With four justices nearing 80, the next president could influence policies on abortion, property, guns and gays for decades.
By Tony Mauro, USA Today
The late Supreme Court justice William Brennan used to say that five was the most important number — the number of justices needed to win a majority on a nine-member court. This presidential election year, the most important numbers at the court could be 79, 76, 75 and 73. Those are the ages, respectively, of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer.
While all four justices appear healthy — most remarkably Justice Ginsburg, who has beaten cancer twice— the fact remains that during the next presidential term of office, a stalwart liberal (Ginsburg), a combative conservative (Scalia) and a usually conservative swing voter (Kennedy) will reach the age of 80. And Breyer, also a steady liberal, will be approaching octogenarian status. That means that whoever is elected president might have a very rare opportunity to alter the direction of a closely divided court for decades to come. [MORE]
In a little noticed sequence of events last week, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) managed to generate praise for her work in empowering women right after rejecting a bill that would have ensured they receive equal pay for equal work.
[My postcard to the retired Senator: In my many years in business I learned that any business plan that needed to denigrate the competition or the client was 1) a bad plan, and 2) all I needed to know about the planner. - jkl]
North Dakota's Measure 3 has galvanized religious groups, human service organizations, and civil rights lawyers, turning the vote from a local issue into a noteworthy skirmish in the larger national clash over religion, the government, and civic life.
Called the Religious Liberty Restoration amendment, the measure would add a clause to the state constitution stipulating that the government must have a “compelling interest” in order to “burden” a person whose actions or decisions are informed by religious belief and that the government should use the “least restrictive means to further that interest.”
Opponents, however, which include Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and an array of local social service organizations, have called the measure an attempt to codify workplace discrimination on the basis of religion. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead newspaper termed the amendment, "an attempted ecclesiastical mugging."
Nearly 2,000 current and former Walmart employees filed claims of discrimination on the basis of gender with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Complaints were filed in all but two states - Montana and Vermont - but at least one complaint was filed in every US Walmart retail region. The lawsuits were filed in response to last year's Supreme Court ruling on a class-action lawsuit, Dukes v. Walmart Stores, Inc., in which the Supreme Court overturned a lower court's certification of a national class of women.
Her campaigning and her writing – the two are indivisible – spring from one central insight: that "housework" (not just vacuuming, but all the work involved in meeting the physical and emotional needs of others, from cradle to grave) is central to the reproduction of humanity, and therefore to capitalism. By focusing on the unwaged, Wages for Housework revolutionises our idea of what work is, and who the working class are. It allows us to see the potential collective power of those who are most isolated and seem powerless: women stuck at home changing nappies. And it goes straight to the heart of a dilemma that still plagues many women: "I started," James says now, "as a housewife refusing housework. As a mother, doing this work that is so central to society, I was locked in and impoverished. But this work is not like other work: we hate it, and we want to do it. By demanding payment for housework we attack what is terrible about caring in our capitalist society, while protecting what is great about it, and what it could be. We refuse housework, because we think everyone should be doing it."
2005 Florida Gov. Jeb Bush signs the Stand Your Ground bill into law. It is the "first step of a multi-state strategy," says a top official with the National Rifle Association. Former NRA president Marion Hammer—who crafted language used in the bill—later presents Florida's law to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a national corporate-sponsored consortium of lawmakers. ALEC adopts Stand Your Ground as model legislation.
2006 With help from ALEC, Stand Your Ground laws similar to Florida's pass in 13 other states, from Mississippi to Arizona. Meanwhile, in Miami, a man shoots 14 bullets at a car full of gang members and later avoids prosecution by citing the law.
2007 Justifiable homicides by civilians in Florida more than triple from the prior year (and will rise further by 2011). Four more states adopt Stand Your Ground laws: Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.
2008 A 15-year-old Tallahassee boy dies while caught in a shoot-out between rival gangs; two of the gang members successfully take refuge behind the Stand Your Ground law. Ohio and West Virginia join the list of SYG states.
2009 Four months after Montana's Stand Your Ground law goes into effect, a Walmart employee in Billings is released from custody after claiming he shot a co-worker in the face with a .25-caliber Beretta handgun out of self-defense. (He would not be charged.)
2011 New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin join the list. Nationwide, between 2005 and 2010, justifiable homicides by civilians using firearms doubled in states with the laws, while falling or remaining about the same in states lacking them. [MORE]
This week, the War on Women in Michigan moved from low-intensity combat to a full-scale firefight. Without warning, three anti-choice zealots in the Michigan Legislature, sponsored by state Rep. Bruce Rendon (R-Lake City), have launched a package of three anti-choice bills (H.B. 5711, 5712 and 5713) representing an unprecedented assaulton reproductive rights.
Among other things, the bills would turn conscientious health care providers of late-term abortions into felons and force most of the state’s reproductive health care centers to close.
“We’ve never seen such a stealthy introduction,” says Rana Elmir, communications director of the Michigan ACLU. In a blitz executed with cold precision, the Health Policy Committee introduced the bills on May 31 and held an unusually short 1-1/2 hour hearing today before calling a vote. The conversation was cut off before more than 80 representatives from major pro-choice organizations across the state had the opportunity to voice their dissent, according to a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan.
“We were just shut down,” said Meghan Groen, director of government relations for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan.
All three bills passed committee. Although the state’s legislative session is scheduled to end June 28th, anti-choice politicians are pushing these bills through the legislature hard and fast. If the bills end up before a full House vote, they are expected to pass, due to Michigan’s current anti-choice majority.
