The Supreme Court handles a wide variety of cases. Some cases directly concern political matters (things like redistricting, campaign financing, separation of powers, elections). Some cases are not directly political, but involve the issues that separate the two parties (health care, civil rights, worker's rights, gun control). Some cases have the potential to impact a large number of people or are otherwise plainly significant, but tend to concern issues that are not center-stage in political debates (e.g. some criminal law issues, some intellectual property issues). Other cases are important only to the lawyers who practice in the area (e.g. most bankruptcy cases, most intellectual property cases) but need the uniformity that only the Supreme Court can provide. And occasionally, you get cases that involve legal principles taken to their absurd limits in lower courts. For the most part, in my posts over the past several years on the Supreme Court, I have tried to focus on the first three groups.
This term we will see cases that fit into all five categories. The term starts on October 6 with five days of argument (ten cases) in October. There are three cases in October that are potentially significant. First up is, Holt v. Hobbs, a case involving the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act. This Act, is a limited restriction on state governments (mostly zoning and prison cases) similar to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was at the center of last term's case on contraceptive mandates. The actual issue is one of those issues that seem minor enough to make this case one of those "absurd" cases that stumble up to the Supreme Court. Arkansas prisons, for security reasons, ban beards. Some Muslim inmates believe that Islam (or at least their version of Islam) requires them to have some beard, and want an accommodation to allow them to have very short beards (no more than one-half inch in length). However, this case will give another indication about how far this Court's protection of religious liberty extends.
Also up in October is Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk. Normally, most time spent at the work place getting ready for work, checking in and checking out, is not counted as time on the clock. In some circumstances, however, those activities are closely connected enough to the job to count. Here, the employer requires the staff to go through a security screening before leaving the job as an anti-theft security device. The issue is whether this type of practice should count as time on the clock.
October also brings us North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission. Normally, state licensing boards are exempt from anti-trust law even though one effect of state licensing requirements on professions and other businesses is to limit the number of members of the profession. The Federal Trade Commission has taken the position that, because North Carolina law (like the law in many states) requires that the majority of the members of the Board be licensed in a dental profession, North Carolina has forfeited the "governmental" exemption for licensing boards. In this case, the support for the FTC position comes from two main groups: 1) those trade associations representing groups (e.g. nurses) that are typically limited to a supporting role under current licensing schemes; and 2) certain conservative groups that see all licensing restrictions as unwarranted infringement on their preferred version of the free market (where the government has no role in keeping incompetent professionals out of the market place and any consumer unfortunate enough to use a quack doctor, dentist, or lawyer has to hope to recover something after a long, law suit with the decks stacked against them).
Next post: November's full docket(six major cases).
It's once again that time of year. After taking three months attending conferences, vacationing, or whatever it is Supreme Court Justices do between July 1 and mid-September, the Supreme Court returns to business on September 29 with the infamous "Long Conference" when they dispose of most of the business that has piled up over the last three months.
At the present time, the Supreme Court has published their argument dockets for October, November, and December (32 cases over sixteen days). In the 2015 part of the term, the Supreme Court will have twenty-three days which (assuming the typical two cases per day) means that they have room for 46 cases on this year's argument calendar. Since they already have granted five cases that did not make the three months of arguments this year, that leaves 41 spots to fill between now and mid-January. (I will cover the 37 cases on the argument docket in the remaining part(s) of this post later over the weekend and next week).
Obviously, over the summer, a lot of potentially big cases pile up. (Attorneys for the sides that win below like being on the Long Conference for that reason in the hopes that their case will get lost in the shuffle.) At the present time, there are two potentially big cases (or more to the point sets of cases) awaiting a decision on whether the Supreme Court will accept them for argument.
The biggest of the two (in terms of sheer numbers at least) are the same-sex marriage cases. Back in 2013, the Supreme Court found that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (denying federal recognition to same-sex marriages) was unconstitutional, but opted out of deciding if there was an actual constitutional right to same-sex marriage by finding a procedural reason to avoid deciding the validity of California's ban (leaving intact the lower court decision striking it down). Since July 2013, most state and federal lower courts have rejected state bans on same-sex marriage (and state refusals to recognize same-sex marriages from other states). These decisions are slowly working there way through the federal appellate court. At the present time, the U.S. Supreme Court has applications from the Tenth Circuit (specifically, Utah and Oklahoma), the Fourth Circuit (specifically, Virginia), and the Seventh Circuit (specifically, Wisconsin and Indiana). So far, all three federal appeals court to decide this issue have struck down state bans on same sex marriages. However, there are cases pending in the Sixth Circuit (Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee) and the Fifth Circuit (Texas and Louisiana) which might come out in favor of upholding the restrictions. While most people expect the Supreme Court to eventually take a case, it is unclear if the Supreme Court will rush to take one of the current cases or will wait to see what the remaining appellate courts do. (Of the eleven Circuits, three -- the First, Second, and Third -- are unlikely to face the issue as the states in those circuits allow same sex marriage; the three noted above have already ruled; three -- the Fifth, Sixth, and Ninth -- currently have appeals pending; and two -- the Eighth and the Eleventh -- do not yet have any appellate cases.)
