Tag: Supreme Court

R.I.P. William T. Coleman Jr., 96, Who Broke Racial Barriers in Supreme Court and White House Cabinet

William T. Coleman Jr., then the secretary of transportation, testified in 1976 before a Senate subcommittee. (Credit: Harvey Georges/Associated Press)

article by  via nytimes.com

William T. Coleman Jr., who championed the cause of civil rights in milestone cases before the Supreme Court and who rose above racial barriers himself as an influential lawyer and as a cabinet secretary, died Friday at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 96.

His death was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the international law firm O’Melveny & Myers, where Mr. Coleman was a senior partner in its Washington office. He lived at a care facility with his wife of more than 70 years, Lovida Coleman. A lifelong Republican, Mr. Coleman was as comfortable in the boardrooms of powerful corporations — PepsiCo, IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank — as he was in the halls of government.

He was the second African-American to serve in a White House cabinet, heading the Department of Transportation. Mr. Coleman found success on the heels of a brilliant academic career, but he did so in the face of bigotry — what he called “the more subtle brand of Yankee racism” — from which his middle-class upbringing in Philadelphia did not shield him. In one episode, his high school disbanded its all-white swimming team rather than let him join it.

Those experiences would inform his efforts in three major civil rights cases before the United States Supreme Court. In one, Mr. Coleman, recruited by Thurgood Marshall, was an author of the legal briefs that successfully pressed the court to outlaw segregation in public schools in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Ten years later, he argued a case that led to a Supreme Court decision establishing the constitutionality of racially mixed sexual relations and cohabitation. (McLaughlin v. Florida, in which the Supreme Court overturned a Florida law that prohibited an interracial couple from living together under the state’s anti-miscegenation statutes.) And in 1982, he argued that segregated private schools should be barred from receiving federal tax exemptions. The court agreed.

Mr. Coleman was appointed transportation secretary by President Gerald R. Ford in March 1975, a little more than six months after Ford, who had been vice president, succeeded President Richard M. Nixon after Nixon’s resignation in the Watergate affair. Mr. Coleman, a corporate lawyer with expertise in transportation issues, was on the Pan Am board of directors at the time.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/31/us/politics/william-coleman-jr-dies.html?_r=0

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare”

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The United States Supreme Court has upheld a key portion of President Barack Obama‘s healthcare law in a 6-3 decision.  The court ruled the law made subsidies available for people in all 50 states, not just those who bought insurance through a state exchange.

Thursday’s decision is a major victory for the Obama administration.  “We’ve got more work to do, but what we’re not going to do is unravel what has now been woven into the fabric of America,” Mr Obama said.

The high court case was the second major challenge to the healthcare law – often known as Obamacare – since its passage.  “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion.

If the law had been overturned, 6.4 million Americans would have been at risk of losing aid.

The 2010 law set up a federally run insurance exchange where Americans who were not covered by employers or other U.S. health programs could buy health insurance.

_83865579_img_3952Opponents argue that a phrase included in the law, “established by the state,” demonstrated that the healthcare subsidies should have only been available for people in states that set up exchanges.

However, most Americans receiving subsidies purchase healthcare through the federal exchange after many states decided not to set up their own marketplaces.

The Obama administration argued that was a too-narrow reading of the law, which spans nearly 1,000 pages, and the rest of the legislation makes clear subsidies are intended for those who meet income requirements, regardless of which exchange insurance was purchased from.

Justice Roberts voted with liberal colleagues in support of the law. He was also the key vote to uphold it in a 2012 case. Justice Anthony Kennedy dissented in 2012, but sided with the majority on Thursday.

Justice Anthony Scalia’s wrote in his dissent that the Supreme Court is setting a precedent of favouring some laws over others.

“We should start calling this law SCOTUS care” Justice Scalia’s wrote. “Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of.”

The upholding of the law cements President Obama’s biggest legislative victory.

Continue reading “U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare””

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Speaks Out Against Supreme Court for Forsaking Fight Against “Real Racial Problem”

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said recent decisions by the high court undermine its role in solving a “real racial problem” in America. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)Although the U.S. Supreme Court was “once a leader in the world” in the battle for racial equality, recent decisions by the high court undermine its role in solving a “real racial problem” in America, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained in an interview with The National Law Journal last Wednesday.

Citing recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and racially biased stop-and-frisk policies, Ginsburg reflected on the perpetuation of racial segregation in America, comparing the challenges with those of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“Once [gay] people began to say who they were, you found that it was your next-door neighbor or it could be your child, and we found people we admired,” she said. “That understanding still doesn’t exist with race; you still have separation of neighborhoods, where the races are not mixed. It’s the familiarity with people who are gay that still doesn’t exist for race and will remain that way for a long time as long as where we live remains divided.”

But instead of upholding the court’s history as a powerful stalwart against racial discrimination, the Roberts court’s recent decisions upholding affirmative action bans and restricting voting rights have not “helped” the country advance, Ginsburg explained.

“What’s amazing is how things have changed,” Ginsburg said, recalling the landmark 1971 decision of Griggs v. Duke Power Co., in which the Supreme Court unanimously held that employer policies that look neutral on paper can still constitute discrimination if they disproportionately harm minorities in practice. “It was a very influential decision and it was picked up in England. That’s where the court was heading in the ’70s.”

Singling out the Voting Rights Act as the most powerful law “in terms of making people count in a democracy,” Ginsburg reiterated her opposition to the court’s majority 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down a key provision that helped safeguard against racial discrimination in voting laws.

