SCOTUS, Naked Emperors

Let’s talk in real terms about what happened last week at the Supreme Court. Not the MEME’s floating about, not the BS floating hither and yon depending on what news you turn on and tune in but the reality of what all this might mean to you and me.

Supreme_Court_US_2010

First SCOTUS that is the Supreme Court of the United States. Those odd birds who unlike all other branches of government are appointed for life and truthfully have far more impact on our lives than we give them credit for. As a nation we were riveted by their big decisions last week;

  • Obliteration of Section 4 of Voters Right Act of 1965 aka 15th Amendment. To be clear, this section of the act provides the formula for whether a State or even a voting jurisdiction within a state uses a ‘test’ or other ‘device’ to determine a citizen’s right to vote. The formula determined the numbers of eligible citizens registered to vote and how representative of populations within districts were after maps were redrawn. The original formula was  established in 1964, they were evaluated and confirmed in 1982 and again in 2006 through a bipartisan vote of Congress.1
  • DOMA that special legislation where Congress and then President Bill Clinton really stepped in proverbial shit yes I said it. Finally, someone challenged it and shockingly SCOTUS by a small margin agreed DOMA had no Constitutional validity, based only on state definitions of marriage. Make sense? No, it doesn’t to me either, what the court has done is defined marriage as a ‘legal’ definition based on State standing, all 965 places in the federal law that mention marriage will apply to all marriages. If you are married in a state that allows same sex marriage, the federal government will recognize your marriage as legal, however, no states are bound by these rules and it is up to each state to determine whether they will recognize same sex marriage; today twelve states recognize same sex marriage. 2
  • Along these same lines the court sent Hollingsworth-v-Perry packing based on a simple standard, the defendants did not have standing. When Perry, et al sued the State of California because they were denied marriage licenses, then AG Jerry Brown and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to defend Prop 8. Hollingsworth, et al including multiple backers stepped in to defend Prop 8 since the State would not do so. The backing for Prop 8 came from the following groups:
    • Campaign for California Families
    • Protect Marriage

These groups were backed by:

  • Family Research Council
  • California Family Alliance
  • Focus on Family
  • Knights of Columbus
  • California Catholic Conference
  • Catholics for Common Good
  • The Church of Latter Day Saints

Those were the big ones, the rulings those of us who watch the court were waiting for, in essence the court split hairs. No big wins for anyone really, though on the surface striking down DOMA and sending Hollingsworth and the Zealots packing felt pretty good, this wasn’t really a win just a tie.

Obliterating Section 4, well that was a blow for anyone who understands we do not live in a society that is Color or Gender Blind, or economically fair. No less than two (2) hours after this decision was announced by those ScaliaQuotemyopic naked emperors on the highest bench of the land then Governors began to announce they would redistrict and implement voter ID laws previously turned down in federal courts; Rick Perry of Texas is a perfect example of this one. Of course, if you have political stooges on the bench it is impossible not to have results such as this.4

Thanks to SCOTUS Texas now have the most stringent Voter ID laws in the nation and the model for all other states. Thanks to SCOTUS, Rick Perry and his old white man brigade will wipe the slate clean, redistrict the state and maintain the status quo insuring no woman or minority who doesn’t tow the party line is ever elected to high office. Good on you; you parochial Azzhats.

Texas Attorney General

Texas Attorney General

These were not the only decisions handed down by SCOTUS last week; these were not the only game changers. It is important we not lose sight of what else happened and how these decisions affect us.

