"I think it's a tactic and a valid tactic to call attention to a problem. Wall Street is out of control. We have three imbalances in this country -- the imbalance between imports and exports, the imbalance between employer power and working power, and the imbalance between the real economy and the financial economy. We need to bring back balance to the financial economy, and calling attention to it and peacefully protesting is a very legitimate way of doing it."
Hailing the power of street protests to shift the dialogue, Trumka said, "I think being in the streets and calling attention to issues is sometimes the only recourse you have because, God only knows, you can go to the Hill, and you can talk to a lot of people and see nothing ever happen..."
Trumka responded to a questioner who asked, "I was wondering if you have an opinion on some of the AFL-CIO national member organizations, kind of beginning to take a role in that because I sort of think that that street demonstration activity is sort of forcing dialogue on the issues that you're talking about," by saying "I happen to agree with you [...] God only knows, I've done it thousands of times myself, and may do it again."
Trumka is not by himself able to offer the formal endorsement of the AFL-CIO, which is a federation of unions, each of which has a voice in decisions like that; accordingly, he doesn't offer that in these comments. However, he is the most prominent labor leader in the country, and with a number of unions planning to join in with some Occupy Wall Street activities, Trumka's public affirmation of both the target of Wall Street and the tactic of street protest is another step in the connections growing between the protesters and the union movement.
Stevens, now 91 and more than a year into retirement, said in an interview in Washington this week that he is skeptical about contentions that Congress lacked authority to pass the health-care measure, which requires Americans to either buy insurance or pay a penalty.
Stevens wrote the court?s opinion in the 2005 case, a 6-3 ruling that let the federal government ban marijuana even when the drug doesn?t cross state lines and is used only for medicinal purposes. As with health care, that case centered on Congress?s power to regulate interstate commerce.
?To the extent that the commerce clause is an issue in the case, it just seems to me very similar? to the medical marijuana dispute, said Stevens, who served on the court for 34 years.[...]
The 2005 marijuana ruling will be a pivotal precedent when the justices consider the health-care law. In his opinion for the court then, Stevens pointed to a constitutional provision letting Congress enact laws "necessary and proper" for carrying out powers specifically mentioned in the Constitution.
The majority included Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, both of whom had voted to restrict Congress?s commerce- clause power in earlier cases. Scalia didn?t adopt Stevens?s reasoning, instead providing his own analysis in a concurring opinion.
Stevens suggested Scalia might be willing to uphold the health-care law even if he disagrees with its substance.
?I would expect that the merits wouldn?t have the slightest impact on his analysis of the constitutional issue,? Stevens said. ?I?m sure he?ll approach it as a judge should approach it.?
For her part, court-watcher Dahlia Lithwick agrees, arguing that the Roberts court isn't likely to be that activist during an election year.
I remain unsure that there just are five justices at the high court eager to have the court itself become an election-year issue. I don't think Chief Justice John Roberts wants to borrow that kind of partisan trouble again so soon after Citizens United, the campaign-finance case that turned into an Obama talking point. And I am not certain that the short-term gain of striking down some or part of the ACA (embarrassing President Obama even to the point of affecting the election) is the kind of judicial end-game this court really cares about. Certainly there are one or two justices who might see striking down the ACA as a historic blow for freedom. But the long game at the court is measured in decades of slow doctrinal progress?as witnessed in the fight over handguns and the Second Amendment?and not in reviving the stalled federalism revolution just to score a point.
We shall see next June, probably. For its part, the National Federation of Independent Businesses is eager to ensure that happens. They just filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of a decision by the U.S. appeals court in Atlanta that struck down the mandate, but not the entire law.
[T]the nation?s largest registered nurses union and professional association, representing 170,000 direct care RNs, stands in support of, and in solidarity with, the ongoing OcuppyWallStreet.org street protests and rallies.
We applaud the commitment, savvy and sacrifice exhibited by the multitude of students, union members, clergy, and many others from all walks of life who have come together to loudly and clearly place the blame for the nation?s pain where it belongs. Wall Street caused the financial crisis and we share your demand that Wall Street pay us back.
And Terry O'Sullivan, president of the Laborers' International Union of America, issued a statement saying:
Wall Street caused our economic crisis, and yet corporations are attempting to force working people to pay for it.
The only way to turn back the assault is to strengthen unions and build movements, such as Occupy Wall Street.
The workers who build America ? the half-million men and women of LIUNA ? are united behind the fight against corporate tyranny and for economic prosperity for all and stands with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City and across the United States.
There is clear momentum building within the union movement in support of these protests; with two relatively different unions such as the NNU and LiUNA offering support, it seems a near certainty that more will follow.
9:01 AM PT: Add the United Steelworkers:
"The United Steelworkers (USW) union stands in solidarity with and strongly supports Occupy Wall Street. The brave men and women, many of them young people without jobs, who have been demonstrating around-the-clock for nearly two weeks in New York City are speaking out for the many in our world. We are fed up with the corporate greed, corruption and arrogance that have inflicted pain on far too many for far too long.