Friday Reads: Supreme Court Mambo

Joaquin Sorollo, Bailaora Flemenco, 1923

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Tropical Storm Claudette is making its way towards New Orleans today. We’re fortunate to be on the dry side of it so mostly we’ve got cooler temperatures and light rain ever so often.  I’m actually happy to see the change since the heat was getting pretty relentless.

I was a bit out of it most of yesterday having spent part of the day Wednesday under anesthesia. The polyp is gone off to the lab so now I have to see if it’s worrisome or not.  I haven’t read much but I did tune in to see the President sign the bill making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday which was a joy.  We’ve recognized Juneteenth here annually.  Here’s the link to last year’s edition written by me.  BB gets the pleasure tomorrow.  However, I had to write about one thing.

I got all teary-eyed watching 94 year old Opal Lee’s excitement during the ceremony.  President Biden took a knee for her too. I wept again when I heard her story told by Rachel Maddow later that night.  The youtube below has that bit of her show.   Her story and her fight to get Juneteenth recognized as a federal holiday demostrate her greatness. This is from CNN.

As a little girl, Lee was the victim of a traumatic event, her first undeniable experience with racism.

One week after nine-year-old Lee moved with her family to an all-White neighborhood, a mob surrounded their home and threatened their lives.

“My dad came with a gun and the police told him if he busted a cap, they would let the mob have us,” she recalls.

Lee’s parents sent her to friends several blocks away “under the cover of darkness,” she tells CNN.”They burned furniture. They set the house on fire. It was terrible. It really was.”

Lee says outside newspapers in Texas reported the crime — but local papers from the community where the violence took place ignored it,

The date of the attack was Juneteenth.

Lee says her parents never spoke of the incident again.

“They buckled down, they worked hard. They bought another home, but we never discussed it,” she explains.

“I just know if we had had an opportunity to stay awhile they would have found out … we were just like them.”

“We wanted the same thing they wanted. A place to live,” she recalls.

“We wanted food, jobs that would pay a wage.”

Dance at Bougival by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1883, via The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

So, about the supreme court and its two decisions yesterday which were extremely narrow.  Here’s a little on that including the divine hissy fit that was Alito’s criticism of both.  This is from Politico: “‘Alito was just pissed’: Trump’s Supreme Court breaks down along surprising lines. Thursday’s decisions laid bare an emerging rift within the court’s conservative majority.”

The key fault line in the Supreme Court that Donald Trump built is not the ideological clash between right and left — it’s the increasingly acrimonious conflict within the court’s now-dominant conservative wing.

Those rifts burst wide open on Thursday with two of the highest-profile decisions of the court’s current term. In both the big cases — involving Obamacare and a Catholic group refusing to vet same-sex couples as foster parents in Philadelphia — conservative justices unleashed sharp attacks that seemed aimed at their fellow GOP appointees for failing to grapple with the core issues the cases presented.

Some liberal legal commentators noted that the most carefully dissected rhetorical sparring is now taking place among members of the new six-justice conservative majority, with the three remaining liberal justices often left as mere spectators.

“We’re arguing about the battles among the conservatives and when that coalition breaks and where it goes,” lamented Harvard Law School lecturer Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge. “It’s a dramatic difference from only two or three years ago.”

Leading the charge from the right in both cases Thursday was Justice Samuel Alito, who penned caustic opinions taking his colleagues to task for issuing narrow rulings that seemed to him to be aimed at defusing political tensions rather than interpreting the law.

“After receiving more than 2,500 pages of briefing and after more than a half-year of post-argument cogitation, the Court has emitted a wisp of a decision that leaves religious liberty in a confused and vulnerable state. Those who count on this Court to stand up for the First Amendment have every right to be disappointed—as am I,” Alito wrote in the foster-care case, notwithstanding the Catholic charity’s unanimous victory.

In the Obamacare dispute, Alito sarcastically accused the majority of repeatedly indulging in flights of legal sophistry to avoid the politically unpalatable step of striking down the landmark health care law.

“No one can fail to be impressed by the lengths to which this Court has been willing to go to defend the ACA against all threats,” Alito wrote. “A penalty is a tax. The United States is a State. And 18 States who bear costly burdens under the ACA cannot even get a foot in the door to raise a constitutional challenge. Fans of judicial inventiveness will applaud once again. But I must respectfully dissent.”

Dance in Baden-Baden Painting Max Beckmann

Well, that’s interesting.  Roberts, Kavanaugh and Barrett have seized the Supreme Court for now.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, demonstrated their collective power at America’s highest court on Thursday.

They fueled the Supreme Court’s limited opinions on Obamacare and religious liberty, in action that marks a twist for the conservative-dominated bench and adds to the suspense of the next two weeks as the court finishes its annual term.

An overriding question going into the session that began last October was whether Roberts would still wield significant control, after former President Donald Trump appointed Barrett to succeed the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and created a 6-3 conservative-liberal bench.
But the latest developments suggest a possible 3-3-3 pattern, with Roberts, Barrett and Kavanaugh at the center-right, putting a check on their more conservative brethren who regularly push to overturn precedent.

I’ll believe this when I see it continue.  My guess is they will not be so kind to anything dealing with women’s moral agency.

Tommervik Abstract Ballroom Dancers 

Still, many see a tendency to give people’s bigotry a pass when it comes to supposed “religious beliefs.”  This is an Op-Ed at the LA Times by Erwin Chemerinsky.

