Category Archives: Supreme Court

‘A Day That Will Live in Infamy’: This Is What It Looked Like When Wisconsin Forced In-Person Voting During a Pandemic

“People are being forced to risk their lives to place their vote or fulfill their right as an American to vote.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-7-2020

Photo: Don Moynihan/flickr

As footage of Wisconsin’s crowded polling stations flooded the internet Tuesday, public health officials and civil rights advocates condemned the state’s Supreme Court and Republican legislative leaders for allowing in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic and thwarting Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ last-minute efforts to address voter safety concerns.

“It’s not going to be a safe election. People are going to get sick from this,” Brook Soltvedt, a 60-year-old textbook editor who is in charge of running the polling place at Thoreau Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin’s capital, told The Cap Times. Continue reading

Share

Closing polling places is the 21st century’s version of a poll tax

Californians wait in line to vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Joshua F.J. Inwood, Pennsylvania State University and Derek H. Alderman, University of Tennessee

Delays and long lines at polling places during recent presidential primary elections – such as voters in Texas experienced – represent the latest version of decades-long policies that have sought to reduce the political power of African Americans in the U.S.

Following the Civil War and the extension of the vote to African Americans, state governments worked to block black people, as well as poor whites, from voting. One way they tried to accomplish this goal was through poll taxes – an amount of money each voter had to pay before being allowed to vote. Continue reading

Share

From border security to climate change, national emergency declarations raise hard questions about presidential power

Global Climate Strike NYC in New York, Sept. 20, 2019. Rainmaker Photo/MediaPunch /IPX via AP Photo

Daniel Farber, University of California, Berkeley

As wildfires, storms and other climate-driven disasters grow larger and more damaging, climate change is a major concern for many Democratic voters, who are in the midst of a primary fight that has come down to two major candidates: Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Both candidates say climate change would be one of their top priorities as president – but there’s an important difference between their approaches.

Sanders has pledged to declare climate change a national emergency and use executive power to lead “a ten-year, nationwide mobilization” to remake the U.S. economy. Continue reading

Share

‘Shameful. Disgusting. Disgraceful.’: Outrage After Supreme Court Allows Trump’s Public Charge Rule to Take Effect

“The Trump administration’s policy could quite literally kill people by making them too afraid to seek life-saving medical care, and the Supreme Court seems to agree such a cruel system is acceptable.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-27-2020

Photo: Pinterest

Outrage erupted Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration’s so-called public charge rule—a policy its critics call “a racist wealth test”— to stand.

Continue reading

Share

Why the US military usually punishes misconduct but police often close ranks

NYPD officers turning their backs on New York mayor Bill de Blasio after he remarked on police violence, Jan. 4, 2015.
AP Photo/John Minchillo,

Dwight Stirling, University of Southern California

Many U.S. military members publicly disavowed President Trump’s decision to pardon Edward Gallagher, the former SEAL commando convicted of killing a teenage detainee in Iraq in 2017.

Gallagher’s alleged war crimes were nearly universally condemned up the chain of command, from enlisted men to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer. Indeed, it was Gallagher’s SEAL colleagues who reported the former commando’s actions.

This insistence on holding fellow service members accountable for bad behavior sharply differentiates the military from the police. Continue reading

Share

With Support of Just One Republican, House Passes ‘Historic’ Bill to Restore and Expand Voting Rights

“Brings us one step closer to restoring the Voting Rights Act.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-6-2019

The introduction of H.R. 4 on February 26, 2019. Photo: PFAW

Just one Republican—Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania—joined a united House Democratic caucus on Friday to pass what rights groups hailed as “historic” legislation to restore and expand voter protections that were gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen, said passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) is a “critical step” in combating Republican voter suppression efforts that have proliferated in the six years since the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Continue reading

Share

‘Simply Barbaric’: Trump Administration Proposes Charging Asylum Fee for Refugees Fleeing Violence and Poverty

“It’s an unprecedented weaponization of government fees.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-10-2019

USCIS office in Atlanta. Photo: Gulbenk/CC

The Trump administration this coming week will formalize a proposal that could make it one of just four countries in the world that charge asylum-seekers for entry.

As the New York Times reported late Friday, the administration plans to publish in the Federal Register a proposal to require a $50 application fee for asylum-seekers as well as a $490 charge for work permits.

“It’s an unprecedented weaponization of government fees,” Doug Rand of the immigrant assistance company Boundless Immigration told the Times. Continue reading

Share

‘Historic’ Alaska Ruling Could Provide Roadmap to Defeating Citizens United

“This decision gives Alaskans and all Americans a chance to revisit those destructive decisions.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-5-2019

A case in Alaska could go to the U.S. Supreme Court and possibly overturn Citizens United. (Photo: Joe Ravi/cc)

A ruling in a court in Alaska Monday could open the door to imposing more restrictions on super PACs and possibly reversing the infamous 2012 Citizens United by the U.S. Supreme Court that in 2012 upended the nation’s campaign finance laws.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge William F. Morse ordered the state to impose limits on donations to political groups in Alaska, saying in the ruling (pdf) that the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC), which handles election enforcement, “should reinstate enforcement of the contribution limits at issue.” The decision is expected to head to the Alaska Supreme Court. Continue reading

Share

This year at the Supreme Court: Gay rights, gun rights and Native rights

The Supreme Court begins its newest session on the first Monday in October. AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Morgan Marietta, University of Massachusetts Lowell

The Supreme Court begins its annual session on Oct. 7 and will take up a series of cases likely to have political reverberations in the 2020 elections.

Major cases this year address the immigration program for young people (“Dreamers”) known as DACA, the Affordable Care Act (again), and public money for religious schools.

Justices will also consider cases that involve several aspects of defendants’ rights: whether criminal convictions require a unanimous jury, minors can be given a life sentence and a state can abolish the insanity defense. Continue reading

Share

After Supreme Court Agrees to Hear First Abortion Case With Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, Warnings Right-Wingers Could ‘Decimate’ Access in Louisiana

“We are counting on the court to follow its precedent; otherwise, clinics will needlessly close.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-4-2019

A contested Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals resembles a Texas law the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2016. (Photo: Jordan Uhl/Flickr/cc)

Reproductive rights groups on Friday emphasized the importance of legal precedent after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging an anti-choice Louisiana law—the court’s first abortion rights case since President Donald Trump’s appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined the bench and shifted the court to the right.

Act 620, a 2014 Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, is similar to a Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. Such measures—which critics call “TRAP” (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws—have become popular among right-wing legislatures trying to circumvent Roe v. Wade and restrict access to abortion care. Continue reading

Share