Supreme Court decisions

Sotomayor's Schuette Dissent

Justice Sotomayor analyzes a state constitutional ban on affirmative action through the lens of history and the reality of race in America.
PFAW Foundation

New Poll Shows Support for Marriage Equality, Affirmative Action, and Voting Rights – But Not the Supreme Court

In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court rulings on critical civil rights issues, a new poll finds increasing support for marriage equality and falling support for the high court itself. 

A national Princeton Survey Research Associates poll found that 55 percent of Americans think that marriages of same-sex couples should be legally recognized – the highest level of support ever.  A similar percentage (53 percent) believe that affirmative action programs are needed, and more Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act (49 percent) than support it (40 percent).  In other words, the American people are not on board with the Supreme Court turning back the clock on our civil rights.

So it is not surprising that Supreme Court approval ratings are falling.  The Princeton poll found the lowest level of approval (43 percent) in eight years, with slightly more Americans disapproving of the way the court is doing its job (44 percent).  Similarly, a Rasmussen poll released yesterday found that the percentage of likely voters who think the Supreme Court is doing a poor job is rising. 

What is more surprising is that both polls show that a greater percentage of Americans still believe that the high court is “too liberal” than believe it is “too conservative.” As PFAW President Michael Keegan pointed out in May, this is no accident:

“In recent decades, right-wing leaders have worked in popular culture to attack the courts as a liberal peril while successfully organizing to dominate and control legal institutions to create courts that no longer look out for the rights of all Americans. They have set up law schools and legal societies to promote corporate and right-wing commitments, have promoted the appointment of reactionary judges and Justices, blocked the appointment of even moderate jurists, and defined a legal agenda that subordinates individual rights to government power and public regulation to corporate power. Right-wing success in remaking the judiciary in the image of the Republican Party has not led conservatives to curb their bitter attack on ‘liberal judicial activism,’ a fantasy that is several decades out of date but indispensable to this smoke-and-mirrors operation.”

While conservatives continue to crow about “liberal judicial activism,” the American people are realizing that the Supreme Court’s conservative rulings on issues like voting rights and the rights of workers and consumers do not reflect their beliefs or the nation’s core constitutional values. 
 

PFAW

Gay Legislator Blocked from Speaking in 'Rebellion Against God's Law'

Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims, an openly gay legislator, was blocked from speaking on the floor of the state House on Wednesday by a colleague who believed Sims’ plans to speak about the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage decision would be in "open rebellion against God’s law.”

According to WHYY, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe raised a procedural objection to stop Sims from speaking during a part of the House session in which legislators often give wide-ranging remarks.

"I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God's law," said Metcalfe, R-Butler.

Metcalf is a far-right legislator who has sponsored a marriage amendment to the state’s Constitution and “birther” legislation, and called for overturning birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment in order to “bring an end to the illegal alien invasion.”

Sims, who said he appreciated the apologies and support he received from other Republican members of the House, has asked the legislature to reprimand Metcalfe for his comments. 

Tony Perkins Cheers Gutting of Voting Rights Act

While civil rights leaders are denouncing the 5-4 Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is cheering.  In an email alert sent at the end of the day on Tuesday, Perkins says, “With help from the U.S. Supreme Court, America may finally be turning a page on the racial politics that have haunted our last 50 years.”  Oh, yes, giving a green light to the kind of blatantly discriminatory voter disenfranchisement efforts that we’ve seen in recent elections is certainly going to help America “turn the page” on racial politics.

Like other Religious Right leaders, Perkins loves to denounce “judicial activism” when judges uphold reproductive choice or legal equality for LGBT people. But he happily embraces this ruling in which a narrow Court majority rejected a huge bipartisan congressional vote that reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006 on a matter in which the Constitution specifically and intentionally gives Congress wide discretion. Perkins complains that “Congress insisted on reauthorizing a Voting Rights Act that was rooted in one of the darkest chapters of U.S. history.” And he claims that “In recent days, the Voting Rights Act has been a tool for a liberal and politically-motivated DOJ to shape laws to its advantage.”

