One Small Victory at the Supreme Court

In a week when ideology trumped law at the Supreme Court not once but thrice with the Burwell v Hobby Lobby decision opening the door to endless disputes about ‘sincerely held’ and ‘closely held,’ the McCullen v Coakley decision allowing abortion protesters to intimidate right in the face, and  the Harris v Quinn decision enabling free-riders in union negotiated wages and benefits one small ruling, if only a ‘decline to hear,’ can be applauded.

An attempt to block one of California’s key climate change regulations, designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from fuel, failed Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

The regulation, known as the low-carbon fuel standard, requires oil companies to reduce the emissions associated with the fuels they sell in California, lowering emissions 10 percent by 2020. It has provoked fierce opposition from an unlikely alliance – the oil industry and Midwestern ethanol producers.

SF Gate: Baker

Court of Appeals Lifts the Curtain on Rogue Judge

Former U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull, of Montana, sent emails to personal and professional contacts that showed disdain for blacks, Indians, Hispanics, women, certain religious faiths, liberal political leaders, and some emails contained inappropriate jokes about sexual orientation, the Judicial Council of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found.

 Many of the emails also related to pending issues that could have come before Cebull’s court, such as immigration, gun control, civil rights, health care and environmental issues, the council found in its March 15, 2013, order.
Cebull retired at the end of last March, after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals council, showed him their findings.  Once off the bench, the record was sealed — leaving the public without knowledge of years of very very injudicious behavior.

That prompted Judge Theodore McKee, the chief judge of the 3rd U.S. Circuit, to file a petition with the national Judicial Conference’s Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, asking the committee to review the council’s work and publish the original March 15 order.

Judge McKee argued that the 9th Circuit council’s subsequent rulings inappropriately concealed its original findings.

Good for Judge McKee and good, belatedly, for the council.  It turns out that

…hundreds of other inappropriate messages [were sent] from his federal email account, according to the findings of a judicial review panel released Friday.

SF Gate: Matt Volz/AP

The Constitution and Equality

William Forbath, a professor of law and history takes liberal legal scholars to task for yielding to the right-wing re-interpretation of the constitution and forgetting the necessary arguments linking democracy itself to material equality.

In the face of the court’s new constitutional offerings to the assault on the welfare and regulatory state, liberals must remind Americans of the constitutional promises and commitments that led us to create that state in the first place. They must remind lawmakers that there are constitutional stakes in attending to the economic needs and aspirations of ordinary Americans, their dread of poverty and their worries that mounting inequalities are eroding our democracy and its promises of fairness and opportunity.

The Constitution on this account promises real equality of opportunity; it calls on all three branches of government to ensure that all Americans enjoy a decent education and livelihood and a measure of security against the hazards of illness, old age and unemployment — all so they have a chance to do something that has value in their own eyes and a chance to engage in the affairs of their communities and the larger society. Government has not only the authority but also the duty to underwrite these promises.

As he says, “the gist of the argument is simple:”

…you can’t have a republican government, and certainly not a constitutional democracy, amid gross material inequality.

I wish he had drawn the lines of argument more sharply but the piece is worth a read and more work by all of us who see what is happening in the high court.

Break a Leash Law Be Strip Searched

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.

Strip Search

Anxiously waiting the GOP candidates so outraged by the loss of freedom created by requiring health care contributions to weigh in on this. Scrotum pat down for hidden pills following unpaid parking tickets? All mum so far…

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