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U.S. Supreme Court

About the Janus ruling

by Dan Burns on June 28, 2018 · 2 comments

scotus2A couple of items:

A 2015 study found strong empirical evidence that unions may help children move up the economic ladder.
According to the study, the New York Times reports, “Children born to low-income families typically ascend to higher incomes in metropolitan areas where union membership is higher. The size of the effect is small, but there aren’t many other factors that are as strongly correlated with mobility.”
The positive impact of unions on children’s upward mobility isn’t exclusive to low-income children, the Times reporters note, and they extend beyond families with union workers to nonunion families too.
(Jeff Bryant/

After holding steady for decades, the percentage of American workers in all jobs who would say yes to join a union jumped sharply this past year, by 50%, says a new, independent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The evidence is clear: The popularity of the labor movement is surging as more people want to join unions than ever before. Every worker must have the freedom to negotiate in a union over pay, benefits and working conditions.

Comments below fold.


scotusDon’t get me wrong, this is very much worth celebrating, and building off of.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is a beat down of Texas’ anti-abortion law HB 2. Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion piles facts upon evidence upon statistics to demolish Texas’ supposed justification for the law. At one point, Breyer even damns the law with words uttered by Texas’ own attorney. By the end of the opinion, it is surprising that Breyer did not finish with the two words “HULK SMASH!”
Even more significantly, Whole Woman’s Health leaves the right to an abortion on much stronger footing than it stood on before this decision was handed down. It’s difficult to exaggerate just how awesomely anti-abortion advocates erred in urging Texas to pass HB 2 in the first place. This law was supposed to provide those advocates with a vehicle to drain what life remains in Roe v. Wade. Instead, reproductive freedom is stronger today than it has been at any point in nearly a decade.
(Think Progress)

The decision, though, does nothing to rid the firmament of a plethora of other forced-birther crap like Minnesota’s mandatory misinformation and gratuitous waiting period laws. To fully protect women’s rights in this, and other, matters nationwide, we need definitive federal legislative action and therefore a progressive Congress.
What with Texas being governed largely by those of the sort with which one is almost ashamed to share the human form, the practical effects of the decision there may not be as hoped, either.
Update: Good news from this morning.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to review further restrictions on doctors who perform abortions in Mississippi and Wisconsin, marking the first ripple effect from Monday’s landmark ruling that overturned two abortion restrictions in Texas. In so doing, the Court ensured that Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic will be allowed to remain open.
At issue in both states were laws requiring abortion doctors to have “admitting privileges” at a nearby hospital, a formal affiliation that is difficult to obtain. The justices rejected the cases, letting the ruling of lower courts blocking the laws stand.
(Think Progress)

Comment below fold

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New overtime pay rules to take effect

by Dan Burns on May 18, 2016 · 0 comments

scotusThis is from an email I got last night. As one of the brilliant, beautiful, and well-informed people that reads MN Progressive Project, you probably got the same thing, or something like it. Here’s the link embedded therein.

I wanted you to be the first to know about some important news on an issue I know you care deeply about: making sure you’re paid fairly.
Tomorrow, we’re strengthening our overtime pay rules to make sure millions of Americans’ hard work is rewarded.
If you work more than 40 hours a week, you should get paid for it or get extra time off to spend with your family and loved ones. It’s one of most important steps we’re taking to help grow middle-class wages and put $12 billion more dollars in the pockets of hardworking Americans over the next 10 years.

And here’s something that I think will happen, and I’m sure that I have plenty of company. Some right-wing lawsuit mill already has one ready to go to block this, and most importantly, has already identified the right judge to go to, a reactionary extremist who on both intellectual and psychological grounds should never have even been admitted to the bar, much less given a seat on the federal bench. He or she will issue the desired “halt” order, and millions will continue to be grossly overworked and underpaid as this slowly makes its way up the judicial ladder. Corporate media, meanwhile, will present it as a disastrous “burden on job creators,” or some such infantile nonsense. Progressives need to do what we can to make electoral hay of this, and to work toward a moderate – perhaps even a little bit “liberal,” – U.S. Supreme Court, for when this and so many other items ultimately end up there.


