Weekly roundup: Supreme Court, Supreme Court, and Congress
It's been a huge week for news! So without any ado whatsoever, let's get to it.
First, let's just get it out of the way. The Supreme Court rolled out some serious decisions this week. On Monday, in Fisher v. The University of Texas, the Court declined to make any sweeping declarations about Affirmative Action at the public university, sending the case back to the Fifth Circuit. The court also ruled in a case called Adoptive Couple v. baby girl, issuing a ruling that the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply in this case. It is a heartbreaking story - one that deserved more coverage than what it got because...
The Supreme Court also declared an important part of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. Section 4 of the VRA was overturned by the Court, resulting in a cascading drama of new Voter I.D. laws and redistricting going into effect in Texas, and possibly Mississippi and North Carolina. For more about the Voting Rights Act, see our July story Voting Block, as well as our continuing commentary about the VRA here and here. Also, this is a worthwhile read from our friends over at Commonweal about the sometimes under-recognized sin of racism.
Also, in a monumental case, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, including those that were legal in individual states. The ruling caused both delight and outrage, depending on who was asked. The USCCB pretty quickly announced that the ruling was a "tragedy for marriage and for the nation," where some others saw it as a clear victory for civil rights in the U.S. (The SCOTUS also dismissed the case regarding California's Prop 8, which effectively re-legalized same-sex marriage in California.) Read Bryan Cones' and Scott Alessi's comments about the Supreme Court decision here.
Still in Washington, but a different building - On Thursday this week, the Senate passed a historic comprehensive immigration bill. The bill now moves to the house, though John Boehner has stated that he will not consider bringing the bill up for a vote without a majority of the Republicans behind it. He furthermore made the statement that the House would not, in fact, be voting on the Senate bill, but will "do our own bill" and then negotiate with the Senate. This sets up a tough path for immigration reform.
Meanwhile, the bishops gave kudos to the Senate for passing the immigration bill. Archbishop Gomez in particular said, "Our work is not finished. The Church will continue to fight for the rights of migrants, both during the current debate and into the future." For some additional commentary on immigration reform, see this blog post.
A reform-minded Australian priest has been rejected in Boston. Cardinal O'Malley banned Fr. Helmut Schuller from speaking on archdiocese property. Schüller is founder of the Austrian Priests' Initiative, a group of Austrian priests pushing for institutional reforms in the Catholic church.
The USCCB has written a letter calling for the closure of the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In the letter, the bishops note their objection to the forced feeding of inmates, noting that "detainees retain basic human rights."
Brazil has overflowed with protesters and reformers. And while Pope Francis was scheduled to visit at the end of July, it is now possible that his trip will be canceled or postponed while the political unrest becomes more rested.
The Obama has issued its final version of the HHS mandate, which extends the deadline for the mandate from August 1, 2013 to January 1, 2014 and will continue to deny any exemption to the rule for for-profit companies. As of this writing, the USCCB has not issued an official comment, other than to say that they appreciate the extension of the deadline and they will be reviewing the rest of the law.
Wendy Davis, a state senator in Texas, made history on Tuesday with an 11-hour long filibuster. She has inspired memes, websites, and, most recently, review-bombs for her now-famous pink sneakers on Amazon.
And that is our roundup for this week. Please forgive anything that got left out, as a LOT happened this week. Have a blessed weekend, and we'll see you on Monday!