Showing posts with label Supreme Court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supreme Court. Show all posts

March 27, 2017

Human Rights Campaign Testifies Against Judge Neil Gorsuch

LGBTQ groups have come out in strong opposition to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch as U.S. Supreme Court Justice, arguing that both his philosophy and judicial record indicate that he would be even more hostile to cases involving LGBTQ equality than the deceased Justice Antonin Scalia.

In a first for an LGBTQ advocacy organization, the Human Rights Campaign testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee advising against Gorsuch’s nomination. Sarah Warbelow, the organization’s legal director, outlined the multitude of objections or concerns that LGBTQ people have regarding Gorsuch’s past writings, rulings, and his general judicial philosophy.

“LGBTQ people are no stranger to the Supreme Court. We understand the power of the Court to affirm or deny our most basic rights,” Warbelow said in her prepared testimony, as she recounted the story of Jim Obergefell, who had to sue Ohio over its same-sex marriage ban in order to ensure he was listed as the survivor on his husband’s death certificate.

Noting that Gorsuch has previously expressed opposition to same-sex marriage, Warbelow said: “By his own words, Judge Gorsuch admitted he would have forced same-sex couples to the pay the price of inequality for decades to come. That is why Judge Gorsuch can not be given a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.” 

Warbelow also testified to Gorsuch’s “originalist” philosophy, which has led Gorsuch to question the Supreme Court’s recognition of the fundamental right to personal autonomy, a concept that has served as the basis for multiple LGBTQ rights cases. And despite reports that Gorsuch has personal friends who are LGBTQ, HRC and others believe his philosophy would lead him to make rulings that would be detrimental to LGBTQ plaintiffs or defendants.

One of the rulings for which Gorsuch has been heavily criticized is the Kastl case, in which he ruled against a transgender woman who had transitioned while working at a community college was fired after she began using the women’s restroom, and refused to use the men’s restroom even after being told to do so by the school.

Another ruling is the Hobby Lobby case, which, while not dealing directly with LGBTQ issues, sets a precedent that could potentially allow employers to discriminate or refuse to provide benefits to LGBTQ people or same-sex couples in order to avoid being “complicit” in condoning homosexuality. Such was the case with Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman fired from a funeral home after she transitioned. By adopting the arguments put forth in Hobby Lobby, the judge in the case found Stephens’ employer was within his rights to fire her because of his personal religious belief that it is unacceptable to be transgender.

“We might not agree with every decision a Supreme Court Justice may make,” Warbelow concluded. “But we must believe in their commitment to reaching impartial judgments based upon fact, not political ideology or bias.  And they must agree that LGBTQ people have fundamental rights protected by the Constitution and that we, as individuals and as a community, are entitled to equal treatment under the law. We need a Justice who recognizes our basic equality and shared humanity. Judge Gorsuch has never met this bar.”

SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch’s mentor compared homosexuality to bestiality
But HRC is not the only pro-LGBTQ organization that has taken a stand against Gorsuch. In response to reports that some Senate Democrats have been looking to arrange a deal by which Gorsuch would be confirmed to the court in exchange for Republicans keeping the filibuster in place for use during a future confirmation fight, a coalition of liberal-leaning and progressive groups has warned Democrats to stand firm and keep Gorsuch off the high court, using the filibuster if need be.

“Democrats should reject any deal that allows Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. As Senator Schumer and many, many others have pointed out, it takes 60 votes to get confirmed to the Supreme Court, and Judge Gorsuch clearly didn’t show he deserved that kind of support in his hearings this week,” Marge Baker, the executive vice president of People For the American Way, said in a statement. 

“If Neil Gorsuch can’t get 60 votes there’s a clear answer for that: President Trump should engage in meaningful consultation with the Senate and nominate a consensus pick, just as President Obama did when he nominated Merrick Garland. Democrats need to stand firm in this fight and not accept an extreme and ideological nominee now in exchange for hazy promises about the future. Anyone looking for precedent should refer to the case Charlie Brown v. Football.”

Another coalition of 20 progressive groups, including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, also asked Democrats not to cave on Gorsuch’s nomination, writing in a letter to Senate Democrats: “Anything less than a full commitment to resistance, including a filibuster of Judge Gorsuch, would be a betrayal of the communities you represent” — namely, women, communities of color, workers, and LGBTQ people.


March 18, 2017

Fl Suprme Ct Allows Men-Men Sexual Intercourse to be Sex-How to believe Ur Partner

Don’t call them homosexuals, call them in love (photo translation)…… in Florida, they are not able to have sexual intercourse

As I read this story in two different publications, one in Miami and on in the Keys. I noticed the two describe the story with different facts,  the full story is easily understood if you reed the two on line publications. It happens all the time. So I will give you the main points Im making by publishing this important article and what it should mean to us. Publisher

