This week the country saw a big win for public-sector unions. Yes, I do realize this sentence is not as sexy or provocative as whatever noxious fume just seeped out of Donald Drumpf’s face-hole. However, this ruling is important. It’s the second 4-4 ruling that the Supreme Court has handed down since the death of Antonin Scalia — which made it a win for the defendants, effectively maintaining the political power of labor unions.
The case brought by non-union public school teachers in California had targeted fees that many states force such workers to pay unions in lieu of dues to fund collective bargaining and other activities.
The effect of the 4-4 vote was to stay a 2014 lower-court ruling that allowed California to compel non-union workers to pay the dues — essentially, upholding the legality of public sector unions to collect the dues from those employees who don’t want to be in the union but who will nonetheless reap the benefits of collective bargaining done by unions on their behalf. Before Scalia died, it was believed he would have sided with the plaintiffs. Oh Scalia, how you won’t be missed.
And now that there are only eight justices, more tied votes are entirely possible. The liberal side of the Court has had a good few years, what with gay marriage and Obamacare being upheld and found to be Constitutional. This year, we’re looking at even more cases that can directly impact our lives, including access to abortion, affirmative action, voting rights, Obamacare (again) and immigration. It had been widely believed that the Court’s conservative bloc would have had the deciding vote in each of these. Per a long analysis in USA Today, Scalia’s death puts all these cases back in play:
- Voting rights (heard Dec. 8): The Court is considering changing the way state and municipal voting districts are drawn by allowing them to be based on the number of eligible voters, rather than total population. That would render non-citizens invisible in the count, along with children, prisoners, some ex-felons and some people with intellectual disabilities. The result: more rural, mostly white districts.
- Affirmative action (heard Dec. 9): In a crucial test of university admissions programs that take race into consideration, the court’s conservatives appeared ready in December to cut back on affirmative action. At the least, it seemed the University of Texas-Austin’s program would be affected.
- Abortion (heard March 2): Abortion clinics in Texas are challenging a state law, upheld in lower courts, that imposes tough new restrictions on doctors and facilities. The case has shaped up to be the biggest one affecting reproductive rights since 1992.
- Contraception (heard March 23): Religious non-profits such as charities, schools and hospitals are seeking an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers pay for contraceptives as part of standard health insurance plans. They stood a good chance of winning with Scalia on the bench.
- Immigration (heard in April): President Obama already had a decent chance of reversing an appeals court ruling and winning about six months to begin implementing his immigration plan, which would shield more than 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. But that was by no means a sure thing.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]This is what is at stake.[/pullquote]These are not esoteric, high-minded, intellectual cases up for dispute. These are cases representing real issues that a majority of Americans either have faced or likely will face. Will non-voting residents of a state be ignored when their district is carved up? Can women have access to, or buy, birth control if she works for a hospital with “St.” in its name? Will women finally be able to tell men to stop interfering with her decision to have or not to have children? This is what is at stake. This is why it is imperative to have Congress hold hearings on Merrick Garland, President Obama’s pick to replace Scalia, now.
LOL, who are we kidding? That’s not going to happen in this ultra-partisan, foot-stomping and pouting Congress! The worst of the Republicans — and let’s be honest, that’s really not a high bar — argue that we should let “the people” decide who gets nominated for the Supreme Court! I mean, we all know that the President really only serves seven years — the eighth being a long vacay at the Lame Duck Resort.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is beside himself with such a love of this country and he insists that he is not being partisan. He is just saying that everyone should wait until after the November election and a new President gets to choose because the people voted for this person! “Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy,” he’s crying. Except that “the people” spoke quite loudly in 2008 and 2012 when they voted for the current president. Once, it may have been an infatuation. But after the second win, we know that the people said loud and clear: this is the guy we want.
So, Mitch, the people have spoken. Twice they told you who they wanted to be President. Just because you don’t like Obama doesn’t give you and your Tea Party playmates the right to ignore doing your job as directed by the Constitution. You and those who wrap themselves in the Constitution are hypocrites.
Section 2, Clause 2 — the Advice [sic] and Consent Clause of the Constitution — reads, in part:
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court…
McConnell’s response, apparently, is that “advice and consent” does not strictly mean to hold hearings. But it can mean to hold hearings. That’s the “Advice” part. He doesn’t have to give his consent. But, as per the Constitution, but he does have to “Advice” — he has to hold hearings. He is violating the U.S. Constitution. He should be removed from office by whatever means prove necessary.
And just because now-Vice President Joe Biden pulled this nonsense back during George W. Bush’s term does not mean it was right then or right now. But let me address this to Sen. McConnell directly:
Mitch, do you really want Donald Drumpf to choose a Supreme Court justice? It could be a hybrid Apprentice and Supreme Court Idol show, with all the nominees completing inane tasks on a reality TV show with audiences voting for their favorite. Or you could just wait to see who Hillary wants in a black robe — maybe Bill Clinton? Which is more distasteful for you, Mitch? No answer? Do your job, Mitch.
As a reminder, Mitch, President Obama has nominated the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Merrick Garland. Judge Garland, from all accounts, is highly respected by Democrats and Republicans and sailed through his previous nominations. Don’t you remember him?
Luckily, the public reaction to all this has caused many senators to rethink this blatant obstructionism. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois who is up for reelection, recently broke ranks and met with Judge Garland. And it looks like many more Republican senators — Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Susan Collins of Maine, John Bozeman of Montana and Mike Rounds of South Dakota, among others — are to be next in line.
Oh, Mitch? One more thing. Here’s a civics lesson from our still-in-office President:
Presidents do not stop working in the final year of their term; neither should a senator.
That includes you.