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Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2015 9pm

LOS ANGELES Tuesday, April 21st 2015 4:37

  • Issue: No Vaccination Exposes Other Children to Disease

    Kristen Bell

    Date: Apr 21, 2015 

    I didn't think I was going to vaccinate my children. I've always been earthy, crunchy, whatever. Fair trade? Artisanal? Free range? I love it all. I care about what I put into my body, and when I got pregnant, I became acutely aware that my decisions affected someone else. Someone who I had a duty to protect. 

    I'm a fairly confident person, but I was filled with so much uncertainty when I became pregnant. I was thrust into a world of choices: ho me birth? Drug-free? Inducement? Caesarian? Eat my placenta? 

    And when I shared my birth plan with other moms, I would often feel shame, like I wasn't willing to go as far as others. Every conversation felt like a million little tests that questioned my motherhood. (Read the rest.)  


Thu Apr 30, 2015 @11:30AM -
Town Hall: Raising the Minimum Wage
Fri May 01, 2015 @11:00AM - 02:00PM
Women for a New Los Angeles Luncheon
Fri May 01, 2015 @12:00PM - 05:00PM
Women for a New Los Angeles
Fri May 08, 2015 @ 8:00AM - 08:00PM
Greenlining Institute 22nd Annual Economic Summit in L.A. May 8
Wed May 13, 2015 @11:30AM -
Reflections on Leadership in the Museum World from an Outsider


Take Virtual Tour. Where Beatles hits were made

Whoa. ESPN’s Britt McHenry suspended for temper tantrum

Do you believe it? Dixon White and I’m a Redneck and I Love America

 

 

 

 

  

 

 


Passing the Buck

The Buck Stops Here

Most men in the early west carried a jack knife made by the Buck Knife Company.  When playing poker, it was common to place one of these Buck Knives in front of the dealer so that everyone knew who he was.  When it was time for a new dealer, the deck of cards and the knife were given to the new dealer.  If this person didn't want to deal, he would "Pass the Buck" to the next player.  If that player accepted, then "the Buck stops here".

 


 

 

Clearing the Benches

POLITICS AND THE FEDERAL COURTS - “The benches are empty! The benches are empty!”

Whether you are attending a Tea Party meeting or an Occupy Wall Street protest, you are unlikely to hear that rallying cry. But the chronic understaffing of the federal courts is becoming a significant crisis. This decimation (literally a cut by 10 percent) threatens basic protections guaranteed in the Constitution, including the right to due process and a speedy trial.

Neither party has much incentive to crusade energetically against this attack on the judicial branch. The opposition party never wants to fill the judgeships, at least not until its president gets to do the nominating. The majority is wary of accusations that it is “politicizing” the courts by packing them with partisan appointees.


The public only tunes in when a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court, when nomination battles bring the courts into the limelight. But those vacancies do get filled, and what’s left unnoticed are the significant number of empty benches below the Supreme Court level. Often, nominees for these openings do not even get so far as an up or down vote after enduring months of a life in limbo.

The issue has been in the news of late, due to the Republicans’ filibuster of Caitlin Halligan, President Obama’s nominee to join the important federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. And this is no isolated stalemate.

There are currently 80 open judicial seats out of 874 federal judgeships. That’s nearly a 10 percent vacancy rate. Twenty-nine of these are classified by the federal court system as “judicial emergencies,” due to the mounting caseload in those jurisdictions or the duration of the opening.

Many of these vacancies have been open for years. Nineteen additional seats are scheduled to become empty over the next seven months, potentially raising the vacancy rate to as high as one in nine.

Can you imagine if we had a 10 percent vacancy rate for governorships across the nation—five states without a governor? Or how about a Congress to which 43 districts across the country didn’t bother sending representatives, and to which 10 states sent only one senator? What if one Supreme Court seat was simply left empty for an entire term because the Senate would not agree to hold a vote?

Any of these scenarios would be scandalous, for good measure, and it is no less scandalous that this is the norm in the judiciary as a whole.

The Senate bears the lion’s share of the blame. Senators on both sides of the aisle have made a habit of holding nominations hostage. Democrats routinely stalled Bush appointees, and Republicans are now doing the same to Obama’s choices. As the vacancies mount, the stakes continue to climb. A president who could consistently push through his appointments would drastically alter the shape of the federal courts for decades to come.

The Senate may be inching toward ending the minority’s ability to block judicial appointments. But suddenly opening the floodgates, though appealing, could do actual harm to the courts. The majority must avoid the perception that it is merely eager to pack the courts with political allies. Such an impression would undermine the courts’ legitimacy.

What is needed is a grand bargain for the judiciary that addresses both the long-term problem of stalled nominations and the current crisis of understaffing, while avoiding the appearance of court packing.

To address the long-term problem, the Senate should adopt a rule requiring a vote on all judicial nominees within 90 days. The “advice and consent clause” of the U.S. Constitution requires the Senate’s approval for judicial and other high-profile presidential appointments. But Senate rules govern how it grants such consent.

Only in recent history has it taken a super-majority to move along judicial nominations. The Senate rule could set a longer timeline for Supreme Court nominees, but 90 days should be enough time for a vote on lower court nominations.

To address the current crisis, President Obama should strike a deal with the Senate. For his part, he should agree to defer on one-third of the nominations for current judicial vacancies to Senate Republicans.

As a constitutional matter, of course, the nominees would remain the president’s, but by finding a mechanism to engage Republicans in these choices, the White House could help resurrect the type of true consultation that once took place in filling these slots. Such a proportional agreement that resulted in the appointment of judges from each party would ensure that the federal bench maintained an ideological balance.

In exchange for a larger role in the nomination process, the Senate would have to agree to a tight voting deadline and filibuster-proof schedule for this new set of judicial nominees. All nominees should receive an up or down vote within the next six months. After that, the Senate would take up its new rule, allowing future presidents to keep the judicial bench fully staffed.

In theory, the judicial branch is co-equal with the legislative and executive. But it can only operate properly if not suffocated by the Congress. The Senate and President Obama must find a way to break that logjam, and soon. Otherwise, basic Constitutional rights like those of due process and a speedy trial are in danger of becoming empty promises.

(Jason LaBau is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. He is currently at work on a book project, Phoenix Rising: Arizona and the Enduring Divisions of Modern Conservatism. This article was posted first at zocalopublicsquare.org.)
Photo courtesy of runJMrun.   
-cw

Tags: Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, Federal Courts, Federal Judges, Supreme Court, speedy trial, due process, Caitlin Halligan, President Obama, Republicans, judicial emergencies, Constitution, Senate








CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 100
Pub: Dec 16, 2011

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