Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Why Barack Obama DESERVES Re-Election (Part 1)

barack obama election 2012
Re-elect Barack Obama

Let me say at the outset that I don’t agree with everything Barack Obama has done as president. Yet I’ve never in my life agreed with everything any president has done.

For that matter, I didn’t agree with everything my mom and dad did!

From both a pragmatic political and idealistically progressive standpoint, however, there’s no doubt this president should serve another four years.

I have heard from progressives I respect about their disappointment with aspects of his time in office. It’s time to get realistic about what Barack Obama has done as president, and what four years of Mitt Romney will mean for those already struggling (and who progressives are and speak for).

How about we start with President Obama’s appointments to the US Supreme Court.

I know most voters don’t pay attention to this, but think for a moment who John McCain might have appointed, and who Barack Obama actually did. Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are both solid jurists. The alternative would likely have been a 6-3 conservative court rather than the 5-4 we now have.

Oh yeah, and when before in US history have three women sat on the highest court in the land together?

How about we take a look at the Affordable Care Act?

Was it perfect? Nope. Yet when all is said and done, double digit millions of Americans will be covered by health insurance. Also, that habit the insurance companies had of dropping your coverage when it suited them is now gone. Plus, parents can keep their kids on their plans to age 26. But here’s the most important thing. Barack Obama took the first step in taking us down the road to universal healthcare. That would be where everyone is covered. The first president who tried to get healthcare legislation passed in this country was Teddy Roosevelt. None of us remember him.

It’s time to stop carping about whether that’s the first thing Barack Obama should have done, and whether it’s good enough.

It is.

Political pragmatism is something it seems Republicans do better than Democrats. When the time came to try to gut this president’s agenda, they stood together. It’s time for us to stand together the same way.

Barack Obama has governed well, and those who those who think this country should be run like an investment firm know this. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, we’ll be bombarded with polls, ads, responses to the ads, talking heads, gasbags, and wannabees.

Know this. The man to bring this country back to some semblence of economic normalcy isn’t Mitt Romney. The man to do that has already sits in the White House.

As we move forward, we’ll be writing about other things Barack Obama has accomplished for you, me, my kids, and this country. Let the naysayers do their best.

We’re better, and so is Barack Obama.

The Mark Riley Morning Show Tune in weekdays www.wwrl1600.com Live 6am-9am EST.

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Who Will POTUS Choose for SCOTUS?

Already one media report says the eight people smart enough to choose Mine That Bird to win the Kentucky Derby should be found and polled to see who they think President Barack Obama should nominate to the US Supreme Court. One thing is for sure. Speculating about who the nominee will be has become a parlor game, which should surprise no one. It began seconds after Justice David Souter announced he’d be stepping down. There are already lists of possibles, likely picks, and outside chances. 

People shouldn’t underestimate this president’s capacity to surprise, either. He’s talked about a nominee’s need to have empathy with everyday Americans, and that’s a good thing. He’s carefully avoided saying the person he chooses should have particular positions on hot button issues like abortion or privacy rights. That’s just smart politics. One central question is whether he’ll nominate a woman, which is a potential minefield although it shouldn’t be.

After all, Laura Bush was on the record as being disappointed her husband didn’t nominate a woman to replace Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006. Currently the only woman on the high court is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. So nominating a woman shouldn’t be seen as unusual, or even as identity politics, which is how some conservatives have already tried to frame it. There are several names being prominently mentioned, all of which would make great justices.

They include Diane Wood, who knows the president from when they both taught at the University of Chicago Law School. Elena Kagan is currently solicitor general, and a former dean of the Harvard Law School. If nominated, she’d be the first open lesbian on the Supreme Court.

Sonia Sotomayor has been touted as Obama’s most likely choice even before he became president. She’s from the Bronx, and currently sits on the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals. She’d be the first ever Latina to sit on the court . Another possible choice is the current governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm. She’s a former attorney general, which gives her the required legal chops for the job.

Others mentioned in media reports include Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Kathleen Sullivan, director of Stanford University’s Constitutional Law Center, Leah Ward Sears, the first black woman to serve as a state chief justice, and Cass Sunstein, appointed by the president to be regulatory czar.

President Obama could choose any one of these folks, or none. Republicans in the Senate who will decide the fate of the president’s choice seem resigned to the idea he won’t be picking a conservative, but their friends in media and the conservative echo chamber have reportedly drawn up a laundry list of problems with the most likely nominees. One thing is for sure. The close scrutiny of all things Obama will mean this nomination process will be very much out in the open. The outcome could signify a new awareness among Americans about the importance of the highest court in the land.

Since I didn’t bother handicapping the Derby, I feel comfortable speculating here. Based on what I know about her, and the politics of the moment, I’m going with Sonia Sotomayor. After all, she’s from the Bronx!

What about you? Who do you think President Obama will nominate to the Supreme Court?

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SCOTUS Minimus? Are all blacks entitled to vote in all states?

Memo to those who tend to minimize Supreme Court nominations: They matter! A number of recent 5-4 decisions… bears this out.

Right now the high court is dealing with a challenge to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Those folks who have been warning for the past decade that the act is in jeopardy now see their worst fears possibly borne out.

scotus

At issue is one central provision of the act, the one that says certain states and municipalities must get federal approval prior to changes in voting procedures. This provision, known as Section 5, applies specifically to a number of southern states that in 1965 had a history of disenfranchising black voters. When Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006, they left the criteria for determining states included in Section 5 intact.

It is this hinge on which those who would gut the act now hang their hats. Make no mistake. It’s entirely possible, even likely this will be yet another 5-4 vote, this time in favor of finding Section 5 unconstitutional.

In questioning Wednesday, even those justices who are leaning toward that position are careful not to minimize the overall positive impact of the act. Instead, justices are asking questions about sovereignty. Is the sovereign dignity of Alabama, covered under Section 5 less than that of Ohio, which isn’t?

The Voting Rights Act was one piece of American legislation that moved this country out of the shadow of its racist legacy. It guaranteed a fundamental right of citizenship to those who were denied it simply because of the color of their skin. While it’s true that great strides have been made, there have been naked efforts over the past few years to erode those very same rights.

Voter ID laws, the abrupt closure of polling sites without proper notice to voters and other attempts at backdoor disenfranchisement still exist.

One wonders if the court will consider whether the federal government has ever abused its power under Section 5. Are there concrete examples of the government tyranny in considering states and cities changes to voting laws? (BTW, parts of New York City fall under Section 5). There is also a bailout provision that some counties in Virginia have already used.

So why gut the Voting Rights Act? Why not leave Section 5 intact, with a strong recommendation that Congress review its provisions with an eye toward updating them periodically? Theoretically, that could happen, but right now it doesn’t appear it will.

What do you think. Post a comment here. Should the Supreme Court blow up the 1965 Voting Rights Act?

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