Surely the American people, and our federal judicial system, deserve better than this. When the Senate returns on September 8 after a month-long break, it needs to start doing the people’s business. It should begin with prompt yes-or-no votes on all of the judicial nominees pending on the Senate floor, and prompt hearings (and then floor votes) for all those in Committee. The American people, who rely on the federal courts for vindication of important legal rights, deserve at least this, as do the nominees themselves.
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Articles & Commentary
Birthright citizenship has split the GOP presidential field. Following Donald Trump’s call for an end to birthright citizenship for the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, fellow Republican presidential hopefuls Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and even longtime immigration reform advocate Lindsey Graham have said they support ending the practice. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have been the most vocally opposed. This didn’t used to be such a difficult issue for Republicans.
With the VRA turning 50, this generation’s leaders should look to the past and ask themselves how they’d like to be remembered—as a generation of Andrew Johnsons that shirked its constitutional duty to fight for political equality, or as the rightful heirs to Dr. King, L.B.J., and the civil rights movement, seizing this moment to continue to build “a more perfect Union.”
Back in the 1860s, after a brutal civil war, our country rejected the anti-birthright citizenship arguments that Trump and others are pushing today. That moment, and the changes to the Constitution that resulted, pushed our nation further along the arc of progress. Ending birthright citizenship, far from "making America great again," would betray our most fundamental values.
Many years ago, a leading scholar sat down to pen a letter and dated it “Year 1 of American Independence.” The date was not July 4, 1776; it was Feb. 1, 1865, the day after congressional passage of the 13th Amendment.
By voting the way he did in King and writing the opinion he did, Chief Justice Roberts did exactly what any responsible and fair judge should have done. But his decision in this year’s health care case still deserves a great deal of praise—and much, much more than his decision in the last one.
While there are many people who deserve credit for the court’s historic decision in Obergefell, there’s one more who should go on the list: President Barack Obama. He deserves credit not just for the powerful support his administration provided in Obergefell itself, but also for his decision not to defend DOMA four years earlier. It’s a helpful reminder of the power of the presidency, and how it can play out in unexpected ways.
Standing among the crowds of happy Americans celebrating the victory for marriage equality on the courthouse steps, the nation was continuing along its arc of progress, and history was being made. Chief Justice Roberts, however, chose to make himself a footnote to that history rather than be a part of it.
Nearly 150 years ago, our nation redeemed the Constitution from the sin of slavery, guaranteeing liberty and equality under the law to all persons, and giving to Congress sweeping new constitutional authority to help realize our Constitution’s promise of equal citizenship stature for all Americans. This term at the Supreme Court, the justices reaffirmed the fundamental constitutional truths at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, and of the civil rights laws passed to realize its goals, that demand true equality.