How the Romans fell and other commentary about our crap education

Yes, he foretold Donald Trump. This video is 4 years old.

The Supreme Court rejects restrictions on women’s abortion rights

Reverberations from the U.S. Supreme Court’s major ruling backing abortion rights were felt on Tuesday as the justices rejected bids by Mississippi and Wisconsin to revive restrictions on abortion doctors matching those struck down in Texas on Monday.

The laws in Mississippi and Wisconsin required doctors to have “admitting privileges,” a type of difficult-to-obtain formal affiliation, with a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. Both were put on hold by lower courts.

The Mississippi law would have shut down the only clinic in the state if it had gone into effect…

In addition, Alabama’s attorney general said late on Monday that his state would abandon defense of its own “admitting privileges” requirement for abortion doctors, in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The laws in Texas, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Alabama are among the numerous measures enacted in conservative U.S. states that impose a variety of restrictions on abortion. But the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday in the Texas case, providing its most stout endorsement of abortion rights since 1992, could imperil a variety of these state laws.

Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the court’s four liberals in the 5-3 decision…

Once again, sensible modern jurisprudence matches a population moving beyond ignorance. What’s left behind? True Believers and hate-filled conservatives, Republican and otherwise.

Jennifer Dalven, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the action in Mississippi, Wisconsin and Alabama is just the start of the fallout from Monday’s ruling.

“States have passed more than 1,000 restrictions on a woman’s ability to get an abortion. This means for many women the constitutional right to an abortion is still more theoretical than real and there is much more work to be done to ensure that every woman who needs an abortion can actually get one,” Dalven added.

The justices decided that the Texas law placed an undue burden on women exercising their right under the U.S. Constitution to end a pregnancy, established in the court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Reactionary politicians, careerist time-wasters, are just as convinced that delaying opportunities for free choice will suffice when and where they fail at denying individual liberty altogether. It matters not what the rationale. Such politics deserve the contempt they receive from Americans who reject superstition and ignorance.

Alabama’s secessionist judge Roy Moore suspended over bigoted rulings – once again

Alabama politics are at a low point even by the state’s own high – or low – standards: three top elected officials are embroiled in scandal or facing removal from office while a former governor serves time in federal prison on a corruption conviction.

On Friday, chief justice Roy Moore was suspended from his job. He faces possible ouster over his attempts to block gay marriage following the US supreme court ruling that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

It is familiar territory for the Republican, a Christian conservative who was removed from the same position in 2003 over a Ten Commandments monument, then easily won re-election later…

Idjits love re-electing idjits.

Among the nation’s poorest states, Alabama is troubled by problem areas including physical and mental health; comparatively low high school graduation rates; and too many occupational deaths, according to a report by the United Health Foundation…

In its list of civil charges against Moore, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission said the 69-year-old chief justice abused his office by issuing an administrative order to probate judges in January, telling them an Alabama court order and law banning same-sex marriages remained in effect despite the US supreme court decision affirming same-sex marriage six months earlier…

The court of the judiciary will decide whether Moore violated judicial ethics, and he could be removed from office if found guilty. The same court removed Moore from office in 2003 for his refusal to follow a federal court order directing him to remove a washing machine-sized Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state’s judicial building.

At least this gives today’s generation a demonstration of the thought processes of secessionists like the Confederate Judge Moore. If the federal constitution supersedes your own archaic ruling – stop recognizing federal law. He’s trying to do the same regarding the state constitution and the commission which suspended him. It’s all the same kind of anarchist silliness that ego-smitten nutballs embrace every time they confront civilized law which refuses to bend to their patriarchal dementia.

The toughest row to hoe is that red dirt and rocky line that women and men of good will in Alabama have to fight to cross. Plenty of folks who love their home state, self-educated or schooled in enough history and philosophy, science and law, to understand what a modern state and society can accomplish for all citizens. So it was when I lived in Louisiana. So it is in Alabama, today.

Supreme Court says any judge can OK search warrants for every computer in the country

The Supreme Court might have just given the FBI expanded hacking powers, opening the door for the feds to legally hack any computer in the country, and perhaps the world, with a single warrant authorized by a judge located anywhere in the United States.

