Note: We couldn't embed the video, but you can catch it here, then click on "Senator Elizabeth Warren," to skip to the beginning of her speech.
Now for the blow-by-blow.
@ 15:45 - Power is becoming one-sided, with deep pockets lining up to push against anything that changes the status quo.
@ 17:00 - Even if powerful interests lose the fight in congress, they turn it into a victory with a favorable court opinion.
@ 17:50 - There is an intense fight over what the federal court system will look like in the future.
@ 18:15 - There is a major lack in professional diversity on the federal bench.
According to a study published by ACS earlier this year, as of 2008, the federal appellate bench was "dominated by judges whose previous professional experience is generally corporate or prosecutorial." The study examined the biographies of 162 judges listed in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary. It found that 85% of the judges had worked in private practice, and also noted that it was "clear from the judges’ biographies that a sizable number of them worked for large, well-known firms that tend to represent corporations."
@ 21:10 - A great quote on Judge Chen:
At his induction ceremony, Judge Chen was quoted as saying that he never considered withdrawing his name from consideration because, as he explained, “I believe that someone should not be disqualified from the bench simply because they once represented the voiceless and unpopular, rather than the wealthy and the powerful.” Judge Chen is right.
@ 22:10 - Recent data shows a very pro-corporate tilt on the Supreme Court.
The five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court are in the top ten most pro-business justices in a half century – and Justices Alito and Roberts are numbers one and two – the most pro-business.
@ 22:45 - The extremely pro-business Chamber of Commerce, as well as other pro-business groups have had more and more wins against increasingly conservative courts. At this rate, these courts will be bought and paid for by corporate interests.
The courts have an extreme pro-business bias, and their ability to pick and choose cases is giving it the power to shape the evolution of the political landscape to its, and the powerful corporate interests to give them more power than at any point in recent history.
But, maybe it was just an isolated incident. Maybe it's just one guy getting caught with his guard down a little...
Wait, what did Texas Governor Rick Perry have to say about religious freedom?
That's your talking point. That's your hook. Everyone has the right to choose a religion, as long as they have a faith? Last I checked, 77% of people in the US were Christian. It really doesn't look like they need a hand from the government to fight some oppression, or in this case, discomfort over saying, "Merry Christmas."
So Christmas in June aside, maybe that's not the worst thing to legislate. I mean, in the grand scale of geopolitical affairs, the governor of Texas giving religious preference to a group in a very religious state, while misguided, isn't exactly like coming out in support of someone like, say, Bashar al-Assad, the malevolent dictator who slaughters his own people and has now been proven to have used chemical weapons against Syrian rebels.
Yeah, not like any GOP politicians are going to stand up for him.
Sen. Paul: Taxpayer dollars funding 'war against Christianity in the Middle East' - The Hill
“These countries are not our true allies and no amount of money will make them so. They are not allies of Israel, and I fear one day our money and military arms that we have paid for will be used against Israel,”
Alright, so Rand Paul just doesn't want to see US support go to rebels who might make problems for Israel, which makes him, essentially, a proponent of the status quo, which also means Bashar al-Assad stays in power?
We all knew the GOP rebrand was shaky but it can't be this bad. They're just running out of stuff to say since Scandalmania doesn't seem to be rocking as much this week. But we have covered Senator Rand Paul's support for the Assad regime. There really isn't anywhere we could go from there, right?
Rick Santorum: Why Mitt Romney didn’t win - Politico
It just doesn't end... I mean, Romney soundly beat Santorum! Is this reality?
The State Senate exploded when debate on a mandatory ultrasound bill abruptly ended, and Senators were screamed down by Senate President Mike Ellis (R).
Senate Bill 206 (text here ) is the latest in a series of ultra-strict anti-abortion bills that would enforce mandatory, unnecessary, and invasive, as well as not even medically sound ultrasounds on women seeking an abortion. What's more is that Governor Scott Walk is most likely going to sign it into law, as it's expected to sail through the GOP-controlled House.
Rachel Maddow's commentary on the issue adds poignancy to it all:
@ 0:20 - Watch what happens when he forces debate to end and he loses his mind
@ 0:32 - Lays waste to Democratic traditions by forcing an end to debate
@ 0:54 - "YOU'RE OUT OF ORDER." "NO YOU'RE OUT OF ORDER." Completely explodes at Senators voicing their dissent
@ 1:41 - Dissent will "not be tolerated"
@ 1:50 - 8th ear-splitting gavel smash... it indicates that the loudest and angriest person in the room dictates policy
@ 1:51 to end - Maddow's take. Will there be a political cost to pay for forcing medically unnecessary procedures on women?
All of this begs the question, "What the hell is going on?"
If you follow us on Facebook, maybe you saw this post. For a brief summary, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that interracial marriage was a Constitutionally protected practice in 1967. How often do we get unanimous rulings on anything now? That ruling also laid the claim that marriage was a basic civil right for all, and four decades later we stand to make total marriage equality a civil right.
There's plenty to get mad about, but history has given us something be hopeful about.
There are two cases the Supreme Court will rule on this month. One, the Defense of Marriage Act that the Obama administration stopped supporting long ago, and California's Proposition 8.
History has shown that the Supreme Court will stand up for civil rights, and that can be seen in several rulings over the years.
Lawrence v. Texas, 2003, which ruled sodomy laws to be unconstitutional
Loving v. Virginia, 1967, which found that VA's law barring interracial marriage was unconstitutional, which also overturned the 1883 case Pace v. Alabama and made any restriction on race-based marriage unconstitutional
There are also non-SCOTUS rulings to consider. California's long history with the battle over marriage equality has its own tale to tell:
In re Marriage Cases, May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that the "...legislative and initiative measures limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violate the state constitutional rights of same-sex couples and may not be used to preclude same-sex couples from marrying."
This overturned the legislature's 1977 law and the initiative that passed in 2000 that both banned same-sex marriage.
Prop 8, which passed in November, 2008 with 52% of the popular vote, overruled California's Supreme Court by adding a ban same-sex marriage to the state constitution.
Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 2010, the Federal District Court in San Fransisco overturned Prop 8, saying the state violated the Due Process Clause of the US Constitution, and had no compelling/rational interest in the law.
Perry v. Brown, 2011, had the case moved to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and by Feb. 2012 ruled that Perry v. Schwarzenegger should be upheld, as Proposition 8 did nothing but lessen the status and dignity of gay and lesbian couples.
There is a definite pattern of courts supporting civil rights and marriage equality.
The Obama administration wouldn't defend DOMA, and pressure is mounting for President Obama to sign an Executive Order barring LGBT discrimination by federal contractors. The Supreme Court will rule on Proposition 8 in a matter of weeks, or even days, giving the tens (or hundreds) of thousands of couples the right to marry the partner they love, and the millions of marriage equality supporters and activists who have stood up for basic civil rights a reason to be happy.
Finally, check out this awesome video from Americans for Equal Rights, on their support to overturn Proposition 8: