ATLANTA — With no immediate hope of overturning the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing abortion, Republicans around the country are increasingly pushing legislation to restrict the procedure, and Democrats say they'll make the GOP pay in coming elections.
What will happen in 2014? Will the Tea Party finally gasp its last breath in the midterm elections? Will the GOP find its conscious? Will President Obama be vindicated in health care reform and other policies and positions? What will the next wave of big stories be? Really, I don’t know, but here are my best guesses:
Firstly, I think the midterm elections will be a Saturday night-Sunday morning moment for the GOP. Hung over and still slightly drunk from the intoxication of hatred and fear served up by the Tea Party for five years, the GOP will swear off the hard stuff. The county I live in happens to be an eerily accurate reflection of the national political mood, being deeply purple, and in 2013 our off year elections showed a renewed interest in the middle way. The local Tea Party lost a noticeable amount of ground in city and county races. I think in 2014, we will see this trend out nationally. Read more
“Why should I respect a Republican or Democrat’s political views on campus when he or she draws conclusions completely contrary to my own?” Some of us at Duke answer this question with, “I shouldn’t have to. If my opponent is wrong, then there is simply no reason to respect what I deem to be conclusively wrong.”
These individuals operate in a world of black-and-white policy answers. But it surprises me, at a school that arguably teaches one of the best liberal arts curricula in our country, with hundreds of professors teaching and debating conflicting ideas with one another every day, that any Duke University student can come away from his or her studies passionately believing that he or she has found definitively right answers to America’s policy problems at the humble age of 22. These students are paying $60,000 a year to ignore the prying hands of a Duke education that is desperately trying to open their minds. Read more
Michael Stinnett - 9/03/2013: Legal rulings such as Citizens United and lax campaign financing laws have undermined the democratic process allowing wealthy donors to buy elections; so-called Super PACs are a pernicious influence on society and should be abolished. A Super PAC, or independent expenditure-only committee, “may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis – the Super PAC's choice – as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates” (Super PACs). The recent ruling protects political spending by corporations in candidate elections, citing the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. In justifying the ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that “'If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech'” (The New York Times). Read more
Many commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington protest, one of the defining moments of the civil rights movement. The hopes, dreams and aspirations of Martin Luther King Jr. and many others striving for equality were celebrated. Some might argue that much progress has been made, and civil rights are no longer a partisan issue. However, this may not be the case. Frank James pointed out that “The parties have seldom seemed so far apart as they did Wednesday, on the 50th anniversary of King's speech and the March on Washington. Not a single Republican elected official spoke at the ‘Let Freedom Ring’ event at the Lincoln Memorial, site of King's 1963 speech, though some were invited.” http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/08/28/216580613/something-w...
This could be due to mere coincidence, yet there is some reason to believe otherwise. Read more
When Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retired from the Supreme Court in January of 2006, one of the issues she felt very strongly about was the increasingly common call for federal judges, and state judges, to be elected as opposed to appointed. She was decidedly against the idea, and has put a great deal of her time, outside of hearing cases on various federal courts of appeal and encouraging greater civics education, to fighting efforts in various states to turn to an elective system of placing judges on the bench. A number of states already have an elective system in place, or variants of it, but at the Federal level the Constitution in Article 3 creates the appointive process of nomination by the President and confirmation by the Senate. The question I have been pondering more and more lately is whether it is really desirable to have elected judges. I will attempt to answer that question with this article. Read more
There has been some ongoing debate about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and some comments she made about constitution making in countries that are endeavoring to rewrite, or develop whole new constitutions. I would like to examine whether she is being unfairly attacked in these debates. Read more
I recall vividly in the summer of 1987 when Court of Appeals Judge Robert Bork was before the Senate Judiciary Committee going through the ordeal of a hearing on his nomination to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. I had been studying the history of the Supreme Court for a couple of years at that point, and was very interested in seeing this process play out. By the end of it, I was sorely disappointed, and a little frustrated at the antics of the Senators, both on and off the Committee. Since then, I have been more and more disillusioned about the process of nominating, and confirming, an individual to the Supreme Court. While this disillusionment applies equally well to lower Federal courts, I am focusing my attention on the Supreme Court. Read more
A few years ago I was asked to give a short talk on the subject of Roe v. Wade. As I have always been interested in the Supreme Court and the individuals who have served on it, I readily agreed. Knowing how controversial that particular decision was, I decided to try a little experiment. Opening the talk, I asked how many supported the decision. Roughly half the hands went up. Then I asked how many opposed it. Again, roughly half raised their hands. Then I asked the most important question. How many have actually read the decision? Sadly, out of perhaps 20 people two raised their hands. I asked them when that shocking revelation revealed itself "How can you support or oppose something without even having taken the time to read it to know what it actually says?" Read more
One day the Supreme Court can undercut one of our nation's strongest voter protection. The next day, the Court makes history again promoting equality for all our citizens.