How dramatic will the bill’s effect be? Here’s how Pollock of NOW breaks it down:
HB 5713 makes it a 15-year felony to abort a fetus that is “pain capable” and defines that as occurring at 20 weeks of gestation. The effect would be to prevent abortions at 20 weeks or more unless it was to save the life of the mother with no exception to preserve the health or future fertility of the pregnant woman. Often fetal anomalies are discovered at about this time in a pregnancy, or health-threatening conditions for the mother are detected. Michigan women facing this situation would have to leave the state for treatment.
Requires that offices providing six or more abortions per month be considered freestanding outpatient surgical facilities subject to extensive licensing and regulatory requirements. The effect will be to close down most Michigan clinics that provide abortions and make the remaining ones charge higher fees to pay for the over-regulation.
While closing many Michigan clinics through onerous and unnecessary regulations, the bills would also prohibit use of new telecommunication technology to provide medical abortion access to women not living near an abortion facility.
Requires elaborate and more expensive procedures for disposition of fetal remains, creating a new 3-year felony for violating the fetal remains procedures and permitting a civil action against anyone who violates the new fetal remains procedures.
Creates a new crime called coercion to abort, linking it with the concept of domestic violence, and making abortion providers become domestic violence screening facilities rather than women’s reproductive health care providers.
Prohibits doctors from using their professional judgment in the use of medical abortion drugs.
Requires abortion providers to carry one million dollars in liability insurance when abortion is actually one of the safest medical procedures women experience.
State Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) told a local television station on Wednesday that he supports the bill and hopes it will end abortion in Michigan. “This [abortion] is nothing short of infanticide. Until we completely eliminate abortions in Michigan and completely defund Planned Parenthood, we have work to do,” he said.
The bill is expected to pass the House later today.
If democracy is a team sport, we all have a role to play. If votes are to replace dollars as the currency of our democracy, then it is our job to redefine the game to one that cannot be bought and sold. This change may be awkward, but I happen to believe in American ingenuity. GAME ON!
646-929-2495 to listen live or talk to Jeanene and Debilyn. Click the link to listen in or pod cast later. Brought to you by THE 99% MEDIA, the way we roll today in Coffee Party USA.
Matthew Stoller, a writer and fellow with the Roosevelt Institute, sticks around to talk more with 'TYT' about the role of money in politics and why Americans actually need to be more power-obsessed, not less.
"The focus on the race is a good way to distract people from the underlying lack of power that voters have,” Stoller says. “The question is not who to vote for, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama… The question should be, how can the public re-establish a way to block the stream of profit and commerce — that they could do when they could strike — and thereby establish leverage with policy makers and economic elites… We should put the question of the election aside, because this is almost a meaningless spectacle.”
[Our eye on the prize: WHAT is as important as WHO. Hold all candidates to account for the issues that matter to you because they matter to us all. jkl]
Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts, who famously battled — and beat — breast cancer five years ago, revealed to viewers today that she is now facing another serious health issue.
Roberts was diagnosed with MDA, or myelodysplastic syndrome — once known as preleukemia — the same day that ABC found out "Good Morning America" trumped the "Today Show" in ratings for the first time in six years.
What should have been a celebratory time for Roberts, was interrupted with the grim news that marked the start of a battle against the serious blood and bone marrow disease. Roberts, 51, told viewers today in a statement that she is determined to beat MDA and her doctors have faith that she can.
"If you Google MDS, you may find some scary stuff, including statistics that my doctors insist don’t apply to me. They say I’m younger and fitter than most people who confront this disease and will be cured," Roberts said in a statement.
Roberts has begun chemotherapy in preparation of a bone marrow transplant later in the year. Though donors can often be scarce, particularly for African American women, Roberts' sister is a perfect match.
Roberts said she plans to maintain her presence on "Good Morning America" every day, though she may have to miss an occasional day and eventually a "chunk of time" when she undergoes her bone marrow transplant.
The "mancession" has morphed into the "hecovery," leaving women workers largely in the dust. The share of adult women who are employed is lower than it was two years ago, while men have seen an upturn. [MORE]
The ACLU, in conjunction with a group of retired military leaders and veterans, launched a new ad campaign today targeting the Department of Defense’s ban on servicewomen using their insurance to pay for abortion services if they become pregnant as the result of rape or incest. The ads were released as part of a coalition effort, Stand With Servicewomen, designed to raise awareness of, and ultimately end, this unfair policy.
A massive, 60-page omnibus bill that drastically limits abortion access and could shut down all abortion clinics in the state is being rushed through the Michigan State House of Representatives on Thursday.
Black clergy from the Conference of National Black Churches ("CNBC") joined forces with the Congressional Black Caucus ("CBC") in Washington, DC for a first ever summit last week to discuss new voting laws, voting registration strategy and empowerment of the black vote. What Republicans call voter protection to prevent voter fraud is disguised as voter ID laws that actually prevent voting by blacks and other segments of the population, according to a panel of voting rights experts speaking at the conference.
These new GOP voter ID laws are intended to prevent voting by African Americans, Hispanics, senior citizens and young adults. Limiting early voting days, ending Sunday voting before Election Day, dissuading voter registration at Motor Vehicle Administrations offices and placing onerous burdens on voter registration groups, have no bearing on voter fraud. And requiring already registered voters to obtain new ID to vote is like beginning a race and then changing the rules in the middle.
The shame of the Wisconsin recall is that even the side that came out on top knows it did so with money, strategy, and motivation from everywhere in the country, and the world for that matter, except Wisconsin.
This not only proves that the “States’ Rights Party” IS NOT, it also proves that the money agenda trumps the democracy agenda in today’s political theatre.
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