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An Issue of Supreme Importance

Initial debate over President Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court may focus on whether her lack of prior judicial experience is relevant, or perhaps Harvard Law School's exclusion of the Defense Department from campus recruiting during her leadership because of "Don't Ask Don't Tell".  But the core issue -and one that every nominee should face-- is where she stands on the relationship of power to justice.

As ADA Counsel Jack Blum points out in a recent blog posting on our website, the trend of judicial decisions in recent decades has been to favor wealth and power over the rights of ordinary citizens.  "In one significant case after another, the Court has limited the ability of elected governments to protect workers, serve the disabled, prevent monopoly, and collect corporate tax," Blum writes. Blum also noted that the court has failed to protect individual citizens' personal privacy against overreaching government intrusion, and has failed to uphold the public's right-to-know despite the promise of the Freedom of Information Act.

The hope is that the time Kagan spent clerking for Justice Thurgood Marshall instilled in her the important role of the law in re-balancing scales already weighted towards power and that she can be part of a new majority in restoring the rights of ordinary Americans.

The Line Forms on the Right…the Extreme Right

Apparently not conservative enough for Tea Party adherents, three-term incumbent Senator and staunch conservative Robert Bennett (R-UT; ADA Liberal Quotient: 10%) was denied a shot at re-nomination by his party over the weekend, bumped from the primary ballot by right-wing activists at a state convention.  Sen. Bennett finished third in the critical second-round vote, behind attorney Mike Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater, who will advance to the June 22nd primary.  Lee, who clerked for Justice Samuel Alito, said that the rebuke of Bennett showed that Utahans are craving "more constitutionally limited government."

"That the Tea Party would consider Bob Bennett -- one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate -- too liberal just goes to show how extreme the Tea Party is," Timothy M. Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement. "This is just the latest battle in the corrosive Republican intra-party civil war . . . If there was any question before, there should now be no doubt that the Republican leadership has handed the reins to the Tea Party."

Banking On Progress

As popular support grows for meaningful financial reform, community banking advocates are working hard to protect consumers from fraud and create equal access to credit.  ADA has signed onto a letter from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition urging senators to back provisions of the Wall Street reform bill that helps ensure banks are serving their communities fairly, including historically excluded groups like minorities and women.  It is hoped that the Senate can wrap up the legislation by the end of the week and begin a House-Senate Conference Committee soon after.

Noteworthy

  • It turns out BP ducked drilling regulations already weakened by the scandal-plagued Minerals Management Service in obtaining approval for its disastrous Deep Horizons well now threatening the Gulf coast.
  • Has BP's latest oil spill turned you against Offshore Drilling?  Sign the petition before Congress passes legislation that would expand offshore oil drilling as part of its climate change bill.
  • ADA board member and noted economist James Galbraith apologized on behalf of his profession in Congressional testimony that recounted how economists ignored the clear and present danger of fraud in our financial system.
  • ADA national director Michael J. Wilson discussed the ADA voting record among Pennsylvania Members of Congress on the radio yesterday.
  • Big rally for financial reform on Washington's K Street next Monday, May 17.

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