U.S. Politics

Supreme Court Gives A Big ‘F You’ To GOP, Rejects Racist Gerrymandering

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23:  The U.S. Supreme Court is shown as the court meets to issue decisions May 23, 2016 in Washington, DC. The court today sided in a 7-1 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts with a Georgia inmate on death row in his appeal to the court citing efforts by prosecutors to exclude African Americans from a jury panel in the murder case.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images


The Supreme Court did something amazing on Monday. They decided, with a unanimous conscience, that the principle of ‘one person one vote’ was the way to go in a Democratic Republic like the United States.

Still reeling from the disastrous decision that struck down the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Republicans sought to double down on their assaults on voting rights through racist gerrymandering.

Today, the Supreme Court gave Republicans a well-deserved ‘F-You’ when they rejected the GOP’s appeal to a lower Virginia court ruling that overturned the redistricted map.

Sending the case back to the lower court, the Supreme Court basically said they got it right, and see no reason to consider an appeal, thus giving Democrats (and the people of Virginia) the fairness they deserved and were robbed of in 2012.

Two years ago, a federal court struck down Virginia’s newly drawn congressional maps because the drawers packed tens of thousands of black voters into an already heavily black, heavily Democratic congressional district. The redrawing, which heavily favored Republicans, allowed the GOP to win 8 out of the state’s 11 congressional districts, even though President Obama won the state by three points and the electorate was down ticket.

While it won’t capture a majority of the 8 seats held by Republicans, the decision will certainly be turning the 4th Congressional District blue. Currently represented by Randy Forbes, the district will go from having a 48 percent Democratic electorate to a rightful 60 percent.

With Democrats aiming to take back the House and keep the swing state of Virginia blue in November, this decision has come at a very good time.

Looks like another gerrymandering, redistricting ploy from the Republicans to steal the elections has gone down in flames. Last year, the Supreme Court smacked down Republicans in Arizona when they tried to pull the same shenanigans. With Arizona’s booming Hispanic and Latino populations, GOP control is on the verge of collapsing.

Republicans want to hold onto absolute power, and they are seeing it slip away from them. So they try to cheat to win. And sometimes the Supreme Court does he right thing and blocks them from doing just that.

Since it wasn’t picked up, that means at least 5 Justices (out of eight) or more said no. If Scalia was still alive, I wonder if the case would have been picked up. And had it been picked up, how would the Court have decided it?

Maybe Republicans shouldn’t be so quick to turn down a moderate Merrick Garland confirmation. Not that he outcome would have been any different in their favor.

By Ryan Denson

U.S. Politics

President Obama To Senate GOP: Seriously Guys, Do Your F*cking Jobs Already (VIDEO)


President Barack Obama had plenty of obstacles when he took over from the Bush administration. The country faced a recession not seen since the Great Depression and the U.S. was embroiled in the Iraq war which left hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis along with thousands of American soldiers in what has turned out to be one of the most catastrophic American foreign policy blunders in history. One would think that the Republicans would help the young president fix what they had broken. Unfortunately, since Obama took office, the Republicans have done nothing but try to stifle him, even at the cost of shutting down the government.

Fast forward more than seven years and we still see an unbroken theme with the Republicans — continued obstructionism that has prevented the government from functioning properly and has kept vital decisions from being made. In the latest round, the Republicans in the United States Senate refused to give Chief Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing and a vote despite the fact that it’s been 45 days since the president nominated him for the United States Supreme Court. In his address,the president made it clear that the U.S. Supreme Court must remain above partisan politics and the senate must do its job.

Unfortunately, as they’ve done in the previous seven years, the Republicans are unlikely to heed the president’s advice and suggestions. In the end, it’s the American system and ultimately the American people who suffer from the partisan politics which have become so dysfunctional.

