Saturday, June 30, 2012

Seamus Big Love and SCOTUS


Stuck with nothing to watch at 30,00 feet, I discovered  a 2008 episode of Big Love.  And oh boy what a surprise.  Firstly, it was great to see Lawrence O’Donnell  Jr. (yes Jr.) featured as Bill Hendrickson’s (Bill Paxton) attorney; clearly pre Last Word days. Next was Mireille Enos, now starring as the outstanding detective Linden on The Killing, as one of Bill’s brother Joey’s wives and the fabulous Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman, as the Scott Quittman, Sara Hendrickson’s boyfriend.  But best of all was the background soundtrack  a television talk show caller can be heard  telling the host “He saved the Olympics, who cares if he goes out with his dog on the roof.”  Yes boys and girls, the caller is defending the one and only Mitt Romney during the 2008 GOP campaign.  Seamus was news worthy in 2008.  If interested, check out the Big Love episode “Oh Pioneers”.   

Some final thoughts on the Supreme Court rulings this week:

With respect to the Affordable Care Act, Justice Roberts chose jurist over conservatism.  He will be vilified by some on the right as a sellout, by some as an activist, and by some as a turncoat. Conversely, he suddenly has a whole new fan club on the left.  In a rare twist, both sides are wrong.  Make no mistake about it, Justice Roberts is a conservative through and through and if you don’t believe me here are two words: Citizens United.  No, I believe the Chief Justice realized that Justice Kennedy was going to side with Alito, Scalia, and Thomas and made a decision that he would not put the Court in the eye of the storm of political partisanship.   Roberts maneuvered the decision in such a way that he was able to focus the animosity towards him while: limiting the power of the government with respect to the commerce clause, arrest the public belief that the Court had become a political, not judicial, body, and send a message to congressional conservatives that if they did not like laws they need to legislate the issues not count on the judicial branch to do their work for them.

Sticking with the Affordable Care Act, I did a little research on the court battles that ensued the passage of the Social Security Act of 1935, a cornerstone of FDR’s New Deal.  Not surprisingly, legal battles were waged on the constitutionality of many of the President’s programs (it would mark the dawning of an era when the Judicial Branch would begin ruling on the Constitutionality of certain legislative acts), leading the liberal President to threaten to pack the Supreme Court with additional Liberal justices.  At the end of the day, the only Republican appointed justice, Owen Roberts, joined the liberal bloc in upholding West Coast Hotel versus Parrish (1937) leading to the court upholding the majority of FDR’s New Deal programs including the Social Security System.  The sudden switch of Roberts lead to the famous quote ‘a switch in time saves nine’.

Also last week, the court ruled on the constitutionality of Arizona’s  anti-immigrant bill, SB 1070.  The federal government challenged the State of Arizona on the grounds that immigration enforcement was the responsibility of the federal government and if states were left to establish their own immigration enforcement policies, we could end up with 50 different policies.  In the end, the court sided with the government on three important elements that struck down the Arizona law on the grounds that it exceeded federal law.  The controversial ‘papers please’ element remained, due to the government’s intentional failing to challenge the law on the grounds of racial profiling.  Why would the government do that?  Simply political reasons.  The controversial portion that REQUIRES police officers to check the immigration of status of persons has not gone into effect.  When it does, Civil Rights Groups will file lawsuits on the grounds of racial profiling.  Yes this law could easily be back in the Supreme Court in a couple of years after which the Conservative Republican backed draconian legislature will have been dragged through the mud in the public square further securing the Latino vote square in the welcoming embrace of the Democratic Party.

The political spin machines were in hyper drive this week.  On the left, victory had been snatched from the jaws of defeat thanks to the Left’s new BFF John Roberts.  Meanwhile on the right, the great rationalization kicked in: Obama may have won the battle, but lost the war.  Here are some indisputable facts:

·         Both sides will raise a shitload of money as a result of these rulings.

·         Romney will find it difficult to use the ACA has a wedge issue due to his own Romneycare signature legislation.  A fact noted by Justice Ginsburg: “Massachusetts, Congress was told, solved the adverse selection problem. By requiring most residents to obtain insurance ... the Commonwealth ensured that insurers would not be left with only the sick as customers. As a result, federal lawmakers observed, Massachusetts succeeded where other States had failed.”

·         Short attention span Americans will be onto other issues by November.

·         Most Americans have already made up their mind with respect to voting choice.

So ends an exciting court docket.  Stay tuned next year as DOMA is likely to be front and center, and Justice Scalia will continue making an ass out of himself.

Postscript: Has anyone heard from Ginny Thomas?


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