Showing posts with label The Constitution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Constitution. Show all posts

February 28, 2020

Can Trump Pardon His Buddy Roger Stone? NO! Here is Why:


 Roger Stone

I kept hearing about Trump pardoning one of his cronies Roger Stone. I wasn't sure and this is what I found out:

Both the plain meaning of the Constitution’s text and the historical evidence show that once a president has been impeached, he or she loses the power to pardon anyone for criminal offenses connected to the articles of impeachment — and that even after the Senate’s failure to convict the president, he or she does not regain this power. 

Under Article II, Section II of the Constitution, the president is given the “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” Pardons are supposed to be used as acts of mercy. The framers thought of the pardon power as a “benign prerogative”—prerogative because it was mostly unchecked by courts or Congress, but benign because presidents would use it for the public good.

But the framers knew not to place blind trust in the president to wield the power justly. That’s why they explicitly forbade a president from exercising the pardon power in “cases of impeachment.” The clause prevents the worst abuse of the pardon power: a president’s protecting cronies who have been convicted of crimes related to the president’s own wrongdoing.

The Constitution
Article on Politico

February 25, 2019

Rubio, Pence and Evangelicals Attacked Cuba’s Vote on The New Constitution So It Most Be Good For Cubans


Cubans were asked Sunday to send an overwhelming message of approval for the country's communist system as its founding generation of geriatric former guerrillas cedes the public spotlight to a new class of middle-aged bureaucrats.
Voters were expected to overwhelmingly approve the draft of a new constitution that preserves the single-party socialist system and centrally planned economy while making some updates. The new constitution recognizes private and cooperative businesses alongside state ones, creates the posts of prime minister and provincial governor, and introduces the presumption of innocence and habeas corpus to the justice system.
The only open question was how overwhelming the "yes" vote would be. The current constitution was approved by 97.7 percent of voters in a referendum in 1976, the peak of a system dedicated to displays of national unity achieved through a blend of consensus-building and coercion.
Forty-three years later, Cuba is one of the world's last communist nations, its economy is faltering, its population shrinking and the percentage of "no" votes is expected to be small but significant when results are released Monday.
President Miguel Diaz-Canel's government waged a non-stop campaign promoting a "yes" vote and tarring those voting "no" as counterrevolutionaries and enemies of the state.
"I came to vote for the constitution of my country, for the rights we Cubans have to defend, for continuity and our revolutionary process," said one voter, Januarys Molina, 34.
Aside from a few independent websites, all Cuban media is state-run and the airwaves were filled with messages urging people to approve the new constitution for the sake of continuity on the island. In recent days, those messages were mixed with words of support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as tensions rise between Cuba's main ally and the Trump administration, along with Latin American allies who support the Venezuelan opposition and its attempt to force aid into the country.
"We're living a moment of imperialist menace," Diaz-Canel told reporters after voting Sunday morning. "What they're applying in Venezuela can be applied in any place in the world."
Diaz-Canel's predecessor, 87-year-old Communist Party head Raul Castro, was shown voting in footage on state TV that didn't include comments to state media on the scene.
The largest block of "no" votes could come from the growing ranks of evangelical Christians in Cuba, who object to language that eliminates a requirement for marriage to be only between a man and woman, paving the way for a future legalization of gay marriage.
Cuban dissidents reached out to the growing number of people who have internet access on the island, urging them to vote "no" or boycott the vote altogether.
Both Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Vice President Mike Pence attacked the vote as illegitimate in Twitter statements Sunday.
By The Associated PressHAVANA

