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Anyone who has followed me is probably quite clear that I will be voting for Hillary Clinton this fall. Am I enthralled with Mrs. Clinton? Frankly, no. However, to even hint that there is no real choice between her and Donald Trump is insanity.

In my mind, the number one reason to be voting not only for Hillary Clinton this fall, but for what ever Democrat is running for Senate in your state, is the Supreme Court.

Who was responsible for giving us a Bush presidency in 2000? The Supreme Court.
Who was responsible for the gutting of the Civil Rights Act? The current Supreme Court.
Who is responsible for Citizens United? The current Supreme Court.

Much of this has been the doing of the conservative side of the court all of whom were appointed Reagan and the Bushes. The continued effect of the four surviving Republican appointees has and will continue to linger on, long past the time of the presidents that appointed them and the Senate that approve them. So I ask each of you reading this, whom do you trust to make appointments to the Supreme Court? Consider this very carefully before you vote this fall. Bill Clinton gave us Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barack Obama gave us Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83 years old and a survivor of both pancreatic and colon cancer. Do you honestly think she's going to make it through another administration? Stephen Breyer is 79 and has been making noises for a while about wanting to retire. Anthony Kennedy the Republican on the court who is considered the 'swing vote' is past 80 himself. Meanwhile thanks to the Republicans currently serving in our Senate, Merrick Garland can't even get a hearing, let alone a vote. This is how the current Senate is treating a moderate. Mr Garland is not a liberal and he has served on the DC court of appeals for almost the past 2 decades

Our next president will have at least one vacancy to fill on the court and potentially 4. Do you wish to see Roe V. Wade overturned? DO you wish to see the marriage decision for same gender couples overturned? Do you wish to see the court take a hard swing to the right that will effect this country for the next 30 years if not beyond?
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This is taken verbatim from the Huffington Post

I just walked out of oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court and waded through a huge crowd of supporters shouting, "Equal rights under the law!" It was a whirlwind hearing, and all three lawyers faced tough questions from the justices. Here's my initial take on the justices' questions and what they might mean.

Standing

The biggest takeaway is that there was a serious focus on issues of standing and jurisdiction during today's oral arguments. Charles Cooper, representing the proponents of California's Prop 8, got in a few words before Chief Justice John Roberts steered him toward addressing whether the proponents have standing to defend Prop 8. The chief justice did the same to Prop 8 opponents Ted Olson (who said, gamely, "I was trying to avoid that") and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr.

There was substantial concern among the justices regarding how to avoid a situation where an initiative such as Prop 8 could be nullified by an administration that does not agree with the law. Cooper seemed to open the door to a very new, broad right to standing: When asked by Justice Elena Kagan if a state could assign any citizen to defend its laws, Cooper responded, "It very well might."

Olson repeatedly assured the court that a state could appoint an "officer" that would defend the law, specifically pointing to the fact that that individual would understand and be obliged to keep in mind the financial burden faced by the state. Justice Antonin Scalia was skeptical, asking whether that person would be appointed by the same administration that chose not to defend the law, but Olson reassured him that many administrations have done so in the past, even for laws that they did not agree with.

Olson, picking up on a line of thought that Chief Justice Roberts had presented to Cooper, argued that adopting the Prop 8 proponents' argument on standing would essentially allow states to dictate Article III standing; that is, they could say that any individual could represent the interests of the state even without a personalized injury. This would basically negate the whole point of Article III standing, which establishes a certain set of norms and guidelines under which cases can be brought to the federal courts.

Several times Justice Sonia Sotomayor stepped in and said something to the effect of, "Here's what all these questions are getting at, and here's the fundamental issue you need to address." On the standing question Sotomayor asked Olson point-blank who ensures that a law is defended if a state's executive decides that it won't do so. Olson stuck to his guns, saying that the proponents of a ballot measure cannot possibly fully understand a state's interests in a specific law, and that there would instead need to be some kind of appointment process where an administration that had chosen not to defend a law would delegate that task to a specific governmental individual.

During his time for argument, Solicitor General Verrilli underscored the fact that the United States had not addressed the issue of standing in its briefs and said that the federal government had "no formal position" on the issue. Nonetheless, he said that the government leans towards the plaintiffs' arguments and believes that the proponents of Prop 8 lack the particularized injury to qualify for Article III standing.

