Category Archives: Supreme Court

Have A Heart

As the Supreme Court begins deliberating the healthcare reform law it’s important to remember how we got here. And there is no more perfect example of our flawed, inequitable healthcare system than the fact that Dick Cheney got a heart transplant last week. This troubles bioethicists because of his age and his extremely poor health:

It is concerning that a 71-year-old got a transplant. Many of those who manage to even make the waiting list for hearts die without getting one. More than 3,100 Americans are currently on the national waiting list for a heart transplant. Just over 2,300 heart transplants were performed last year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. And 330 people died while waiting.

According to UNOS, 332 people over age 65 received a heart transplant last year. The majority of transplants occur in 50- to 64-year-olds.

Most transplant teams, knowing that hearts are in huge demand, set an informal eligibility limit of 70.

Cheney is not the first person over 70 to get a heart transplant. He is, however, in a small group of people who have gotten one. Why did he?

Cheney has an advantage over others. It is not fame or his political prominence. It is money and top health insurance.

Heart transplants produce bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The drugs needed to keep these transplants working cost tens of thousands of dollars every year. Organ donations are sought from the rich and poor alike. But, if you do not have health insurance you are far less likely to be able to get evaluated for a heart transplant much less actually get a transplant.

I wrote about this last October when I reminded everyone that Steve Jobs used his wealth and mobility afforded by a private plane to “game the system” and fly to Memphis for a liver transplant. Two years later he was dead.

The wealthy and powerful will always pull out all the stops when it comes to their healthcare needs; the healthcare law is not designed to address that, nor should it. But there are millions of people in this country with failing organs who never even get in the door of a hospital, let alone find their names on the transplant list. Millions of people without health insurance and therefore without healthcare for whom getting on the national organ transplant registry is never going to happen. But we’ll happily take their healthy organs when they die.

It really makes me wonder what kind of society we have where the poor are so expendable. Texas’ women’s health clinics have been shut down over a wholly misguided ideological battle, that’s thousands of women who aren’t going to see a doctor for a variety of needs now. Sorry poor people, sucks to be you, too bad we didn’t catch that cervical cancer sooner, but if you die can the former Vice President have your heart?

This country is seriously fucked up. The greatness of a nation is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens, not its most powerful. Right now the status quo which conservatives are bizarrely fighting to maintain is an unworkable, expensive, ineffective system. Once upon a time they loved the very healthcare reform legislation they’re now spending millions of dollars trying to dismantle. It is truly strange.

I don’t know how SCOTUS will rule on healthcare reform but I do know that our existing system is completely unworkable and gets moreso every year. If parts of the Affordable Care Act are ruled unconstitutional and other parts are shredded by Republicans in Congress, what we’re left with is a system in utter tatters. I just don’t see that standing for very long. We might end up with that “Medicare For All” everyone has been clamoring for.

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Filed under healthcare, Supreme Court, Vice President Dick Cheney

>Lies, Damn Lies & The Washington Times

>

Are You Now Or Were You Ever A Muslim?

Wow. They’re not even trying anymore, are they?

The Washington Times printed a doctored photo of Elena Kagan wearing a turban to accompany a column by Frank Gaffney making the absurd charge that Elena Kagan is “enabling efforts to insinuate” Shariah law in the United States. The Washington Times’ print edition gave no indication that the photo had been doctored (while online, the photo bore a caption stating “Illustration: Kagan and Shariah.”)

Well that’s a neat trick: characterize an accomplished Jewish woman as somehow wanting to instill Shariah law in America? Why do they think they can get away with that? It’s absurd. (Note also that they added some massive man-hands to the picture. What’s that supposed to imply, do you think?)

Remember all of those pictures of George W. Bush with Prince Bandar? No one raised the fear flag about Shariah law and whatnot then. Of course they didn’t. Because it wasn’t true then and it’s not true now. The smearmongering from the right just knows no limits.

Funny I don’t remember the Washington Times having a problem with this…
… or this.

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Filed under Elena Kagan, Supreme Court, Washington Times

>Vote Murray Hill For Congress

>Who is Murray Hill? Hah. Not a who but a what.

Hilarious.

