Feb 152016
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivers his keynote address at Utah State University's conference called "Freedom and the Rule of Law" on September 15, 2008 in Logan. Photo: Kristin Murphy.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivers his keynote address at Utah State University’s conference called “Freedom and the Rule of Law” on September 15, 2008 in Logan. Photo: Kristin Murphy.

So, by now everyone knows that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died over the weekend. As is usual, everyone is rushing to the airwaves to talk about what a nice and brilliant person he was. Of course I don’t know him personally, but certainly his public personae were not so nice, and I don’t think his legal reasoning, considered by many to be smart and original (pun intended), was all that brilliant. It was merely partisan and theocratic.

A friend texted me the news, and about my third text back to her was, it’ll be just a matter of time before Obama is accused of killing, and it took no time at all for Alex Jones to get the ball rolling. Let’s be clear; the guy was at a hunting ranch/resort in Texas when he died. We have only one government official that has the modus operandi (MO) of trying to take someone out in those circumstances, and I’m not aware of Dick Cheney being seen in public during the time this could have occurred…I’m just saying.

Seriously, Scalia was 79 years old, and while the average age of death is getting higher, plenty of 79 year olds die each year of natural causes. Scalia was overweight, and my understanding is he was a smoker. The guy just died. Continue reading »

An Open Letter to Conservative SCOTUS Justices

 Courts, Featured, Gay Issues, Politics, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on An Open Letter to Conservative SCOTUS Justices
May 052015
This entry is part 5 of 35 in the series Gay Marriage

Yes, this is a bit behind, but I had to make comments about some of the discussion points put forward by some of the conservative Justices of the Supreme Court during oral arguments on the marriage equality cases.

Finding a Right in the Constitution

 Constitution, Featured, Gay Issues, Politics, Society  Comments Off on Finding a Right in the Constitution
Jul 022014

An image of the U.S. Constitution and gavelYou’re likely aware that a number of state laws and constitutional amendments limiting the right so LGBT people to marry, have recently been found to be unconstitutional. The anti-equality pundits then issue their (now pretty standard) press releases denouncing the ruling, and explaining how the judge “found” a non-existent “right to gay marriage” in the U.S. Constitution. Today, on NRP’s Fresh Air program, host Terry Gross  kept referring the Supreme Court “finding a right” to marriage in the Constitution. I’m here to theorize that one does NOT go to the Constitution to find a right.

This is a topic I’ve had on my mind for some time, and today’s interview with Adam Liptak by Terry Gross (who I am starting to like less and less for many reasons) finally pushed me to write this short piece. Gross was asking about whether the Supreme Court would take up the gay marriage issue next year, and kept wondering if they would “find a right to gay marriage in the Constitution.” Let me put in the standard disclaimer…I’m not a lawyer; I’m not a Judge; I’m not a Constitutional Scholar; I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn last night; but I did take Junior High Civics. Continue reading »

So Stupid It Hurts-Blaming the Gays

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Apr 022013
Georgia COP Chairwoman Sue Everhart

Georgia COP Chairwoman Sue Everhart

Georgia’s reigning Ms Helmet Hair and GOP Chairwoman, Sue Everhart, called it correctly when she recently told the Marietta Daily Journal, “Lord, I’m going to get in trouble over this, but it is not natural for two women or two men to be married.” She wasn’t kidding, because her big concern surrounding the possibility the Supreme Court might find the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional seemed to be less about how icky she finds gay people, and more about the possibility of…gasp…marriage fraud.

According to this poor deranged woman:

“You may be as straight as an arrow, and you may have a friend that is as straight as an arrow. Say you had a great job with the government where you had this wonderful health plan. I mean, what would prohibit you from saying that you’re gay, and y’all get married and still live as separate, but you get all the benefits? I just see so much abuse in this it’s unreal. I believe a husband and a wife should be a man and a woman, the benefits should be for a man and a woman. There is no way that this is about equality. To me, it’s all about a free ride.”

So, let’s dissemble a bit here if I may. According to Everhart, there are never any sham straight-marriages for reasons of immigration status or even to get benefits, but two straight men would quickly get married to share benefits if DOMA is overturned. Not only that, it would proliferate. Everhart certainly has an elevated opinion of how great gay and lesbian marriages are.