  • Florida is a backwards state as far as the government is, I  lived there for 17 yrs., I know.  It was back then and still today. Most of the people there also know it too,  that is why I don’t think I’m offending too many people there, particularly when I tell you why Im saying this. “Sexual intercourse according to the law is only between a man and a woman.” Which means intercourse between men is not recognized. There cannot be rape between two man or just simple sex. It’s impossible according to this old law still in the books and still used.       You will learn more on this article.
  • Sometimes when we want to believe something is true, we see as true (and the opposite). We need to go by facts and facts do not become facts until checked. Even if you can’t get someone medical records there other ways. There ways to find out if a document has been change. One way it to show to your doctor and he/she can give you an idea the way the report reads. Accepting one page is not good enough. My ex and I used to go to Doctor’s appointments together sometimes, particularly at the beginning of the relationship. He was aware of my medical condition as I told it to him and I was aware of his. Once you tell your doctor he/she will agree in most states. Medical history belongs to you and you can share it with whomever you decide.
  • If your partner is secretive as you try to get to know him/her then is on you to go in that place with your eyes closed. Secretive partners do not become more open with time but less and will used the secretive history to justify the way he/she is. It took me years to learn my ex partner was bipolar. The questions I asked of him he made up the answers as he went along. Still because he was lying when he didn’t have too I should have attributed that to a bigger problem. I just loved him and wanted to see someone wonderful. It was until it was too late when I could no longer put up with it and it took 5 years for me to not want to spend one more day with him not even in separate room in the same house. This was the beginning in my becoming for my first time homeless and I spent all the money I had in living in a motel.       We had house and land, horse, animals, all, acquired thru me. Is taken years to get out of that hole and I have.. but some mistakes last forever on our time here. It’s not too difficult to do things right. No need to be offensive or put up stupid walls that you will probably wont feel too good when you are old (hopefully not fat too, yes I said fat-it kills just like cigarette smoking), and you find yourself lonely and no one seems to want you and the one you want will shake hands but that is all they will touch and not too hard.   Adam GonzalezPublisher
A 2011 case in which a Key West man is charged with knowingly risking infecting his partner with the HIV virus after forging medical records may move forward now that the Florida Supreme Court has ruled on the legal definition of sex.

Gary Debaun, 65, allegedly risked his partner with the virus that causes AIDS and a legal definition of sexual intercourse can’t get him out of the charge, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a six-page decision based solely on whether intercourse is defined as only sex between a man and a woman.

“The term ‘sexual intercourse’ is commonly understood to broadly refer to several sex acts — including the sexual act at issue here,” according to the court ruling. “In certain contexts, the term refers to specifically — that is, more narrowly, to penile-vaginal intercourse.”

The Monroe County State Attorney’s Office plans to revive the case against Debaun, who was arrested Aug. 11, 2011, after his partner called police to report Debaun had known he had HIV but presented a phony lab report that said he wasn’t.

“We have been anxiously awaiting the Florida Supreme Court’s decision and now can proceed once again with our prosecution against Mr. Debaun,” said Assistant State Attorney Colleen Dunne.

Debaun is charged with a third-degree felony for unlawful sexually transmission of a disease. It carries no minimum prison term upon conviction.

Debaun’s then-partner, identified in court records only as C.M., had asked Debaun to provide him with a lab report confirming he was not HIV-positive before consenting to sex. Nothing in the court record says C.M. contracted HIV.

During a recorded phone call with police listening in, Debaun(pictured above) admitted everything, according to prosecutors.

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the 2013 ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeal, which had overturned Judge Wayne Miller’s decision to toss the case based on the defense team’s argument that Florida’s legal definition of sexual intercourse didn’t apply to the same-sex couple’s relations.

But the Supreme Court said the Legislature created the statute to reduce the spread of HIV and wouldn’t have written a law meant to only apply to heterosexuals and ignore the group most severely affected by the disease, gay and bisexual men.

January 31, 2017

New Justice Nominee Gorsush Life and Career

January 24, 2017

Top on List For SupmeJustice,Trump Says is Going to Make U Excited

Are You Excited Yet? Particularly if You are LGBT You will not!!
 Neil M. Gorsuch, No. 1 on the list
President Donald Trump’s transition team narrowed last month his possible selections for the vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat down to five candidates. Now, one judge, perceived conservative Neil M. Gorsuch, has reportedly emerged as the frontrunner to fill the spot left open following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year, according to media reports.
Gorsuch’s name was part of a list of 21 potential nominees for the Supreme Court, which currently has only eight justices. His nomination is expected as early as next week, according to sources, ABC News reported Tuesday. 
“In the next week or so, we should have an update on a nominee,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a press conference Monday.
The 49-year-old Gorsuch, who is perhaps best known for defending religious rights in the face of Obamacare, currently sits on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado and leads a shortlist of potential nominees that includes four federal appellate court judges in William Pryor of the 11th Circuit, Thomas Hardiman of the 3rd, Steve Colloton of the 8th, Diane Sykes of the 7th, and Joan Larsen of the Michigan Supreme Court, according to Daily Beast.
Gorsuch was appointed to the 10th Circuit by former President George W. Bush in 2006 and was confirmed by a voice vote, as opposed to a regular confirmation vote. If he is in fact nominated, Gorsuch would be the youngest nominee in the last 25 years.
Before his most recent appointment, Gorsuch served as a clerk for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. He attended Harvard Law School and attained a Ph.D. from Oxford University.
Speaking at a luncheon Thursday, one day before his inauguration, Trump said he already had a good idea of who he was going to nominate for the bench, according to cell phone video attained by CNN.
"I think in my mind I know who it is," Trump said. “I think you're going to be very, very excited."

November 14, 2016

Trump as President Has Tremendous Consequences for the Supreme Court

The political earthquake that hit Tuesday night has enormous consequences for the Supreme Court, swallowing up Judge Merrick Garland's ill-fated nomination and dismantling Democratic hopes for a liberal majority on the high court for the first time in nearly a half-century.

