Supreme Court

Beau Underwood 6-28-2012
Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

In a widely anticipated and extremely consequential decision, the Supreme Court ruled today in a 5-4 decision that President Barack Obama’s chief domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is constitutional.

The main challenge to the law had focused on the “individual mandate,” which required people to purchase insurance or pay a fine. In its ruling, the Court upheld the mandate under the taxing power given to Congress in the Constitution.

the Web Editors 6-28-2012
Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

According to SCOTUS Blog, the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act limiting only the Medicaid provision, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the majority. 

Read the full decision HERE.

Stay tuned to Sojourners' blog for additional comments and analysis of the decision.

Jose Cruz 6-27-2012
 Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Outside the Supreme Court as SB 1070 decision handed down, Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Both sides have been spinning and claiming victory in Monday’s Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s now infamous immigration legislation SB 1070. Not surprisingly the Court ruled on the side of federal supremacy, striking down three out of four measures in the Arizona legislation, but upholding the right of local law enforcement to demand “papers” if they believe someone is undocumented.

Since the 2008 failure to move comprehensive immigration reform and last year’s disappointment on the Dream Act, the immigration reform movement has had trouble getting any “air-time” in a country that is rightfully concerned about financial recession. However, the 2012 election and a strategically placed Hispanic electorate in key swing states has candidates talking about immigration anew since the GOP primaries.

There has for some time been a larger strategy at play here that I will bluntly call “evil.” 

Ivone Guillen 6-25-2012
Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Opponents of SB 1070 stand outside the Supreme Court as the decision is handed down. Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Today, as I stood on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court eagerly following Arizona’s SB 1070 ruling, I had the opportunity to interview some advocates of the immigration reform movement. 

The message that seemed to resonate among those present was that athough three of the four provisions were struck down, the fourth —the so called “show me your papers” clause — is very harmful to communities. It allows racial profiling on the basis of appearance. Even though there might be limits on how this last provision is implemented, those who feel they have the legal authority to enforce laws might feel compelled to use this piece as an excuse to discriminate.

Beau Underwood 6-25-2012
Supreme Court image, Mesut Dogan / Shutterstock.com

Supreme Court image, Mesut Dogan / Shutterstock.com

Today the Supreme Court struck down three central provisions of Arizona’s controversial anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. Attempts by Arizona to force immigrants to carry identification, create legal penalties for undocumented workers seeking employment, or detain individuals solely based on suspicions about their immigration status were ruled to interfere with the federal government’s right and responsibility to set immigration policy.

The Court let one section, known as 2(B), to stand, which allows law enforcement to check the immigration status of individuals apprehended for non-immigration offenses, if law enforcement has a “reasonable suspicion” that the person violated U.S. immigration laws in entering the country. (Read more on concerns about the racial profiling measure HERE.)

Chris Lisee 6-12-2012

WASHINGTON --- An appeal over Christmas sweets turned bitter on Monday (June 11) when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the so-called “Christian candy cane” case.

The case out of Texas has become a rallying point for conservative Christians concerned about free religious expression in public schools and students' ability to distribute religious literature.

The case, Morgan v. Swanson, kicked off nine years ago in the Plano Independent School District as principals prevented self-described evangelical students from distributing religious literature on school grounds.

E.J. Dionne Jr. 6-01-2012

The Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case didn't actually make corporations into people, but it did undercut the role of actual, live human beings in elections.

QR Blog Editor 5-07-2012

From Newsweek Magazine

It’s worrying to think that shareholder democracy is needed to rectify shortcomings in the real thing, yet this week two of the nation’s biggest corporations will give their investors precisely that opportunity. Motions on the ballots at the annual meetings of Bank of America and 3M will act as referenda on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, which handed companies the same freedoms of speech accorded people. Happily, restricting the use of corporate money in politics isn’t just good for democracy, it’s good business.
 
Read Rob Cox's article here
James Colten 4-25-2012
Clergy lead Jericho March around Supreme Court James Colten / Sojourners

Clergy lead Jericho March around Supreme Court. James Colten / Sojourners

I participated the Jericho March for people of faith, organized by the New Sanctuary Movement of New York. We walked the half mile loop around the Supreme Court in silence, praying for a society that builds up justice and dignity. The tough part about this morning was dealing with “the others.”

