Procrastinating on August 12, 2016

Live from the Republicans' Self-Made Gehenna: Remember: the barrel of what passes for "moderate" Republicans these days is thoroughly rotten:

Scott Lemieux: The Five Worst Roberts Court Rulings:

Most progressives would rank Citizens United v. FEC as the worst ruling ever handed down by the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts...

But five other rulings are... even more disastrous.... Shelby County v. Holder. The Roberts Court’s evisceration of the most important civil-rights legislation passed since Reconstruction was its lowest moment.... The “equal sovereignty of the states” doctrine that the chief justice used to trump Congress’s explicit powers is a Roberts invention, and he has yet to identify any constitutional basis or Supreme Court precedent for it.... As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in a dissent that gets the better of the Roberts majority opinion on every point... [his] argument makes as much sense as “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

NFIB v. Sebelius... its Medicaid expansion holding.... It would be hard to identify a worse decision in the history of the Supreme Court.... As a legal argument, it’s not quite as bad as the one in Shelby County. It’s imaginable that federal spending power might stray so far afield from a law as to unconstitutionally coerce the states.... As applied to this case, though, it’s quite absurd....

Connick v. Thompson. This case involved an almost-certainly innocent man who spent 18 years in prison largely because the state illegally suppressed exculpatory evidence. According to a 5–4 decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, however, nobody in the prosecutor’s office could be held accountable.... The Supreme Court was not enforcing a constitutional or statutory requirement—this extreme level of prosecutorial immunity is a judicially created standard that the Court is free to modify or abandon at any time....

AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion.... If the text of Federal Arbitration Act did, in fact, explicitly prevent California’s regulations, that wouldn’t be the Court’s fault—but it doesn’t. If you’re in the mood for dark comedy, contrast Scalia reading nonexistent policy requirements into federal arbitration law here with the hyper-literal reading of the law he tried to use to strip health insurance from millions of people in King v. Burwell. For a similarly bad anti-consumer decision, see American Express v. Italian Colors.

Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett. I actually think that this, not Citizens United, is the very worst of the Roberts Court’s campaign-finance decisions.... Citizens United at least presents a real First Amendment issue, because the government was accused of setting out to restrict speech. Arizona’s public funding for candidates, conversely, did no such thing.... As Justice Kagan observed in dissent, “Except in a world gone topsy-turvy, additional campaign speech and electoral competition is not a First Amendment injury.”

A few dishonorable mentions.... District of Columbia v. Heller... Hobby Lobby v. Burwell; a series of decisions that restricted employees’ ability to bring anti-discrimination lawsuits; a ruling that upheld arbitrary strip searches of people arrested for minor, nonviolent offenses; and the Court’s creation in Clapper v. Amnesty International of a First Amendment catch-22.... The implications of who sits on the Supreme Court go well beyond a few high-profile issues like abortion

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