The other really big issue is the latest version of a dispute over the Affordable Care Act. Some people who oppose universal health care keep on looking for new ways to attack the Affordable Care Act. The latest theory is that the statutory language providing subsidies to middle-income families to purchase health care on exchanges only applies to individuals who purchase from a state-run exchange. Since most states refused to set up their own exchanges, most people purchased their insurance from the federal exchange. Under the theory presented in these cases, if you purchased insurance from the federal exchange, you don't get any subsidy to help you purchase health care. Over the summer, a panel of the Fourth Circuit rejected this argument, but a panel of the D.C. Circuit accepted the argument. When you lose before a panel of a federal appeals court, you have two options: 1) you can go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court or 2) you can ask for the full appeals court to review the case. Seeing a conflict between two courts, the opponents of universal health care opted to go straight to the Supreme Court, bypassing the full Fourth Circuit. Thus, the Supreme Court has the Fourth Circuit case on the Long Conference docket. The federal government, on the other hand, decided to ask for a hearing by the full D.C. Circuit, and the D.C. Circuit granted that request. For now, the Fourth Circuit case has not yet been scheduled for a conference (the U.S. receive an extension on their response, and it will probably be on one of the November conferences). While anything could happen, it is likely that the Supreme Court will either turn down the request to review the Fourth Circuit or will wait to see what the D.C. Circuit does.
A couple weeks ago, in Sunday with the Senators: How we Hold the Senate, I wrote that Kansas might be the 53rd Democratic Senate seat come January. I thought that it was possible that Chad Taylor would overwhelm Pat Roberts, who doesn't even live in Kansas. I hadn't expected that Taylor would pull out of the election, nor that the Independent, Greg Orman, would be polling as well as he is. Would Greg caucus with the Democrats? Most likely.
So. Chad Taylor withdrew from the race and none other than Kris Kobach decided not to let him. (It's hard to make this stuff up, if I could, I'd be writing novels for a living.) Kobach is best known for authoring the heinous Arizona kill-the-immigrants bill and other right wingnut nonsense. He's also currently Kansas' Secretary of State AND serving on Roberts re-election committee, which would have caused any reasonable person to withdraw from the decision, but hey.
So Taylor sued. Kobach asked the Kansas Supreme Court to kick it down to a lower court, and today, they said no. The order is below. Basically, it says that next Tuesday Taylor will have 20 minutes to explain why he should be allowed to withdraw from the election, and then Kobach will have 20 minutes to explain his ineptitude why he said no. Taylor will say that Kansas law allows any candidate to drop out for any reason provided he/she does so prior to the closing date. What Kobach will say is anybody's guess: I'm hoping he invokes religion and immigrants.
After the jump are President Obama's full remarks as delivered last night to the nation. We are STILL at war, still cleaning up for the wanton destruction and destabilization caused by Shrub's desire to avenge Saddam's threat against his dad.
I am concerned, and I may well be the only person I know who believes that this is a bad path. Is ISIS/ISIL bad news? Absolutely. Do they need to be routed out, decimated, and vanquished? For sure. Are we the people to do it? I don't think so.
There is no such thing as surgical air strikes without boots on the ground. That we know of, there are more than 11,000 Americans in Iraq and Syria right now. Providing targeting support and coaching the Pesh Merga, and possibly the Iraqis.
ISIS/ISIL is a threat to Arab countries of the Middle East, less so to the Western countries that have supplied fighters. When one's homeland is attacked, these are the people who should be on the front lines. Where is the support from Saudi Arabia? Where is the actual support from the non-Kurdish Iraqi government? Where are the Turks? Until there is verifiable support from all of these people, as well as the Arab League, I say we adopt a do-nothing approach. No one seems to be asking what happens if we stand down until others step up.