Duane Shank 4-25-2012

The future of Arizona’s immigration law, and by extension the laws in a number of other states modeled on it, was argued before the Supreme Court this morning. While it’s always dangerous to read too much into the questioning during the oral argument, early news reports indicate that the justices were sympathetic  to the provision allowing police officers to check the immigration status of people who are arrested or otherwise detained.

According to the Associated Press: 

"Liberal and conservative justices reacted skeptically to the Obama administration's argument that the state exceeded its authority when it made the records check, and another provision allowing suspected illegal immigrants to be arrested without a warrant, part of the Arizona law aimed at driving illegal immigrants elsewhere."

The Court’s decision is expected in June, and could become an important issue in the presidential election campaign.

Key stories are HEREHERE, and HERE.

Jim Wallis, Max Rodas 4-25-2012
Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images

A group of protesters opposed SB 1070 at a vigil at the Arizona state Capitol. Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing a case about the constitutionality of Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070. It will be months before the case is decided but a broad spectrum of the Christian community already has their minds made up. 

This legislation is not just ethically bankrupt but undermines basic Christian values and American ideals. The court will decide whether it is legal, but it is already clear it isn’t moral.  

We are both evangelical Christians. One of us is white and one of us Hispanic. It is our common faith commitment, not the color of our skin, that unite us on the need for comprehensive immigration reform and in opposition to patchwork punitive legislation like we have seen in states like Arizona and Alabama. 

LaVonne Neff 3-29-2012
Photo by Stephen Finn /Shutterstock.

Statue ouside Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. Photo by Stephen Finn /Shutterstock.

Maybe the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and maybe it's not. If it turns out to be constitutional, maybe it's good legislation and maybe it's not. In any case, it's looking increasingly likely that the Supreme Court, come June, will strike down at least the requirement that everyone buy health insurance. And if the mandate goes, two other requirements will most likely go with it: Once again insurers will be able to reject or refuse to renew applicants. And once again Americans with pre-existing conditions will be uninsurable.

Let me tell you four short stories about friends of mine. These are true stories, not hypothetical examples. I have changed nothing but the names of the people involved. I am not arguing on behalf of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. I'm just saying that all of these people had serious problems before it was passed, and some of them are doing much better now because of it.

Parker Haag/Sojourners

Protestors march outside the Supreme Court as oral arguments are heard inside. Parker Haaga/Sojourners

People lined the steps of the Supreme Court once again today, asking for their voices to be heard on the ongoing healthcare debate. Justices on Monday began their three-day review of President Barack Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act, which would require U.S. citizens to purchase health insurance or face a penalty.

Thousands gathered starting on Friday for a ticket inside for oral arguments and to stand outside the court in protest, both for and against the plan.

Duane Shank 3-27-2012

Quote of the day.
"We still give food to people even when they say they don't want to pray." Paul Brock, founder of the non-profit Community Provisions of Jackson County, IN, which had its emergency food assistance from the federal government suspended due to volunteers asking recipients if they would like to pray.
(USA Today)

1. Pope Benedict arrives in Cuba in footsteps of John Paul.
Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba on Monday in the footsteps of his more famous predecessor, gently pressing the island’s longtime communist leaders to push through “legitimate” reforms their people desire, while also criticizing the excesses of capitalism.
(AP/Chicago Sun-Times)

2. Santorum fails to capture Catholic vote.
Mr. Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, has trailed Mr. Romney among Catholics in 10 of the 12 states in which Edison Research conducted exit polls that asked about religion.
(New York Times)

3. Supreme Court begins review of health-care law.
The Supreme Court opened its historic review of the national health-care overhaul Monday with an indication that it will be able to decide the constitutional question of whether Congress exceeded its powers despite arguments that the challenge was brought too soon.
(Washington Post)

