September 1, 2015

ONE PARTY GOVERNMENT:

The Coming Liberal Disaster at the Supreme Court (JEFFREY TOOBIN, 9/01/15, The New Yorker)

Affirmative action. The Chief Justice has been primed to get rid of any kind of racial preferences since he took office, a decade ago. In 2013, in Fisher v. University of Texas, the Justices essentially kicked the issue of affirmative action in college admissions down the road. Lower courts upheld the Texas plan, which allows an extremely limited use of racial diversity in admissions. Now the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case a second time--an unusual step in itself. It's hard to imagine that the Justices reached out for this case again simply to preserve the status quo. A decision limiting--or eliminating--racial preferences in admissions seems highly likely.

Abortion. After the Republican landslides in the 2010 midterm elections, more than a dozen states tightened their restrictions on abortion. No state banned abortion altogether, but several came close. Some have banned abortion after the twentieth week of pregnancy, and others have imposed requirements on clinics that make them virtually impossible to operate. (For example, the laws require that doctors who provide abortions must have admitting privileges at local hospitals; they also impose on clinics the building standards of ambulatory surgical centers.) In Texas, the new rules would require all but nine abortion providers in the state to close their doors. It's true that, in June, five Justices (the liberals plus Kennedy) issued a stay, preventing the law from going into effect; but Kennedy has favored limits on abortion in recent years, and there is every reason to believe he will support these new ones, too.

Public-employee unions. At the end of June, the Justices agreed to decide Friedrichs v. California; it could sharply limit the power of public-employee unions, which have been bulwarks of support for Democratic office-holders. In states like California, public employees who choose not to join a union must still pay the equivalent of dues ("fair share" fees) when the union negotiates their contracts. If the challengers win this case, the unions may lose millions of dollars in revenue, with a consequent loss of power. Since public-employee unions have done so much better than private-sector unions in recent years, that would hurt the union movement as a whole in an especially vulnerable place. The campaign against fair-share fees has been a special crusade for Justice Samuel Alito, and he may kill them off for good this time.

Posted by at September 1, 2015 2:34 PM
  

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