Watch the video here: 

Author: Marcus Aurelius

U.S. Politics

Supreme Court seems sympathetic to former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27:  Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell (2nd R) speaks to members of the media in front of the U.S. Supreme Court April 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court heard the corruption appeal from McDonnell, who and his wife were convicted of accepting more than $175,000 of gifts and favors from businessman Jonnie Williams, who wanted their help to promote his dietary supplement product called Anatabloc.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Bob McDonnell pleads his case | Getty Images


The Supreme Court heard former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s appeal of his sentence on political corruption charges Wednesday, and appears to be leaning in his favor. McDonnell was convicted and sentenced to two years for accepting gifts from a businessman, including a $20,000 Fifth Avenue shopping spree, more than $5,000 for a monogrammed Rolex and the use of a convertible Ferrari, a custom-made golf bag, and a sizable personal loan. The questions from the justices raised concerns that “the government’s concept of bribery was so broad as to criminalize many routine actions by public officials.”

After the hourlong argument, the last one for the current Supreme Court term, the question was less whether Mr. McDonnell’s conviction would survive, but whether the court would provide federal prosecutors a road map for revising its charges that could plausibly allow for a retrial. […]Justice Stephen Breyer said the government’s standard for criminal corruption was so vague that political figures wouldn’t know what conduct crosses the line and that federal prosecutors would become the ultimate arbiters of right and wrong through wide discretion over whom and what to charge.

He and other justices repeatedly sought a “limiting principle” to make sharper the distinction between permissible and illegal conduct in exchange for gifts or donations. […]

Justice Elena Kagan suggested the government had erred in the way it framed its charges, listing five separate things Mr. McDonnell did to help Mr. Williams as official acts. Instead, she suggested that there was one official action Mr. Williams sought, the Anatabloc study by state university researchers, and that the individual phone calls or meetings Mr. McDonnell arranged were better understood as evidence of the crime.


There’s widespread concern that the conviction has a chilling effect on how elected officials work with lobbyists and campaign donors. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that thousands of dollars, Rolexes, golf bags, and use of a Ferrari are all that commonplace for elected officials—but nonetheless, they’re kind of freaking out. It appears the court will ease their minds, at least a little.

Joan McCarter

U.S. Politics

Supreme Court May Kill Obama’s Plan to Shield 5 Million Immigrants From Deportation

Supreme Court May Kill Obama's Plan to Shield 5 Million Immigrants From Deportation

Image Credit: Getty Images


On Monday, a top lawyer from the Obama administration faced a tough line of questioning from Supreme Court justices over a case that could decide the fate of up to five million undocumented immigrants.

The case, which pits 26 states against the White House, contests the legality of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, program, which he announced through executive actions in 2014.

There’s a great deal at stake. The program would protect close to 5 million undocumented immigrants who are parents of United States citizens or permanent residents and provide them with the opportunity to apply for work permits, assuming they’ve resided in the country for a minimum of five years, pax taxes and don’t fail abackground check.

Read more: A Divided Supreme Court Spares Public Labor Unions From a Devastating Blow

The New York Times reported that Monday morning’s oral arguments involved some “sharp questions” from the justices:

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy questioned whether the president can defer deportations for millions of people without specific congressional authorization, saying “that is a legislative task, not an executive task.”

“It’s as if the president is defining the policy and the Congress is executing it,” Justice Kennedy said. “That’s just upside down.”

Supreme Court May Kill Obama's Plan to Shield 5 Million Immigrants From Deportation

Source: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

If the Supreme Court, which has had only eight justices since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February, ties on the ruling, it will uphold a lower court ruling against the plan and would obstruct the Obama administration’s ambitions.

The possibility of a ruling in favor of the Obama administration is possible. As Richard Lugar, a former senator from Indiana, noted in a New York Times op-ed on Monday, the executive branch has long been given a great deal of latitude in dealing with enforcement of immigration law, both by Congress and the Supreme Court:

Congress has repeatedlygranted the executive branch broad power in enforcing immigration laws. The 2002 law creating the Department of Homeland Security explicitly said the executive should set “national immigration enforcement policies and priorities.” The Supreme Court has recognized the leeway Congress gives the executive branch in deportations. In a 2012 majority opinion written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the court noted that “a principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials,” including the decision “whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all.”

Notably, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy joined three liberal justices in the last high-profile immigration case, striking down Arizona’s controversial immigration law in 2012.

The Supreme Court’s ruling isn’t expected until June, but the stakes are high — both for the undocumented immigrants whose lives would be changed by the ruling, and also for Obama’s legacy on immigration.

If the Supreme Court rules against the president, Obama, who has overseen more deportations than any other president in American history, will likely be remembered on immigration as “deporter-in-chief,” in the words of National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia. But if the court rules in his favor, he will have achieved some redemption in the eyes of many advocates.

Zeeshan Aleem

U.S. Politics

The Supreme Court Just Dealt a Major Blow to Conservatives in a Key Voting Case

The Supreme Court Just Dealt a Major Blow to Conservatives in a Key Voting Case

Image Credit: Getty Images


The United States Supreme Court dealt a substantial setback to conservatives in a key elections case on Monday, ruling 8-0 that lawmakers can count total population, not just eligible voters, in drawing legislative districts.

The case, Evenwel v. Abbott, focused on the so-called “one person, one vote” principle, was brought by Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger, conservative activists who argued that states should count only eligible voters and not total population in devising districts.

A ruling for the plaintiffs would have meant excluding minors, convicted felons and many immigrants — both legal and undocumented — from the population counts used to draw district boundaries.

Read more: Here Are All the Times Republicans Praised Merrick Garland, Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee

Because immigrant-heavy districts tend to be more urban and Democratic-leaning, civil rights activists and liberal groups weighed in strongly against the plaintiffs’ case. A ruling in the plaintiffs’ favor would have diluted the power of predominantly Democratic areas.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the court’s majority opinion, which was joined by five other justices. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, both conservatives, concurred with the court’s ruling but did not join Ginsburg’s opinion.

Citing “constitutional history, the court’s decisions and longstanding practice,” Ginsburg rejected the notion that the “one person, one vote” principle required counting only eligible voters.

“Total-population apportionment meets the equal protection demand, by rendering each representative alert to the interests and constituent-service requests of all who dwell in the representative’s district,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, Thomas and Alito argued that individual states should be allowed to decide how to draw district boundaries.

Luke Brinker


U.S. Politics

Trump’s Pick For Supreme Court Justice Shows Just How Pathetic He Really Is (VIDEO)


The GOP has been absolutely obsessed with blocking President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court justice pick ever since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. While the Republican Party’s attempts to prevent Obama from doing his job have proven that the GOP is nothing more than a joke, one particular presidential candidate has just made the selection of Supreme Court justices even more ridiculous and humiliating.

On Wednesday morning, Republican front runner Donald Trump told Good Morning America that as president of the United States, he would be picking Supreme Court justices with one truly pathetic goal in mind – he only wants justices that will investigate Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Toward the end of his interview, which Trump spent the majority of talking about the arrest of his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, host David Muir asked Trump to address a comment Clinton had recently made in a speech at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Clinton had posed the question to her audience, “As scary as it might be, ask yourself, ‘What kind of justice would a President Trump appoint?’”

Trump responded to Muir with this:

“Well, I probably would appoint people who would look very seriously at her email disaster because it’s a criminal activity and I would appoint people who would look very seriously at that to start off with. What she is getting away with is absolutely murder. You talk about a case, now that’s a real case.”

“Now nothing seems to be happening, but you can also poll people on that and you can see what happens on that because that is a real case and if she is able to get away with that you can get away with anything.”

You can watch the full interview below, with Trump’s comments about Clinton starting at about the 6-minute mark:

Trump has been obsessed with Clinton’s emails for a long time, despite the fact that there has already been an in-depth investigation on them. Throughout his campaign, Trump has made it perfectly clear that if he becomes President, he has every intention of trying to prosecute Clinton and put her behind bars.

Author: Vera

U.S. Politics

Clinton to Democrats: Remember What’s at Stake on the Supreme Court

Ted S. Warren, File/AP


Republicans have long rallied supporters by emphasizing the importance of selecting Supreme Court justices and warning what might happen if a Democratic president picks the next one. In a speech Monday afternoon at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Hillary Clinton will make the same case to Democrats.

