Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

supreme court

Winning Elections: It’s the Supreme Court, All Y’all

Later today, the first candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nominating contest will throw her hat into the ring.

No, not her. She is doing a great job right where she is. She is just a reminder of what is at stake.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will officially enter the Democratic Party nominating contest. There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth … and then the Republicans will weigh in, too! I believe their slogan will be “First the black guy, now the girl!?!1!!”

It should come as no surprise that I expect to weigh in as well and my theme for 2016 will be simple: we need to nominate the strongest candidate possible for the general election. This is not a “take the party back to our grassroots!” election, this is not a time to show our purity and consider only candidates who have never met anyone on Wall Street, this is not a time to dredge up the parts of the past that are unlikely to be good predictors of the future: it is a time to come together and emerge as strong as possible from the primary season and well positioned for the general election.

There are core Democratic Party principles that should guide all of our candidates. There are also hot button issues that make a candidate less attractive or more attractive to certain groups. But the only litmus test should be: can our candidate win in 2016?

Reason number 1: The Supreme Court (and the appellate courts and the district courts).

The next president could have the opportunity to choose 3 or 4 new justices for the Supreme Court. The chance to tilt the court to the left is a real possibility.

President Barack Obama appointed two justices for the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen. Justice Sotomayor became the first Latina on the court and holds dear the values most  Democrats embrace.

More …

State’s Rights vs Federal Courts … 2015 version

From Alabama:

Roy Moore and his big stones

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore standing in the courthouse door (editorial opinion from

Almost 52 years ago Gov. George Wallace made his infamous stand in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama to block two black students from registering for classes.

It was really all for show. Wallace knew he had no authority to stop the students. The federal courts had ruled that the time had come to integrate UA […]

… last night Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered all probate judges not to follow the federal order and instead continue to enforce the state’s ban against same sex marriage. Moore threatened that any probate judge carrying out the federal court order could be impeached …

He is trying to stand in the courthouse door as surely as Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door. Shame on him.[…]

What happens next? I don’t know. Moore is standing in the courthouse door. He represents the old days, the days of fear and misunderstanding and the denial of equal rights.

Bentley will gather with his lawyers today to mull his options.

I hope the governor will follow his instincts and remember to be the governor of all the people, something Wallace forgot.

From the Supreme Court of the United States:

[The ] Supreme Court denied Alabama’s request to put same-sex marriages on hold pending the appeal of two cases.

Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia dissented, writing, “Today’s decision represents yet another example of this Court’s increasingly cavalier attitude toward the States. Over the past few months, the Court has repeatedly denied stays of lower court judgments enjoining the enforcement of state laws on questionable constitutional grounds.

Justice Clarence Thomas, a black American who benefited from the civil rights battles of the 1960s, giving cover to this century’s states righters.  

More below the fold …

There is no place for voter suppression in a democracy. Period.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the largest circulation paper in Wisconsin and the paper of record for the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County, penned a scathing editorial calling out the Republican legislature for their attempt to disenfranchise those who would vote for Democrats.

The editorial is in response to the blistering opinion from 7th Circuit Court Judge Richard Posner about that court’s big sloppy kiss to Gov. Scott Walker and his re-election campaign.

From the Journal-Sentinel editorial:

Five appeals court judges gave their colleagues the what-for Friday in a bark-peeling attack rarely seen in the legal genre. Led by Judge Richard A. Posner, himself a convert to the idea that voter ID equals voter suppression (good for him), the judges called the idea of voter fraud by impersonation “a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government.”

Which is precisely what is afoot in Wisconsin.

It has been clear from the day this rancid idea began working its way through the state Legislature that this was all about winning elections and not about the integrity of those elections. Voter ID makes it harder for certain classes of voters to exercise the franchise, including minorities, the elderly and the young. The fact that those categories of voters tend to favor Democrats should tell you all you need to know about the motivations of Republican legislators.

It’s about winning, baby, which is about integrity only in the sense that up is about down or that white is about black.

The editorial goes on to call out Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen who is contemplating an end around the Supreme Court’s ruling that Wisconsin’s voter id law cannot be used in the November 4th election. How, pray tell, does one defy the Supreme Court of the United States of America? Maybe J.B. stand for Jefferson Beauregard and he will rally the other crazee Republicans who wanted to include secession in the Wisconsin GOP platform this past summer to foment rebellion? Or maybe he is simply an idiot.  

