United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
9 July 2015
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow Noon in Tampa
Tomorrow Friday the Chapter will meet at 12 noon at CDB Restaurant in Temple Terrace, at 5104 E. Fowler Ave., just east of USF Tampa. There will be pizza, salad, and soda. Check us out. Join the movement. Bring a colleague.
Subsequent chapter meetings this summer will be at CDB Restaurant in Temple Terrace, on the Fridays of July 24 and August 7. There will be pizza, salad, and drinks.
UFF Expands its Travel Scholarship Program: All UFF Members are Eligible
The USF Chapter of the UFF will award four $ 500 Travel Scholarships for next fall and spring.
All UFF USF members are eligible for one of four $ 500 travel scholarships to be randomly selected at the August 7 UFF USF Chapter Meeting. Any member may submit a proposal - a paragraph describing the professional activity for which the travel scholarship will be applied - to us by campus mail (UFF Membership Committee, 30238 USF Holly Drive) or by email; all proposals must be received by August 6. See the flyer for UFF members and the flyer for UFF non-members.
This initiative is part of our membership campaign. If you would like to become active in the UFF USF Membership Drive, Adrienne Berarducci.
Join UFF Today!
Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or litigation); special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. Come and join the movement.
If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, you have thirty days from the time you knew or should have known of the violation to file a grievance. If you are, and at the time of the violation were, a dues-paying member of the United Faculty of Florida, you have the right to union representation. To contact the UFF USF Grievance Committee, go to the online contact form. For more information, see our web-page on grievances.
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Visit the United Faculty of Florida at USF Facebook page. This page is a place where UFF members can exchange thoughts and ideas. The page is "public", but only dues-paying UFF members are eligible to post items on the page. If you are a UFF member, ask to join on the page, or contact the Communications Committee. The Committee will invite every UFF member that asks to join. So check us out. UFF members are welcome to join, and non-members are welcome to look.
IN THIS ISSUE
At the last Chapter Meeting, one of the UFF USF Council members said that the last week - the week of June 22 - 26 - was a historic week. The Supreme Court made several milestone decisions, and in Charleston, an act of terrorism precipitated a change of heart about race in America - or at least, a change of heart about one of our old symbols. In this issue, we look at some of those court decisions, and in the next issue, we follow up on Charleston.
We will soon return to our series on tenure and promotion. Past articles are linked to the UFF USF webpage.
- A Week of Milestones. The Supreme Court announced three decisions, on health care, gay marriage, and housing discrimination, and there will be reverberations for years to come. For more, see below or click here.
- For Political Junkies. There were several other decisions, including one on gerrymandering (and one irresistable one from Florida) that good government types should appreciate. For more, see below or click here.
A Week of Milestones
During the week of June 22 - 26, the Supreme Court announced three historical decisions. One of them reaffirmed the status quo: the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land. The other two were transformative. The United States became the twenty-first nation to legalize gay marriage, and the Fair Housing Act bars policies that have the effect of disproportionately harming protected groups even if there is no evidence of bias in the formulation of those policies. Here are some details.
Gay marriage is now legal anywhere in the US. Oxford defines dignity to mean "The quality of being worthy or honorable" or, more rarely, "The quality of being worthy of something." Dignity is an issue of duels and suicides, and it became the issue here. In the majority opinion for Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Kennedy wrote, "The fundamental liberties protected by the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs." Dissenters claimed that the majority was over-reaching, that dignity was not and / or should not be at issue, and a few made counterfactual claims about the history of marriage; for highlights, click here.