By EFE (Last Yrear)
LGBT Community in Cuba Defend Theeir Cause πŸ‡¨πŸ‡ΊπŸ³️‍🌈
Without massive rallies but with a lot of passion, LGTBI activists in Cuba use fashion design, social networks and photos of symbolic weddings in the landmark Plaza de la Revolucion in order to raise awareness about the new constitution that will open the way to gay marriage on the island.
Though activists defending the rights of this community have been working for over a decade - with sometimes more, sometimes less government support - their projects notably increased after the contents of a draft of the new Magna Carta became known, and which will be debated starting this Monday in a three-month referendum process.
"When I saw two women dressed as brides, kissing each other and having their wedding pictures taken on the Malecon esplanade and in the Plaza (de la Revolucion), I said to myself, something's going on here," Darily, a Havana woman who was "pleasantly surprised" when she saw the "positive reaction" of most onlookers, told EFE.
The photo shoot, organized by activists of the theater group El Ciervo Encantado (The Enchanted Deer), was one of the "eye-catching" activities intended to make visible the debate on Article 68 of the new constitution, which will be the subject of a referendum next February.
The updated Magna Carta modifies the concept of marriage, now defined as a "voluntary union between a man and a woman," to a "union between two persons," which opens the way to the legalization of same-sex marriage and responds to a historic demand by the Cuban LGTBI collective.
Constitutional reform includes among its more noteworthy changes the elimination of the term "communism," though in practice Cuba's political system will continue as usual.
Despite the generalized acceptance of same-sex marriage by the Cuban Parliament, its legalization has provoked widely divergent opinions among the islanders.
For Lolita, "love is free" and gay marriages ought to be something quite "natural," while for Alexander, a biketaxi driver, it's all the same to him because "people do what they want with their lives."
"In Cuba there are few physical areas where people of different ideologies can come together. But to some extent, social networks have filled that gap," EFE was told by Yadiel Cepero, administrator of the Facebook group called Structuring an Agenda of Sexual Diversity in Cuba.

March 15, 2018

The Zombie Amendments of the Constitution

The more we know about the constitution the better voters we become. There are politicians that get into positions of power and they are made to plead alliance to this document yet they oppose (openly) parts of this document. Yet people seem to accept that, my guess is that the backers of these anti-constitution politicians backers and appointees don't seem to realize this or f they are also against the constitution, then they have a good reason to go somewhere and get a place where they can have their own constitution but in the USA we only have one constitution and we plead alliance to it even as kids in school. That's because that document is made us the nation we are and still striving to get it right.
NPR today posted the below story in which it explains in fast understandable English how those amendments came to be with the Zombies therefore enclosed.   Adam Gonzalez

