Fox News Celebrates Supreme Court Decision Upholding Christian Theocracy

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America includes a stipulation that the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The legal interpretation of that clause, with more than 200 years of precedence, holds that proceedings of official bodies of government may not engage in sectarian religious activity as it puts the imprimatur of the state on the particular spiritual practice.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court just ruled in favor of the town council of Greece, N.Y, to offer prayers in the opening of their council meetings. The Court explicitly stated that they regarded these prayers as permissible even though they were predominantly Christian. The justification for the ruling was based on the absurd notion that the prayers were merely ceremonial and not religious.

“As a practice that has long endured, legislative prayer has become part of our heritage and tradition, part of our expressive idiom, similar to the Pledge of Allegiance.”

And joining the celebration of what is ostensibly ceremonial is Fox News, who cheered the decision with a joyful declaration that it was “A Win For Religion.”

Fox News Theocracy

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The language that Fox News used to report this decision demonstrates that it was indeed a matter of faith. After all, they didn’t declare it to be a “A Win For Ceremony.” The ceremonial argument is a thinly veiled excuse to permit proselytizing for Christianity. What’s more, the argument that reciting exclusively Christian prayers does not violate the establishment clause of the Constitution is a gross misunderstanding of the law. Such activity blatantly favors a specific belief and excludes all others with differing beliefs. To illustrate the point, just imagine the reaction if the town council decided to offer a Muslim prayer at the opening of the session. It would create a deafening outcry from Christians insisting they were offended by the invocation.

For evidence of that, take the example of a recent event in Colorado. The students at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins were led by another student in the Pledge of Allegiance with the words “under God” replaced by the words “under Allah.” This was met with harsh criticism by Christianists in the community and the media, including Fox’s own resident religious bigot, Todd Starnes.

First of all it should be noted that Allah is the Arabic (not Islamic) word for God, and both Muslims and Arab Christians use it. Secondly, why would it be offensive for Muslim-Americans to pledge their allegiance to the American flag? Isn’t that something we should encourage, or are we only open to recognizing Muslims who hate us? More to the point, the criticism reveals the true intent of the religious extremists who aspire to force their religion onto everyone else through the use of official forums in government and schools. That is precisely the behavior that the conservatives on the Supreme Court sanctioned today.

For Fox News to report this decision with a headline that describes it as “A Win For Religion” is further evidence that they regard the issue as one of faith, despite their denials and those of the Court. Their own words betray their not-very-hidden motives.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts: Koch Brothers = Flag Burning Nazis

The recent decision by the Supreme Court to permit unlimited contributions to political candidates and committees represents a further degradation of democracy as an experiment in self-rule. Along with the Citizen’s United case, this ruling puts more power into the hands of an elite minority of wealthy plutocrats whose only interest is in feathering their own already luxurious nests.

The decision impacts about five hundred people whose political contributions have reached the previous limits. That leaves the rest of the 350 million Americans who don’t have private fortunes to struggle for recognition from politicians who feast off of money. It is incomprehensible that five legally trained justices can plausibly deny the fact that big donors are able to extract favors from congressmen and senators, and that such favoritism corrupts the electoral system.

The reasoning articulated by Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the decision, defies logic. It is evidence that he and his conservative comrades on the Court were more interested in producing a desired result than in interpreting the Constitution. Here is the key argument presented by Roberts:

“Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects. If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests and Nazi parades – despite the profound offense such spectacles cause – it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opinion.”

John Roberts Political Speech

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The problem with this argument is that it confuses the content of political speech with the manner of it. Everyone would agree that content, regardless of its popularity or lack thereof, is protected speech. But this case had nothing whatsoever to do with content. The plaintiff was contesting campaign laws that put limits on the amount of aggregate contributions any individual may make to candidates and/or political action committees. These laws were intended to prevent the sort of manipulation and influence peddling that existed prior to their enactment. The laws in no way prohibit free expression and the plaintiff never alleged that they did so.

The manner, or process, in which speech is made, however, is constitutionally subject to regulation. Everybody knows the legally justified consequences of shouting “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire. In addition, you cannot slander or libel someone; you cannot claim that your pomegranate smoothie cures liver cancer; you cannot spray-paint your message onto a citizen waiting for a bus; you cannot hack the satellite feed of a television network and broadcast your speech instead of American Idol; and, until this week, you could not spend unlimited sums of money to buy an election and a candidate or candidates.