The court weighed in on adoption and parental rights, specifically on the rights on non-custodial parents in the Indian nations. This is important as it shows money can still buy persons, even when deception is used as part of the argument. There is both case law and federal law in place to protect the Nations from loss of children through adoption placement; the court intentionally read the law to favor the couple attempting to adopt the now nearly three-year-old child. The State Court denied the adoption when the father asserted his rights originally when the child was 4 months old. It is a sad and convoluted case.5

Well so much for States Rights on this one! Proves the States only have rights when big business and big government isn’t involved. In this case, a woman was terribly harmed, her doctor admitted he hadn’t read all the possible outcomes of the medication he prescribed to her and she had the very worst. The state law, which required the pharmaceutical company to list all possible risks of any drug whether name brand or generic. Unfortunately, the state law ran counter to FDA rules and SCOTUS the ruling came down in simple terms as follows, “(a) Under the Supremacy Clause, state laws that conflict with fed­eral law are “without effect.” This ruling left a woman who is forever disabled without means of support. So much for small government, so much for STATES RIGHTS. 6

Finally, we come to the last weakening of protections for women and minorities, SCOTUS pulls more threads out of the EEOC. The court narrowed rather than broadened the definition of supervisor in this case, despite the changes in today’s workplace. The plaintiff in this case brought her complaint based on a hostile work environment, her nemesis was in a position to direct her work but not in a position to ‘hire’, ‘fire’ or affect her pay. By this definition, the conservative bench determined it was not possible for there to be created a hostile work environment and relied on the definition of ‘supervisor’. It appears now, an employer only needs to slap the hand of a bigot at work to perform their duty.

There you have it, the key cases of SCOTUS last week and how they have further eroded our nation and our protections. Despite the DOMA and Prop 8 decisions, this truly was not a good week for those of us who are not middle aged White Men who vote Republican. Between Congress and the conservative court, we are slowly but surely getting all of our protections getting kicked out from under us. Worse still, we don’t realize it and thus, we are unable to fight back.

Is this truly the nation we want to live in? Is the truly the nation we want our children to inherit?

1 Voter Rights: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-96_6k47.pdf

2 DOMA Decision: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_6j37.pdf

3 Prop 8 Decision: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-144_8ok0.pdf

4 Oral Arguments: http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/12-96.pdf

5 Adoption: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-399_8mj8.pdf

6 State Law vs Federal Law Disconnect: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-142_8njq.pdf

7 Weakens EEOC and Labor: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-556_11o2.pdf

C.Thomas Dissent Encourages Privacy for Sex Offenders: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-418_7k8b.pdf

Comments

  1. There is much to digest here Val but as for the doctor prescribing drugs without explaining all the possible side effects, then I think the blame resides with him, after all the patient would have trusted him to know all of these things and then to be let down in the worst possible way after taking the medication is just unforgivable.

    I am sure that if the doctor was about to take this drug then he would have made absolutely certain that the side effects of same were clearly defined. Once individuals start passing the book every time something goes wrong, then all hell breaks loose, the law has to protect otherwise the law becomes an ass.

    Have a lovely evening Val and a deliciously sweet 4th of July my great friend 🙂 😉

    Andro xxxx

    • Except as both Elyse and Peg pointed out, it is up to us the consumer as well to seek the information, read the inserts and understand what is being perscribed to us.

      Yes, the doctor should be informed and inform us. But ultimately it is on us.

      My primary issue isn’t with the any of that, though I feel sorry for the woman who is left disabled and without means to care for herself. My issue is with the the lack of consistency in the court rulings.

      • Yes I agree with you on the court rulings, there has to be consistency when applying the law or everything becomes unclear, and thus adding too many grey areas.

        On the prescribing of the drug though, it is not always possible to learn what side effects there might be, of course I know that there are medical journals and published books on medication, ingredient properties and with side effects included, but when a doctor omits certain vital information on a drug (perhaps the drug could be a new one and so no information can be gathered?) then I do believe that it is a flaw within the practice, as every patient should be aware of the side effects of any given drug.

        I know that for many drugs there are multiple side effects possible, and so I guess it depends on whether the symptoms justify the risks, one can have a negative reaction to almost anything, so it is not uncommon that a side effect happens, and the rare one’s can be fatal.

        I am wittering on now Val 😦 lmao

        Andro xxxx

  2. I was puzzled by that hostile environment decision myself. I suppose I should research it more, but to be in a position to harass someone, a perpetrator doesn’t need to have the authority to fire, just the ability to make the victim’s life miserable. And it looks like if the supervisor that does have the authority can just turn a blind eye to the harassment: and then since the supervisor is not personally involved in harassment, and the harasser can’t fire the victim, everything is just peachy according to the court.