Clinton will discuss the blockbuster cases before the court this term, according to a Clinton campaign aide familiar with the speech, to hammer home the importance of electing a Democratic president in order to protect the party’s top priorities. Those cases include one about abortion access and another on President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

“Given the range of cases currently before the Court—on everything from immigration to a women’s right to choose, affirmative action to voting rights—Clinton will say that the core pillars of the progressive movement are at risk of being upended by the Court in a single term,” the aide said in an email. She will remind voters that the next president will likely make additional nominations to the court, beyond filling the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Clinton will also discuss the current confirmation battle surrounding Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia. Clinton plans to argue that “it is critically important that Senate Republicans not be allowed to succeed in their strategy of refusing to consider the President’s nominee,” according to the aide.

The speech, which will also address Donald Trump and the dangers his hypothetical Supreme Court nominees could pose to progressive causes, will likely be seen as a pivot to the general election. Clinton’s Democratic primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, swept three races over the weekend and is hoping to score an upset against Clinton in Wisconsin on April 5. But Clinton still holds a substantial lead over Sanders in the pledged delegate count, 1,243 to 975, with 2,383 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination.



U.S. Politics

The Two Short Words That Could Keep Merrick Garland From Being Confirmed



“Dick Lugar.”

If you want to understand why the battle to confirm Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland — a moderate, not especially ideological federal appeals court judge — has turned into an historic display of Senate recalcitrance, then a good place to start is the 2012 Republican Senate primary in Indiana between Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and state treasurer Richard Mourdock.

Lugar was a powerhouse in Indiana politics, a six-term incumbent who’d held elected office longer than most of his constituents had been alive. Mourdock, meanwhile, was a human gaffe machine. Mourdock called Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid unconstitutional. He told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that “bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.” And, in his most famous case of verbal diarrhea, called pregnancies that result from rape a “gift from God.”

And yet Mourdock trounced Lugar in the 2012 primary, beating the longtime incumbent by over 20 points.

One of Mourdock’s primary grievances against Lugar was that the senator voted to confirm President Obama’s Supreme Court appointments Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. This grievance was shared by powerful Republican interest groups, including the National Rifle Association, which ran ads attacking Lugar for supporting “both of Barack Obama’s anti-gun nominees to the Supreme Court.”

Four years later, Lugar stands as an example of what can happen to even the most venerable Republican senators if they offer less-than-maximal opposition to a Democratic Supreme Court nominee. As Jonathan Chait wrote shortly after Lugar’s loss to Mourdock, the senator’s votes for Sotomayor and Kagan were consistent with a “longstanding practice of extending presidents wide ideological latitude on their Supreme Court picks. In the absence of corruption, lack of qualifications, or unusual ideological extremism.”

Now, however, “the social norms that previously kept the parties from exercising power have fallen one by one,” and that includes the norm that Supreme Court nominees were generally confirmed unless their views were outrageous. Today, senators will oppose a nominee simply because the nominee is not who the senator would have picked.

And, in case a Republican senator thinks to restore the old norm, we are already seeing signs of just how swiftly the Republican interest group infrastructure will move to punish even the smallest departure from orthodoxy. The GOP leadership’s stance on Garland — a stance that is fueled by demands from advocacy groups — is not simply that Garland will not be confirmed, but that he will not even receive a confirmation hearing.

Last week, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) departed slightly from the leadership’s position. Though Moran explained that “I can’t imagine the president has or will nominate somebody that meets my criteria,” he told a gathering of constituents that he believes that Republican senators should meet with Garland and give him a hearing.

Almost immediately, GOP interest groups mobilized to put Moran in his place. The conservative Judicial Crisis Network is “putting the finishing touches on an ad campaign focused on Moran,” according to McClatchy’s Curtis Tate. The Tea Party Patriots Citizen Fund put out a statement claimed that “this kind of outrageous behavior that leads Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund activists and supporters to think seriously about encouraging Dr. Milton Wolf to run against Sen. Moran in the August GOP primary.” Heritage Action accused Moran of “caving to liberal pressure” for daring to suggest that Garland should receive a confirmation hearing before he is voted down.

