Capricious Processes

No Sift next week. New articles will appear on January 31.

As these decisions show, the Court’s future hinges less on the text of federal law and the Constitution than on the capricious process by which conservatives define what it means to be one of them.

– Adam Serwer
The Culture War Has Warped the Supreme Court’s Judgment

This week’s featured posts are “Merrick Garland Starts Getting Serious” and “The Court and the Vaccine Mandates“.

This week everybody was talking about voting rights

Ever since Georgia passed its new voter-suppression law last March, Democrats at the federal level have been talking about protecting voting rights. But with a zero-vote margin in the Senate, and voting rights not fitting into any of the existing holes in the filibuster, talking is about all they’ve managed to do.

The conversation started with the For the People Act, which Senator Manchin said he couldn’t support. But then he seemed to do the responsible thing: He spelled out what he could support, and what he claimed enough Republicans would support to overcome a filibuster. A compromise Freedom to Vote Act was worked out, which Stacey Abrams — the avatar of voting rights — endorsed.

Unfortunately, Manchin was wrong; Republicans unanimously reject his bill too, and none of them came forward with a plausible counterproposal. They also successfully filibustered the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, with Lisa Murkowski the only Republican voting yes. So the question boiled down to the filibuster: If the filibuster lives, federal protection of voting rights dies.

Manchin and fellow right-leaning Democrat (I’m refusing to use the much-abused media label “moderate“) Kyrsten Sinema have been saying all year that they didn’t want to change the filibuster. But as with Biden’s Build Back Better bill, many Democrats continued to insist their minds could be changed.

They couldn’t. Sinema in particular has laid out her thinking on the topic, in an argument that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense: Democrats will need the filibuster when Republicans get back into power. Jonathan Chait responds:

But how many times did the filibuster stop [Trump] from carrying out an abuse of power? Not one. You can go through a long list of Trump’s norm-shattering behavior without finding a successful filibuster. Sometimes he appointed unqualified or pliant cronies to executive-branch positions, but those votes already have a 50-vote threshold. Other times, he ignored norms or laws, but he didn’t need Senate approval to do that. In theory, Trump needed Senate approval to build a border wall in the South, but in practice, he just did it anyway through executive action.

The Senate plans to debate both the Freedom to Vote and the John Lewis bills tomorrow, but both seem doomed.

and the Capitol Insurrection

New developments in the case this week are discussed in one of the featured posts: 11 OathKeepers were indicted for seditious conspiracy, and the multi-state plot to produce fraudulent Electoral College votes started coming to light.

Asha Rangappa explains the current vision of how Trump’s coup was supposed to work.

Just so we don’t lose our sense of humor completely, Randy Rainbow already had a song ready a year ago.

and the Supreme Court

The other featured post covers the Court’s contradictory opinions on vaccine mandates. It’s hard to find any coherent legal reasoning here, but John Roberts’ political patterns explain everything.

In other legal news: The Ohio Supreme Court struck down a pro-GOP redistricting map. The Court believes Ohio voters actually meant what they said when they passed an anti-gerrymandering ballot proposition in 2018.

We reject the notion that Ohio voters rallied so strongly behind an anti-gerrymandering amendment to the Ohio Constitution yet believed at the time that the amendment was toothless

And Ted Cruz’ effort to take down an anti-corruption law is going to the Supreme Court.

and the pandemic

The Omicron wave seems to be peaking. Or rather, the peak has passed in the Northeast, while the rest of the country is still on the up-slope. Currently, the US is averaging 802K new cases per day, up 98% in two weeks, but down fractionally from 807K on Friday. Hospitalizations are at 156K, up 61%, and deaths are at 1964, up 57%. The West has now passed the Northeast as the region with the most per capita new cases.

Bob Wachter provides a useful tweetstorm explaining what will and won’t change over the next month, and why he believes we’ll face less Covid risk then.

and you also might be interested in …

MLK Day should be our annual reminder not to turn Martin Luther King into a moderate. Conservatives would reduce him to that one “content of their character” quote and claim he supported the superficial kind of color-blindness where people pretend not to notice what race anybody is. There was much more to King than that, and most of it was pretty radical in its day. A lot of it still is.

I haven’t said much about the Russia/NATO/Ukraine thing because I don’t understand it. It’s hard for me to tell what is a bluff, what is overreaction, and what is real.

A Brooklyn junior is one of the few American high school students who has taken an actual class in Critical Race Theory.

When we discussed CRT in our short workshop, we were taught the basic premise of critical race theory — that the underlying cause of racism within our country is institutional oppression built into American government and law. This structural racism shows up in systems such as the electoral college, which allowed slaveholding states disproportionate representation, and the prison-industrial complex, which upholds forced labor to this day.

But he wasn’t taught to hate White people, to hate the United States, or any of the other things CRT opponents denounce.

Talking Points Memo reader JS is a lawyer-turned-teacher who explains why the pandemic experience is going to hurt teacher morale and retention for years to come.

Maybe we should just say, well, if waitstaff at restaurants and everyone else can be forced to show up, then so can we, and I think there’s something to that. But if you want to destroy the morale of an entire class of people, point out that [their] biggest anxiety is well founded: in other words, you are basically like a fast food employee despite what we say about your education and training and your job requirements. 

A lot of the trends in education of late are to deprofessionalize the job and make teaching into commodity work. The low pay tickles that anxiety. We have as many units as an MBA or an MFT just to get credentialed. We have the student loan debt to match, but it can seem like it’s all a lie. We’re really just babysitters.

