Tag Archive: Supreme Court

How to beat the Republican billionaires

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court

Last Wednesday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission left many Democrats and progressives dejected. The ruling from the Republican-dominated Supreme Court essentially removed any limits on aggregate political contributions by individuals, meaning that Republican billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson now can buy even more members of Congress and more elections by pumping more money into false TV attack ads against Democrats. So it’s the end of the world for Democrats, right? We say “wrong!” While Democrats of course should work to reverse McCutcheon and its predecessor Citizens United, here’s how Democrats can win elections in the meantime despite the Republicans’ dark money advantages:

Supreme Court upholds First Amendment

Messaging Matters2

In a decision that was all but overshadowed by anticipation over decisions on gay marriage and voter rights, the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday ruled 6-2 in favor of the First Amendment. This case was Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International. The dispute was over a 2003 law with the rather clunky name “United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003.” The law provides billions of dollars for non-governmental agencies to fund efforts to combat HIV/AIDS worldwide. However, the law required funding recipients to agree explicitly in their awarding documents that they oppose prostitution. That provision was added by Republican Representative Chris Smith, reportedly as a sop to conservative ideology that had no practical effect on the prevention of HIV/AIDS. The law also requires the U.S. President, as part of the overall prevention strategy, to “promote abstinence” and “encourage monogamy and faithfulness.”

The hate behind DOMA, finally revealed

Messaging Matters2

Credit U.S. Supreme Court Justice (and Obama appointee) Elena Kagan with outing the Republican discrimination behind their 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). At today’s hearing before the Supreme Court, Kagan read from the Republican-drafted House Report that accompanied the original DOMA legislation:

Congress decided to reflect an ‘honor of collective moral judgment’ and to express ‘moral disapproval of homosexuality.’

Here’s the entire quote from pages 15-16 of the 1996 House Report:

Cult of presidency

Last September, we published a post about how, under the Constitution, presidents don’t have individual control over the economy, and that economic improvement requires the assistance of Congress. We noted that many voters seem to be under the mistaken impression that presidents control America’s direction themselves, in part because of the cult of personality that the media have built up around the office of the president. Sure enough, at President Barack Obama‘s press conference on the sequester last Friday (see video above), two “reporters” furthered this erroneous cult of the presidency. Here, from the press conference transcript, are their exchanges with President Obama:

The Republican Supreme Court’s Voting Wrongs

Messaging Matters2

Incredibly, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is under attack, and that attack has made its way all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Perhaps not so incredibly, some of the right wing Republican justices who hold a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court trashed the Voting Rights Act during oral arguments today. The grand trash prize goes to Justice Antonin Scalia, who, during the argument, called the Voting Rights Act a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” Scalia was joined by fellow Republicans Anthony Kennedy, who said that “times change” (implying that one or more sections of the Act may have outlived their usefulness), and Chief Justice John Roberts, who stated similarly that “things have changed in the South.”

How to Frame the Affordable Care Act Win

After suffering a historic political loss via the Supreme Court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are seeking to make lemonade by characterizing the ACA as a massive tax on everyone. Let’s not help them do this.

For example, I’ve heard Republicans such as Rush Limbaugh call the ACA (please don’t call it “Obamacare” — that’s pejorative right-wing framing designed to evoke Big Government and the Nanny State) “the biggest tax increase in the history of the world.” I guarantee that Republican politicians will be using phrases like “massive tax increase” over and over. But then I hear Democrats saying “no, it’s not the the largest tax increase in history, there have been bigger ones.” That’s a terrible response. It’s like a criminal lawyer telling the court, “my client didn’t kill 26 people as the prosecution alleges, he only killed 20.” You never want to argue within the frame established by your opponent. That’s playing on a field tilted against you.

Instead, here are some useful points to remember regarding the ACA and the Supreme Court ruling:

President Obama Takes it to the Republicans

Mark the beginning of April as the time President Obama amped up his campaign rhetoric against the Republicans to a new level. First, on April 2, President Obama, as shown in the above video, turned the tables on the Republicans’ long-running charges of “judicial activism” against judges appointed by or aligned with Democrats, and said that if the conservative-controlled U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act or its health insurance mandate provision, that would be “judicial activism”.

Then, on April 3, President Obama came out swinging against Republican Congressman Paul Ryan‘s budget plan, and, by extension, the entire Republican philosophy of “trickle-down economics.” According to President Obama, the Republican plan, containing more tax cuts for the wealthy and drastic spending cuts for lower income Americans, “is thinly veiled social Darwinism.”

In both of these cases, President Obama followed Messaging Maxim #1: Go On Offense. It was a page taken from the Republican playbook, and it may well be extremely effective.