Monday, June 22, 2015

Last Call For Spidey's Justice

None of the big decisions slated for SCOTUS came down today, but there will be a decision day on Thursday AND one on Friday in addition to the one already scheduled for next Monday. Odds are extremely good we'll get some major news in a few days on the death penalty, Obamacare subsidies, the Fair Housing Act, and/or marriage equality.

Meanwhile, one of the cases that was handed down on Monday involved Marvel Entertainment, royalties, and Spider-Man and an excelsior opinion written by Justice Elena Kagan, as Steve Benen points out:

The entirely of the ruling is online here (pdf). 
A very small number of people are likely to actually read the decision, which is a shame in a way because Kagan, a comics fan, went out of her way to include quite a few not-so-subtle Spider-Man references in the opinion.

Page 2: ”The parties set no end date for royalties, apparently contemplating that they would continue for as long as kids want to imitate Spider-Man (by doing whatever a spider can).” 
Page 3: “Patents endow their holders with certain superpowers, but only for a limited time.” 
Page 11: “To the contrary, the decision’s close relation to a whole web of precedents means that reversing it could threaten others.” 
Page 18: “But stare decisis teaches that we should exercise that authority sparingly. Cf. S. Lee and S. Ditko, Amazing Fantasy No. 15: ‘Spider-Man,’ p. 13 (1962) (‘[I]n this world, with great power there must also come – great responsibility’).” 

That last one needs to be framed somewhere on the wall in Marvel's office of general counsel.

Over at Vox, Matt Yglesias added, “According to Supreme Court Review, Kagan is an “avid comic book fan” and must have been delighted to score the opportunity to write this decision. That last joke is actually the essence of the case. The Supreme Court is being asked to overturn an earlier precedent, and Kagan is saying that overturning precedents isn’t something the Court should do without a very compelling reason. They have a responsibility to provide the country with a predictable, publicly understood code of laws, and that means being restrained in their use of the authority to change things up.”

Which actually does makes sense here.  The Supremes, in a 5-4 decision, did not overturn precedent to extend royalties further than the law required even though Marvel had reached an agreement to do so.

I'm guessing not too many people get to quote Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in Supreme Court decisions, but hey, you have to when you have an opportunity like that.

The Southern Avengers

I talked this morning about the failure of a number of GOP 2016 candidates to give a coherent answer on the SC Confederate flag issue, but I left out two more candidates: Rick Santorum and Rand Paul, for a reason.

That's because the two of them have much bigger problems right now than a flag.

The leader of a rightwing group that Dylann Roof allegedly credits with helping to radicalise him against black people before the Charleston church massacre has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republicans such as presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum. 
Earl Holt has given $65,000 to Republican campaign funds in recent years while inflammatory remarks – including that black people were “the laziest, stupidest and most criminally-inclined race in the history of the world” – were posted online in his name.
After being approached by the Guardian on Sunday, Cruz’s presidential campaign said it would be returning all money the senator had received from Holt. 
Holt, 62, is the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), a Missouri-based activist organisation cited by the author of a manifesto-style text that was posted on a website registered in Roof’s name along with photographs of the gunman. The FBI said on Saturday it was investigating the website. 
The manifesto’s author, who has been widely reported but not verified as Roof, recounted learning about “brutal black on white murders” from the CofCC website.
“At this moment I realised that something was very wrong,” the manifesto said.

Earl Holt is an unrepentant racist scumbag, but the KKK CCC has a lot of money apparently to give. Cruz dropped Holt's donations like the toxic waste they were, but the fact that Santorum and Paul haven't yet (and probably won't) says a lot about them.

Earlier this afternoon Santorum said he'd return his donations from Holt, and that leaves Rand Paul with his especially terrible record on race, pandering at best and outright dog whistle racism at worst.  Don't expect much from him, I certainly don't.

Cause One's Got A Weasel And The Other's Got A Flag

One's one the pole, shove them all in a bag.

South Carolina senator and Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham was asked by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota this morning why the American and South Carolina state flags were flying at half-mast today, but the Confederate flag was not.

As he didn’t seem inclined to answer, Camerota shifted to a more general question, asking the senator whether it’s “time to stop flying the Confederate flag.”

Graham said that it would be “fine” by him if South Carolinians wanted to “revisit that decision,” but insisted that “this is part of who we are. The flag represents — to some people — the Civil War, and that was the symbol of one side.”

He acknowledged, though, that “to others, it’s a racist symbol, and it’s been used by people in a racist way.” But, he added, “the problems we’re having in South Carolina and around the world aren’t because of a symbol, but because of what’s in people’s hearts.”

It's not like Huckleberry here had a real shot at the GOP nomination, but this "real leadership" response on the flag issue shows the world just what kind of joke the guy is.  If you can't take a stand against a racist symbol in 2015 being flown in the capital of your own home state when you admit that the Confederate flag is a racist symbol, you've kind of lost the race for the White House.

Even Jeb Bush, after dicking around again for two days, finally admitted that he was the Florida governor that removed the Confederate flag from his state's capitol in Tallahassee and put it in a museum where it belongs.  Mitt Romney reiterated his 2008 call to take that flag down, but Ted Cruz punted too and so did Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal, referring to the issue (ironically enough) as a states' matter.

Rubio is supposed to be the conservative savior of the GOP, but he can't come up with a coherent position on the friggin' Confederate flag, the flag of traitors to the country?

Good luck in 2016, assholes.


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