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Three Recent Supreme Court Decisions That Reveal Dangerous Intentions

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Posted on Jun 6, 2012
AP/Artist rendering

By Bill Blum

(Page 2)

In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a now-familiar refrain, chided the majority for departing from the court’s prior precedents on double jeopardy, elevating form over substance and giving the state a “proverbial second bite of the apple.”

Blueford is scheduled to be re-arraigned on all charges later this month in Arkansas.

Perry v. Perez

If the Supreme Court handed Arkansas a second bite in Blueford, it gave Gov. Rick Perry and his Texas Republican cronies the entire apple in this set of three companion voting rights cases handed down in January.

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When the 2010 census revealed that the population of Texas had grown by 4.2 million, the state Legislature was required to redraw congressional districts to comply with the one-person, one-vote standards of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But instead of redrawing the electoral map to reflect a decades-long upsurge in the state’s Latino population, the GOP-controlled Legislature crafted a plan that undercut the political clout of both Hispanic and black communities. The redistricting was so imbalanced that even before the Voting Rights Act review process was completed, civil rights groups persuaded a three-judge federal panel in San Antonio to scuttle the Republican remap and craft a more evenhanded plan of their own.

Perry and the state Legislature took umbrage and the Roberts court came to the rescue. In a unanimous unsigned “per curiam” opinion released in January, the court ruled that the three-judge panel had exceeded its authority and had failed to show proper deference to the Legislature’s policy judgments on where to place new voting districts and reposition existing ones.

Whether the court’s four Democrat-appointed justices joined the decision out of genuine conviction or because of an adherence to notions of judicial restraint that their conservative brethren have long since abandoned, the ruling likely will result in new district boundaries favoring Republicans in the November elections.

Looking Ahead

As scary as these three decisions are, they’re merely a warm-up for the main act to come later this month when the court hands down its Arizona and Obamacare opinions. If the court, as many predict, strikes down the Affordable Care Act and upholds the Arizona immigration law, it will confirm that a profound alteration of the nation’s legal architecture is under way, aimed at rewriting constitutional principles at the expense of working people, minorities and the poor.

Even if President Obama is re-elected—and with the retirement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg anticipated in the near future, keeping him in the White House has taken on added urgency—the court’s Republican-appointed majority will endure. The 2012-13 docket already includes a constitutional challenge to affirmative action. A ruling on same-sex marriage and a re-examination of the Citizens United decision as it applies to state elections could also be in the offing. At least one thing can be said of the court’s Republican appointees: They’re neither slow to act nor shy about the reach of their intentions.


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