In the short term, Republican Donald Trump's victory means that at some point next year, the nine-member court will be restored to full capacity, once again with a majority of Republican-appointed justices.

Democratic attempts to filibuster Trump's choice would likely lead Republicans to end that option for Supreme Court justices, just as Democrats did for other judicial nominations when their party controlled the Senate.

Trump's upset victory likely changes the court's docket as well: Court challenges to President Barack Obama's regulations regarding the Affordable Care Act and immigration, which have preoccupied the justices in recent terms, will likely disappear under a President Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress.
The long-term question will be Trump's ultimate impact on the court's membership, and whether he gets the chance to do more than choose the successor to Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

Two of the court's liberals, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, are 83 and 78, respectively. Moderate conservative Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is 80.

As long as those three stay, the court's rulings on sensitive social issues - protecting abortion rights, affirmative action and gay rights, for instance - are secure.
"A lot of the big things are actually ones on which the court already has a so-called liberal majority," Neal K. Katyal, the acting solicitor general under President Obama, said before the court's term began last month.

Tuesday's election assures that Kennedy will remain the court's pivotal justice, for now. Trump has said he will draw his Supreme Court nominee from a list of 20 judges and one senator: Mike Lee of Utah. All appear to be more conservative than Kennedy, the court's longest-serving justice.

Kennedy is the member of the current court most likely to be in the majority when the court splits 5 to 4 in its most controversial decisions. Most of the time, he sides with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court's other remaining conservatives: Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

But on some social issues, Kennedy sides with the liberals: Ginsburg, Breyer and Obama's two choices for the court, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

He joined them and wrote the majority opinion finding that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry; in fact, Kennedy has written all of the court's cases protecting gay rights.

Last term, he wrote the decision approving the limited use of race in college admission decisions, and voted to strike down a Texas law that the court said imposed unnecessary burdens on a woman's right to obtain an abortion.

But three of the five justices supporting those issues are the oldest on the court. Abortion rights advocates immediately sounded an alarm.
President Obama's full statement the day after the 2016 presidential election
"President-elect Trump has publicly pledged to overturn Roe and promised punishment for the one in three American women who will have an abortion in her lifetime," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. She was referring to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision assuring a woman's right to an abortion

Garland, a moderate liberal who is chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, would likely have replaced Kennedy as the justice in the middle. Obama nominated him last March in part because Republicans in the past have said he was the most likely Democratic nominee to win confirmation. 

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declared on the night of Scalia's death that Republicans would not act on any Obama nominee. The move brought charges that McConnell had politicized the process, but the gambit worked: It will now be a Republican president making the lifetime appointment to replace Scalia.

Trump has said his nominee will come from the list compiled with the help of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and the legal group, the Federalist Society. His nominee will be like Scalia in seeking to overturn Roe and be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Trump has said.

All eyes will now be on the court's oldest members, Kennedy and Ginsburg. Replacing Kennedy with a more stalwart conservative would immediately impact the court's dynamics. He has given no indication about how long he intends to serve on the court.

Ginsburg has said she will serve as long as she is up to the job. She would likely be loath to allow Trump to pick her successor; she caused an uproar this summer when in media interviews she called him a "faker" and said she feared for the court and the country if he were elected.

Ginsburg turned aside calls from some liberals that she retire years ago, so that Obama could name her replacement. She said it was unclear whether the Senate would confirm her successor. And she told The Washington Post that there was no rush: She felt it was likely that another Democrat would be elected after Obama.

Robert BarnesThe Washington Post

August 20, 2016

Belize Wont Appeal Decriminalization of Gay Sex

The government of Belize would not appeal the Chief Justice's decision to legalize gay sex between consenting adults. Well, today that was confirmed in a press conference where the Attorney General Vanessa Retreage explained why the government will not appeal:…

Hon. Vanessa Retreage - Attorney General
"The government has closely considered the option of appealing and has sought legal advice as to the possible merits and benefits of appealing. In this regard it is noted that there were 7 interested organisations which argued the case a part from the claimant and the government with no less than 15 attorneys representing them. Government is therefore satisfied that the case was properly argued and does not see any aspect of the decision that would benefit from further argument and as such has taken the decision not to appeal. It is also conscious that the option of appealing is open to 1 or more of the interested parties and it is not the government's intent to influence or in any way preclude any legal steps which others may consider that they wish to pursue. The government is however satisfied that it must not appeal simply for the sake of appealing but must ensure that its actions best serves the interest of the Belizean people. The court has decided that Section 53 which challenged was a law which criminalised private sexual conduct between consenting adults and therefore discriminated against the right to privacy and dignity. The government respects that decision and finding."

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"The very many members of cabinet who would want to make clear that their support of the decision taken must be placed in that narrow legal context. It should not be interpreted as any blanket support for LGBT positions. Similarly there are members of cabinet who do support those positions and that is why it is so important to make clear that where cabinet comes together and is prepared to act as one in a united fashion is on this question of the legal merits of the decision given by the Hon.chief justice.”

Gay men can now be physical with one another in Belize without spending ten years in jail:
Belize’s Criminal Code (Section 53) criminalised ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ which included consensual sexual conduct between adult males in private. The law, which though rarely used carried a ten-year prison sentence, disproportionately impacted on the lives of gay men. Caleb Orozco, a Belizean gay man and a prominent human rights defender, launched a challenge to Section 53 in the Supreme Court of Belize. The case was heard in May 2013 and the judgment was delivered by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin on 10 August 2016.

The Supreme Court found that a law criminalising consensual sexual conduct between adults in private, including same-sex intimacy, violates the constitutional rights to dignity, privacy, equality before the law, and non-discrimination on grounds of sex, and cannot be justified on the basis of ‘public morality’. The Court also found that international treaty obligations must inform the interpretation of the Constitutional rights. As a result, the law was declared void and struck out to the extent that it captures consensual sexual conduct between adults in private. The court awarded costs to the Claimant.

Just between men?  Gay women could go nuts for days?
Anyway, glad to hear that justice was done.  You might wonder who opposed such a simple, equal rights decision.  Nah, you don’t wonder.  You already know:

A group of churches – namely the Roman Catholic Church of Belize, the Belize Church of England Corporate Body, and the Belize Evangelical Association of Churches – opposed the case as ‘Interested Parties’ and sought to maintain the criminalisation of gay men in Belize.
It’s as predictable as the sunrise: where there is opposition to gay people being happy with the consenting adult of their choice,  the Church is there to try and stand in the way and to call for a ten year prison sentence for loving another consenting adult, all while assuring everybody how pro-love they are.

But, as seems to be the case more and more as time goes on, the Church mercifully lost again.  It says something about the value of the Church to humankind that in order for love to win, the Church must lose.

June 24, 2016

1Yr After Gay Marriage Decision } Have Minds Change?

 Such a long fought victory that at the end came what it seemed lightning speed

A year has passed since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage with its close 5-4 ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges. Have attitudes toward gay marriage changed since then? Where does opinion on the issue currently stand?

Depending on the survey, support appears steady or inching up. In the latest Gallup survey from May, 61% answered that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid with the same rights as traditional marriages, up 1 point since the spring of 2015. Opposition remains unchanged at 37%. In a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), 62% favored allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally while 36% were opposed. The responses from July 2015 were 52% and 40%, respectively. In the Pew Research Center’s March 2016 survey, 56% favored allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally; the same percentage gave that response in May 2015. Opposition declined two points from 39% to 37%.

Although polling on this issue has emphasized growing acceptance of gay marriage, recent polls also reveal a sizable group that remains opposed. In surveys since the Court’s ruling, between 34% and 40% express this opinion. As noted above, in their most recent surveys Gallup registered opposition at 37%, PRRI at 36%, and Pew at 37%. In other questions asked after the Court’s ruling, a comparable percentage expressed opposition to other aspects of the issue. In July 2015, for example, ABC News/Washington Post pollsters asked people whether they supported or opposed the Court’s decision. Thirty-five percent opposed it strongly, and another 10% said they opposed it somewhat. In May this year, 37% told Gallup pollsters gay and lesbian relations were not morally acceptable. Sixty percent said they were.

Young people tend to lead change, and they have long been—and still are—gay marriage’s most supportive age group. In Gallup’s May 2016 poll, 83% of 18- to 29-year-olds said same-sex marriages should be valid. But the opinions of older generations have also shown considerable movement. In the same poll, for the first time in Gallup’s polling on gay marriage, a majority (53%) of seniors ages 65 and older said same-sex marriages should be valid, up 7 points from last year. Since Gallup first asked about the issue in 1996, the youngest age cohort has moved the most, 42 points, in support for legalization of same-sex marriage. But the oldest cohort has moved almost as much, 39 points. Young people led the way as Americans changed their minds about gay marriage, but older generations are catching up.

How, when, and why Americans change their minds about issues such as gay marriage is a subject of much discussion, and polls are uniquely able to provide clues. Among the many explanations for the shift in more positive attitudes toward gay marriage, one seems especially compelling. As surveys show, more people know someone—a family member, a coworker, or a friend—who is gay, and familiarity tends to lead to acceptance. In October 2015, for example, when NBC News/Wall Street Journal asked people if they personally know or work with someone who is gay or lesbian, nearly three out of four (72%) said they did. In addition, this month Gallup found that almost half (49%) of cohabiting same-sex couples are now married, up 11 points since before the Obergefell decision. Nowadays, not only are more people likely to know someone who is gay, but if they do, they are also increasingly likely to know someone who is in a same-sex marriage. Almost all of the national change in views about same-sex marriage appears to have taken place before the Supreme Court’s decision. In the year since the ruling, opinion seems stable, with a few polls showing a small uptick in support, as a core group of around 37% remains opposed. This group will probably get smaller over time as younger people with more accepting attitudes about gay marriage replace older people who, in comparison, are still more opposed, though becoming less so. Overall, changes in opinion on same-sex marriage appear to have paused, but they probably have not plateaued.

June 21, 2016

Justice Sotomayor Boiling Over Minority Dissent on Authorizing Illegal Searches


In a so-far-sleepy Supreme Court term, Justice Sonia Sotomayor let loose a scorching dissent in a case involving the Fourth Amendment and police conduct on Monday. The majority opinion, Sotomayor wrote, "says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights." 

