AlitoOr, why Presidential elections really matter…

Glenn Greenwald on Justice Scalito’s Alito’s behavior during the State of the Union (Justice Ginsburg should have turned around a smacked on his hand with a ruler):

By contrast, the behavior of Justice Alito at last night’s State of the Union address — visibly shaking his head and mouthing the words “not true” when Obama warned of the dangers of the Court’s Citizens United ruling — was a serious and substantive breach of protocol that reflects very poorly on Alito and only further undermines the credibility of the Court. It has nothing to do with etiquette and everything to do with the Court’s ability to adhere to its intended function.

There’s a reason that Supreme Court Justices — along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff — never applaud or otherwise express any reaction at a State of the Union address. It’s vital — both as a matter of perception and reality — that those institutions remain apolitical, separate and detached from partisan wars. The Court’s pronouncements on (and resolutions of) the most inflammatory and passionate political disputes retain legitimacy only if they possess a credible claim to being objectively grounded in law and the Constitution, not political considerations. The Court’s credibility in this regard has — justifiably — declined substantially over the past decade, beginning with Bush v. Gore (where 5 conservative Justices issued a ruling ensuring the election of a Republican President), followed by countless 5-4 decisions in which conservative Justices rule in a way that promotes GOP political beliefs, while the more “liberal” Justices do to the reverse (Citizens United is but the latest example).

And Stephen Colbert dismantles Chief Justice Roberts’ weak logic for ignoring stare decisis and overturning “hundreds of years of precedent” for the Citizen’s United ruling:

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Based on the following quote, Karl Rove – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – might be right about the empathy argument swirling around Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor:

I don’t come from an affluent background or a privileged background. My parents were both quite poor when they were growing up.

And I know about their experiences and I didn’t experience those things. I don’t take credit for anything that they did or anything that they overcame.

But I think that children learn a lot from their parents and they learn from what the parents say. But I think they learn a lot more from what the parents do and from what they take from the stories of their parents lives.

…Because when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position.

And so it’s my job to apply the law. It’s not my job to change the law or to bend the law to achieve any result.

But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, “You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country.”

When I have cases involving children, I can’t help but think of my own children and think about my children being treated in the way that children may be treated in the case that’s before me.

And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. When I have a case involving someone who’s been subjected to discrimination because of disability, I have to think of people who I’ve known and admire very greatly who’ve had disabilities, and I’ve watched them struggle to overcome the barriers that society puts up often just because it doesn’t think of what it’s doing — the barriers that it puts up to them.

So those are some of the experiences that have shaped me as a person.Sonia Sotomayor No! It was Samuel Alito answering a question by Senator Tom Coburn during his confirmation hearing.

In today’s Wall Street Journal Karl Rove wrote:

“Mr. Obama said he wanted to replace Justice David Souter with someone who had “empathy” and who’d temper the court’s decisions with a concern for the downtrodden, the powerless and the voiceless.

“Empathy” is the latest code word for liberal activism, for treating the Constitution as malleable clay to be kneaded and molded in whatever form justices want. It represents an expansive view of the judiciary in which courts create policy that couldn’t pass the legislative branch or, if it did, would generate voter backlash.”

I know it’s confusing so allow me translate what Karl is actually saying: I am a partisan hack.

H/T: Glenn Greenwald

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Despite what Kleinheider used as his post title over at Post Politics (“a blogjam of NashvillePost.com), Judge Sotomayor’s 2005 remarks about the experiences of a district court clerkship versus a circuit court clerkship are thoughtful and fully-fleshed out:

“[T]they’re looking for people with court of appeals experience, because it is — court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know — and I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law, I know. OK, I know. I’m not promoting it, and I’m not advocating it, I’m — you know. OK. Having said that, the court of appeals is where, before the Supreme Court makes the final decision, the law is percolating — its interpretation, its application. And Judge ______ is right, I often explain to people that when you’re on the district court, you’re looking to do justice in the individual case. So you’re looking much more to the facts of the case than you are to the application of the law. because the application of the law is not precedential. So the facts control. On the court of appeals, you are looking to how the law is developing, so that it will then be applied to a broad class of cases. And so you’re always thinking about the ramifications of this ruling on the next step in the development of the law. You can make a choice and say, “I don’t care about the next step and sometimes we do. Or sometimes we say we’ll worry about that when we get to it – like what the Supreme Court just did. But the point is, that’s the differences – practical differences – in the two experiences are. The district court is controlled chaos. And not so controlled most of the time. You are jumping from one project to another at a million miles an hour on any given day.”

