Category Archives: SCOTUS

Race-Based Attacks Against Sotomayor Continue

The Republican-led trial of soon-to-be Justice Sotomayor begins next week.  The Republican attacks continue and they will continue race-based attacks in which they point out her memberships in civil rights groups, such as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Much like Chicanos have the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the Puerto Rican community has a similar legal advocacy group which works to ensure equal rights under the law for that constituency and others of color.  Whether it is lawsuits seeking equity in education funding, or as Fox News describes to their Anglo viewers, “she advised in the 1980s that brought several race discrimination lawsuits for minorities who challenged jobs or promotions given to white employees,” these legal advocacy groups serve a purpose–to ensure that America’s Promise remains intact.

Obviously, Fox News and the Republicans are attempting to play to the worse in America, those that whine and moan about non-existent things, such as “reverse racism.”  Much like the American Civil Liberties Union, MALDEF and PRLDEF do not take just any case.  There must be a viable violation of civil rights or law for them to become involved.

The right-wing in America despise any organization that works for equality, including groups like National Organization for Women, NAACP, and others representing constituencies.  The Republicans are digging for gold and settling for whatever excrement that collects in their already dirty finger nails.

Bottom line:  Attacks against civil rights groups by the right-wing are no different than the support those in the right-wing give white supremacy groups, such as the Minutemen, Border Watch, and other such groups.  Obviously, Fox News supports them, and so do Republicans.

So, Sotomayor was an officer in PRLDEF?  Wow!  Imagine that.  A Puerto Rican attorney that believes in equal rights under the law.  Such a concept is scary to the right-wing.  The rest of America can ignore the right-wing and support a good jurist.

Democrats have the votes to get Sotomayor on the Court, and most seem to agree that she will be confirmed.  But the scorched earth game plan of the Republican Party is not only racist, it is a danger to America.

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Guerra: Ruling is More About Bilingual Ed. vs Immersion

Carlos Guerras at the San Antonio Express-News writes this column on a recent Supreme Court decision that could affect Texas schools.

No, not the case where Arizona school officials ordered a 13 year-old female student strip-searched.

I am referring to Horne vs. Flores, a case filed by parents of Nogales students who charged that Arizona’s paltry spending to teach “English language learners” — or ELLs — denied them an equal education because they weren’t learning English well.

Ensuring equity meant increasing spending on English Language learning programs.  Filed in 1992, a decision on the case forced the Arizona legislature to comply with law, as well as increase its spending on these programs.  After several more decisions that increased spending, the case ended up at the SCOTUS.

The U.S. Court of Appeals returned the case to the lower court and voided the fines, but the lower court ruled, again, that the state was still not compliant.

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling Thursday gave Arizona a partial victory. It says that spending levels, alone — and in only one county — don’t prove that Arizona is violating the Equal Education Opportunity Act’s requirement that “appropriate action to overcome language barriers” be taken.

But the justices also returned the case to the lower court with orders to consider four changes that have occurred since 1992: that Arizona now uses English immersion instead of bilingual education to teach English, that the No Child Left Behind Act is now law, that overall funding for ELLs has risen, and that Nogales’ school programs have changed. They also ordered that all schools be studied.

Then, the Supreme Court justice who recently sided against Civil Rights in the Ricci case, blurted this out in the opinion.

Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion, however, indicates that issues other than funding may have been on the majority’s minds, as is evident in a footnote that wonders if other reasons “such as drug use and the prevalence of gangs” might not account for the ELLs’ low academic performance.

That’s before he espoused some Republican talking points on “immersion.”

Guerra then points to Justice Breyer’s minority opinion.

Justice Stephen Breyer, who, in the minority opinion, responded brilliantly, writing that Arizona’s English-immersion program is still a work in progress and that the state also uses new metrics to measure success that are, as yet, unproven, and that there is ample research that found bilingual education is superior.

In a nutshell, he implied that the majority seemed to cherry pick the research to support a foregone conclusion.

Bilingual Education has come a long way since its inception, and it has withstood the test of time.  What began as a program targeting Mexican American students who did not do so well in English (at least in South Texas) has become a program to enrich the skills-set of new Americans.  The main problem for K-12 education is funding and the mechanisms through which it is funded.  Without changing this, then equity based on the amount of money that the mechanisms allow will still lead to a lack of equity and fairness for the vast majority of public schools.