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the court's opinion on behalf of five justices, including all of the other Republican appointees and Democratic appointee Justice Stephen Breyer. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined most of Sotomayor's dissent, as well as a separate dissent by Justice Elena Kagan. 

Sotomayor's remarkably direct dissent went far beyond the specific question of the case, tapping directly into the zeitgeist of the Black Lives Matter movement and criminal justice reform. It cites the Department of Justice's report from Ferguson, Missouri, on police misconduct and books like Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow," Ta-Nehisi Coates' "Between the World and Me" and James Baldwin's 1963 classic "The Fire Next Time." 

 Of people "routinely targeted by the police," Sotomayor wrote, "Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but." 

The case concerns Edward Strieff, who was stopped while leaving a house a police officer was watching on suspicion of drug activity. When the officer discovered Strieff had an outstanding warrant for a minor traffic violation, he searched Strieff and found methamphetamine. The court had to decide whether the drugs found on Strieff could be used as evidence or whether such evidence was disqualified by the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on "unreasonable searches and seizures." 

Evidence in the Strieff case, Thomas wrote for the majority, was "admissible because the officer's discovery of the arrest warrant attenuated the connection between the unlawful stop and the evidence seized incident to arrest." 

Sotomayor retorted, "The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer's violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Do not be soothed by the opinion's technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants — even if you are doing nothing wrong." 

Early in her career, Sotomayor worked as a prosecutor in Manhattan — not exactly the redoubt of the soft on crime. Still, she wrote, in the only portion of the dissenting opinion Ginsburg didn't join, "Writing only for myself, and drawing on my professional experiences, I would add that unlawful 'stops' have severe consequences much greater than the inconvenience suggested by the name." 

She added that the fact that the officer did in fact find drugs on Strieff didn't matter: "A basic principle lies at the heart of the Fourth Amendment: Two wrongs don't make a right." 

She described at length all the encroachments a police officer can lawfully make on an individual, from invasive physical searches to handcuffing to a lasting arrest record. 

Strieff is white, Sotomayor noted, but that doesn't mean racial profiling isn't at the heart of this case. "The white defendant in this case shows that anyone's dignity can be violated in this manner … But it is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny … For generations, black and brown parents have given their children 'the talk' — instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger — all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them." 

Validating “the talk" under color of law, Sotomayor concluded, "implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged."                                                                      


March 17, 2016

Get to Know Personal Details of Pres.Obama’s Pick for Top Ct.

President Obama has chosen to nominate federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, according to multiple sources. Garland has served as the chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for almost two decades, and was confirmed to that position by a margin of 53 votes. 

March 15, 2016

Senators Blocking a Supreme Justice Being Appointed R targeted by”Do Your Job”

As members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Orrin G. Hatch, seated left, and Charles E. Grassley, right, have been facing pressure from activist groups on the Republicans’ reluctance to consider a Supreme Court nominee.

As Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah addressed the conservative Federalist Society luncheon on Friday at a Chinatown restaurant, young protesters from the liberal group Generation Progress suddenly broke into loud chants of “Do your job,” disrupting the staid legal discussion. 

On Sunday in Iowa, outside courthouses in Waterloo and Des Moines, activists from the progressive organization Why Courts Matter Iowa hammered Senator Charles E. Grassley with made-for-media protests in which participants shouted, “Hey, Chuck, do your job.”

Those protests aimed at the two most senior Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with more than 40 similar events around the country in the last week, provide clear evidence of the emerging Democratic strategy to break the Senate Republican blockade against President Obama’s forthcoming nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Democrats intend to try to make life as miserable as possible for Senate Republicans — particularly those on the Judiciary Committee or up for re-election in November — both back home and in Washington until they relent and agree to take up the nomination.

“Senate Republicans who refuse to do their jobs are already seeing the consequences of their inaction,” said Amy Brundage, a former White House deputy communications director who is coordinating communications around the court campaign. “Hardworking Americans don’t get to choose to stop doing their jobs. So we will continue to put pressure on Senate Republicans back home and force them to explain why they won’t fulfill their constitutional responsibility to their voters and constituents.”

The tone and frequency of the organized activities against Republicans — news conferences, petitions, protests at offices, letter-writing campaigns, rallies — is only going to escalate once President Obama announces his choice and puts a face on a fight that now focuses mainly on the Senate process of considering a nominee.

Democratic strategists believe that if they can make Senate Republicans squirm as they are forced to constantly defend the party’s stance, those Republicans will in turn lean on the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, to back off his blanket refusal to allow a confirmation hearing.

The way Democrats believe they can best make their point is to have activists do whatever they can to get under the skin of senators like Mr. Grassley, the Judiciary Committee chairman who is getting some of the worst Iowa press coverage of his long career because of his now almost daily declaration that he has no intention of considering Mr. Obama’s choice for the court.

Mr. Grassley, who is up for re-election this year, is a particular target of Democrats who see him as a potential weak link in the Republican chain of resistance. But they also plan to be relentless against other Republican senators facing tough re-election fights, including Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Videos show that the protest at the Hatch luncheon at Tony Cheng’s restaurant seemed to catch the usually button-down crowd by surprise as the activists began shouting and holding up yellow placards that said, “Fill the Supreme Court Vacancy.” Angry members of the otherwise conservative audience began yelling for the activists to be removed, and they were eventually ushered out after a few minutes. An organizer of the lunch drew applause when he thanked the protesters for paying the $20 fee.