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This is why I love The Twitter. In one recent tweet, one local liberal taunts CNN’s John King: “You know, #sotomayor is *not* that liberal. I’m not sure if **I** support her. Hey John King, you found one! @cnnbrk.

Then a few places down, Politico tweets a link to one of their stories: “Sotomayor starts taking hits from right: Top conservatives describe her as a hard-line libera.. http://tinyurl.com/pkptxy.

So who is Judge Sotomayor? Is she a justice who isn’t liberal enough for self-described liberals? Or is she a “hardline liberal who would impose her personal agenda on the Court?

My guess is that to the GOP, aka the Grand Obstructionist Party and the party that hopes for Barack Obama to fail, it doesn’t matter that she may be a reasonable moderate.

Their lips may say “fair hearing” for Sotomayor, but their rabid, glassy-eyes say, “obstruct at all costs!

So expect to hear lies, obfuscations, and demonization from Republican opposition during the confirmation process. But it’s certainly will not be because of any real disagreement with Judge Sotomayor’s judicial record.

The real reason they will oppose President Barack Obama’s selection is that even during these trying economic times, when putting aside petty partisan differences and delaying power-struggles in order to work with the opposition is in the best interest of the American people, that’s the very last thing they want to do.

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Studies have found that conservative justices are more likely to strike down laws passed by Congress and as well as decisions by federal regulatory agencies.

From “So Who Are the Activists?,” By Paul Gewirtz and Chad Golder (NY Times):

We found that justices vary widely in their inclination to strike down Congressional laws. Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by President George H. W. Bush, was the most inclined, voting to invalidate 65.63 percent of those laws; Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Bill Clinton, was the least, voting to invalidate 28.13 percent. The tally for all the justices appears below.

Thomas 65.63 %
Kennedy 64.06 %
Scalia 56.25 %
Rehnquist 46.88 %
O’Connor 46.77 %
Souter 42.19 %
Stevens 39.34 %
Ginsburg 39.06 %
Breyer 28.13 %

From “Who are the bench’s judicial activists?,” By Thomas J. Miles and Cass R. Sunstein (LA Times):

The Judicial Activism Award, for aggressive use of judicial power, goes to a most surprising winner: Justice Antonin Scalia. He upholds agency decisions only about half the time. This is an impressively low number. Under established principles, to which all members of the court subscribe, agencies are supposed to get the benefit of the doubt.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Judge Sotomayor, who is of Puerto Rican decent, was raised by her single mom, a nurse, because her father died when she was 9? She also received a scholarship to Yale and was appointed to a federal judgeship by President George W. Bush President George H.W. Bush.

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Indiana Requires Photo ID to Get Photo ID to Vote

On the front page of their website, the Indiana state government is touting National Air Quality Awareness Week. Good thing because something there sure is stinky. Without a shred of evidence of election fraud through identity manipulation in Indiana, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday to bring back the poll tax by upholding the law requiring voters there to present a valid government issue photo id:

…the court acknowledged that the record of the case contained “no evidence” of the type of voter fraud the law was ostensibly devised to detect and deter, the effort by a voter to cast a ballot in another person’s name.

Read that again. No evidence. Yet because of their ruling there is now an undue burden on the poor and elderly to vote. For them, a voter registration card is not enough. But no worries. To help the citizens of Indiana wade through the steps needed to get their government issue photo id, I present a step by step guide.