More …

Supreme Court Watch: Voting Rights, UPDATE: North Carolina voters lose; WI voters win; Texas next?

This week we are watching for news out of the Supreme Court.

UPDATE 2: Emergency Stay Granted to Stop Implementation of Wisconsin Voter ID

… the basis was the Purcell objection, the proximity to the upcoming election and the risk of electoral chaos.

PDF of order (“Justices” Alito, Scalia, and Thomas dissented) is here:

the Seventh Circuit’s stay of the district court’s permanent injunction is vacated

Texas: A federal district court struck down the Texas Voter Id Law. The ruling issued an injunction, Texas said that they will appeal, so now we watch again.

UPDATE: 4th Circuit overturned by SCOTUS, extended registration in NC cancelled

… the full slate of changes passed by North Carolina this year, increasing restrictions on the voting process, is now back in effect for the election.

Justices Ginsberg and Sotomayor dissented (PDF) noting that the courts removal of pre-clearance in the VRA led directly to this outcome:

These measures likely would not have survived federal pre-clearance. The Court of Appeals determined that at least two of the measures – elimination of same-day registration and termination of out-of-precinct voting – risked significantly reducing opportunities for black voters to exercise the franchise in violation of §2 of the Voting Rights Act.

There are two important election related emergency requests that are pending. One is for North Carolina and is in the hands of Chief Justice Roberts. The other is for Wisconsin and is in the hands of Justice Kagan. Both matters have been fully briefed. Court watchers expect the North Carolina ruling to go in favor of the state and the Wisconsin ruling to go in favor of the voters. But tea leaf readers are really just guessing because as they say, the law is an ass, and the Supreme Court does whatever the heck it wants.

More below …

BREAKING: Supreme Court Denies Petitions on Marriage Ban Appeals

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Breaking News E-mail

Gay marriages to resume as Supreme Court rejects appeals

The U.S. Supreme Court has turned away appeals from Wisconsin and four other states seeking to prohibit same-sex marriages, paving the way for an immediate expansion of gay and lesbian unions.

NY Times Breaking News E-mail

Supreme Court Clears Way for Gay Marriage in 5 States

The Supreme Court on Monday denied review in all five pending same-sex marriage cases, clearing the way for such marriages to proceed in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The move was a major surprise and suggests that the justices are not going to intercede in the wave of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage at least until a federal appeals court upholds a state ban.

This just got upended

UPDATE: What it looks like now


This morning the Court issued additional orders from its September 29 Conference.   Most notably, the Court denied review of all seven of the petitions arising from challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage.  This means that the lower-court decisions striking down bans in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia should go into effect shortly, clearing the way for same-sex marriages in those states and any other state with similar bans in those circuits.

Over 30 states now must allow same-sex marriage.

More news items below …

It’s the misogyny, y’all

In trying to make sense of The Way Things Are in a post-Hobby Lobby world, it is important to peel away the layers and understand what the Hobby Lobby ruling is and, more importantly, what it isn’t.

The Supreme Court ruled that a closely-held corporation can avoid paying for health insurance that covers contraceptive options if the belief about how those methods work offends the religious feelings of the majority stockholders.

Yes, the ruling is a direct assault on common sense in its attempt to assign freedom of religious expression to a corporation.

Yes, the ruling is science-denialism writ large.

Yes, it is a poke in the eye to the separation of powers: where a law passed by Congress and signed by the president can be, not merely ruled unconstitutional, but hacked up and rewritten by a court.

And, it is likely a specific poke in the eye to President Barack Obama who the right wing has become completely unhinged over to the point that they want to nullify the results of two presidential elections and three congressional elections.

What it really is: complete and utter disrespect for women.

A Humble Petition for Public Prayer in Light of Today’s Supreme Court Ruling

I humbly propose that the following invocation be given whenever a public meeting in the City of New York (and anywhere else that seeks to adopt it) is convened:

May Hashem’s wisdom guide us and may His laws guide us.  May we take on more mitzvot [commandments] and may we therefore merit the coming of Moshiach, bim’hera v’yameinu.  Amen.

