SCOTUS Strikes Down Overall Limits on Campaign Contributions

supreme court 350x248 SCOTUS Strikes Down Overall Limits on Campaign Contributions

SCOTUS Strikes Down Overall Limits on Campaign Contributions (Credit: Wikipedia)

BREAKING: The US Supreme Court has struck down overall limits on campaign contributions, but leaves in place the cap on donations to single campaigns.

The decision, by a 5-to-4 vote along ideological lines, with the Court’s more conservative justices in the majority, was a sequel of sorts to Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. But that ruling did nothing to affect the other main form of campaign finance regulation: caps on direct contributions to candidates and political parties.

Wednesday’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, No. 12-536, addressed that second kind of regulation.

It did not affect familiar base limits on contributions from individuals to candidates, currently $2,600 per candidate in primary and general elections. But it said that overall limits of $48,600 by individuals every two years for contributions to all federal candidates violated the First Amendment, as did separate aggregate limits on contributions to political party committees, currently $74,600.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for four justices in the controlling opinion, said the First Amendment required striking down the limits. “There is no right in our democracy more basic,” he wrote, “than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

Dissenting from the bench, Justice Stephen G. Breyer called the decision a blow to the First Amendment and American democracy. “If the court in Citizens United opened a door,” he said, “today’s decision may well open a floodgate.”

 SCOTUS Strikes Down Overall Limits on Campaign Contributions

Black Professionals Struggle as Racial Diversity Ebbs in Many Elite Careers

An analysis finds racial diversity in elite careers such as lawyers and Fortune 500 CEO, have ebbed as a result of the recession that rocked the U.S. There is less of a push for diversity among the upper echelons of many companies than before.  Affirmative Action will be on the chopping block with the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the matter sometime this week on whether the “University of Texas can continue to consider race as one of many factors in its admissions policy.”  The New York Times reports, that “even as racial barriers continue to fall, progress for African-Americans over all has remained slow — and in some cases appears to be stalling.”

Only a little more than 1 percent of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies have black chief executives, although there are some prominent exceptions, like Kenneth I. Chenault of American Express and Ursula M. Burns of Xerox. At the nation’s biggest companies, about 3.2 percent of senior executive positions are held by African-Americans, according to an estimate by the Executive Leadership Council, an organization of current and former black senior executives.

While about 12 percent of the nation’s working-age population is black, about 5 percent of physicians and dentists in the United States are black — a share that has not grown since 1990, according to an analysis of census data that was prepared for The New York Times by sociologists at Queens College of the City University of New York. The analysis found that 3 percent of American architects are black, another field where the share has not increased in more than two decades.

Prominent Republicans, Including Meg Whitman, Sign Brief In Support of Gay Marriage

300px Same Sex Marriage 02 Prominent Republicans, Including Meg Whitman, Sign Brief In Support of Gay Marriage

Prominent Republicans, Including Meg Whitman, Sign Brief In Support of Gay Marriage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many Republicans are coming around to accepting and supporting gay marriage. Dozens of prominent Republicans including Christine Todd Whitman and David Stockman, have signed a legal brief arguing that gays have a constitutional right to marry. That position is the opposite of what many right wing evangelicals believe. This points to a schism within the GOP that has widened since the shellacking the party took in the November election. The document will be submitted later this week to the Supreme Court in support of a suit seeking to strike down Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative barring same-sex marriage, and all similar bans, the New York Times reports.

Among them are Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor; Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress.


But the presence of so many well-known former officials — including Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, and William Weld and Jane Swift, both former governors of Massachusetts — suggests that once Republicans are out of public life they feel freer to speak out against the party’s official platform, which calls for amending the Constitution to define marriage as “the union of one man and one woman.” Source


 Prominent Republicans, Including Meg Whitman, Sign Brief In Support of Gay Marriage

Poll: Three-Quarters of Americans Want New Health Care Effort If SCOTUS Strikes Down Obamacare

AP/GfK poll: A new poll finds that just one-third of Americans backs Obamacare, on which the Supreme Court is about to pass judgment possibly on Thursday, but more than three quarters want Congress and the president to begin work on a new bill if the court strikes down the 2-year-old law.

