Sunday, October 14, 2012

Why your voting matters in November - Scalia Edition

Hello, have you met Antonin?

He's a real asshole.

He's also a powerful justice on the United States Supreme Court. And he's an asshole, which I may have already alluded to.

When "Obamacare" was before the court, Scalia was eager to talk about the "Cornhusker Kickback," which was a deal that had been considered in Congress to woo Nebraska support for the bill through added benefits. It was dropped from the bill long before it was passed, and long before it was before the court. But Right Wing media liked to talk about it. And, somehow, Scalia felt it was an important issue that proved the unconstitutionality of the law. Like I said, he's an asshole, and he either at times doesn't know what he's talking about, or he makes stuff up on the bench to bolster his ideological positions. Take your pick.

And I could go on, looking at his decisions on cases, his dubious ties to groups coming before him, his friendships to people affected or tied to cases he decides on, ...and, like I said, I could go on.

But what is interesting to note is more of what he has said of what will come in the future.

From Salon:
“The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion,” he said. “Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.” And then he went to bed that night and slept like a baby.  
It takes a special kind of man to shrug off challenges to death penalty and abortion restrictions with nary a care in the world about how his interpretations of text might affect real human lives, and to use the phrase “homosexual sodomy” in 2012. Give him this, though: He’s consistent, down to his language. In 2003, when the Supreme Court struck down Texas sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas, paving the way for a more widespread dissolution of similar statutes in other states, Scalia wrote the dissenting opinion. At the time, he argued that “nowhere does the Court’s opinion declare that homosexual sodomy is a ‘fundamental right,’” adding, “It is clear from this that the Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed. Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.” 

Scalia is a walking anachronism. He doesn't blink on executions. He'd end access to abortion with even less thought. He'd strip away even basic gay rights, if he could. He cloaks these positions in some arcane sense of being a strict constructionist (The view one is very limited in how they can interpret law.), a protector of the Founding Fathers. It's not true. He's preserving his world view, his religious structure, and his ideology. He will bend law to meet his own ends. (And I will concede in his history he has taken positions I at least partially agree with.) And it is rewarding.

For these views, Antonin Scalia is a Conservative Superhero. Scott Brown of Massachusetts listed him as the sort of judge he wants more of in the Supreme Court. Mitt Romney has said that Antonin Scalia is the model of judge he wants to appoint more of. He is beloved.

And he can be a beginning, if we let him. With Romney in the presidency, conservative judges will begin flowing into courts, just as they were under George W Bush. Only now it will be worse, with the Tea Party and forces like the Koch Brothers knowing how much more power they wield. It is in reach to fully tilt our legal system to the Right.

This is a real risk. Particularly with the United States Supreme Court. In the next presidential term, it is confidently held that two or more justices will be retiring and need replacing. Two more Scalia? Can you imagine?

What happens to the rights of women? To the rights of gays? What happens to unions? What else that we can't imagine being eroded will be?

The GOP, the zealots among their followers, and their billionaire backers have big dreams. And activism AND voting are important in standing in their way.

It is not just about voting for President Obama. It is about keeping the Senate, and maybe expanding the seat advantage. It is about turning around the House. It is about getting in good governors in the states (They do appoint judges.). It is about learning about judges and justices in your states that are on the ballot and being sure good people are on the bench.

We have to be active, interested, and vocal. For example, in Iowa, in 2010, conservatives are mobilized to go after 3 Iowa Supreme Court justices and kick them off the bench. Why? Because they are among the ones that found gay marriage constitutional. For that they had to go, say conservatives. Now, in this election, another of the justices is up for a vote and faces heavy assault from conservatives  from Bobby Jindal to Rick Santorum. Will the good people of Iowa also mobilize and support this justice? Do they know what's happening? Do they know they should care? Can you help? And what do you know about what is happening on your own ballot?

Please, find out, and get active.

And vote.

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