Supreme Court

“Selma” Film Brings Back Memories Of Bloodshed And Deaths Over Voting Rights, As We Look At Crippled Law Due To Supreme Court!

Watching the “Selma” film, which has been nominated for Best Film in the Oscar Awards competition, one is reminded of the turmoil, bloodshed, and deaths that occurred over the issue of voting rights in the South a half century and more ago.

The Voting Rights Act, which became law exactly 50 years ago, was designed to prevent any more such denial of the right to vote, but the right wing Supreme Court, including African American Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, changed the effectiveness of the law two years ago, causing new voting restrictions in the past two years in Republican controlled states, and not just in the South, but also in the heartland of the nation, the Midwest and Great Plains States, and even some Western states.

Shelby County V. Holder made it possible once again to create barriers to voting, and the battle for voting rights has new challenges, which already has had an effect on voting in the midterm elections of 2014.

But seeing this film about the Selma to Montgomery march fifty years ago, motivates those who believe in fairness and democracy, to do whatever can be done to restore the purpose of what those people who died or were injured then did, a sacrifice that should not be forgotten!

The 14 States Fighting A Rear Guard Action Against Same Sex Marriage

As the Supreme Court considers the idea of making same sex marriage legal in the entire nation, 14 states stand in resistance.

It would be instructive to list those 14 states and indicate them by region.

The South—8 states—Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas

The Midwest—3 states—Ohio, Michigan, Missouri

The Great Plains—3 states—North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska

The only large populated states on this list are Georgia, Texas, Ohio and Michigan.

More than 70 percent of the nation’s population has the right to same sex marriage.

Once the Supreme Court considers the case of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan, we will have more than 80 percent covered, assuming the Court rules in favor of gay marriage, but it is likely that the Court will go all the way and make it legal in the other 10 resistant states left on the list!

Supreme Court Accepts Same Sex Marriage Case: The Final Push For Marriage Equality Has Arrived!

The Supreme Court has finally accepted a same sex marriage case, to be argued in April, and decided by the end of June!

This will be a blockbuster case, coming at a time when 36 states already allow gay marriage, and the final push for marriage equality has finally arrived!

While there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of same sex marriage, it is hard to conceive of the Court rejecting it at a time when all but 14 states have accepted it, as the momentum is clearly in favor of acceptance.

Beyond that, the odds are good that at least five members of the present Court would support it, enough to bring it about, but it would be desirable if the vote was greater than that thin margin.

Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, all Democratic appointments of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, are seen as assured votes.

Ronald Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy is the typical “swing” vote, and has supported gay rights in the past, and most particularly, in the case of Lawrence V. Texas in 2003, so it is expected he will go the same direction again.

But there is a chance that Chief Justice John Roberts could join the majority, and some observers imagine that Samuel Alito could join, also.

And even some think that Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, seeing the handwriting on the wall, might join and make it unanimous, which would be the most fantastic situation imaginable!

Imagine the extremist Christian Right bigots, and conservatives and Republicans, and how they will, figuratively, commit suicide if the Court rules in favor of same sex marriage!

It will transform the Presidential Election of 2016, as how could any Republican nominee come out and condemn the Court, and run on some crazy idea that he would lead a movement to overcome the Supreme Court decision?

Just the thought that many Republicans, including those running for President, will be squirming in public, is a source of delight, as human rights wins out once again!

Same Sex Marriage Now Legal In Nearly Three Fourths Of Nation’s Population, With Florida Becoming The 36th State To Allow It!

The rapid move toward same sex or gay marriage is nearly complete, as Florida became the 36th state to establish it, beginning on January 6.

Many states have resisted it, but federal courts have mandated it, and soon, the Supreme Court will need to deal with the concept, and the likelihood of declaring it to be a national right seems very close, likely in the next six months.

The main holdouts are mostly Southern and Great Plains States, but also Michigan and Ohio.

When one looks back just 12 years ago, when the Supreme Court ruled that gay couples have a right to privacy and to avoid prosecution, in the Lawrence V. Texas case of 2003, the rapidity of change is absolutely amazing!

Public opinion has rapidly come around, with more than 70 percent supporting gay marriage. This is particularly true among young people, any one under the age of 40 in particular.

Highly religious people still oppose it, and many senior citizens are unhappy about it as a group, but with the passing years, and eventual disappearance of the senior citizens of today, eventually, one will look back and wonder why the great opposition for so long to a basic human right being extended to gay and lesbian couples, just as interracial marriage was not made legal nationally until Loving V. Virginia in 1967.

Even today, there are those who are appalled by interracial marriage and relationships, but the answer is, with that and gay marriage, that it is none of anyone’s business who someone chooses to love and to marry. One has the right to disagree, but also realize that personal feelings do not make what is legal!

The Last Of The Moderate Progressive Republican Senators Of The 1960s And 1970s Passes Away: Edward Brooke Of Massachusetts!

News of the death of former Massachusetts Republican Senator Edward Brooke (1967-1979) yesterday, marks the end of the group of moderate progressive Republican Senators of the 1960s and 1970s, who worked with Democrats across the aisle, and made the Republican Party a mainstream party with a conservative majority, but reputable and dignified moderate progressives who added distinction to the party’s history.

