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How does today's health care ruling affect your opinion of the Supreme Court?
June 28th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

How does today's health care ruling affect your opinion of the Supreme Court?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Supreme Court reminded us all in an instant Thursday morning what an enormous impact these nine justices can have on the lives of millions of Americans.

And what came as a surprise to many was that Chief Justice John Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, broke with the conservatives and sided with the court's liberal justices in favor of Obamacare and the individual mandate.

In a way it was curiously refreshing, whether you agree with the court's decision or not.

That's because many have come to believe that politics have played an outsize role in the high court's decisions in recent years. It probably really got going in 2000, with Bush v. Gore, which effectively handed the presidency to Bush.

Then two years ago came the Citizens United ruling allowing unlimited spending by corporations and unions on elections as long as it's independent of campaigns.

Whatever the reasons, there has been a marked decline in the Supreme Court's approval rating.

A recent poll found 44% of Americans approve of how the high court handles its job - down from 80% in 1994.

The New York Times/CBS Poll shows an overwhelming 76% of those surveyed say the Supreme Court justices sometimes let their personal or political views influence their decisions. Only 13% think the court's decisions are based only on legal analysis.

But the court's critical ruling Thursday might move the needle once again when it comes to how we view the highest court in the land.

Here’s my question to you: How does today's health care ruling affect your opinion of the Supreme Court?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Health care • Supreme Court
What role might the Supreme Court play in the next presidential election?
April 26th, 2012
03:58 PM ET

What role might the Supreme Court play in the next presidential election?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Suddenly the Supreme Court is looming large in yet another presidential election.

In the 2000 contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore, the High Court ruled the recounting of votes in Florida - remember those hanging chads - must stop.

Al Gore got about 500,000 more popular votes. But the Supreme Court gave Bush the edge in Florida - and he went on to win the election.

That decision effectively handed the presidency of the United States to George W. Bush.

Flash ahead to 2012. Twice within the last four weeks, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear cases - health care and immigration - that could have huge implications for the outcome of another presidential election.

Start with Obamacare.

Court watchers say the justices seem to be leaning toward rolling back part - or all - of President Obama's hallmark legislation of his first term. The individual mandate appears to be in serious jeopardy - and with it, the whole law might go.

Then, almost without missing a beat, the Supreme Court decided to hear arguments on Arizona's tough new immigration law.

It's no secret the federal government under Presidents Obama, Bush - go back as far as you like - has made virtually no serious effort at securing our nation's borders – especially with Mexico.

Finally being fed up, Arizona took matters into its own hands.

Interestingly it looks like the Supreme Court may side with Arizona. And again the implications could be huge.

Both rulings are expected in June - just a few months before America elects its next president.

Republicans will use any decision against President Obama as ammunition.

However if the president loses either of these cases it could become a perfect way to mobilize the Democratic base, including Hispanic voters.

Here’s my question to you: What role might the Supreme Court play in the next presidential election?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Supreme Court
Should the Supreme Court arguments over health care be televised?
Demonstrators stood outside the US Supreme Court after today's morning session.
March 27th, 2012
03:21 PM ET

Should the Supreme Court arguments over health care be televised?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments about the constitutionality of Obamacare, only a few hundred members of the public and press can actually see what is happening as it's happening.

That's because the high court decided that there would be no televised coverage of the historic health care hearings.

Lawmakers, media and open government groups had pushed for the court to break with tradition and let TV cameras in to broadcast the three days of oral arguments.

Some say the Supreme Court's practice of no TV cameras is behind the times.

But the best they could get are daily audio recordings and transcripts of the hearings. The court says they're releasing these because of quote "extraordinary public interest" in the health care case.

No kidding. What these nine justices decide could have major effects on the political and economic future of this country. Not to mention the health care for millions of individual Americans.

Which is why polls show Americans overwhelmingly in favor of televising the arguments before the nation's highest court.

A new CNN/ORC poll shows 61% of those surveyed say the Supreme Court should allow TV cameras into hearings. Only 35% say no.

In December, Congress held hearings on the so called Cameras in the Courtroom Act. Supporters say TV coverage of the high court's hearings would provide more transparency.

Opponents suggest allowing cameras in would detract from the integrity and decorum of the institution. Baloney. That court is conducting the people's business, and the people have every right to witness what goes on.

Here’s my question to you: Should the Supreme Court arguments over health care be televised?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: Health care • Supreme Court
What will it mean to Pres. Obama if the Supreme Court overturns his health care law?
November 15th, 2011
04:17 PM ET

What will it mean to Pres. Obama if the Supreme Court overturns his health care law?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Expect the Supreme Court to light up the 2012 presidential race when it rules on President Obama's health care law just months before the election.

