Why Scalia’s Death Is a Huge Blow to the Right-Wing Agenda in Washington

The impact of Scalia’s death will be felt immediately in a number of pending high-profile cases.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Bill Blum/TruthDig

Emphasis Mine

Justice Antonin Scalia is dead, and his passing is nothing less than a legal and political earthquake. It will have a huge impact, not only on the court’s present term but on the course of constitutional law.

Beginning with his appointment to the high court in 1986, Scalia was the intellectual leader of what I and many other legal commentators have termed a conservative “judicial counterrevolution,” aimed at wresting control of the nation’s most powerful legal body from the legacy of the liberal jurists who rose to power in the 1950s and ’60s under the leadership of then-Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Scalia was a key architect of the jurisprudential theories of original intent and textualism, and the author of numerous landmark opinions. Among his most important rulings was the 5-4 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which held for the first time that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to bear arms.

But Scalia was also an unvarnished, intemperate and intolerant ideologue, railing against same-sex marriage, voting rights, Obamacare, affirmative action and other progressive causes. In recent years, often finding himself in dissent, he became unhinged at times, ridiculing his more moderate colleagues for engaging in what he called analytical “argle-bargle” and “interpretive jiggery pokery,” and for doling out legal benefits to allegedly undeserving litigants that he called “pure applesauce.”

The impact of Scalia’s death will be felt immediately in a number of pending high-profile cases, transforming anticipated 5-4 conservative rulings into 4-4 stalemates. Under the court’s rules, 4-4 decisions carry no precedential weight and leave intact the lower-court rulings under review.

This means that proponents of affirmative action (Fisher v. Texas), as well as public-employee unions (Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association), can expect constitutional reprieves, because the circuit court rulings issued in their favor will be allowed to stand. It also means that supporters of abortion rights (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt) and immigration rights (United States v. Texas) will have an easier path toward overturning adverse lower-court decisions.

Scalia’s passing will also alter the prospects for overturning some of the court’s most conservative recent rulings — not only on the Second Amendment but on campaign finance, environmental regulation and the constitutionality of the death penalty, among others.

Politically, Scalia’s passing will unleash a pitched battle on two fronts: first, in the fight to name his successor, and second, as an issue in the upcoming presidential elections.

(N.B.: will this motivate Democratic voters?)

In the coming weeks and months, we can expect to hear a rising and increasingly hysterical chorus of Republicans demanding that President Obama refrain from nominating Scalia’s successor. Indeed, if initial press reports are any indication, the trench warfare has already begun.

But with roughly 11 months remaining in his term, Obama undoubtedly will move forward. Anyone he names will surely be more liberal than Scalia, and anyone he names will tip the balance of the court. Those who remember the televised hearings on the nominations of Justice Clarence Thomas and former Solicitor General Robert Bork can expect clashes in the Senate Judiciary Committee (which conducts hearings on Supreme Court nominations) that will make those bygone proceedings seem genteel.

At the same time, the future of the Supreme Court — always an issue in presidential campaigns — will move front and center. Assuming that GOP senators will filibuster any Obama nomination — as I think probable — voters will be asked to contemplate what the future of America will look like with a court molded by a President Trump or Cruz, or a President Sanders or Clinton. The choice facing voters will be stark.

I take no joy in the death of Antonin Scalia. But speaking as a progressive and as a staunch defender of human rights and as one who believes our Constitution is a living document that must be read expansively over time, I can’t say I will mourn his absence from the bench.

We have an opportunity to repair some of the damage Scalia and his right-wing brethren have done. Our task now is to take advantage of the opening.

See: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/why-scalias-death-huge-blow-right-wing-agenda-washington?akid=13972.123424.wi7mbf&rd=1&src=newsletter1050646&t=4

The 10 Most Important Lines From Pope Francis’ Historic Speech to Congress

Taking several progressive stances, the pope did not shy away from the politically divisive issues of the day.

Source: Mother Jones

Author:Pema Levy

Emphasis Mine

In a powerful speech to a joint session of Congress Thursday morning, Pope Francis pushed the United States to confront several political issues that tend to divide Republicans and Democrats, including immigration, climate change, the Iran deal, Cuba, poverty, and the death penalty. His speech noted that politics “cannot be a slave to the economy and finance.” He didn’t chastise any political party, and he, not surprisingly, had a clear but brief reference to opposing abortion. But overall, his address had a progressive cast.

