The Fix: Supreme Court

Shaun McCutcheon speaks!

Shaun McCutcheon speaks!

Shaun McCutcheon, an electrical engineer from Alabama, is the man of the political hour, with the Supreme Court handing down a hugely important campaign finance decision bearing his name on Wednesday. The ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC struck down the overall limit on how much money individuals can spend in one election cycle, while leaving in place individual contribution limits. We spoke with McCutcheon by phone Wednesday afternoon. Our conversation, lightly edited for grammar, is below.

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Antonin Scalia on the Washington Post, "Seinfeld" and the Devil

Antonin Scalia on the Washington Post, 'Seinfeld' and the Devil

There are so many reasons to read New York magazine's interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, including the fact that it may be the most entertaining question-and-answer session with a Washington figure published this year. But in case you don't have time to read it all, here are some of the (many) highlights. The whip-smart questions, posed by Jennifer Senior, are in italics:

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Did the Supreme Court change public opinion about gay marriage? Nope.

Did the Supreme Court change public opinion about gay marriage? Nope.

The landmark gay marriage decisions the Supreme Court handed down in June received widespread attention across the country.

But did they shift the public's opinion about gay marriage? Nope.

A new Gallup poll released Monday shows that 54 percent of Americans say same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid, with 43 percent saying it should not. It's the first Gallup poll since the high court gave advocates of gay marriages big victories when it struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California.

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New Jersey: The next battleground for gay marriage

New Jersey: The next battleground for gay marriage

The Supreme Court's invalidation of a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act changed the political and legal landscape for gay marriage across the country. But nowhere will the effects of the ruling be seen more immediately than in New Jersey.

First, there are the politics. Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who supports civil unions but opposes gay marriage, is up for reelection in a blue state this fall. Opponent Barbara Buono (D) is already trying to put some heat on him over DOMA. In a recent email blast, her gay daughter called Christie "a giant roadblock to New Jersey achieving equality for all." In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, Buono is pushing the legislature for a vote to override his veto of gay marriage legislation last fall.

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Stephen Colbert on the Supreme Court's DOMA ruling (VIDEO)

Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert looks at the court's "so-called judicial reasoning."

Why the Supreme Court's Voting Rights Act decision puts Obama in a tough spot

Why the Supreme Court's Voting Rights Act decision puts Obama in a tough spot

The disapproval was swift and unequivocal.

"I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision today," President Obama said in a statement Tuesday of the court's 5-4 ruling that a key provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional.

What's less clear is how Obama will proceed. He will be expected by opponents of the decision to lead the charge to remedy it. But he can't do anything major without the compliance of a gridlocked Congress. Together, these realities put the president in an unenviable position.

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A new VRA formula? Don't hold your breath.

A new VRA formula? Don't hold your breath.

If Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is to survive, Congress must save it.

That's the message Tuesday from the Supreme Court, which struck down the formula used to decide which parts of the country need preclearance from the Justice Department to change election practices.

"Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions," Chief Justice Roberts wrote. How likely is that? Not very.

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Everything you need to know about the Supreme Court Voting Rights Act decision

Everything you need to know about the Supreme Court Voting Rights Act decision

Note: We originally posted this primer on the Voting Rights Act case back in February when the Supreme Court was hearing arguments. We've updated it in light of the court's Tuesday decision.

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a key component of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. Below is everything you need to know about the decision.

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Why gay marriage isn't upstaging voting rights this week

Why gay marriage isn't upstaging voting rights this week

All eyes are on the Supreme Court again Tuesday, when the justices could announce decisions in a pair of landmark gay marriage cases and a key voting rights case. While the gay marriage cases have received more widespread media coverage, Americans see the two issues with equal measures of intrigue, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

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How the Supreme Court could rule on same-sex marriage, in 1 interactive chart

Supreme Court decisions on a pair of landmark gay marriage cases could come as soon as Monday morning.

To help make sense of how the court could rule and what it will mean across the country, we are reposting this fabulous Washington Post interactive graphic. You can explore all the possibilities and look at which states the decisions would affect.


(Interactive graphic by Masuma Ahuja, Robert Barnes and Emily Chow)

When it comes to the case involving California's same-sex marriage ban, there are five possibilities. The case involving the Defense of Marriage Act has two possible outcomes.

