Feb 152016
 
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivers his keynote address at Utah State University's conference called "Freedom and the Rule of Law" on September 15, 2008 in Logan. Photo: Kristin Murphy.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivers his keynote address at Utah State University’s conference called “Freedom and the Rule of Law” on September 15, 2008 in Logan. Photo: Kristin Murphy.

So, by now everyone knows that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died over the weekend. As is usual, everyone is rushing to the airwaves to talk about what a nice and brilliant person he was. Of course I don’t know him personally, but certainly his public personae were not so nice, and I don’t think his legal reasoning, considered by many to be smart and original (pun intended), was all that brilliant. It was merely partisan and theocratic.

A friend texted me the news, and about my third text back to her was, it’ll be just a matter of time before Obama is accused of killing, and it took no time at all for Alex Jones to get the ball rolling. Let’s be clear; the guy was at a hunting ranch/resort in Texas when he died. We have only one government official that has the modus operandi (MO) of trying to take someone out in those circumstances, and I’m not aware of Dick Cheney being seen in public during the time this could have occurred…I’m just saying.

Seriously, Scalia was 79 years old, and while the average age of death is getting higher, plenty of 79 year olds die each year of natural causes. Scalia was overweight, and my understanding is he was a smoker. The guy just died. Continue reading »

Mississippi Ratifies 13th Amendment

 Constitution, Legislature, Politics  Comments Off on Mississippi Ratifies 13th Amendment
Feb 182013
 
Mississippi State House

Mississippi State House

As a proud southerner, I know things move slower in the south, but sometimes it’s just a bit too slow. According to the Washington Times, Mississippi is only now getting around to ratifying the 13th Amendment banning slavery in the U.S. As a friend of mine said, “Best not to rush to judgement on these things. Let cooler heads prevail and all that.”

In defense of the Mississippi Legislature, their tardiness on the issue is related, somewhat, to a communications error. Apparently each State must report the ratification to the Archivist of the United States. Apparently the Mississippi failed to do that the first time they ratified the Amendment….

…in 1995.

According to state Sen. Hillma Frazier, the Democrat who introduced the ratification resolution in 1995, “We’re very deliberate in our state. We finally got it right.” (You got that right Hillma.)

For the record, Kentucky beat them. They finally ratified the amendment in 1976. Good for you boys in KY.

And To The Republic…One Nation?

 Constitution, Featured, General, Politics  Comments Off on And To The Republic…One Nation?
Jul 042009
 

One can’t be as opinionated as I, and not post a message on Independence Day. As I have stated before, I remain concerned about the condition of our Republic. We no longer seem to be one nation…we have devolved into red and blue states, with the extreme right and left pulling the center apart. We’ve become a nation of “haves” and “have nots” We have lost touch with that primary Constitutional principle of “the common good.”

U.S. Flag“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

Two days before this date in 1776, the Continental Congress had actually voted to break with Britain. It was on this day in 1776 that the assembled adopted the Declaration that set in motion the events that would forge this republic. What does it mean to be a Republic? The word ‘republic’ is derived from the Latin phrase res publica which can be translated as “public affairs”. In its broadest definition, a republic is a state or country not led by a Monarch, and in which the people have influence on their government. Are we there yet, or did we have it and lose it?

I think we still have some ways to go, and sometimes I think we are losing ground. People of color have made progress, but make no mistake that racism remains alive and well. Gay people are only just starting to gain the legal rights to equal treatment. In that great document adopted on this day Jefferson talked about unalienable rights, and cited as examples “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” If we all merely stepped aside and granted to each person those three things, we would be closer to a perfect union.

The primary and stated purpose for creating a Republic from the many states is in the preamble to Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The founders were intent on insuring several things for their and future generations. First is Justice and securing the Blessings of Liberty. The founders had previously cited King George’s unfair legal system that denied people fair trials, locked people away without charge or trial, took them to foreign soil without trial…sound familiar?