We're looking at an unwinnable situation. One that's not all that different from the incursion into Iraq the last time. "Shock and Awe" first, and then more and more ground troops. And say we are able to push ISIS/ISIL - where will they go? Does going after them align us with the Sunnis against the Shi'ites? Does this align us with Iran and Al-Assad, even though we have no diplomatic ties with either? Is there a chance that ISIS/ISIL will attempt to overtake Mecca and Medina? Will we end up obligated to fight within Saudi Arabia where our women soldiers are not allowed to drive cars?
Too many questions on this, the anniversary of 9/11.
Birmingham remains on the Democrats’ official list of possible convention sites. But given the realities of presidential politics and the perceived limits of a city of 212,000, almost no one is expecting it to beat out the other finalists: Columbus, Ohio; Philadelphia; Phoenix; and New York City. ... Yet for all of the gentle skepticism and outright mockery, supporters of the bid are adamant that the competition does not have a foregone conclusion. At minimum, Birmingham backers say, this city’s place in the national convention conversation has given it an injection of confidence. “The fact that we’ve had a unified effort and the community has challenged itself and tested itself to think big about something like this, it’s a better community for having gone through the process,” said Brian Hilson, the president of the Birmingham Business Alliance. -NY Times
I have never actually watched a football game. I've seen a few minutes here and there, but the idea of big men running into one another never appealed to me. But I understand the economic powerhouse that football is in America, and that many boys all over the country want to grow up and "go pro".
Michael Sam was "a distraction" because he's gay. From everything I've read, he's an upstanding guy: bright, talented, and deserving of a spot on a team. From everything I've read, a pervasive disease of the NFL is homophobia. The only positive thing I heard about was that if Vince Lombardi was alive, he would have welcomed Michael Sam with open arms, because all he cared about was the game itself. And yet he is on a practice team. I'm not sure that means he can or cannot actually play, but I now have a soft spot in my heart for the Dallas Cowboys.
And then there's Ray Rice. The NFL was "shocked, shocked I tell you" when they saw the video yesterday. The FULL video. Personally, I didn't need to see the video to know what had happened because I've seen the aftermath of women who interacted with abusers. You get that with patients: they come in for one thing, and you can tell from what kind of bruises they have. Same with certain breaks and sprains on kids: there are telltale signs.
I don't believe that the NFL didn't know what happened back in July, if only by inference. I don't believe the court didn't know when it charged Janay Palmer with assault on Ray Rice. It was the most blatant case of blaming the victim I've ever seen: kabuki theatre to the end of keeping an economic force on the football field. My greatest fear now is for Janay Palmer: where does a man like Ray Rice take his anger now? Is there any doubt that he blames her for his banishment from football? How safe is their child?
There is something morally bankrupt about an organization that says violence is okay, but being gay is a distraction. Really? I really hope someone can explain this to me because I just don't get it.
Last year, the Republicans in Congress tried to stop the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, because it included gay couples (abuse seems to be devoid of sexual orientation, sadly) and the ability of tribal courts to deal with abuse on reservations. My guess is that a lot of those Republican Congressmen and Senators once played football at some level. Here is a list of those Republican men and women who voted against it. Check the list before you vote in 57 days and THINK.
Will a law stop people from bashing their loved ones around? Not in and of itself, but it's a start.
As a society, we have no real pull on the NFL. Right now, there are more players who beat their wives and girlfriends, and hopefully the NFL will man up in dealing with them. However, we do have the power of the voting booth, and we can make sure that those men and women who voted in favour of the abuse of women lose their jobs, too.
Vote: it could save your life, or the life of someone you love. Abuse starts with hitting, but too often ends up in murder.
The 4,700 member NY Sergeants' Union placed a full page ad in both the Times and the Post requesting that the DNC pass on Brooklyn in 2016 as Mayor de Blasio has not "earned the right" to host the event.
Note that this missive did not come from the NYPD PBA, nor from the upper echelons of the police department, but from a union with a long history of leveraging media for its own ends. Right now, the issue is that de Blasio, making good on a campaign promise, has stopped the infamous stop-and-frisk policy.
It's an interesting turn on events, since a committee of 70, including Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein and Cynthia Nixon have pledged to raise at least $100 million to bring the convention to Brooklyn. Funny thing: when you look at the Democratic Party's wings, there is a large progressive branch who have been counseling Hillary Clinton to divest from her relationship with the military-industrial complex, the banks and big money to be able to run on a more Main Street platform. Yet, the people pushing for a convention in NY are those same people who could drive a certain percentage of the Democratic electorate towards the left, especially in primary season.