Brooke, the first popularly elected African American Senator in American history, served two terms of distinction, and promoted civil rights, the legalization of abortion, closer relations with China, and opposed Richard Nixon much of the time on his Supreme Court appointments and on the Watergate scandal. He worked to promote aid to the poor and to the cities of the country, and spoke up for the end of the Vietnam War.

Brooke was one of a small, admirable group of Republicans, no longer found on Capitol Hill, where the word “moderate” or “progressive” is now a dirty word. It was easy to praise Brooke, along with Maryland Senator Charles Mathias, Illinois Senator Charles Percy, and Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield, who all added greatly to the distinction of the Senate!

Will the Republican Party ever have men of the distinction of these four Senators, and others who started earlier in the Senate, including Jacob Javits of New York, and Clifford Case of New Jersey? Right now, that seems highly unlikely, as the Senators mentioned above would be called RINOS (Republicans In Name Only) by the present mentality in the Republican Party!

Mario Cuomo, Progressive Warrior In Tradition Of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hubert H. Humphrey, And Fiorello LaGuardia!

Mario Cuomo’s death on New Year’s Day took some attention away, momentarily, from the greatness of this man, a progressive warrior in the tradition of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Hubert H. Humphrey, in a later generation, and with an ethnic tinge as with Fiorello LaGuardia!

Cuomo, an Italian American, was the first prominent white ethnic politician since LaGuardia to promote the liberal-progressive cause, and to be considered a serious Presidential candidate, other than John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert F. Kennedy, both Irish Catholic ethnics.

Cuomo spoke up for change and reform, at the height of the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan, who worked to undermine the New Deal of FDR and the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1980s.

Cuomo worked to ban assault weapons and promote gun control; worked for legal abortion rights to be upheld; promoted the first mandatory seat belt law in cars nationally; vetoed the death penalty; and reformed the state courts to promote diversity. He served longer in office than any New York Governor, except Nelson Rockefeller.

Cuomo stood up for the middle class, working people, women, and minorities, a battle which continues decades later, but was the focus of Cuomo, who would have made a great Supreme Court Justice or President. He was, himself, from a struggling immigrant family, and understood the plight of those of similar background.

It seems clear that had Cuomo sought the Presidency in 1992, we would not have had Bill Clinton as President, and there would be no Hillary Clinton being considered today for the Presidency.

One Of The Last True Liberals, Mario Cuomo, Passes From The Scene On New Year’s Day!

Former three term New York Governor Mario Cuomo, one of the last true liberals in American politics, passed from the scene yesterday, New Year’s Day, just as his son, Andrew Cuomo, was inaugurated for his own second term as Governor of New York.

Mario Cuomo was a dynamic, charismatic, inspiring political figure, who flirted with the idea of running for President in 1988 and 1992, but ended up not running. He also was the front runner for a Supreme Court nomination by President Bill Clinton in 1993, but turned it down, in favor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and ran, instead, for a fourth term as Governor, but losing to George Pataki in 1994.

Cuomo was, without any question, the second greatest Italian American political figure in American history, only surpassed by New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia (1934-1945), and he will be much missed, as he was a rarity in politics–a truly decent, principled politician who cared about the poor and the oppressed of all races, both in New York and nationwide!

Barack Obama After Six Years In The Presidency: On Way To Top Ten Of Our 43 Presidents!

As 2014 ends, Barack Obama is finishing his sixth year in the Presidency, and will officially mark that milestone on January 20, when he delivers the State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress, controlled by the Republican Party, which has stood in his way, has been a constant barrier to anything Obama proposes, and hates the ground he walks on. Conservative talk radio and Fox News Channel, and conservative think tanks, would not be happy no matter what Barack Obama does or says. And there is a strong level of venal hate, very dangerous, that puts the President in the cross hairs of a potential threat to his life on a daily basis.

But despite all that, President Barack Obama has a record in office to be proud of, not perfect in any sense, but still outstanding enough to have a chance to end up in the top ten of our Presidents, if not immediately after leaving the White House, over a generation or more as time passes, and passions calm down, and particularly after Obama has passed away, an opportune time to reconsider the legacy of any President, particularly one so much maligned in his time!

The list of Obama accomplishments is endless, but key points include:

The adoption of ObamaCare, which will be seen as transformative over time, as much as Social Security and Medicare.

The successful tracking down and elimination of Osama Bin Laden, the perpetrator of September 11, 2001.

The ending of US military engagement in both Iraq and Afghanistan, two wars that were unwise to conduct in the first place.

The revival of the American economy, with 11 million jobs created; the unemployment rate below six percent; the greatest economic expansion since the Bill Clinton Presidency; the smallest increase in the deficit for the past decade; the 150 percent increase in the stock market; the lowest gas prices in five years; and the revival of the domestic auto industry.

The appointment of two Supreme Court Justices–Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, and some exceptional cabinet appointments, plus the best Vice President in American history, Joe Biden.