After all, if this prayer:

Lord, God of all creation, we give you thanks and praise for your presence and action in the world. We look with anticipation to the celebration of Holy Week and Easter. It is in the solemn events of next week that we find the very heart and center of our Chris­ tian faith. We acknowledge the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. We draw strength, vitality, and confidence from his resurrection at Easter. . . . We pray for peace in the world, an end to terrorism, violence, conflict, and war. We pray for stability, de­ mocracy, and good government in those countries in which our armed forces are now serving, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . . Praise and glory be yours, O Lord, now and forever more. Amen.

meets constitutional scrutiny for public governmental meetings, then the prayer I so humbly propose should meet that scrutiny as well.

Of course, I somehow doubt that the five justices that effectively declared today it was okay to effectively establish Christianity as the religion of state simply because the majority of Americans practice it would find a prayer so overtly Jewish acceptable.  Similarly, a prayer overtly Muslim or of any other religion would also not meet their scrutiny.  And those that scream loudest in favor of the prayer offered by clerics at the public meetings of the Town of Greece, New York, would scream for the separation of religion and state the moment a sectarian non-Christian prayer was offered.

Oh, and one more thing.  Justice Thomas reiterated his belief today that the Establishment Clause protects state establishments of religion and merely prohibits the federal government from establishing a national religion.  I would love to see a state establish a non-Christian religion as its state religion and then see if Justice Thomas possesses the courage of his convictions or if those beliefs only apply when a state adopts some form of Christianity as its state religion.

The Nightmare of Extraordinary Measures to Avoid Default

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Back on October 4, Vincent Reinhart wrote in The New York Times’ Deal Book that despite all the political maneuvering currently going in Washington the contingencies to prepare for a default are “a waste because the United States government is not going to default, ever.”

Reinhart argues that government officials will be forced to violate one of three laws or constitutional mandates:

  1. The Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 that establishes the debt ceiling;
  2. The Federal Reserve Act that prohibits the Fed from lending directly to the Treasury; or,
  3. The 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which holds that the debt of the United States government, lawfully issued, will not be questioned.

Finally, of the consequences, Reinhart writes:

An official anticipating stretching the law ranks alternatives by precedent, punishment as specified in the law and standing as to who can claim a violation of the law. Either a secretary of the Treasury who holds No. 3 as the overriding instruction or a chairman of the Federal Reserve who waives No. 2 saves the global financial system and, at most, risks being impeached or fired. That seems to be a reasonable risk and reward trade-off.

That, however, ignores the real nightmare that would happen immediately after any of those actions were taken to avoid default by the United States Government.

Scalia: Activist Judges Responsible for Holocaust

Add yet another reason that Antonin Scalia has made himself an embarrassment to the office he holds, along with any other person that possesses one, small, iota of basic human decency.  Speaking before the Utah Bar Association, Scalia reportedly said:

Scalia opened his talk with a reference to the Holocaust, which happened to occur in a society that was, at the time, “the most advanced country in the world.” One of the many mistakes that Germany made in the 1930s was that judges began to interpret the law in ways that reflected “the spirit of the age.” When judges accept this sort of moral authority, as Scalia claims they’re doing now in the U.S., they get themselves and society into trouble.

How many more times will the greatest crime in Jewish history be used to score cheap political points?  Scalia is hardly the first person to so misappropriate the Holocaust to make such points and I doubt he will be the last.

While Scalia is known for vitriol directed against many groups he does not like, this case is particularly egregious.  It makes me wonder what evil he will not blame on those that he deems ‘activist judges.’  Of course, this is only made all the more egregious by his hypocrisy when it comes to ‘judicial activism.’  It seems that the only ‘judicial activism’ he dislikes are those cases of ‘judicial activism’ that affirm the rights of unpopular groups from tyranny of the majority.  He is also willing to use any evidence, no matter how offensive and wrong, to prove his ‘point.’

It’s About Damn Time.

As you know, the Defense of Marriage Act finally fell, having been struck down by the Supreme Court and relegated to the heap of shitty things that never should have existed in the first place.

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For bigots, this means that an army of hairy men in assless leather chaps are coming to devour their succulent mullet-spawn.  For all else, it means that the United States is one step closer to living up it’s self-evident but expressly stated ideal: all Americans are created equal, and that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights — Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  For LGBT Federal employees, it also provides for deserved–but long denied–benefits.