Publius and JMM draw one of the obvious implications from Verizon’s bizarre decision to refuse to carry pro-choice text messages because of their “unsavory” nature. This does make me think that it’s time to switch to digital phone service…
Author Page for Scott Lemieux
Presidential sock analyst Ann Althouse complains about Jeffrey Toobin’s new book…for being too concerned with gossip and trivia and reading too much into anecdotal evidence, rather than more rigorous, serious thinking like seeing vaginas in non-labia shaped fast-food items denied a man who recently had a quadruple bypass. I swear.
The great Dahlia Lithwick explains why Democrats should not vote for Hans von Spakovsky, just as he would prefer that they not vote for anything else:
Von Spakovsky currently sits on the FEC as a result of a recess appointment made by President Bush in January of 2006. Before that he served as counsel to the assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division at Justice. Von Spakovsky’s Senate confirmation hearing last June was noteworthy for many oddities, not the least of which was a letter sent to the rules committee by six former career professionals in the voting rights section of the Justice Department; folks who had worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations for a period that spanned 36 years. The letter urged the committee to reject von Spakovsky on the grounds that while at DoJ, he was one of the architects of a transformation in the voting rights section from its “historic mission to enforce the nation’s civil rights laws without regard to politics, to pursuing an agenda which placed the highest priority on the partisan political goals of the political appointees who supervised the Section.” The authors named him as the “point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division’s mandate to protect voting rights.”
“If von Spakovsky is confirmed,” Lithwick notes, “it will be yet more evidence that Democrats have no more regard for the rule of law, or the integrity of the Justice Department, than Karl Rove does.” Indeed.
I should also say, since some commenters in various discussions seem to miss this distinction, that there’s nothing inherently wrong with requiring Voter ID to vote. If IDs were provided by the state, made easy to obtain, and part of a general policy was to maximize voter turnout, an ID requirement would be fine. But many actual Voter ID laws — which are advanced by people who don’t favor measures to increase voting, are supported by people who have no problem with much more susceptible to fraud but GOP-skewing absentee voting, and are not supported by any actual evidence that people voting under other names is a remotely significant problem — are simply a pretext for suppressing Democratic turnout and should be rejected.
…Christy has a good roundup here.
I’m not really sure I understand the distinction that Matt is trying to draw here. As always when questions of motivations rather than actions come up, I think we have to return to George Wallace. Even politicians who make overtly racist appeals may be much more committed to winning elections than to racism. So I’m not sure it matters much what precise mixture of partisan advantage and racism motivates Republican efforts to suppress the African-American vote; the efforts are, in the end, racist even if wholly motivated by the former. Similarly, I don’t know how much racism and how much partisan advantage led to, say, Reagan kicking off his campaign in Philadelphia, MS to deliver coded appeals to southern racists (as well, of course, as the 3 Americans consistently committed to “states’ rights” principles), but it’s indefensible either way. Attempts to figure out whether the tunes played on Nixon’s Piano are authentic expressions of subjective racist beliefs or mere self-interested cynicism are both impossible and beside the point.
If anything is clear about the politics of aboriton, it’s that criminalization does relatively little to protect fetal life but a great deal to endanger the health of women. Jill points us (among other examples) to Uganda, where “as many as 1200 Ugandan women die every year as a result of unsafe abortions.” See also Latin America.
Jeff Rosen has a very good piece on John Paul Stevens in the Times Magazine. The central point is that Stevens isn’t so much a liberal as someone who plays one on the Rehnquist and Burger Courts:
Stevens, however, is an improbable liberal icon. “I don’t think of myself as a liberal at all,” he told me during a recent interview in his chambers, laughing and shaking his head. “I think as part of my general politics, I’m pretty darn conservative.” Stevens said that his views haven’t changed since 1975, when as a moderate Republican he was appointed by President Gerald Ford to the Supreme Court. Stevens’s judicial hero is Potter Stewart, the Republican centrist, whom Stevens has said he admires more than all of the other justices with whom he has served. He considers himself a “judicial conservative,” he said, and only appears liberal today because he has been surrounded by increasingly conservative colleagues. “Including myself,” he said, “every judge who’s been appointed to the court since Lewis Powell” — nominated by
Richard Nixonin 1971 — “has been more conservative than his or her predecessor. Except maybe Justice Ginsburg. That’s bound to have an effect on the court.”
It is a measure of how not only how much the Court has changed but how much the Republican Party has changed that Rockefeller Republicans now seem like liberals on the Supreme Court. There’s no Brennan, Marshall or Douglas on the modern Court. There have been some liberal advances, but that have been mostly modest expansions of existing doctrines agreeable to moderate northern Republicans: overturning a widely derided 5-4 decision that the swing vote repudiated almost immediately to strike down laws that were sporadically and arbitrarily enforced, and striking down a couple unusual applications of the death penalty that represent a small fraction of the total number of cases. And as Souter demonstrated, a Harlan-like incrementalist is obviously going to look more liberal after the Warren Court than when on the Warren Court.
The other thing to mention here is that the Burger and (especially) Rehnquist Court shifted doctrine to the right in subtle ways that makes it seem as if it changed less than it did. It’s true that the Court has generally avoided overturning major Warren Court landmarks — but it has often substantially alerted their content. The Court, of course, has never considered overturning Brown, but it has defined it to require only formalistic non-segregation as opposed to actual substantive desegregation (and has also made it very difficult for school districts to voluntarily desegregate.) Miranda has never been overturned, but any number of exceptions to it have been carved out. Casey is remembered primarily for re-affirming Roe, but also allowed the states (and the federal government) substantially more leeway to regulate abortion. And so on. Especially when dealing with the Roberts Court, it’s important to look at the substantive outcomes of the cases, not at how they characterize the precedents.
Those of us discouraged by Clinton’s imminent victories in the Democratic primary got some great news: George Bush has predicted that 1)Clinton will win the nomination, and 2)the GOP will win the election. Given his track record, I’d buy up Obama presidential contracts in the election markets right now!