Here are the most powerful quotes, according to the prepared text:

On climate change: “I call for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States—and this Congress—have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a culture of care and an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” (Democrats stood to applaud the pope’s remarks on climate change, while many Republicans remained seated. The pope’s message was more muted than his remarks on the issue Wednesday when he spoke at the White House.”

On abolishing the death penalty: “I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”

On abortion: “The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.” (This was his only direct reference to abortion in the speech.)

On same-sex marriage: The closest he came to addressing same-sex marriage was in a passage about the importance of family. “I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. “Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.” (This did not appear to be an explicit denouncement of marriage equality.)

On Iran and Cuba: “When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue—a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons—new opportunities open up for all. This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces.”

On the refugee crisis: “Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.”

On immigration: “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants…Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our ‘neighbors’ and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal solidarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.”

On poverty: “I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.”

On the arms trade: “Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”

On religious fundamentalism: “We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners.” 




See: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/09/pope-francis-congress-best-lines-climate-abortion

The Kim Davis debacle reveals a frightening truth about a desperate, radicalized christian right

They don’t have the numbers anymore, so they are turning to scarier and more radical demands to seize power in any way that they can.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Amanda Marcotte

Emphasis Mine

The saga of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who went to jail for a weekend rather than sign off on same-sex marriage certificates, might seem like it’s a last gasp for the anti-gay right; an attempt to eke out some kind of victory after having lost their two-decade fight against same-sex marriage. Unable to stop same-sex couples from marrying, Davis, along with a handful of anti-gay florists and bakers, strives instead to just make getting the license an embarrassing hassle. It’s childish sore loser behavior, the equivalent of a baseball player pouting in the dugout and refusing to shake hands with his opponent because he didn’t win the game.

Because of this, liberals can be forgiven for laughing and moving on, not particularly worried about Davis, whose temper tantrum isn’t even preventing the licenses from being issued any longer, as the judge authorized her deputies to hand them out. Unfortunately, though, Davis’s behavior isn’t just a bratty tantrum. This whole incident is also a sign of a troubling development in the religious right: As their cultural power declines in the face of growing diversity and liberalism, religious conservatives are embracing scary levels of radicalism. They don’t have the numbers anymore, so they are turning to scarier and more radical demands to seize power in any way that they can.

No doubt Davis is a comical figure whose self-righteousness is only equaled by her ignorance both of the text of the Bible she clings to and what it means to have a job as a government employee. But she’s being used by her legal team and other religious right leaders to spread the idea that religious conservatives are entitled to ignore –– or even overthrow — democracy and seize power just because they feel like it.

Some supporters, like Ryan Anderson of the New York Times, are claiming that Davis wants an “accommodation” for her religious beliefs. This is, to put it bluntly, a lie. Davis was offered just such an accommodation and told that she doesn’t have to personally issue the licenses so long as her deputies were allowed to do so. She declined that compromise, insisting that she be able to actually prevent same-sex couples from getting licenses in her county altogether.

What Davis is asking for is not an accommodation at all, but for the right to declare, by fiat, that Rowan County, Kentucky, is a mini-theocracy not beholden to the laws of the land, but by the whims of Kim Davis. Her legal team wants you to see her as a sweet but faithful woman, but in fact she’s trying to pull a coup here, claiming that “God’s authority” — read Kim Davis’s authority — trumps our entire democratic system.

It’s not just her, either. Rena Lindevaldsen, who works for the Liberty Counsel that is handling Davis’s case, has taken to boldly arguing that Christians have the right to overthrow the democratically elected government and simply impose their will by fiat. “Whether it’s zoning or taxes or marriage or abortion, in those issues, government doesn’t have authority to say that these things are appropriate because they’re contrary to Scripture,” Lindevaldsen recently argued in front of Liberty University. Which is to say that even though the government has declared abortion legal, if you decide you don’t want your neighbors getting abortions, you should be able to declare yourself a God-appointed authority and simply shut it down. If you don’t want to pay taxes, declare yourself a “sovereign citizen.”

Mike Huckabee has been at the frontlines of pushing the claim that Christian conservatives simply have the right to ignore or overturn democracy to impose their will, and not just because he’s been running around Kentucky, trying to get himself on camera as much as possible in support of Davis’s attempt to ban gay marriage by fiat. He’s also been using the campaign trail to argue that the president should be able to simply end rule of law and start ruling like a dictator.

He doesn’t just the word dictator, of course, but make no mistake, Huckabee has repeatedly and shamelessly promised that if he is elected president, he will start declaring his beliefs to be the law of the land without the cooperation of Congress. In a Google hangout, he laid out the scheme: Declare as president that there are “constitutional rights of the unborn” and simply ban abortion by fiat. He claimed a similar authority during the Republican debate, a moment that got startlingly little play even though it was literally a candidate for president arguing that he would make himself a dictator.