The others, “the common defense” and “promote the general Welfare” impose on Americans a need to care for one another. The idea that America is about nothing but individual freedom is not true. Each man is and should be free to pursue happiness, unless and until his goals come in conflict with the common good, or the rights of others. We seem to have so much lost sight of this part of our founding, and in that is where I find my fear for the survival of the republic.

We all complain that the government wastes money, and certainly in many cases they do, but so do big corporations. Any organization, once it’s large enough, supports a bureaucracy that is prone to waste and indifference. The hope of our founders is that the people would hold the government and their representatives accountable, and we can. With corporations, we have little recourse. So people go without healthcare and insurance because we allow our representatives to be bought and paid for by the insurance industry. We fail in educating our children because we don’t want to pay taxes, and we attend “tea parties” that are actually sponsored by wealthy corporations fomenting support for lower taxes on themselves, in the name of protecting “the little people.”  Continue reading »

Jun 152009
 

It is time again for a letter. This time to the President. Printed on letterhead, signed with ink, and sent via the U.S. Postal Service.

June 15, 2009

Barack H. Obama, President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Recognizing you have a challenging workload, I will get straight to my point. As a gay man and a life-long and active progressive Democrat I could not be more disappointed with you and your administration, nor could I be any more ashamed of the positions you have recently taken.

I voted for you expecting an about face from the medieval policies of the Bush-Cheney Administration on the “unitary executive” and “war powers” theories. I expected new government respect for Constitutional protections concerning privacy and domestic surveillance. I expected a return to accountability for government officials and corporations when they violated the laws of our Country, and I expected your government to respect the right to habeas corpus for the people we imprison. I expected war criminals and those who ordered torture to be called to account. You promised to be a fierce advocate for Gay and Lesbian equal rights, and you and your team has cleared the agenda of any mention of those issues. (DOMA, DADT, ENDA, Hate Crimes)

Not only have you failed to deliver on these promises, you have sought to defend and continue many of the policies of your predecessor. You have provided little in the way of “change I can believe in.”

But I was finally prompted to write you after reviewing the Motion and Brief submitted by W. Scott Simpson, Chief Trial Counsel of your Department of Justice in the case of Smelt and Hammer v. United States.

First is the claim by The White House and DOJ spokespeople that the DOJ is required to defend all laws that are “on the books.” While not entirely true (your oath is defend the Constitution…not specific laws), let’s assume there is a legitimate need for the DOJ to enter this case. That does not mean the Government (my government, the one I help pay for) is required to sink to hateful and demeaning rhetoric, and trot out patently ridiculous arguments. I’m no attorney, but even a layman can determine bigoted and hateful reasoning when it rears its head. If this constitutes “fierce advocacy” for Gay Rights, please just stop.

The claim from line 32 of the brief is the most absurd of all. “DOMA does not discriminate against homosexuals in the provision of federal benefits.” This is a frequent claim made by religious fanatics in respect to all sorts of laws restricting gay rights based on a claim that all these laws, including DOMA, don’t discriminate against gays and lesbians because they are free to marry people of the opposite sex. No “homosexual” is denied marriage so homosexuals qua homosexuals suffer no hardship. Gay man? Marry a woman, says the DOJ. This is the same formulation used to argue for upholding the Texas homosexual-only sodomy law in Lawrence v. Texas: a law banning only gay sex doesn’t discriminate against gays because it equally forbids homosexuals and heterosexuals to have homosexual sex and because it equally allows homosexuals and heterosexuals to have heterosexual sex.

Your DOJ goes on to compare, as the religious right so often does, gay marriages to incest and pedophilia. It is gratuitously insulting to lesbians and gay men, referring (unnecessarily) to same-sex marriage as a “form” of marriage, and arguing (with a straight face, I can only assume) that discrimination against same-sex couples is rational because it saves the federal government money. These arguments go beyond absurd, and merely prove the discriminatory and unfair nature of the law on its face. Really, your administration is determining whether or not to support civil rights based on whether or not those rights might have a financial cost? Seriously?

