The Supreme Court Is at Stake: Why the Presidential Election Matters

Judith McDaniel | Truthout | May 15, 2016

The US Supreme Court in Washington, April 4, 2016. (Photo: Zach Gibson / The New York Times)A US Supreme Court for the few or the many? Not voting gives your voice to others to decide. (Photo: Zach Gibson / The New York Times)


It is no secret that the makeup of the US Supreme Court will be a major issue as the fall election campaigns unfold. And yet, many voters will choose not to vote. “It’s too much effort. I forgot to register when I moved. My vote won’t matter.”

I’ve heard every excuse, but whatever the reason, not voting gives power to others to make decisions that do in fact affect most of our lives.

Examples? Here are some cases and issues to watch.

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SoCal cops getting ready to use surveillance drones


RT America | April 28, 2016

Four police departments in Riverside and San Bernardino counties in California are gearing up to deploy drones in daily operations. Lawmakers worry that the public’s privacy could be at stake under current law, as police are required to obtain a warrant before conducting drone surveillance. RT America’s Brigida Santos reports from California. Then, legal and media analyst Lionel of LionelMedia joins RT America’s Anya Parampil to give his take.

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“One Person, One Vote” Battle Just Starting

AP Photo/Eric Gay, File

In this May 30, 2013 file photo, Texas state Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa looks at maps on display prior to a Senate Redistricting committee hearing, in Austin, Texas. The U.S. Supreme Court handed Texas a victory Monday, April 4, 2016, upholding the state’s system of drawing legislative voting districts based on everyone who lives there, not just registered voters. 


Scott Lemieux, Carl Klarner & Daniel A. Smith | The American Prospect | April 19, 2016

Three scholars scrutinize Evenwel v. Abbott, a Supreme Court ruling with broad implications for both the future of voting rights and the direction of the Court.


In its Evenwel v. Abbott ruling this month, the Supreme Court rejected a conservative voting-rights challenge that could have triggered partisan redistricting fights nationwide. Advocates of “one person, one vote” cheered, but the ruling may invite further challenges, and spotlights problematic originalist impulses on the Court. Carl Klarner and Daniel Smith examine Evenwel’s legal impact, and Scott Lemieux tackles what Justice Clarence Thomas’s originalism means for the ruling and for the Court.


After the Supreme Court’s politically consequential decision in Evenwel v. Abbott this month, supporters of the principle of “one-person, one vote” breathed a sigh of relief. The Court unanimously ruled that states may continue to draw legislative districts based on total population, instead of on a new standard—the number of registered or eligible voters—that would have excluded non-citizen immigrants, youth under 18, people who are or were incarcerated, and anyone else not registered to vote.

The ruling stymied a challenge brought by conservative activists in Texas who set out to upend the practice of apportioning legislative districts based on population, which had been settled law for five decades. A ruling in the challengers’ favor could have triggered mass redrawing of legislative district lines around the country, most likely to the advantage of Republicans.

The decision did mark a victory for the principle of “one-person, one-vote” if only because it maintains the status quo. But the Evenwel decision will likely not be the final word on the matter. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s majority opinion explicitly stated that the Court did not “resolve whether, as Texas now argues, states may draw districts to equalize voter-eligible population rather than total population.” And conservatives can be expected to keep pushing for ways to exclude certain blocs of voters from the redistricting process—particularly non-citizens.

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The Supreme Court Is All Tied Up

Protesters attend the Fight for Families Rally in front of the Supreme Court of the United States on April 18, 2016, in Washington, D.C. (photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images)
Protesters attend the Fight for Families Rally in front of the Supreme Court of the United States on April 18, 2016, in Washington, D.C. (photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images)


Dahlia Lithwick | Slate | Reader Supported News | April 19, 2016

ast week, Sen. Orrin Hatch penned an op-ed suggesting that Democrats were trying to “deceive voters” with disingenuous claims “that the Supreme Court cannot function properly with fewer than nine justices on the bench.” After calling Democrats liars in various colorful ways, he concluded that “[t]he Senate’s determination to wait until after the election to consider a nominee will in no way impede the business of the judicial branch.”


Or maybe the judicial branch is about to get karate chopped in the face by the ugliest political fight of the year. Arguments on Monday in United States v. Texas, the partisan challenge to Obama’s executive actions that would have allowed more than 4 million undocumented immigrants to remain and work in the United States, certainly suggest a 4-4 tie is not just in the cards but also highly likely. Such a ruling would choke both the executive branch and the court, without affording much clarity or direction about the real scope of executive powers. Have fun with all that, Sen. Hatch.

The challenge in this case effectively asks whether President Obama’s 2014 tweaks to Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) exceed his authority. Obama issued these actions in response to congressional gridlock on immigration reform. The idea was that since Congress will not fund the deportation of the 11 million deportable immigrants, the administration would reserve deportation for dangerous offenders and allow others to temporarily remain, and to legally work.