Altogether, the Constitution has only been amended 17 times since the Bill of Rights, and one of those amendments (the 21st) was done just to repeal another (the 18th, known as Prohibition).
National Archives via APBy 
The first 10 changes to the Constitution were easy. Since then, it has been an uphill battle every time, and some of those battles are, at least technically, still undecided.
We are speaking of the amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and those first 10 are, of course, better known as the Bill of Rights.
They provide some of the most important guarantees of freedom associated with the U.S. Constitution — even though they were added years after the Constitution was first written in the summer of 1787.
It wasn't that the framers of the Constitution didn't believe in freedom of the press or freedom of religion — or the right to own guns or have a fair trial.
They clearly did. 
But many, including influential framer James Madison, believed these rights were implicit in the Constitution itself (and in the constitutions of the individual states). Madison and others considered a separate catalog of rights unnecessary and potentially troublesome because of what it might omit.
In the process of ratifying that new Constitution 230 years ago, the founders got some pushback from the states. There was popular demand for spelling out citizens' freedoms and rights explicitly — so as to make them as clear and inviolable as the Constitution itself.
So, when the first Congress met in 1789, Madison himself (a member of the House from Virginia) brought forth a package of 12 amendments — formally introduced just six weeks after George Washington had taken the oath as the first president. 
These "further declaratory and restrictive clauses" were soon passed with two-thirds votes of the House and the Senate. Ten of these were ratified in short order by the states, making them part of the Constitution as of Dec. 15, 1791. But two of Madison's original dozen were left behind, failing to get three-fourths of the states of the time.
One provided a formula for determining the number of seats in the House of Representatives, and the other said that congressional pay raises could not take effect until after the next election for the House.
The zombie amendment
These became what might be called orphan amendments, abandoned partway through the process. But Congress had included no expiration date on them, so they could also be called zombie amendments — kept in a suspended condition indefinitely, neither finally dead nor fully alive. 
In fact, one of those two early amendments, the one about the pay raise, actually came back to life. It was dusted off in the late 1980s — in the midst of a fracas over congressional pay — and states once again began voting on its ratification. Lo and behold, the necessary 38 states signed on, and, in 1992, the amendment that Congress had blessed way back in 1789, was finally ratified.
It is now the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, the last (or at least most recent) of the amendments and one of only two added in the past 50 years.
Altogether, the Constitution has only been amended 17 times since the Bill of Rights, and one of those amendments (the 21st) was done just to repeal another (the 18th, known as Prohibition).
Five amendments have dealt with presidential succession, elections or terms in office. A flurry of amendments after the Civil War abolished slavery, guaranteed equal protection under the law and banned racial discrimination. A successor amendment in the 1960s banned the poll tax, often used to keep African-Americans from voting in states that once had slavery.
Other momentous amendments have granted women the right to vote (19th), lowered the voting age to 18 from 21 (26th), imposed the income tax (16th) and provided for the direct election of senators by the voters rather than by state legislatures (17th).
The Equal Rights Amendment that still hasn't been
But not all the amendments passed by Congress have stood the test of ratification by the states. Counting that very first item in Madison's package, there are six in all. Call them orphans, oddities or zombies, but considering how much time has passed, it is perhaps most amazing that there have been so few.
The best known of these in our time is the Equal Rights Amendment, which provided that "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." 
It was the culmination of the women's rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Its bipartisan support carried it to two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate in the 1970s. It went out to the states in 1972 of states with a full head of steam. But the number of ratifying states stalled out at 35 — three short of the 38 required.
Eventually, the seven-year time frame Congress had set for ratification was extended by three years. But, by this point, a strong opposition movement had arisen, blocking ratification in the remaining states and persuading some state legislatures to reconsider and rescind their ratification.
One key element in this opposition was the Eagle Forum, led by Phyllis Schlafly, a prominent social conservative from Alton, Ill. She argued that the ERA could force unwanted changes on women who preferred their traditional roles. For example, Schlafly and others argued the ERA could subject women to a military draft.
Despite having a full decade to win ratification, the ERA fell short and expired in 1982.
Still taxation without representation
A similar fate befell the Voting Rights Amendment for the District of Columbia. Passed by Congress in 1978, it would have given citizens of the nation's capital city the same full representation in Congress as any state (one voting representative in the House and two senators).
This amendment, too, survived a battle in Congress, where some conservatives argued the Constitution had been wise to restrict D.C., so that it did not become an overly powerful center of national politics on the model of London or Paris. The states proved less than enthusiastic, and the seven-year expiration date Congress had added as part of the deal (as with the ERA) meant the amendment died in 1985. 
(It should be noted that another amendment, the 23rd, at least gave D.C. a chance to participate in the Electoral College with three electoral votes — just as it would have if it were a state. That amendment was ratified in 1961.)
For either of these amendments to go back to the states for another round of ratification votes, it would have to first be passed by two-thirds votes in the Congress. It is far from certain that either could surmount that hurdle in the current House and Senate.
Three other zombies that linger
There are three other amendments that remain in zombie space, as it were, as they have never been ratified by three-fourths of the states, but have never expired:
1. The oldest is the Titles of Nobility Amendment, first sent to the states in 1810 on the verge of the second war with Great Britain (to be known as the War of 1812). It provided that any American citizen who accepted or received any title of nobility from a foreign power (or accepted any gift from such a power without the consent of Congress) would forfeit his or her American citizenship.
This amendment came close to ratification, with a dozen states giving thumbs-up within two years. But there were 17 states as of 1803, so the Anti-Title Amendment fell short. No states have since joined in, but in the absence of an expiration clause, this amendment remains technically available.
The next of the zombies had a far shorter interval of viability but conjures a moment of maximum tension in U.S. history.
2. It was known as the Corwin Amendment after the Ohio congressman who proposed it, but it has been remembered as the Slavery Amendment.
Passed by Congress in 1861, on the eve of the Civil War, the Slavery Amendment sought to halt the secession movement by guaranteeing the federal government would not abolish slavery or otherwise interfere with the "domestic institutions of any state, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State."
It came too late to appease the seceding states, which would eventually number 11. But it was ratified by two of the slave-holding states that did not leave the Union. Needless to say, interest in this measure was superseded by the 1865 passage and ratification of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude. But technically, the Slavery Amendment has never expired and remains outstanding.
3. The latest of this group of still-pending amendments is the Child Labor Amendment, granting the Congress power to regulate the labor of children under the age of 18. It was ratified by 28 states, far short of the 36 required at the time. The last state to ratify did so in 1937, nearly a decade after Congress had passed this amendment, but none has signed on since, largely because other laws enacted since (principally the Fair Labor Standards Act) have accomplished much of the amendment's intent.
It is adamfoxie's 10th🦊Anniversay. 10 years witnessing the world and bringing you a pieace whcih is ussually not getting its due coverage.

July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July in the US and a Happy Summer Day to The Rest of The World

Happy Fourth!!

                   Historic moments on the Country's Honoring and Following the Constitution, 
                   Written After Independence from Britain

You also have a President sworn to protected and follow the constitution but he is rolling on it and trying to change it as the days go by. Some say he doesn't know it so that's why he steps on it. But there are many things we don't know in which the respect alone keeps us from stepping on it besides if you are elected President and don't know the constitution then you need to learn it and revered it. Funny we don't see the GOP which is Trump's party carrying a pocket size Constitution like they used to do before Trump. I wonder why?? Playing dumb?

October 21, 2016

What Happens if Trumps Does Not Concede

Despite repeated claims of a “rigged” election, Republican candidate Donald Trump still managed to surprise voters during Wednesday night’s final presidential debate by suggesting that he would not accept the results of November’s contest.

“What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace. “I'll keep you in suspense, OK?”

Trump’s refusal to accept the election outcome would be unprecedented and a renunciation of a long-standing tradition with a deep history in the United States’ democratic process.

Speaking at a campaign rally today in Ohio, Trump reiterated his stance.

"I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all of the people of the United States, that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election. If I win," he said.

There is no requirement in election law for the act of conceding to take place. Additionally, the concession is typically made by the candidate finishing in second place; scores of elections have been decided without the president-elect hearing from third-party candidates.
"While we certainly have come to expect the tradition of the election night concession in the television era, especially when the results appear conclusive, it bears repeating that there is no official status to preliminary returns," according to Edward B. Foley, an election law expert and professor at the Mortiz College of Law at The Ohio State University, who has written about the subject.

"In short, we don't have a constitutional crisis on our hands if we don't have a gracious concession on election night even if the result appears a blow out," he continued.

The concession of the election’s loser legitimizes the election for that candidate’s supporters. While Trump’s claims that the election is “rigged” have been levied without any supporting evidence, plenty of the Republican nominee’s supporters believe his words.

When then-Vice President Al Gore notably rescinded his earlier concession from George W. Bush in 2000, he did so to indicate that his campaign would wait for the results of an automatically-triggered recount in the state of Florida. Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, used the Gore example to defend Trump’s comments following the debate.

“Remember, Al Gore did concede. He conceded to Gov. George W. Bush and then called and rejected the concession and went on to contest the results,” said Conway. “It went all the way to the Supreme Court. Election day was early November. Maybe Nov. 6 that year. And that case was decided on Dec. 12.”

Trump made a similar argument at today's rally, explaining that "if Al Gore or George Bush had agreed three weeks before the election to concede the results and wave their right to a legal challenge or a recount, then there would be no Supreme Court case."

However, in Gore’s situation, the point of contention was the final count of the vote and the process by which those votes were counted, not allegations of fraud as Trump claims. After seeking additional time for the recount in Florida to continue, a request denied by the Supreme Court, Gore did concede the election -- for a second time -- to Bush.

“Just moments ago I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States. And I promised him that I wouldn't call him back this time,” Gore said in his concession speech.

“Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it,” he added. “I accept the finality of this outcome.”

Trump is free to request a recount of votes but the comparison to the 2000 election is a difficult one to make. Gore’s case, based on the status of the electoral votes at the time, was that Florida’s result, already shown to have a thin margin based on exit polls, would swing the election's outcome. It would be difficult for Trump to reasonably ask for a recount should there be a wider electoral vote gap between he and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Whether or not Trump concedes, the process to verify the election results will continue as it does following every presidential election. State boards of election, departments of state and other organizations responsible for counting votes will publicly report their results. Members of the electoral college then cast their ballots based upon that total, and the final electoral count is read before a joint session of Congress in January, confirming the outcome.

As debate moderator Chris Wallace noted Wednesday night, the more significant concern at hand is not the certainty of the winner, but the continuation of the tradition of a “peaceful transition of power.”

“The loser concedes to the winner and…the country comes together in part for the good of the country,” Wallace said. “Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?”

“I will look at it at the time,” said Trump. “I’m not looking at anything now.”

