Posts Tagged ‘constitution’

And a gender entitlement.

And a religious entitlement.

And a class entitlement.

Its a citizenship entitlement. That’s a good thing.

You want to make the VRA obviously, unquestionably constitutional? Expand preclearance to every state. We very clearly still need it.

Even better still, nationalize the election of a President. Take away states’ power to make discriminatory laws in the first place.

The federalists may now man their pitchforks.

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Krugman makes the case in favor of minting the SUPERCOIN!.

I understand the arguments in favor of it,hell I’m sympathetic to them, but I think the whole thing is just patently ridiculous. It’s no way to run a country. Of course, the GOP refusing to authorize borrowing to pay for the spending they already authorized in order to extract unpopular policy concessions is just as ridiculous.

The legal issue boils down to this: The President is legally obligated to spend the money congress has appropriated on the things that congress has appropriated it for. The President is also legally obligated to not issue any debt beyond the debt ceiling. The President is also constitutionally obligated not to default. Those things are (or, will be in a couple weeks, if the ceiling is not raised) mutually exclusive. The choice will have to be made: which illegal option to go with? The constitution makes it pretty clear that defaulting on the debt is not an option, so bond holders must be paid, which means the President has to prioritize those payments over the day to day operation of the federal government. That is, again, illegal, but the constitution trumps the legislation appropriating the money. That’s what I foresee as being the legal argument, at any rate. No SUPERCOIN! involved.

Terrible ideas. But avoiding the debt ceiling via the SUPERCOIN! is also a terrible idea. The debt ceiling, itself, is a terrible idea. We need to just eliminate the damn thing, and stop making a mockery of ourselves. Governing via gimmick is not a solution. 

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On his show this week, CNN host Piers Morgan was interviewing a gun advocate,and called him an “unbelievably stupid man”.

There is now a petition on the White House website calling for Morgan to be deported for his “hostile assault on the 2nd Amendment”.

Unless I’m misreading something, nothing in the 2nd Amendment precludes anyone from calling anyone else an idiot. The 1st Amendment, on the other hand, makes it very clear that the government may not deport someone for expressing their opinion.

You may file this under perfectly obvious points that shouldn’t have to be made.

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Thanks to Citizens United, it is perfectly legal for your employer to tell you who to vote for, and its becoming increasingly common. Corey Robin has some examples. The entire piece is quite good, you should just go read it. He notes not only examples of companies exercising their “free speech” by telling their employees how they should vote, but of attempts to limit those employees own freedom of speech. Today, a recording of Mitt Romney encouraging employers to tell their employees how to vote was released.

This is coercion, plain and simple. It will no doubt be defended as an economic argument, They didn’t say vote or you’re fired, they said if the wrong guy wins the economy will go to hell and you’ll get laid off, and I suppose that is technically true. The coercive power, though, is the same. I am well aware that freedom of speech refers to the freedom from government reprisal, and I have often argued that freedom of speech is not freedom from consequence. In this case though, I don’t believe freedom of speech holds up as a defense. Free elections are critical to a democracy. If we allow people in a position of power to threaten, either directly or implicitly, negative consequences for voting in a way they don’t like, then we do not have free elections. No one should have to be faced with the choice of voting their conscience or losing their job.

This is yet another consequence of inequality in America. Those with the means to lose their job will be able to ignore their employer and vote their conscience, those without those means will not. The typical “free markets” argument here goes that if you don’t like your company’s policy, you should quit. Companies that hold these noxious policies won’t be able to attract good employees and will fail, and so the problem will be resolved. That sounds fantastic in an economics classroom. In the real world, though, its horse shit. Some people, maybe even most people, may have the luxury to quit their job over a principled disagreement. There will remain many, though, who do not. For any number of reasons, there are quite a few people who simply cannot quit their job, regardless of what indignities or abuses they are subject to. The consequences, for them, would be worse than enduring. Perhaps they’ll lose their healthcare and be unable to get it back. Perhaps they simply can’t afford to miss a paycheck or perhaps they can’t leave town and have no other options locally. Whatever the case may be, quite a few people are at the mercy of their employer. If they are told to vote a certain way or lose their job, they will. Folks who support Citizens United on free speech grounds often talk about the coercive power of the State. But it seems like they are happy to ignore completely the coercive power of employers. For example:

the largest privately held coal company in the nation, Murray Energy, has routinely coerced its employees in to giving to GOP candidates. In the process, Murray Energy workers became the second largest block of donors to Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner’s 2009-2010 coffers. “We have been insulted by every salaried employee who does not support our efforts,” wrote company CEO Robert Murray in a March 2012 letter to employees obtained by The New Republic; attached was a list of employees who had not yet attended fundraisers.

