Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Marriage Equality' Category

Lawmaker Wants Impeachment of Two Supreme Court Justices

Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan ought to be impeached because they participated in the court’s marriage equality ruling last year after having performed marriages for same-sex couples, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said.

“We have two of them who had done same-sex marriages before they participated, they were disqualified, but they illegally participated, it’s an illegal decision, and it’s time to start impeaching judges and remove them from the Supreme Court,” he said in an interview with a Florida talk radio host, according to Right Wing Watch. It is a publication of People for the American Way. Read more

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Moore: ‘Not Defying’ U.S. Supreme Court on Marriage Equality

set-5a-color-roy-moore-chief-justice-14825913jpg-df54fe1459ae944bChief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court says that despite his recent order against probate judges issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples (see Gavel Grab), “I am not defying the United States Supreme Court.”

Moore made the assertion in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. He reasoned that the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling last year applies only to Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, and that the Alabama Supreme Court has yet to make its own decision on the effect of that ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Numerous legal experts and many activists disagree with Moore, and the newspaper headlined its article, “Gay marriage order puts spotlight again on the ‘Ayatollah of Alabama.'” A “Remove Roy Moore” rally sponsored by Equality Wiregrass and the Human Rights Campaign, was held in Montgomery, Al. on Tuesday, according to Al.com.

While previously serving as chief justice, Moore became well-known in 2003 for refusing to follow a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building. The Alabama Court of the Judiciary, a panel of judges and lawyers that monitor judicial conduct, removed him. He was re-elected in 2012.

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Alabama Chief Justice Moore: State Marriage Laws Still Rule

Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court ordered on Wednesday that probate judges shall not issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples to wed. His administrative order said that at least until his court rules on the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year, that probate judges have a “ministerial duty” not to issue the marriage licenses.

According to NPR, Moore’s order said that in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, “Confusion and uncertainty exist among the probate judges of this State as to the effect of Obergefell on the ‘existing orders.'” He continued, “I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to Alabama probate judges on the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court. That issue remains before the entire [Alabama Supreme] Court which continues to deliberate on the matter.” Read more

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Commentary: When Elected Judges Resist ‘Obergefell’

Judicial elections make it tougher for courts to protect the constitutional rights of individuals, two legal observers write in an Advocate commentary about some judges continuing to resist the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling this year.

Billy Corriher of the Center for American Progress and Eric Lesh of Lambda Legal mention recent resistance in Alabama and explain, “Politicized, big-money elections create more pressure on judges to rule in a way that pleases voters. Thirty-eight states conduct some kind of election for their supreme courts — and these races are increasingly indistinguishable from elections for the political branches. Alabama is a prime example: the state has a history of expensive, politicized judicial elections, with supreme court candidates raising more than $58 million since 1993.” The authors conclude: Read more

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Study Links Elected State Judges and Denial of Marriage Equality

Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Gay MarriageA Center for American Progress report links state judges and magistrates who are resisting the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling this year with the fact this comes in states with big-spending, highly politicized judicial elections.

“The states where judges still resist equality are also states that have experienced, or are beginning to see, highly politicized, multimillion-dollar supreme court elections that require judges to cater to public opinion,” states the  paper by Billy Corriher, director of Research for Legal Progress at CAP. The report focuses on jurisdictions in Alabama, Texas, and Kentucky that decline to give marriage licenses to all couples.

“This kind of political pressure is not a problem for judges who are appointed, not elected. For example, more than half of South Carolina voters oppose marriage equality, but judges there—who are chosen by the state legislature—offer marriage licenses to all.” Read more

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Judge Reverses Order to Remove Foster Child From Lesbian Couple

BULLETIN: The Utah judge whose ruling got attention around the country has now reversed his order to take a foster child away from a lesbian couple due to their sexual orientation, The New York Times said on Friday. 

A juvenile-justice judge in Utah, Scott Johansen, has ordered the removal of a foster child from the home of lesbian parents, saying the girl would have a better life as the child of heterosexual parents.