66758002The oral arguments today seem to have gone reasonably well.

When the Court took the case it appeared that, if Justice Anthony Kennedy — who typically votes to uphold abortion restrictions — sided with Texas, Roe v. Wade would effectively be dead.
That’s not going to happen anymore, in large part because the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia took away the fifth vote Texas needed to uphold its law. The good news for abortion advocates is that, after Wednesday’s oral argument, it doesn’t look like Texas has a fourth vote either. There is a very real procedural complication in this case that could delay its ultimate resolution, possibly for a couple of years. But if he has to reach the merits of this case, Kennedy appeared inclined to strike down the law.
(Think Progress)

The “procedural complication” is discussed in some detail in the linked article.
The possibility, probably a fantasy, that I’ve been indulging is that SCOTUS will take this opportunity to strike down all laws restricting a woman’s choice to exercise her fundamental rights in this matter. That would include Minnesota’s waiting period, misinformation, and parental notification requirements. Like I say, apparently highly unlikely, but we can hope.


Steve Simon on Democratic Visions

by JeffStrate on January 24, 2016 · 0 comments

Steve Simon at Democratic Visions

MN Secretary of State Steve Simon with Democratic Visions host Tim O’Brien

As the second year begins of Steve Simon’s tenure as Minnesota’s Secretary of State, he shares his perspectives about voting in Minnesota, elections and several non-political services provided by his office on the January edition of Democratic Visions. Safe at Home, for example, is a program that provides safe and anonymous email, postal and residential addresses for victims of domestic violence and victims of stalking who continue to fear for their safety.
Democratic Visions host Tim O’Brien and Simon also weigh in on a U.S. Supreme Court Case (Evenwel vs. Abbott) which could soon reject the “one person one vote” principle that has long been applied in the drawing-up of congressional and state legislative districts.  If the principle is rejected, millions of urban voters will be under represented.
But O’Brien and Simon mostly consider voting reforms and challenges in Minnesota; a state which year in and year out boasts one of the highest voter turnouts in the nation.A segment of President Barack Obama’s emotional, January 5th announcement of executive orders intended to make it difficult for risky people to acquire guns rounds out the program.
Democratic Visions is a community access program produced by volunteers at the Bloomington Community Access TV studio by arrangement with Southwest Community Television.  Democratic Visions is not funded, endorsed or supported by any political party, campaign, political action committee or guest.
This program is on YouTube here.
Democratic Visions Cable TV Schedule –

EP, Mtka, Edina, Hopkins, Richfield, Comcast Channel 15 — Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.

Champlin, Anoka, Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Channel 15 — Fridays 8 a.m.,Saturdays 6:00 a.m., 10,30 a.m.,10:30 p.m.

Segments and full half hours of Democratic Visions are archived on YouTube –



Some current reality about guns

by Dan Burns on December 15, 2015 · 0 comments

militiaThere is actually a lot of truth, like the following items, out there about guns. It just can seem hard to notice amidst all of the rancid howling of the gun creeps.

HOW MUCH DOES gun violence cost our country? It’s a question we’ve been looking into at Mother Jones ever since the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, left 58 wounded and 12 dead. How much care would the survivors and the victims’ families need? What would be the effects on the broader community, and how far out would those costs ripple? As we’ve continued to investigate gun violence, one of our more startling discoveries is that nobody really knows.

(Mother Jones)



scotusArguably the most so since Roe v. Wade, because of the massive expectations that are being dashed. This court, despite its right-wing majority, has simply refused to automatically do whatever right-wingers want it to do.

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in King v. Burwell is not simply a victory for the Obama administration — and for the millions of Americans who depend upon the Affordable Care Act for their health coverage. It is a sweeping, crushing blow for conservatives who seek to use the courts to undo what President Obama and a Democratic Congress accomplished. “In a democracy,” Chief Justice John Roberts implicitly scolds the activists behind this litigation, “the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people.” He then offers a broad statement to future judges called upon to interpret the Affordable Care Act: “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
The message here is clear: In this and in future litigation, judges should turn aside clever attempts to undermine the law if there is any possible way to read the law otherwise. The attorneys and activists behind this lawsuit came to the Court hoping to gut Obamacare; instead, they placed it on the strongest possible legal footing.
(Think Progress)

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of marriage equality, and the four dissents—one from each of the justices who voted to continue discrimination—are a decent sign of what’s to come from opponents of equality. Lots and lots of predictions that the world is coming to an end, everything is terrible, tears rage tears.
(Daily Kos)


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Dealing with SCOTUS attack on workers

by Dan Burns on July 2, 2014 · 1 comment

530523_3878473843186_2032060039_nWhat kind of people see fit to screw with this? Vile, despicable right-wingers, that’s who.