“I don’t mind protesters speaking their minds, but I don’t appreciate when they try to prevent others from expressing differing views,” Mr. Hatch, a former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Monday in a statement. “That a respectful discussion among attorneys was disrupted by professional activists wielding materials from Organizing for Action — a political arm of the White House and the Democratic National Committee — demonstrates what I’ve been saying all along: Considering a nominee in the midst of a presidential election campaign would further inject toxic political theater into an already politicized confirmation process.”

Republicans are developing their own strategy for combating the Democrats and have stressed their message that Democrats should let voters decide the makeup of the court through their vote for president. A conservative activist group has already begun airing ads critical of potential nominees.

Mr. Hatch touched on what some Republicans consider to be a risk for Democrats — and an advantage for them: Democrats may press their case too hard. Republicans will try to paint the protests as a left-wing effort to place a liberal on the court to replace Mr. Scalia, a conservative icon. And they will accuse the White House of using the court fight mainly to stir up Democratic voters in advance of the election, noting that efforts against Republicans are being coordinated by former senior White House and Obama campaign aides.

“I am resolved to prevent what should be serious consideration of a weighty lifetime appointment from turning into an election-year political circus, as many on the left seem to want,” Mr. Hatch said.

Democrats aren’t worried about the pushback. They note that national surveys show that the American public is already on their side and that their task now is to make Republican realize their resistance is politically untenable.

They have work to do if Mr. Hatch is any example. He seemed to take the protest in stride and even autographed one of the placards left behind for a luncheon guest. He told the audience that he is accustomed to such tense fights over the court and can take it. Democratic groups intend to put that proposition to the test for Mr. Hatch and his Senate colleagues.

February 16, 2016

Naming a Scalia Successor will Not be Easy for Obama but not Impossible


For most presidents, choosing a Supreme Court nominee is a puzzle. For President Barack Obama, the chance to pick a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia is more like a Gordian Knot.

As the White House carries out a rare election-year search for a nominee, the president’s lawyers and top advisers are sorting through a tangled web of political, legal and personal factors.

A smart pick and nomination strategy could determine whether Obama gets to reshape the highest court for the next generation. The wrong pick could cede that opportunity to his successor.

Democrats view this as a moment decades in the making. Recent Republican presidents have gotten more chances to fill seats, tilting the court in to the right.

“The Supreme Court has not reflected where the American people have been on issues,” said Gregory Craig, who served as White House counsel early in Obama’s first term. “This is the first opportunity in many, many years to bring the court more in line with the American people.”

For Obama, the clock is ticking. The sooner he picks a name, the longer he has to try to force the Republican-led Senate to hold a vote.

At the heart of Obama’s dilemma is how to manage the fierce Republican opposition to his decision to name a nominee. Within hours of Scalia’s death on Saturday, Republicans began arguing Obama should let his successor fill the open seat.

Obama brushed that argument aside, but it is undoubtedly weighing on his decision. Given the election-year timing, Obama would likely have been inclined to name the nominee most likely to appeal to Republican senators.

But if Republicans object to Obama even trying to fill the post — and remain united in that position —the president may see little point in bending too far to appease the other party. He may feel the pull to focus more on ginning up his own party’s base. Then key question becomes: What are the chances of getting a vote?

This wouldn’t be “the first time Republicans have come out with a lot of bluster only to have reality sink in,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Monday.

Refusing to allow a vote has consequences for the court, Shultz said, pointing to the prospects for tie votes that would allow lower court decisions to stand.

Schultz said the president will use the same criteria he used when he nominated Sonia Sotomayor, who became the first Hispanic on the court, and Elena Kagan, then-solicitor general.

In those instances, and in his appointments to lower courts, Obama has shown a desire to expand ethnic and racial diversity and to elevate more women.

His nominee would almost certainly support abortion rights, consideration of race in college admissions and other areas of public life, limits on campaign contributions and stronger rights of labor unions — all issues that have divided the court’s liberal and conservative justices on a 5-4 margin.

In all likelihood, those cases where the conservatives prevailed, with Scalia in the majority, would come out the other way if Obama gets to pick Scalia’s successor.

Obama also has prioritized young candidates — people likely to hold the seat for decades. He’s aimed for relatively uncontroversial personalities, people with views that fall into the category of mainstream liberal jurisprudence.

Obama will also be mindful of the clock. He has said there is “plenty of time” for Republicans to consider his choice. The more time he gives them before them — particularly before the height of campaign season — the stronger his argument. The time crunch may lean in favor of candidates who’ve already been vetted for administration jobs or recent court appointments.

It’s standard practice to keep files on possible nominees and assign a staff member in the White House Counsel’s office to manage and update the list. That list has long included Merrick Garland, chief judge for the D.C. circuit. He has a reputation as a moderate, in part because he was an official in the Justice Department who led investigations of the Oklahoma City bomber and the Unabomber. If Obama is going to reach out to Republicans, Garland might be the tool.

But as a 63-year-old, white male Garland doesn’t check the diversity or youth boxes.

For a more historic choice, Judge Sri Srinivasan is considered a leading option.

Born in India and raised in Kansas, Srinivasan, 48, would be the first Indian-American on the court. He joined the appeals court in Washington in 2013, meaning he has been recently scrubbed. The Senate confirmed him by a 97-0 vote.