No driver’s license? No problem. Just bring your birth certificate down to the Bureau of Motor vehicles, fill out the paperwork, pay the fee, and get your id. If you don’t have wheels, take public transportation or get someone to drive you. Here’s what you need:

If you are applying for a new driver license, identification card, learner permit, or driver education permit you must visit a license branch and present the following documents:

  • One primary document
  • One secondary document; and
  • Proof of Social Security number or Social Security ineligibility; and
  • Proof of Indiana residency.

OR

  • One primary document; and
  • Proof of Social Security number or Social Security ineligibility; and
  • Proof of Indiana residency.

Primary documents accepted include US Birth Certificate with authenticating stamp or seal containing the applicant’s date of birth, place of birth, and parent’s names issued by a county department or county board of health from the applicant’s state of birth, a state department or state board of health from the applicant’s state of birth, or a verified delayed birth certificate, Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship, Certification of report of birth (DS-1350), U.S. consular report of birth (FS-240), Birth certificate issued by United States territories, including American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands, U.S. Veterans Universal Access Identification card with photo, U.S. Military/Merchant Marines identification card with photo, or U.S. Passport.

Don’t have the required documents like a birth certificate or social security card? No problem, just follow these instructions to get your social security replacement card:

You can replace your card for free if it is lost or stolen.

To replace a lost Social Security card:

  • Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5); and
  • Show us documents proving your identity.
  • Show us documents proving your U.S. citizenship if our records do not already contain that information.
  • Show us documents proving your current, lawful, work-authorized status if you are not a U.S. citizen.

In most cases, you can mail or take your application and original documents to your local Social Security office. If you live in the New York City metropolitan area, Las Vegas NV, Orlando FL, or Phoenix AZ you may need to apply in person at your local Social Security Card Center.

All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies of notarized copies of documents.

To get a new birth certificate, just find out how the state in which you were born handles the replacement. Indiana, for instance, allows you to simply mail $10 in to the Vital Records department of the Indiana State Department of Health. As long as you follow this one rule:

Applicant must provide a photocopy of a valid identification with picture and signature along with the application.

Easy. HEY! Wait a minute….

In Indiana you need a valid identification with picture and signature to get the copy of the birth certificate you need to get a valid identification with picture so you can vote? Yo Scalia, chew on that.

No money to a pay for either a copy of your birth certificate – which, did I mention, you can’t get without a valid picture id? – or the government issue photo id? No problem, just go down to your county’s election commission, and fill out the paperwork to get your certificate of indigency. I’m not sure what documentation you need to prove indigency – probably a valid photo id – but nevertheless, once you have it then you can use it to get all the documentation you need to get the valid photo id without having to pay for it all.

If you can’t afford the time away from work for all these trips back and forth to these agencies, or the time on the phone it takes to sort it all out, then you can use your computer like I did to go online to find out what you need to do. See, it’s easy!*

UPDATE: If you are over 65 in Indiana, you can get, without a birth certificate, a plain ID card instead of a Driver’s license. Sweet! From the Indiana.gov site:

Identification card applicants who are 65 years or older, and can attest that they have never been issued a birth certificate because their birth was never recorded with a state office of vital statistics, may present other forms of identification as a primary document of identification, along with the necessary secondary document of identification, for an Indiana identification card.

Individuals who are 65 years or older may present, as primary documents:

  • Medicaid/Medicare card
  • Social Security benefits statement
  • Property deed
  • Property tax statement
  • Bank statement
  • US Veteran’s Access Photo ID card
  • Marriage/divorce decree
  • Pension statement

Please note that secondary documents, and other documents proving residency, are still required for most transactions. Please view our full identification requirements list to determine whether you have sufficient documentation.

Identification card applicants who are younger than 65 years of age and who do not have an original copy of their birth certificate should bring another document from the primary group of identification documents or contact the health department or department of vital statistics in their county or state of birth to obtain a new copy of their original birth certificate.

To be accepted by the BMV, a birth certificate must be an original copy with a raised seal issued by the health department or department of vital statistics in the applicant’s county or state of birth. Birth certificates issued by hospitals or other organizations will not be accepted.

UPDATE II: Brad Friedman has a step by step guide at Bradblog.com. I bet he’s tired too.

*I need a nap.

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