The U.S. Supreme Court should find that the owners of secular, for-profit corporations have no right to impose their religious views onto employees by denying them access to contraceptives, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.
Americans United urges this action in response to today’s announcement that the Supreme Court will consider the cases of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. The cases challenge the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, which requires most businesses to provide their employees with health insurance that includes access to no-cost birth control.
“The Supreme Court needs to make it clear that religious freedom is not a battering ram to use against individual rights,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United.
Added Lynn, “The question before the court is simple: Does the owner of a secular corporation have the right to impose his religious views onto his employees? And the answer is equally simple: No.”
That sound you heard emanating from the Supreme Court yesterday may well have been the unmistakably musical strains of the skids being greased.
The court, in a 5-4 vote, split along ideological lines in turning down an appeal to block the law that abortion rights advocates challenged as unconstitutional. The measure, adopted by Texas lawmakers in July, requires that abortion providers have a doctor on their staffs who has admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. By rejecting the request, the justices signaled they do not think the Texas law puts an unconstitutional barrier before women seeking an abortion. The Planned Parenthood Federation said the law had forced 12 of the state’s 36 licensed abortion providers to stop offering abortions.
Once again, as it did in Citizens United and in Shelby County, a majority of the court determned to demonstrate to the nation that its members do not live in the same world with the rest of us. In Citizens United, we learned that, in the world where the majority of the court resides, unlimited corporate spending in our elections does not result in even “the appearance of corruption.” In Shelby County, we learned that, in the world where the majority of the court resides, we have attained the Day Of Jubilee and institutional racism plays no significant role in the local laws governing elections. And yesterday, we learned that, in the world where the majority of the court resides, having no doctor legally capable of performing an abortion in 24 counties in a state the size of Texas does not place an “undue burden” on women who are attempting to exercise their constitutional right. As always, it was Antonin (Short Time) Scalia, who is impatient with the fig leaves of civility and moderation with which the majority of the court usually cloaks its affection for authoritarian mischief, who cut to the chase.
Justice Antonin Scalia, in defending the high court’s action, said Breyer and the abortion rights advocates had no basis for “asserting that the [Texas] law is even probably unconstitutional.” He said Planned Parenthood had not “carried the heavy burden” of showing the law was unconstitutional, adding that there was “no special ‘status quo’ standard for laws affecting abortion.” Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. signed on to Scalia’s statement.
Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, a South Florida gambling, dog-racing and hotel complex, has been around in some form since the 1930s. What started as a pari-mutuel betting track is today a Las Vegas-style destination for beachgoers, part of Florida’s booming gaming economy responsible for 2,600 jobs and nearly $382 million in spending in 2012. But Mardi Gras has made national news for something else entirely: an explosive labor dispute now before the Supreme Court.
On Nov. 13, the court will hear oral argument in Unite Here Local 355 v. Martin Mulhall and Mardi Gras Gaming. It is the latest case testing the boundaries of workers’ right to organize and could be among the most significant labor-related decisions since John Roberts was appointed chief justice of the United States in 2005.
At issue in Mulhall is the neutrality agreement, a contract widely used by private employers and unions to govern conduct and set ground rules for workplace unionization campaigns. About a decade ago, Mardi Gras employees began talking with Local 355 of Unite Here, a union focused on organizing hotel, casino and airport workers. Like other casino employees, they hoped that the union could help them bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions. Local 355’s website motto — “Lifting South Florida above the poverty line” — reflects the measured aspirations of this area’s low-wage service sector.
The trouble started in 2008, when Mardi Gras refused to comply with the neutrality agreement. Local 355 initiated legal proceedings, and the casino invoked an unorthodox defense: The contract it signed was unlawful under an anti-corruption statute.
Federal criminal law prohibits employers and unions from trading money or other “things of value.” According to Mulhall and Mardi Gras, neutrality agreements flout this interdiction and improperly circumvent employees’ right to secret-ballot elections, set out in the National Labor Relations Act. According to Local 355, the law forbids bribery and corruption, not mutually beneficial agreements between cooperating employers and unions.
A powerful conservative nonprofit group opposed to organized labor helped shape Mardi Gras’ strategy. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) — whose stated mission is to “eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism” — came to represent Martin Mulhall, a Mardi Gras employee opposed to the union.
Mulhall sued Local 355 and Mardi Gras, but the case was thrown out by a Florida district court. On appeal by Mulhall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit sent the case back down. In the appellate court’s view, the kinds of promises and information exchanged in neutrality agreements are things of value and therefore foster corruption as much as cash bribes do. Unite Here then appealed to the Supreme Court.
“Relevant” to the investigation of a terror threat? Would someone please justify how the metadata from all those calls are each relevant to an investigation, or shall we simply acceded that “relevant” is whatever the hell a surveillance agency says it is? This is the thorny question adroitly & eagerly ignored by Obama (edit) anti terror policy supporters. (Sometimes brevity is not my friend)
The President Barack Obama administration is urging the Supreme Court to reject a challenge to the National Security Agency’s once-secret telephone metadata spying program.
One of the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act — Section 215 — allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to authorize broad warrants for most any type of records, including those held by banks, doctors and phone companies. Lawmakers have repeatedly voted to prevent the act from expiring. The government only needs to show that the information is “relevant” to an authorized investigation. No connection to a terrorist or spy is required. A 1976 purse snatching paved the legal route to the program.
