• July 3, 2012

    by John Schachter

    When my son was maybe six years old, he learned an important life lesson: when you start an apology with the words, “I’m not really sorry,” it doesn’t count as an apology. Unfortunately, in his almost 63 years, Bill O’Reilly has yet to grasp that valuable rule.

    In late March, when the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, O’Reilly had ACS President Caroline Fredrickson on his show to “discuss” the issue. Much of the so-called discussion consisted of O’Reilly condescendingly lecturing Fredrickson with faulty analysis, but she was able to calmly explain how the taxing power could very well support the law’s constitutionality.

    O’Reilly staked his ground (and reputation) quite clearly when he said, “Ms. Fredrickson, you are going to lose and your arguments are specious … and it's going to be 5 to 4. And if I'm wrong, I will come on, and I will play your clip, and I will apologize for being an idiot.”

    When he returned to his show from vacation four days after the high court’s ruling, O’Reilly addressed the issue, which mainstream and social media representatives had been highlighting for days.

    I’m not really sorry,” he opened.

    “But I am a man of my word,” O’Reilly continued, showing no apparent recognition of the irony. “So I apologize for not factoring in the John Roberts situation. Truthfully, I never in a million years would thought the chief justice would go beyond the scope of the commerce clause to date and into taxation. I may be an idiot for not considering that.”

    (Childhood translation: “Billy, tell your sister you’re sorry.” “OK. I’m sorry … that she’s such a jerk.”)

  • July 11, 2011

    ACS has been tapped to partner with for its Social Justice Campaign – an effort to “identify top-rated nonprofits working on Social Justice and Human Rights Initiatives around the world.” The campaign runs through the end of July, and ACS will be featured in’s marketing materials. Moreover, ACS has the opportunity to be selected for the “Top-Rated Social Justice Nonprofits List” if ACS garners enough positive reviews.

    GreatNonprofits, founded in 2007, has become a leading go-to-source of reviews and ratings of U.S. nonprofit groups. The service allows donors, volunteers and others to quickly access reviews about nonprofits and provide feedback to the organizations. Submit a review of ACS here and encourage others to do the same. 

  • August 6, 2010
    Celebrating the historic confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, President Obama noted in comments at the White House today that Kagan is a trailblazing legal figure who at various occasions has garnered standing ovations from audiences of both ACS and the Federalist Society. President Obama said, "The bipartisan support she received in yesterday's vote is yet another example of the high esteem in which she is held by folks across the political spectrum. There aren't many law school deans who receive standing ovations from both the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society."

    The president also noted, "For nearly two centuries there was not a single woman on the Supreme Court. When Elena was a clerk, there was just one. But when she takes her seat on that bench for the first time in history there will be three women serving on our nation's highest court."

    Video of President Obama's remarks is available here. A transcript of the remarks is here.

    Reaction to Kagan's confirmation:

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told The Washington Post, "Her great strength, I believe, is that of a conciliator, a reconciler, being able to bring people together, and we've had a whole raft of 5-4 decisions."

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said, "Her qualifications, intelligence, temperament and judgment will make her a worthy successor to Justice John Paul Stevens."

    In an analysis for The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin traces the similarities and differences in the careers of Kagan and Chief Justice John Roberts, now the two youngest members of the court, who "could wrestle over competing visions of American law for decades to come." They followed similar paths - "one groomed by the Democratic legal establishment, the other by the Republican" - they both worked in the administration and in prestigious clerkships, and their personalities overlap, each "exuding confidence without arrogance" and attracting supporters with opposite ideologies.

    Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), quoted in Bravin's analysis, said, "She's smart, she's experienced as a manager, a consensus builder, as someone who's been on the front line. ... She will be an intellectual counterweight to Chief Justice Roberts."

    Also, in the WSJ article, Erwin Chemerinsky said he doesn't believe Kagan is going to persuade Justice Kennedy, the swing vote, "where Stevens and [retired Justice David] Souter couldn't." "Ultimately, it is still the Kennedy court."

    "She brings a keen intellect, considerable talent, and a commitment to core constitutional values," Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron said in a statement praising Kagan's confirmation. "We now call on the Senate to swiftly confirm all lower court nominees, many of whom have been languishing on the floor for months. It is time for the Senate to stop placing politics ahead of equal justice."

  • August 2, 2010
    A rising number of vacancies on the federal bench is threatening the nation's judicial system, writes ACS Executive Director Caroline Fredrickson in a column for The Huffington Post.

    Fredrickson writes:

    The federal courts play a vital role in our democracy, ensuring constitutional rights and principles are protected and providing justice to citizens who have been wronged by discrimination, corporate malfeasance, criminal activities and other transgressions of the rule of law.

    Congress also cannot easily take action to help uphold constitutional values for individuals and communities that have been wronged by the government or business entities. For example, it was years before Congress and the administration could respond to the Supreme Court's 2007 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear ruling, which turned away an employment discrimination lawsuit brought by Lilly Ledbetter who was paid far less than her male co-workers for years. Recently a federal judge who owns stock in numerous companies involved in offshore oil drilling rejected the Obama administration's proposed six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling, maintaining the ban is too broad. And the DISCLOSE Act, aimed at providing transparency in elections following the high court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which held that corporations can funnel their profits into electioneering, has stalled in Congress. All of these actions show that Congress is not alone in ensuring justice. A fully functioning judiciary is also required.

    But, Fredrickson notes, a rising number of vacancies on the federal bench is endangering the courts' ability to dispense justice.

    Fredrickson maintains:

    The vacancies on the federal bench will continue to grow, considering the glacial pace at which the Senate is moving on the president's judicial selections, resulting in a judicial system that is already overburdened coming to a grinding halt. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, joining Kaufman and seven other senators last week in trying to move the nominations process along, noted that "Of the nearly 100 current judicial vacancies, 42 are considered judicial emergencies, almost half."

    This is an unacceptable situation. The nation's courtrooms must not be left hostage to petty partisan bickering. That's why ACS is encouraging all who are concerned about an effective, efficient judicial system to follow the situation closely at, and to become engaged in saving our courts from pitched, unnecessary and harmful political fracases.

    See Fredrickson's entire article for The Huffington Post here.

    The Denver Post reports today that the state's top federal district court judge has urged U.S. senators to start moving on judicial nominations saying vacancies are "impeding" the judicial process.

    In a letter to leading senators on both sides of the aisle, Chief U.S. District Judge Wiley Y. Daniel wrote, "I believe it is in the best interest of the court, and the public it serves, that the judicial nomination and appointment process proceed at a reasonable pace designed to yield qualified judges within a reasonable period of time."

    The newspaper notes that, "There are five active judges on the federal court in Denver, where seven active judges should be serving. The Judicial Conference of the United States has suggested the court needs an additional judge, which would bring the vacancy count to three."

    Judge Wiley's letter urged the senators to specifically act on the judicial nomination of Denver attorney William Martinez. His nomination to the federal bench has been languishing for months.