Your government (because it’s obviously no longer my government) continues to send me a tax bill every year to help pay for the benefits of married people. May I get a free pass from taxes?

Thinking, intelligent people just roll their eyes and laugh at such reasoning. I would laugh too, were this not my life you were talking about in such language. Do you believe that Loving v. Virginia should have been decided differently because it increased the burden on taxpayers to provide benefits to the spouse and family of mixed race couples?

Mr. President, I voted for you with high expectations that your administration would return this country to the principles of fairness, respect, and government of, by and for the people as set forth so eloquently by our founding fathers. The previous administration had created a credible and very real threat to this Republic, and you made a promise during the campaign to restore those founding ideals. During your inauguration, you took a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution. I have to admit that I am, thus far, gravely disappointed in the actions of your administration, and now…I’m just hurt and insulted.

I go about my life trying to earn a living, trying to respect my neighbors, adhering to spiritual and social principles of Methodism, my chosen religion. I work to maintain a home, and help my “significant other” (since I can’t call him my husband lest I offend your Justice Department and place an undue burden on us taxpayers) advance his education.

I expect that same respect from this government, and your administration has failed to provide that basic level of respect. I now ask and expect you to do better.

Sincerely yours

Craig and Vitter Sponsor Marriage Protection Amendment

 Constitution, Featured, Gay Issues, Politics, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on Craig and Vitter Sponsor Marriage Protection Amendment
Jul 022008
 

It’s not really surprising to find that a small group of Republican Senators re-introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution. After all, they are mostly behind in the polls, the base is distraught and disorganized, and even fund raising isn’t going so well. I mean even if the bill has no chance of even getting a hearing, nothing gets the blood pumping for krazy kristian kooks like a good homo bashing.

David_Vitter.jpgWhat you might find interesting though is that two of the original 10 sponsors is Larry “I have a wide stance” Craig (R-Idaho) and David “I heart hookers” Vitter (R-LA). Sometimes the silly shit just writes itself. Come on…Larry Craig was caught trying to hook up with a hot cop in an airport Larry Craigrestroom, and David Vitter used to let hookers put him in diapers. Both were married at the time…so just which marriage and family values are we trying to protect here.

These are people who want to pontificate on the sanctity of holy matrimony? They’d better hope St. Peter enjoys irony, and has a sense of humor.

The Day After – Gay Marriage

 Election, Featured, Gay Issues, Politics, Society, The Courts  Comments Off on The Day After – Gay Marriage
Jun 192008
 

Well, it’s the day after the first full day that gay marriage was legal in California, and gosh darn it, the sun came up, birds still sang, children were born, people died, there were even some heterosexual marriages, and I still had to go to work. In other words, if God is mad about it, he sure missed that wrath thing by taking it out on the mid-west. 

We’ve seen the pictures of the two lesbians in San Francisco being one of the first couples married after being a couple for over 50 years. We’ve also seen the completely idiotic protestors. Always with the god made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Please, hire a gay man and get a little creative.

So what’s next for California? It is possible this could all be short lived as there is a ballot measure to be voted on in November that could write discrimination into their state constitution. No one is sure exactly what that would mean for the marriages already performed, as this was obviously not anticipated by the proponents of the amendment since no language was included that would officially address the current situation. For my part, I don’t see how the state could undo something that was fully legal at the time it was done. Let’s say murder was not illegal (insert O.J. joke here), so I killed someone. Then next year they make it illegal. I don’t think it would be legal or right to then charge me for a crime.

As for the amendment itself, I see two possibilities. The marriages will have been going on for nearly six months. So long as there is no major earthquake in California between now and November (for Pat Robertson to use as evidence of God’s displeasure), I think the dust will have settled, and a lot of people will see that it just really hasn’t made any difference. I mean, come on, this argument that somehow straight people will suddenly decide they’re not getting married because Adam and Steve are is just utter bullshit. That’s the best case. The concern is that straight people who are in favor of equal rights, and even gay people will relax a little too much in the afterglow, and let their guard down. Unfortunately, in California only a simple majority is required to pass a constitutional amendment…a foolish thing if you ask me.

