At the end of the day, what matters is not what President Obama said about the legality of his action; what matters is what the laws and precedents say, and they make clear that his action was lawful. When the Fifth Circuit reviews this week’s immigration decision on appeal, it should vindicate the views of the legal advisors who approved this action, and not the political advisors who presumably told him to say they wouldn’t.
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Articles & Commentary
While the American people rightly revere Washington, Madison, and their fellow Framers, it took the heroic efforts of President Lincoln and his generation to create the “more perfect Union” that we live in today. It’s only after the ratification of the Second Founding Amendments that the Constitution begins to emerge fully as the inspiring document that it is today. A century and a half later, this Second Founding deserves a proper celebration.
On Wednesday, as part of a brief filed by my organization, Constitutional Accountability Center, in King v. Burwell on behalf of state and federal legislators -- including Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi -- we dropped a bit of a bombshell.
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.
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.