    • I wasn’t puzzled at all but I found the decision unfortunate. I had to read the entire findings three time to understand the majority decision though.

  3. My humble opinion is that there should be term limits with our politicians including our Supreme Court . Absolute power equals absolute corruption!

  4. A very absorbing, sobering and worrying post for your communities in the States Val…can’t you get this into a big newspaper and wake citizens up????

    • I don’t think anyone would take the simple observations of the untrained (me) seriously. I am just a woman of the streets making my uneducated observations.

  5. I cannot add anything significant to this discussion but I DO agree, the manufacturers but be clear and the doctor informed, as well as the patient.

    The rest of this post leaves me needing a nap. I may be from the other side of the pond but power in the wrong place is JUST WRONG. The trouble is, too many deals and high planning go on behind closed doors and the little people don’t find out till it’s too late.

    • Most of the nation Tess do not follow SCOTUS. They look at the high profile cases, don’t know about the others which affect us sometime more.

  6. I agree with a lot of this. But. There is always a but..

    On the medicine/state vs. federal law, their ruling was, sadly correct. The woman got a very very rare adverse effect from a drug. It is a known side effect of over 100 drugs. They are all labeled to include SJS/TEN in the label, which is written for the physician, who should know about the potential problems of the drugs he prescribes. The doctor here is at fault. Not the drug. Not the manufacturer. And sadly the patient pays the price.

    I don’t mean to sound non-sympathetic. But we do have a pretty rigorous system for drug approvals. This drug is very old and this has happened to others. But it happens rarely; that’s why doctors warn you to all if you develop a rash — which is how SJS starts.

    I don’t know if the doctor was sued in this case. If he didn’t read the label and prescribed the drug, nothing the manufacturer did or might have done would have abrogated his responsibility.

    We all take drugs that can cause this — although it happens within the first 45 days of new drug treatment. Pain relievers, anti seizure drugs, anti-biotics. Over 100 frequently used drugs. Symptoms include rash, fever and general achy-ness. So there is a question of whether you get the symptoms and then take the drug (meaning you are already coming down with SJS) or you take the drug and then come down with it.

    • That isn’t the finding though Elyse, what the case was about is whether the State has the right to enhance labeling rules. The court says they do not.

      I agree the doctor is at fault as well. However, this is a States Rights issue where SCOTUS says the Federal Government takes precedent over State law.

      • You believe that the drug labels should be different in different states? Somebody needs to have the ultimate authority. And federal law needs to trump state whenever multiple states are involved. Nobody can do business otherwise

        • I don’t believe one way or the other. I believe we either have states rights or federal law. I don’t believe we should pick and choose depending on what is convenient. In this case and many others like it the State requirement was for enhanced labeling. It could have saved this woman and possibly others. However, that is not the issue what the issue becomes is consistency in rulings.

          Federal Law? Well then why are the states running amok? Why are women everywhere losing access to birth control and abortion?

          Federal Law? Well, SCOTUS just turned over Voting Rights to the States.

          Federal Law? SCOTUS just turned over a three year old child to a non-biological family.

          Sorry, Elyse. Perhaps the FDA has the ‘right’ to set the rules and no other entity should step into the mix and enhance labeling thereafter. However, consistency in the application of the rules is vital. I believe drug labels should be accurate. I believe people who are harmed because they are not accurate should have the right to sue. I believe the FDA should ensure drug labels fully disclose and manufactures are forced to fully disclose. But mostly, I believe SCOTUS should be consistent in their rulings.

          • Fabulous post, Val! I suppose this is largely not a country I want to live in. Thus, our big move to Ecuador. At the same time, Sara and I were thrilled for DOMA to be overturned–especially since we went to NY to be married before we left the country.
            Hope you are doing well, my friend.
            Hugs from Ecuador,
            Kathy

            • DOMA was a big deal, on its face. It simply doesn’t go far enough. When the celebrations die down there will be a great many questions. I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, but if a marriage is only recognized in 12 states, does this mean the Federal government only has to recognize it when that couple resides in those states? What about members of the military? How will they be protected?