NICOSIA, Cyprus 

July 3, 2016

An Opinion from a Reader For Independence Day


To The Daily Sun,

A recent letter to The Sun by conservative writer Russ Wiles was titled, "When did it become hateful to insist on living by your own values?" Instead of responding to the whole letter, I will go a bit off-topic and just address the broader rhetorical question raised in the headline (which is a good one). Many conservatives falsely charge that liberals or progressives do not like conservatives living by their "own values."
There is nothing wrong or hateful about living by one's values. But, many on the right seem to want more than to just live by their own values. Many want to impose those values (some of which ARE hateful) on others and this is where many progressives have a problem.
The solution is simple. Do you believe gay sex is immoral? If so, do not have sex with a same-sex partner. You don't like gay weddings? Then do not attend or officiate at one. Clergy do not have to solemnize any marriage they do not like. Do you believe abortion or contraception is wrong? Good. Do not practice them. No progressives are asking you to. All that most of us expect is that you respect the rights of others.
Are you a conservative Christian? It is fine if you are or belong to any other faith. If your faith makes you a better person, neighbor, friend, spouse, or citizen, your religion is probably a positive thing. If, on the other hand, it inspires you to fly planes into buildings or kill gays, it is not a positive thing. Our Founders would have likely agreed with this.
But, do not try to make the U.S.A. a "Christian country." Stop trying to erode the separation of church and state which has been mutually beneficial to government and religion throughout our history.
Do you believe evolution is false and that the earth is only six thousand years old? Fine. Teach your kids that at home or send them to a private school but do not expect taxpayers to support your religious beliefs in the form of vouchers. Do not expect public school science classes to teach your religious beliefs or pseudo-science as "alternate theories."
If your values include being able to own any firearm with few or no restrictions, I am sorry. Your "right" might interfere with MY right to feel safe.
If you don't like minorities or immigrants, that is your right as long as you are not actually depriving others of their rights. But, do not expect the rest of us to join in the orgy of hate, ignorance, and disinformation.

E. Scott Cracraft

Message was submitted to  The Laconia Daily Sun

August 24, 2015

“Penumbras and Emanations"


For 50 years, thanks to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, Americans have enjoyed a constitutional right to privacy. That right, nowhere expressly mentioned in the Constitution but now relied upon by millions, has since been invoked to cover everything from contraception to abortion to gay rights, helping to ignite a raging culture war along the way. But few realize that this right, considered by some a “bedrock principle” of American law — and one that has prevented countless unwanted pregnancies and births over the past half century — came very close to never being born.

In fact, just two months before the Supreme Court issued its controversial decision in Griswold on June 7, 1965, the embryonic right was mostly confined to the scribblings of a 66-year-old jurist. Shortly after being assigned to write the majority opinion in the case, Justice William O. Douglas, a committed civil libertarian who authored 1,164 opinions in 36 years on the Court, had sketched out a first draft — a mere six typewritten pages in length. Unlike the other justices, Douglas, as David J. Garrow covers in Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade, did not rely on clerks to prepare most of his first drafts — not a problem in and of itself, except that many around the Court felt that the aging judge was showing signs of being “mentally absent” from the job.

Could such an unorthodox opinion command a majority of the court?
None of the nine men sitting on the Supreme Court thought Connecticut’s 1879 anti-contraception law, both prohibiting the use of contraceptives and abetting that use, was a sensible law (in his dissent, Justice Potter Stewart called it “uncommonly silly”). But the problem was finding something in the Constitution that agreed, a task willingly undertaken by the seven-justice majority. Douglas’ solution, cobbled together like an all-you-can-justify meal from a Bill of Rights buffet, was ingenious and somewhat laughable — and one reason Griswold has since become a lighting rod for those decrying the court’s judicial activism.

According to Douglas, the specific guarantees enunciated in the Bill of Rights “have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance,” and the “right to marital privacy” violated by the Connecticut statute emanated from the “zones of privacy” created by several constitutional amendments, including the first (free association), third (prohibition on the quartering of troops), fourth (searches and seizures) and ninth (other rights retained by the people).

When Douglas’ draft opinion was circulated, says Garrow, the clerks in other chambers were shocked at how thin it was, and the references to “penumbras” and “emanations” elicited more than a few sniggers. Could such an unorthodox opinion command a majority of the court? Even Chief Justice Earl Warren, the court’s liberal lion who had assigned Douglas the opinion, was hesitant to sign on. One of Warren’s clerks, John Hart Ely, later a preeminent constitutional scholar, wrote him a 30-page memo on the case. “No matter how strong a dislike for a piece of legislation may be,” Ely counseled, “I do not think the Court should enforce clauses which are not there.”

