Ringside Seat: Another Day, Another SCOTUS Decision

The story of voting rights in recent years has been largely about conservatives and legislators in Republican states working hard to restrict them, and progressives trying to counter those moves with legal challenges and organizing drives. The most prominent fights have been over voter ID laws, which are supposed to address the "problem" of voter impersonation, something that occurs about as often as two-headed sharks. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court upheld voter ID laws in 2008. But today saw an unexpected defeat for those who would like to make voting as difficult as possible, when the Court struck down an Arizona law requiring voters to prove their citizenship. Just as millions of American citizens lack photo IDs, millions don't have the ability to provide proof of their citizenship. The Court held that federal law—in this case, the "motor voter" law requiring only that voters swear under penalty of perjury that they are citizens—trumped the Arizona law. So for now anyway, it won't be quite as hard to vote in Arizona as Republicans would prefer.

Of today's other decisions, the one likely to get attention concerns the relationship between the giant name-brand pharmaceutical companies and generic drug makers. The name-brand companies often pay generic drug companies not to produce generic versions of blockbuster drugs after their patents have expired, ensuring that consumers continue to pay inflated prices. The Court ruled that a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission alleging that this practice—sometimes referred to as "pay for delay"—violates antitrust laws could go forward. Combined with last week's opinion that a company couldn't patent a human gene it had isolated, it appears that some measure of common sense has managed to prevail on the Court this term.

But it's not over yet. We're still waiting on the real headline-grabbing, culture war decisions, on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage, affirmative action, and the future of the Voting Rights Act. Like a burlesque stripper, the Court knows how to draw things out as long as possible and keep us waiting for the big reveal.

So They Say

“You can engage with sarcasm, it’s hard with the abortion issue, but you have to. Unfortunately we have to, because this is the generation that we’ve been dealt."

Students for Life president Kristan Hawkins, who argues that making abortion funny is the key to winning millennials.


Daily Meme: A History of Surveillance

  • The NSA data mining story continues to unravel ever so slowly, and new information is wanting. But, that means the time is perfect to step back and look at the big picture. 
  • Jill Lepore looks at the short history of privacy in the era of publicity...
  • ... while n+1 and  Scientific American take one step back further and look at privacy since the founding.
  • ... while NPR chronicles the history of Americans not caring about privacy.
  • The Economist wonders about the motives of questioning Edward Snowden's motives, and what our thoughts about him say about us.
  • New York Magazine, meanwhile, looks at what happens to leakers past, and how they feel about their actions now.
  • With the G8 conference happening this week, some think we should work on making international privacy regulations, since most of the data collection is focused on those far from home.

What We're Writing

  • From a GOP standpoint, immigration reform has been something of a puzzle. As a result, writes Paul Waldman, Fox News isn’t sure how to talk about the issue, which is why the Gang of Eight needs to lobby the broadcast company to lean its way.
  • Reverend Doctor William Barber is the man leading the progressive front in North Carolina, and his “Moral Monday” protests outside North Carolina General Assembly have garnered national attention. Here, Lynn Stuart Parramore sits down for a chat with him.

What We're Reading

  • Why Samantha Power can't have her reporter hat and evade the press like a White House pro too.
  • The bench to fill empty Senate seats come next election cycle is looking mighty small.
  • While we wait on the last big Supreme Court decisions of this season ... let's game out what big cases might appear in the fall!
  • Rich Yeselson wonders about the future of unions.
  • Molly Ball explains why social conservatives are still steering the GOP.
  • Mother Jones digs deep into the history of "ag gag" legislation.
  • Exposing the gender politics still causing problems at the tip top of the ivory tower.
  • The New Republic publishes the inevitable "President Rand Paul?" cover story.
  • More home builders feel optimistic about their business' future than not for the first time since April 2006.
  • A simple numbers game suggests that the forthcoming Supreme Court opinions on affirmative action, Section 5, and gay marriage will be authored by conservatives.
  • Better career prospects may explain why women are now less eager than men to get hitched.

Poll of the Day

The percentage of Americans who have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers has been dropping since 1979, when it reached 51 percent. Now, according to a new Gallup poll, that confidence is down to 23 percent, two points lower than last year. Confidence in television news actually climbed this year, but is still only tied with newspapers at 23 percent.

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