Face it, in NY, DNC 2016 was treated to all the City had to offer...
There were two marching bands, swag bags packed with freebies, a New York Water Taxi ride past the Statue of Liberty, and food, lots of it — from lunch at midcourt of the Barclays Center to a dinner with Broadway stars atop the roof of the Met.
In Philly? The proximity of hotel rooms (thousands of them) to the venues, the availability of transportation, a history of hosting big events, and well, cheesesteaks at Pat's, where there aren't even inside tables.
Just sayin'... 2016 will be an interesting confluence of the party's wings.
Six seats. That's what all the articles say. "The Republicans need to pick up six seats to win control of the Senate." That's NET six seats. The little detail that seems to get lost in the pile on to claim victory for the right wing.
The math is that currently, we hold 53 seats, plus two aligned, for 55, and they hold 45.
My number for the 114th? 52, maybe 53, plus two aligned. Now let me show you how.
First, the safe Democratic seats (10):
Delaware, Chris Coons Hawaii (Speical Election), Brian Schatz Illinois, Dick Durbin Massachusetts, Ed Markey Minnesota, Al Franken New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen New Jersey, Cory Booker New Mexico, Tom Udall Rhode Island, Jack Reed Virginia, Mark Warner
Next, safe Republican seats (11):
Alabama, Jeff Sessions Idaho, Jim Risch Maine, Susan Collins Nebraska, Benn Sasse Oklahoma, Jim Inhoff Oklahoma (Special Election), James Lankford South Carolina, Lindsey Graham South Carolina (Special Election), Tom Scott Tennessee, Lamar Alexander Texas, John Cornyn Wyoming, Mike Enzi
Earlier this week, with the results coming in early Wednesday morning for the majority of us living in the lower 48, Alaska held its primaries. For the purposes of national politics, the key primary was the Republican Senate primary with the winner getting the right to face Democratic Senator Mark Begich in November. There were three major candidates -- two supported by various parts of the national Republican establishment (Dan Sullivan and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell) and one Tea Party candidate (2010 nominee Joe Miller). At the end of the day, Sullivan got 40% of the vote to Miller's 32%. Having gotten a "mainstream" candidate in a solidly Republican state, Republicans have to be salivating about the possibility of regaining this seat (which they lost due to the Ted Stevens fiasco in 2008), but what if?
The what if in this case is Joe Miller. In 2010, Joe Miller beat Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Republican Senate Primary. Senator Murkowsi did not accept the primary defeat and ran as a write-in candidate. Now the shoe is on the other foot. If the establishment wing of the Republican Party of Alaska feels that it is not bound by the primary results and can re-run its candidate as a write-in in the general election, why should the Tea Party accept the primary results. Of course, the big difference between 2010 and 2014 is that, this time, the Democrats have a viable candidate who would be helped if a significant number of Republicans voted for a write-in candidate (and will not be tempted to support the write-in candidate). (In 2010, Murkowski won the general election over Miller by 39% to 35% with the Democrat getting 23%, by contrast the Democratic candidate for governor got 37% and President Obama got 40% in 2012).
So the question for the next several weeks is does Joe Miller accept his primary loss or does he decide to follow the example of his 2010 opponent and run as a write-in. What happens in November may turn on the answer to this question.
It's a good mug shot. Not as good as Tom Delay's mug shot, but a mighty fine picture. Face it, Rick has always been photogenic.
It should be noted that the same office that indicted Rick also indicted Tom. Just saying.
More importantly, though, seemingly everyone from the far right to MSNBC to David Axelrod is missing the real story about Perry's indictment. It's being said that this is a political witch hunt. That executive power allows for line item vetoes in Texas.
No one doubts that executives, like Governors and Presidents, have the right to veto things. It's not reasonable to deny them rights and responsibilities assigned them by law, or the Constitution. OH WAIT. That's problem number one. There IS a group of people who say that Executives cannot do their jobs. Specifically, the Republican Party in the US House of Representatives has voted that President Obama cannot issue the Executive Orders the US Constitution allows for...and yet they're going to file suit against him for it. Which would be more civil action than initially criminal. The only related criminal action they could take against him would be impeachment. Is it all political posturing?
