Hobby Lobby’s Legal Claim Is Based on Lies

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby does not require any legal determination about the religious rights of for-profit corporations.

This case can, and should, be decided on the facts, which are that the birth control methods Hobby Lobby objects to (Plan B, Ella and IUD’s) are contraceptives, not abortifacients.

The religious right, willfully in my view, continues to confuse Plan B with RU-486, which is an abortifacient and is not covered under Obamacare.

This is just another infuriating example of religious nuts refusing to accept non-controversial medical and scientific facts and trying to impose their ignorant views on the rest of us.

Listening to Hobby Lobby’s lawyers and the conservative justices today, I was reminded of Galileo and the Catholic Church or the Scopes trial.

It’s going to take more than the re-make of Cosmos to turn this country around.

They’re Baaaaaack!

Tea Party groups across the country are rallying for demonstrations on July 4th to protest the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Obamacare.  So we can’t even celebrate our country’s birthday in peace.

As you head off to picnics and parades, watch out for obese people bursting the buttons of their breeches, unironically hoisting signs that read “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

SCOTUS Rules on Immigration

The Supreme Court considered four provisions of Arizona’s immigration law, SB 1070, and today it struck down three of them.  Eight justices took part because Justice Kagan recused herself, since she had worked on the matter before she joined the Court.

Ruling 5-3, the Court struck down the provision making it a crime for illegals to apply for or have a job in Arizona. The Court held that this provision violated federal preemption of immigration law because Congress has chosen to pursue employers who hire illegals, but not illegal employees.

Also ruling 5-3, the Court struck down the provision allowing the police to arrest someone without a warrant if they suspect that person has committed a crime that could result in his deportation.  The five votes were Kennedy (who wrote the opinion), Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Roberts.  The three against were Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

Ruling 6-2, this time joined by Alito, the Court struck down the provision requiring all non-citizens to carry papers with them to prove they are here legally.

The Court upheld for now the most controversial provision, 8-0, which allows police to check the immigration status of someone stopped for another reason (such as speeding) if the police have “reasonable suspicion” the person is here illegally.

The challenge to the “stop and check” provision was based on concern that “reasonable suspicion” would lead to racial profiling.  Justice Kennedy wrote that since the law hasn’t been enforced yet, it is too soon to tell if “reasonable suspicion” would be applied in a manner consistent with federal law:

“The Federal Government has brought suit against a sovereign State to challenge the provisions even before the law has gone into effect.  There is a basic uncertainty about what the  law means and how it will be enforced.  At this stage, without the benefit of a definitive interpretation from the state courts it would be inappropriate to assume that [‘stop and check’] will be construed in a way that creates a conflict with federal law.

“This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect.”

So the law will have to take effect, some people will have to be stopped and checked and then sue, and their cases will have to work their way back up to the Supreme Court to see if there is racial profiling.

Basically, the Court said “stay tuned” on the “reasonable suspicion” provision.

Overall, this was a victory for President Obama and probably the best outcome he could hope for.  There is a strong sentiment that the Court’s failure to throw out “reasonable suspicion” at this point will energize Hispanic turn out and increase Obama’s votes.

Mitt, who has called S. B. 10170 a “model” for the country, gave a cowardly word-salad reaction to the decision that basically blamed President Obama for not passing immigration reform (which he tried, but failed to do because of the filibuster in the Senate), but didn’t say what he would do about immigration if he were president.

SCOTUS Rules on State Campaign Contributions

In a two-paragraph opinion, the Supreme Court refused to revisit Citizens United and ruled 5-4 that Montana’s 100-year-old law limiting corporate campaign contributions was invalid, reversing the Montana Supreme Court.  Twenty-two other states had joined with Montana.

So efforts to restrict corporate spending in local and state elections have failed.

The case was American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock.

SCOTUS Rules on Murders Committed by Juveniles

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 (and you know who voted how) that a mandatory sentence of life without parole for those who commit murder when under 18 is cruel and unusual punishment  and therefore unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.  Back in 2005, the Court ruled against the death penalty for minors who commit murder.

Today’s cases were Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, both involving plaintiffs who were 14 at the time they committed murder.

SCOTUS Splits Ideologically on Obamacare Fate

Just as yesterday the justices seemed split along ideological line about whether or not the individual mandate (which requires all Americans to buy health insurance) was constitutional, today they seemed split on what would happen to Obamacare if the mandate is removed.

The liberal members appeared to believe that the law itself could survive, while the conservatives seemed to think that killing the mandate would kill Obamacare entirely.

The Obama administration argued that without the mandate the parts of the law covering those with pre-existing conditions and limiting premium costs for especially sick Americans would have to go as well.

Essentially, the Obama administration took the side of the health insurance industry’s lobbyists, who agreed not to fight Obamacare in exchange for the mandate, which gives them millions of new customers, including many young, healthy people.

You’ll recall that during the 2008 campaign, President Obama himself opposed an individual mandate, while Hillary Clinton supported it.