Srinivasan, however, may not fire up the interest groups Democrats might want to engage in the fight. He initially faced relatively muted opposition from liberal groups because of his work in private practice defending business interests against claims of human rights abuses in foreign countries.

Other judges under possible consideration are Paul Watford, a 48-year-old former federal prosecutor appointed by Obama to the federal appeals court based in San Francisco. Watford would be only the third African-American to serve on the Supreme Court.

Judge Patricia Millet, 52, like Srinivasan, worked in the Justice Department under both Democratic and Republican administrations. She also was nominated by Obama and confirmed to the appeals court in Washington in 2013.

It’s possible Obama may look beyond the bench for his candidate. Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson has been floated. A sitting senator is an enticing option, if Obama wants to force Republicans to deny a colleague a hearing. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar have both been mentioned as possibilities.

Scalia’s Replacement will Change America’s top Issues for Decades


 The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has sent shockwaves throughout America and the world. He was the leading conservative legal voice of his generation – famous or infamous depending on your perspective for his rulings and opinions on issues ranging from the right for individuals to bear arms to campaign funding by corporations, from racial discrimination legislation to the rights of “terrorist” detainees.

The impact of his passing remains uncertain. At the very least it sets the stage for a fiercely partisan battle over his replacement. President Obama will want to appoint a liberal judge, although the Republican Senate has already declared their intention to reject any such nomination.

Whatever happens, the process will have significant ramifications for the 2016 Presidential election. Yet the stakes are much higher than any election, even a presidential one. The lifetime tenure of a Supreme Court judge means that they can shape the country’s policies and values for decades. This influence is even greater in this particular instance as if Obama gets his way the next judge will almost certainly shift the Court’s balance of power in a more liberal direction.

The consequences of this change will be felt in the short-term, regardless of what Republicans choose to do. In the event of a Justice’s death, all unresolved cases revert back to the previous rulings of the next lower court. Presently this would mean a victory for public sector unions, the continuation of immigrant deportations and the closing of a number of abortion clinics in certain states.
Looking further ahead, a more liberal court could be a dramatic force for progressive change nationally. Only last year, the Court legalised gay marriage despite the vigorous dissent of Scalia. With a liberal majority the court could uphold tougher campaign finance laws, reaffirm abortion rights for women and expand labour protections among other hot button issues.

Putting aside for the moment the partisan battles and looming legal decisions ahead, this is an opportunity to fundamentally debate and change the role of the court as a force for social progress. It harkens back to a time not so long ago in the post WWII in which the Supreme Court made landmark decisions ending racial segregation and legalising abortion.

Under its current leadership, however, the Court has retreated from this more activist role. Scalia in particular was a public spokesman for a court that used its power to preserve American traditions and accepted moralities – leading to charges that he was trying to create a “majoritarian theocracy”.

Philosophically he promoted the “originalist” and “textualist” approaches to constitutional interpretation. The former demands that judges adhere strictly too the original intentions of the founding writers, and the latter that such interpretations prioritise the actual text rather than broader socio-political context.

These are not mere esoteric legal debates. They go to the heart of what America is and could be. Where the founders creating a country that respected religious pluralism but embraced then and forever a guiding Christian morality? Or was it a revolutionary nation committed – even if only ever partially – to ideals of freedom, equality and toleration? Should it remain committed to an ethics formed over three centuries ago or continually update its founding spirit to changing times?

At stake is whether America looks backward or forward to discover its purpose and soul. It represents a constitutional history that is both inspiring and with retrospect appalling. The same constitution that enshrined free speech is the same one that justified slavery and later legalised racial inequality all the way up to the middle of the 20th Century. The same constitution that safeguarded citizens against arbitrary arrest by governments is the same one whose formal protection of armed militias presently legitimates a multi-billion dollar domestic weapons industry with increasingly tragic human consequences.

It is a legacy, therefore, as complicated as the country which it founded and the world in which it was created. It is full of both hope and contradiction. Where many of its most prominent revolutionary writers were slaveholders. In their wisdom and blindness, they created a Supreme Court that protected the sovereignty of Native Americans while doing little to stop their genocide. That served as a bulwark against government intrusion while upholding the forced eviction of over a hundred thousand Japanese citizens in the Second World War. That made imperialism lawful despite itself being born in the desire for independence. That bans “cruel and unusual punishment” yet has refused to hold the US government completely accountable for its use of torture as part of the War on Terror.

The 21th Century brings its own tests of progress. How will it address the problems of a democracy threatened by the stranglehold of corporate interests, the rights of citizens to privacy in the information age, the balance between the country’s ideals and what it proclaims it must do in the name of “national security”. Will it be up to the challenges of ensuring that a rapidly changing economy is not only strictly constitutional, but in keeping with its progressive principles handed down from its imperfect past?

Peter Bloom is a lecturer in the Department of People and Organisations at the Open University. His book, 'Authoritarian Capitalism in the Age of Globalization' will be released in March of this year.

February 14, 2016

Supreme Justices Ideology over time {and Scalia Interactive Graph}

February 13, 2016

Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead


Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said.

Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.

According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, of the Western Judicial District of Texas, was notified about the death from the U.S. Marshals Service.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery said he was among those notified about Scalia's death.

