Posts tagged ‘Supreme Court’

January 4, 2012

Supreme Decisions in 2012

According to several sources a majority of Americans cannot name one Supreme Court Justice, not one, a disconcerting circumstance to be sure. Regardless, all Americans will be greatly affected by the decisions those anonymous Justices make in 2012. The three most important cases to follow in the year ahead involve the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), the redistricting plan in Texas and the constitutional merit of the controversial Arizona immigration law.

The Court is divided along ideological lines, four conservative and four liberal. One Justice, Anthony Kennedy, is the lone swing vote but he sided with the conservative faction in several high profile cases in 2010. The most publicized case was the sex discrimination suit brought against Wal-Mart. The Court decided in a 5-4 vote that class action has its limits even when you prove your case. Same with a false advertising claim against AT&T. Yes, Ma Bell did deceive customers by charging $30 for a “free” phone but by 5-4 the High Court said, in essence, ‘go to small claims court. The expediency of a multi-person class action suit doesn’t make sense to us.’ In both of these cases the Fab Five grabbed at the thinnest of straws to accommodate large corporations.


The Court also decided by a familiar margin in Janus Capital Group, Inc. v. First Deriv. Traders that an investment fund administrator could not be sued simply because he lied to investors. Due to the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision, corporations can now anonymously spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. Kennedy not only agreed with the 5-4 decision, he wrote the majority opinion.

Help us Obi Wan Kenn-edy, you’re our only hope

The individual mandate present in the Health Care Act will soon be before the Court. The “nobody gets a free ride” mandate was originally a Republican idea but after it received Obama’s support it became a tyrannical over-reach by a socialist government run amuck. A 5-4 vote against the mandate will cripple the Act which means health insurance for millions will be at risk. Politically, however, the demise of Obamacare might be good for Obama’s chance at reelection. Upholding the mandate, therefore validating the Act itself, will energize conservatives, the ones who know seem to understand it least.

Glad I have my boots on

Texas has a long history of redistricting fights. This time a court stepped in and drew the lines in a non-partisan way. Republicans threw a fit and asked the Court to intervene. Somewhat surprisingly the Court put a hold on the lower court’s ruling and decided to intervene in a state’s political squabble.  Not a good omen for objectiveness. We’ll see if Kennedy considers it the Court’s role to artificially pack the House of Representatives in favor of the Republican Party.

Papers please

The tough, some say racist, Arizona immigration law is also up for constitutional consideration. A 5-4 vote to uphold the law (SB 1070) may result in more states introducing laws that allow authorities to demand proof of citizenship of those who “appear” illegal. Brown skinned Americans, especially those with an exotic accent, could witness their civil liberties evaporate at a faster rate than they already are. As in the healthcare mandate, a loss for progressives may be politically advantageous for Obama. A high Hispanic voter turnout can only help the incumbent.

Will millions lose their health care, partisan gerrymandering decide elections and our law enforcement resemble a Gestapo-like organization? The odds are five-to-four.

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