Despite his regular references to the constitution when making these proclamations, Huckabee’s scheme would mean voiding out the constitution, as well, and not just because, despite his claims to the contrary, there is not a single word in it that gives citizenship status to embryos. It’s also because his scheme would mean ending the balance of powers, concentrating all the power of the legislature and the courts into the hands of the president.

And once you believe that your interpretation of what God wants trumps rule of law, not just for yourself but for your neighbors, then it follows very quickly that you are entitled to use force and even violence to get your way.

Some religious right leaders are, in fact, making noises that sound very much like justifying the use of violent force in order to overturn the social progress brought upon the U.S. from the democratic system. “No one should want it and no one, myself included, does want it,” conservative pundit Erick Erickson argued in an op-ed about the Davis case. “But how much longer until we have another civil war?” You can be forgiven for being skeptical of his claim not to want this, of course. On the contrary, it reads very much like a threat: Either give up the gains made under the democratic system or face violent overthrow by religious fanatics.

Huckabee plays the same game of fantasizing about violent struggle to overturn democracy while pretending to abhor violence. In his Google hangout, he said that he expected that banning abortion by fiat would likely result in “extraordinary pushback, and goodness, perhaps riots in the streets.” He’s not wrong that simply dissolving rule of law and declaring yourself the sole authority would likely result in people resisting, but he shrugged this off as merely the price of doing business.

To be clear, all these fantasies of governmental overthrow to stop gay couples from marrying will likely remain fantasies. The religious right is aging and losing numbers quickly. This is why they’re getting increasingly fanatical in their rhetoric, of course, but it also makes it hard to imagine they could really get it together to act out their fantasies of seizing power by force.

Still, this isn’t just talk. The Republicans are still beholden to the religious right in many ways. The fact that so many Republican candidates were afraid to defend the rule of law and denounce Davis for her actions is a troubling symptom of this. The Christian right may not be up to armed revolution, but they are increasingly demanding that Republicans turn their backs on the basic rules of democracy to cater to a theocratic minority. That Republicans are listening is a danger to us all.


5 Hilariously Unhinged Right-Wing Moments This Week: Trump Tries to Offend Every Single American

Trump and Huckabee prove you can’t fake crazy or misogyny.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Janet Allon

Emphasis Mine

1. Trump clarifies which of Megyn Kelly’s orifices he really meant, which is tremendously helpful.

In a rare backtrack, Donald Trump assured the world that he did not mean to imply that Fox anchor Megyn Kelly was “on the rag” when he said she had “blood coming out of her wherever” on Friday. Well, he did not so much backtrack as make a whiny plea that he was so misunderstood. Trump added that “only a deviant” would think he meant she was menstruating.

Donald’s feelings were just really really hurt when Kelly was so mean to him during the debate. She asked attacky questions and “behaved very badly” he said, being weirdly paternalistic. Why would she do that? He thinks she’s pretty and she’s on his favorite network, after all. “She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions,” Trump said during an interview Friday on CNN Tonight. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. In my opinion, she was off base.”

Now he would like us to believe that by “her wherever” he actually meant her nose. But somehow that word escaped him? Either that or he could not be bothered to list the remainder of non-vaginal orifices, and thought “wherever” would just cover them.

Seems entirely credible to us. It’s not like he has a history of overwhelmingly sexist and misogynist statements and behavior or anything.

Oh, wait. He does.

2. Mike Huckabee wants to remind people that he too is bat-sh*t crazy.

Some GOP candidates have performed obvious stunts to regain the “crazy” spotlight Donald Trump stole from them in the past few weeks. Ted Cruz’s insane video in which he demonstrates his love of bacon and machine guns by cooking his bacon on his machine gun, and Rand Paul’s theatrical chainsaw massacre of the tax code come to mind. But former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee does not need such stunts. He’s the real deal.

In his customary “aw-shucks, I’m just a grit and gun-lovin’ guy” demeanor, Huckabee put his deranged mind on display during the GOP debate. One notable moment was his bizarre tangent on Social Security, which he first described as Gestapo-like, since Americans are “forced” to pay into it against their will. Then, without noticing any logical inconsistency, he proceeded to blame “freeloaders” for the program’s “troubles.”’

“One of the reasons that Social Security is in so much trouble is that the only funding stream comes from people who get a wage,” Huckabee explained. “The people who get wages is declining dramatically. Most of the income in this country is made by people at the top who get dividends and capital gains.”