"I was told it was this morning," Biery said of Scalia's death. "It happened on a ranch out near Marfa. As far as the details, I think it's pretty vague right now as to how," he said. "My reaction is it's very unfortunate. It's unfortunate with any death, and politically in the presidential cycle we're in, my educated guess is nothing will happen before the next president is elected."

The U.S. Marshal Service, the Presidio County sheriff and the FBI were involved in the investigation.

Officials with the law enforcement agencies declined to comment.

A federal official who asked not to be named said there was no evidence of foul play and it appeared that Scalia died of natural causes.

A gray Cadillac hearse pulled into the ranch last Saturday afternoon. The hearse came from Alpine Memorial Funeral Home.

Scalia was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.

Staff writers Vianna Davila, Tyler White and Richard A. Marini, John MacCormack and Guillermo Contreras contributed to this report.

June 27, 2015

No more Marriage bans across the Nation No Gay Marriage just Marriage

This publication will stop referring to gay or same sex marriage, instead it will be just Marriage.

Same-sex couples won the right to marry nationwide Friday as a divided Supreme Court handed a crowning victory to the gay rights movement, setting off a jubilant cascade of long-delayed weddings in states where they had been forbidden.

"No longer may this liberty be denied," said Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The vote was narrow — 5-4 — but Kennedy's majority opinion was clear and firm: "The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry."

The ruling will put an end to same-sex marriage bans in the 14 states that still maintain them, and provide an exclamation point for breathtaking changes in the nation's social norms in recent years. As recently as last October, just over one-third of the states permitted gay marriages.
Kennedy's reading of the ruling elicited tears in the courtroom, euphoria outside and the immediate issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in at least eight states. In Dallas, Kenneth Denson said he and Gabriel Mendez had been legally married in 2013 in California but "we're Texans; we want to get married in Texas."

In praise of the decision, President Barack Obama called it "justice that arrives like a thunderbolt."

Four of the court's justices weren't cheering. The dissenters accused their colleagues of usurping power that belongs to the states and to voters, and short-circuiting a national debate about same-sex marriage.

"This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in dissent. Roberts read a summary of his dissent from the bench, the first time he has done so in nearly 10 years as chief justice.

"If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision," Roberts said. "But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."

Justice Antonin Scalia said he was not concerned so much about same-sex marriage as "this court's threat to American democracy." He termed the decision a "judicial putsch." Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas also dissented.

Several religious organizations criticized the decision.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said it was "profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage."

Kennedy said nothing in the court's ruling would force religions to condone, much less perform, weddings to which they object. And he said the couples seeking the right to marry should not have to wait for the political branches of government to act.

 Obama on same-sex marriage: 'Ruling will strengthen our communities'
"When Americans are all treated as equal, we are more free," President Barack Obama declared  in a speech given at the White House after the Supreme Court extended gay marriage nationwide. 
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex couples to marry on the same basis as heterosexuals, he said

"The dynamic of our constitutional system is that individuals need not await legislative action before asserting a fundamental right. The nation's courts are open to injured individuals who come to them to vindicate their own direct, personal stake in our basic charter," Kennedy wrote in his fourth major opinion in support of gay rights since 1996. It came on the anniversary of two of those earlier decisions.

"No union is more profound than marriage," Kennedy wrote, joined by the court's four more liberal justices.

The stories of the people asking for the right to marry "reveal that they seek not to denigrate marriage but rather to live their lives, or honor their spouses' memory, joined by its bond," Kennedy said.
As he read his opinion, spectators in the courtroom wiped away tears when the import of the decision became clear. One of those in the audience was James Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court fight.

Outside, Obergefell held up a photo of his late spouse, John Arthur, and said the ruling establishes that "our love is equal." He added, "This is for you, John."

Obama placed a congratulatory phone call to Obergefell, which he took amid a throng of reporters outside the courthouse.

Speaking a few minutes later at the White House, Obama praised the decision as an affirmation of the principle that "all Americans are created equal."

The crowd in front of the courthouse at the top of Capitol Hill grew in the minutes following the ruling. The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, D.C., sang the "Star-Spangled Banner." Motorists honked their horns in support as they passed by the crowd, which included a smattering of same-sex marriage opponents.
Most Illinois pols praise Supreme Court’s ruling making gay marriage legal

The ruling will not take effect immediately because the court gives the losing side roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration. But county clerks in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas began issuing licenses to same-sex couples within hours of the decision.

The cases before the court involved laws from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Those states have not allowed same-sex couples to marry within their borders, and they also have refused to recognize valid marriages from elsewhere.

Just two years ago, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law that denied a range of government benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor formed the majority with Kennedy on Friday, the same lineup as two years ago.

The earlier decision in United States v. Windsor did not address the validity of state marriage bans, but courts across the country, with few exceptions, said its logic compelled them to invalidate state laws that prohibited gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

There are an estimated 390,000 married same-sex couples in the United States, according to UCLA's Williams Institute, which tracks the demographics of gay and lesbian Americans. Another 70,000 couples living in states that do not currently permit them to wed would get married in the next three years, the institute says. Roughly 1 million same-sex couples, married and unmarried, live together in the United States, the institute says.

The Obama administration backed the right of same-sex couples to marry. The Justice Department's decision to stop defending the federal anti-marriage law in 2011 was an important moment for gay rights, and Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage in 2012.

The states affected by Friday's ruling are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, most of Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

Associated Press


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