Washington Times Columnist Says Obama Has a Tendency Toward Racial Profiling, Elevated Trayvon Martin Tragedy

The Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt is out with a screed about President Obama’s horrible week and tried to blame him for the mess with Trayvon Martin, saying he has a tendency toward racial profiling. What? In case Charles Hurt hasn’t noticed, President Obama is a black man (though biracial but history dictates that he’s black) and yes, racial profiling is a huge problem for black men. That includes my father,  who is now retired, but he was a law-abiding, hard-working Christian man, who was pulled over by a New York City cop in the early 1990s and roughed up over nothing and threatened by a white officer that he would take his “brand new car” if he mouthed off. I’m pretty sure that same white cop wouldn’t have told Mr. Hurt’s father that.

People on the right like Charles Hurt would like to sweep the racial injustices perpetrated against blacks for decades under a rug. They expect us not to take a stand when there has been an obvious police cover-up in the murder of an unarmed black teen, but to just accept that cover-up because it’s just the right thing to do in their eyes. When Charles Hurt has walked in the shoes of a black American, who has lived through the darkest days in this country’s history, then he has earned the right to accuse President Obama of having a tendency towards racial profiling. Here’s an excerpt from Charles Hurt’s column:

• Last Friday, Mr. Obama wandered into the killing of Trayvon Martin. Aided by his ignorance of the situation, knee-jerk prejudices and tendency toward racial profiling, Mr. Obama played a heavy hand in elevating a tragic situation in which a teenager was killed into a full-blown hot race fight.

Americans, he admonished, need to do some “soul-searching.” And then, utterly inexplicably, he veered off into this bizarre tangent about how he and the poor dead kid look so much alike they could be father and son. It was election-year race-pandering gone horribly wrong.

• By the start of this week, Mr. Obama had fled town and was racing to the other side of the planet just as the Supreme Court was taking up the potentially-embarrassing matter of Obamacare. While in South Korea he was caught on a hidden mic negotiating with the president of our longest-standing rival on how to sell America and her allies down the river once he gets past the next election.

• Meanwhile, back at home, the Supreme Court took up the single most important achievement of Mr. Obama’s presidency and, boy, was it embarrassing. The great constitutional law professor, it turns out, may not quite be the wizard he told us he was.

By most accounts, Mr. Obama and his stuttering lawyers were all but laughed out of the courthouse. They were even stumbling over softball questions lobbed by Mr. Obama’s own hand-picked justices.

• Mr. Obama closed his week pulling off a nearly unimaginable feat: He managed to totally and completely unify the nastily-fighting Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Late Wednesday night, they unanimously voted — 414 to zip — to reject the budget Mr. Obama had presented, leaving him not even a thin lily’s blade to hide behind.

I am in agreement with Hurt’s argument about the Supreme Court and Obamacare. I really don’t see this as a win-win for the Democrats and the president if the Supreme Court throws out this legislation. It will be a big problem for President Obama’s reelection bid. But blaming him for the Trayvon Martin case and for fomenting blacks is just irresponsible. In case Charles Hurt hasn’t noticed, the black experience in this country has been tainted by racial profiling, among other things. Obama is right when he said the country needs to do some “soul-searching” because we have a faction of the population that continues to be racially profiled and too many innocent black males are losing their lives as a result. While I won’t go as far as to compare Trayvon Martin’s death to that of Emmett Till, it does bring the issue of racial profiling front and center. President Obama could have very easily said, while it’s a tragedy, I will allow the legal process to work.

President Barack Obama Signs Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 Into Law

LILLY President Barack Obama Signs Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 Into LawPhoto: Ledbetter, behind President Obama, looks on as
he signs the law. Photo taken by Jason Reed of Reuters.

I don’t think Lilly Ledbetter ever thought she would go down in history as a pioneer. Much like Rosa Parks, Johnnie Carr, Madame C. J. Walker, and so many other great women. Today, President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

Before putting his pen to the paper, Obama said: “Lilly Ledbetter did not set out to be a trailblazer or a household name. She was just a good hard worker who did her job — and she did it well — for nearly two decades before discovering that for years, she was paid less than her male colleagues for doing the very same work. Over the course of her career, she lost more than $200,000 in salary, and even more in pension and Social Security benefits — losses that she still feels today.