The statement above by Chief Justice Roberts illustrates the faulty logic of content vs. process. Flag burning is an example of the content of speech. But contribution limits are an example of process. The process can be regulated without ever affecting any content, opinion, or exercise of free expression. Not being able to continue making donations after you have reached a proscribed limit does not prohibit you from continuing to speak. Put up a billboard. Publish an editorial. Call into the Rush Limbaugh radio show. Buy yourself a half hour of primetime television. Your rights are obviously still in effect. But it is perfectly reasonable for legislatures to enact contribution limits that protect the democratic process from being co-opted by wealthy special interests.

The right to donate unlimited sums of cash to a candidate exists nowhere in the Constitution. This court has invented a right on the shaky premise that it is tied to free speech. However, if I can’t stand in front of Donald Trump’s mansion with a bullhorn day and night, I still have other means of expressing myself. The same is true for the Koch brothers if they are not allowed to pour unlimited funds into the bank account of GOP hack who will do their bidding.

However, the irony of Roberts invoking free speech in his decision delivers a rather appropriate juxtaposition of ideas. By trying to conflate process with content, Roberts produced an example that puts extravagant campaign spending in the same category as repugnant behavior like flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades. On that measure, I’m gonna have to agree with him.

This is How Hobby Lobby Practices Their Allegedly ‘Christian’ Values

This week the Supreme Court heard a case brought by the arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby. The company seeks an exemption from the mandate in the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) that requires employers to offer insurance plans that include coverage for contraceptives. The basis for their request is that they are a “Christian” enterprise and that they believe that certain methods of contraception are de facto abortion.

The problem with their legal argument is that science does not regard contraception as abortion, so the belief of the company’s owners is factually false. What’s more, they are asserting that a corporation can have a religious affiliation just like a person. That’s a strained proposition unless you believe that a corporation also has a soul, is capable of sin, and is subject to divine judgement. Do good corporations go to Heaven?

However, even if we were to accept their assertion of a religious objection to the mandate, Hobby Lobby can cannot seriously claim to have a spiritual conflict with the law as regards contraception, or even abortion. That’s because, despite the company’s owner saying that “Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions,” their business does engage in practices that violate their professed beliefs.

Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby pays millions of dollars to stock their shelves with cheap products made in China, a country where abortion is legal and is even provided by the government for free – when they aren’t forcing it on women who want their babies. It is impossible to accept that the company is unconditionally opposed to a voluntary form of preventive health care that obviates the need for an abortion, while supporting a system that encourages abortion outright. If Hobby Lobby can do business with China when the profit motive compels them to, they cannot simultaneously pretend that an American woman having access to an insurance policy that includes coverage for contraception is some sort of abomination against their Lord.

Hobby Lobby’s hypocrisy, of course, is not the only reason they should lose this case. It would be frightening if the Supreme Court ruled that a corporation can have a religious belief. That would set the stage for any business to discriminate against employees for anything from race or sexual orientation to facial hair or consumption of pork. It would enable some companies to seek an exemption to ObamaCare if they believe that only faith healing is in accordance with their religion.

For Republicans, and their PR division, Fox News, to cheer on the Hobby Lobby case represents a severe departure from their professed principles. While they falsely allege that ObamaCare allows the government to come between the patient and the doctor (in fact, the government is merely attempting to prevent insurance companies from doing so), they are embracing a ruling that would give that power to every corporation.

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Permitting businesses to dictate what sort of health care their employees can have is not an expression of the individual liberties that conservatives pretend to favor. And it’s even more offensive when corporate high priests impose their religious beliefs on the people who work for them. Especially when those beliefs are discarded in order to increase profits.

DOMA vs. Voting Rights: Justice Scalia’s Jaw-Dropping Hypocrisy

The rulings today from the Supreme Court will undoubtedly dominate the part of the news cycle that isn’t filled with testimony from the George Zimmerman trial.

The decision on California’s Prop 8 was essentially a punt wherein the Court ruled that the plaintiff did not have standing to bring the case. The result is that the lower court ruling that struck down Prop 8 remains in effect and gay marriages will resume shortly in California.

The decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was the more profound ruling as it struck down the legislation congress had passed in an attempt to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Consequently, the federal government is now prohibited from discriminating against same-sex couples with regard to marriage.

Not surprisingly, the media has pounced on these events with analysis, interviews, and opinions from across the political spectrum. However, one fairly obvious observation seems to have been ignored by many in the mainstream press. And that is the rank hypocrisy of Justice Scalia when you juxtapose his opinion from yesterdays ruling on the Voting Rights Act (VRA) with today’s dissent on the DOMA case. On DOMA Scalia complained that…

“We have no power to decide this case. And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation [...] That is jaw-dropping. It is an assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’s Representatives in Congress and the Executive.”