4. Five Supreme Court takeaways.
The first of three days of arguments dealt only with a highly technical piece of the health care law, but it provided some clues about how the rest of the week’s arguments might go. Among the Day One takeaways:
(Politico)


5. Poll finds support in U.S. for Afghan war drops sharply.
The survey found that more than two-thirds of those polled — 69 percent — thought that the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan. Just four months ago, 53 percent said that Americans should no longer be fighting in the conflict, more than a decade old.
(New York Times)

6. Leaders warn over nuclear threat.
World leaders call for closer co-operation to tackle the threat of nuclear terrorism at a summit on nuclear security in Seoul.
(BBC)

7. Annan says Syria accepts peace plan, fighting enters Lebanon.
Syria has accepted a ceasefire and peace plan drawn up by U.N. and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan, his spokesman said on Tuesday, even as Syrian troops thrust into Lebanon to battle rebels who had taken refuge there.
(Reuters)

8. U.S., Australia to broaden military ties.
The United States and Australia are planning a major expansion of military ties, including possible drone flights from a coral atoll in the Indian Ocean and increased U.S. naval access to Australian ports, as the Pentagon looks to shift its forces closer to Southeast Asia,
(Washington Post)

9. Arab spring leads to wave of Middle East state executions.
Middle Eastern countries have stepped up their use of capital punishment, executing hundreds of people as rulers across the region seek to deter the wave of uprisings sweeping the Arab countries.
(Guardian)

10. Oil clashes along Sudan borders.
Clashes break out in oil-rich border areas between Sudan and South Sudan in what is described as the biggest confrontation since the South's independence last July.
(BBC)

Jack Palmer 3-26-2012
Child behind bars photo, pjcross, Shutterstock.com

Child behind bars photo, pjcross, Shutterstock.com

It has been a busy few weeks at the U.S. Supreme Court. Hundreds of people having been in line over the weekend to obtain one of the coveted public tickets for the healthcare mandate case. And last week, in a case which was somewhat less publicized, the highest court in the land debated whether juveniles should receive life without parole in homicide cases, the only crime for which such a punishment is still an option for minors.

A daunting task, but one that garnered a number of thoughtful pieces throughout the media and blogosphere.

Christian Piatt 2-21-2012

But what about when the government itself asks us to lie, or at least to not fully disclose the truth? Consider the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which the military had in place for many years. What if a soldier argued that not knowing the person serving next to them was actually gay caused them irreparable psychological or emotional harm? Not that I think such a case holds any water, but I’m using this to make a point; once you allow the government to have legal authority over personal speech, it’s a difficult box to close back up once it’s open.

I think it’s a particularly compelling question given the debates about placing the Ten Commandments in public buildings. Yes, there are many parallels between those biblical laws and the laws enforced by the government. However, they are not the same in all cases. And the distinction is important not only with regard to the separation of the powers of church and state, but also in maintaining the sovereignty of the individual in the face of a powerful government.

the Web Editors 2-07-2012
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Same-sex couple celebrates outside of San Francisco City Hall Tuesday. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In a decision that likely will set the stage for a high-stakes showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down California's Proposition 8 ballot measure that banned gay marriage, saying there is no "legitimate" reason to keep same-sex couples from marrying.

Cathleen Falsani 10-04-2011

800px-Supreme_Court_US_2010

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to begin hearing oral arguments this week in one of the most important church-state cases in decades. In Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the court will consider whether a Lutheran school in Michigan is subject to a federal law banning discrimination based on a disability.

Cathleen Falsani 10-03-2011

In his column last week, Sojourners chief Jim Wallis talked about his frustration with the perennial misuse of the word "evangelical" by various media to describe folks and ideas that, in his view, and that of many of us who self-describe as evangelicals, don't bear any resemblance to what we understand that term to actually mean.

Below is a compilation of recent media reports where the word "evangelical" is invoked. When you read these, evangelical brothers and sisters, do you recognize yourself in how the word is used and defined? Or does it ring false to you and your understanding of what "evangelical" really and truly means?

the Web Editors 9-28-2011
Aide: Obama faces 'titanic struggle' in 2012

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