In its petition, EPIC claims that all calling records cannot be relevant to an investigation.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, author of the 5-to-4 opinion in June that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, may well be a hero to the gay rights community, and deservedly so. But he’s also the author of the 5-to-4 opinion that upheld the federal ban on so-called partial birth abortion back in 2007, and abortion-rights advocates have viewed with something close to dread the prospect that he could play a similarly decisive role in the Supreme Court’s next abortion case.
That case has arrived.
It’s understandable if you haven’t heard of Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, which has received relatively little attention since the court accepted it on June 27, the day after the term ended. The lack of attention is itself understandable.
The case is an appeal by the state of Oklahoma from a ruling by its Supreme Court striking down a law that limits doctors’ ability to prescribe the pills used to terminate early pregnancies. The medical abortion regimen, often referred to as RU-486, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000 as a safe and effective alternative to surgical abortion early in the first trimester.
For those who wonder why some gun owners can feel persecuted in certain places. Especially those places that have a history of anti gun laws so egregious and unconstitutional, the Supreme Court overcame a century of reluctance and ruled against them. The very same city that pondered prosecuting a journalist for using an empty magazine to make a point in a television report. A city that did charge a man who saved a child’s life from a violent dog with a gun that had not been locally registered. Whatever you think of guns, you probably understand an empty magazine absent a gun, and an empty brass cartridge is no threat to anyone or anything.
Washington police are operating under orders to arrest tourists and other non-residents traveling with spent bullet or shotgun casings, a crime that carries a $1,000 fine, a year in jail and a criminal record, according to a new book about the city’s confusing gun laws.
“Empty shell casings are considered ammunition in Washington, D.C., so they are illegal to possess unless you are a resident and have a gun registration certificate,” pens Emily Miller in her investigative book, “Emily Gets Her Gun: … But Obama Wants to Take Yours.”
Under the law, live or empty brass and plastic casings must be carried in a special container and unavailable to drivers. Having one, for example, in a cup holder or ash tray is illegal.
She told Secrets that the police are “under orders to arrest tourists or other legal gun owners from out of state who wouldn’t think to empty brass and plastic from their cars or pockets.”
The cornerstone of the modern abortion rights movement is under siege.
Twelve states have passed laws banning abortions at 20 or fewer weeks after conception, all directly flaunting the legal precedent set by the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling. The most stringent law is in North Dakota, which has banned the practice after six weeks.
Six of those laws have been partially or fully blocked by the courts (including North Dakota’s), and more challenges are likely to come.
As they do, all signs point to a march that will take the issue to the steps of the Supreme Court.
What is less clear is who will win.
“If four of the members want to take the case, they’ll take it,” Peter Hoffa, an American history professor at the University of Georgia, told ABC News. “There are four members of the court now who feel that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided.”
To understand the depth of the damage that the Supreme Court’s June 25 decision, Shelby County v. Holder, has inflicted on the voting rights of African-Americans, you have to measure it against the backdrop of the takeover of state legislatures, primarily in the South, by the Republican Party.
Since the enactment of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the number of blacks elected to Southern state legislatures has grown from fewer than five to 313, all but a handful as Democrats. While blacks rose in the once dominant Democratic Party, Southern whites defected. Now, in the former Confederacy, Republicans have gained control of all 11 state legislatures.
Despite their growing numbers, the power of Southern blacks has been dissipated. African-American Democratic officials — according to data compiled from academic research and the Web sites of state legislatures — have been relegated to minority party status. Equally important, an estimated 86 African-Americans who spent years accumulating seniority have lost their chairmanships of state legislative committees to white Republicans.
The loss of these committee positions has meant the loss of the power to set agendas, push legislation to the floor, and call hearings. At the state level, “black voters and elected officials have less influence now than at any time since the civil rights era,” wrote David A. Bositis, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, in a 2011 paper, “Resegregation in Southern Politics?”
The 2010 midterm elections, in which Republicans took over state legislatures across the country, were devastating to Southern blacks. But the Republican surge in the South, in fact, began in an earlier election: the Gingrich-led revolution of 1994.
Of course, there are important differences. None of the judges of the FISA court were vetted by Congress. They were appointed by a single unelected official: John Roberts, the chief justice of the Supreme Court. And then there’s the fact that “the FISA court hears from only one side in the case—the government—and its findings are almost never made public.” A court that is supreme, in the sense of having the final say, but where arguments are only ever submitted on behalf of the government, and whose judges are not subject to the approval of a democratic body, sounds a lot like the sort of thing authoritarian governments set up when they make a half-hearted attempt to create the appearance of the rule of law.
WASHINGTON — Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court denied on Sunday a request from Proposition 8 supporters in California to halt the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in the nation’s most populous state.
Justice Kennedy turned away the request with no additional comment.
Same-sex marriage opponents had asked Justice Kennedy to step in on Saturday, a day after the federal appeals court in San Francisco allowed same-sex marriages to go forward. Numerous weddings were performed at San Francisco City Hall after the court decisions. The appeals ruling came a day after the Supreme Court declined to decide the California case, effectively allowing same-sex marriages in the state.
The opponents said the appeals court had acted about three weeks too soon. Proposition 8 supporters could continue their efforts to halt gay marriage by filing their request with another Supreme Court justice.