But just the day before Scalia had signed on to the Court’s majority decision to strike down the Voting Rights Act – which, of course, was democratically adopted legislation by the people’s representatives. In fact, the law was just reauthorized by congress in 2006 with a vote in the senate of 98-0 and in the House by 390-33. The reauthorization was signed by then-President George W. Bush who effusively praised the bill.

Nevertheless, Scalia condemned the VRA previously despite its broadly bi-partisan approval in congress. He belittled it as a “racial entitlement” that was somehow immune to the “normal political process.” He even noted the huge majority vote it received, but portrayed that with derision as if it were a defect.

“And this last enactment – not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. [...It is] a phenomenon that is called ‘perpetuation of racial entitlement.’ Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political process.”

So on one day Scalia takes a position that congress is incapable of making valid decisions on behalf of the people and, consequently, the Supreme Court must step in to make the decisions for them. That was his justification for striking down the VRA. However, the very next day Scalia bitterly castigates his colleagues for taking action to invalidate a law that had been enacted by the people’s representatives, and he repudiated the notion that it is the Court’s role to second guess the congress. That was the gist of his dissent on DOMA.

Literally overnight, Scalia went from asserting the Court’s authority over congressional actions, to asserting that the Court had no such authority. So the question is: Is that just Scalia being a hypocritical jerk, or is the 77 year old jurist suffering from a cognitive disorder?

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Antonin Scalia

Gutting Voting Rights: Supreme Court Gives Racist Republicans Just What They Wanted

This morning the Supreme Court issued their decision on one of the most highly anticipated cases of the year. The Court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, that provides for review of potentially discriminatory practices in jurisdictions with a history of voter suppression, is no longer necessary.

The Court justified the decision by citing the provision’s effectiveness. The logic there is peculiar, to say the least. It’s an argument for eliminating those things in the law that work best. Would the Justices signing onto this decision ever suggest that, since laws prohibiting murder resulted in a noticeable decline in victim deaths, that those laws are unnecessary and should be dispensed with?

The Voting Rights Act has been doing precisely what it was intended to do for nearly fifty years. It was reauthorized in 2006 with overwhelming support in congress (98-0 in the senate, 390-33 in the House) and signed by George W. Bush. For the Court to overturn the will of the people in this regard tags them as just the sort of activist jurists that right-wingers usually assail. The Act’s usefulness was demonstrated just last year when numerous localities tried, but failed, to implement voter suppression schemes. Here are a few of the cases that were struck down:

Unfortunately, many other examples exist of racist legislation prevailing within states that have dominant GOP representation. The fact that so many attempts to sideline citizens, whether successful or not, have taken place is evidence of the continuing need for vigilance. Initiatives that inhibit registration, reduce voting opportunities, or require extraordinary measures to exercise the right to vote, are still in place or are being pursued.

War on Voting
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The GOP has been surprisingly open about their desire to limit voting to predominantly white, conservative constituencies. Here is what some of their leading lights have had to say on the subject:

John Stossel (Fox News): “Let’s stop saying everyone should vote.”
Rush Limbaugh: “If people cannot even feed and clothe themselves, should they be allowed to vote?”
Roger Vadum: “Registering [the poor] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American.”
Judson Phillips (Tea Party Nation): “If you’re not a property owner, I’m sorry, but property owners have a little bit more of a vested stake in the community than not property owners do.”
Steve Doocy (Fox News): “With 47% of Americans not paying taxes – 47% – should those who don’t pay be allowed to vote?”

It is also notable that coverage on Fox News of the Court’s decision didn’t run until 20 minutes into their 11:00am (et) broadcast and lasted for about one minute. It followed stories about Edward Snowden, the IRS, George Zimmerman, Benghazi, the Massachusetts senate race, and Snowden again. Obviously Fox needed some time to determine how they were going to spin this news. So they simply announced that the decision was handed down and then waited for further instructions from Roger Ailes or other opinion czars at the network.

While technically this decision throws much of the responsibility for future voting rights back to congress, the reality is that congress in its current form is such a dysfunctional heap of failure, that any reasonable attempts to remedy the damage done to democracy by the Court’s action are doomed to suffer from the same partisan obstructionism that has plagued Washington ever since the GOP decided that its top priority was to destroy President Obama. The only hope would be for the people to rise up and return control of the House to Democrats in 2014. That’s tall order, but one worth pursuing.