For even more on same-sex marriage, check out this map and rundown of public opinion. And stay tuned to Post Politics and The Fix for the latest news and analysis once the court has made its decision.

Everything you need to know about how the Supreme Court could rule on same-sex marriage

Everything you need to know about how the Supreme Court could rule on same-sex marriage

The Supreme Court could announce decisions in a pair of landmark gay marriage cases as soon as Thursday morning.

So, how might the highest court in the land decide, and which states will be affected? Thanks to a fantastic new interactive Washington Post graphic, you can explore all of the possibilities.

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Raw politics explains why DOMA got wide support in 1996

Raw politics explains why DOMA got wide support in 1996

During Wednesday's Supreme Court oral argument over the Defense of Marriage Act, Chief Justice John G. Roberts was intent on getting one question answered from those seeking to overturn the law: were the politicians who passed the measure bigots?



As Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. explained that DOMA denies equal protection to gay Americans under the law since they are barred from getting married, Roberts pressed Verrilli on the point.

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The Supreme Court's rightward shift -- or not (in two charts)

The Supreme Court's rightward shift -- or not (in two charts)

A new Pew Research Center poll shows conservatives think the Supreme Court is a bunch of liberals, while liberals think the court is a bunch of conservatives.

So who's right?

Below, we look at two competing theories, illustrated by Randy Schutt and based on data compiled by academics at two major universities.

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Know who won't be watching the Supreme Court oral arguments on gay marriage? President Obama.

One in an occasional series of observational pieces keyed off the White House daily briefing.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest scored a political point Monday when Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason asked whether the president would be watching the historic oral arguments on gay marriage at the Supreme Court this week.

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Everything you need to know about the Supreme Court Voting Rights Act case

Everything you need to know about the Supreme Court Voting Rights Act case

The Supreme Court today is hearing arguments for and against a key part of the Voting Rights Act designed to protect against racial discrimination at the polls. It's an important case that could upend the way certain parts of the country go about making changes to voting laws. Below, we give you everything you need to know about it.

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The Supreme Court campaign contributions case, explained

The Supreme Court campaign contributions case, explained

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider a GOP challenge to existing aggregate limits on contributions from individuals to candidates for federal office, and and the parties and political action committees that support/oppose them.

It has the potential to be a landmark case in the history of campaign finance with wide-reaching implications. So, what's at issue and what could the Court decision mean for campaigns in the future? We explain below.

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'The Daily Show' on Justice Clarence Thomas breaking his silence (video)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas broke his nearly seven-year silence during oral arguments on Monday with an apparent joke about lawyers and law school. On Tuesday, Comedy Central's Jon Stewart attempted to make sense of Thomas's remark.

All that appears in the court transcript is Thomas saying, "Well — he did not — "

"‘Well he did not?'" Stewart asked on "The Daily Show." "If I was going to say only four words in seven years, you've got to make them count -- ‘You're out of order!'; ‘Luke, I am your father.'"

Check out the complete segment below.

Stephen Colbert on a Supreme Court copyright case (video)

As the Supreme Court considers a caseinvolving copyright law and textbooks purchased overseas and sold in the United States, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert weighed in on the matter during his Monday night program.

"I'm sorry, I don't buy this first sale' argument. And if I did buy it, I would not sell it, because I don't have the right," Colbert said.

Check out the full clip below.

Mitt Romney’s tax gamble on health care

Mitt Romney’s tax gamble on health care

On July 4, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney tried to explain the (close to) unexplainable: How a penalty in Massachusetts is a tax nationally.

At issue is the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Obama’s health care law by stating that those who don’t opt in to the insurance system can be taxed for not doing so.

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The amazing number of people who know nothing about the health-care ruling

One of the most common mistakes made in political reporting is to assume that average voter is following the daily news cycle as closely as we are. He or she isn’t.


This Oct. 8, 2010, photo shows the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court at the Supreme Court. Seated from left are Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Associate Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Standing from left are Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
The latest poll numbers from the Pew Research Center on the Supreme Court’s decision on President Obama’s health-care law are (yet another) affirmation of that fact.

