some of whom, depending on their position, are called justices) in the United States. What is the role of a judge? What should we expect from these arbiters of legal issues? According to the definition, it is their JOB

work that one does regularly to earn money – Macmillan Dictionary Online


a position or opinion or judgment reached after consideration – Macmillan Dictionary Online

We appoint or elect judges to hear evidence, consider it, and make decisions based on law and precedent. This all seems pretty straightforward.

Unfortunately, over the past three decades or so, the far right has infiltrated and attacked the judiciary. Using their typically Orwellian language, they invented the concept of the “activist judge.” Ironically, this only applies to decisions that the right opposes, like gay rights, reproductive rights, or worker protection. When it comes to inventing a corporate right to personhood for election contributions, let irony prevail.

When these efforts to drag the judicial conversation to the right are not sufficiently powerful, the right moves from vague threats and scary language to outright attacks. Witness the sadly successful campaign to remove three Iowa Supreme Court Justices from office because they correctly ruled that equal access under the law required marriage equality. This attack was so loathsome and unprecedented that even conservative jurist Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spoke out against it. Her argument? We must have an independent judiciary, trusted to carry out their jobs fairly and according to the law, without fear of retribution. This is one of the cornerstones of our representative democracy. I seldom agree with Justice O’Connor, but her consistent, passionate remarks on this subject are exactly right.

Another recent attack was the motion filed in U.S. District Court to vacate the ruling by Judge Walker which invalidated California’s Proposition 8. Supporters of the marriage inequality proposition, irate at having their bigotry overturned, attacked Judge Walker’s objectivity simply because he is gay and in a committed long-term relationship. Teabaggers look the other way when U.S. Supreme Court Justices practice flagrant violations of their own code of ethics or stand to profit directly from their judgments; let an honest gay judge make a fair ruling, however, and the attacks are on!

Fortunately, the judge hearing this absurd motion weighed in heavily against the forces of bigotry. DailyKos provides a great synopsis of the decision. The two key concepts, well worth remembering are that simply being in a class of persons does not require recusal:

Requiring recusal because a court issued an injunction that could provide some speculative future benefit to the presiding judge solely on the basis of the fact that the judge belongs to the class against whom the unconstitutional law was directed would lead to a … standard that required recusal of minority judges in most, if not all, civil rights cases. Congress could not have intended such an unworkable recusal statute.

and that it is absurd to assume that fair treatment under the law only benefits a minority:

To the extent that a law is adjudged violative, enjoining enforcement of that law is a public good that benefits all in our society equally.  Although this case was filed by same-sex couples seeking to end a California constitutional restriction on their right to marry, all Californians have an equal interest in the outcome of the case.

Bravo to Chief Judge Ware for his swift, stern words, emphasizing the role of law and justice. Of course, the attacks are likely to continue. Americans must pay attention, however, and not be swayed by scare tactics, mob mentality, and venal motives. If we aren’t careful, we will become a nation of judges selected by the wealthy and the ignorant, motivated by greed, bias, and fear. These ironic justices would corrupt an already strained system with their very poor

the ability to understand a situation well and make good decisions – Macmillan Dictionary Online


How Many Wrongs Make You Right(-wing)?

30 Jan

The Querulous Quartet Try to Trump Truth

Just saying something doesn’t make it so. Unless, apparently, you bloviate from the Right wing. Don’t get me wrong, there are idiots and fact-averse blowhards left, right, and center. It is particularly creepy, however, to see the culture of “don’t bother me with facts” that has become a replacement of logic on the Right. This culture started with the bumblings of Reagan and the insidious architecture of Gingrigh. It perpetuated through the pseudo-christian machinations of Dobson and Buchanan. Today it is exemplified by that Querulous Quartet: Beck, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, and Palin.

I had an embarrassment of riches when choosing examples:

  • First, there’s the recent Bill O’Reilly hypocrisy over the use of Nazi rhetoric (good summary here). If anyone else does it, it’s abominable. If Bill does it, he’s taken out of context. If people don’t buy that, he just repeats it REALLY LOUD. That’ll make it true.
  • Republican leaders in Congress maintain that the Affordable Care Act is Socialism while gladly accepting their own generous government-sponsored health care.
  • How about the invention of the phrase “activist judge” to describe anyone who does something the Right doesn’t like, going to such extremes as ousting judges for doing their jobs. Of course, pretending that corporations are people isn’t activist at all.
  • A great non-fact is the myth of the leftist media. The pundits cry “First Amendment” when Juan Williams is fired for violating his contract and shriek ‘BIAS” when Katie Couric actually dares to interview Sarah Palin. Meanwhile, FauxNews dominates in the ratings and corporate-owned news outlets put profits ahead of stories.
  • Of course, the good old First Amendment doesn’t matter if you want to censor an art exhibit. It’s especially handy if you can pretend that it was publicly funded (even though it wasn’t). That’s right out of the “public broadcasting is all government funded” playbook of lies.
  • It’s also fun to argue that “homophobia” isn’t a real word, unless, of course, you can take a test online that proves you aren’t a homophobe when you spread lies and vicious invective against the LGBT community for a living.

Pundits and politicians on the Right are happy to create these deceptions to reinforce their worldview. If questioned by anyone, they scream about the left trying to silence them, which would be laughable if it weren’t so tragically, transparently false.

Ask for a fact, get a talking point, never a simple response or an honest “I don’t know.” Sadly, the American public are more and more like Yahoos, snatching up the non-facts like they were the last McNugget in the box.

This is especially apparent when you look at public responses in online forums of any sort. Leftist commenters are capable of being strident and rude just like anyone else, but they tend to at least try to make a supportable point. The rightward comments come straight from the great bible of non-facts.

A great example pops up any time a forum starts dealing with gay rights issues. A simple kiss on a popular television program turns into an opportunity for a screeching double-standard about affection. A conversation about the wrongful dismissal of a gay student teacher summons up the old “why must the gays always bring up the bedroom?” canard, ignoring the fact that it’s the Right that seems strangely obsessed with sex whenever the word gay pops up. More insidiously, playing the bedroom card skirts the central fact that the agenda is control over civil rights, not real concern about propriety.

Right-wing bloggers are as prone to play the “because I said so” card as the pundits and the prowlers. Recently, the blog NW Republican took exception to our Bigot of the Week award. The thrust of the initial post was that the word “bigot” is loaded and mean-spirited. When commenters pointed out that the word was used in context and with substantiation, the reply of the blogger was quite telling:


That’s right, the context and the issues aren’t relevant. All that matters is that the blogger found the certain words “loaded” even though they were used in contexts that substantiated them, linking back to the words and deeds of the people who were discussed. Ironically, he simultaneously labelled the bigot award as fascism, quite a loaded word in itself. The whole comment thread is a great case study in the Right-wing approach to argument. Point your finger, scream a label and a talking point, and ignore any facts that are presented. Those who debate you are mean-spirited fascists who use loaded language. The actual issues at hand are not relevant.

Arguing with someone who takes the non-fact, because-I-say-so approach to discourse begins to feel like Heinlein’s quip:

“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.”

Bonus points to our regular readers Jan (PenguinLad) and Lex (WebWordWarrior) for offering the singing lessons in this particular sty.

As futile as arguing with the unreasoning may be, we must not lose heart. In fact, we cannot afford to do so. Although we might prefer not to, we must gaze into the darkness presented by the non-facts. We cannot stop the Right from playing the “because I said so” game, but we can counter it by making sure the facts are out there. If we give up, the narrative is theirs, and we cannot afford to let them decide what rights we’ll get to have if everyone begins to believe that the can choose their own facts.

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