Statistical evidence of harm is evidence of harm. Probability and statistics revolutionized medicine and public health during the Nineteenth century, and it wasn't long before mathematicians proposed similar adventures in law. Lawyers and politicians used to armchair arguments found this proposal as alarming as certain theologians found Galileo. The latest victory for statistics was in Texas Department of Housing v. Inclusive Communities, and concerned a legal bone of contention the physicians had resolved over a century ago: if a bottle isn't labeled "poison," does that mean its contents aren't bad for you? The Fair Housing Act bars racial discrimination in selling or renting housing, but does that mean that if an overtly race-neutral policy has the effect of disproportionately harming racial minorities then that policy is barred? This is a pressing issue because, despite the absence of overtly racist policies, racial segregation in housing has grown more severe in recent decades and that drives racial disparities in education and family income. By 5-4, the Supreme Court decided that statistical evidence can be used to demonstrate violations of the Fair Housing Act.
These are milestone decisions, but not the end of the story. Presidential candidates still vowed to replace Obamacare with ... whatever (although many pundits were saying that the battle over Obamacare is over); much discrimination against gays is still legal, even though most Americans think should be illegal (and think that it is illegal); and even if the housing decision is enforced as effectively as Wall Street Journal columnists fear, it will take a long time (and almost certainly more court decisions) to change American housing patterns.
- Obamacare survives another nail-biter. In King v. Burwell, the Court addressed four words appearing in the 906-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Act said that federal subsidies would be available to eligible applicants who sign up for health insurance via government exchanges "established by the state." But most states did not set up exchanges, leaving federal government to set them up, so in those states could applicants get subsidies? Without those subsidies, many applicants would be unable to afford insurance, there would be financial repurcussions for the program, and several Congresspeople involved in composing the Act said that the four-word verb phrase was an unintentional glitch (this happens, even in the Constitution). By 6-3, the court decided to go with the apparent intent of Congress
For Political Junkies
These were only three decisions in a very busy term. Two others that particularly interested political junkies were:
In fairness to Justice Roberts on the redistricting decision, whether or not the U. S. Constitution gives voters the right to impose their will on legislatures in such matters, resorting to a referendum is an extremely inefficient and burdensome way of doing so. Voters would be much better off making sure to vote in elections, and then paying attention to whom they are voting for. Something to think about next year.
- By a 5-4 vote, judicial candidates may not solicit campaign contributions. A candidate in a judicial race in Florida (where else?), in fact, in Hillsborough county (!) solicited contributions, was disciplined by the Bar, and in accordance with the proud traditions of our great state, sued. In the case of Williams-Yulee vs. the Florida Bar, Justice Roberts wrote that, "A state’s decision to elect judges does not compel it to compromise public confidence in their integrity." For the minority, Justice Scalia grumbled that in upholding the judicial canon of ethics, "... the Court flattens one settled First Amendment principle after another."
- By a 5-4 vote, states may empower commissions to draw congressional district lines. There are three popular proposals to defeat gerrymandering in drawing districts:
The problem is that Article I, Section 4 of the U. S. Constitution says that, "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators." So can the people of a state impose their will on an unwilling legislature via a referendum? By a 5-4 vote, in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the court held that the people can impose their will: for the majority, Justice Ginsburg wrote, "The animating principle of our Constitution is that the people themselves are the originating source of all the powers of government." Writing for the minority, Justice Roberts was not convinced that this gave the people the power to so impose their will on the legislature by referendum.
- Prohibit gerrymandering and then sue when the legislature (inevitably) breaks the law. This is the approach Florida took.
- Impose unequivocal geometric restrictions (so that courts can quickly enforce them) on the shapes of districts that are so severe that gerrymandering provides limited benefits. This proposal is popular among mathematicians but unpopular among politicians who failed geometry in high school.
- Create a non-partisan commission of honest citizens to draw the lines. Politicians like commissions, and several states have taken this option - including Arizona, whose legislature was unhappy with mere citizens presuming to pass a referendum taking away the legislature's right to draw districts.
Speaking of elections next year, the pundits are busy analyzing why the court ruled the way they did. But over a century ago, Mr. Dooley observed, "The Soopreme Court follows the illiction returns." In many ways, the court followed popular trends. Elections have consequences.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, July 10, in Temple Terrace at CDB Restaurant, 5104 E. Fowler Ave., just east of USF Tampa.
There will be pizza, salad, and drinks. All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.
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