[Penumbras] The original and literal meaning of penumbra is “a space of partial illumination between the perfect shadow  on all sideband the full light” (Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed., 1996).

January 16, 2015

The New Thai Contitution on draft contains Protections for LGBT

Gay rights activists are welcoming a clause in a draft of Thailand's new constitution that is aimed at protecting the rights of gay and transgender people.
The Constitution Drafting Committee, a group hand-picked by the military junta to draft a new charter after last year's coup, this week added the wording that will make it illegal to discriminate against gay and transgender people.
"The committee added the wording because we want the new constitution to be inclusive," Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, the committee's spokesman, told The Associated Press. "No one should be discriminated because of they are gay, lesbians, transvestites or transsexuals."
Thailand is known for its tolerance of transgender people, such as "katoeys" or "ladyboys" who are a regular presence in the entertainment business. An international transgender beauty pageant is held annually and sometimes broadcast on national television.
However, formal and legal acceptance for gay and transgender people is still limited. In 2011, a court ordered the military to stop labeling transgender people as "having a permanent mental disorder" and disqualifying them from joining the military.
Gender rights activist Natee Teerarojjanapongs on Friday called the constitutional clause "praiseworthy" and said it could lead to other breakthroughs for gay rights.
"Thai people respect the law. It's good to have the law say gay people are protected because it will make more people realize that gay people also have equal rights like others," he said. "And the more people are familiar with the idea, the more accepting they will become."
"I hope that one day we can see ladyboys who can become doctors or judges openly, or that we will see gay marriage happening in Thailand before long," Natee said.
Critics, however, say the inclusion in the charter does not necessarily translate into reality.
"While the charter will become a tool people can use to fight for their rights, it doesn't mean that the problems of gender biases, discrimination or harassment will go away," said Chalidaporn Songsamphan, a political scientist and gender studies expert at Bangkok's Thammasat University.
The constitution draft is subject to further consideration of an unelected national reform council before it could be formally endorsed by the Thai king and take effect.    (AP)

Background on the Government of Thailand a Kingdom with no King

Thai army chief General Prayut Chan-Ocha
Thai army chief General Prayut Chan-ocha Photo: PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP  

Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized control of Thailand in a coup last month proposes installing interim constitution next month with elections due late next year

In a coup last month, said the temporary constitution will allow an interim legislature and Cabinet to begin governing the country in September. He said an appointed reform council and constitution drafting committee will then work on a long-term charter to take effect July 2015.
Prayuth said in televised speech that a general election would be held around three months after the adoption of the constitution. He made no mention of a public referendum on the new charter, as was held in 2007 after an earlier coup against an elected government.
The army seized power May 22 in a bloodless coup, overthrowing a government elected by a majority of voters three years ago. Prayuth has said the coup was necessary to restore order after half a year of anti-government protests and political turmoil that left at least 28 people dead and the government paralysed.
But since taking power, the army appears to be carrying on the fight of the anti-government protesters by mapping out a similar agenda to rewrite the constitution and institute political reforms before elections. It has quashed most dissent, threatening or arresting critics of the coup. Prayuth said the national reform council will consider political, economic, social, environmental, judicial and other matters and give its recommendations to the constitution drafting committee.
He said the ruling junta "wants to see an election that will take place under the new constitution ... that will be free and fair, so that it can become a solid foundation for a complete Thai democracy." It wants a political system that will bring development to the country, and not conflicts as in the past, he said.
Critics charge that the army plans to make the constitution less democratic by reducing the power of elected politicians and increasing the number of appointed legislators, with the goal of allowing the traditional, conservative royalist ruling elite to retain power.
Prayuth also spoke about international criticism of the coup, particularly from the European Union and the United States, which have cut back on aid and political cooperation and called for early elections.
"Today, if we go ahead and hold a general election, it will lead to a situation that creates conflict and the country will return to the old cycle of conflict, violence, corruption by influential groups in politics, terrorism and the use of war weapons. We cannot let that happen," Gen. Prayuth said.
"I truly hope that the EU and the US will understand the situation the same way the majority of Thais do and I hope they will be satisfied with our solutions right now," he said.
Thailand has been deeply divided since 2006, when former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was toppled by a military coup after being accused of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Thaksin, a former telecommunications billionaire, remains highly popular among the poor in Thailand's north and northeast, and parties controlled by him have won every national election since 2001. The anti-government protesters, backed by the country's traditional elites, bitterly opposed him and sought to remove all traces of his political machine from politics.
Edited by Steve Wilson