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Filed under corporations, Supreme Court

>Free Speech Is For People, Not Corporations

>Is it time for a Constitutional Amendment saying that once and for all? These folks seem to think so. Watch the video, see if you agree:

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Filed under corporations, Supreme Court

>Elections Have Consequences

>[UPDATE]:

Predictably, state Republicans show where their priorities lie by already having a bill in the hopper that would change Tennessee state law, enabling them to hop aboard the corporate electioneering gravy train.

I know y’all are shocked!

———————————————–

In 2004 quite a few of us worked our asses off to get John Kerry elected president, not because we wanted to have a beer with him or thought he was the most enigmatic speaker or liked the way he bowled or approved of the condiments he put on his hamburgers, but because we realized larger issues were at play.

And yesterday we saw one of them. A lot of people, for whatever reason, voted for George Bush and as a result we got Samuel Alito and John Roberts on the Supreme Court. And the result of that, my dear friends, was this.

The Supreme Court went straight down the predictable ideological lines, the corporatist conservatives on the “let’s give corporations more power in our government” side and the liberals on the “Oh my God are you freaking nuts?!” side, and Anthony Kennedy being the swing vote.

Slate had a good take on the proceedings which I urge you to read, in particular this:

But you can plainly see the weariness in Stevens eyes and hear it in his voice today as he is forced to contend with a legal fiction that has come to life today, a sort of constitutional Frankenstein moment when corporate speech becomes even more compelling than the “voices of the real people” who will be drowned out. Even former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist once warned that treating corporate spending as the First Amendment equivalent of individual free speech is “to confuse metaphor with reality.” Today that metaphor won a very real victory at the Supreme Court. And as a consequence some very real corporations are feeling very, very good.

Yes indeed. So just remember you voted for this. If you didn’t vote for this, and stayed home, you voted for this.

I talked to a friend from the Kerry campaign for the first time in years today. She, like the rest of us, is disgusted with the state of politics in this country. She’s on a virtual news fast and vowed never to vote again, even though she’s voted in every election of her adult life. I can’t imagine she’s serious but just in case, a gentle reminder: elections have consequences.

I know we’re all frustrated with the Democrats and their flaccid approach to government. I’m done with donating money to parties and donating time to candidates. But never vote again? Nah.

Elections have consequences, people. Just think about what happened yesterday if you’re tempted to sit the next Election Day out.

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Filed under corporations, Supreme Court

Can’t See The Forest For The Democrat In The White House

No sooner had President Obama announced his choice of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court than the wackadoodle wing was giving us comedy gold:

As soon as Obama publicly named Sotomayor, two fundamentalist leaders and militant antiabortion crusaders–Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition and Rev. Rob Schenck of Faith and Action–held a prayer service in front of the Supreme Court to oppose the appointment.

God forbid either of these asshats should actually check her record on abortion.

Jim Wallis did, however:

For those who have been looking for more evidence of President Obama’s common-ground approach to the issue of abortion outlined last week at Notre Dame, here it is. As a judge, she has participated in more than 3,000 panel decisions and authored almost 400 opinions and only ruled once on the issue of abortion. In that case she wrote from a centrist position and ruled against a pro-choice organization. Many other possible nominations could have been a slap in the face to either side, but the president used this as an opportunity to further his common-ground approach.

Schenck and Mahoney and a huge block of the right wing are opposing Sotomayor simply because she was nominated by a Democratic president. But they shouldn’t.

Meanwhile, the media seems to assume that all liberals will support her nomination for the same reason. And they shouldn’t.

Sotomayor will be a fine SCOTUS justice but she’s by no means the wild-haired, pot-smoking, DFH jurist the right-wingers will have you believe, especially on civil liberties issues. Conservatives might want to think twice before trashing her candidacy; they could do much worse. Liberals should look at her record carefully; there’s a good chance we could do better.

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Filed under abortion, Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court

>Some Things Never Change

>William Kristol is still wrong, and conservatives decry Sonia Sotomayor as a “liberal judicial activist of the first order”

who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important than the law as written,” Wendy E. Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, said in a statement. “She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one’s sex, race, and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench.”

Think they can bring 9/11 into this debate? You betcha!!!!