The high court has agreed to decide the constitutionality of the president's signature piece of legislation. The legal challenge comes from a joint filing by 26 states led by Florida.

The justices will hear two major questions:

Whether the so-called individual mandate is unconstitutional - can the government force you to buy insurance? And if so, whether the entire 2,000-plus page law should be scrapped.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in late February or March and rule by June. If they strike it down, it would be a huge embarrassment for President Obama.

Yet the White House says it's confident the law will be found constitutional, and Politico reports that the president is so confident that he didn't even try to stop the Supreme Court from fast-tracking the case.

Mr. Obama is gambling that if the court upholds the law, it will validate his epic, two-year battle with Congress. And if they strike it down, it will fire up the Democratic base and energize party donors.

But there are also risks: If the court upholds the law, it could fire up the president's opposition even more. Remember the tea party?

The revival of the health care debate could also hurt the president in some swing states where his health care push alienated Independents.

Finally, if President Obama can't run on health care, it's not exactly like he can run on the economy or cutting the national debt.

Here's my question to you: What will it mean to President Obama if the Supreme Court overturns his health care law?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

May 24th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Should Calif. be forced to release tens of thousands of prisoners?

ALT TEXT

Inmates at Chino State Prison, which houses 5500 inmates, crowd around double and triple bunk beds in a gymnasium modified to house surplus prisoners. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As if the cash-strapped state of California doesn't have enough problems to deal with, it now has to figure out what to do with tens of thousands of convicts who need to be moved out of the state prison system to comply with a new Supreme Court decision.

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling on Monday that overcrowding is such a problem in California's prisons that the prisoners' eighth amendment rights - the ones that protect against cruel and unusual punishment - are being violated.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court ordered the state to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates.

The state will have two years to comply with the high court's order. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted in favor of reducing the overcrowding along with the court's 4 consistently liberal justices, stressed that the state had options other than just releasing the inmates onto the streets - like constructing of new facilities or transferring of prisoners out of state or to country facilities.

But that all costs money... and California is flat broke.

The secretary of California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said today it hopes to comply with the court's ruling without releasing any prisoners.

That would be nice.

The state is looking into plans to shift low-level offenders to county jails and other facilities.

We're not talking about finding spots for 50 inmates throughout the state. We're talking about tens of thousands.

Here’s my question to you: The Supreme Court has ordered California to release tens of thousands of prison inmates. Is that a good idea?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: prisons • Supreme Court
May 10th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Should Arizona be allowed to enforce its own immigration law?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO CREDIT:JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

You can tell there's an election coming. President Obama traveled to El Paso, Texas, to deliver a speech this afternoon on immigration reform. He talked about the economic benefits of immigration overhaul and about increasing the number of border guards from the days of the Bush Administration. Of course, he stopped short of talking specific immigration legislation.

Because of the federal government's refusal to secure this nation's borders, many states have taken it upon themselves to pass their own legislation.

Arizona passed a controversial illegal immigration law last year. It requires police officers to investigate the immigration status of any person they stop who they think may be an illegal immigrant. The law also makes it a crime to not carry immigration paperwork while in the state. You know, just like you're required to carry a driver's license if you drive a car. The U.S. Department of Justice sued to block the Arizona law and won. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found the law to be unconstitutional. But Governor Jan Brewer said yesterday that Arizona will appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is already set to rule in a case on another Arizona immigration law in the coming weeks, one that dissolves businesses that repeatedly knowingly hire illegal aliens.

If it wins the case, Arizona will need some help enforcing this new law on its own. Which is why it is asking for public donations to fund its legal defense of the law and to construct a fence between Arizona and Mexico. And it's getting them. So far, the state says the response has been very positive. The people of Arizona are tired of waiting for Washington to enforce the federal immigration laws already on the books.

Here’s my question to you: Should Arizona be allowed to enforce its own immigration law?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Immigration • Supreme Court
June 25th, 2010
03:35 PM ET

Why is support declining for Kagan to be Supreme Court justice?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings to be the nation's next Supreme Cort justice begin next Monday. But the number of people who think she belongs on the high court is declining.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 44 percent of Americans want the Senate to confirm Kagan which is down 10 points since may.

39 percent oppose Kagan's confirmation - that's up three points.

And 17 percent now say they're unsure or undecided... up from 11 percent in May.

Not surprising since people probably don't know a whole lot about Kagan.

Opinion on her has changed the most among women and Democrats. These are people who initially supported the nomination because Kagan is a woman or because Mr. Obama chose her; but now that they're getting some information on her views - they're not so sure.

It will be interesting to see how much information the senators can get out of Kagan... with lawmakers complaining in recent years how difficult it is to get substantive answers out of nominees.