No. The two are very different, and too many people are mixing them up. Rick Perry has the right to veto things. In fact, that's his job. But that's actually not what the indictment is about, and it's sloppy for people to equate the Perry situation with the Boehner suit (which actually isn't a suit yet as it hasn't been filed.)
After the jump you can take a look at the actual indictment.
Democratic party officials are wrapping up a two-day visit to Philadelphia to evaluate the City of Brotherly Love as a possible site of the party's 2016 convention.
Representatives were at the Comcast Center this morning and are expected to attend a rally at the National Constitution Center and a reception at the Art Museum. On Wednesday, they toured a sports arena and had lunch at a famed cheesesteak shop. - WITF
Site selectors for the 2016 Democratic National Convention will be in Phoenix early next month.
Phoenix is battling Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Columbus, Ohio; and Birmingham, Alabama for the 2016 DNC.
Ann Wallack, chairwoman of the regional bid, said Democratic convention executives and site selectors will be in town Sept. 9-11.
They will tour US Airways Center, the Phoenix Convention Center and other downtown venues. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton will also be part of the meetings, Wallack said. - Phoenix Business Journal
And some Brooklyn news
A host committee of 70 prominent New Yorkers have pledged to raise $100 million to support the convention and parties that surround it, including JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, and celebrities like Cynthia Nixon.
“We have a lot of people in this town who provide a lot of support for the Democratic Party, and the resources will be there,” de Blasio told reporters Wednesday.
The mayor’s office believes the city would surpass the $255 million Republicans brought in when they held their convention in Manhattan in 2004. De Blasio said that amount of money will be recouped “many times over” because of the financial impact of the convention. - WPRO
Really. There are 234 Republicans in the House, 199 Democrats and 2 vacancies. The vote was 225-201. This means that there are two Republicans who are not insane. Kind of like Sodom and Gomorrah, someone looked back. (When I get the full list of who voted how, I'll post the link).
The recess starts soon. Will the highway appropriations bill reconcile between the House and Senate versions beforehand? Probably not. And so on August 1st, the FHA will start turning off the taps, leading to stalled road projects and unemployment. The House, by the way, will work 14 days between now and the end of the year and get paid for it. Go figure.
There is a burgeoning crisis in Africa. Alan Grayson wants a bill on the floor to ban travel from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to prevent the possibility of Ebola hitting our shores. But, let's sue Obama.
Ukraine, Gaza, Libya, just to name a few powder kegs roiling world order. But hey, let's ignore that.
These giant sucking problems are on top of the structural problems of climate change, equal pay, and civil rights. And yet, people don't seem to care.
Do YOU care? Do you care enough to do something? I'll be registering voters this weekend, handing out promise cards, and starting to canvass for the candidate of my choice on Monday. Please help me. Commit to vote these people out on 4 November 2014. Register voters. Canvass. Phone Bank. Please stand with me and say "enough is enough." Take action.
Markos Moulitsas recently announced that Daily Kos will not take part in Netroots Nation 2015 which will take place in Phoenix. He expands his call for Democrats to stay away from the city.
And then there's Phoenix, and unless Democrats want to stir up the same raw emotions and divisiveness that Netroots Nation did with their choice for that locale, it should be avoided like the plague.
With the exception of Birmingham, which is an odd addition to the list, the other four cities would unite our party and allow us to focus on the task at hand—retaining the White House, expanding our Senate majority and taking back the House. Let's focus on the places that unite us, not consider places that divide.
Markos seems to lean Philly. We'll see if he's right.
Other improvements already scheduled to be done by mid-2016: Upgrades to airport signs at Hopkins and Burke Lakefront Airport, a new waiting area and parking lot canopy system at the Hopkins rental car facility, and terminal refurbishing and construction of a new Landmark Aviation Executive hangar for private jets at Burke. - Plain Dealer
We all know how important it is to have your airport "refreshened" before a convention
Cleveland City Council will vote this evening on an ordinance which will designate $2.5 million for the Republican National Convention in 2016 and will provide assurances that the city will be spic and span and (one suspects) safe once the Republicans and their various media coteries arrive.
During a lengthy council session Wednesday morning, the city's Chief Corporate Counsel Richard Horvath outlined the provisions of the ordinance, which include: making available for use any city-owned property as a possible venue, expediting the city's elaborate permitting processes, creating comprehensive traffic and security plans and technology and telecommunications plans, and guaranteeing that all construction in Cleveland's central business district will be completed before the convention begins.
UPDATE: Council passed the ordinance (880-14) at a meeting Wednesday evening. - Cleveland Scene