Stephen Breyer on Government Reform
Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. Clinton 1994)
I'm there for everybody. I'm not just there for the Democrats. I'm not just there for the Republicans. And I'm not just there because a president was a Democrat who appointed me.
And part of it is to remember that you're there for everyone. They won't like what you say half the time or more, but you're still there for them. That's the privilege of the job in a way. You have to give your all. You have to work as hard as you can. So, you see, I think it's important we have trust.
TRUMP: No judge, including the Supreme Court of the United States, has had the courage to allow it to be heard.
Q: Why was that?
BREYER: Why was it? Because they didn't bring a case, I guess, that met the normal criteria for being heard. When we decide to take a case, there have to be four votes to take it. So I can't go beyond that. If we don't take a case all likelihood is that the criteria weren't met.
BREYER: Well, if one party could do it, I guess another party could do it. And on the surface it seems to me you start changing all these things around, and people will lose trust in the court.
Q: What about term limits?
BREYER: Well, I think you could do that. It should be a very long term because you don't want the judge who's holding that term to start thinking about his next job. But it would make life easier for me.
Dissenters argued that the Court's narrow reading weakened the law and disregarded its intent to address disparities in how election laws affect different racial groups. The rule discarding "out of precinct votes" impacted black and Hispanic voters, with Arizona leading the country in discarding such votes. Restrictions on vote collection makes voting more difficult for Native Americans.
Elena Kagan wrote the dissent, joined by Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
The court rulings stem from a lawsuit filed by the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program. A group of voters had sought more voting options because of health concerns.
A District Judge issued a preliminary injunction after finding that Alabama's election rules will cause sick or elderly voters to "likely face a painful and difficult choice between exercising their fundamental right to vote and safeguarding their health, which could prevent them from casting a vote in upcoming elections." Alabama appealed the decision.
OnTheIssues explanation: This ruling led to a spate of "Voter ID" laws, which proponents claim is needed to protect the integrity of the vote, and which opponents say discriminates against youth & minority voters.
Opinions:Majority: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, & Alito; concurrence: Thomas; dissent: Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, & Kagan.
Breyer is a consistently liberal voice on the court. He recently affirmed the right of disabled people to sue states under federal civil rights law.
Prior to the 2008 primary elections, Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to educating the American public about their rights and the government, produced a politically conservative 90-minute documentary entitled Hillary: The Movie. This documentary covers Hillary Clinton's record while in the Senate & the White House. However, The Movie falls within the definition of "electioneering communications" under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 ("BCRA")--a federal enactment designed to prevent "big money" from unfairly influencing federal elections--which, among other things, prohibits corporate financing of electioneering communications. The FEC [enforced the provision] of BCRA prohibiting corporations from broadcasting electioneering communications within 60 days of a general election. [The Supreme Court rules that this] violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment.
Justice Kennedy , Opinion of the Court (Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas concurring):
Some members of the public might consider "Hillary: The Movie" to be insightful and instructive; some might find it to be neither high art nor a fair discussion on how to set the Nation's course; still others simply might suspend judgment on these points but decide to think more about issues and candidates. Those choices and assessments, however, are not for the Government to make.
Justice Stevens (dissent joined by Ginsburg , Breyer, and Sotomayor)
Neither Citizens United's nor any other corporation's speech has been "banned." All that the parties dispute is whether Citizens United had a right to use the funds in its general treasury to pay for broadcasts during the 30-day period. The notion that the First Amendment [allows that] is, in my judgment, profoundly misguided. Although I concur in the Court's decision to sustain BCRA's disclosure provisions, I emphatically dissent from its principal holding.
An Arizona public campaign financing law allowed a person who agreed to the restrictions of a publicly financed campaign to receive an initial allotment from the state. That initial allotment was increased when the spending of a privately financed opponent together with the spending of any independent group exceeded that initial allotment. The public funds to match opponent expenditures topped out at two times the initial allotment.
|Other Justices on Government Reform:||Stephen Breyer on other issues:|
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Amy Coney Barrett(since 2020)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Neil Gorsuch(since 2017)
Ketanji Brown Jackson(nominated 2022)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Brett Kavanaugh(since 2018)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(1993-2020)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
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