The court approved a controversial change in in Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a procedural rule that regulates when and under what circumstances judges can issue warrants for searches and seizures.

Under the old language of Rule 41…judges could approve warrants authorizing hacking — or as the FBI calls it, network investigative technique, or NIT — only within their jurisdiction.

With the changes, first proposed by the Department of Justice in 2014, judges could now approve hacking operations that go beyond their local jurisdiction if the target’s location is unknown or is part of a network of infected computers, or botnets, under the control of criminals.

This change would be “the broadest expansion of extraterritorial surveillance power since the FBI’s inception,” according to Ahmed Ghappour, an computer crime law expert and professor at UC Hastings…

Privacy advocates, legal experts, and Google, have long opposed changing Rule 41 with this new language, and are now arguing that Congress should step in and amend or reject the rule change.

“The Department of Justice is quietly trying to grant themselves substantive authority to hack into computers and masking it as a bureaucratic update,” Amie Stepanovich, the U.S. policy manager at Access Now, a digital rights organization…

Congress now has until December 1 to weigh in, according to the US law governing the rulemaking process. If Congress doesn’t act, the rule will automatically come into effect.

Do I need to suggest you write, email or otherwise inform your Congress-critter to get off their rusty-dusty and do some work for ordinary citizens? Tell our elected officials to shutdown the free-form snooping our Constitutional government thinks it needs to make us safe.

SCOTUS stops Arizona Republicans from further crushing non-Anglo voting rights

The Supreme Court upheld an Arizona redistricting commission’s right to draw legislative districts in a way that ensures minority representation, delivering a crushing rebuke on Wednesday to a group of Arizona tea party activists who’d sought to strike down the state’s redistricting maps in order to increase the voting power of rural white voters.

…The plaintiffs were taking on Arizona’s Independent Election Commission, a body created through a 2000 ballot initiative intended to make redistricting less partisan. The commission produced its first legislative maps after the 2010 census. Its work came under fire almost immediately, primarily by Republicans.

At one point, then-Gov. Jan Brewer (R) attempted to impeach the commission’s chair in what was seen as a power grab. When that failed, in 2012, the Republican-led state legislature filed a lawsuit arguing that the ballot measure that created the commission was unconstitutional because it deprived the legislature of its redistricting power. The lawsuit went all the way to the US Supreme Court, which last June ruled 5-4 in the commission’s favor.

In the current lawsuit, filed in 2014, the plaintiffs, all Republicans, argued that the commission diluted their voting power by packing more people into Republican districts while underpopulating Democratic ones…Due to Arizona’s long history of suppressing minority voting, it was one of the jurisdictions required under the Voting Rights Act to clear any changes to legislative districts with the Justice Department before implementing them. The Supreme Court gutted this requirement in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, but it was in place when Arizona redrew its legislative maps.

…In an opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer, the court ruled unanimously that Arizona’s maps were indeed designed to comply with federal law in ensuring minority representation, and that the minor population deviations were acceptable…

The unanimous decision doesn’t mean much to Republicans – especially the Tea Party flavor. Constitutional law, case law, isn’t relevant unless somehow it can be brought to support racist and bigoted decisions.

Bad enough a commission was democratically established to ensure voting rights. Tough enough the Supremes recently supported the 1-person, 1-vote standards dating back to the days when the whole US government supported equal opportunity at the ballot box.

Republican attempt to limit minority representation fails in the Supreme Court


Mapmaking bigots

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state and local governments can continue their longstanding method of drawing equal-sized election districts, rejecting calls for what might have been a transformational change reducing Hispanic voting clout.

Unanimously upholding Texas voting lines Monday, the justices rejected conservative groups’ arguments that map-drawers should stop using total population and start using eligible voters as the measure for the Constitution’s “one person, one vote” principle. That approach might have reduced representation for areas with large numbers of children and non-citizens and shifted some seats to more heavily Republican areas.

Writing for six justices, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the total-population approach protects the interests of nonvoters, including children who attend public schools and their parents.

“As the framers of the Constitution and the 14th Amendment comprehended, representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible or registered to vote,” she wrote. “Total-population apportionment promotes equitable and effective representation…”

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito agreed with the outcome only, writing separately to lay out different reasoning.

