-By Tom Curry
December 6, 2011- If it’s presidential campaign season, it must be time for another furor over voter fraud and voter suppression.
As the Democrats did in 2008, they are again charging that Republicans are trying to use photo identification laws and other changes in election laws to winnow out would-be Democratic voters.
The difference this time: six more states have enacted laws, or strengthened their existing laws, requiring voters to show a form of photo identification such as a driver’s license in order to cast a ballot.
The standout among the new voter ID states: Wisconsin, which may have a recall election next year for Republican Gov. Scott Walker. It also has a marquee Senate race and will likely be a battleground in the presidential race.
Last week Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz launched a new mobilization effort, saying, “Republicans across the country have engaged in a full-scale attack on the right to vote, seeking ways to restrict or limit voters’ ability to cast their ballots for their own partisan advantage.”
-By James Oliphant
November 14, 2011- The day the Supreme Court gathered behind closed doors to consider the politically divisive question of whether it would hear a challenge to President Obama’s healthcare law, two of its justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, were feted at a dinner sponsored by the law firm that will argue the case before the high court.
The occasion was last Thursday, when all nine justices met for a conference to pore over the petitions for review. One of the cases at issue was a suit brought by 26 states challenging the sweeping healthcare overhaul passed by Congress last year, a law that has been a rallying cry for conservative activists nationwide.
The justices agreed to hear the suit; indeed, a landmark 5 1/2-hour argument is expected in March, and the outcome is likely to further roil the 2012 presidential race, which will be in full swing by the time the court’s decision is released.
Conservative justices wink at their own conflicts of interest
-By Ronald Goldfarb
November 1, 2011- It is “do-as-I-say, not what-I-do” time at the U.S. Supreme Court. In a majority opinion in a 2009 case involving the conflict of interest of a state Supreme Court justice in West Virginia, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:
Courts, in our system, elaborate principles of law in the course of resolving disputes. The power and the prerogative of a court to perform this function rest, in the end, upon the respect accorded to its judgments. The citizen’s respect for judgments depends in turn upon the issuing court’s absolute probity. Judicial integrity is, in consequence, a state interest of the highest order.
-By Ian Millhiser
October 27, 2011- After the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate money in American elections, the decision’s defenders claimed this wasn’t such a big deal because unions could also take advantage of the decision. A new report by three leading voting rights and judicial independence groups gives the lie to this claim. According to the report, just three corporate interest groups — The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Business Council of Alabama, and the Illinois Civil Justice League spent more than 13 times as much trying to influence state supreme court elections as the entire labor movement:
-By Nan Aron
October 24, 2011- This is going to be a big year for the Supreme Court. This election cycle is going to remind everyone of the effects of its infamous Citizens United decision, as vast sums of corporate money flood the electoral system. The blockbuster healthcare case could be heard and decided right in the middle of the presidential campaign. Big cases are on the Court's docket that deal with civil liberties, personal privacy, consumer rights, the environment, the rights of citizens to use the courts to seek justice, and, of course, corporate power. Last week, protesters, including Princeton professor Dr. Cornell West, were arrested outside the Supreme Court, carrying signs saying "Human Need, Not Corporate Greed." At the same time, public faith in the Court as an institution is falling. Gallup reports that the Court's approval rating has plummeted to 46 percent, close to an all-time low.
With so much at stake, with deeply contentious issues on the docket, and with public perceptions of the Court's legitimacy starting to shift into negative territory, one would think that Supreme Court justices would be particularly careful to distance themselves from anything that would call their objectivity into question or that would align them directly with the hyper-partisan political forces roiling the country. Unfortunately, that's not what's happening, as revealed in a new short film from Alliance for Justice, called A Question of Integrity: Politics, Ethics, and the Supreme Court.
October 16, 2011- Author, commentator, civil rights activist and Princeton University professor Cornel West has been arrested while protesting on the steps of the Supreme Court about corporate influence in politics.
A Supreme Court spokeswoman says 19 people were arrested Sunday afternoon after they refused to leave the grounds of the court.
Ann Wilcox, an attorney and legal adviser to the protesters, says West was among those arrested. West attended the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall before joining the October 2011 Stop the Machine protest in Washington’s Freedom Plaza.
The protest is marking 10 years since the start of the war in Afghanistan and has an anti-war and anti-corporate greed message.
West is a well-known left-leaning academic whose books include “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters.”