“Now, Lilly could have accepted her lot and moved on. She could have decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle and the harassment that would inevitably come with speaking up for what she deserved. But instead, she decided that there was a principle at stake, something worth fighting for. So she set out on a journey that would take more than 10 years, take her all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, and lead to this day and this bill which will help others get the justice she was denied. …

“I intend to send a clear message: That making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone. That there are no second class citizens in our workplaces, and that it’s not just unfair and illegal — it’s bad for business — to pay someone less because of their gender, or their age, race, ethnicity, religion or disability.” Source: USA Today

This is a great moment for true equality for women in the workplace. I would venture to say that every woman out there can identify with Lilly Ledbetter. This law was long overdue and I salute President Obama for his actions today. Women are not second class citizens. We are much more than we get credit for. As a woman, a mother and a wife, I am immensely grateful that this has been signed into law.

Justice Revius Ortique Jr., First Black Louisiana Supreme Court Judges Dies at 84

justice+ortique Justice Revius Ortique Jr., First Black Louisiana Supreme Court Judges Dies at 84 Justice Revius Ortique Jr., first black judge on Louisiana high court and civil rights advocate, has died at age 84 from complications of a stroke. There are so many unsung heroes in the struggle for civil rights that I must stop to pay homage to this great man. Ortique’s life, according to The Times-Picayune, was a succession of firsts. He was the first black member of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s policymaking organization, the House of Delegates and was also the first black Civil District Judge. His highest achievement was to win election to the state Supreme Court in 1992, but he had to step down in June 1994 when he turned 70, the mandatory judicial retirement age.

In addition to his local activities, Justice Ortique was president of the National Bar Association, an organization of African-American lawyers, and five presidents appointed him to commissions and councils, including one panel that investigated the killings at Kent State University and Jackson State College, now Jackson State University, in 1970.

A Historical Context….

Mr. Ortique was born in New Orleans and served four years as an Army officer during World War II, when he was deployed to the Pacific theater. A year after returning to New Orleans in 1946, he earned a bachelor’s degree at Dillard University. At Indiana University he earned a master’s degree in criminology by studying the criminal-justice system in the South. When Mr. Ortique returned to Louisiana, he earned a law degree in 1956 at Southern University.

According to the Times Picayune, Mr. Ortique, who set up a private practice as the civil rights movement was gathering steam, was part of a generation that possessed “a desire to bring about change,” said Sybil Morial, a friend for more than a half-century. In his profession, he channeled that desire into work on the legal teams in several suits that resulted in equal pay for black employees at companies such as the Celotex Corp. and Kaiser Aluminum.

“He was on the forefront of a lot of issues relating to civil rights,” another friend said. “I think he was well-prepared. He was fearless. Back in those days, when an African-American attorney represented a client, you’d have the deck stacked against you, but he worked pretty hard.”
His preparation was meticulous, but his friends said that was no surprise.

In 1958, he was elected to the first of five terms he served as president of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans. A year later, he was elected president of the National Bar Association, and he served three terms as president of the Community Relations Council, a biracial group formed to promote racial harmony. Mr. Ortique was the ideal choice to be a negotiator for the black community in discussions with white civic leaders on topics such as jobs in major stores and peaceful desegregation of lunch counters, bathrooms and other public facilities in the early 1960s, before access to such places was guaranteed by the landmark Civil Rights of Act of 1964.

The talks, which helped end an African-American boycott of major stores, were set up because nobody wanted people in either community to resort to violence.

In the mid-1960s, when Mr. Ortique led the National Bar Association, he lobbied President Johnson to appoint African-Americans to the federal bench. So a White House meeting was set up. Before it started, Johnson announced the appointment of eight African-Americans to judgeships. And during that session, Johnson announced that he was going to nominate Thurgood Marshall, a major civil rights lawyer, to be the first black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

A lasting legacy….

Six colleges gave him honorary doctorates. The Louisiana State Bar Association, the National Bar Association and the American Bar Association saluted him, and the Black Law Students Association named him a “Civil Rights Pioneer.” During his tenure on the New Orleans Aviation Board, five additional airlines set up shop at New Orleans International Airport, and an $850 million rebuilding, renovation and expansion program was begun. Justice Ortique also was instrumental in getting the airport named for jazz immortal Louis Armstrong.

So, he comes from the tradition of civil rights icon Johnnie Carr, who gave her life to the struggle for racial equality. We must learn about these people and the great contributions they made for us and the rich legacy they leave behind. These great and unsung heroes had the odds stacked against them but they defied conventional wisdom because they knew their purpose and worked towards it no matter what. There is a lesson in the life of Justice Revius Ortique Jr. for each of us to commit to emulating in our lives–determination. I pay homage and respect to a great man, an unsung hero in the civil rights movement