VoteNo Does it make a difference here in Florida? There are two things to think about. The most obvious is what impact it might have on our anti-gay marriage amendment. I’ve written briefly about this before. The concern I have is that this does play into the primary argument that marriage opponents always stress…that “activist judges” will overturn the existing state laws against gay marriage, so it has to be put into the Constitution. There are a lot of places in Florida where that argument sells, and it could spark a few people to show up who might not otherwise vote.  Continue reading »

A Time For Anger, A Call To Action

 Constitution, Culture, Politics, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on A Time For Anger, A Call To Action
Mar 232007
 

by Bill Moyers

The following is a transcript of a speech given on February 7, 2007 at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

I am grateful to you for this opportunity and to President Prager for the hospitality of this evening, to Diana Akiyama, Director of the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life, whose idea it was to invite me and with whom you can have an accounting after I’ve left. And to the Lilly Endowment for funding the Values and Vocations project to encourage students at Occidental to explore how their beliefs and values shape their choices in life, how to make choices for meaningful work and how to make a contribution to the common good. It’s a recognition of a unique venture: to demonstrate that the life of the mind and the longing of the spirit are mirror images of the human organism. I’m grateful to be here under their auspices.

I have come across the continent to talk to you about two subjects close to my heart. I care about them as a journalist, a citizen and a grandfather who looks at the pictures next to my computer of my five young grandchildren who do not have a vote, a lobbyist in Washington, or the means to contribute to a presidential candidate. If I don’t act in their behalf, who will?

One of my obsessions is democracy, and there is no campus in the country more attuned than Occidental to what it will take to save democracy. Because of your record of activism for social justice, I know we agree that democracy is more than what we were taught in high school civics – more than the two-party system, the checks-and-balances, the debate over whether the Electoral College is a good idea. Those are important matters that warrant our attention, but democracy involves something more fundamental. I want to talk about what democracy bestows on us?the revolutionary idea that democracy is not just about the means of governance but the means of dignifying people so they become fully free to claim their moral and political agency. “I believe in democracy because it releases the energies of every human being” – those are the words of our 28th president, Woodrow Wilson.

I’ve been spending time with Woodrow Wilson and others of his era because my colleagues and I are producing a documentary series on the momentous struggles that gripped America a century or so years ago at the birth of modern politics. Woodrow Wilson clearly understood the nature of power. In his now-forgotten political testament called The New Freedom, Wilson described his reformism in plain English no one could fail to understand: “The laws of this country do not prevent the strong from crushing the week.” He wrote: “Don’t deceive yourselves for a moment as to the power of great interests which now dominate our development… There are men in this country big enough to own the government of the United States. They are going to own it if they can.” And he warned: “There is no salvation in the pitiful condescensions of industrial masters… prosperity guaranteed by trustees has no prospect of endurance.”

Now Wilson took his stand at the center of power – the presidency itself – and from his stand came progressive income taxation, the federal estate tax, tariff reform, the challenge to great monopolies and trusts, and, most important, a resolute spirit “to deal with the new and subtle tyrannies according to their deserts.”

How we need that spirit today! When Woodrow Wilson spoke of democracy releasing the energies of every human being, he was declaring that we cannot leave our destiny to politicians, elites, and experts; either we take democracy into our own hands, or others will take democracy from us.

We do not have much time. Our political system is melting down, right here where you live.

A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that only 20% of voters last November believe your state will be a better place to live in the year 2025; 51% say it will be worse. Another poll by the New American Foundation – summed up in an article by Steven Hill in the January 28th San Francisco Chronicle – found that for the first time in modern California history, a majority of adults are not registered with either of the two major parties. Furthermore, writes Hill, “There is a widening breach between most of the 39 million people residing in California and the fewer than 9 million who actually vote.” Here we are getting to the heart of the crisis today – the great divide that has opened in American life.

