Thursday, August 27, 2015

Marry The Men Today

Via TPM:

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis objects to issuing same-sex marriage licenses for religious reasons. She stopped issuing marriage licenses the day after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned state bans on same-sex marriage.

Two gay couples and two straight couples sued her. A U.S. district judge ordered Davis to issue the marriage licenses, but later delayed his order so that Davis could have time to appeal to the 6th circuit. Wednesday, the appeals court denied Davis’ request for a stay.

An attorney for Davis said he was disappointed in the ruling and that Davis could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. He said he did not know how Davis would react to the ruling.

Ms. Davis’s feelings about the ruling are unknown at the moment, but another clerk, Casey Davis (no relation), is choosing this to be the hill to die on.  Via Right Wing Watch:

On Monday, Casey County Clerk Casey Davis (no relation) appeared on Huntington, West Virginia’s “The Tom Roten Morning Show” to discuss how he similarly plans to defy the courts if ordered to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples … even to the point of death.

[…]

An emotional Davis went on to claim that he may lose his life in defiance of marriage equality: “Our law says ‘one man and one woman’ and that is what I held my hand up and took an oath to and that is what I expected. If it takes it, I will go to jail over — if it takes my life, I will die for because I believe I owe that to the people that fought so I can have the freedom that I have, I owe that to them today, and you do, we all do. They fought and died so we could have this freedom and I’m going to fight and die for my kids and your kids can keep it.”

I have another idea: quit your job and become an itinerant preacher. You’ll be able to carry on being a sniveling Jesus-freak and the taxpayers won’t have to foot the bill for your bigotry.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Connecticut Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional

This is good news.

Connecticut’s highest court ruled on Thursday that the state’s death penalty law was unconstitutional, blocking the state from executing the 11 inmates who are currently on death row.

The state passed a law in 2012 that barred the execution of inmates convicted of crimes that were committed on or after the date the law was enacted, but permitted the execution of inmates who committed earlier crimes. Those inmates included Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, who were given death sentences for killing a woman and her two daughters during a home invasion in 2007 in Cheshire.

But the State Supreme Court said the death penalty, as it stands under the current law, constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.”

I’ve heard all the pro-death penalty arguments — often from people who call themselves “pro-life” on other issues — and yet it still comes down to the fact that state-sanctioned killing is not justice but vengeance.  We’re better than that.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

No Exceptions (Good)

Via Cleveland.com:

Ohio judges who perform civil marriages may not refuse to conduct a ceremony for a gay couple, nor may they refuse to do all marriages based on personal beliefs opposing gay marriage, the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board for Professional Conduct said.

The ruling follows the refusal by a judge in Toledo to conduct a same-sex ceremony for a couple in July, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was a right in all states. Toledo Municipal Judge C. Allen McConnell said in a written statement he was following his personal and Christian beliefs.

But the professional conduct board, in an advisory opinion issued Friday and announced Monday, said refusing to perform the ceremony on that basis amounts to a violation of a judge’s oath of office.

“The oath represents the judge’s solemn and personal vow that he or she will impartially perform all duties incumbent on the office and do so without regard to the status or class of persons or parties who come before the court,” the board opinion states. “The oath is a reflection of the self-evident principle that the personal, moral, and religious beliefs of a judicial officer should never factor into the performance of any judicial duty.”

Not a tough call, your honors.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Short Takes

Three Spanish reporters missing in Syria.

Iran’s parliament put off voting on the nuclear deal for 80 days.

Sweet Sixteen: Ohio Gov. John Kasich joins the GOP field.

Part of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s sentence for corruption is vacated.

Check your mailbox: Citibank is going to pay credit card holders $700 million for ripping them off.

R.I.P. Theodore Bikel, 91, actor, singer, humanitarian; E.L. Doctorow, 84, author of Ragtime and Billy Bathgate.

The Tigers lost to the Mariners 11-9.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Short Takes

Gone Quiet — Silence indicates that Iran nuclear negotiators are close to a deal.

Mexican authorities are searching frantically for the escaped drug lord.

New York offers Eric Garner’s family $5.9 million to settle case.

President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 non-violent offenders.

The Pentagon is finalizing plans to lift the ban on transgender soldiers.

Tropical Update: TS Claudette forms out in the Atlantic; heads to sea.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

There Goes the Judge

I think the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct will be looking into this situation.