Obamacare Upheld: Will Bill O’Reilly Keep His Promise To Apologize For Being An Idiot?

The Supreme Court today upheld the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) today and there will be abundant coverage of this historic decision for the remainder of the day, of the week, and of this election year. Partisans from across the political spectrum will be parsing the decision for ways to portray it as either a victory or an incentive to motivate their followers.

But there is something that occurred in the months preceding this decision that deserves renewed attention. On March 26, 2012, Bill O’Reilly debated the healthcare act with Caroline Fredrickson, President of the American Constitution Society. After a tumultuous exchange that mainly exhibited O’Reilly’s arrogantly thuggish personality (transcript below), O’Reilly concluded by saying this:

“Ms. Frederickson, you’re going to lose, and your argument is specious. We appreciate you coming on. But this is absolutely a mandate. It’s absolutely a force. It’s absolutely police powers from the federal government, and it’s going to be 5 to 4. And if I’m wrong I will come on, and I will play — I will play your clip. And I will apologize for being an idiot. But I think you’re desperately wrong.”

Bill O'Reilly on ObamacareWill O’Reilly keep that promise? Although there are incidents far too numerous to mention wherein O’Reilly proves that he’s an idiot, there are few times that he’s committed to admitting it himself. In addition to his debate with Fredrickson, O’Reilly also did a Talking Points Memo segment asserting with absolute certainty that the mandate would be ruled unconstitutional. He should not be allowed to forget his mistakes and his promises. Email him here to ask him to keep his word.

On a side note: After the long awaited decision was announced, Fox News cut away from their coverage to air an interview of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch by his sycophantic lackey, Neil Cavuto. There was nothing particularly newsworthy disclosed in the segment. It appeared to be simply a distraction from the Supreme Court’s far more consequential news. That will likely be the tactical approach that Fox takes for the remainder of the day. They will attempt to downplay an event that they previously trumpeted as the most important Supreme Court decision in decades. They will dodge and weave and misconstrue as they plaster the air with dissenting views from Republican politicians and pundits. The headline, for the time being, will be “Obama’s health care tax increase survives.” And as soon as the House vote on holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of congress occurs, that will become the headline.

Here is the transcript of the O’Reilly Factor interview with Caroline Frederickson. Note how precisely she predicted the Court’s decision that the act would be upheld under the taxing authority of the Congress. Note also O’Reilly’s brutish incivility as he threatens to cut off the interview if she didn’t comply with his demands to answer questions the way he wanted her to.

O’REILLY: Name one thing, one thing that the federal government forces you to buy. One.

FREDRICKSON: Well, let me first correct that —

O’REILLY: Ms. Frederickson.

FREDRICKSON: No, no. I want to correct you.

O’REILLY: Look, my — my opinion is my opinion. Your opinion is yours. I don’t want to be corrected. Ms. Frederickson please answer the simple question. We don’t have all night.

FREDRICKSON: The legislation — you have to let me answer.

O’REILLY: Are you going to answer this question or not? If you’re not going to answer, I’ll abort the segment right now.

FREDRICKSON: The legislation does not require people to buy health insurance.

O’REILLY: Of course it does.

FREDRICKSON: It imposes a penalty for those who don’t.

O’REILLY: You want to play the semantic game?

FREDRICKSON: Forces people to buy in the form of a tax.

O’REILLY: That’s a police power, OK? To impose any penalty is a police power.

FREDRICKSON: Tax power. And it’s designed completely within the rational scope of the legislation —

O’REILLY: No. Ms. Frederickson. This is not —

FREDRICKSON: — to encourage people to buy health insurance.

O’REILLY: This is becoming absurd. It’s police power if you punish someone for not doing anything. Sounds absurd.

FREDRICKSON: Now, you’ve got to let me talk if you’re going to invite me on your show.

O’REILLY: No, I don’t have to let you talk if you’re not answering the question. Because you’re dodging the question. I’ll go back.

FREDRICKSON: No. It’s actually —

O’REILLY: Name one thing the federal government compels you to buy. One thing.

FREDRICKSON: Well, let me say that under the Militia Act of 1792, people were compelled to buy muskets and powder.

O’REILLY: What act was that?

FREDRICKSON: This doesn’t require — The Militia Act. This doesn’t actually require people to buy health insurance. And I think it would be good if you read the legislation.

O’REILLY: I did read the legislation.