According to that New American Foundation study, frequent voters [in California] tend to be 45 and older, have household incomes of $60,000 or more, are homeowners, and have college degrees. In contrast, the 12 million nonvoters (7 million of whom are eligible to vote but are not registered) tend to be younger than 45, rent instead of own, have not been to College, and have incomes less than $60,000.

In other words, “Considering that California often has one of the lowest voter participation rates in the nation – in some elections only a little more that 1/3 of eligible voters participate – a small group of frequent voters, who are richer, whiter, and older than their nonvoting neighbors, form the majority that decides which candidates win and which ballot measures pass.” The author of that report (Mark Baldassare) concludes: “Only about 15% of adult people make the decisions and that 15% doesn’t look much life California overall.”

We should not be surprised by the consequences: “Two Californias have emerged. One that votes and one that does not. Both sides inhabit the same state and must share the same resources, but only one side is electing the political leaders who divide up the pie.”

You’ve got a big problem here. But don’t feel alone. Across the country our 18th political system is failing to deal with basic realities. Despite Thomas Jefferson’s counsel that we would need a revolution every 25 years to enable our governance to serve new generations, our structure – practically deified for 225 years – has essentially stayed the same while science and technology have raced ahead. A young writer I know, named Jan Frel, one of the most thoughtful practitioners of the emerging world of Web journalism, wrote me the other day to say: “We’ve gone way past ourselves. I see the unfathomable numbers in the national debt and deficit, and the way that the Federal government was physically unable to respond to Hurricane Katrina. I look at Iraq; where 50% of the question is how to get out, and the other 50% is how did so few people have the power to start the invasion in the first place. If the Republic were functioning, they would have never had that power.”

Yet the inertia of the political process seems virtually unstoppable. Frel reminds me that the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee can shepherd a $2.8 trillion dollar budget through the Senate and then admit: “It’s hard to understand what a trillion is. I don’t know what it is.” Is it fair to expect anyone to understand what a trillion is, my young friend asks, or how to behave with it in any democratic fashion?” He goes on: “But the political system and culture are forcing 535 members of Congress and a President who are often thousands of miles away from their 300 million constituents to do so. It is frightening to watch the American media culture from progressive to hard right being totally sold on the idea of one President for 300 million people, as though the Presidency is still fit to human scale. I’m at a point where the idea of a political savior in the guise of a Presidential candidate or congressional majority sounds downright scary, and at the same time, with very few exceptions, the writers and journalists across the slate are completely sold on it.” Continue reading »

Letter to Sen. Bill Nelson Re: His Vote on The Detainee Bill

 Congress, Election, Politics  Comments Off on Letter to Sen. Bill Nelson Re: His Vote on The Detainee Bill
Oct 122006
 

The following letter was faxed yesterday to the campaign headquarters of Senator Bill Nelson. Today, I received an email from the office manager there saying she intended to put the letter in his nightly reading box. Let me know what you think.

October 12, 2006

Hon. Bill Nelson
United States Senate
1011 E. Colonial Dr, STE 201
Orlando, FL 32803

Dear Senator Nelson:

I’ve been a proud Democrat since before I was old enough to vote. I’ve worked on several State Senate campaigns, and my father was a local elected official in my home state of North Carolina. I believe in most of the principles of the Democratic Party, and my pride in the accomplishments of the Party has not previously faltered.

Of grave concern to me is the recent power grab by the current Administration. The Bush-Cheney Administration has shown a total disregard for the constraints placed on government by the Constitution with everything from the “signing statements;” to the super-Constitutional PATRIOT Act; to the illegal wiretaps; to rendition; to this most recent Detainee Treatment bill.

