FROM Ilya Shapiro
'Conservative' courts and judicial activism Our first topic on this program was the national crisis over Bush v. Gore, when the US Supreme Court decided the 2000 presidential election. Florida's state courts were summarily over-ridden — by Supreme Court justices who'd promised to uphold states' rights and by a 5-to-4 decision declared George W. Bush the winner. One dissenter called the majority "crudely partisan." On this last week before To the Point turns to podcasting only, we hear what's happening now. From the Supreme Court on down, President Trump has promised to choose judges from lists of conservative activists.
Diversity in higher education is back in the crosshairs Despite decades of legal actions, legislation, and US Supreme Court decisions, "affirmative action" in college admissions is still a political hot potato. The New York Times reports that the Trump Administration is recruiting from among its political appointees to the Justice Department's Civil Rights division for lawyers who want to bring challenges to race-based policies in university and college admissions. Critics fear that will weaken protections for blacks and Latinos. Caught in the middle is the fastest-growing minority, Asian-Americans. Is the Administration aiming for real change — or signaling to its base of supporters? Is the real enemy of "diversity" not race after all--but economic inequality?
The US Supreme Court is back in business Justice Neil Gorsuch has the US Supreme Court at full strength after more than a year with just eight members: four conservatives and four tending liberal. After avoiding important cases that might have produced tie votes, the Court is expected to come up with some blockbuster decisions in its next term. Partisan gerrymandering, gay rights, free speech, religion and immigration are all on the docket… after the court takes three months off. Is Gorsuch even more to the right than Antonin Scalia, the man he replaced? And…how come the court gets such a long vacation?
The Voting Rights Act 50 Years Later: Race and the Ballot Box The 1965 Voting Rights Act paved the way for black voters in states where they'd been denied the franchise, despite the Bill of Rights and the Civil War. In 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled that enforcement wasn't needed any more. Now, Alabama's accused of trying again to keep blacks away from the polls, while the Supreme Court's being asked to rule that Latinos get an unfair advantage . We hear more about voter ID's, the drawing of district boundaries and the Constitution.
The Voting Wars: Who's Winning? Who's Losing? In North Carolina, it’s same-day registration; in Ohio it’s early voting; in Wisconsin and Texas, it’s Voter ID. In just 10 days, the US Supreme Court has intervened three times in voting wars between Democrats and Republicans. We’ll hear how court actions on Voter ID and other restrictions could make a big difference in Washington.
The Supreme Court Wraps Up Its Term Two key Supreme Court decisions were made today. One allows closely held companies to opt out of the requirement of having to provide contraception coverage for employees under Obamacare; the other allows some public employees to avoid paying dues to the union representing them. In a 5-4 decision today the court sided with the Hobby Lobby crafts stores and Conestoga Wood, a cabinet making company, in a contraceptive case. Both companies claimed their Christian beliefs compel them not to cover certain kinds of contraception mandated under Obamacare. The court ruled that so-called “closely held” companies such as these qualify could for an exemption under the healthcare law if it violated the owners’ religious beliefs. In the other big ruling this morning, the Court decided that unions cannot force home care workers to pay their dues. Many labor supporters and court watchers referred to Harris v. Quinn as the session’s sleeper case -- seemingly a dry challenge over the right of unions to demand dues, but lying just below the surface are implications that could affect the future of electoral politics, immigration reform, hiking the minimum wage, and other issues of vital national importance.
Will Voters Be Kept from the Polls…Again? Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that key parts of the Voting Rights Act, signed by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, had outlived their usefulness. By a five to four majority, the court lifted burdens imposed on states with histories of discrimination in voting. Almost immediately, North Carolina, Texas and other states passed Voter ID laws, cut short early voting and eliminated same-day registration. The Court also invited Congress to update the Voting Rights Act. Are those needed protections against voter fraud or a return to the past? Is there evidence of renewed hardship for minorities, the elderly or women voters? Voter ID warning outside the polling station of Ward 1 in Nashua, New Hampshire, 2013 Photo by Mark Buckawicki
Attorney General Eric Holder on Collision Course with Texas On Voting Rights Civil Rights leaders and Attorney General Eric Holder are scheduled for White House meetings later today. In the aftermath of the Court’s divided ruling on the Voting Rights Act, they’ll be discussing another case, which has led Holder’s intervention in Texas.
US Supreme Court and the Convoluted History of Civil Rights The Civil Rights Era arguably began in 1954, when the US Supreme Court desegregated the public schools — in a decision that was unanimous. This week the US Supreme Court made history with rulings on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and two cases involving same-sex marriage, but what kind of history? The court is so sharply divided that legal scholars are still trying to figure out what the decisions will mean. Can states and local agencies now get away with denying minorities the right to vote? What's next for same-sex marriage? We talk with civil-rights historian Taylor Branch and others about what happened this week and what to expect in the future.
The Voting Rights Act Gets Another Day in Court Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act covers all of nine states and localities in seven others whose histories of racial discrimination in voting led Congress to require them to get federal permission whenever they change voting laws. First passed in 1965, after voting-rights marchers were attacked by sheriff's deputies in Selma, Alabama, it's been extended several times, most recently in 2006 , with huge majorities in the House and the Senate and the signature of President George W. Bush. Today it was lawyers for Shelby County, Alabama whose lawyers told the court the Act is not just out of date, but unconstitutional. During arguments today, the US Supreme Court was sharply divided. Justice Scalia called Section 5 a "racial entitlement." Supporters called it as relevant now as when it was enacted. We hear about the arguments, how they were received and the prospects for a decision in June.
The Supreme Court Takes On Healthcare Led by Florida, 26 states have challenged President Obama's Affordable Care Act , passed two years ago without the vote of a single Republican. Lower courts have been sharply divided on the principal question of whether the federal government can punish Americans who don't buy health insurance. But there's a lot more at stake and, starting Monday, the US Supreme Court will hear six hours of oral arguments on what Republican call "Obamacare." We look at the potential consequences for the President , the Chief Justice and tens of millions of Americans.
The Supreme Court: Healthcare and History Led by Florida, 26 states have challenged President Obama's Affordable Care Act , passed two years ago without the vote of a single Republican. Next week, the US Supreme Court will hear three days of oral arguments on the case — the first time that's happened in 45 years. But laws like this, that raise constitutional issues and intimately affect tens of millions of people, don't come around very often. Lower courts have been sharply divided on the principal question: can the federal government punish Americans who don't buy health insurance? Can the government mandate that Americans buy health insurance? What's at stake for the legacies of Chief Justice Roberts and President Obama in the midst of an election year?
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.
What is Trump's plan for Middle East peace? On his first foreign tour, President Trump has promised "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there any details for re-starting talks that have been stalled for the past three years?
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.