The promotion of gay rights and gay marriage, insuring the end of discrimination based upon sexual orientation.

The advancement of environmental concerns, including dealing with global warming and climate change.

The promotion of a tolerant attitude toward immigration reform.

The establishment of a new relationship with Cuba after 50 years of a failed policy.

The promotion of labor rights in a time when labor has been under attack.

The protection of women’s rights against right wing attempts to undermine the advancement of women in all spheres of American life.

The avoidance of engagement in new wars, which the right wing is always itching for.

The courage of Obama to go after terrorists in a way that limits US military involvement, but effectively has killed more terrorists than George W. Bush.

President Barack Obama was the the right person for his time, and will be seen as that in history. He has met racist attacks by refusing to show anger, but instead class and dignity! He has admitted failure, but also has confidence in the morality of his cause. Considering the extreme opposition he has faced, what he has accomplished is miraculous beyond belief.

Despite having presided over the rapid decline of Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress by vicious attacks and massive spending by right wing billionaires, he has made it clear that he will use executive orders to do what he feels must be done in the last two years of his Presidency. The right wing Supreme Court, with its Citizens United Case in 2010, and the lackadaisical attitude on voting of many Democratic constituent groups, has contributed to this decline in Democratic Party strength, but Obama has reacted by making clear that it will not deter his plans to make the nation a place better for the middle class and the poor.

President Barack Obama will NOT allow the prevention of further improvement of the New Deal and Great Society, and he is much to be admired, as a credit to the office he holds!

Barack Obama Should Veto Continuing Resolution, Forcing Congress To Stay In DC And Change $1.1 Trillion Budget!

One of the most important pieces of legislation to reach Barack Obama’s desk–the $1.1 trillion Continuing Resolution legislation that would cover the government budget through September 30, 2015, and allow Congress to leave, and would avoid a government shutdown—should be vetoed by President Obama!

This is a bold move, to ask Obama to veto the bill, but it has many problems, including allowing the big banks, led by Citigroup, to avoid responsibility for another collapse of the banking system, which seems more and more likely, and would have taxpayers save the banks once again, adding to the national debt! This would be possible by the repeal of the Dodd-Frank legislation that prevents future such disaster! Senator Elizabeth Warren has made national news by her denunciation of this action on the Senate floor.

Additionally, allowing wealthy people to give ten times what they can now contribute to political campaigns is a further extension of the Citizens United Case, in which the Supreme Court has allowed millionaires and billionaires to engage in the “buying” of elections, through unlimited spending!

Also, pension protection for public and private pensions would no longer be guaranteed, causing disaster for millions of workers who would no longer be assured of the protection of their hard earned pensions when they retire, or even for those who have retired.

Additionally, nutrition standards set by Michelle Obama would be relaxed; and DC would not be able to allow marijuana use, losing control over its own jurisdiction by interference of Congress, despite the vote of the population in November’s election.

24 Republicans and 16 Democrats voted against this bill, including most of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and it should be vetoed by Obama, on the basis of too much lost and too little gained.

It is time for Obama to show aggressiveness, as what does he have to lose now?

The Disgraceful Breaking Of International Law And Ethics And Morality Of The Bush-Cheney Administration!

Just about the most shocking event in many years is the revelation yesterday in the US Senate of the total lack of ethics, morality and decency, and the disgraceful breaking of international law by the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney Administration!

Torture is outlawed by all decent nations, and just because terrorists and some rogue regimes choose to torture is not a justification for such practices. The most obscene, reprehensible tactics authorized by the Bush-Cheney regime qualifies them for facing trial under international law as war criminals, plain and simple.

This crime is worse than ANYTHING ever done under any President of the United States, bar none, and should, rightfully, place George W. Bush in the very bottom of the rankings of Presidents for all time!

Dick Cheney will always stand out as the absolutely worst Vice President in history, with no conscience, ethics or morals, on top of being a war profiteer from the military involvement in Iraq, through his connections with Haliburton!

Bush and Cheney will escape judgment in an international court, but their names will be forever besmirched in history, and the fact that decent people in both political parties, such as Senator John McCain of Arizona (himself tortured in a North Vietnamese prison), Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Senator Diane Feinstein of California, and Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia join in condemning their lawlessness is a sign that we have not lost all morality and ethics. In effect, the Presidential Election of 2000, where Al Gore won the biggest popular vote margin for a losing candidate (due to questionable Supreme Court intervention) led to this monstrosity in the name of the American people! And if John McCain, by far the preferable GOP candidate in 2000, had been able to overcome the reprehensible tactics of George W. Bush in the primaries, and ended up running against Al Gore, this nation would have been assured of having a lawful, moral, ethical President, instead of the trash we put into the White House and the Vice Presidency!

It will take a long time for the American reputation to be revived to what it has been, and we have to work very hard to insure that, in the future, we elect to the Presidency ONLY men or women who have a basic sense of the limits of power; a sense of ethics and morality; and a sense of common decency and belief in international standards of behavior!

And to think that these reprehensible tactics did nothing to protect America, and instead endangers our citizens and military long into the future, is the ultimate irony above all!