Forty-five percent — yes 45 percent! — of respondents in the Pew poll either didn’t know what the court had done in regards the health care law (30 percent) or thought that the court had rejected most of the provisions of the law (15 percent).

Let’s just make sure we are all clear: Forty-five percent of people didn’t know about or were misinformed about the most highly publicized Supreme Court case since — at least — Bush v. Gore in 2000 that dealt with the landmark legislative accomplishment of Obama’s first term in office. That is staggering stuff.

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How John Roberts became the story

In a 2010 Pew poll less than three in ten Americans knew that John Roberts was the Chief Justice of the United States. But, his pivotal role in Thursday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold President Obama’s health care law might well turn Roberts into a more household name.

According to Google data, searches for Roberts soared between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. eastern time Thursday, far outdistancing other terms like “individual mandate” and “SCOTUS”.

Here’s a chart from the good people at Google detailing the top five rising search terms over that critical three hours on Thursday.

The most amazing Supreme Court chart. Maybe ever.

Roughly two months ago, we posted the chart below that details peoples’ responses to a Pew question about who is the Chief Justice of the United States. Given the focus today on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the health care — and on Chief Justice John Roberts himself — we thought it was worth re-posting. Prepare to be amazed/depressed/shocked/amused.

ORIGINAL POST

While browsing around the Pew polling site this morning — and, yes, we do a fair amount of that — we came across a chart on the Supreme Court that reminded us, for the billionth time, that assuming the average person follows the back and forth of Washington as closely as we do is a major mistake.

Without further ado, here’s the chart:

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Democratic candidates still tread lightly on Obamacare, despite Supreme Court’s decision

The Supreme Court gave President Obama’s health-care law its constitutional seal of approval Thursday.

When it comes to their political seal of approval, Democratic House and Senate candidates weren’t so kind.

Despite the law being upheld, Democrats with tough races ahead of them continue to tread lightly around a law that remains broadly unpopular nationwide — including among key independent voters.

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CNN, Fox jump the gun on Supreme Court health care decision

Updated at 12:02 p.m.

For the second time this week, initial reports about the Supreme Court’s decision were flat wrong.

The complicated nature of the court’s decisions, along with the Twitter age and the race to be first, led at least two major news networks — CNN and Fox News — to mistakenly report Thursday morning that the individual mandate portion of President Obama’s health care law had been struck down.

The problem: The law and the mandate were actually upheld.

Here’s CNN, before and after:

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Gaming out the politics of the Supreme Court’s health care ruling

In less than 24 hours, the Supreme Court will hand down its ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the defining achievement of President Obama’s first term in office.


A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The stakes — from a political and a policy perspective — are absolutely massive although, as we have noted, public opinion on the law itself seems to be relatively cemented.

While the ruling isn’t likely to drastically change how people perceive the law, it could well have a major impact on how voters perceive the two parties — and their respective candidates for president — with 131 days left before the November election.

Below we examine the three most likely decisions from the Court — affirmation of the law, rejection of the law and some middle ground — and how the two parties would seek to shape them politically.

We’ll know what the Court decides by (around) 10 am tomorrow. Until then, the political world waits with bated breath. (Looking for something to do between now and then? Use this interactive to find out what the different rulings from the Court could mean to your health care.)

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The Supreme Court, immigration, and Democrats’ chances in Arizona

Monday’s ruling on Arizona’s controversial immigration law represented a split decision that confused many and was both hailed and lamented by Republicans and Democrats.
Rep. Jeff Flake talks about Mitt Romney's performance following the Arizona Republican Presidential Debate the Mesa Arts Center on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. (Charlie Leight/The Arizona Republic)

As the two parties wrestle over what it means for national politics, it’s also worth examining the influence (if any) the decision will have on Arizona politics.

Democrats have talked a big game about winning Arizona at the presidential and Senate level, where Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) retirement has left an open seat this year. Most of that talk holds that the controversy over the Arizona law — also known as “SB1070” — and Obama’s movement on immigration will lead to increased Latino turnout in a 30 percent Hispanic state.

But an equally valid line of argument maintains that the Arizona law, which Republicans have spear-headed, is broadly popular. And as long as the immigration issue is front-and-center, that’s good for the GOP.