FREDRICKSON: It imposes a penalty. And a penalty is different from – –

O’REILLY: That’s compelling something to do something if you’re going to punish them for not doing it.

FREDRICKSON: No. It’s a tax. Essentially, people have to pay a very modest amount — it’s about $95 a year — if they choose not to buy health insurance.

But it’s part of a scheme in which Congress rationally chose to build a national market for health insurance and cover the uninsured.

O’REILLY: Ms. Frederickson, you’re going to lose, and your argument is specious. We appreciate you coming on. But this is absolutely a mandate. It’s absolutely a force. It’s absolutely police powers from the federal government, and it’s going to be 5 to 4.

And if I’m wrong I will come on, and I will play — I will play your clip. And I will apologize for being an idiot. But I think you’re desperately wrong.

FREDRICKSON: All right. Well, I look forward to it.

She was right, Billo. What say you?

{Update] This evening on the O’Reilly Factor, Laura Ingraham was in at the anchor desk because Bill O’Reilly was on vacation. Well, that would have been the perfect dodge for O’Reilly to avoid keeping his word and hoping that by Monday everybody would have forgotten.

However, Ingraham immediately announced that O’Reilly was on the phone from North Carolina to comment on this momentous news event. He spent ten minutes of his precious vacation time bashing the decision, the President and, on another subject, Attorney General Eric Holder. But he never mentioned that he is an idiot. Somehow, the fact that he is an idiot slipped his idiotic mind. I’m shocked!

Remember When Conservatives Were Against Unelected Judges And Judicial Activism?

In another brazen exercise in hypocrisy, conservatives have launched a coordinated attack on President Obama for remarks that were entirely reasonable and uncontroversial. The President was asked by a reporter how he would respond if the health care reform bill currently being debated by the Supreme Court were to be ruled unconstitutional. His response said in part…

“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. Well, this is a good example. And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.”

This has set off a round of panic attacks in right-wing circles as knee-jerk contrarians accuse Obama of undermining the constitution, subverting democracy, and even threatening the Supreme Court. Where any objective person can find the presence of a threat in the President’s remarks is beyond incomprehensible. It’s Obama Derangement Syndrome in action. Conservatives assert that these comments were intended by the President to be a warning for the justices deliberating the case. Never mind that Obama in no way implied that there would be consequences if the justices did not arrive at a particular ruling, only that he was confidant of a favorable outcome. That’s pretty much the position taken by anyone interested in a pending judicial proceeding. And as the President said explicitly, he was just reminding conservatives of their own long-held views on judicial activism.

The Right-Wing Noise Machine has been spinning feverishly to push this issue in order to damage the President and cast him as opposed to constitutional principles. Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove called Obama a thug. Mark Levin said that he declared war on the Court. Fox Nation currently has at least eleven articles on this subject. And Fox News has been running numerous segments including one this morning that featured three former George W. Bush staffers to assert that what Obama said was unprecedented and nothing like anything that Bush ever said (see below).

Among the complaints being hurled by the right-wing, extremist opponents of the administration is that Obama’s use of the phrase “unelected judges” amounts to a form of tyranny and is an affront to judicial independence. But it is Republicans who have been more often associated with that phrase over the years as they brandish it every time a court rules against whatever pet litigation they are pushing – especially when it concerns reproductive rights or gay marriage. For example, here are a few instances when the very people lambasting Obama today used identical language when it served their purposes:

  • Mitt Romney: Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage.
  • Mitt Romney: The ruling in Iowa today is another example of an activist court and unelected judges trying to redefine marriage and disregard the will of the people as expressed through Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act.
  • Rick Santorum: 7M Californians had their rights stripped away by activist 9th Circuit judges.
  • Newt Gingrich: Court of Appeals overturning CA’s Prop 8 another example of an out of control judiciary. Let’s end judicial supremacy
  • Speaker John Boehner: This latest FISA proposal from House Majority leaders is dead on arrival. It would outsource critical national security decisions to unelected judges and trial lawyers.
  • Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO): Today, the decision of unelected judges to overturn the will of the people of California on the question of same-sex marriage demonstrates the lengths that unelected judges will go to substitute their own worldview for the wisdom of the American people.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions: This ‘Washington-knows-best’ mentality is evident in all branches of government, but is especially troublesome in the judiciary, where unelected judges have twisted the words of our Constitution to advance their own political, economic, and social agendas.
  • Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL): I’m appalled that unelected judges have irresponsibly decided to legislate from the bench and overturn the will of the people.
  • George W. Bush: This concept of a “living Constitution” gives unelected judges wide latitude in creating new laws and policies without accountability to the people.
  • Thomas Sowell: Unelected judges can cut the voters out of the loop and decree liberal dogma as the law of the land.
  • Laura Ingraham: We don’t want to be micromanaged by some unelected judge or some unelected bureaucrat on the international or national level.
  • Gov. Rick Perry: [The American people are] fed up with unelected judges telling them when and where they can pray or observe the Ten Commandments.
  • Pat Robertson: We are under the tyranny of a nonelected oligarchy. Just think, five unelected men and women who serve for life can change the moral fabric of our nation and take away the protections which our elected legislators have wisely put in place.
  • Robert Bork: We are increasingly governed not by law or elected representatives but by an unelected, unrepresentative, unaccountable committee of lawyers applying no will but their own.
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch: A small minority and their judicial activist allies are seeking to usurp the will of the people and impose same-sex marriage on all of the states. Ultimately, the American people, not unelected judges, should decide policy on critical social issues such as this one.
  • Steve Forbes: You have judicial activism, where unelected Supreme Court justices are trying to impose a state income tax.
  • Glenn Beck: Even if you agree that the role of government is to take wealth from one to another, should it be the role of unelected judges and justices that do this?
  • Sen. John McCain: We would nominate judges of a different kind [...] And the people of America – voters in both parties whose wishes and convictions are so often disregarded by unelected judges – are entitled to know what those differences are.
  • Justice Antonin Scalia: Value-laden decisions such as that should be made by an entire society … not by nine unelected judges.

If the conservatives quoted above were to be consistent, they would now be pleading with the court not to overturn the health care reform bill that was passed by super-majorities in both houses of congress. Instead, the right is aghast that a Democratic president would deign to remind them of their own principles and is clamoring for a judicial resolution. It has already been demonstrated that Republicans have no problem switching positions once Obama has agreed to them. Cap and trade and insurance mandates were both originally proposed by Republicans, but as soon as Obama announced support for the concepts the GOP reconsidered and insisted they were the socialist ideas of an aspiring dictator.

Now that one of the GOP’s favorite attack lines, judicial activism, has been usurped by the President, conservatives are crawling out of the woodwork to characterize it as an assault on the judiciary. Republicans have always defined judicial activism as the act of judges ruling against them. When judges rule in favor of the conservative position they regard it as following the constitution. So hypocrisy is not a particularly surprising development in this matter. But the degree to which it is demonstrated here may set new records for shamelessness.


Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California Irvine Law School, wrote in his book, “The Conservative Assault on the Constitution” that…

Although there is no precise definition of judicial activism – it often seems to be a label people use for the decisions they don’t like – it seems reasonable to say that a court is activist if it overturns the actions of the democratically elected branches of government and if it overrules precedent. In fact, conservatives, including on the Supreme Court, often have labeled decisions striking down the will of popularly elected legislatures as ‘activist.'”

Activism is in the eye of the beholder, but there is no doubt that conservatives have been at the forefront of scolding courts for ruling against them. Taking that to the extreme is Newt Gingrich who recently told Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation that he advocated arresting judges to force them to defend unpopular decisions before Congressional hearings. If that isn’t a threat against the judiciary, what is?

The right has very little problem with violating the constitution when it comes to separation of powers. Just this week a conservative judge on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals gave a Department of Justice attorney an unusual homework assignment. In a case unrelated to the one before the Supreme Court, Judge Jerry Smith wondered whether Obama was suggesting “that it is somehow inappropriate for what he termed ‘unelected’ judges to strike acts of Congress.” Then Smith ordered the attorney to produce a three page letter “stating specifically and in detail in reference to those statements what the authority is of the federal courts in this regard in terms of judicial review. That letter needs to be at least three pages single spaced.”

It is difficult to imagine on what basis this judge has assumed authority to issue such an order. It is a blatantly political and petulant demand that can only be intended to insult and embarrass the DOJ and the President, and has no bearing on the case before him. The President never said that the Supreme Court could not overturn an unconstitutional law. He just said that he didn’t believe that this law was unconstitutional and therefore, in his view, and that of many legal experts, should not be overturned. Judge Smith is a bald-faced partisan and would be more at home on Fox News than on the bench.

The question is, what will Republicans say if the Court upholds the health care reform bill? Would that be an act of judicial tyranny against the will of the people (never mind that the bill was passed by the people’s representatives in congress with super-majorities in both houses)? And how can Republicans continue to rail against Roe v. Wade as the ultimate example of an activist judiciary now that they have established that such a charge is tantamount to tyranny and regarded as a threat?