              I was also so happy you and Sara were able to marry before your move!

          • Amen, Val. Consistency is a big deal!

          • Yes, absolutely they should be consistent. Beginning with Scalia, that horse’s ass. He argued both sides of the same issues in his vote for scrapping the Voting Rights Act as he did for DOMA. What an ass. Whatever is convenient works for Scalia. Why do people think he is brilliant (I think it is simply because he is funny — they don’t always go together).

            As for Federal v. State, well that was the grand bargain in the Constitution. That’s how they got folks to agree TO have a constitution. It is imperfect, but in many cases it does work.

            But not when things cross borders. And not so much any more when more and more things cross borders.

            Now I really do know what I’m talking about with drugs. It’s what I do. State laws cannot abrogate the decision of the FDA because only the Feds have the resources to HAVE an FDA. The FDA regulates 25% of all US commerce. They have scientists and teams and a system. Is it perfect? No. But it is a far more intensive process than most folks give them credit for.

            BUT. All drugs have side effects, some of which are serious. They cannot all be found in clinical trials because rare ones don’t show up except 1 in 100,000 or 1 in 1 million. And the other 999,999 who can benefit from the drug need it. And so it is a risk. Doctors should know of risks, including of SJS/TEN for any drug that they give people. That doesn’t mean they tell them you have a 1 in 1 million chance of X, but it means they say, hey if you get a rash, call me. Drug companies make drugs. Doctors practice medicine. All the companies can do is warn. If the doctor didn’t read the damn label, well then, he is at fault. Period. This is an old drug. This potential adverse event has been known for decades. The drug was first approved in 1978. They know it can happen.

            Here is the language from the 2006 label (4 years before the plaintiff in the case took the drug):
            Skin Reactions
            NSAIDs, including CLINORIL (the branded name for Sundilac), can cause serious skin adverse events such as exfoliative dermatitis, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which can be fatal. These serious events may occur without warning. Patients should be informed about the signs and symptoms of serious skin manifestations and use of the drug should be discontinued at the first appearance of skin rash or any other sign of hypersensitivity.

            It is up to the drug company to warn. It is up to the doctor to read the damn warnings and mention them to their patients (call me if you get a rash isn’t that hard to say).

            People don’t understand that rashes can be dangerous. My son had a bad allergic reaction to a medication when he was young and I thought the doctor was nuts to give me her home phone number. She wasn’t. She was smart. She was a good doctor.

            I hereby step down off my soap box.

            • Elyse, I do not disagree with you. Didn’t before and don’t now. But that wasn’t at the end of the day my issue with the finding. My issue with the finding was the convenience of when the court finds one way or the other.

              Personally? I believe there are reasons we have Federal Government. This is one of them, imperfect as it might be, this is one of them. The adoption case is another.

              • I agree with Elyse on this, but I don’t think the doctor should be pinned with responsibility either, beyond what is reasonable. There is no way a doctor knows all the remotely possible side effects of every drug he/she prescribes, and there is no way we as patients are going to sit in the examining room in our paper gowns and listen to a litany of all the bad things that have a remote chance of happening if we take it.

                Even aspirin has possible side effects. There is a veritable novel attached to each and every prescription we get. If anyone is responsible for being informed about drugs, shouldn’t it be we the people?

                Thanks for this round up of the court’s decisions, Valentine. I don’t necessarily agree with all your conclusions, but I really appreciate the info and the kick-start to my brain.

                • Ah Peg, I never expect agreement and only hope people will see beyond the big cases to all the other small ones that impact our nation. Thank you for reading.

                  I actually agree with both you and Elyse on the issue of who is responsible. I believe the consumer is ultimately responsible. Given what I take every single day of my life, I read everything when a doctor gives me a new medication, usually I say no thanks.

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