There is a lot of buzz on the right about President Obama and the Supreme Court. Who can forget (and I wrote about it) that moment during the State of the Union Address when President Obama called out the Supremes on Citizens United, and Justice Alito mouthing ” that’s not true”. Well here is some news for everyone.
This is not the first President to defy the Supreme Court. And it probably won’t be the last. In 1830 the Supreme Court ruled the Indian Removal Act unconstitutional. Then President Andrew Jackson pretty much defied the order and said publicly that the court should try to enforce it’s ruling.
During the Bush administration Congress passed 2 laws about the treatment of Prisoners of war (I know I know) let’s call them detainees. The Supreme court ruled that both laws are unconstitutional. The grounds of this argument was only that it attempted to strip the judiciary of its power. The argument from the congress and administration is that by the powers of the Constitution the judiciary has no power over foreign combatants (ah Detainees). This let to howls from the left that Bush was defying the Supreme Court. This would be a great constitutional debate. Anyone up for a REAL debate? We get a few Constitutional scholars together and debate the role of the Courts surrounding laws passed by Congress. Like what would be the basis for finding a law unconstitutional. Okay back to the matter at hand.
So now we have President Obama. Who while running for Election said that certain acts of discrimination had to be corrected. It seems a woman named Lilly Ledbetter sued her employer for fair pay issues. She had gone over the 180 threshold that was law at the time. The Supreme Court dismissed Ledbetter’s case on the ground of the timing. But did not rule on any other issues. The Congress of the United States voted on the Lily Ledbetter act and it was signed into law by President Obama. I would not call this defiance of the Court. I would call it correcting an oversight in a law. There is a separate argument here that I find it hard to believe that even today, intentional discrimination exists. Companies, especially large ones go to great lengths to ensure the culture of “inclusion”. I will admit there may be individuals, but corporate discrimination now?
So congress changed the rules and that was okay. The Supreme Court did not go back and strike down Lily Ledbetter’s Law. It is still in place. Then we come to Citizens United. This ruling has raised a firestorm of heat from all sides. Here is the fact that nobody is talking about. For the most part companies do not put all of their election eggs in one basket. What do I mean? While looking at corporate political contributions you will find that companies do not lean very heavily one way or the other when it comes to donation to politicians. Many give almost evenly to both parties. So why then does Barack Obama want to call out the Supreme Court during a national speech? If anything the court opened the door for even more contributions to both parties. If you want to see a real disparity in contributions check out the unions. 86 percent of all donations from Unions go to Democrats. Hmmm… THAT could be a reason for a shout out during the State of the Union.
Now we come to the Wal-Mart decision, or more correctly the dismissal. The court found that the “class” had no unifying factors. They did not rule on anything other that the Class action part of the suit. You see the courts in earlier cases have ruled that classes must have a common ground, or let’s say a common answer. The Supreme Court looked at the arguments for the class and found various answers to one question. Is there a common mode of discrimination throughout the company? The court answered no thereby excluding the class in the Class action suit. So what happens almost immediately after the decision? The Chief talking head of the White House says that they are reviewing the decision. I guess you would expect this. But now we will wait to see how they react to this ruling.
While all this is going on. Lets not forget the Patient Care and Affordability Act of 2010, which is still winding its way through the lower courts. I that case goes before the Supremes before November 2012 there could be real fireworks, and the same applies if the President wins his reelection bid.
Hold on folks this ride is not over yet.