The answer, of course, is that conservatives will do what they always do: pretend that their prior assertions never existed or don’t apply. They will trudge forward with blindfolds over their eyes and plugs in their ears, unimpeded by anything they said previously, no matter how badly it contradicts what they are saying now. It’s hypocrisy at its best and the Republican way of life.

PRESS RELEASE: Al Qaeda Opens Office In Washington After Supreme Court Ruling

The consequences of last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court are becoming more noticeable as corporations move to interpret and exploit the new environment for political engagement. Some surprising players are jumping into the game now that the restrictions from funding electoral activities have been removed. Take, for example, this press release from from Al Qaeda:

Press Release: The United States Supreme Court opens the door for greater expansion of commerce, civic participation, and freedom of speech. Al Qaeda International, Inc. and it’s worldwide affiliates applaud this decision and look forward to engaging more with the American infidels people.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Parachinar, Pakistan, January 25, 2010, Al QaedAmerica, Inc.

The executive committee of Al Qaeda International (AQI) is enthusiastically supportive of the recent United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. In a narrowly argued case involving political advertising, the Court wisely expanded the scope of their deliberations and ruled 5 to 4 that almost all legal proscriptions on corporate spending on behalf of candidates and issue advocacy were null and void. The prohibition on direct corporate condtributions to candidates will remain in place, but virtually every other spending constraint has been struck down.

In light of this ruling, AQI is announcing the creation of a new corporation to be headquarted in Washington, D.C. USA. Al QaedAmerica will pursue the domestic interests of AQI and invest in businesses that are in accordance with our mission and reflect the broader principles of our worldwide campaign of terror. AQI’s chairman, Osama Bin Laden, appreciates the Court’s good judgment:

Bin Laden: By allowing corporations unlimited financial participation in American politics, the Court recognizes the role of business to impact the civil affairs of a nation. And businesses like ours are uniquely situated to take full advantage of this new expansion of rights in the areas of speech and elections.

The ruling actually gives corporations far greater sway over public management than individual citizens because of the superior ability of corporations to aggregate large sums of money and disburse it effectively to accommodating representatives. Domestic businesses as diverse as Halliburton and Wal-Mart are already planning how they will take advantage of the new freedoms afforded them by this ruling.

While it may not have been the intent of the Court, the ruling in no way inhibits corporations from outside of the U.S. to participate in the same manner as domestic corporations. This presents an attractive opportunity to AQI and many other disruptive enterprises who seek to exploit the American marketplace. Petroleum companies like Saudi Arabia’s Aramco and Venezuala’s Citgo, as well as defense contractors like Korea’s Daewoo and Russia’s Motovilikha, will have ufettered access to the American political system. Corporations around the globe now have the freedom to purchase their own congressmen and senators.All that’s required is a local office through which they can funnel millions of dollars into the pockets of the Great Satan’s political class.

AQI is moving forward aggressively to realize the benefits of this opportunity by establishing its new Al QaedAmerica division. With AQA we will be able to stay at the forefront of global jihad. We take pride in being the world’s premiere provider of senseless violence and murder, and this ruling will permit us to expand into exciting new territories and partnerships. Some examples of compatible business relationships and opportunities we are presently exploring include:

  • The Altria Group. The parent company of Philip Morris has a long and respected history of marketing products that result in the demise of hundreds of thousands of decadent Americans every year. An accomplishment AQI views with admiration and envy.
  • Monsanto. A producer of chemicals and agribusiness products that have multiple applications as poisons, food and water contaminants, and incendiary raw materials for wanton destruction.
  • Delta Airlines. One of the premiere air transportation providers in the world with a fleet of modern aircraft and a presence in every major airport in the nation.
  • Xe. Formerly Blackwater, this private security firm trains dedicated, professional, paramilitary operatives for work in protection, combat, munitions, and intelligence.
  • News Corporation. An inter-disciplinary media conglomerate that includes Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and an array of international newspapers, broadcasters, and publishers. A valuable partner for any enterprise seeking to influence mass audiences.

In the coming months, look for Al QaedAmerica to be a leader in the exploding market of exploding markets. Our new American division is already stockpiling cash to fund campaigns on behalf of gullible lackeys who will do our bidding. We are identifying initiatives that will enhance our world-class ability to generate fear. These operations are also profit centers as the fear fuels demand for security products in which we are also investing.