September 2010 letter lamenting insufficient contributions to the company PAC is more pointed. “The response to this letter of appeal has been poor,” Murray writes. “We have only a little over a month left to go in this election fight. If we do not win it, the coal industry will be eliminated and so will your job, if you want to remain in this industry.”

We cannot allow people to be coerced into voting a certain way. That’s not freedom. Say what you will about the rest of Citizens United, but it absolutely must not ever be legal for an employer to attempt to coerce an employees vote. This is about as far from freedom and democracy as can be, and it is supported by the Supreme Court Of The United States.

Corporations are people too, my friend. Actual people, on the other hand, can fuck off.

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File this, from Constitution Daily, under “things that should have been obvious but I didn’t actually know”:

The 16th Amendment. As the Drys fought to ban booze, a key step was the imposition of a national income tax, to replace taxes on liquor sales. The 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913, providing a clear path to Prohibition. Somehow, after Prohibition was repealed, the government forgot to repeal the income tax!

So there ya go. Maybe I actually did know this, but forgot it. We’ll go with that.



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Title has nothing to do with the post, I just liked the line, and so I stole it shamelessly. 

Amused has a good post riffing on the trend (I guess?) of children not being invited to weddings. I’m not really interested in that particular question, but I want to highlight it because she brings up two themes that have appeared here before: home ownership and freedom of speech.

Bashing weddings is not unpopular, and I hasten to separate myself from the crowd that always rushes to point out that the money spent on a wedding would be better used towards a downpayment on a home. I actually hate it when people say things like that…

The American obsession with home ownership for its own sake, no matter the cost or individual circumstances, is almost as ridiculous as the obsession with “perfect” weddings.

Agreed. We have spent the last 60 years or so bashing the notion of home ownership into our collective national psyche so entirely that it seems impossible to ponder doing otherwise. It has been the basis for public policy, and is essentially what people think of when they think about “The American Dream”. Home ownership has become, in fact, a measure of self importance. You aren’t really successful until you have a house in the ‘burbs. You can’t really feel good about yourself until you have that well manicured, tiny lawn, and that not so tiny payment. Back in January, I highlighted a quote by Gingrich stating that home ownership “is the greatest achievement” of peoples lives and makes them “feel like they are good solid citizens.” No room for even the possibility that maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt isn’t worth it for the chance to sit in traffic! Of course there’s nothing wrong with home ownership. For some, it works out great. For others, its not for them. That’s all fine. I merely reject the idea that home ownership status should be viewed as some kind of national metric for self worth or merit.

More important than home ownership, though, is the notion which many seem to forget, that freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence-free speech:

It was said repeatedly in the thread I linked that the marrying couple have the right to decide who does or does not attend their wedding. After all, it’s their day, and the guest list is their prerogative. That is, of course, true. However, there is often a confusion in people’s minds between having the right to do something and having the right to receive only innocuous reactions to whatever it is you do simply because you have the “right” to do it.

Amused’s point here was that the marrying couple has every right to ban children from their wedding. Their guests (or not) also have every right to be offended by that ban. It’s simple, and it’s a perfect example of the point I discussed in the link above that speech (and actions) have consequences and just because one has the right to do something doesn’t mean they can do it with impunity. Others may be offended. Maybe they won’t be. They may act on that feeling. They are well within their rights to do so.

Bet you never thought you’d see a question on wedding etiquette lead to a quote from Newt Gingrich and a civics lesson!


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Nowhere is the Republican Party’s transformation from actual government into fundamentalist Christian sect more complete than in Tennessee. They are now freaking out because the governor has hired a Muslim, which is of course proof that our government is being replaced by Sharia Law.

I set out to write a post about this, but really The Gravel Kraken has summed it up quite nicely:

We live in a country founded on equality and freedom of religion. That is, everyone has an equal amount of freedom to be christian.

There was a good bit of sarcasm in there and I can only imagine how much more of it there would be if I had written it, but I want to point out that the above quote is entirely consistent with the Republican worldview in it’s current incarnation. Their party platform directly calls for the election of more Christians and the basing of public policy on Christianity, while simultaneously railing against Sharia Law. They are not opposed to religion in government, just opposed to anyone else’s religion in government.

Freedom of religion, indeed.

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