SCOTUS: Republican Railroading Must Be Reviewed

Here’s a press release from Lone Star Project:

In a near unanimous decision released earlier today, the US Supreme Court ruled in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Holder (08-322) that political jurisdictions covered under the Voting Rights Act must continue to seek approval from the Justice Department before making changes in election procedures. As a result, major changes to Texas election law, specifically a Voter Photo ID requirement and the 2011 redistricting plans, will be subject to review and approval by the Obama Justice Department.

The Court did expand the type of jurisdictions that could request the right to “bailout” of the pre-clearance requirements. Prior to the Court’s decision, only a  “State or political subdivision” was allowed to seek approval from the Washington, DC District Court to be relieved from pre-clearance requirements.   The term “political subdivision” was previously defined to include “counties, parishes, and voter-registering subunits.” In the decision today, the “bailout” option was expanded to include all governmental subdivisions including Municipal Utility District’s like the one in Austin that sought Supreme Court relief. In its decision, the Court said, “We therefore hold that all political subdivisions that – not only those described in Section 14 (c)(2) – are eligible to file a bailout suit.”

The decision is especially important given that new Legislative and Congressional District lines will be drawn in 2011. This will be the first redistricting cycle that plans will be reviewed by a Democratic Justice Department. In 2003, the harshly partisan and now disgraced Bush Justice Department ignored professional Voting Rights experts and approved the DeLay mid-decade congressional redistricting plan, even though the experts cited several specific violations of the Voting Rights Act.

This is definitely good news.  Although the conservative court, didn’t want to go there, the focus of the decision was not as broad as a Voter Rights advocate would hope. Still…

Debo Adegbile, the NAACP Legal Defense and Edicational Fund lawyer who argued for the preservation of the law at the high court, said, “The fact is, the case was filed to tear the heart out of the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act and that effort failed today.”

The lone dissenter was Justice Clarence Thomas, who also kept his definition of Voter Rights very narrow.

“The violence, intimidation and subterfuge that led Congress to pass Section 5 and this court to uphold it no longer remains,” Thomas said.

Yes, but what about run-away Voter Registration offices whose staff members purge voter lists, then sell them for personal profit?

I guess we’re getting a bit broad there.

Rush’s Self Portrait

Pittsburg Post-Gazette cartoonist Rob Rogers provides us a doozy!

MALDEF Launches SotomayorForJustice.com

Spread the word!  There is now a SotomayorForJustice.com website to support the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.  Thanks to MALDEF and co-sponsors, LULAC, Democracia Ahora, Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary, National Council of La Raza, and Presente.org.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization, today unveiled a new website, SotomayorForJustice.com.  The new site will provide relevant and up-to-date information about the historic nomination of the first Latina to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

“MALDEF stands ready to use the website as a public forum to underscore Judge Sotomayor’s distinguished achievements and to confront unwarranted attacks on her record and qualifications,” said MALDEF Western Regional Counsel Nancy Ramirez. “We are proud to use this innovative tool in support of a nominee who brings the most extensive federal court experience seen in a nominee for the Supreme Court in decades.”

The website, www.SotomayorForJustice.com, will serve as a vehicle to mobilize support for Sotomayor’s confirmation and offer information on Sotomayor’s background and federal judicial experience, the latest media clips, updates on the confirmation process and interviews. In this effort to confirm Judge Sotomayor, MALDEF will work closely with its sister organizations, including Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, National Council of La Raza, Hispanic National Bar Association, DemocraciaUSA, Presente.org, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and many others.

“At this historic moment, we must take immediate action.  MALDEF is proud to support Judge Sotomayor to the nation’s highest court and will play a leadership role in supporting her nomination and garnering the community support she needs to get through the confirmation process,” said MALDEF’s Interim President and General Counsel Henry Solano. “In line with MALDEF’s longstanding tradition of civil rights and advocacy before our nation’s highest court, we have launched this website to invite the public to learn more about Sotomayor’s distinguished career and her commitment to justice.”