No one needs a strong, effective, well-funded union more than home care workers, who have long been at the bottom of the ladder in terms of wages, benefits, and respect at work. Historically, their wages were so low—minimum wage or less—they had nowhere to go but up. And beginning in the 1990’s, when they began to join unions, their wages did go up. Counter to the trend in the rest of the economy, home care worker union membership grew over the last 20 years, creating bargaining power they had never had before. The result has been improved wages, benefits, and working conditions.
Inflation-adjusted wages for direct care aides working outside an agency rose from less than $9.73 an hour in 2002 to $11.09 an hour in 2012—a 14% increase. By way of comparison, from 2000 to 2012, inflation-adjusted hourly wages for the typical worker fell slightly, by 0.1 percent. The difference was the direct care workers’ growing unionization.
(Economic Policy Institute)

Plutocrats’ gullible, manipulated, uncomprehending anti-union minions in Minnesota are predictably gloating over Monday‘s decision, but classier types are staying above that.

Unions said the ruling wouldn’t curtail their organizing efforts. They said their representation would mean bargaining for quality reimbursement rates and working conditions for day-care and home health workers.
“No court case can stand in the way of millions of women who help us raise our children and care for our aging parents,” said Eliot Seide, director of AFSCME Council 5. “Child-care providers and home care workers will continue to have a strong voice for good jobs and quality care for their consumers. This decision doesn’t stop them from organizing and collectively bargaining with states.”

The governor and legislature should be looking at all ways to do more for these workers, as well – including those that don‘t seem to understand that they do deserve better. With our aging population we’re talking about a lot of political power, between the providers and those for whom they care. And this isn’t something that you leave to the “magic of the markets.”

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(Cross-posted from
This great country’s founders feared and loathed corporations; the Boston Tea Party was a revolt against that era’s largest international corporation, the British East India Company. Of the hundreds that participated or watched tea being dumped from three British ships, only one (Francis Akeley) was arrested – and released due to lack of evidence. Clearly, our Founders had no love for the East India Company. There’s no mention of corporations in the Constitution; “We the people” is.
Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision expanding “personhood” of corporations is leading us down a path we really don’t want to go. Where might that be? “Nations are bankrupt, gone. Corporate society was an inevitable destiny.” Pay close attention to the question at the 2:00 minute mark….

(Direct link to YouTube here)

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SCOTUS and unions: Could have been worse

by Dan Burns on June 30, 2014 · 3 comments

unionsBut bad enough.

However, the decision authored by Justice Samuel Alito is limited to undercutting home care workers specifically…This means that teachers and fire fighters and the like maintain their existing union rights, but many of the most vulnerable workers have lost a tool for building power…While the Harris decision carves home care workers into a category of not-quite-public-employees to leave fully public employees untouched, the decision makes clear that the conservative majority is hostile to the precedent allowing fair share fees for public worker unions more generally, so unions are not out of danger, in addition to the blow this case deals to organizing new categories of workers who have not traditionally had union rights.
(Daily Kos)

Because of the prevalence of women among home care workers, this is, among other things, SCOTUS going two-for-two on anti-woman decisions, today.

Could have been worse, because the Court conceivably could have essentially extended “Right To Work” (I call it “Right To Be Exploited”) to all public sector workers (including public school teachers) nationwide, thereby potentially rendering their unions non-functioning.
Every reasonable progressive knows that there will be setbacks, sometimes severe, on the long path to ultimate progressive triumph. I suggest ignoring the doom and gloomers, purity martyrs, and the terminally cynical, and bearing in mind that the long game is in our hands.