“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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Abortion clinics are not safe places – anti-choicers have ensured that – and if women are going to be free from harassment, the fight must go on
Imagine trying to walk into a building, trying to get a medical treatment – and someone screams at you. Someone is two inches from your face – two feet from the front door – and that someone is videotaping you, calling you a whore. There’s ketchup poured in the snowbanks around you, made to look like spurted blood. You try to take a step forward, but people block your way, yelling that you’re going to be “mother to a dead baby”. They hold signs in your faces, whisper “murderer” in your ear as you pass. Maybe they shove you.
Don’t believe portrayals to the contrary – from anti-choice activists and the news media – that these kinds of protestors outside abortion clinics are not grandmas praying, or kindly “counselors” who just want to talk reasonably to women. These people wait outside clinics to shame and to harass; they are there to scare.
Despite the horrifying experiences of women across the country trying to obtain abortions, the US supreme court ruled unanimously on Thursday that a Massachusetts law providing a 35-foot buffer zone outside of clinics is unconstitutional, and violates protesters’ first amendment right to engage in “personal, caring, consensual conversations” with women seeking abortions.
Personal, caring and consensual?
Peter van Buren: Shredding the Fourth Amendment in Post-Constitutional America
Four ways It no longer applies
Here’s a bit of history from another America: the Bill of Rights was designed to protect the people from their government. If the First Amendment’s right to speak out publicly was the people’s wall of security, then the Fourth Amendment’s right to privacy was its buttress. It was once thought that the government should neither be able to stop citizens from speaking nor peer into their lives. Think of that as the essence of the Constitutional era that ended when those towers came down on September 11, 2001. Consider how privacy worked before 9/11 and how it works now in Post-Constitutional America. [..]
In Post-Constitutional America, the old words that once defined our democracy are twisted in new ways, not discarded. Previously unreasonable searches become reasonable ones under new government interpretations of the Fourth Amendment. Traditional tools of law, like subpoenas and warrants, continue to exist even as they morph into monstrous new forms.
Americans are told (and often believe) that they retain rights they no longer have. Wait for the rhetoric that goes with the celebrations of our freedoms this July 4th. You won’t hear a lot about the NSA then, but you should. In pre-constitutional America the colonists knew that they were under the king’s thumb. In totalitarian states of the last century like the Soviet Union, people dealt with their lack of rights and privacy with grim humor and subtle protest. However, in America, ever exceptional, citizens passively watch their rights disappear in the service of dark ends, largely without protest and often while still celebrating a land that no longer exists.
Scalia wants to make 18th century practices work in our government. But that’s disastrous in the 21st century
It doesn’t matter which theory of executive power that the conservative political views of Antonin Scalia require him to advance at any given time. His way of advancing them remains consistent: the US supreme court justice makes highly tendentious historical arguments in a tone suggesting that only a fool could disagree with him.
Scalia’s concurrent opinion issued as part of Thursday’s court ruling on the constitutionality of presidential recess appointments is no different.
The case, NRLB v Canning, brought to the high court one question: whether a three-day recess of the US Senate was long enough to justify President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. While the constitution normally requires Senate approval of executive branch appointments, there is one exception: Article II empowers the president to fill up “all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate” without its approval, though such appointments expire at the end of the Senate’s term.
Dean Baker: Bankers Could Go To Jail
Morning Edition had a strange piece discussing how regulators can punish banks for breaking the law. The piece focused on the various fines and regulatory measures that can be imposed as penalties when banks are found to have broken the law. Remarkably it never considered the underlying logic of the punishment and the likely deterrent effect on criminal activity.
While banks are legal institutions, ultimately it is individuals that break the law. The question that any regulator should be asking is the extent to which the penalties being imposed will discourage future law breaking. As a practical matter, the immediate victims of the measures mentioned in the piece are banks’ current shareholders. Since there is often a substantial period of time between when a crime is committed and when regulators discover it and succeed in imposing a penalty, the shareholders facing the sanction will be a different group from the shareholders who benefited from the original crime. This makes little sense either from the standpoint of justice or from the standpoint of deterring criminal activity by bankers.
Amy Goodman: [The Egyptian Counterrevolution Will Not Be Televised The Egyptian Counterrevolution Will Not Be TelevisedThe Egyptian Counterrevolution Will Not Be Televised]
Egypt sentenced three Al-Jazeera journalists this week to severe prison terms, in court proceedings that observers described as “farcical.” Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were charged with fabricating news footage, and thus supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which was ousted from power in a military coup a year ago and labeled a terrorist organization. Along with the three jailed journalists, three other foreign journalists were tried and convicted in absentia. Greste, who is Australian, and Fahmy, who is Canadian-Egyptian, received seven-year prison sentences. Baher Mohamed, who is Egyptian, was dealt a 10-year sentence, ostensibly because he had an empty shell casing in his possession, which is an item that many journalists covering conflicts pick up off the street as evidence. The prosecutors called that possession of ammunition. The harsh, six-month pretrial imprisonment, the absurd trial itself and now these sentences have generated global outrage. A movement is growing to demand clemency or release for these three journalists. But while the words of the Obama administration support their freedom, the U.S. government’s actions, primarily in pledging to resume military aid to Egypt, send the opposite message.