Perkins seems deeply concerned about “the red tape of the Voting Rights Act” that he said has been “unnecessarily handcuffing” states whose history of disenfranchisement meant that they had to have changes in voting procedures pre-approved by the Justice Department or by a three-judge District Court in the District of Columbia. In contrast, Perkins seems utterly unconcerned about more recent voter disenfranchisement campaigns waged by the GOP and its allies. 

Perkins cites Chief Justice John Roberts’ disingenuous suggestion that the court was not acting in a way that would encourage discriminatory disenfranchisement. "Our decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting," Roberts insisted. "Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions."

Is there anyone who thinks Roberts and Perkins actually want the federal-government-hating Tea Party Republicans who are calling the shots in the House of Representatives to support the creation of a new formula that would subject more states to federal oversight?  Perkins makes his thoughts on that point abundantly clear with this comment about the Justice Department: “And in an administration as corrupt as President Obama's is proving to be, the less power it has over the states, the better!”

Barriers to Justice and Accountability: How the Supreme Court's Recent Rulings Will Affect Corporate Behavior

PFAWF's commentary to the Senate Judiciary committee reveals that, during its 2010-2011 term, the Supreme Court has severely undermined individuals’ ability to harness the power of law to rein in giant corporations’ excesses.

Supreme Court Strikes Another Blow to Clean Elections

The Supreme Court today, in a 5-4 decision, struck down the long-standing Arizona law providing matching funds for publicly financed candidates running against well-financed opponents.

In Two Decisions, Corporate Court Majority Rules with Drug Companies over Citizens

The Supreme Court today handed two victories to large drug companies over the citizens who had sought to hold them accountable.

The 2010-2011 Supreme Court Term: Corporate Power v. People’s Rights

Several times this term, a divided Supreme Court has let a right wing political agenda trump the law and common sense, to the detriment of the Constitution and the American people.

PFAW's Marge Baker Discusses the Impact of Citizens United

PFAW's Marge Baker discusses the impact of and reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010.

Americans Unite Against Corporate Influence in Elections on Anniversary of Supreme Court Decision

Today, the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, activists around the country will gather to protest the decision that lifted restrictions on corporate influence in elections and to call for a constitutional amendment to reverse it.

Rise of the Corporate Court: How the Supreme Court is Putting Businesses First

The Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC is the logical expression of an activist pro-corporatist jurisprudence that has been bubbling up for many decades, but has gained tremendous momentum over the last generation.

People For the American Way, Public Citizen Launch Constitutional Amendment Pledge Campaign to Undo Citizens United

People For the American Way and Public Citizen today announced a campaign calling on candidates for Congress to pledge to support an amendment to the Constitution to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s dangerous decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Supreme Court Rules Against Government-Aided Discrimination

The Supreme Court ruled today in a 5-4 decision that a publicly funded law school need not provide funding and recognition to a campus group with policies that discriminate based on religion and sexual orientation.

Supreme Court Weakens First Amendment

The Supreme Court ruled today in favor of a loophole designed to allow a 6 1/2 foot Christian cross located on federal land in California to sidestep Constitutional protections of religious liberty

Sample State/City Resolution Supporting a Constitutional Amendment

Ask your town, city, or state to pass a resolution in favor of an amendment to correct Citizens United by sharing our sample resolution with your local councilmember or state legislator.

Government By the People Activist Toolkit

A citizens’ toolkit for repairing the damage done by Citizens United v. FEC.

Justice Alito Has Some Things He'd Like to Say...

In the aftermath of Citizens United v. FEC, PFAW looks at the cases in which Justice Samuel Alito has also said "not true."

PFAW Statement on Frank Ricci Discrimination Cases

PFAW statement about the important role that employment discrimination laws play for all Americans and the Right's use of loaded terms like "reverse discrimination" to attack Judge Sotomayor over the decision in Ricci v. DeStefano.

Supreme Court Rules Against Diversity in Ricci

The Supreme Court today ruled 5-4 to overturn the Second Circuit’s decision in Ricci v. DeStefano. The Court's ruling severely limits the ability of governments and private corporations to create a diverse workforce.
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