Monday, April 16, 2012

Supreme Court Matters

"If Obama wants to frame the election as a battle of the 99 percent versus the 1 percent, there’s no sidestepping the heightened importance of the Supreme Court."  -- Ari Berman
Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 79 years old and is the Supreme Court Justice most likely to retire next.  If Mitt Romney gets the opportunity to nominate her replacement, we won't have to worry about Justice Kennedy being the swing vote anymore -- he will simply be the least conservative justice in a radically right-wing 6-3 majority.  (See Romney Gets Borked)

As it stands now, the Court is easily the most conservative since at least the 1930s.  And, as Ari Berman writes in The Nation, the rightward shift of the Roberts Court is "especially pronounced today, in the wake of the ghastly 2010 Citizens United decision and the prospect that the Court may invalidate the Obama administration’s healthcare law."

And that's not all.  Over the next couple of years the Court will consider a number of potentially historic cases that could either reaffirm or undermine some of our country's most fundamental rights and liberties,  including Arizona’s draconian “papers please” immigration law and a challenge to affirmative action at the University of Texas.  As Berman points out, it will likely weigh in on California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, and/or the Defense of Marriage Act, issues surrounding the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Montana’s ban on corporate campaign contributions and its challenge to Citizens United,  the indefinite detention of enemy combatants, the ability of foreign nationals to sue corporations and their employees in the United States for human rights abuses abroad, and "possibly even Roe v. Wade, given the slew of anti-abortion restrictions passed by Republicans since the 2010 elections."

President Obama received a lot of attention for his recent remarks about the Court and how a decision invalidating the Affordable Care Act would constitute judicial activism:
Ultimately, I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress. And I'd just remind conservative commentators that for years what we've heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint -- that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.
Obama should keep it up. Elections do have consequences, as they say, and the electorate needs to understand that the consequences this time around couldn't be more serious.  As Berman points out, "if ever there was a time for the President to run against the Court, it is now."  


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