Toledo Municipal Judge Allen McConnell, who was in the midst of a three-week stint performing civil ceremonies, refused to marry Carolyn Wilson and her partner on Monday.

“I declined to marry a non-traditional couple during my duties assignment,” McConnell said in a statement. “The declination was based upon my personal and Christian beliefs established over many years. I apologize to the couple for the delay they experienced and wish them the best.”

The judge also said he’s asked the Ohio Supreme Court whether he can opt out of the rotation to avoid violating his religious beliefs.

A court administrator told Reuters that Wilson and her partner’s wedding was the first same-sex ceremony the court had been asked to perform. The couple was married by another judge after McConnell refused.

I understand what he’s saying, but when you take an oath to uphold the laws and the Constitution, you don’t get to pick and choose.  You’re not a priest or a rabbi being forced to violate your faith; you’re an officer of the court and you do what the law says or get another job.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Short Takes

Germany is keeping the pressure on Greece.

President Obama says we will battle ISIS on two fronts: militarily  and ideologically.

Many non-violent drug offense prisoners could be freed by the president.

South Carolina Senate votes to take down Confederate flag.

Scientists excited about possible AIDS vaccine.

R.I.P. Jerry Weintraub, 77, Hollywood producer.

The Tigers beat the Mariners 12-5.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Good For Nebraska

Via NBC:

Nebraska became the first conservative state in more than 40 years to abolish the death penalty on Wednesday when lawmakers boldly voted 30-19 to override the governor’s veto.

There are 10 inmates on Nebraska’s death row — the 11th died this week — but the state has not executed anyone since 1997 and only recently ordered the drugs necessary to carry out a lethal injection. It’s the 19th state to abolish capital punishment.

Lawmakers across the political spectrum came together to pass a repeal bill three times. Gov. Pete Ricketts, a first-term Republican, then vetoed the legislation on Tuesday. Thirty senators were needed to override him.

More and more states are finding it harder to execute people.  Drug companies won’t sell them the cocktails for the lethal injections, court challenges drag out the appeals to the point that it’s a huge drain on the taxpayers, and when you get right down to it, capital punishment isn’t justice; it’s vengeance.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Short Takes

Iraqi forces will try to re-take Ramadi.

Texas, Oklahoma and the Plains can’t catch a weather break.

The Nebraska Senate will try to override the veto of the death penalty repeal.

Cleveland and the DOJ have reached a settlement on their policing.

One person/one vote will be tested in a case before the Supreme Court next fall.

The Tigers beat the A’s 1-0.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Short Takes

California clean-up crews are rushing to clean up an oil spill north of Santa Barbara.

The Nebraska legislature voted to abolish the death penalty.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) goes Jimmy Stewart over the USA PATRIOT Act.

Turns out Osama bin Laden read Bob Woodward.

Israel rescinded their segregated-buses-for-Palestinians plan.

The Tigers beat the Brewers 5-2.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Court To NSA: You Can’t Do That

A federal court has ruled that bulk collection of phone data by the N.S.A. is illegal.

In a 97-page ruling, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a provision of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, known as Section 215, cannot be legitimately interpreted to allow the bulk collection of domestic calling records.

The provision of the act used to justify the bulk data program is to expire June 1, and the ruling is certain to increase tension that has been building in Congress.

Good.  I’ve never been either that ego-centric or paranoid that I worry if the N.S.A. is listening in on my phone calls or collecting the data from them; lately all they would see is a bunch of calls from “UNKNOWN CALLER” or “PHONE CALL” that call during the day and no one’s there.  It just seems like an incredible waste of time and money to gather all that data with the hope of finding something nefarious.  And if a terrorist is stupid enough to pick up the phone and plot something that tips off the N.S.A. — “Hey, let’s go toss a Molotov cocktail or two” — chances are they’re too dumb to pull off anything other than trip over the cat and blow themselves up.

The USA PATRIOT Act is a dubious piece of legislation passed in the panic-stricken days after September 11, 2001.  No good laws are passed when the ruins are still smoldering.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Short Takes

Unimaginable: The death toll from the earthquake in Nepal passes 4,000.

Protests in Baltimore turned violent Monday afternoon.

A second police official in Tulsa, Oklahoma has resigned over the accidental shooting of a black man by a reserve cop.

Loretta Lynch was sworn in as the Attorney General.