The ruling touched on a fundamental question about representative democracy, asking whether lawmakers serve on behalf of everyone in their district or only those eligible to cast ballots. The issue has taken on greater importance as the share of non-citizens in the U.S. has grown…

The case stemmed from the Supreme Court’s landmark 1964 Reynolds v. Sims ruling, which established the “one person, one vote” standard and said the Constitution’s equal protection clause requires states to make their voting districts roughly the same size. The ruling voided maps across the country that had disproportionately allocated legislative seats to heavily white rural areas.

I still support the formation of a non-partisan redistricting commission along Canadian lines. Take the political crap motivating both of the two old parties out of the equation. That would follow the tenets of representative republican democracy in legitimate fashion. And, then, we might finally lose the silliness of an electoral college fashioned to the demands of horse-drawn transportation and rural slave-owners.

Gay equality beats Confederate homophobes: SCOTUS > Alabama Supreme Court


AFP/Paul Richards

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned an Alabama court order that had prohibited a lesbian from having contact with the three children she adopted and helped raise in neighboring Georgia while in a long-term relationship with their biological mother.

The ruling, without published dissent, reinforces gay rights less than a year after the court legalized same-sex marriage across the country. The justices didn’t hear arguments in the case, instead summarily reversing the Alabama Supreme Court.

The woman, identified only as V.L., has been battling the children’s biological mother, known as E.L. in court papers. The two women lived as a couple for 17 years in Alabama before gay marriage was legal in the state. V.L. adopted the children in 2007 after the pair set up a second residence in Georgia. The children were conceived by insemination from an anonymous donor.

The couple split up in 2011, and V.L. later sued in Alabama state court, accusing E.L. of denying her access to the children, one now 13 and 11-year-old twins. The case made its way to the Alabama Supreme Court, which refused to recognize the Georgia adoption decree.

V.L. said the Alabama Supreme Court violated the Constitution’s full-faith-and-credit clause, which requires recognition of court judgments made in another state. She was backed by a court-appointed guardian who is representing the children’s interests.

The Alabama court said blah, blah, blah…

The Supreme Court in December blocked the Alabama court order from taking effect while the justices considered whether to take up the dispute.

Homophobes and all the other flavors of bigot popular in right-wing America will use all means available to the unjust and self-righteous to prevent progress. Judicial, social, economic or otherwise. Anything the class of cretin endemic to Confederate America, South or North, can come up with to deny love and family to Americans who don’t suit their archaic morality will be tried until they run out of venues.

Some bigots really do think their ideology is immortal.

Supreme Court – at evens – backs EPA over toxic mercury pollution controls


Jim Urquhart/Reuters

A month after it hobbled the Obama administration’s signature regulation on climate change, the Supreme Court declined Thursday to block a different air-pollution rule that seeks to cut toxic emissions from the nation’s power plants.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. rejected a request to stay the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards rule, adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency three years ago to tighten restrictions on a class of harmful pollutants that are byproducts of burning coal.

Roberts refused it rather than waste time hoping to beat a 4 – 4 tie for fossil fuel pimps in state governments.

Roberts’s unilateral ruling means the regulation remains in effect while a legal battle continues over whether the EPA properly weighed costs and benefits in drafting the controversial regulation.

More than 20 states have joined a lawsuit opposing the MATS rule, arguing that the pollution controls mandated by the regulation are too expensive relative to the health benefits…

Coal-burning power plants are the biggest single source of man-made mercury, a neurotoxin that causes damage to the nervous system, particularly in young children. Decades of mercury pollution from coal-burning has contributed to elevated levels of the toxin in fish.

Environmental groups applauded Roberts’s decision as a win for public health.

Conservatives, papier-mâché-populists, will be crying in their beer over this one. Supporting the whinings of clown show-Congressional Republicans, they’ve all lined up to pretend Constitutional responsibilities don’t include SCOTUS appointments. Anymore.

The Koch Bros tears will fall into snifters of Napoleon Brandy. The effect is the same. Lousy governance at the behest of reactionaries sometimes snaps back and bites the bigots.