Merits: The Arguments for Prop 8

Cooper had two central points. In the first he put significant emphasis on the fact that there is an "earnest debate" over marriage equality happening across the country. Early on, Cooper asked rhetorically whether the Supreme Court should stop that debate, saying that it could only do so it if found that Prop 8 was entirely based on animus.

Cooper's second point was his usual "responsible procreation" argument, of course. Same-sex couples, Cooper contends, are not "similarly situated" (a central component to equal protection consideration) to opposite-sex couples, because only opposite-sex couples can procreate naturally. Justice Kagan pointed out that Cooper had made an argument for not including same-sex couples in the institution of marriage (because marriages between same-sex couples do not explicitly further the state's interest in responsible procreation) but asked whether he could justify a law that excludes them from the institution.

Kagan told Cooper that she couldn't find in his legal briefs any specific harms that would result from allowing same-sex couples to marry. Cooper said that this notion of specific harms is not the central legal issue in the case, circling back to his earlier argument that restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples is justifiable because it furthers a state's interest in responsible procreation.

Justice Scalia addressed gay adoption, saying that allowing marriage equality would require allowing same-sex couples to adopt. Because some states don't allow that, he said, could Cooper address any harms arising from gay adoption? If so, he implied, Prop 8 could be rationally defended. Cooper demurred. Justice Stephen Breyer then jumped in and zeroed in on California, asking how allowing marriage for gay couples in a state with same-sex adoption would affect straight couples in any way that allowing sterile couples to marry would. Justice Kagan picked up on this, asking whether a restriction on marriage based on age -- say, a prohibition on marriage for couples over 55 -- would be OK. Cooper said that marriage would still channel such couples' sexual activity in such a way that would encourage fidelity and responsible procreation. In response to this, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg pointed out that the Supreme Court has recognized a right to marry even for prison inmates with no possibility of procreating.

As always, Justice Kennedy is almost certainly going to be the swing vote; none of the other conservative justices appeared anywhere close to a ruling that would declare Prop 8 unconstitutional. Kennedy's questions on the merits were pointed and probed both sides. At one point Kennedy pointed out that the sociological evidence about families headed by same-sex couples and whether there are any effects on children is new and not conclusive, but in the very same sentence he mentioned that the case involves a specific legal injury suffered by the almost 40,000 California children living with same-sex parents.

Merits: The Arguments Against Prop 8

Addressing the merits of the case and arguing against Prop 8's constitutionality, Olson repeatedly told the court that marriage is a personal individual liberty and a fundamental right, and that procreation is not a part of that right. Prop 8, he said, excludes gay and lesbian Californians from that right.

Chief Justice Roberts jumped in early, throwing cold water on the idea that Prop 8 "excludes" gays from marriage, saying instead that marriage developed historically for reasons that gay unions do not forward (i.e., procreation).

Roberts and Olson got into a bit of a weedy debate about whether the Prop 8 case would be different if the law had been passed before the California Supreme Court extended marriage rights to same-sex couples, with Roberts saying that if the timing had been different, Olson wouldn't be arguing that Prop 8 excluded gays and lesbians from marriage. Olson reiterated his point that marriage is a fundamental right and said that while the argument in that case would be subtly different, it would still rely on the central question of whether the fundamental right to marry can be withheld.

Justice Scalia asked Olson, "When did it become unconstitutional to exclude gays from marriage?" Olson gamely responded, "When did it become unconstitutional to exclude interracial couples from marriage?" Scalia testily pressed Olson for a specific date, which Olson refused to provide.

Justice Kennedy in particular seemed very skeptical of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' narrow argument striking down Prop 8 specifically in light of California's unique history of marriage equality. He characterized that decision as one that said that a state could only go all the way to full marriage equality as opposed to only going part way and providing some rights.

Once again, Sotomayor stepped in and steered the arguments back to the central question. If marriage equality is a right, she asked Olson, would any state restrictions on marriage, such as prohibitions on incestuous and plural marriages, survive? Olson had a quick answer: Polygamy is based on conduct, while sexual orientation is based on identity. Sotomayor also asked whether there is any way that the Supreme Court could limit its ruling to California. Olson said that such a ruling would be one in which the proponents were found not to have standing.

Speaking on behalf of the federal government, Solicitor General Verrilli underscored the administration's belief that Prop 8 should be considered under heightened scrutiny, a more searching form of judicial review. California's laws, he argued, blow up the proponents' claims that the state has an interest in reserving marriage for opposite-sex couples, because California affords full rights to same-sex couples.

When pressed by the justices on whether he was calling for a nationwide right to marriage equality (and when asked how a ruling could be limited just to the eight states that currently provide civil unions or domestic partnerships), Verrilli said that the administration wants to keep the door open for different cases to arise from different states.

Significantly, there was very little discussion of the proper level of scrutiny to apply to laws that classify on the basis of sexual orientation. This could mean that the justices think that the case will be decided on the basis of standing, or, more probably, that they believe that the scrutiny discussion will be fully argued tomorrow during the consideration of the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in the United States v. Windsor case.
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Rob Portman (R-OH) came out for marriage equality last week. He was joined by two Democrats in the past 24 hours, Claire McCaskill (D-MO) yesterday and just a few minutes ago by Mark Warner (D-VA). Of note, all three of their states neither sanction marriage for same-sex couples, nor recognize marriages that happen out of state for same gender couples living within their confines.

I wish this made me more confident about the verdicts SCOTUS will reach in the months to come on Hollingsworth v. Perry (the Prop 8 appeal) and United States v. Windsor (sect 3 of DOMA). I trust Scalia, Thomas, and Alito no further than I can throw them and I'm anxious how Roberts and Kennedy will rule.

As far as we have come as a community trying to assert our civil rights, and do not get me wrong, I revel in our successes, I am tired of sitting in the back of the bus.
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Likely almost anyone reading this knows my husband and I are one of the 18,000+ couples that got married while it was legal here in California. Just as likely, y'all know just how emotionally devastating I found the Prop 8 vote in 2008.

This coming Saturday marks two years since Judge Vaughn Walker pronounced Prop 8 unconstitutional under the US Constitution. The 9th circuit of the Federal Court of Appeals has upheld Walker not once, but twice. The denial by the 9th circuit to hear the case on appeal en banc left the pro Prop 8 forces only one last option - an appeal to the US Supreme Court. That request finally came late this morning.

We should know by early October, whether SCOTUS decides to take the case or not. If not, Walker's decision stands. If they take it, it will probably be June of 2013 when a final ruling is rendered.



I'm actually hoping they don't take the appeal.

There will already be a large numbers of DOMA related cases landing on SCOTUS' doorstep this fall. In my mind, the DOMA appeals are more important for our community, as DOMA's overturn gets us recognition at the federal level. That'll mean Social Security survivor benefits, joint income tax, extension of spousal health insurance benefits, the right of surviving spouses to inherit a joint estate without inheritance tax levies, just to name a scant few. Today, yet another federal court, this one in Connecticut, found the section of DOMA that defines marriage unconstitutional. It's the 6th time that has happened

Given the bloody gridlock that is DC today, I believe it's the judicial branch that gives our community the best shot at assuring our civil rights. A decision on DOMA could easily be 6-3, if not 7-2 in our favor.
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MoveOn.org is currently petitioning state legislatures around the country in support of a new amendment to the Constitution specifying that corporations are not individuals. This may be a long shot, but the damage done to our current system by the Supreme Court's decision of January last must be remedied. By declaring that corporations are individuals with rights of free speech, the Supreme Court furthered the placing of our elected officials even deeper into the deep pockets of big business. The result will be fascism on a new scale. It has a ready helped to reshape the House and likely it is only a matter of time before the Senate follows suit.

I urge each of you reading this who're American citizens to sign the MoveOn petition & to do what I did earlier today; write directly to your own state senator and assembly person. Below is a snippet from my e-mail, to Wes Chesbro, my state assemblyman.

"The Citizens United decision will devastate our current political system, granting undue political influence to corporations. Please, do what you can as a legislator to protect our rights, so that Lincoln's words, "...a government of the people, by the people shall not perish from the earth," are not just beautiful words from a stirring speech, but our reality as Americans. As American citizens and, as voters, we need representatives to respond to the needs of their constituents, not Cargill, to mothers and fathers and not Monsanto, to the general electorate, not General Electric. If the Citizens United decision continues to stand unchecked and unchallenged, it will not be long before the will of Coca-Cola and Koch Industries bears more weight in Washington, than the will of the people of California, Kentucky and the Carolinas."

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