I’ve worked at the same company of about 350 people for over 13 years now. We did have one case of someone committing fraud related to the relationship by claiming to be married for the purposes of  benefits, and guess what Sue, it was a straight couple.

And of course, no international incident, act of terrorism, or natural disaster can go un-blamed on we gayez. Frank Luter, President of the Southern Baptist Convention (that bastion of Christ-like love and acceptance), has decided that gay marriage is the reason North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is ramping up his anti-American rhetoric. Continue reading »

GOP Hypocrisy and The Sotomayor Nomination

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May 292009

I pointed out in a post on May 8 that the GOP was already gearing up for a smear campaign on Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, whoever it turned out to be. Well, the hypocrites have certainly rolled out of the woodwork to condemn Judge Sotomayor. Let’s take a look, shall we?

court_rustic2_1.jpgThe leader of the Republicans, Rush Limbaugh claims she should be stopped because, “She is a horrible pick, she is the antithesis of a judge by her own admission and in her own words. She has been overturned 80 percent by the Supreme Court, she may as well be on the Ninth Circus Court of Appeals given all the time she’s overturned.” Let’s get right to this reversal thing. Out of nearly 300 decisions, she’s had 6 reviewed by the Supreme Court, and been reversed 3 times…That’s 50%, but then Rush is using that Republican math I guess.

The average reversal rate is 75%. Let’s remember, the SCOTUS reviews cases in which it thinks there may have been an error. So I would think the reversal rate would be on the high side. The issue is how many cases reached the SCOTUS.

Rush goes on to say, “So she’s not the brain that they’re portraying her to be, she’s not a constitutional jurist. She is an affirmative action case extraordinaire and she has put down white men in favor of Latina women. She has claimed that the court is all about making policy.”

Well, first, I’ll take a smart Latina over old white men any day. Let’s see what Rush and the other old white men have brought us:

  • A stolen Presidential Election
  • The Presidency of George W. Bush
  • Two simultaneous wars, one of which we entered on false terms
  • Government sponsored torture
  • The erosion of our Constitutional protections
  • The health insurance industry
  • Jim Crowe laws
  • The Wall Street debacle
  • The economic meltdown

And the hits keep on coming. So, I think it’s about time we give someone else a shot. But of course you can’t base a SCOTUS nomination on just that. So let’s take a look at the context of the comment on which they are relying to make their claim that she is a racist. Here’s what Media Matters has on it:

“Contrary to Kelly and Greenburg’s claims, Sotomayor did not say or suggest that Latina or Latino judges are “better” than white male judges, but was instead talking specifically about “race and sex discrimination cases.” From Sotomayor’s speech delivered at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and published in 2002 in the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal:”

And now Orrin Hatch has weighed in opposing Judge Sotomayor. Never mind that he voted to confirm her for the Court of Appeals (and, oh by the way, it was George H. W. Bush who nominated her for appeals court). Hatch has his nickers all in a wad over a comment where they claim she said that Judges make policy. The statement on which they are relying is:

“The saw is that if you’re going into academia, you’re going to teach, or as Judge Lucero just said, public interest law, all of the legal defense funds out there, they’re looking for people with court of appeals experience, because it is — court of appeals is where policy is made.”

It was made as part of panel discussion at Duke University, but let’s get, as Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.” You see Sotomayor continues:

“And I know — and I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law, I know. OK, I know. I’m not promoting it, and I’m not advocating it, I’m — you know. OK. Having said that, the court of appeals is where, before the Supreme Court makes the final decision, the law is percolating –”  Continue reading »

Republicans Oppose Obama's SCOTUS Nominee

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May 082009

The ink is barely dry on Justice David Souter’s letter of resignation from the Supreme Court, and the wingnuts in Rush Limbaugh’s Republican party are already complaining about Obama’s nominee for his replacement. The talking points are all so similar, it’s clear the effort is coordinated.

  • One Senate Republican says the nominee is “far to the left.”
  • A conservative group says the nominee is, “A hard-left judicial activist.”
  • Another Republican Senator warned: “The nominee better remember that judges have to “subordinate themselves to the law.”
  • Jeff Sessions, just elected the Republicans ranking member on the Judiciary committee, magnanimously allowed that the nominee could be a Democrat, but went on to say, “They can be liberals. As long as they have a deep commitment to the law and recognize that when they put on the robe, that they go beyond politics and they’re required to subordinate themselves to the law as written.”