Just when it seemed that the real issue of economic inequality might have slipped into the GOP debate uninvited, Huckabee explained that the tax-dodgers he meant were “illegals, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers,” and that the whole thing could be solved by the rather ineptly named “Fair Tax,” which taxes consumption.

Confused yet? We are. And so, it appears, is the Huckster, who went on to offer up unhinged theories about how he’ll “invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendments so that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception.”

“It’s time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick.”

See what we mean about no one doing crazy better?

3. Todd Starnes is sooooo mad at his Fox colleagues for asking all those hard questions at the debate.

Apparently, no one told Fox Newsian Todd Starnes that the debate was not going to be a big ol’ love fest for his favorite Republican candidates, which apparently includes Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Scott Walker.

Starnes unleashed a storm of angry tweets during his network’s event, including:

Click to enlarge.


Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Truly an upsetting night for a man who thought he was working for an extension of the RNC. Maybe there’s room for him over at that Trump organization.

4. Steve King says we soon may be marrying our lawnmowers.

Iowa Tea Partier Steve King is not running for president, but he definitely has the credentials—if the credentials are being certifiably, well, certifiable.

While many right-wing haters have suggested that legalizing same-sex marriage will free people up to marry children, or multiple partners, or even animals, King envisioned a darker scenario this week. Soon, people will be free to marry their lawnmowers, he said.

It bears noting that he said this at a Mike Huckabee campaign event. The two men share a certain rhetorical flourish.

In King and Huckabee’s nightmare scenario, such is the power of love that will be unleashed across the land by the Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriage, people will soon declare their love for all manner of inanimate objects, including the tools in their garage (especially the power tools,) and the appliances in the kitchen.

Perhaps now is a good time to confess that we have always harbored secret feelings for our blender.

Huckabee finished his insane rant with a bang.

5. Rick Santorum also brings his crazy to the kiddie version of the GOP debate.

Being consigned to the junior GOP debate did not stop Rick Santorum from flying his flake flag high and proud this week. Santorum rewarded the early shift of GOP Debate Drinking Game participants by offering a triple whammy.

With an assist from debate moderator Bill Hemmer, Santorum was able to mash together abortion, same-sex marriage and slavery, and then compare himself to Abraham Lincoln. That takes some high-flying feats of delusional mental acrobatics. But Santorum proved utterly up to the task.

Hemmer reminded the candidate that abortion and now same-sex marriage are settled law thanks to Supreme Court decisions—those unfortunate byproducts of the Constitution so many conservatives profess to love. Santorum said he begs to differ.

“It is not [settled law] any more than the Dred Scott [decision backing slavery] was settled law to Abraham Lincoln,” Santorum insisted. “This a rogue Supreme Court decision.”

And where does that Supreme Court get off ruling on the constitutionality of a law? (Which is what, of course, the Supreme Court does.)

“We passed a bill and we said, Supreme Court, you’re wrong!” Santorum said, using the appropriate syntax for the kiddie table. “We’re a co-equal branch of the government, we have every right to stand up and say what is constitutional.’”

Take that, Supreme Court.

And drinking game participants, take a double shot!


See: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/5-hilariously-unhinged-right-wing-moments-week-trump-takes-his-clown-show-new?akid=13367.123424.Y5iFXl&rd=1&src=newsletter1040623&t=1

5 Ways Conservatives are Destroying the Institution of Marriage

Those who think and talk like Rush Limbaugh have championed policies that wreak havoc on the family lives of working Americans.

From: Alternet

By:June Carbone and Naomi Cahn

Emphasis Mine

President Obama’s strong support for same-sex marriage is strong support for the institution of marriage itself. It’s a vital step toward a revitalized institution better equipped to address the needs of today’s families.

Those who think and talk like Rush Limbaugh – who called the president’s statement a “war on traditional marriage” — have championed the policies underlying the real war. Research on contemporary marriage such as Brad Wilcox’s “When Marriage Disappears” showsthat the ability to sustain a long-term, two-parent relationship (with any sex) is increasingly a function of class. Our research in Red Families v. Blue Familiesreveals that it is also the product of a conservative economic program that has wreaked havoc on the family lives of struggling Americans.

We have been consistently stunned, though alas not shocked, by the anguished tones used by those who oppose same-sex marriage and who manage to argue with a straight face (pun intended) that declining marriage rates must somehow be linked to public recognition of same-sex couples. It is time to identify the real reasons for the transformation of marriage – and gay marriage has nothing to do with those changes.

