In commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the nation collectively paused a moment to take stock of how far we have come in realizing equality and justice, and how far we have left to journey. Given that there is unquestionably far to go when it comes to fair housing opportunities and conditions, the Supreme Court shouldn't dishonor Dr. King's memory by removing one of the tools we have used to build bridges from the "islands of despair" of racialized poverty and segregation that Dr. King so powerfully decried.
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We should know by the end of June what kind of America we'll be living in. I hope and trust it will be an America in which marriage equality is recognized nationwide. The Constitution requires no less.
After all, Roberts has seen what a watershed decision Windsor has been, and he must surely recognize that if the Windsor majority takes the final step to recognize full marriage equality (as it should), that decision will be even more historic and undoubtedly one of the greatest legacies of the Roberts Court. Will Chief Justice Roberts be content to have such a momentous ruling be issued over his dissent, or will John Roberts want to be part of one of the greatest legacies of the Roberts Court? We should know by the end of June.
In striking down part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act two years ago, the Supreme Court has already decided that the federal government cannot deny benefits to same-sex couples lawfully wed in states that recognize marriage equality. Now the Court will decide whether all states must respect same-sex couples' right to marry. It has done the right thing today by agreeing to take the case. When it decides the issues later this year, it should do the right thing again and follow the Constitution, making history once more and finding that discrimination has no place in American society.
The Roberts court has turned our Constitution's promise of democracy of, by and for the people on its head, giving corporations and the wealthiest Americans an outsize influence over our political leaders. Creating a federal tax credit won't wipe away those rulings or rid us of super donors, but it can empower small donors, broadening the base of those who finance elections. Now, more than ever, we need to consider every viable solution for strengthening our democracy.
It defies belief that any governor, including Governor Walker, would allow their states and citizens to face such an outcome. Governors do have to govern, after all. Walker's comments are as clear as the law: tax credits are available nationwide, just as Congress intended.
It will be a big year for the U.S. Supreme Court and Chief Justice John Roberts in 2015. In September, Roberts celebrates his 10th anniversary as chief justice. Before he gets there, he could be deciding two of the biggest cases of his tenure so far, cases that will test his oft-avowed commitment to putting the law over politics and principle over partisanship. He should resolve to stay true to his word to keep partisanship out of the Supreme Court.
The idea of a “glitch” in the ACA should not be so readily repeated. Instead, it should be handled as a crafty piece of conservative spin.
For all the uncertainty surrounding the 2016 campaign, this much is already clear: The Supreme Court will be at the center of that election in a way rarely seen in our nation’s history. Between June 2015 and June 2016, the court is likely to issue rulings on marriage equality, health care, abortion, and voting rights, all of which will be chewed over endlessly by both parties’ presidential candidates. Meanwhile, with four justices in or approaching their 80s, the court’s future will itself be up for grabs. It’s no exaggeration to say that the Supreme Court will be 2016’s most consequential issue, and that the party that makes the best case for what the court should be will be on its way to victory.
There is no “will of the majority” exception to the Constitution. Unfortunately, the opinion by U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey Sutton upholding the discriminatory marriage laws of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee attempted to create one, exalting majority will over the Constitution’s promise of liberty and equality. Sutton’s opinion is chock full of legal errors, but its most basic is a faulty understanding of majority rule and federalism. The Constitution protects equal rights for all, and gives to the courts the job of preventing oppression of minorities at the hands of the majority. Leaving constitutional safeguards to the voters would place our most precious constitutional guarantees in jeopardy and subject to the whim of majority rule.