The Supreme Court issued their last rulings of the season yesterday, and I thought one ruling kind of got short shrift by the media. Granted, there were other big rulings on the same day (the court usually saves their biggest cases for last, but this year they actually released the two biggest decisions last week) involving E.P.A. regulations and the death penalty, but the redistricting case -- to me, at least -- was more important.
Archive of Articles for June, 2015
For political wonks, June is not the month to celebrate grads, dads, and brides, but instead the biggest SCOTUS month of the year. SCOTUS (for the un-wonky) stands for "Supreme Court Of The United States." June marks the end of the Supreme Court's yearly session, and it is when all the biggest decisions get handed down.
President Obama has been having a pretty good week. Actually, to be perfectly accurate, President Obama's legacy has been having a pretty good week. At the end of all presidencies, everything they've achieved and failed to achieve is lumped together under this term, so that historians can debate about the president's legacy for decades to come. It's a normal part of the American cycle. This week, Obama won a preliminary victory in Congress and he just won a resounding court confirmation of his biggest legislative victory to date, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (which has become the eponymous "Obamacare"). Next week, the Supreme Court is expected to declare marriage equality for all, in every state. As I said, a pretty good week all around, legacy-wise.
Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, just became the 13th Republican candidate for president. Whether this will prove to be lucky or unlucky remains to be seen. Even though the field is already incredibly crowded, Jindal will not be the last Republican to announce -- there are at least two other contenders who will likely jump in (Scott Walker and Chris Christie), with the possibility of a few more longshot candidates as well. The more crowded the field gets, the harder it is going to be for any one of them to stand out, which is precisely Jindal's main problem.
Large corporations are getting more involved in politics. Whether that is seen as a good thing or a bad thing depends upon the political issue involved and the side the corporation takes (and, of course, the side you're personally on). Conservatives cheer when corporations take a stand on abortion, liberals cheer when a corporation stands up for gay or civil rights. But it does seem like we're entering into a new era of corporate political behavior, or (since they're apparently people now) perhaps "corporate citizenship" might be a better term.
So vexillology is in the news. Vexillology (as fans of The Big Bang Theory should already know) is the study of flags. A spirited debate is taking place about South Carolina's law which dictates that the Confederate battle flag be prominently displayed on the grounds of the statehouse. This flag used to fly over the statehouse dome, but was moved to a Civil War monument the last time this debate raged, as a form of compromise that was deemed politically acceptable at the time.
It's been a rollercoaster week in the political world, beginning with Hillary Clinton shifting the gears of her campaign by holding her first big rally, which was immediately followed by the man we're going to call "Jeb! Bush!" finally officially announcing his own candidacy.
The Supreme Court handed down two decisions today on free speech cases, both of which did some hair-splitting on the role government has in regulating certain types of speech. What's interesting is that they seemed a bit contradictory at first glance, since one was decided in favor of government regulation of free speech and one was not, but these are awfully fine hairs to be split and in reality the cases are only superficially similar.
Is Fox News on the brink of becoming (as Pinocchio might say) a "real news organization" instead of the wooden de facto propaganda wing of the Republican Party? This might have been seen as a wildly speculative (and unrealistic) question just a short time ago, but events seem to be moving quickly and it now can be seen as a distinct possibility.
When the 2016 presidential campaign season began earlier this year, I started writing articles about every candidate when they officially announced their candidacies. I made a promise in many of these columns, that I would take each candidate seriously no matter what I personally thought their chances of winning were, or how much I agreed or disagreed with their platform. I promised not to be snarky, above all. I think that running for president is a serious business, and even though it does occasionally include what I would call "not really serious" candidates, I still wanted to give a measure of respect to each entrant to the race at the very start of their campaign. As I put it repeatedly, there will be plenty of time for being snarky later (usually on Fridays, of course).