Now Sen. Sessions was once nominated for a federal judgeship himself. He didn’t make it for a number of reasons. One of the reasons had to do with comments Sessions made while serving as a U. S. Attorney. According to people in the office Session said he, “used to think they [the Klan] were OK” until he found out some of them were “pot smokers.”

Sessions had previously demanded an up-or-down vote on Alito’s Supreme Court nomination. We’ll see if he insists on it for Obama’s nominee.

So, with all the huff and blow going on now, I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when the President actually sends up a nominee. God help us all.

Election Day 2008

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Nov 042008

Last week with work was a real bear, and I’m traveling for work this week, so expect posting to be lite. Hopefully there won’t be that much news, especially election news, to post about. I did want to make note of a few things that have been going on.

What an incredibly sad note that Obama’s Grandmother died yesterday. Having lost my grandmothers, I know how much that can hurt, but the timing could not have been worse.

I voted by absentee about two weeks ago. I started this in 2004 when the Florida touch screen machines were being used. I thought my paper ballot might have a better chance of being accurately counted. We requested an absentee ballot for Lay’s mother, which came and went without a hitch. Lay’s father didn’t get naturalized until just after the 2004 election, so this was his first time voting, and it was clear this was very important to him.

We went Saturday to early vote, and the line was over two blocks long in downtown St. Pete. I found out that you could go by the election office Monday and pickup an absentee ballot, complete it at home, and then drop it back at the elections office Tuesday, so Lay took him to do that yesterday. The wait was only about 40 minutes. Like Lay, his dad is not a patient guy, but had no problem waiting the 40 minutes.

When I took him Saturday, his 11 year old grandson went along, and asked who he was voting for. When he said McCain, Vincient launched into a rather lengthy discourse talking about taxes and the war trying to convince his granddad to vote for Obama. I was quite surprised.

I had seperate discussions with two friends yesterday about the election outcome. The specter of Court involvement in the election came up in both conversation. My main wish is for Obama to win with large enough margin so as to make court challenges a moot point. But Democrats have a knack for finding the most creative ways to lose elections, and the Republicans have turned election theft into an art. The cynical part of me sees this before the Supreme Court again. The practical part of me prays the court would not be so stupid as to decide another election. I could seriously see armed insurrection if that happened. I can’t imagine how the public might respond to having another election stolen from them, but I put nothing past the Republicans.

Speaking of dirty Republican politics, here in North Carolina, Washington, D.C. resident and North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Doyle is in a hot contest with a Democrat. Seems she got so desperate, she put out an ad trying to tie her opponent to some “godless fundraisers.” At the end of the ad, she had a photo of her challenger, with a female voice similar to her opponent’s scream “There is no God.” It was maybe the most ridiculous ad I think I’ve ever seen. As bad as some of the McCain ads have been, this ad by Liddy Dole took the election down to a whole new level. I hope she’s kicked out.

Polls which opened early this morning reported lines of people waiting at the doors for them to open. North Carolina had more early voteras than the total vote in 04, so it’s going to be a big turnout. Let’s hope that all goes well.

Well, I’m back on the road, so hang on…it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

The Day After – Gay Marriage

 Election, Featured, Gay Issues, Politics, Society, The Courts  Comments Off on The Day After – Gay Marriage
Jun 192008

Well, it’s the day after the first full day that gay marriage was legal in California, and gosh darn it, the sun came up, birds still sang, children were born, people died, there were even some heterosexual marriages, and I still had to go to work. In other words, if God is mad about it, he sure missed that wrath thing by taking it out on the mid-west. 

We’ve seen the pictures of the two lesbians in San Francisco being one of the first couples married after being a couple for over 50 years. We’ve also seen the completely idiotic protestors. Always with the god made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Please, hire a gay man and get a little creative.

