New Oklahoma Law Allows Doctors to Lie About Health of Unborn Babies– A new law in Oklahoma protects doctors from malpractice suits if they decide not to inform the parents of a unborn baby that the fetus has birth defects. The intent of this measure is to prevent parents from later suing doctors who withhold information to try to influence them against having an abortion. Gov. Brad Henry said, “It is unconscionable to grant a physician legal protection to mislead or misinform pregnant women in an effort to impose his or her personal beliefs on a patient.”
Behind the Arizona Immigration Law: An Attempt to Suppress Minority Voting – Don’t be fooled. The way the media plays the story, it was a wave of racist, anti-immigrant hysteria that moved Arizona Republicans to pass a sick little law, signed last week, requiring every person in the state to carry papers proving they are US citizens.
What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote — and daring to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas.
In 2008, working for Rolling Stone with civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy, our team flew to Arizona to investigate what smelled like an electoral pogrom against Chicano voters … directed by one Jan Brewer (the current governor).
Brewer, then Secretary of State, had organized a racially loaded purge of the voter rolls that would have made Katherine Harris blush. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer’s command, no less than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanics, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.
Justice Scalia Thinks You’re Stupid – When Antonio Jackson believed he had been subjected to racial discrimination as an employee at Rent-A-Center, he sought to bring a claim in federal court under section 1981, a statutory provision originating in the Civil Rights Act of 1866 that prohibits discrimination in contractual relationships, including employment. He argued that the arbitration agreement he signed was “unconscionable” in that it was unfair and was forced on him by his employer (e. g., sign the agreement or no job).
Unfair, forced arbitration is not just a problem in civil rights cases, however. As Justice Ginsburg noted at oral argument yesterday, mandatory arbitration agreements are “very common in consumer, credit card agreements, in employment contracts,” and “one party has no say except to sign or not to sign.” This is quite true—as Mr. Jackson’s counsel pointed out to the Justices today, it was likely that many people, even in the gracious courtroom of the Supreme Court, were subject to arbitration agreements they didn’t even know about. If you have a cell phone, see a doctor, or have signed just about any employment contract with a large, corporate employer, you’re likely subject to mandatory arbitration of claims that haven’t even arisen yet. The terms of this arbitration agreement could be incredibly unfair to you, while favoring the big corporation on the other side, and even if you might have agreed to arbitration had you focused on it, you likely had no opportunity to negotiate these terms to something more equitable.
But don’t look to Justice Scalia for any sympathy if you want access to justice and find the terms of the mandatory arbitration agreement unfair. In his view, you haven’t been coerced into anything—you’re just “a stupid person who voluntarily signs an unconscionable contract.” According to Justice Scalia, the law may in some circumstances “protect you because you are stupid, but you haven’t been coerced.”
Grassley Takes Credit for Health Reforms He Voted Against – In a sign Republicans may be worried that health reform is more popular than they’re willing to admit, the GOP senator famed for saying the health overhaul will “pull the plug on grandma” is now taking credit for some of its elements.
In a press release put out this past weekend, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said he “worked successfully to improve Medicare payments to doctors in rural states like Iowa and, in turn, access for beneficiaries, as part of the health care reform enacted this year.”