By John Dean
Posted on Jun 28, 2011
For good reason, there has been serious hand-wringing over what to do about the ethical lapses of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The fact that Supreme Court justices are exempt from the code of ethical conduct which applies to the rest of the federal judiciary; the problem of bringing a sitting justice before the Congress to question the conduct of a constitutional co-equal; the reality that justices cannot easily defend themselves against news media charges; the defiant, in-your-face posture of Thomas—the list goes on but it need not. There is clear precedent for how to deal with the justice. Thomas could be forced off the bench.
As the associate deputy attorney general in President Richard M. Nixon’s Department of Justice, I was there when Assistant Attorney General William Rehnquist outlined how to remove a Supreme Court justice who had engaged in conduct not quite as troublesome as that of Thomas. Rehnquist, of course, would later become chief justice of the United States. His memorandum providing the process for the Department of Justice to proceed against then Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas remains solid precedent and the way to deal with Clarence Thomas. But before looking at the solution, I should explain the problem.
To begin with, there is absolutely no question in my mind that Thomas lied his way onto the Supreme Court in 1991 when he denied Anita Hill’s charges that he had sexually harassed her and some of his other subordinates. If anyone needs proof, please examine the reporting of Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, authors of “Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas,” which sets forth the case against Thomas with an abundance of clear and convincing evidence (not to mention the evidence corroborating Hill that Joe Biden, then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, withheld).
The way Thomas reached the court is important for two reasons. First, there was once a time when those sitting on our highest bench would never do anything to tarnish the court, and this factors into both his conduct and the chances of his removal. Secondly, Thomas’ deceit during his confirmation hearing has overshadowed all of his behavior since he arrived on the court.
Thomas fooled no one when he dissembled in 1991. Those who embrace his consistently radical conservative voting record often overlook how he arrived on the high court, and a few supporters and admirers even defend him by diminishing the significance of his persistently questionable behavior. Those who are unhappy with Thomas as a justice, not to mention his aggressive polarization of the court, find that he has simply lived down to his standards as a scoundrel and fabulist. No one is particularly surprised that his behavior as a justice just keeps sinking lower and lower, constantly reaching new bottoms. (For a catalog that samples Thomas’ failings, see The Reid Report.)
Friday, July 1st, 2011
By Mary Wisniewski
CHICAGO (Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Friday struck down a Michigan law that banned affirmative action in college admissions, creating the possibility of a U.S. Supreme Court battle.
The 6th U.S. Circuit of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, found that a 2006 amendment to the Michigan constitution, “unconstitutionally alters Michigan’s political structure by impermissibly burdening racial minorities.”
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he will appeal the ruling through a formal request for a rehearing by the entire 6th Circuit. The law, known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, will stay in effect pending a final decision.
“Entrance to our great universities must be based upon merit, and I will continue the fight for equality, fairness and rule of law,” said Schuette in a statement.
George Washington, a Detroit attorney who represented a civil rights group opposing the law, said Michigan universities already give special consideration in admissions to certain groups of students, including those from rural backgrounds, those with lower incomes, and veterans.
From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/story/151465/mac_stores_tell_workers%2C_instead_of_giving_you_health_care%2C_working_for_apple_%27should_be_looked_at_as_an_experience%27?akid=7191.219284.P4cITG&rd=1&t=30
By Josh Eidelson
June 28, 2011
On the day Apple celebrated 10 years since opening its first Apple Store, employee Cory Moll announced a campaign to unionize the company’s 30,000-plus retail employees. Moll sent an e-mail to reporters declaring that “the people of Apple are coming together to “‘work different.’” “The core issues definitely involve compensation, pay, benefits,” Moll said.
A Reuters reporter echoed the response of many journalists in calling the union drive “unusual given Apple’s reputation for fierce employee loyalty.” But interviews with workers in three states help explain how and why some of Apple’s employees want to change the company. (All three employees interviewed for this article requested and were provided anonymity based on their fear of retaliation.)
A Bay Area employee described what happened last year when he and about a dozen co-workers realized employees with years of service were being paid less than new hires doing the same work. Agitated about the situation but concerned about retaliation, the workers committed to a plan: during the approaching round of annual one-on-one meetings between workers and managers, they would each ask about pay disparities.
Those workers who did ask received a consistent response: “Money shouldn’t be an issue when you’re employed at Apple.” Instead, managers said, the chance to work at Apple “should be looked at as an experience.” “You can’t live off of experience,” said the worker interviewed. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Apple has outpaced Tiffany & Co. jewelers in retail sales per square foot.
Employees said that Apple keeps its healthcare costs down by defining even employees working 40 hours a week as part-time if they can’t guarantee open availability (availability to be scheduled to work anytime the store is open). The three workers interviewed said that most employees at each of their stores either work second jobs or go to school, making open availability impossible.
Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/story/151465/mac_stores_tell_workers%2C_instead_of_giving_you_health_care%2C_working_for_apple_%27should_be_looked_at_as_an_experience%27?akid=7191.219284.P4cITG&rd=1&t=30
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/us/26gas.html?_r=1
By IAN URBINA
Published: June 25, 2011
Natural gas companies have been placing enormous bets on the wells they are drilling, saying they will deliver big profits and provide a vast new source of energy for the United States.
But the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells.
In the e-mails, energy executives, industry lawyers, state geologists and market analysts voice skepticism about lofty forecasts and question whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves. Many of these e-mails also suggest a view that is in stark contrast to more bullish public comments made by the industry, in much the same way that insiders have raised doubts about previous financial bubbles.
“Money is pouring in” from investors even though shale gas is “inherently unprofitable,” an analyst from PNC Wealth Management, an investment company, wrote to a contractor in a February e-mail. “Reminds you of dot-coms.”
“The word in the world of independents is that the shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes and the economics just do not work,” an analyst from IHS Drilling Data, an energy research company, wrote in an e-mail on Aug. 28, 2009.
Company data for more than 10,000 wells in three major shale gas formations raise further questions about the industry’s prospects. There is undoubtedly a vast amount of gas in the formations. The question remains how affordably it can be extracted.
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/us/26gas.html?_r=1
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/30/recession-educated-women-postpone-babies
Fertility worldwide dropped but UK population rose by 470,000 in 2010 because, say experts, less educated had more children
Highly educated young women in many rich countries have delayed having children because of the global recession, and may on average wait for a further five-to-eight years if governments slash public spending, say leading demographers.
A study for the European Union by the Vienna Institute of Demography shows a steep decline in fertility rates in the US and Spain in 2009-10, and stagnation in Ireland and most European countries.
However the report coincides with UK government figures that show Britain’s population rose by 470,000 in 2010, the highest annual growth rate for nearly 50 years. It rose 0.8% on the previous year and stands at 62.2m – a rise caused by natural change rather than immigration for the third consecutive year, according to the Office for National Statistics.
“If this is the case, then Britain joins the very few countries who are increasing their fertility rate despite the recession,” said Tomáš Sobotka, one of the Austrian report’s authors. “It is possible this is because the educated women are choosing to delay having while the less educated are having more.”
According to the report: “Highly educated women react to employment uncertainty by adopting a ‘postponement strategy’, especially if they are childless. In contrast, less-educated women often maintain or increase their fertility under economic uncertainty.”
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/30/recession-educated-women-postpone-babies