Novak Djokovic left Australia Sunday, concluding the long back-and-forth about whether the unvaccinated tennis star could play in the Australian Open, which starts today.

I’ve never cared about the British royal family, to the extent that I had to look up which prince Andrew is. (He’s the Queen’s second son.) But the Jeffrey Epstein scandal is taking him down too. He hasn’t been convicted of anything, but he has lost his royal titles and faces a lawsuit from a woman who claims Epstein forced her to have sex with Andrew when she was 17.

and let’s close with something musical

Have you ever listened to a new popular song and felt like you’d heard it before? Sir Mashalot went further than that: He proved it by remixing six popular country songs into one seamless whole.

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  • jh  On January 20, 2022 at 9:29 am

    Concerning the Supreme Court… when does people – and states – draw the line? I don’t believe the current Supreme Court is a legitimate court. How can it be?

    But here’s my problem with the left. They dance around with their rules and their propriety while the barbarians ruin this country. I do not think that the left understands how insane the right (including these so-called moderates) are. I think the left consistently underestimates how to battle the problem of conservative media pundits and stations. I think the left consistently has a problem communicating complex ideas to a group of people that I do not consider to be as human as the rest of us.

    Yes. I said it. Just like a dog is not a cat, we can see a difference between a conservative mind and a liberal mind. Just look at their incoherent positions on a real global pandemic. Which is it? Is it a hoax? Is it a Chinese bioweapon? Is it a “common cold”? You can see in their actions the silly posturing of a degenerate group. Please note that just because I do not consider this group to be human doesn’t mean they are dehumanized. I think most of us would be able to distinguish Neanderthals vs. Homo Sapiens vs. Denisovans. The point when dehumanization becomes a problem is when humanity forgets to treat other humans with care and respect. To date, conservatives have shown a shocking lack of care and respect for my side of the aisle. They share none of the values that I have such as respect for reality and evidence, extending care and consideration by wearing a mask, learning what a virus is and how a vaccine works, grudgingly accepting an illegitimate man into that oval office because of a electoral college system that no other country uses .. nor even a federation of countries such as the European Union. The right has squandered the grace they were given .. from soybean bailouts, to political assassinations, to storming the capitol, to their incessant lying, to their sheer penchant for violence and threats, to their deliberate refusal to learn and cooperate and protect the society they live in… At what point do we say “enough”.

    The left needs to get mean. Use the words of the right against them. No more nonsense about how the left is “mean” to the right. I’d rather have mean insults thrown at me than be choked by a Chauvin or shot while I’m in my own home by their police.

    the reality is that there is no reasoning with this horde of savages. By tolerating their nonsense for all these decades, the spoiled toddler has grown up into a very dangerous teenager who will hurt his parents and possibly kill them. We are the parents in that analogy. It’s time to stop making excuses and start being cruel. Sometimes, to be kind, you must be cruel. When we set up that first vaccination and our baby cried, did we suddenly say “No DTAP for you anymore”? No. We went to that front desk and scheduled all the other vaccinations because we want our baby to have the best chance of surviving childhood. Likewise, it’s time to vaccinate and it will feel like the conservatives are being punished. But it’s not. It’s time for an intervention and allowing them to feel the pain they have caused.

    I do not see the Supreme Court as legitimate. How can I? They’re a bunch of mentally ill fools that we pretend are reasonable. I do not trust religious people with the kind of power that the institutions of government have. After all.. if they have a “God moment”, what’s to stop them from killing me? Nothing.

    Same for the vaccines. It’s time to cut them off. Now, the conservatives are drinking urine. Urine. Animals don’t ingest their own waste products. So how degenerate are the conservatives.

    As for vaccines.. it’s time to stop with the mandates AND the right to hospital resources. While we are arguing with conservatives, there are billions of people around the world who need those same vaccines. Delta and Omicron did not come from western countries. They came from India and South Africa. The next variant will come from a poor, low vaccinated rate, poor healthcare infrastructure, populace. We have one brewing very close in the South American continent. With global travel, the only thing as fast as a lie will be the transmission of a variant that will harm us. The flu of 1918 is just as possible today as it was yesterday. All it needs is the right set of random mutations to rip through the human population. Can we really afford to coddle the degenerate barbaric conservative hominids as humanity faces a real killer? Conservatives have a hard time seeing systems and large things beyond their village. So they don’t even know that Africa is a continent or that Chicago is just one city. If we let the conservatives dictate, with their spoiled toddler tantrums, we are creating the perfect situation for a humanity killer. Do we really want to experience a black plague? A 1918 flu? A cholera outbreak? Already, the monoclonal antibodies are failing against Omicron. What’s next? What if the spike protein fundamentally changes?

    A society that wishes to live must not tolerate the fascist barbarians. We must kill them even if they are family members. (not literally kill them. Just shut them up and put them in the corner with a dunce hat on.) Besides, every conservative voter is already guilty. I don’t care how polite they are. They elected republican politicians who implemented laws that harmed people. They supported individuals who harmed or will harm people such as a George Floyd. (I don’t care if he passed a counterfeit 20. I care that he was murdered by a gang who we have granted the right to enact violence on us to “preserve law and order”. All Americans deserve their day in court. Even a disgusting conservative deserves that. Can we really tolerate these amoral animals who pervert and pollute our society? they lie incessantly. they murder. They cheat. Are you willing to let your children pay the price for keeping the negative peace that MLK Jr. talked about? )

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