Archive for the 'Marriage Equality' Category
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.”
There 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
Tennessee 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).
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
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.”
BULLETIN: “Clerk Who Blocked Gay Weddings Is Ordered to Jail,” the New York Times reported on Thursday afternoon.
A clerk of courts in Rowan County, Ky. who refused, based on her religious beliefs, to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples was to appear before a federal judge on Thursday. Kim Davis, the clerk, has support from some conservative groups.
That support includes The Foundation for Moral Law, founded by Roy Moore, who is now Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice. A press release by the group praised Davis, according to news reports by On Top Magazine and WSFA.
A New York Times article detailed legal support for Davis and several other public officials by Liberty Counsel, a legal nonprofit group, and it mentioned praise for Liberty Counsel from a conservative leader who was sharply critical of the courts. Read more
An Alabama probate judge is urging the state’s highest court to defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent marriage equality ruling and for Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has recused himself, to cast a vote.
Washington County Probate Judge Nick Williams also staunchly defended Moore against an ethics complaint recently lodged by the Southern Poverty Law Center (see Gavel Grab for background), saying the complaint appeared aimed at influencing the Alabama justices and that it should not have been made public, according to an Al.com article.
Moore has argued publicly against marriage for same-sex couples and in February, he ordered Alabama probate judges to ignore a federal court ruling that had declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. He has attracted widespread national media attention for his outspoken views. Read more
To seek the impeachment of five U.S. Supreme Court justices over the court’s recent landmark ruling on marriage rights for same-sex couples would “set a dangerous precedent,” Denis Montenier writes in a Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Ia.) Courier op-ed.
Montenier responds to an earlier commentary that voiced disagreement with the court’s ruling and called for impeaching the justices in the 5-4 majority. He writes:
“To initiate impeachment proceedings against the five justices who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage would not only set a dangerous precedent but would be most divisive. It would only succeed in making the American people more cynical and distrustful. While impeachment might get through the Republican-controlled House, it would be virtually impossible for the Senate to garner the two-thirds majority required for conviction, making the attempt a colossal waste of taxpayer time and money.”
When the Louisiana Supreme Court formally ended this week the state’s appeal of a lower-court decision striking down a ban on marriage for same-sex couples, some justices also denounced the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling affirming a right to such marriage.
Justice Jeanette Theriot Knoll wrote that she was “constrained to follow the rule of law,” while calling the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling “an utter travesty as is my constrained adherence to their ‘law of the land’ enacted not by the will of the American people but by five judicial activists.” And Justice Jeff Hughes, who dissented, wrote, “The most troubling prospect of same-sex marriage is the adoption by same-sex partners of a young child of the same sex.”
Matt Patterson of Equality Louisiana questioned whether the justices’ opinions could compromise cases later. “The implication of bias here is just staggering,” he said, according to The (Baton Rouge) Advocate. Other coverage included articles from Slate and The Times-Picayune.
Republican Texas state Rep. Cecil Bell, a foe of the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples, is calling on Congress to begin impeachment of five Supreme Court justices and to consider court-stripping legislation. It’s another ripple in the fallout over recent blockbuster decisions by the high court, including one that declared a Constitutional right to marriage for same-sex couples.
Bell’s “Pact for Constitutional Restoration of State Sovereignty” includes the following planks:
“United States House of Representatives Members must act to promptly begin the constitutional process of impeaching Supreme Court Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan for the bad behavior shown in acting without constitutional authority to strike down the sovereign power of the separate states and of the people of the separate states. The United States Senate must act to complete the process of impeachment.”
“US Representatives and Senators must act immediately to pass legislation to strip the ability of the United States federal judiciary to hear classes of claims where the United States federal judiciary lacks enumerated constitutional authority, thereby making certain legislative and executive actions unreviewable by the federal judiciary, those claims reserved to be reviewable by state courts.”