2012-10-01 14:17:37

Democracy Now! 2012-10-01 Monday

Beginning today, the Supreme Court’s new term is expected to see cases on a number of important and highly contentious issues. The last session was defined by a single case, the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature bill, which was upheld by a 5-4 vote and cleared the way for the largest revamp of America’s healthcare system since the 1960s. In the new term, the court is expected to hear cases on a number of important and highly contentious issues ranging from affirmative action and same-sex marriage to corporate accountability for international human rights violations and voting rights. We’re joined by Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice.

The Supreme Court opens its 2012-2013 term today with a landmark case to decide whether survivors of human rights violations in foreign countries can bring lawsuits against corporations in U.S. courts. The case centers on a lawsuit that accuses the oil giant Shell’s parent company, Royal Dutch Petroleum, of complicity in the murder and torture of Nigerian activists. Some legal analysts are comparing this case, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, to the landmark campaign finance ruling in Citizens United. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled corporations have broad rights under the First Amendment and can directly fund political campaigns. The court is now being asked to decide if corporations have the same responsibilities as individuals for violations of international law. The court’s ruling will also impact numerous other human rights cases being heard by lower courts. We’re joined in New York by Baher Azmy, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Broadcasting from Richmond, we look at a new law that could force many of Virginia’s abortion clinics to shut down. Passed last month, the so-called "Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers," or TRAP, law requires clinics that provide abortions to meet the same building standards as hospitals. Critics say the new rules are a thinly veiled attempt to limit access to abortion services because clinics unable to afford to overhaul their buildings would close down. Similarly intentioned TRAP laws levying special requirements on doctors who provide abortions have threatened the last remaining clinic in Mississippi and recently forced a clinic in Tennessee to close. The man leading the push for Virginia’s new regulations, longtime Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has announced his plans to run for governor next year. We’re joined by Shelley Abrams, director of the Capital Women’s Health Clinic, which has obtained an emergency license to provide abortions for two years as it prepares to meet the state’s new building requirements.

Virginia residents are organizing against a push by the nuclear industry to lift a three decade-long ban on uranium mining. The ban went unchallenged until recently, when the cost of uranium began to rise. Virginia residents have expressed concern about the dangers uranium mining poses to drinking water, air quality, farm products, fishing, and tourism. They say allowing mining of the one uranium deposit already identified would open the door for exploration of other sites across the state. Almost all of Virginia’s major cities have passed resolutions to oppose lifting the ban. We’re joined by the former director of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, Robert Burnley, now an environmental consultant to the statewide coalition, Keep the Ban.

Abortion Affordable Care Act (ACA) Ken Cuccinell SCOTUS

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