All Articles Tagged "supreme court"
Politico spoke with Benjamin Jealous, the president of the NAACP, last night at the BET Inaugural Gala, who told the site that, among his remaining appointments, the organization would like to see President Obama name a black woman to the Supreme Court. Specifically, Jealous would like to see Kamala Harris, California’s Attorney General, on the High Court.
“He still has several more appointments, and we expect that we’ll see at least the same diversity that we saw the first time around. What we’re hoping to see is a black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Jealous said.
Politico named Harris one of the “13 people to watch in politics in 2013″ just a few weeks ago. In its blurb about the 48-year-old Harris, the site said ”many Democrats sense her catapulting up the ranks in the party” with questions about her possibly replacing the nation’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, or possibly getting a seat on the Court. She is California’s first African American and first Indian American AG.
President Obama has been criticized by Democrats, and more specifically by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), for the lack of diversity in some of President Obama’s choices for the second term. Speaking to MSNBC earlier this month, he said that, by this time, there should be a number of qualified women and minorities to fill spots that have opened up in the cabinet and on the Court.
Just a couple days before this interview, this story ran in The New York Times, which called out the President for a seemingly all-male “inner circle” for his second term.
At the moment, it’s anticipated that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who is 79 years old, will step down from the Supreme Court soon. Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy aren’t too far behind at 76 years old.
Today marked an historic event in this country’s history. Though President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010; today, the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional, making President Obama the first president to successfully pass significant, constitutional health care reform.
This is a huge deal not only for President Obama’s administration but for the entire country, considering Teddy Roosevelt first tried to reform healthcare in 1912. Since then every Democratic president, in recent history and Eisenhower and Nixon, two Republicans, have tried to make changes to our existing system. It’s a political, but more importantly, a social victory for the nation.
Ok, we get that. But the question everyone wants to understand is, how does it directly impact the average person’s life. It is indeed complicated. Even CNN and FOX misreported what the Surpreme Court decided about the “individual mandate” clause.
But around here we like to keep things simple and since this is such a big deal, it’s only right that you be in “the know.” So, here is what Obamacare can and will do for you. Don’t worry, we’ll break down that individual mandate clause as well.
If you already have health insurance…
- You will be able keep the health insurance you have. This law only makes it more affordable.
Insurance companies can no longer…
- Enforce limits on the amount of care you can receive.
- Discriminate against children with preexisting conditions.
- Drop your coverage if you get sick.
-Jack up premiums without reason
Insurance companies must provide…
- Free preventive care (i.e. checkups and mammograms)
- The option for adults under the age of 26, to stay under their parents’ insurance
- Discounts on prescriptions for senior citizens.
If you don’t currently have health insurance…
In 2014, this law will offer you options as to which type of affordable health insurance you can choose from. The options available to you will differ in each state, though.
So, what is this individual mandate?
Politicians and political pundits alike have lauded the “individual mandate” clause as the key provision in Obama’s healthcare law. It states that virtually all Americans will be required to have some form of healthcare. This is a key piece of what the Supreme Court had to rule as constitutional or not. They ruled, in a 5-4 decision that it is constitutional if it’s regarded as a tax because Congress has the power to tax American citizens.
While it may seem that the government is forcing individuals to get health insurance, the individual mandate is a means to protect Americans with health insurance for paying higher premiums. Because if people aren’t required to have insurance, some will wait until they’re sick to purchase it, subsequently raising the cost of premiums for people who’ve had health insurance all along.
As they used to say on Reading Rainbow, ‘You don’t have to take my word for it,’ you can read the entire law and find out when certain clauses are being implemented here.
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In a move supporters of affirmative action feared, the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case of Abigail Fisher, a white student who claims she was denied admission to the University of Texas because of her skin color.
In Texas, schools provide admission for those in the top 10 percent of their Texas high schools. Since Abigail didn’t meet that criteria, she was put into a pool of applicants in which race is considered along with other factors like community service, leadership qualities, test scores, and work experience. When she didn’t get in, she claimed her race was the cause and her lawyer, Bert Rein argues that the Texas system goes beyond what the court said was allowed in the 2003 Grutter vs. Bollinger decision because 30 percent of the students brought in under UT’s race-neutral policy for the top 10 percent are already minorities.
