Anti-Choice Laws Defeated in Oklahoma

This week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down two anti-choice laws. One law would have made it mandatory for a woman seeking an abortion to see an ultrasound image and hear a description of the fetus; the other sought to ban “any off-label use of medications for abortion or treatment of ectopic pregnancy,” although it would have still allowed “off-label use of the same medication for other purposes.”

The ultrasound law had been passed by the state legislature in 2010, and the drug law was approved the following year. Following challenges by the Center for Reproductive Rights, both laws had been halted by lower court judges. In its decisions, the state Supreme Court said that both laws violated a 1992 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that it must “follow the mandate of the United State Supreme Court on matters of federal constitutional law.”


Yes, We Did! The Affordable Care Act (Mostly) Stands

Afteraffordable care act supreme court decision months of nail-biting, speculation, and copious analysis – we finally have it. The Supreme Court of the United States has rendered its decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.

And the left, the feminists, the Obama Administration, and most of all – the country WON!

In a 5-4 decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts crossing the aisle to side with the liberal wing of the court, the Supreme Court decided that the vast majority of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act was Constitutional and would move forward.

At the center of the controversy, the so-called “individual mandate,” or requirement that most Americans carry health insurance or face a financial penalty, received the most attention. Initially, CNN, FOX News, and even NPR had reported that the mandate had been declared unconstitutional.  [Read more...]

Arizona’s SB 1070 Immigration Bill Deemed Mostly Unconstitutional Today by Supreme Court

Arizona’s immigration bill SB 1070 has been the subject of much media attention and we’ve reported on the bill here on FFC on several different occasions. The law was challenged and the Ninth Circuit granted an injunction against enforcement of four provisions in the bill. The Supreme Court granted certiorari on the case and the Court’s decision on Arizona SB 1070 was announced today.

The four provisions of the Arizona SB 1070 bill were challenged on the grounds of being preempted by the federal government authority and therefore unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled today that three of those four provisions are explicitly preempted by federal law, and the fourth must be construed narrowly in order to be constitutional.

The three provisions in Arizona SB 1070 deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court are: (1) state law crime of being in the country illegally, (2) ban on working in the state, and (3) warrantless arrest of individuals suspected to have committed a deportable crime. [Read more...]

Kagan Kerfuffle Exposes the Subtle Class Bias of Military Recruiting

John McCain’s editorial on the Kagan nomination got me thinking.  At issue, her move as dean of Harvard Law School denying military recruiters access to the campus Career Services Office.  McCain cites one beleaguered recruiter complaining that without this access, they were “relegated to wandering the halls in hopes that someone will stop and talk to us.”

Funny, recruiters have no problem meeting recruiting targets by wandering the halls (or streets, parks, gas stations, malls, and Wal-Marts) in low-income communities cruising for teenagers to sign on the dotted line.  Of course, there is less competition in this arena than in the post-grad job market of a Harvard law student, whose student body emerges equipped with a world-class education, awesome earning potential, and is still majority white, almost 70%.  McCain bristles at the thought of “white-shoe law firms” recruiting students, but not “one of its great institutions, the U.S. military.”

The damage done to military recruiting efforts by Kagan’s decision is a chimera, but the opportunity to resurrect a tired (and frankly a little pathetic) narrative of God & Country was too hard for Senate conservatives to resist.  When the best and the brightest (read: richest and whitest) don’t roll out the red carpet for military recruiters, it is an insult to the pedigree of military-political careerism and chickenhawks everywhere.  And John McCain won’t stand for it.

Kagan’s Choice Bona Fides?

The Kagan media narrative is picking up steam.  I remind myself that it’s just that:  a narrative.  As we await the impending confirmation-hearing-circus, let’s evaluate what we’re being told about the nominee:

  • You can find articles written by, and video clips featuring, Elena Kagan here.
  • She has not spoken publicly about her sexuality and, frankly, neither do most politicians, bureaucrats, and career civil servants.  Yet the blogosphere is buzzing.
  • She once wrote a now infamous memo advising Clinton to support a ban on partial birth abortions.  A strategic (and successful) political move, suggested by then-strategist Kagan, for a White House with a strong pro-choice record.
  • The House Pro-Choice Caucus finds Kagan’s record “troubling,” but witholds judgement pending confirmation hearings.

My gut says Kagan is a diehard feminist for choice, just like the President that nominated her.  I strongly suspect she is progessive to the core, but shhhhh…

Stay tuned.  Hearings set to begin June 28th.

President Obama Nominates Elena Kagan for SCOTUS! Should We Prepare for a Second Round of Sexism?