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Obama’s Nomination of Merrick Garland Is a Lot More Ruthless Than It Looks

President Obama's Supreme Court nominee spoke at the White House on Wednesday. (photo: AP)
President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee spoke at the White House on Wednesday. (photo: AP)


Elias Isquith | Salon | Reader Supported News | March 20, 2016

The president’s nomination of an alleged moderate has some liberals scratching their heads. They shouldn’t


he first and most important thing to say about President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court is that it might not work.

Not in the sense that Garland won’t receive the Republican-controlled Senate’s approval — that goes without saying, at least until November — but in the sense that Obama’s “Godfather” move might not be the political checkmate that the White House hopes it will be.

It’s possible that less-engaged #NeverTrump Republicans, right-leaning independents, and establishment media centrist pundits will see the GOP’s refusal to even go through the motions with Garland as yet more proof that the party is unserious. And it’s possible that they’ll be so disgusted with Republican obstructionism that they’ll either vote for Hillary Clinton or skip 2016 altogether. That could happen, for sure.

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By Hamilton’s rules on Supreme picks, the Senate’s right and Obama’s wrong

Seth Lipsky | New York Post | March 18, 2016

By Hamilton’s rules on Supreme picks, the Senate’s right and Obama’s wrong

Somewhere Alexander Hamilton is smiling. For the battle that’s beginning over President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court vindicates the famous Founder’s assurances on judicial appointments.

Hamilton knew that Americans would find their protection from would-be kings in the wisdom of the Senate. He marked this point in 69 Federalist, one of the columns he wrote back in 1788 under the pen name Publius.

The topic of Federalist 69 is the “real character of the executive.” It makes it clear that in filling the seat once held by Justice Antonin Scalia, President Obama is at the complete mercy of the Senate — and should be.

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RNC Launching Task Force to Stop Obama Supreme Court Nominee

Jordan Fabian | The Hill | Reader Supported News | March 14, 2016

he Republican National Committee (RNC) is teaming up with a prominent conservative advocacy group to block President Obama’s effort to nominate a justice to the Supreme Court.

The RNC has formed a task force to launch radio and digital attack ads, petitions and media appearances to back up Senate Republicans, who have pledged not to hold hearings or votes on Obama’s replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The campaign is aimed at Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Democrats running in tough Senate races and party members on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called it “the most comprehensive judicial response effort in our party’s history.”

“We’re going to hold everyone accountable and make sure Democrats have to answer to the American people for why they don’t want voters to have a say in this process,” he said in a statement.

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After Epic 39-Hour Filibuster, Missouri Senate Passes Bill Criticized as Anti-Gay

Missouri Sen. Bob Onder, right, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe address reporters at the state capitol after the filibuster. (photo: David A. Lieb/AP)
Missouri Sen. Bob Onder, right, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe address reporters at the state capitol after the filibuster. (photo: David A. Lieb/AP)


Sandhya Somashekhar  | The Washington Post | Reader Supported News | March 9, 2016

or 39 hours, seven Democrats in the Missouri Senate kept up a filibuster aimed at drawing attention to, and ultimately killing, a religious freedom bill that critics called anti-gay.

On Wednesday morning, they were finally cut short. The chamber’s Republican majority voted to end the filibuster and voted in favor of the bill, which if enacted would permit religious organizations and certain others to refrain from activities viewed as condoning or participating in same-sex marriage.

It is the latest and perhaps most dramatic example of the extraordinary opposition being stoked by religious liberties bills, which have proliferated in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year legalizing same-sex marriage nationally. Social conservatives say the bills are necessary to protect faith-based organizations and faith-driven businesses from being forced to condone a practice that clashes with their religion.

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Protesters picket Supreme Court ahead of abortion law verdict


RT America | March 2, 2016

Hundreds of “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Choice” activists rallied in front of the United States Supreme Court, in Washington DC, while the court began a session of oral arguments regarding a controversial Texan abortion regulation. Abortion rights supporters wore purple and abortion opponents wore blue.

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GOP Senator Ayotte compares Supreme Court nomination to “unconstitutional power grabs”

 | America Blog | February 16, 2016

We have come to a point in right-wing obstructionism where the President fulfilling basic constitutional requirements is considered unconstitutional and dictatorial.

In a Medium post yesterday on her official re-election campaign account that included her statement on the current Supreme Court vacancy, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R – NH) explained that President Obama should not nominate a Supreme Court justice to replace Antonin Scalia. Instead, Obama should “let the American people weigh in” by sitting out the process and allowing the next president to select a nominee.

As Brian Beutler, among others, pointed out, the American people already did weigh in on this judicial appointment when they elected President Obama to a second term:

Scalia was 76 years old in November 2012, when voters returned Obama to office. His supporters were motivated in part by a desire to prevent the Court from drifting further rightward (it had just come within a hair’s breadth of voiding the Affordable Care Act, remember) and the hope, however distant, that Obama would turn it to the left.

However, Ayotte’s post goes a bit further than similar arguments made by her fellow Senate Republicans. Check out the bio at the bottom of her post (emphasis added):

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