The Tigers beat the Twins 5-4.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Short Takes

Standoff in the Gulf between the U.S. and Iran continues.

Saudi Arabia is ending its airstrikes in Yemen.

Over 850 reported dead in the Mediterranean after immigrant-smuggling ship capsizes.

The Senate will finally get to vote on Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General.

A real Monkey Trial: Chimpanzees are granted the right to sue for unlawful imprisonment.

The Tigers lost to the Yankees 5-2.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tough Sell

I’m sure there’s a joke out there about how easy it is to get a lawyer to represent even the most heinous or ridiculous client as long as there’s a chance of a retainer or billable hours; as one of my lawyer friends says, “They’re innocent until indigent.”  But what about taking up the side of a case that has a high profile — say going before the Supreme Court — and is on the unpopular side of a social issue?

Every criminal defendant is entitled to a lawyer who will defend him or her to the best of their ability.  Not so with civil cases, and where the side of history is definitely moving in one direction, it’s getting increasingly hard to find prominent attorneys who will defend the other side.  According to Adam Liptak at the New York Times, that’s what’s happening with marriage equality.

Leading law firms are willing to represent tobacco companies accused of lying about their deadly products, factories that spew pollution, and corporations said to be complicit in torture and murder abroad. But standing up for traditional marriage has turned out to be too much for the elite bar. The arguments have been left to members of lower-profile firms.

In dozens of interviews, lawyers and law professors said the imbalance in legal firepower in the same-sex marriage cases resulted from a conviction among many lawyers that opposition to such unions is bigotry akin to racism. But there were economic calculations, too. Law firms that defend traditional marriage may lose clients and find themselves at a disadvantage in hiring new lawyers.

Conservatives are claiming that attorneys who are anti-gay marriage are being “bullied into silence.”  In reality, the fact is that a good attorney is going to have a rather difficult time coming up with an argument for keeping marriage bans in place that do not rely on Scriptural imprecations — not something that will go over very well in a secular court system — or by invoking some pretzel-logic that states that the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause doesn’t apply to gay people.  (Several weeks ago I asked a prominent defense attorney to come up with a reason for denying gay couples the right to marry.  His reply was that the way he would go would be to base it on states’ rights, but he also admitted that that line of reasoning had lost its appeal after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.)

I also think the attorneys who are shying away from defending anti-gay marriage laws are well aware that they are arguing for the wrong side both in terms of civil rights and history.  And even if they should win, they will still go on the record as being the lawyer for the side that stood in the way of our inevitable movement towards full equality.  That’s probably not something you want to have on your c.v.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Short Takes

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev found guilty on all counts in Boston Marathon bombing.

The police officer who shot and killed Walter Scott in Charleston, S.C. has been fired and charged with murder.

An Afghan soldier opened fire at a group of U.S. troops in the city of Jalalabad

Indictments near in George Washington Bridge scandal.

The Tigers shut out the Twins 11-0.  The Perfect Season continues.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Null Set

If Mike Huckabee really wants to be president, he needs to learn the basics of how our government works.

“If the courts make a decision, I hear governors and even some aspirants to the presidency say well, that’s settled, and it’s the law of the land,” he said. “No, it isn’t the law of the land. Constitutionally, the courts cannot make a law. They can interpret one. And then the legislature has to create enabling legislation, and the executive has to sign it, and has to enforce it.”

According to Huckabee, the legislative branch would need to draw up legislation to legalize same sex marriage.

“This idea that a judge makes a ruling on Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning same sex marriage licenses are being given out, that’s utter nonsense, because there’s not been any agreement with the other two branches of government,” he said.

He’s right in that the courts cannot make a law.  They can, however, rule on whether or not a law is constitutional, and if it is not, they can invalidate it.  The law may still be on the books — I am pretty sure that there are states in the South that still have Jim Crow laws enshrined — but the court ruling makes them null and void.  That’s why we have courts like the Supreme Court, whose main job is to interpret the Constitution.

If the Supreme Court rules that various state laws and constitutional amendments that ban same-sex marriage violate the United States Constitution, the laws become unenforceable.  The states do not have to repeal them, but the folks who issue marriage licenses don’t have to obey it.

Funny, I didn’t hear Mr. Huckabee complaining about “judicial supremacy” when the Hobby Lobby or Citizens United ruling came down.