15 years ago - Kagan herself complained about Senate confirmation hearings... calling them a "hollow charade" and a "ritual dance."

One issue that will likely dominate the hearings is Kagan's banning of military recruiters from Harvard law school due to the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Another hot topic could be Kagan's lack of judicial experience - she has none.

Meanwhile - a group of nearly 900 orthodox rabbis are opposed to Kagan's nomination. they say she is "not kosher" and unfit to serve on the high court. The rabbis take issue with Kagan's views on homosexuality and abortion.

Here’s my question to you: Why has support been declining for Elena Kagan to be the next Supreme Court justice?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Elena Kagan • Supreme Court
May 11th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Elena Kagan right choice for Supreme Court?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama promised us Supreme Court candidates who can relate to the "real world" and how the law affects ordinary Americans... but there are questions whether Elena Kagan fits that description.

Kagan comes from a world unknown to most Americans: from Manhattan's Upper West Side... on to Princeton University and then Harvard Law School.

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer jokes with Politico: "Are you suggesting that Princeton, Harvard and New York aren't the totality of real life?"

But a lot of people don't think it's funny, saying that someone who has spent so much time in elite academic settings is out-of-touch with average Americans.

So far - only one Republican has publicly said he would oppose Kagan's nomination to the high court. Oklahoma senator James Inhofe says he's concerned about Kagan's lack of judicial experience. He also points to her decision as dean of Harvard Law School to block military recruiters from the campus - in protest of the Pentagon's "Don't Ask-Don't Tell" policy. This could wind up being one of the biggest issues in her confirmation process.

Other critics also point to Kagan's lack of litigation experience and her scant writings. There's not the usual "paper trail" to vet a Supreme Court nominee here. Kagan has no judicial experience - she's never been a judge and has only written a few legal articles.

Also, some worry her lack of a public record means nobody knows what Kagan stands for but Pres. Obama. Still, others question Kagan's hiring record as dean of Harvard Law school - four out of every five hires were white men. Not exactly a poster child for diversity. Lots of questions...

Here’s my question to you: Is Elena Kagan the right choice to be the next Supreme Court justice?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Elena Kagan • Supreme Court
April 13th, 2010
04:38 PM ET

Hillary Clinton as Supreme Court justice?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

First Lady... Senator... Presidential candidate... Secretary of State.

Hillary Clinton's resume is already an impressive one ... but what about Supreme Court Justice as her next step?

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah first floated the idea... saying Clinton "would be an interesting person in the mix" ... as a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

The White House was quick to take the air out of it... saying that President Obama thinks Clinton is doing an "excellent job" as Secretary of State and that he wants to keep her there. Clinton's spokesman also chimed in - saying the Secretary of State loves her job and isn't looking for another one...

But it's not such a far-fetched notion... and some Clinton supporters love it. Longtime adviser Mark Penn tells Politico that Clinton would make a great justice... that she would "bring a revolution to the court and would be confirmable."

Even her mother has talked about the scenario... once telling a reporter she thought Hillary would be the first woman to serve on the high court...she says she was "kind of sorry" when Sandra Day O'Connor became the first.

It's also worth pointing out that since the retirement of O'connor - the Supreme Court has been made up entirely of career legal scholars and jurists - not a single prominent public figure... in the tradition of justices like William Howard Taft, Earl Warren and Thurgood Marshall.

A nominee like Clinton could change all that.

Here’s my question to you: Why shouldn't Pres. Obama consider Hillary Clinton for the Supreme Court?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Supreme Court
July 10th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Can New Haven firefighters derail Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There's an old saying: "Payback's a bitch." Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor ruled against a promotion test for firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut because not enough minorities scored well enough to qualify. Last week the Supreme Court overturned that decision and now it's the firefighters' turn.

Republicans plan to call two of the firefighters who didn't get promoted to testify during Sotomayor's confirmation hearings next week. The white one who originally claimed reverse discrimination, and the lone Puerto Rican one who joined the lawsuit and incidentally scored very well on the test.

This will make equal opportunity the focus of, at least, part of the confirmation hearings and will no doubt serve as a source of some embarrassment to the nominee. The hope is to establish that appellate judges may be influenced by personal and political views such as a belief in racial preferences for minorities.

The GOP also has 12 other witnesses on their list. It should be standing room only.

Democrats are planning to call 15 witnesses, many of them Republicans, in hopes of defending critics and convincing the 19 member judiciary committee that Sotomayor is a mainstream judge worthy of becoming the first Hispanic and third woman to be seated on the high court.

Here’s my question to you: Can firefighters from New Haven, Connecticut, derail Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
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