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The best SCOTUS tweets of the day

It’s a glorious day on Twitter — thanks to the Supreme Court. Basically everybody in the political Twitterverse is firing off tweets on the rulings, demonstrating what we’ve long held to be the great wit of the American people. (USA! USA!)

Below, we’ve assembled some of the best (light-hearted) tweets from this morning. Did we miss any?

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Could President Obama run against the Supreme Court?

Could President Obama run against the Supreme Court?

Let’s say that later this morning (or on Thursday), the Supreme Court rules that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, thereby invalidating — whether in part or in total — the signature legislative accomplishment of President Obama’s first term.

The initial reactions are predictable. Republicans would be triumphant, Democrats depressed. And, as we have written before, it’s not entirely clear that anything — up to and including the Supreme Court’s decision — can drastically alter public opinion regarding Obama’s health care law.

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The Supreme Court just can’t win on health care

There’s basically no winning for the Supreme Court when it rules on President Obama’s health care law next week.

A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows more Americans will be unhappy than happy regardless of what the court rules — whether it upholds the law, strikes it down entirely, or strikes down the individual insurance mandate and leaves the rest alone.

6-18-12 #1

But on the whole, the most popular decision appears to be tossing the whole law out, which earns the approval of 44 percent of Americans and 50 percent of electorally crucial independents. And opposition to the law remains significantly stronger than support.

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Why running against the Supreme Court just might work for Obama

Why running against the Supreme Court just might work for Obama

Some time between now and July 4, the Supreme Court will hand down two rulings — one on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, the other on Arizona’s immigration law — that could have genuine impact on the battle for the White House this fall.

The tea-leave reading of how the Court will rule — and, to be clear, this is guesswork at best — seems to suggest that they may well strike down the health care law and uphold Arizona’s measure, a dual decision that would widely be seen as a victory for conservatives and a defeat for President Obama.

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Texas judges release new interim redistricting map

We may finally have a Texas congressional map for the 2012 election.

After a series of fits and starts thanks to a long, drawn-out legal process, a three-judge panel in San Antonio on Tuesday released an interim plan for the coming election.

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Texas redistricting case: Five things you need to know

For the second time in five years, Texas’s new congressional map is headed for a date with the Supreme Court.

And the results could be very significant, both in Texas, in the 2012 election, and for the future of the congressional redistricting process.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R). (Photo by Gerald Herbert)

So, for those who aren’t versed in legalese, redistricting, or the Lone Star State generally (it’s not all about Texas Gov. Rick Perry), here’s what you need to know

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Supreme Court inserts itself into 2012 election in a major way

With its recent decisions to take up a trio of major cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has signaled that it will become a major player in the 2012 election.

The court’s decision Monday to review Arizona’s controversial illegal immigration law was just the latest addition to what many see as its most important and politically charged docket in recent years.
The nine members of the Supreme Court pose for a new group photograph to reflect their newest member, Elena Kagan, in October 2010. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

The court also said late Friday that it would review a contentious redistricting situation in Texas, and perhaps most importantly, a few weeks ago it said it would examine President Obama’s health-care bill.

All three rulings, on their surface at least, favor Republicans, as the GOP had been seeking to get the high court to tackle those issues.

But even as we don’t know how the cases will pan out, simply raising the issues to such prominence could have a major impact on the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

At the same time, it’s not exactly clear which party will benefit.

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U.S. Supreme Court blocks court-drawn Texas map in win for Republicans

The U.S. Supreme Court has again thrown Texas’s new congressional map into a state of flux, temporarily blocking a court-drawn redistricting map late Friday and announcing that it would rule on the constitutionality of the map early next year.

The ruling is a win for Republicans who had sought to hold up the map of the state’s 36 congressional districts. The map was drawn by a three-judge panel after a map drawn by Texas Republicans got caught up in the courts.

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The Supreme Court and the politics of health care

The Supreme Court and the politics of health care

The news that the Justice Department had requested that the Supreme Court examine President Obama’s health care law means that a verdict from the nation’s highest court will likely come sometime next year — right in the heart of the 2012 race.

While the decision will undoubtedly draw massive amounts of media attention, political strategists on both sides of the aisle questioned how large an impact the ruling would have on how health care will play out in the 2012 presidential election.

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