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Text & History Blog
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Text & History Blog
Sometime before the end of June, the Supreme Court will decide Shelby County v. Holder, a constitutional challenge to the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, one of the Act’s most important guarantees against racial discrimination in voting. Shelby County has argued that the Act is unnecessary and outdated and has urged the Supreme Court to hold it unconstitutional on that basis. With the Court’s decision looming, a number of recent commentators have suggested that, in light of recent voter turnout data, the Voting Rights Act is no longer needed.
This past Monday I posted a New Republic article on a lawsuit recently filed by Obamacare opponents in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, who construe the Affordable Care Act to bar ACA tax credit subsidies to purchasers of individual health insurance policies on state exchanges managed by the federal government (as distinguished from exchanges managed by state governments). My piece spotlighted the “upside-down preposterousness” of the opponents’ core contention – that the Congress that enacted the ACA “intended” to “subvert the ACA’s central purpose and stiff the very population the law was enacted to benefit.” Reason.com, a leading libertarian blog, promptly published a critique of my piece by Peter Suderman. So this post briefly answers Suderman’s analysis, as well as a similarly critical email response (enclosing House Ways & Means testimony) I received from Vanderbilt scholar (and law school classmate and friend) James Blumstein, a prominent academic foe of the ACA.
Right now, there are six vacant seats on the very busy federal District Courts in Texas, with no nominee pending to fill any of those vacancies, four of which are considered to be judicial emergencies. One of those six vacancies dates back to November 2008, and two of them to 2011. Last week, during a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) sought to blame President Obama for the lack of nominees, and to absolve himself (and his Republican colleagues) of any responsibility for this dismal situation.
According to Cornyn, “The president’s got to nominate somebody before the Senate can act on it.” That simplistic answer was met by pushback from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who reminded Senator Cornyn that it is the longstanding practice for District Court nominees to be recommended to the Administration by home-state Senators, and that the Judiciary Committee will not even proceed to consider a nominee if one or both of those Senators has not consented to such consideration by returning the so-called “blue slip.”