“On September 11, America saw firsthand the vital role of America’s firefighters in protecting our citizens.  They put their lives on the line for her and the other citizens of New York and the nation.  But Judge Sotomayor would sacrifice their claims to fair treatment in employment promotions to racial preferences and quotas.  The Supreme Court is now reviewing that decision.”

That didn’t take long!

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Filed under Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court

Supreme Court Hypocrisy Watch

This is gonna be fun!

Remembering when President Bush got his Supreme Court picks and the wailing and gnashing of teeth which ensued (not to mention a slew of partisan Justice Sunday events), I predict we are in for an exciting summer of wankery and wingnuttery.

Digging through the memory hole, there are piles and piles of false arguments, lame-ass excuses and just plain stupidity that the right wing trotted out to support their argument that Democrats should rubber-stamp Bush’s Supreme Court picks and if they didn’t, they were gonna go “nuclear.” I thought it would be interesting, now that the shoe is on the other foot, to see how many of these talking points the Republicans stand by today. I’m guessing .. none.

Without further ado, here are a few of the right wing’s greatest hits, Supreme Court edition:

• Bill Frist, “It’s Time For An Up Or Down Vote” — That’s not just a talking point, it was the title of a USA Today Op-Ed written by the former Senate Majority Leader. He lamented:

These filibusters of judicial nominations injure the administration of justice and our nation’s political culture. Some courthouses have sat empty for many years, even though a bipartisan majority of senators stands ready to fill the vacancies by confirming the president’s nominees. And as every American knows, the political wrangling over this issue has become less and less civil with every passing day.

Wonder what the Republicans think of filibustering judicial nominees now?

• Fox News and Republican pundits, who said that asking tough questions during the confirmation process is “nasty,” “vicious” and “just horrific”–because a question a Republican asked made Mrs. Alito cwy.

• Marc Levin writing at Human Events Online said that because polls showed Bush won the 2004 election in response to voters’ “moral values” concerns, Bush had a moral mandate to appoint conservative judges. In that case, I’m sure we can dig up some polls from the 2008 presidential election showing Obama has a moral mandate to appoint liberal judges.

• The National Review’s Ed Whelan instructed readers of Senate tradition on the SCOTUS confirmation process:

The long-established practice in the Senate is for Supreme Court nominees to receive a full Senate vote, even if they don’t receive a favorable vote in the Judiciary Committee.  Americans will expect their senators to vote on the nominee, not to delegate a veto to the highly partisan Democrat membership of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Good to know.

• President Bush said there would be no litmus test for SCOTUS nominees:

COPENHAGEN, Denmark —  President Bush, shadowed in Europe by a pressing concern back in Washington, said Wednesday he will not select a Supreme Court nominee based on his or her views on abortion or other hot-button political issues.

During the campaign, John McCain repeated this talking point. So, you guys should be fine if President Obama say no litmus test, right?

• On the other hand, Mike Thompson asserted at Human Events Online that it would be irresponsible not to employ a litmus test:

The truth is, a litmus test should be administered by the President for every candidate for every position in the executive branch. A lesser commitment to examine an applicant or recruit for high office is unconscionable, in view of the President’s solemn oath to preserve, protect and defend the bedrock principles of our republic. In the Real World, a place decreasingly occupied by liberals, it is inconceivable that major decisions (governmental or personal) would be made without a litmus test. Would an intelligent man, for example, choose a wife without a litmus test for her suitability as a lifelong mate, as defined by that man? Would anyone select a doctor, everyday friends, housing location, job offer, car or family dog without a litmus test?

Heh, kinda funny that quip about the “Real World,” in retrospect. Regardless, should President Obama say he will employ a litmus test (which I doubt), I am sure Mr. Thompson will be fine with that. Yes?

• Conservative columnist Robert Novak informed us that financial disclosure requests from judicial nominees is a “nosy” “intelligence raid” that is possibly unprecedented and left judicial nominees feeling “violated.” Novak was pretty hard on Sen. Harry Reid and others involved in this background research. I’m sure the Republicans will be above any such thing. Right?

• Bill Kristol, who admittedly was wrong about everything, forever, called the 2006 and 2008 elections ”a referendum” on the Supreme Court.

Hmm… which party won those elections again?