The irony of these reactions is that there may soon come a point when it would be in Republicans’ strategic interest to confirm Garland — such as if Hillary Clinton is 20 points up on Donald Trump this fall. Garland, after all, is 63-years-old and a fairly moderate liberal. The next president’s nominee could easily be much younger (and therefore likely to serve longer on the Supreme Court) and more liberal.

But it is far from clear that groups such as JCN, Heritage Action and the NRA will let Republicans confirm Garland, even if it is in the GOP’s interest to do so.

The epilogue to Lugar’s loss in the 2012 GOP primary is that Mourdock went on to lose to Democratic nominee and now-Senator Joe Donnelly. As it turns out, the people of Indiana didn’t want a senator who thinks God acts through rapists. If Lugar had been the GOP nominee, it is overwhelming likely that Donnelly would have lost.

By refusing to compromise during the primary, in other words, Indiana Republicans left themselves — and the GOP as a whole — in a far worse position than if they had made a more strategic decision. Republican senators have a chance right now to make a strategic decision on the Garland nomination. If past is prologue, however, it seems unlikely that they will do so.


U.S. Politics

John Oliver Just Destroyed the GOP for Their Plan to Block Scalia’s Replacement

John Oliver Just Destroyed the GOP for Their Plan to Block Scalia's Replacement

Image Credit: Getty Images


After a brief hiatus, John Oliver returned to Last Week Tonight on Sunday night with a bang, slamming Republicans for their hypocrisy over filling the newly vacant Supreme Court seat in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on Saturday.

The GOP has vowed to stall on any of President Barack Obama‘s nominees, arguing America should wait for the next president. Doing so provides at least a chance that a Republican will be in office by then.

“The American people? should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement on Saturday, immediately after news of Scalia’s death broke. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

There is an informal tradition floating around the Senate, entitled the “Thurmond Rule,” which encourages Senators to block any judge appointments by a president in the run-up to an election year — though this is by no means codified. 

In short, it looks as though the GOP is gearing up to pull a Thurmond. 

However, unfortunately for McConnell, Oliver and his team dug up a little speech the Senator gave when the Democrats where attempting to do the same thing for lower court appointments under then-President George W. Bush:

“Our democratic colleagues continually talk about the so-called ‘Thurmond Rule,’ under which the Senate supposedly stops confirming judges in a presidential election year,” McConnell announced. “This seeming obsession with this rule that doesn’t exist is just an excuse for our colleagues to run out the clock on qualified nominees who are waiting to fill badly needed vacancies.”

Oliver suggests the senate majority leader would be wise to tread carefully, given his impassioned speech against the very same practice he appears to be endorsing now.

As the show host artfully describes it, this supposed rule looks like nothing more than “bullshit.”

As McConnell argued, “the American people? should have a voice” — but that’s exactly what they got when they elected President Obama. 

Natasha Noman

U.S. Politics

Rand Paul: Obama Has ‘Conflict Of Interest’ In Appointing SCOTUS Nominee


AP Photo / Steve Marcus


The senator said that the Supreme Court reviews cases that are “trying to figure out who has the power to do what.”

“The president has said he has the power basically to create immigration law out of nothing,” Paul said. “He says he has the power to basically cripple entire industries like coal without ever having been given that power by Congress. So see, we have a Constitutional debate on whose powers — the president or Congress? And I think the president sort of has a conflict of interest here in appointing somebody while we’re trying to decide whether or not he’s already usurped power.”

“It’s going to be very, very, very difficult to get me to vote for a presidential nomination from this president,” he continued. “I will look at it if it comes down, but my threshold for voting for somebody is going to be very, very high.”

Paul noted that Obama does have a right to nominate a justice to the Supreme Court, but added that “it is very unlikely that he’s going to find a nominee that I think isn’t going to be devastating to” Kentucky.

H/t ThinkProgress