The sexist double standard was undeniably at play in the right wing attack on Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination. I can’t help but wonder, as we patiently wait for the GOP response to Obama’s most recent nomination of Solicitor Elena Kagan, if we should prepare ourselves for a second round of sexist attacks. Despite the fact that Elena Kagan has a pretty slim record to pick at, I doubt that will prevent conservative misogyny from rearing its ugly head again.

For now, I plan on celebrating the fact that Kagan’s confirmation would add another justice to the bench that supports women’s reproductive choices; as well as level out the gender disparity a bit. In a year where women’s health has been continuously thrown under the bus, this nomination is definitely a breath of fresh air. [Read more...]

Could Oklahoma Abortion Bill End Up Before SCOTUS?

supreme-courtWe’ve been ranting for a few weeks now about the latest abortion restrictions that passed in Oklahoma. The audacious nature of the bill and it’s impending court challenges should leave pro-choice advocates wondering if the law could end up in front of the US Supreme Court. According to UPI, it’s a fairly probably scenario.

There is no abortion case now on the Supreme Court’s docket, but one is coming up fast on the outside from the country’s heartland, and the justices may find themselves having to deal with it before recessing for the summer in late June.

Two Oklahoma laws were scheduled to go into effect Sunday. One would have required women seeking an abortion to fill out a 10-page questionnaire about their personal history and the reasons they were seeking an abortion, reports. Results would be posted on the Web.

The other would require women seeking an abortion to listen to a doctor as he or she described the fetus during an ultrasound.

Both are being challenged in the state courts. Last Monday, a state judge temporarily blocked the questionnaire provision on technical grounds. The law addresses unrelated issues in one bill, the judge said, in violation of the state Constitution.

[Read more...]

Historical Moment: Judge Sotomayor Confirmed by the Senate

Sotomayor confirmedToday marks a very historic day. Judge Sonia Sotomayor has officially been confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 68-31. Despite the right wing attempts to distract from her record and focus on her personality, Sotomayor was able to overcome the bulshit and make history.

Sotomayor is the first Latina judge to sit on the bench, and the third woman justice to sit on the high Supreme Court. Although this is certainly productive, we have a long way to go. The fact that out of 111 Supreme Court justices nominated and confirmed to the bench, only three of them were women, is pretty damn indicative of the patriarchal state of order that we live under.

Considering the fact that women’s experiences and voices were absent in the construction of the constitution, I think it’s revolutionary that Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed today. It is a testament to not only the hard work of Sotomayor herself, but the dedication and courage of activist and lobbying groups througout the country (such as NOW) who fought tirelessly to defend, support and stand in solidarity with the first Latina Woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court.

Was Roe a Mistake?

supreme-courtAn article in today’s Wall Street Journal is really burning my biscuits. The author, Robert George, claims that if the Supreme Court decides to hear an appeal of California’s Proposition 8 (which outlawed same sex marriage), the justices would be “repeating the mistakes of Roe.”

It would be disastrous for the justices to do so. They would repeat the error in Roe v. Wade: namely, trying to remove a morally charged policy issue from the forums of democratic deliberation and resolve it according to their personal lights.

Even many supporters of legal abortion now consider Roe a mistake. Lacking any basis in the text, logic or original understanding of the Constitution, the decision became a symbol of the judicial usurpation of authority vested in the people and their representatives. It sent the message that judges need not be impartial umpires—as both John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor say they should be—but that judges can impose their policy preferences under the pretext of enforcing constitutional guarantees. [Read more...]

Live Blogging Sotomayor’s Confirmation Hearings, Part 2

Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota is the first out of the gate after the lunch break. More references to humble beginnings and overcoming obstacles to achieve the American Dream. Klobuchar makes a good point, that all judges’ life experiences effect their decision making process.

Next up is Senator Kaufman from Delaware. He says appointing nominees to SCOTUS is Congress’s most important job besides declaring war. OK – not really happy with the militarism of that statement. But at least he’s moved beyond gendered language and said “she” when referring to a nominee. Takes a jab at people who focus on “activist judges” and “litmus tests.” Then says that he sees “no biases” in Sotomayor’s catalog of rulings. Oh, snap. Now there’s another reference to humble beginnings. This seems to be the theme of the day. Even though he says he thinks men and women have the same life experiences, he believes that diversity on the court is a good thing because it will reflect a broader spectrum of life experiences. How does that work? Very confused. Then another baseball reference. What’s the big deal about balls?

Arlen Specter is the third Democrat in a row to speak. The former Republican is talking about how diversity on the court is important. Now he’s saying that he is more concerned about which cases that SCOTUS didn’t decide to hear, rather than which cases they actually heard because he says that it leaves a lot of confusion about what the actual precedent on issues is. He’s really focused on terrorist surveillance and the FISA courts and SCOTUS’s refusal to hear these cases. He says he wants to know what her standard will be for deciding which cases will be heard by SCOTUS. [Read more...]