Marriage results from the union of two partners convinced that they are better off together than apart. In times when only men had access to a “family wage” and child care was (and still is) expensive or non-existent, the traditional match involved a trade of men’s higher income for women’s domestic services.

What does marriage rest on today? For many, it rests on a commitment of two people to share their lives, to create a permanent union that provides support for children, and to manage the tradeoffs between careers, finances and services necessary to manage a family. This is an ideal held by both heterosexual and same-sex couples who are more financially secure. But it no longer fits large numbers of working-class couples who conceive children together. That’s because the foundation for their relationships has been destroyed by the very people who accuse President Obama of a war on marriage.

Let’s consider how they have systematically undermined marriage.

1. Attacks on Jobs and Wages. The “traditional” marriage that conservatives are so fond of talking about rested on the ability of a man — any man — to earn a “family wage” in a stable job. Those assaulting unions, like Scott Walker in Wisconsin, have undermined both the family wage and job stability. Job stability has declined in the United States since the 1970s. Dartmouth sociologist Matissa Hollister explained last year that the strongest evidence for this “is decline in long-term tenure among men employed in the private sector.”

2. Attacks on Work/Family Balance. In the absence of male job security, two incomes have been increasingly important to family life. Yet, managing two incomes also involves managing the down-time between jobs. Those characterizing themselves as “conservatives” have led the assault on unemployment benefits, education and work/family balance necessary to flexible family roles. While 178 other countries have paid parental leave, only a few states – all blue – guarantee paid leave in the United States. A few blue states — California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Hawaii – as well as Puerto Rico — offer temporary disability insurance programs, an option through which a biological mother can “draw on public insurance for pregnancy and childbirth.” In other states, families are on their own. Paul Amato’s 2009 book Alone Together demonstrates that tensions working-class men have experienced due to loss of employment and working-class women’s lack of job flexibility is a major factor in the class-based increases in divorce.

3. Attacks on Women. As Amato’s work documents, managing a world in which many women outearn men requires more flexible gender roles. Yet conservatives have led the fight against women and women’s autonomy. They link same-sex marriage to the remaking of the institution in the gender neutral terms they oppose.

4. Attacks on Reproductive Freedom. The war on women, which focuses on reproductive autonomy, has contributed more to elimination of the stigma against non-marital births than the counter-culture of the 1960s. How? Eliminate the male premium that supported the shotgun marriage and oppose abortion as murder and what’s left are single mothers struggling to make it on their own. If you happened to see the blog discussions of Bristol Palin’s non-marital birth, you may have noticed that neither conservative nor liberal women thought there was much point to Bristol marrying Levi, the birth father. And yet conservatives were more enthusiastic than liberals in congratulating the Palins for their support of Bristol’s decision to keep the child. Fine, perhaps, for a young women with financial resources, but what about those who don’t have wealthy parents?

5. Attacks on the Marriageabity of Men. Studies of marriage and gender relationships show that norms change quickly with gender ratios: marriage rates in most societies go up when men outnumber women and go down when women outnumber men in the marriage pool. (See Guttentag and Secord’s book Too Many Women: The Sex Ratio Question.) That’s because when the number of men that women find attractive as potential mates goes down, those men find they can play the field. The women in their lives come to distrust men more generally and invest less in relationships.

dramatic new study illustrates the effect by looking at the undergraduate dating behavior of young women on college campuses. The study finds that the more the men outnumber the women on a given campus, the more likely the women are to be in committed, monogamous relationships. Older studies show that high rates of incarceration and the decimation of blue-collar jobs in low-income communities skews gender ratios and depress marriage rates. (See William J. Wilson‘s book, The Truly Disadvantaged.) And, as Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett further detail in their book The Spirit Level, higher rates of income inequality (which are directly related to conservative economic policies) increase the rates of alcoholism, depression and criminality and do so even more for men than women. All of these factors tend to remove a large number of low-income men from the marriage market.

At the height of what economists have called the”Great Compression” of the ’50s and ’60s — a time of increasing security for ordinary Americans produced by progressive policies of very high marginal tax rates and a reduction in income inequality — marriage rates soared. On the flip side, what Timothy Noah has described as the “Great Divergence“– a period starting in the 1970s characterized by ever higher rates of income inequality valorized by the right — has weakened the institution of marriage for many.

Who, then, is waging the real war? ”

June Carbone and Naomi Cahn are the co-authors of ‘Red Families v. Blue Families’ (OUP 2010) and ‘Family Classes’ (OUP forthcoming 2012).