The previous commander of the Gitmo Prison Camp was Col. Michael Bumgarner. He and I were close high school friends, and I was a member of his wedding party. Yet I’m ashamed to learn of the abuses of prisoners at Gitmo and at other secret camps around the world. It is difficult to remain proud to be an American. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart.”

Business travel will have me out of town on Election Day, and while Diebold will probably not count my ballot, I sit here at my desk with my absentee ballot open conflicted about voting for you for U.S. Senate. Katherine Harris is an idiot, but you have cast several votes over the past years that have provided aid and comfort to the Bush-Cheney Administration in their power-grab, the most recent being your vote in favor of this Detainee Treatment Bill.

Along with Republicans, you have had your hands on the scissors cutting a hole in our Constitution. Perhaps the original should be moved from Washington and placed in safe keeping somewhere for the time being. (Maybe Canada would hang on to it for us until some responsible adults assume the reins of government in Washington.)  Continue reading »

For Whom is Geoge Mason University Named?

 Culture, Fun Stuff  Comments Off on For Whom is Geoge Mason University Named?
Mar 312006
 

First, what makes the NCAA basketball tourney so great? It gives small schools a chance to beat the big guys. George Mason University was this year’s Cinderella, knocking off a series of “superior” teams on its way to the Final Four. Now, thanks to the team’s success, many are eager to know more about the school — specifically, who was George Mason and why does he have a university named after him?

Let’s be honest — before March Madness began, few people had even heard of ol’ George. Sad, considering he was one of America’s greatest founding fathers. Not to turn this into an 8th-grade civics lecture, but George Mason was quite a guy. Commonly referred to as the Father of the Bill of Rights, he wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which served as the model for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.

This article by John J. Miller explains that while Mason was a slave-holder, he opposed slavery, calling it a “slow poison, which is daily contaminating the minds and morals of our people.” Miller goes on to state Mason was an outspoken critic of the original Constitution and suggested his home state of Virginia withhold ratifying the document until it included a Bill of Rights.

Ironically, this ruffling of feathers may have cost Mason his friendship with George Washington as well as future fame as an elite founding father. But he who laughs last, laughs hardest. Mason’s school went to the Final Four while George Washington University fell in the second round.

Final Word on Attorney Season In Texas

 Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society  Comments Off on Final Word on Attorney Season In Texas
Feb 202006
 

Here’s my final word this truly a sorry scandal. I think what happened is pretty clear:

Cheney and his friends sat around the ranch having a few drinks Saturday, then decided to do a little shooting. The VP shot a guy. Cheney’s handlers cover the situation by arranging for Dick to be interviewed by the local constabulary the next morning.

They didn’t release info immediately because if the guy died, they would want to find someone else to pin the shooting on (That’s why Mr. Whittington has been receiving care from Cheney’s very own doctors). It also probably means the guy is injured far more than anyone wants to admit.

The story leaked much to their disappointment. Maybe they were trying to set up the ranch owner to take the fall, and she wasn’t buying, but who knows.

Cheney has never understood the essence of public life (it’s public). He still sees himself as the biggest of the corporate big-whigs, and as such, not answerable to American Citizens. (We just keep getting in his way.) He doesn’t care whether Bush knew or not. Bush isn’t the man, Dick is. W reports to him. He’s certainly not interested in a heart-felt apology, because we know the guy’s heart is dead (not only physically, but spiritually as well). Although he talked on Fox about how tragic this is, and how sorry he is. It was only ONE of his worst days. I’m not sure about you, but I think if I shot someone, especially a friend by accident, it would probably go right to top of my worst day list, and I’ve had some bad ones.

It is another travesty in this lost democracy, and certainly just another example of the arrogance and lack of accountability by the people in this administration. I detest them all as much as anyone, and am sick that they do stuff like this and get away with it.

