The death of reactionary Justice Scalia has loosened the conservative grip on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The short-handed court, divided 4-4, ruled for public sector unions in a suit by the California Teachers Association. The decision could affect the lives of millions of Americans.
“We know the wealthy extremists who pushed this case want to limit the ability of workers to have a voice, curb voting rights and restrict opportunities for women and immigrants,” Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, said.
The case was brought by the Center for Individual Rights, a libertarian group that pursued unusual litigation strategy, the New York Times reported.
“Responding to signals from the Supreme Court’s more conservative justices, the group asked the lower courts to rule against its clients, 10 teachers and a Christian education group, so they could file an appeal in the Supreme Court as soon as possible,” the Times said. Under California law public employees who choose not to join unions must pay a “fair share” service fee.
With good reason. They get benefits such as higher wages, shorter hours and better working conditions from union negotiations.
The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, was an effort by conservative anti-union activists to cripple public-sector unions by claiming their First Amendment rights.
Justice Scalia was adamantly opposed to “fair share fees,” in step with the Supreme Court commanded by Chief Justice Roberts. The pro-business Roberts court widened the gap between the rich and poor as his majority with Scalia backed the One Percenters.
A study by Richard Posner, conservative 7th circuit court of appeals chief judge, showed that the Roberts Court was the most pro-business court since World War II. Scalia was among the top 10 of business-friendly justices since that war.
OBAMA REFUSES TO LIFT CUBAN EMBARGOED
As is his custom, President Obama makes nice with the leaders of foreign nations but does nothing substantive.
He visited Cuba recently, paled around with its president, Raul Castro, and pronounced a new day of openness in their relations. But, but, but.
He refused to lift the 54-year-old Cuban trade embargo. He refused to give up control of the U.S. Navy base and military prison occupying Cuban soil at Guantanamo Bay. As Castro rightly said, he cannot normalize relations with the United States until it returns Guantanamo.
“Cuba’s destiny will not be decided by the United States,” Castro declared. “Cuba is a sovereign nation and one with great pride.”
It’s more than ridiculous that huge America continues to war on tiny Cuba because it is communist.
Castro recounted the history of U.S. aggressions against Cuba, including the Bay of Pigs invasion and the nettlesome embargo that is economically costly.
As for Guantanamo, the New York Times editorialized that it was “one of the most shameful chapters in America’s recent history.” Closing the prison would “help restore America’s standing as a champion of human rights and save U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars.”
That cost: an astounding $445 million in fiscal 2015. Multiply that figure many times annually over the years and realize the full cost of keeping Gitmo open.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor from the University of Nevada, Reno. (firstname.lastname@example.org)