So what’s next for California? It is possible this could all be short lived as there is a ballot measure to be voted on in November that could write discrimination into their state constitution. No one is sure exactly what that would mean for the marriages already performed, as this was obviously not anticipated by the proponents of the amendment since no language was included that would officially address the current situation. For my part, I don’t see how the state could undo something that was fully legal at the time it was done. Let’s say murder was not illegal (insert O.J. joke here), so I killed someone. Then next year they make it illegal. I don’t think it would be legal or right to then charge me for a crime.

As for the amendment itself, I see two possibilities. The marriages will have been going on for nearly six months. So long as there is no major earthquake in California between now and November (for Pat Robertson to use as evidence of God’s displeasure), I think the dust will have settled, and a lot of people will see that it just really hasn’t made any difference. I mean, come on, this argument that somehow straight people will suddenly decide they’re not getting married because Adam and Steve are is just utter bullshit. That’s the best case. The concern is that straight people who are in favor of equal rights, and even gay people will relax a little too much in the afterglow, and let their guard down. Unfortunately, in California only a simple majority is required to pass a constitutional amendment…a foolish thing if you ask me.

VoteNo Does it make a difference here in Florida? There are two things to think about. The most obvious is what impact it might have on our anti-gay marriage amendment. I’ve written briefly about this before. The concern I have is that this does play into the primary argument that marriage opponents always stress…that “activist judges” will overturn the existing state laws against gay marriage, so it has to be put into the Constitution. There are a lot of places in Florida where that argument sells, and it could spark a few people to show up who might not otherwise vote.  Continue reading »

Gay Marriage in California

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May 162008

Certainly there is a reason to celebrate the ruling by the California Supreme Court on Gay Marriage. Apparently four of the seven justices recognized that gender and sexual orientation, just like race, can not be grounds to deny rights to individuals.

However, there is a downside to this. The Gay Marriage Amendment people in Florida will be banging this drum all the way through to November. The only argument they’ve been able to offer for the amendment is not that it benefits society, but that it prevents “activist judges” from overturning the state laws prohibiting gay marriage. Continue reading »

And Another Republican Sex Scandal

 Crime, Gay Issues, Politics, Society  Comments Off on And Another Republican Sex Scandal
Jan 182008

Boy, Republican hypocracy is the gift that just keeps going and going and going….

As Michael at Bloggernista says, it’s been like 20 minutes since the last Repug scandal, so time for a new one. This one is especially delicious since it involves the Texas District Attorney who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Texass to keep their sodomy law which criminalized homosexuality.

Harris County DA, Chuck Rosenthal argued before the Supreme Court:

“Even if you infer that various States acting through their legislative process have repealed sodomy laws, there is no protected right to engage in extrasexual – extramarital sexual relations, again, that can trace their roots to history or the traditions of this nation.”

So what makes this one so great. Rosenthal is married and has portrayed himself as a strong defender of family values and the sanctity of marriage, but now Chuck has a little problem. It seems he’s under investigation following the discovery of e-mails containing sexually explicit videos, racist jokes and what is described as torrid love notes to his executive secretary.

I’m beginning think these guys are so interested in controlling everyone else’s sex life, so they can clear the field for themselves.

Passengers Have Rights Too

 Constitution, Crime, Politics, Society  Comments Off on Passengers Have Rights Too
Jun 192007

The Associated Press is reporting that the Supreme Court has ruled that passengers in automobiles have the same Constitutional protections from illegal searches.

Bruce Brendlin was arrested in 2001 for drug possession after a car in which he was a passenger was stopped by Yuba City police. The State had conceded there was no basis for the original vehicle stop, so Brendlin had argued that the drug evidence should be suppressed.

Now the state made an interesting argument. They claimed the conviction should stand because the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure applied only to the driver. This would not have been a hard for even me to decide. I believe, based on junior high school civics classes, that the Constitution applies to everyone all the time (except when the “decider” says it doesn’t…enemy combatants).

Surprisingly, the court decision was unanimous. David Souter wrote for the Court:

We think that in these circumstances, any reasonable passenger would have understood the police officers to be exercising control to the point that no one in the car was free to depart without police permission. A traffic stop necessarily curtails the travel a passenger has chosen just as much as it halts the driver.

I guess Souter had watched a few episodes of “Cops.” Let someone that’s a passenger in a vehicle stopped by a police officer try to just walk away…yeah right. So finally, a little sanity from the court.