Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Supreme Court’

With Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court majority paves the way for minimal changes initially, great changes eventually

July 1, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
July 1, 2014

Author’s note: This post was updated on July 4 to correct the name of the author of a commentary on Supreme Court racial discrimination rulings that Reuters published in May.

With a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday morning that the government could not compel closely held for-profit corporations to provide contraception to its employees. The majority opinion, written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, essentially prioritizes the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act over a contraception coverage mandate contained in 2010’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

One of Alito’s key arguments in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, beyond his assertion that for-profit businesses are entitled to religious beliefs, is that there is no legal basis in the 1993 law for distinguishing among nonprofit and for-profit corporations. While the justice concedes that providing widespread contraception coverage is in fact a compelling government interest, Alito asserts that the Obamacare law’s mandate is not the least restrictive means of furthering that interest, and thus should be stricken.

Defenders of the ruling note that it is narrow; indeed, the court’s summary includes a disclaimer that “[t]his decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs.”

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On equality and America: Rush Limbaugh vs. the historical record

May 30, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
May 30, 2014

I have no sermonizing for you today; simply snippets of transcripts and documents.

I ask, dear reader, that you do one thing: Contrast the way in which conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh describes the founding principles of the United States (particularly the passage that I’ve highlighted below) with actual historical evidence about how America’s founders and esteemed citizens viewed and treated the African-Americans who labored for them.


“The story of humanity on Planet Earth since the beginning of time has been tyranny and bondage. Most people who have lived did not have very much freedom or liberty.

“They did not have the right to own property, and they certainly didn’t have a whole lot of economic opportunity. The vast majority of people who have lived on this planet have had really hard lives. They lived under tyranny, authoritarianism, dictatorship, you name it. There never was a nation before the United States, which founded itself and organized itself on the belief that the citizen was the center of the universe.

“The free, liberated citizen was the engine. Every other nation on earth that had been formed or every other population — even if it was not a nation with borders, just any population group — was always dominated by brutal, tyrannical, dictatorial leaders who led by intimidation, punishment, brutality. The United States came along and was the exception to all of that.

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April 2, 2014: A most American day

April 4, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
April 5, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014, was a quintessentially American day. It will be remembered primarily for two events; history will also footnote one purported joke that seemed to be a reaction to one of those happenings.

• In the morning, the U.S. Supreme Court announced the result of McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission. In a 5-4 decision authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court invalidated provisions in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 limiting the total amount of money any one individual may give to political candidates or political parties.

Previously, the law set a number of restrictions. According to SCOTUSblog, any one person could give up to $2,600 per candidate per primary or general election, $32,400 per year to a national party committee, $10,000 per year to a state or local party committee, and $5,000 per year to a regular political action committee. Further, an individual’s aggregate donations over a two-year election cycle were limited; in 2013–14, the maximums were $48,600 for federal candidates and $74,600 to political committees.

The new ruling lets stand limits on giving to a particular candidate or committee, but the aggregate caps are no more.

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One Wondrous Sentence: The expanded meaning of the Second Amendment

January 17, 2013

This one wondrous sentence shows just how far out of the mainstream the proposition that the Constitution guarantees private citizens the right to bear arms was once considered.

The NRA’s fabricated but escalating view of the Second Amendment was ridiculed by former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger — a conservative appointed by President Richard Nixon — in a PBS Newshour interview in 1991, where he called it “one of the greatest pieces of fraud — I repeat the word ‘fraud’ — on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

Source: Steven Rosenfeld, “The Suprising Unknown History of the NRA,” Alternet, Jan. 13, 2013. (Quote appears on the second of three pages.)

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