Outlaw Arbitration

The recent Supreme Court decision against arbitration was yet another victory for corporations over the rights of citizens.  The case was decided along partisan lines, with Republican nominated justices providing the majority pro-corporate opinion.

It is time we fight back.

Arbitration is, in essence privatized justice where the legal ball is always in the corporation’s court.  It is essentially being forced on consumers in a manner strangely reminiscent of price fixing and collusion.  This will not stand.  We live in a time where corporate rule has led directly to the entirely preventable disasters in Japan and in the Gulf of Mexico.  They have been granted ever more power to directly influence our government with their massive financial resources.  This is not about drawing a line in the sand.  It is about recognizing that corporations now have far more say in our system of government than we do, and resolving to fight back any way we can.

One way to fight back would be to campaign to outlaw arbitration.  We need a coordinated, grassroots campaign to provide consistent and compelling communications to convey how arbitration puts citizens at risk while allowing corporations to get away with crimes.  We need legislation prohibiting the use of arbitration clauses to lock consumers into a lopsided means of conflict resolution.

Call your legislator today.  Let’s outlaw arbitration and snatch this victory back from the jaws of SCOTUS.

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Conservative Supreme Court’s Poor Reasoning

In deciding whether a contractor for a low-to-no-risk government job ought to have any expectation of privacy in background check forms, this little nugget of joy escaped the “brilliant” mind of our chief Justice Roberts:

Stormer said people in low-risk jobs should not be scrutinized as other employees in sensitive positions may be. Yet Justices Samuel Alito and Roberts said it would be impractical for the government to have an array of forms.

“You know,” Roberts said, “it’s a big government, and they can’t tailor every inquiry, every form, to the individual applicant.”

Really?  The government can’t have one set of background checks for high risk situations, and another for low risk?

Brilliant.  At least a conservative gets to take a swing at “big government” while unironically hinting he will vote in favor of that government’s right to invade our privacy.  Truly makes the head spin.

Depressing Corporate Shit

Hello Dear Readers.  My my, its been a while since my last post.  How about something thoroughly soul crushing?

Our Supreme Court has gone against the grain and showed us the appointment of Roberts and Alito won’t always lead to pro-corporate rulings by issuing a fucking ridiculous pro-corporate ruling: Exxon needn’t pay up for its oil spill, HAHA ALASKANS YOU DUMB FUCKERS.  Seriously they might as well have individually slapped every Alaskan.  Though Palin would still be shouting “thank you sir, you may drill another!”.

Barack Obama has decided he needs to do more to live up to his campaign promises of promote transparency and delivering change we can believe in by doing the exact fucking opposite.  This shit deserves to be quoted:

only through leaks that we tend to learn of the incompetence and fuckery of the government. When stories surface that show how various government agencies are screwing the pooch, the only correct course of action is to fix the fuckups, not punish those who made the fuckups public.

Prosecuting, nay, persecuting whistleblowers is an anti-freedom, anti-transparency move.

Great move oh Hope inspiring one.

Finally let’s have a look see at the economic writing on the wall.  Will the middle class thrive into the future?  Will we realize that asking the middle class and poor to suffer to support the gambling habits of the ultra rich is not only unsustainable but utterly unjust, and rise up to at least make a fucking peep?  Nope.  Now click the shit out of this link and read the whole article.  Come back when you are done.  I’ll be waiting.

Holy shit, right?

So that’s our glorious new world.  To keep from plunging into utter despair I will leave out the current economic/environmental disaster known as BP, the gaping holes in our government that let the oil spill through, the fact that a larger rig with safety violations galore (operated by BP as well) is being allowed to keep running, the massive displays of racism in Arizona, etc etc.

We live in interesting times.

Why Sotomayor is the Perfect Obama Nominee

In an excellent post one 10 Things You Should Know (about Sotomayor), number 7 is quite revealing (Huffington Post):

Sotomayor’s record on two key hot button cultural issues is thin. But, quite notably, her sole opinion regarding abortion was in line with the anti-abortion movement’s position.

That said, pro-choice groups hailed her nomination, with Planned Parenthood declaring that she “understands the importance of ensuring that our Supreme Court justices respect precedent while also protecting our civil liberties.”

What?  Her one ruling is anti-choice, and pro-choicers are supporting her?

Sotomayor has also not ruled on any cases involving gay civil rights, but gay legal activists described her positively

Does this remind anyone of the early supporters of Obama?  Who said he was amazing yet avoided specifics?