Continue reading “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Speaks Out Against Supreme Court for Forsaking Fight Against “Real Racial Problem””

Top Good Black News Posts of 2013

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As we enter into 2014, like everywhere else, GBN is reflecting on what made 2013 truly memorable. There have been historic moments (Barack Obama’s second inauguration to the Presidency of the United States, the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, Obamacare withstanding severe political and technical challenges) sobering moments (the George Zimmerman trial, the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Oklahoma Tornado Disaster) and inspiring moments (Charles Ramsey rescuing Ariel Castro’s captives, Antoinette Tuff talking down a would-be elementary school shooter, Homeless Teen Drew Gooch earning a full scholarship to college).

Of all the stories we posted this year, however, the ones most popular with GBN’s readers have primarily focussed on education, super-intelligent youth, and the debunking of the “deadbeat dad” myth that unfairly haunts so many African-American fathers:

TOP 5 POSTS of 2013

 

Thessalonika5. 14 Year-Old Thessalonika Arzu-Embry To Earn Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Chicago State University

On weekdays, Bryan August-Jones wakes before sunrise in his home in Watts. He gets his three sons dressed, then takes them to the baby sitter and to school. On weekends, they go on bike rides and out to eat. (Mark Boster, Los Angeles Times / December 19, 2013)

4. Survey Finds Black Fathers are as Involved with Their Kids as Men of Other Races

Gabrielle Turnquest

 

3. 18 Year-Old Gabrielle Turnquest Becomes Youngest Ever to Pass Britain’s Bar Exams

2. “Living Single” Actress Erika Alexander Co-Writes Graphic with Black HeroineErika Alexander

and…

Adam Kirby1. Child Prodigy Adam Kirby, 2, becomes Youngest Ever to Join Genius Club Mensa

 

In 2014, GBN will strive to bring you much more of the same (as well as the surprising and unexpected), as we believe there can only be more Good Black News stories to cover. Because when you really look for it, you can find positivity everywhere.

Happy New Year!

Lori Lakin Hutcherson, Good Black News Founder & Editor-In-Chief

Attorney General Eric Holder Opens New Front in Voting Rights Battle

eric holderWASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Thursday that the Justice Department would ask a court to require Texas to get permission from the federal government before making voting changes in that state. The move opens a new chapter in the political struggle over election rules after the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act last month.  His statements come as states across the South, from Texas to North Carolina, have been rushing to enforce or enact new restrictions on voting eligibility after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder.

“This is the department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last,” Mr. Holder said. “Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the court’s ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to subject states to preclearance as necessary. My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against such discrimination wherever it is found.”

The move relies on a part of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court left untouched in the Shelby County case. The court struck down the coverage formula in Section 4 of the law, which had subjected Texas and eight other mostly Southern states to federal oversight based on 40-year-old data. The court suggested that Congress remained free to enact a new coverage formula based on contemporary data, but most analysts say that is unlikely.

Striking down the law’s coverage formula effectively guts Section 5 of the law, which requires permission from federal authorities before covered jurisdictions may change voting procedures.  The move by the Justice Department on Thursday relies on a different part of the law, Section 3, which allows the federal government to get to largely the same place by a different route, called “bail-in.” If the department can show that given jurisdictions have committed constitutional violations, federal courts may impose federal oversight on those places in piecemeal fashion.

State officials have celebrated the Shelby County ruling as lifting an obsolete relic of the civil rights era that unfairly treated their states differently from other parts of the country, while civil rights advocates have lamented it as removing a safeguard that is still necessary.  Lawyers for minority groups have already asked a court in Texas to return the state to federal oversight. The Justice Department’s action — filing a “statement of interest” in that case — will bring the weight of the federal government behind those efforts.

Continue reading “Attorney General Eric Holder Opens New Front in Voting Rights Battle”

Eric Holder Wants Voting Rights Act Provision Upheld by Supreme Court

Eric Holder

WASHINGTON (AP) — On April 4th, the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death, Attorney General Eric Holder challenged the Supreme Court to uphold a key section of the Voting Rights Act that requires all or part of 15 states with a history of discrimination to get federal clearance before carrying out changes in elections.

Holder made the comments Thursday in a speech to a civil rights group whose founder and president is the Rev. Al Sharpton. Focusing on issues he regards as important during President Barack Obama’s second term in office, Holder vowed to protect the voting rights of all Americans, safeguard young people from gun violence and improve the criminal justice system.

Opponents of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 say the pre-clearance requirement has outlived its usefulness. Starting in 2009, the Supreme Court made clear its skepticism about the present-day need for the provision. The court is considering a challenge on the issue from Shelby County, Ala., near Birmingham.

Continue reading “Eric Holder Wants Voting Rights Act Provision Upheld by Supreme Court”

Obama Administration: Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional In Prop. 8 Supreme Court Case

President Obama Speaks On Immigration Reform
President Barack Obama

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration urged the Supreme Court on Thursday to strike down California’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, staking out a legal theory that would forbid states from banning same-sex marriage if it were adopted by the court.

In an amicus brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the administration particularly said those states which allow civil unions but not same-sex marriages — Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island — were violating the 14th Amendment’s right to equal protection.

“The designation of marriage,” wrote Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., “confers a special validation of the relationship between two individuals and conveys a message to society that domestic partnerships or civil unions cannot match.”

Continue reading “Obama Administration: Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional In Prop. 8 Supreme Court Case”

GBN Quote Of The Day

“I have a lifetime appointment and I intend to serve it. I expect to die at 110, shot by a jealous husband.”

–Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice and the NAACP’s chief counsel on Brown vs. Board Of Education