I’m sure there will be more. I’m already hearing that President Obama must be “bi-partisan” and appoint a “moderate” to the bench because … well, just because they want him to, I guess. I’m not sure why Bush had a mandate to appoint “strict constructionists” in the model of Justice Scalia but Obama has to be all bipartisan-y. Maybe doing otherwise will make Mrs. Alito cry again and lord knows we can’t have that.

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Filed under Supreme Court

>No Shit, Sherlock! Award

>The No Shit, Sherlock! Award goes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who lamented confirming Chief Justice John Roberts:

“Roberts didn’t tell us the truth. At least Alito told us who he was,” Reid said. […]

Reid’s comments reflect Democratic concerns that Roberts presented himself as a neutral arbiter of the law but has wielded a relentlessly conservative agenda. Republicans reject the attacks, saying Roberts has been a fair judge and has been consistent in his opinions.

Reid said three and a half years ago that Roberts had left “too many unanswered questions,” and was concerned about his views on civil rights, immigration and other matters. Roberts was confirmed by a 78 to 22 vote.

Of course, I remember Howard Dean lamenting Roberts’ lack of candor at the time, and all of us DFH’s saying Dems should filibuster and take then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist up on his “nuclear option” threats (wouldn’t Reid love to have that precedent now?), and those same damn moderates like Leiberloser saying Roberts wasn’t “extremist” so it would all be okay.

From the memory hole:

“This is a credible nominee, and not one that – as far as we know now – has a record that in any sense could be described as extremist,” said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, after a breakfast session with the Gang of 14, a bipartisan group that helped broker a deal in May to avert a Senate showdown over judicial nominees.

[…]

“At the end of the hearings we do not anticipate anything that would be a stickler, that would rise to the level of extraordinary circumstances,” said another Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, invoking the criteria that the group had agreed would warrant a filibuster. “But you can’t come to that conclusion until the end of the entire process.”

Yeah, well, how do you like him now? Not so much.

Of course Roberts is an extremist, we all knew it at the time, we all tried to call attention to his extremist view that equal pay for women was “radical” not to mention his documented, radical views on abortion.

But you didn’t listen to us, Sen. Reid. You didn’t listen then and you aren’t listening now as you coddle your DINO-dogs like Lieberman, especially after he kicked the Democratic Party in the face and campaigned against our current president.

And now you’re surprised that a conservative ideologue who was nominated for a lifetime position as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a post the conservatives have been salivating over for 20 years or more, lied about how extremist his views truly are?

Pffft. Harry Reid, you’re an idiot. Kick these DINO-dogs to the curb, already.

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Filed under Chief Justice John Roberts, conservatives, Sen. Harry Reid, Supreme Court

>SCOTUS Redux

>While the Supreme Court declined to take on the last Obama citizenship petition, which Clarence Thomas brought to the court, now Justice Scalia has taken on an identical case:

Justice Scalia, by referring Wrotnowski v. Bysiewicz to committee on Dec. 12 may allow the Supreme Court to decide upon Barack Obama’s status as a presidential candidate before the currently scheduled Electoral College election day, December 15.

This case is essentially similar to the case of Leo Donofrio, who assisted Connecticut lawyer, Cort Wrotnoski, in drafting it. According to Donofrio, the basis is very much the same (not essentially about the birth certificate, but regarding a foreign father) and it includes additional corroborative research and/or reasoning. Also, the history of this case is less problematic for the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) than the Donofrio case, due to a suspicious misfiling of the latter case by a New Jersey judge which may have provoked a question of standing before the Supreme Court.

Oh, fer chrissakes. Talk about your “activist judges.”

So I guess the two conservative ideologues on the SCOTUS will continue to accept petitions challenging Barack Obama’s eligibility to serve as President until, what? A third Bush term? Another election? Nancy Pelosi is president?

Remember when everyone was clamoring at Al Gore to concede the election “for the good of the country”? Yeah, good times, good times.

This is ridiculous. For more, read Salon’s coverage of today’s press conference, which appeared to be long on looney, short on sanity. If this is the crowd Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia are hoping to legitimize, I seriously question their ability to serve on the nation’s highest court.

(h/t, Sadly, No!)

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Filed under Antonin Scalia, Barack Obama, Supreme Court