The Supreme Court of the United States recently embarked on its constitutional mandate to settle disputes of the law and set precedents to be followed by judges in the federal court system nationwide.
Among the high-profile topics on the court’s docket this year are issues involving the Americans with Disabilities Act, immigration enforcement by local entities and, perhaps next summer, the biggest of them all: federal health care reform.
Such weighty hearings will be in the public consciousness throughout the year — and they will be seen by only a few hundred people.
Right now, the Supreme Court justices do not allow visual recording devices into the courtroom; in fact, while they do allow audio recordings of arguments before the court, often those arguments are not released until months after they occur.
In placing the ban, justices have said they oppose video coverage of cases because they believe the process would be compromised.
Similar arguments were made when Congress fought the installation of video coverage of their proceedings, too. What resulted from that fight is C-SPAN and its companion networks, which provide coverage of the proceedings in the House, Senate, their committees and subcommittees as well as other public policy events in the Washington, D.C., area. To some, it’s riveting footage; to most Americans it’s something to turn on only in the most dramatic of times. Most likely, coverage of the Supreme Court would be the same.
The time has come for members of the Supreme Court to open the curtain to a wider audience, because it is only through transparency that members of the American democratic republic can know the scrutiny to which the nation’s laws are subjected.
Loveland (Colo.) Reporter-Herald (Oct. 11)
Realistic immigration reform
As Congress and the president fail to update the nation’s obsolete immigration laws, states increasingly are stepping into the vacuum.
The gridlock over immigration law in Washington has persisted for a generation and, increasingly, is leading to a patchwork of ever-harsher laws and ordinances at the state and local levels, even though immigration under the U.S. Constitution clearly is a federal matter.
The spotlight that was on Arizona’s draconian law last year now has shifted to Alabama’s even more severe law.
A federal judge has rightly overturned some portions.
This harsh law is driving out legal immigrants and even citizens. Kids born in this country, who are U.S. citizens but may have an illegal parent, are staying out of school.
Construction workers, roofers, field hands, hotel cleaners and restaurant workers who are in the country legally are leaving their jobs and the state. No doubt, they feel unwelcome or may have family members and friends without the proper papers.
A telling photo shows an angry farmer telling Alabama state Sen. Scott Beason, who co-authored the law, that he’s unable to harvest his tomato crop because farmworkers haven’t showed since the new immigration law took effect.
Georgia, which also passed similar laws, also scared off many migrant workers and left crops rotting in the fields. Then it tried to compel unemployment compensation recipients to harvest crops, but as news accounts reported, “Workers were too slow and often quit because of the strenuous labor involved.”
This latest controversy should provide more impetus for Congress and President Barack Obama to take up national immigration reform that realistically addresses the need for future flows of immigrants, rather than simply relegating people to the shadows of illegal immigration and having states make up their own immigration laws.
The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee (Oct. 11)
Cain’s tough love
So in the Republican sweepstakes for the presidential nomination, Sarah Palin has ended the speculation by declaring she’s not a candidate. Likewise, Chris Christie is going to stay on the job as New Jersey governor. Rick Perry is sinking in the polls, Mitt Romney has yet to catch fire and here comes Herman Cain, don of Godfather’s Pizza and, as it turns out, tough love for his fellow Americans.
In a week that saw his poll numbers climb, the same week that Americans took to the streets to protest Wall Street breaks and persistent unemployment, Cain went on record with this warm and fuzzy statement: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself! It is not someone’s fault if they succeeded, it is someone’s fault i f they failed.”
Wonder if that’s been poll-tested as a 2012 mantra for the GOP?
The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky. (Oct. 12)