More of This She’s about to become the first woman on Pakistan’s Supreme Court
Pakistan cleared the way for the first woman in the country’s history to become a Supreme Court justice, when a judicial commission on Thursday approved the elevation of Justice Ayesha A. Malik to the top court.
The nomination of Justice Malik, a justice on Lahore’s High Court, was hailed by lawyers and activists who saw it as a rare victory after decades of struggle to secure greater representation and rights for women in Pakistan’s largely conservative and male-dominated society.
“This is historic,” said Aliya Hamza Malik, a member of parliament from the governing Tehreek-e-Insaf bloc. “It is a defining moment for women’s empowerment in the country.”
Her nomination, which was backed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, will now go to a parliamentary committee, which is expected to confirm her appointment to a 10-year term.
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Less of This… This is why conservatives were so desperate to seize control of the Supreme Court
Senate Republicans nixed the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations because control of the Court offered the opportunity to shape American law—and thus, American life—for decades through justices who are unaccountable to the public and nearly impossible to remove from office. It's not just that the 6-3 conservative majority can now veto any policy it does not like. It can, and will, make policy on its own.
You can pretend it was just a tit-for-tat after Senate Democrats nixed the mechanism for lower-level nominees if you like, though that ignores that then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was engaged in an unprecedented campaign to block as many of then-President Barack Obama's nominations as possible, an assault on the Executive's constitutional prerogatives and a particularly egregious manifestation of the power politics that have governed the Senate since McConnell's ascension to leadership. (This also conveniently ignores that the Senate is already an extraordinarily undemocratic body without the filibuster. Senate Republicans have not represented a majority of citizens since 1996, but have controlled the chamber for much of that time. In the current 50-50 Senate, the Democratic caucus represents 40 million more people.) Much of the Republican agenda, such as it is, does not require changing the rules. Tax cuts, for instance, can be rammed through via the reconciliation process. But McConnell was perfectly willing to change the filibuster rules to make absolutely sure of getting control of the Supreme Court, just as Senate Republicans will adjust the process whenever they deem it necessary should they retake control.
But back to the Supreme Court itself, because there's another case on the docket right now that points to why McConnell would do anything to control it, including steal a seat in another assault on the executive's constitutional powers. In West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, the question at hand is whether the Obama administration had the authority under the Clean Air Act to enact the Clean Power Plan, which aimed at cutting carbon emissions from power generation. It's an interesting question of executive power that the Court could seize on, as it has before in Citizens United and others, as an opportunity to introduce a sweeping new policy regime. The decision here could simply be that this specific executive order outstripped the statutory authority granted by an act of Congress. Instead, as Elizabeth Kolbert detailed in The New Yorker this week, the 6-3 conservative majority could use the case as a crowbar to crack open the American regulatory state.
Read the story on Esquire
Speaking Of… If Roe is overturned, democracy is our best path forward
John G. Matsusaka is a professor Gould School of Law author of Let the People Rule: How Direct Democracy Can Meet the Populist Challenge.
Far sooner than opponents hope and supporters fear, Roe v. Wade may no longer govern abortion rights in the United States, and every state could face the challenge of adopting its own laws in this difficult area.
Here’s an idea they should consider: democracy, specifically, letting voters decide the abortion laws for their state through referendums.
This might sound like a strange idea to many Americans who are used to abortion laws being decided by judges, but in fact, the stranger thing is having judges set abortion law. In most other democracies, abortion law has been set more democratically, either by elected representatives or by the voters themselves in referendums.
That second option, referendums, is especially appealing for an issue like abortion because it comes down to basic questions about a community’s values and it’s not overly technical. A public debate followed by an opportunity for voters to decide the issue directly would produce an outcome that reflects the prevailing view of the community; those on the losing side may not like it, but they are less likely to question its legitimacy.
While some fear that referendums will polarize the electorate and lead to extreme outcomes, that has not been the experience of other countries. This includes predominantly Catholic countries where voters had to weigh the church’s opposition to abortion against more secular concerns and values. It turns out that divisive issues in which religion informs many voters’ views are actually good disputes to be decided by referendum.
Read the story on Politico
Say It Louder Asian Americans artist response to a year of Anti-Asian hate
In mid-November, the nonprofit group Asian American Federation released 10 travel posters designed to subvert a question that can instantly get under the skin of any person of Asian descent in the United States: “Where are you really from?”
At first glance, the prints — conceptualized by the ad agency Droga5 -- look like futuristic, cubist renderings of familiar urban landscapes in cities like New York, Seattle, Houston and San Diego. But a closer inspection reveals distinct iconography honoring the lives of 10 Asian American trailblazers who call those places home.
Houston’s poster, for example, features imagery pulled from the childhood memories of Kevin Kwan, the author of “Crazy Rich Asians”: a rickety Asian grocery store with flickering fluorescent lights and an alternative record shop that he frequented with friends.
One of six posters labeled “I’m really from New York City” pays homage to Suki Terada Ports, the towering Japanese American activist who spearheaded the city’s first HIV/AIDS programs for Asian Americans.
The city through Ports’ eyes includes a scene in which her mother made dinner for 20 Japanese American soldiers during World War II and one in which Ports was arrested for protesting private development on public land.
Kezia Gabriella, the Singapore-based illustrator who crafted Ports’ print, said creating art during the height of anti-Asian racism has been both sobering and empowering.
“It was only recently that I actually talked more about my identity as an Asian artist,” Gabriella, who’s of Dutch, Chinese and Indonesian descent, said. Working on the project, she continued, taught her that “my race shouldn’t be the cause for racial discrimination or stereotype; it should just be a fact.”
Read the story on NBC News