Edward Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, a non-profit legal defense foundation that has provided legal counsel for Fisher, said Abigail’s case will provide a new look at the old question of the fairness of affirmative action.
“This case presents the court with an opportunity to clarify the boundaries of race preferences in higher education, or even reconsider whether race should be permitted at all under the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.”
But that’s exactly what affirmative action supporters don’t want, especially now that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who has historically opposed the use of race in education decisions, has replaced Sandra Day O’Connor. If the Grutter decision is reexamined it could likely mean race will no longer be allowed as a consideration in college admissions.
This will definitely be an interesting case to watch.
What’s your stance on affirmative action in college admissions? Is it still needed or should it be done away with?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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(AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution Thursday of a black man convicted of a double murder in Texas 16 years ago after his lawyers contended his sentence was unfair because of a question asked about race during his trial. Duane Buck, 48, was spared from lethal injection when the justices, without extensive comment, said they would review an appeal in his case. Two appeals, both related to a psychologist’s testimony that black people were more likely to commit violence, were before the court. One was granted; the other was denied. Buck was sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of his ex-girlfriend and a man in her apartment in July 1995. Buck’s guilt is not being questioned, but his lawyers say the jury was unfairly influenced and that he should receive a new sentencing hearing. His attorneys appealed to the Supreme Court and Texas Gov. Rick Perry to block the execution, saying a psychologist testified that black people were more likely to commit violence.
(Salon) — Most Americans had never heard of Clarence Thomas when President George H.W. Bush nominated him for the Supreme Court 20 years ago this month. Bush, who announced his pick in Kennebunkport, Maine on July 1, 1991, called the thinly credentialed Thomas the “best qualified” person for the seat vacated by retiring Justice Thurgood Marshall, a giant of the law who had argued the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case and was the Court’s first African-American justice. Thomas had only been a federal judge for a year when Bush tapped him for the Supreme Court, and the gap in stature compared to Marshall, the man he would replace, set the terms for the rancorous fight that followed. Democrats charged the White House with playing racial politics with an unqualified candidate on the assumption that they wouldn’t dare oppose an African-American.
(New York Times) — The Supreme Court on Monday struck down on First Amendment grounds a California law that banned the sale of violent video games to children. The 7-to-2 decision was the latest in a series of rulings protecting free speech, joining ones on funeral protests, videos showing cruelty to animals and political speech by corporations. In a second decision Monday, the last day of the term, the court also struck down an Arizona campaign finance law as a violation of the First Amendment. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for five justices in the majority in the video games decision, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, No. 08-1448, said video games were subject to full First Amendment protection.
It’s a victorious day for young video game enthusiasts all over California. Bloomberg reports that the US Supreme Court voted against a California law that prohibited the sale of violent video games to minors, declaring the law “an unconstitutional infringement on speech rights.”
With a vote of 7-2, the court disagreed with the state’s assertion that violent game are equivalent to sexual materials, which government can restrict in efforts to protect children. The law would have restricted the sale and rental of video games depicting violence against humans and “appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of minors,” to anyone under 18 with fines of up to $1,000 for any violators. It did not specifically detail restrictions for online sales
If the California violent video game ban had been upheld, other states may have potentially duplicated the measure.
The video game industry, which makes over $10 billion in annual sales, believes that even if the California law had been upheld, it would have no serious impact as it has a voluntary rating system already in place with age specific ratings.
With the right to play open to kids of all ages, the only thing that will keep the youngsters from their favorite past times of blowing up towns and killing people now are disapproving parents.
(Businessweek) — The women who sought to sue Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for gender bias on behalf of 1.5 million co-workers said they will press their fight against the nation’s largest private employer in smaller lawsuits in lower courts and claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday said the women failed to prove the world’s largest retailer had a nationwide policy that led to gender discrimination. The court deprived them of the leverage a nationwide suit brings, both in pooled legal resources and a potential multibillion-dollar verdict, forcing them to pursue claims on their own. “When I go back to work tomorrow, I’m going to let them know we are still fighting,” said Christine Kwapnoski, an assistant manager at a Sam’s Club in Concord, California. She had accused a male manager of yelling at female employees and telling her to “doll up” by wearing more makeup and dressing better while working on a loading dock.
As Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas nears his twentieth anniversary of service, his tendency towards extreme conservatism is coming under examination. Thomas, as an African-American male from a self-professed difficult background, has been found to be the least sympathetic justice to either blacks or the disadvantaged when considering cases. The man is known for his strict belief that criminal acts should be punished with the full force possible regardless of mitigating circumstances. Yet, he displays a capacity for flexibility when interpreting laws enacted to protect those in vulnerable positions. Now, as he ends the second decade of his tenure, Thomas’ conservatism is increasing as he dials back what little leniency he ever offered to defendants. USA Today reports:
… Thomas’ pattern of ruling against criminal defendants is only deeper.
“Justice Thomas is probably the most conservative on matters related to crime and punishment, followed closely by Justice (Samuel) Alito” says Cornell law professor John Blume. He notes that Alito, who joined the court in 2006, is a former federal prosecutor.
Thomas often separates himself from fellow justices with his lack of consideration for a defendant’s plight. “Some of his opinions reveal a failure to appreciate the facts and circumstances of (a defendant’s) life,” Blume said, “and a myopic focus on the crime itself.”
Examples of Clarence Thomas acting callously from his position of power are legion. Recently, Thomas wrote the supporting argument in a case that overturned a $14 million award an African-American defendant had received for a wrongful imprisonment suit that proved police had hidden helpful evidence. Thomas was also the sole justice to advocate disregarding a 1965 law that protects the rights of blacks when considering a 2009 voting rights case. In addition, Thomas tends to focus on the letter of the law when considering complex circumstances, rarely appreciating a defendant’s history or any efforts made to compensate for crimes when weighing punishments.
USA Today compares Justice Thomas with his African-American predecessor Thurgood Marshall, observing that if Thomas serves as long as Marshall did, we could have 20 more years of his intensely conservative opinion influencing America’s highest court. As he increasingly displays a hard stance, Thomas could become more than just the symbolic foe he has been to African-Americans for nearly 20 years.
Thomas’ influence impacts the decisions of today’s Supreme Court, touches the minds of current law school thinkers, and forms the basis of precedents used to argue future cases. Under Thomas, the Supreme Court could endanger black voting rights while protecting crooked cops — thus removing what little humanity the criminal justice system has left, if his recent activities are on the increase as USA Today asserts.
Justice Thomas is transforming himself from being the impotent butt of political sex jokes into our worst nightmare as his opinions strike at the legal wins blacks achieved during the civil rights era. He has made these moves quietly, rarely speaking out in court as his influence runs deep. If those on the left don’t check his insidious influence, blacks might have to fight again for the basic legal protections that we’re taking for granted.
(Christian Science Monitor) — A sharply divided US Supreme Court ordered California Monday to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates, nearly a quarter of those incarcerated, saying the overcrowding in the state’s prisons violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The 5-to-4 ruling in the case, Brown v. Plata, upheld a ruling from a three-judge panel in California that called for the state to release between 38,000 and 46,000 inmates to attain a population of 110,000, still more than 137 percent of the system’s capacity. Since that panel’s 2009 ruling, California has transferred 9,000 prisoners to county jails. Deficiencies in California’s prison system have led to “needless suffering and death,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority. “After years of litigation, it became apparent that a remedy for the constitutional violations would not be effective absent a reduction in the prison system population.” Accompanying Justice Kennedy’s opinion was an appendix showing three pictures of the overcrowded facilities. Critics of California’s prison system contend the cells are so overrun with inmates that proper care has been decimated. Kennedy cited examples of prisoners with physical or mental health needs having to wait months for inadequate care. One was an inmate who was held for nearly 24 hours in a cage and standing in a pool of his own urine. Others died while seeking medical attention that was seemingly delayed because of the backlog of cases.