Under long-standing constitutional law, religious beliefs do not provide an exemption from civil rights laws and cannot be used as an excuse for discrimination.

Yet the Supreme Court on Thursday in Fulton vs. City of Philadelphiaruled in favor of the ability of Catholic Social Services to participate in the city’s foster care program even though that organization discriminates based on sexual orientation. Although the grounds for the court’s unanimous ruling were narrow, the implications are broad and indicate a court that is inclined to allow discrimination based on religious beliefs.

The Fulton case involves the city’s decision to refuse to contract with organizations that engage in forbidden discrimination. Philadelphia routinely contracts with private social service agencies to help place children in foster homes. Those agencies are “delegated” the power of the government in determining whether individuals satisfy state requirements for becoming foster parents. Every contract is explicit in prohibiting these agencies from discriminating on the basis of race, sex, religion and sexual orientation.

Catholic Social Services has long participated in this program, but in recent years has declined to do so because of the contractual requirement that it not discriminate based on sexual orientation. It says that its religious beliefs prevent it from providing inspections of same-sex couples or placing children with those couples.

The organization challenged the nondiscrimination requirement as violating its 1st Amendment rights. The federal district court and the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit rejected these arguments, but the Supreme Court reversed those decisions and ruled in the agency’s favor.

In 1990, the court in Employment Division vs. Smith ruled that free exercise of religion does not provide an exemption from a generally applied law. In that case, the court rejected a claim by Native Americans — based on their religious beliefs — for an exemption from a state law prohibiting use of peyote. But the court also said that laws cannot discriminate against religion.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing in the Fulton case, said that the Philadelphia law allowed for exceptions and this discretion meant it was not a sufficiently general law. The possibility of discrimination in exercising this discretion, he wrote, made Philadelphia’s requirement a violation of the free exercise of religion.

But there was no evidence that Philadelphia actually treated Catholic Social Services differently from other social service agencies or used its discretion in an impermissible way. And it is interesting that even the liberal justices — Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — did not raise this point. Perhaps they were glad to go along with a narrow ruling rather than risk one that changed the law and opened the door even more to discrimination based on religious beliefs.

The Dance Hall in Arles Painting Vincent van Gogh

Read his concerns about the findings at the link.

I have on last thing from The Atlantic and writer George Packer. I’ve known a lot of people that came here as part of a War Diaspora. I had childhood friends whose parents came from the Korean War Diaspora. My mother-in-law was a Japanese War Bride. Many of my students are children of the Vietnamese War Diaspora. We also have a lot of folks from Somalia and other engagements that never quite made it to the official War title too.  I think this article is timely and correct.  It’s Not Too Late to Avert a Historic Shame. As the U.S. military prepares to leave Afghanistan, it’s running out of time to evacuate the Afghans who have helped the United States.”

We do way too many war dances that leave way too many victims.

In the past few weeks, the outlook for Afghans who helped the United States in Afghanistan has gone from worrying to critical. As U.S. and NATO troops leave the country with breathtaking speed, the Taliban are attacking districts that had long been in the Afghan government’s hands, setting up checkpoints on major roads, and threatening provincial capitals. Many of the 18,000 Afghans who, along with their families, have applied for Special Immigrant Visas will soon have nowhere to hide, no armed force standing between them and their pursuers.

Think on that and read the rest at the link.

I’m going to try to get Temple out for one good walk in this weather before we get the bigger soaking so I’ll leave this space to you now.  Enjoy listening to Mambo by Leonard Bernstein from Westside Story too!  Oh, enjoy watching it too because the orchestra gets all into it completely shouting, dancing and grooving while they play.  Plus, it includes cute little girls throwing flowers from a balcony.  You need this in your life today!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


6 Comments on “Friday Reads: Supreme Court Mambo”

  1. dakinikat says:

    From my neighbor up the river a bit …

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s Trump’s dopey op-ed at Real Clear Politics. I wonder who wrote it?

    A Plan to Get Divisive & Radical Theories Out of Our Schools

    For decades, the America-blaming left has been relentlessly pushing a vision of America that casts our history, culture, traditions, and founding documents in the most negative possible light. Yet in recent years, this deeply unnatural effort has progressed from telling children that their history is evil to telling Americans that they are evil.

    In classrooms across the nation, students are being subjected to a new curriculum designed to brainwash them with the ridiculous left-wing dogma known as “critical race theory.” The key fact about this twisted doctrine is that it is completely antithetical to everything that normal Americans of any color would wish to teach their children.

    Instead of helping young people discover that America is the greatest, most tolerant, and most generous nation in history, it teaches them that America is systemically evil and that the hearts of our people are full of hatred and malice. Far from advancing the beautiful dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — that our children should “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” — the left’s vile new theory preaches that judging people by the color of their skin is actually a good idea.

    Teaching even one child these divisive messages would verge on psychological abuse. Indoctrinating generations of children with these extreme ideas is not just immoral — it is a program for national suicide. Yet that is exactly what the Biden administration endorsed recently in a rule published in the Federal Register aimed at inflicting a critical race theory-inspired curriculum on American schoolchildren.


    • dakinikat says:

      That has to be written by Stephen Miller. It sounds like his vile beliefs.

      • quixote says:

        The My Pillow guy is probably too incoherent to have written it. The crazy lawyer guy, Lin Wood (? not sure, something like that) could have done it. I believe you have to be able to read and write to pass law school. Dark horse candidate: Ivanka? Probably not. She’s too smooth.

        (Seriously, when are we finally going to be RID of this endless supply of jerks?)