March 1, 2014

This is Were We are in Gay Marriage Rights


Before 2011, only five states allowed gay marriage: Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut — although same-sex marriages were briefly performed for several months in 2008. When the California Supreme Court knocked down Proposition 22 in May 2008, the way was paved for same-sex marriage to become legal in the state the following month. But by November, same-sex marriage was once again illegal thanks to the passage of Proposition 8 — legislation that proclaimed: “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Same-sex marriage would remain illegal in the state until 2013, when the United States Supreme Court ruled on an appeal of Hollingsworth v. Perry — a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples following the passage of the 2008 ban. Proposition 8 was overturned as a result of the decision.
Now, same-sex marriages are allowed in 17 states plus the District of Columbia — the result of a string of new laws passed by state legislatures, approved by voters, or demand by a state court. As one would expect, public opinion has changed significantly over the past few years; a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in March of last year showed 58 percent of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legal, an increase from 37 percent in September 2003. When the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act in the summer of 2013, a new legal basis was established for addressing same-sex marriages.
In ruling a key part of the 1996 unconstitutional, the court made it illegal for gay couples married in states where it is legal to not receive the same federal health, taxSocial Security, and other benefits that heterosexual couples receive. That ruling gave new momentum to the political shift in gay marriage legality that was taking place at the state level — a shift that is still underway.
A total of 33 states — which mainly fall in the middle and south of the country — still limit marriage to opposite-sex couples. But recent rulings by federal judges in six states have invalidated laws that banned same-sex marriage or laws that prohibited the recognition of gay marriages performed in other states.
Texas — a bastion of modern social conservatism, where a 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions passed with 76 percent of the vote — saw the most recent ruling, after the ban was challenged in court by two same-sex couples. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton, declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage to be “state-imposed” inequality. “After careful consideration, and applying the law as it must, this Court holds that Texas’ prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’sguarantees of equal protection and due process,” wrote Garcia in a February 26 ruling. “Texas’ current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason. Accordingly, the Court finds these laws are unconstitutional and hereby grants a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from enforcing Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage.”
Of course, couples will not be able to marry immediately. Garcia’s ruling has been stayed, pending an appeal, as have rulings in several states. The state’s Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who is running for governor of Texas, stated Wednesday that he would appeal the court’s decision in the 5th Circuit appellate court in New Orleans. “The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that states have the authority to define and regulate marriage,” he said. “The Texas Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman.”
But the reasons behind Garcia’s decision echoed rulings made in other federal courts and what can be described as the growing national sentiment.
In Kentucky, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II wrote in a February 12 ruling that, “In the end, the Court concludes that Kentucky’s denial of recognition for valid same-sex marriages violates the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, even under the most deferential standard of review. Accordingly, Kentucky’s statutes and constitutional amendment that mandate this denial are unconstitutional.” However, this ruling was limited as the judge only decided the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen said in a February 13 ruling that the “court is compelled to conclude that Virginia’s Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry. Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family.” Virginia, a state with a conservative reputation, has become the first state of the old Confederacy to allow same-sex marriage, although the judge stayed her decision pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th circuit in Richmond.
Regarding marriage equality in Oklahoma, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern wrote in a January 14 decision that, “Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed. It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights.”
Utah — a conservative state that is strongly Mormon — was poised to become the 18th state to legalize gay marriage when District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby wrote on December 20: “The court hereby declares that Amendment 3 is unconstitutional because it denies the Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.” While about 1,000 couples married following the ruling, the state objected and the U.S. Supreme Courtgranted a stay of Shelby’s decision, pending an appeal.
By comparison, the ruling made in Ohio is quite narrow. “The Court’s ruling today is a limited one, and states simply that under the Constitution of the United States, Ohio must recognize valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples on Ohio death certificates, just as Ohio recognizes all other out-of-state marriages,” U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black ruled on December 23. “Ohio law, as applied to these Plaintiffs, violates the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection: that ‘No State shall make or enforce any law which shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.’”

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