One day, a majority of Texas conservatives prepare to legislate against choice. Then a Lone Star Senator starts a filibuster, rallies the public & delays the bill for now.
Activists protest the Keystone XL Pipeline and America's inaction on climate change. Then, the President announces executive actions to reduce carbon emissions where Congress won't.
Elections have consequences. Advocacy can lead to results. Activism can shift our culture.
These forms of democracy affect our lives, our health, our loves, our rights. And it's a reminder for the next election: in so many matters, democracy matters.
Let's celebrate the highs & drink down the lows at a festive, feisty, fiery, friendly, fun fete with like-minded lefties and liberal libations at your local progressive social club.
DRINKING LIBERALLY Find - or start - a chapter near you.
Ok. Snowden is on the run.
“It’s espionage!” “He’s a traitor!!”.
Yeegads. All for telling us that our government is listening to us and wants to listen to the globe.
“We have warrants!” shouts Obama,
And then in a whisper “from that secret FISA Court” that nobody knows anything about because it’s a secret. National security you know.
Google moved today for a declaratory judgement in Federal Court (the REAL court!) to be allowed to disclose the warrants it received from the NSA through the FISA Court (not to be taken as an admission that there are any warrants of course - they are secret), arguing that it’s business has been irreparably damaged.
Now suppose the security state can’t catch Snowden? Suppose he gets asylum? How would you feel if Obama put him on the drone list over a Tuesday afternoon coffee at the White House?
Nah. Of course he wouldn’t. Would he? He can. Maybe after getting a secret warrant from FISA Court so it’s all nice and legal. Read more
Justice Scalia finally made us proud.
In common with the vast majority of progressives I have considered our two Italian - American Justices to be running dogs of right wing conservatives / corporatists; borderline demi-fascists.
Scalia was on the side of Citizens United; against Obamacare; consistently voting with the other four right wing Justices. Obamacare passed Court muster only because John Roberts pulled a Becket, shocking his political allies.
Justice Scalia, on the other hand, has written several opinions in 4th Amendment cases which progressives should be cheering. His greatest opinions have involved his passionate defense of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. It was Scalia who held, for a majority of the Court, that police need a valid warrant before they can use thermal imaging devices on a suspect’s home, or track his movements 24/7 for a month using a GPS device. Scalia has also written memorable dissents in defense of privacy, including his denunciation of warrantless drug testing for customs employees as “a kind of immolation of privacy and human dignity in symbolic opposition to drug use.” Read more
As arch-conservatives cling to definitions of marriage as between a man and a woman, more and more Americans come to believe that people have the right to marry whom they love.
While the Supreme Court's right flank seems uncomfortable recognizing gay families, Anthony Kennedy, the presumptive swing Justice, is recognizing history's swing toward equality.
Dem leaders finally follow public sentiment, 2016 contenders and coming out for gay rights & though the Republican Party lags behind, more GOP voices are calling for change.
In the end, people love who they love, couples have the right to start families, and why stand in the way of a great wedding?
Whether through Courts, States or the Capitol, before long, even the Grand Old Party will be celebrating a Gay Old Party, and we'll all be better off for it.
Speculate about SCOTUS, pipe up about politics & pass around a pitcher to share a toast as you gather with like-minded lefties at your local progressive social club.
DRINKING LIBERALLY Find - or start - a chapter near you.