Sonia Sotomayor does have a plus, she has an incredibly impressive about of judicial experience.  But the broad bipartisan support she has enjoyed thus far, along with her relative silence in a long career on key social issues, leaves me wondering whether Obama is simply going to replace retiring justices with centrists.  I wonder why Democrats are excited by Sotomayor when I read something like this:

Additionally, the White House points out, “Known as a moderate on the court, Sotomayor often forges consensus and agreeing with her more conservative nominees far more frequently than she disagrees with them. In cases where Sotomayor and at least one judge appointed by a Republican president were on the three-judge panel, Sotomayor and the Republican appointee(s) agreed on the outcome 95% of the time.”

That’s staggering!  With “centrists” like that on a court staffed with die hard conservatives appointed by Bush, what impact will that have on laws in this country for years to come?

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Mitt Romney Doesn’t Understand the Courts

Mitt Romney’s weak attack on Sotomayer shows a startling failure to understand her statement or our judicial system.  And this guy wanted to be President?!

Romney said (via CNN):

“The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is troubling. Her public statements make it clear she has an expansive view of the role of the judiciary. Historically, the Court is where judges interpret the Constitution and apply the law. It should never be the place “where policy is made,” as Judge Sotomayor has said. Like any nominee, she deserves a fair and thorough hearing. What the American public deserves is a judge who will put the law above her own personal political philosophy.”

Her comment in full context (emphasis mine):

“All of the legal defense funds out there, they are looking for people with court of appeals experience because the court of appeals is where policy is made,” she said, laughing a bit through the next part: “And I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. Okay, I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. I know.”

The thing is, she’s right (Huffington Post):

“She’s not wrong,” said Jeffrey Segal, a professor of law at Stony Brook University. “Of course they make policy… You can, on one hand, say Congress makes the law and the court interprets it. But on the other hand the law is not always clear. And in clarifying those laws, the courts make policy.”

As Segal noted, one of the most recent cases heard by the Supreme Court — itself a court of appeals — involves the strip search of a 13-year-old who school officials believed was carrying ibuprofen. “There is no clear knowing statement whether officials can be sued for that sort of behavior,” he noted. “So when justices come up with a decision on that, they would be making policy.”

What Sotomayor was doing was acknowledging a reality of our current legal system.  She wasn’t advocating for it.  That’s a pretty important distinction Mitt Romney failed to grasp.

What Smart Republicans Are Thinking: Judges

Behind the battles over party unity, Republicans are keeping their eyes firmly on the Supreme Court.  Stinerman over at Swords Crossed has a post that should be required reading for anyone who supports a woman’s right to choose, separation of church and state, and workers rights:

Translation:  Issues aside, the question of who sits on the supreme court by itself is a strong reason to vote one way or the other.  Stinerman then goes on to discuss the likelihood of a changed supreme court under McCain:

I disagree here.  Case in point, Alito:

Debate on the nomination began in the full Senate on January 25. After a failed filibuster attempt by Senator John Kerry, on January 31, the Senate confirmed Alito to the Supreme Court by a vote of 58-42[24], with four Democratic senators voting for confirmation and one Republican and an Independent voting against. Alito’s confirmation vote was the second lowest on the current court, where he is surpassed only by Clarence Thomas who was confirmed 52-48.

Taking into account called blue-dog Democrats, Lieberman Democrats, and other flavors of Senator who cave by reflex in the face of the Republican PR machine, I’d say there is a fair chance a Republican President would indeed be able to push through a conservative judge.  If liberal judges are the most likely to retire, then I think the only way to truly safeguard against a conservative replacement is to ensure as much public pressure as possible is built up in opposition.  That means a decisive Democratic majority (one where Lieberman is irrelevant and powerless), and a Democratic President.

A close Senate where Lieberman still holds power matched with a Republican Senator who is fiercely anti-choice is not a recipe for an unchanging Supreme Court.

Asif Ali Zardari Betrays Nawaz Sharif

Sharif is pulling his party out of the coalition government, and the reasons why couldn’t be more clear:

Zardari and Sharif signed a pact in March promising to restore the judges by April 30 but Sharif extended the deadline until May 12 because of Zardari’s foot-dragging.

Musharraf purged the judiciary during a brief period of emergency rule as he feared the Supreme Court could rule unlawful his re-election by the outgoing parliament in October.

The case against Musharraf could be revived if the judges are brought back, but Zardari is wary of confronting the president.

Zardari signed the pact and took no action.  Now Musharraf is stretching out on the bench:

The split in the coalition, analysts say, would be welcomed by U.S. ally Musharraf, who came to power in a 1999 coup and only quit as army chief last November. The humiliating loss of parliamentary support in February polls had left him isolated.

The questions for Zardari are, why did he sign the pact if he had no intention of following through on it?  And what is his commitment to a democratic Pakistan?