I think we can all stipulate to the above. However, Dick Cheney getting drunk and shooting someone while hunting is the least of our worries. While the Press has been looking the other way, the Bush Administration has managed to pretty much derail any Congressional Investigation of the domestic spying scandal. Bush is sneaking Healthcare and Social Security privatization into the budget. I think the war in Iraq, the coming war in Iran, the Constitutional violations by the Administration, and the federal budget are issues that have far greater impact on each of us.

Dick screwed the pooch big time, tried to cover it up, got caught, is arrogant and doesn’t believe he has to be apologetic or take responsibility for anything. We can rant and rave here all we want, it will NOT change who Dick Cheney is, and does nothing to protect our Country. We must remain focused on limiting the damage Cheney and team can do to our democracy. Don’t let them sidetrack us with things like extended discussions of the spread characteristics of birdshot, and what time the sun set in Texas that day. It does nothing to protect our Democracy.

Please…Let’s get back to the important stuff. (Karl Rove is loving these threads.)

Alito's America A Scary Place

 Politics, Right Wingnuts, The Courts  Comments Off on Alito's America A Scary Place
Oct 312005
 

I might as well get a post about Bush’s Supreme Court Nominee out of the way. In bowing to the religious fanatics on the right, he’s pretty much sealed the fate of our Constitutional rights to be left alone by the government.

The right wing demanded the withdrawal of Harriet Miers so she could be replaced with a judge who met their rigid, ideological litmus test. This morning, the conservatives got what they wanted. President Bush will nominate Third Circuite Appeal Court Judge Samuel Alito as the replacement for swing-voter Sandra Day O’Connor. (In contrast, John Roberts replaced the very conservative William Rehnquist.) On NBC’s Today Show, law professor Jonathan Turley said there "will be no one to the right of Sam Alito" on the Supreme Court. Alito’s record supports Turley’s view. His history of right-wing judicial activism will be a key issue during his hearings.

ALITO WOULD OVERTURN ROE V. WADE: In his dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Alito concurred with the majority in supporting the restrictive abortion-related measures passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in the late 1980s. Alito went further, however, saying the majority was wrong to strike down a requirement that women notify their spouses before having an abortion. The Supreme Court later rejected Alito’s view and also voted to reaffirm Roe v. Wade. [Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 1991]

ALITO WOULD ALLOW RACE-BASED DISCRIMINATION: Alito dissented from a decision in favor of a Marriott Hotel manager who said she had been discriminated against on the basis of race. The majority explained that Alito would have protected racist employers by “immuniz[ing] an employer from the reach of Title VII if the employer’s belief that it had selected the ‘best’ candidate was the result of conscious racial bias.” [Bray v. Marriott Hotels, 1997]

ALITO WOULD ALLOW DISABILITY-BASED DISCRIMINATION: In Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, the majority said the standard for proving disability-based discrimination articulated in Alito’s dissent was so restrictive that “few if any…cases would survive summary judgment.” Summary judgment allows a case to be dismissed before it goes to trial. [Nathanson v.Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1991]

ALITO WOULD STRIKE DOWN THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) "guarantees most workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a loved one." The 2003 Supreme Court ruling upholding FMLA [Nevada v. Hibbs, 2003] essentially reversed a 2000 decision by Alito which found that Congress exceeded its power in passing the law. [Chittister v. Department of Community and Economic Development, 2000]

ALITO SUPPORTS UNAUTHORIZED STRIP SEARCHES: In Doe v. Groody, Alito argued that police officers had not violated constitutional rights when they strip-searched a mother and her ten-year-old daughter while carrying out a search warrant that authorized only the search of a man and his home. [Doe v. Groody, 2004]

ALITO HOSTILE TOWARD IMMIGRANTS: In two cases involving the deportation of immigrants, the majority twice noted Alito’s disregard of settled law. In Dia v. Ashcroft, the majority opinion states that Alito’s dissent “guts the statutory standard” and “ignores our precedent.” In Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, the majority stated Alito’s opinion contradicted “well-recognized rules of statutory construction.” [Dia v. Ashcroft, 2003; Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, 2004]

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