We would like to thank our partners in mongering. Glenn Beck of Fox News has been an invaluable ally as he promotes myths that elevate our status and increase the fear quotient upon which we rely to be successful. We are also appreciative of him and his colleagues at Fox for minimizing reporting on this Supreme Court decision, as too much publicity could result in attempts to legislatively supersede the Court. And we would not be where we are today without the help of conservative pundits and think tanks who put in long hours justifying decisions like the one just handed down. We expect the media in general will continue to ignore this decision because they stand to make billions in advertising from the newly unleashed corporations.

And, of course, former President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, who made this all possible by installing Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, have our enduring gratitude. Recent missions for martyrs have been extraiordinarily gratifying. And now that we, along with many other corporations, foreign and domestic, can manipulate the American government, the future for jihad looks even brighter.

The next couple of months (years?) it is going to be interesting watching the response from the global business community as they realize they can purchase legislators and legislation. That will be almost as interesting as watching the response from Congress as they struggle with the dilemma of restoring the integrity of America’s electoral system or letting the Court’s decision stand so they can profit from the billions of dollars in new contributions.

Justice Scalia Knows Foul-Mouthed Glitteratae

The Supreme Court ruled today on a case pitting Fox Entertainment against the FCC and involving the use of naughty language on TV. The crux of the debate centered on “fleeting expletives” like when Bono of U2 appeared at an awards ceremony and used the phrase “fucking brilliant” in his acceptance speech.

The court’s ruling actually shied away from taking a position on the Constitutional question of free speech, preferring to decide narrowly on whether the FCC rules were “arbitrary and capricious.” In the end, with six justices writing separate opinions, the court overruled by 5 to 4 a 2nd Circuit decision in favor of Fox. The decision affirmed the FCC’s regulations regarding profanity, but sent the issue of free speech back to the 2nd Circuit for a reasoned analysis.

In this matter I would actually line up with Fox inasmuch I don’t like the FCC setting moral boundaries for expression. But Justice Antonin Scalia had to go and make such an asinine statement in his opinion that I just can’t let it stand:

“We doubt, to begin with, that small-town broadcasters run a heightened risk of liability for indecent utterances. In programming that they originate, their down-home local guests probably employ vulgarity less than big-city folks; and small-town stations generally cannot afford or cannot attract foul-mouthed glitteratae from Hollywood.”

What a complete and utterly idiotic remark. Brooklyn-bred Scalia obviously doesn’t know a fucking thing about down-home folks or small towns. He is a big-city, elitist asshole whose only acquaintance with Hollywood glitteratae is via his perverse imagination and insulting stereotypes.

It is embarrassing beyond description that someone this stupid remains a sitting Justice on America’s highest court.

Clarence Thomas Should Shut Up

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has officially jumped the snark. He has traversed so far past the horizon of satire that he can’t be made fun of anymore.

Thomas has long kept tongues wagging about how little wagging his tongue does while on the bench. The Wall Street Journal reports that…

“Through about 20 oral arguments this term, Justice Thomas has yet to ask a question from the bench [...] Last term, through 68 hours of oral arguments, he didn’t say a thing either. The last time Thomas asked a question: Feb. 22, 2006.”

In almost two years, not a peep from Justice Thomas, even during a case that involved the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which he headed during the Reagan administration. We know that there is nothing wrong with his vocal chords because he speaks in the private sector far more frequently than his fellow justices. In one of those speeches (delivered this week for $100.00 per seat), Thomas defended his silence by attacking his benchmates:

“My colleagues should shut up!” he exclaimed.

Then Thomas drew an absurd analogy between judges and surgeons saying that doctors don’t engage in seminars while in the operating room. If that’s an example of Thomas’ logical acuity we’re in bigger trouble than we thought. Doctors do, of course, have conferences to toss around theories and arguments for how to proceed before they ever step foot in an operating room. That’s a better analogy for what happens when justices conduct hearings. Justices in deliberations and composing their opinions would be more analogous to the operating room. But it doesn’t seem like Thomas even understands the duties required of him when he says…

“We are judges. This is the last court in a long line in our system. We are there to decide cases, not to engage in seminar discussions.”

Wrong, Clarence. You are there to assemble a thorough knowledge of the competing interests that the case presents. You ask questions in order to construct a legal foundation from which to form an opinion. You don’t decide the case until after you’ve heard the advocates from both sides and tested their legal arguments.

What a sad state of affairs that we have such an ill-informed and intellectually incurious member of our country’s highest court. We can only hope that he will develop a renewed appreciation for his family and resign to spend more time with them.