Monday, June 8, 2009

A Very Good Day At The Supreme Court

Hats off to the Supreme Court. They had a really good day. They stopped, at least temporarily, the sale of Chrysler to Fiat in bankruptcy court. They refused to hear a constitutional challenge to the military's "don't ask, don't tell policy." And they decided that Judges who take sizable campaign contributions shouldn't later sit in judgment of their benefactors.

First up, the challenge of some Indiana secured creditors to the Chrysler bankruptcy. Justice Ginsburg refused to rule on the merits of the challenge and, instead, issued an order halting the sale of Chrysler assets to Fiat pending further hearing on the matter. This from the Washington Post:

The decision buys the court time to consider objections filed over the weekend, and it comes as the clock is ticking. Fiat can back out of the deal if it is not finalized by Monday, and the government has warned that the only alternative would be to force the nation's third-largest automaker into liquidation, throwing the industry in turmoil and leaving tens of thousands of people without jobs.

The stakes may be higher for the Obama administration: If the court backs some of the claims, it could disrupt plans to rescue General Motors and weaken the government's hand in stabilizing the troubled economy.

"Every day that Chrysler remains in bankruptcy without consummating the sale threatens to postpone the resumption of production even further and to prolong the period of $100-million-per-day losses" financed by taxpayers, Elena Kagan, the U.S. solicitor general, said in a 26-page filing with the high court.

To be absolutely clear, the reason this matter has reached the Supreme Court is because the Obama administration has walked all over the constitutional and statutory rights of those people who invested in Chrysler. If the Obama administration had tried to come up with a fair plan to begin with, one that didn't favor the unions over Chrysler's secured creditors, they wouldn't be in this mess in the first place. And now, they are trying to strong arm Justice Ginsburg with the same crisis like atmosphere that arm twisted Congress into passing the largest spending bill in history without ever having read what they had voted on. A tip of the hat to Justice Ginsburg for refusing to cave in to this crisis mongering.

In other big news from the Supreme Court, they knocked out a challenge to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays in the military. They refused a petition for cert. This is in fact an issue of both social policy and defense policy - two areas were the Court should always defer to the Executive and Congress. The Court has no enumerated powers as to defense, and as to social policy, that is the whole purpose behind the legislature. Whether to allow gays in the military was clearly not at issue when the Equal Protection clause was passed, and therefore this question should not fall under the sphere of issues amenable to Supreme Court decision making.

Lastly, the Court decided, in a 5-4 decision, that Judges who are the recipients of substantial campaign contributions from a party should not sit on cases where that party is a litigant. The conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety are so obvious one would think that this one would be a no-brainer. And for five of the justices, it was. The liberal five. I can mark my calendar as the last time I found myself in agreement with the left of the Supreme Court was in the 1990's. It's a once in a decade type of thing. Alas, this is one of those rare occasions when I think Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas got it wrong.


suek said...

>>this is one of those rare occasions when I think Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas got it wrong.>>

This decision seems odd to me - completely reversed.

Any indication as to why that was so?

In other words...what don't we know??

GW said...

Have not had a chance to read through it yet. Will try to do so in the next 24 hours.

suek said...

This article has some comments that explain the decisions in an elementary way. I'll look forward to reading of your conclusions..

GW said...

Ok, I've done a post above on Caperton. The devil is always in the details. After reading the case, it is eminently clear why there was a 4 person dissent.