Legal


Supreme Court Weighs Unions' Future

By Kokayi Kwa Jitahidi

Springtime is typically emblematic of the birth and growth of new life forms. However, in 2014 this time of year could become a moment of death for the labor movement as we have come to know it.

In the coming weeks the United States Supreme Court will render a decision in the case of Harris v. Quinn that could paralyze labor’s ability to organize workers throughout the country. Despite its major implications, the case remains largely absent from our mainstream discourse or even within discussions among progressive allies.

Vergara v. California's Corporate Heart

By Julie Gutman Dickinson

Are job protections for teachers to blame for educational underachievement among low-income students of color in California? That’s the provocative question ostensibly at the heart of Vergara vs. California, which seeks to invalidate the tenure, due process and seniority rights of hundreds of thousands of educators.

Astute observers of the nation’s escalating education wars, however, may be asking another question: When did it become permissible to use the welfare of children as a fig leaf for an all-out legal attack on teachers?

Someone Is Suing the Schools over Teacher Tenure

By Duane Campbell

Linda Deutsch of The Associated Press reported on January 26 in the Sacramento Bee that nine public school students are suing the state over laws on teacher tenure and seniority, which really means that the usual anti-union corporate machine has launched a new front in the war on teachers.

These students (or their parents) want to invalidate a series of current laws which protect teachers from political interference. Their campaign foci just happen to coincide with campaigns of a variety of the usual corporate suspects: Michellle Rhee, the Waltons, Students First, Democrats for Educational Reform, and other well financed political action committees.

The Buck Stops at the FCC

By Michael Copps

Since the DC Court threw out the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet rules last week, “network neutrality” is a glaring problem that demands prompt action. The good news is that the solution is pretty simple. It doesn’t require a new telecommunications statute replete with time-consuming years of legislative horse-trading and special interest lobbying. All it requires is an FCC big enough to own up to its previous mistakes and courageous enough to put our communications future back on track. The solution: reclassify broadband as “telecommunications” under Title II of the Communications Act.

McCutcheon v. FEC: "Citizens United" on Steroids

By Steve Mikulan

Frying Pan News

The U.S. Supreme Court's new term, which began yesterday, could spell a world of hurt for working Americans. People who believe this aren't simply looking at worst-case scenarios -- in which, say, the conservative majority sides on every point with plaintiffs represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. No, their view rests on the conservatives' well-established penchant for producing rulings that go far beyond the original cases before the justices - rulings that make laws that didn't previously exist, grant awards that weren't sought and answer briefs that were never filed.

For Marriage Equality, It Took a Movement

Randy ShawBy Randy Shaw

The Supreme Court's striking down DOMA and Prop 8 sent a powerful message about the ongoing power of grassroots movements to bring about social change. These rulings could not have come a decade ago. Then, even campaigns for domestic partnerships and civil unions were politically controversial. But the broader activist struggle for marriage equality brought the courts along, just as the African-American civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's brought legal rulings to support that struggle.

"Avalanche" of Lawsuits Hit DSC Over Bay Delta Plan

Dan BacherBy Dan Bacher

The North Coast Rivers Alliance, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Associations and Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe on Friday, June 14, filed a lawsuit against the Delta Plan approved recently by the Delta Stewardship Council.

Attorney Stephan C. Volker filed the litigation in the Sacramento County Superior Court, charging that the Delta Plan violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009 and the Public Trust Doctrine.

Bradley Manning is Guilty of "Aiding the Enemy" - if the Enemy is Democracy

Norman SolomanBy Norman Soloman

Of all the charges against Bradley Manning, the most pernicious - and revealing - is "aiding the enemy."

A blogger at The New Yorker, Amy Davidson, raised a pair of big questions that now loom over the courtroom at Fort Meade and over the entire country:

  • "Would it aid the enemy, for example, to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American government?"
  • "In that case, who is aiding the enemy - the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?"

When the deceptive operation of the warfare state can't stand the light of day, truth-tellers are a constant hazard. And culpability must stay turned on its head.

California Farmer Warns: "Don't Trust Oil Industry, State or Courts" to Protect Water

By Dan Aiello

Kern County almond farmer, Fred Starrh, is an unlikely darling of the anti-fracking movement in California.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an environmentally risky oil production method of pumping under pressure large volumes of water, sand and chemicals underground to bubble to the surface heavy tar-like oil left in depleted oil wells and to reach deep deposits of oil and natural gas.

Fracking is the method oil companies seek to employ to proliferate drilling in California where the discovered Monterey Shale Deposit is estimated to contain as many as 15.4 billion barrels of crude 11,000 feet deep.

Brown Can Release Prisoners Early Without Compromising Public Safety

By Lizzie Buchen

After a year of defying court orders to alleviate the state’s prison crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown seems to have finally pushed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to its limit. In an April 11 ruling, having already "exercised exceptional restraint," the exasperated federal judges declared the state "will not be allowed to continue to violate the requirements of the Constitution of the United States," giving Brown until May 2 to develop a plan that will reduce the prison population by nearly 10,000 people by the end of the year.