The Sovereign Mind

Free thought on politics and real life

Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Supreme Court

In Defense of the Court

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As if the United States Supreme Court needs a defense from me…

The Supreme Court ruled last week that the government cannot prevent organizations, including corporations and labor unions, from weighing in on political campaigns. The reaction I’ve seen has been almost all negative, with some claiming that it is the end of democracy as we know it. While I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I am concerned that this will make it even easier for corporations to gain political influence. However, what strikes me about that argument is that it is completely irrelevant: if something is unconstitutional, it doesn’t matter if we like the consequences of it or not.

Glenn Greenwald starts with that point and then goes on to make several other good points in defense of the court ruling, including linking to this response to those who say that money is property, not speech, and also posting a follow-up on the subject.

As someone with a lot of opinions but not much time to write, I’ll just ask the reader to consider Glenn’s writings on this subject to be mine (in the non-plagiarism sense, I mean), because I think I agree with him entirely.

But since I can’t bring myself to write an entirely “go read this guy” kind of post, let me add this thought experiment:

Is it unconstitutional to restrict a person from expressing his political views? Of course it is unconstitutional.

Is it unconstitutional to restrict that person from gathering with like-minded people to pool their voices together? Of course it is unconstitutional.

What if that pool of people decided that they needed to engage in fundraising efforts, such as selling stuff, in order to raise money to get their message out? Would it be unconstitutional to ban that? I think it would be, and I don’t see any real difference between that and a corporation or labor union buying air time to get their political views heard.

Now, as I said, I do worry about the influence of special interest groups in politics, but the way to fight them is not to take away the rights of the people in those organizations–it’s to exercise ours. Corporations may be considered “people” in some sense (although really I think that line of reasoning is a distortion of the decision–that’s not really what it said), but clearly they are not fully “people”. They cannot vote, and as long as they can’t, they can only be as powerful as we, the voting kind of people, allow them to be. That might sound overly idealistic–to believe that the people will rise up to think and act for themselves instead of allowing themselves to become the pawns of higher powers–but it also happens to be what the founders were counting on when they went all in on this new experiment called democracy.


Written by Mike

January 24, 2010 at 11:02 pm

What’s Next in the Gay Marriage Debate?

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With the passage of Proposition 8 in California, it is now against the state’s constitution for gay couples to marry. But does anyone really think this is the end of the issue?

The passage is just the latest of many similar state constitutional amendments passed around the nation. However the fight in California was perhaps the most important fight thus far, since it happened after gay marriage was legalized there.

So what’s next? The amendment is being challenged in court, but from what I understand that is a long-shot. The only viable course of action left for gay marriage activists is to bring their case to the United States Supreme Court. I fully expect a case to be brought before the court soon. My guess is it will happen shortly after Obama appoints a justice, which many believe he will have the opportunity to do. The case could be the most controversial since Roe vs. Wade prohibited states from banning abortion. Ironically, it could be the passage of Proposition 8 that hastens that outcome. reports:

To the gay community, California – not Massachusetts – will push the national agenda for same-sex marriage, said Kerry Eleveld, political editor of The Advocate, a gay-oriented national publication. It was California, she noted, that struck down a ban on interracial marriage 60 years ago, paving the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to agree two decades later.

But, some have a word of caution:

Other lawsuits could follow, but gay rights groups have called on supporters not to file cases in federal court. They fear that a loss at the U.S. Supreme Court could set back the marriage movement decades.

“We think it is early to go into federal court and ask federal courts to say we have a federal right to marry,” Pizer said.

By “too early” I assume they mean they want to wait for some turnover on the court.

The only thing that would trump the U.S. Supreme Court decision would a national constitutional amendment, which is off the table due the fact that Democrats are now in charge.

In that case, the best that defenders of traditional marriage can hope for is that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule that states are within their rights to restrict gay marriage. That would allow some states to allow gay marriage and some to restrict it. But honestly, my prediction is that the U.S. Supreme court would hand down a decision analogous to Roe vs. Wade, and gay marriage will be legal everywhere much as abortion is.

So for those on either side of this issue, get ready for a wild ride. This is only the beginning.

Please note I’ve left my own opinion on the issue out of this for now. This is just my prediction, like it or not. If I’m right, they’ll be plenty of attention paid on a national level and plenty more discussion to be had.

Written by Mike

November 5, 2008 at 7:30 pm