Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Antonin Scalia and the Right to Vote

Oral argument was held today in SCOTUS in the case of Shelby County vs Holder an attempt to have section 5 of the Voting Rights Act declared to be violative of the Constitution because it treats some states differently than it does other states. Section 5 of that law requires that some states, generally the states of the old Confederacy before they may make changes in their electoral laws must seek either pre-clearance from the Justice Department or from a federal court. Congress is generally required to treat each of the member states of the Union in the same manner but that is not the determining factor. In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified and became part of the Constitution. Section 1 of that amendment says simply and eloquently that no state may limit the right to vote on “account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Section 2 of that amendment says that the “congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” The test of constitutionality is therefore not whether all states are treated equally but rather is whether or not congressional legislation is appropriate to remedy a wrong found by Congress. That standard seems pretty straight forward: is there an attempt to limit or interfere with the crown jewel of democracy, the right of citizens to vote (and to have their votes counted) by either the federal government or by any of the state governments? If there is such an attempt then Congress has the power to take whatever steps it deems 'appropriate' to remedy that fundamental wrong. That seems to be truly a no-brainer.
However at oral argument this morning one Antonin Scalia, activist judge for the right wing in America, took issue with that and called section 5 of the Voting Rights Act a 'racial entitlement' during the course of a little monologue he recited for the benefit of the crazies among us. Scalia apparently prefers a “white entitlement' to govern. It is reported that his diatribe was met by disbelieving gasps from those present in the courtroom. I submit along with Elizabeth Wydra that this is an 'American entitlemen't not a racial entitlement. Each citizen has a right to vote and a concomitant right to have that vote counted.
Mr Justice Scalia has by his comment showed both his unfitness for his office and his porcine leanings in the great struggle for equality under the law which is both the Great Promise of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration that “all men are created equal” and our Great Obligation both as citizens and heirs of that liberty to ensure that the Great Promise be actualized. It is clear to me that the House of Representatives should exercise it's power under Article I to impeach him and send Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for trial and that upon conviction by that body he should be removed from his high office and sent off to his true destiny as a footnote to history.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Papal Abdication & New TItle

Today the National Catholic Reporter announced that Benedict XVI in one of his final acts as pope has awarded himself the honorific title of “His Holiness Benedict XVI Roman Pontiff Emeritus.” Benedict will continue to wear his white cassock but will forego his red Prada slippers in favor of a simple pair of brown shoes presented to him in Mexico. He will reside in exile in the Vatican. He will reside temporarily beginning this Thursday at the papal summer residence in the mountains outside of Rome until his permanent residence, or as permanent a residence as an 85 year old in failing health, both physical and mental, can have located in a newly refurbished convent inside the walls of Vatican City now referred to as a monastery because it will be inhabited only by the “pontiff emeritus” and I presume his staff.
In little more than 48 hours the Cardinal Camerlengo will repossess Benedict's gold ring and seal and declare the See of Rome to be 'sede vacante.' That official will then summon the 115 cardinal electors to Rome to select his successor. This summons is mostly a formality since the cardinals are already in Rome politicking for themselves or their favorite candidates. There are 117 cardinals under age 80 and who are therefore entitled to participate and vote in the coming conclave. Two have announced that they will not participate in the secret festivities. One of the no shows is an Indonesian cardinal, Julius Cardinal Darmaatmadja, who has announced that due to failing health and blindness will not participate. The other is the recently resigned Archbishop of Edinburgh Scotland, Keith Patrick Cardinal O'Brien who has been accused by a number of his priests of “improper sexual conduct” with them and who has consequently resigned his see.
It is interesting to me that Cardinal O'Brien has resigned over the accusations of sexual improprieties with adults under his supervision but that none of the Bishops of the Roman church who have been convicted criminally of actually protecting pedophiles in their own dioceses or whose personnel records show that they have actively protected pedophilic presbyters under their control over the last thirty years have seen fit to either resign their sees or to recuse themselves from the conclave and its deliberations. One of those intransigent princes of the church, the Archbishop Emeritus (there's that word again) of Los Angeles one Roger Cardinal Mahony has insisted that it is his “duty” to go to Rome to participate in filling the vacant see of Rome. He has had nothing to say about it having been his duty not to protect his priests from law enforcement and not shuffle offenders from parish to parish in the dead of night one step ahead of the sheriff so to speak. He does this even as he prays for forgiveness for those people of his former archdiocese who have in his words “humiliated” him.