A front-page Washington Post article spotlighted the ruling, examined its legal and civil rights implications and said it has ignited something of a firestorm nationally.

“Although the Supreme Court affirmed the right to same-sex marriage nationally in June, many states have yet to incorporate the ruling into their policies governing parenting rights,” the Post noted. It said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, said he was “puzzled” by the judge’s ruling and he had concerns about judicial “activism.”

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Ex-Judge Pulls Back the Veil on AR Court’s Marriage Equality Ruling

stock-footage-arkansas-flag-loopThere is an unusual news report out of Arkansas, based on a former state Supreme Court justice’s interview conducted as part of an oral history project. It involves a court vote that was withheld on a white-hot political issue, concern about political influence-wielding, and a politician’s retort that the episode demonstrates the need for judicial term limits.

The Arkansasnews.com article is headlined, “Ex-Justice: Arkansas Supreme Court Voted To Strike Gay Marriage Ban, Withheld Ruling.” It is based on an oral history interview in July with former Justice Donald Corbin, posted to the court’s website. He says, according to the article, that the court did not issue its ruling on the ban on marriage for same-sex couples, “waiting instead until the U.S. Supreme Court made gay marriage legal nationwide in June.” Read more

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Tennessee Bill Aims to Defy SCOTUS on Marriage

tennessee-sealTennessee officials continue to explore avenues to defy the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down bans on marriage for same-sex couples, and now lawmakers are pushing legislation to declare the Court’s ruling unconstitutional, according to Nashville’s NewsChannel 5.

“Supporters [of the bill] said the Supreme Court’s ruling was unconstitutional and paved the way ‘for an all-out assault on the religious freedoms of Christians who disagree with it,'” the station reports, adding, “Opponents said the bill was unconstitutional.”

The move follows a Tennessee judge’s refusal to grant a divorce to a heterosexual couple, in which he argued that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling had stripped states of all authority over marriage or divorce (see Gavel Grab).

 

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Review: A New Look Back at IA Court’s Controversial ‘Varnum’ Ruling

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It’s not hard in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision this year to forget all about the drama and significance of a pioneering ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court in 2009 in Varnum v. Brien. But a new book about the case offers an engaging and timely history lesson, according to a review in The Des Moines Register.

In Varnum, the Iowa high court became the first in the nation to decide unanimously in support of marriage equality, when it ruled that a state ban on marriages for same-sex couples violated the Iowa Constitution’s equal protection clause. But the story didn’t end there. Iowa had retention (up-or-down) elections for three of the justices the next year. After an influx of special interest spending, all three were unseated in an historic election.

While the justices had “prioritized the Constitution over their careers,” they did not know in advance that “they would become lightning rods in a national backlash against equal rights,” reviewer Michael C. Simpson writes. Not only did they lose their jobs, he adds, “Some of the justices received death threats; their children were bullied at school.” Read more

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Tennessee Judge Lambastes ‘Judi-idiocracy’ From Supreme Court

Chancellor Atherton

Chancellor Atherton

Public officials, including an elected Tennessee judge, are in the news over their decisions about applying (or not) the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that found a right to marriage for same-sex couples.

Hamilton County, Tennessee Chancellor Jeffrey M. Atherton has denied a heterosexual couple’s divorce petition with an unusual legal analysis “that has made waves around the world,” according to The Washington Post. He wrote that the effect of the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling “is to preempt state courts from addressing marriage/divorce litigation altogether.” He laced sarcasm and criticism together in one spicy sentence:

“Although this Court has some vague familiarity with the governmental theories of democracy, republicanism, socialism, communism, fascism, theocracy, and even despotism, implementation of this apparently new ‘super-federal-judicial’ form of benign and benevolent government, termed ‘krytocracy’ by some and ‘judi-idiocracy’ by others, with its iron fist and limp wrist, represents quite a challenge for a state level trial court.”

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