Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Marriage Equality' Category

A Conservative Sounds Off on GOP Attacks on Courts

washington-supreme-court-building-washington-d-c-dc169There are more conservatives calling out some Republican presidential contenders over their attacks on the courts.

In the Washington Post’s Right Turn blog, where Jennifer Rubin writes from a “conservative perspective,” she takes on candidates Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, and Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon.

Republicans “tolerate far too many crackpots,” Rubin says. “Dr. Ben Carson joins Mike Huckabee in refusing to accept that Supreme Court decisions, on gay marriage for example, are binding.” Despite Carson’s saying it’s “an open issue” whether a Supreme Court ruling is binding, that’s not at all the case and “this seriously should disqualify him from office,” she adds. The same goes for Huckabee, a constitutional “charlatan,” she says. Read more

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Huckabee Assails Ceding Power to ‘Black-Robed and Unelected Judges’

c41ba18a-8d2f-417e-9e5b-e169c8f9b384-620x372As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs how to rule on the constitutionality of state bans against marriage for same-sex couples, some Republicans candidates are attacking the courts while other potential candidates are taking a “respect the rule of law” approach.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said the following in his announcement speech, according to a Salon article that touched on different politicians’ statements:

“We are now threatening the foundation of religious liberty by criminalizing Christianity and demanding that we abandon biblical principles of natural marriage. Many of our politicians have surrendered to the false god of judicial supremacy, which would allow black-robed and unelected judges the power to make law as well as enforce it, upending the equality of our three branches of government as well as the separation of powers so very central to the Constitution. My friends, the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and they cannot overturn the laws of nature or of nature’s god.”

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Carson: Executive Branch Can Ignore Supreme Court on Marriage

Carson speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, MarylandAmong the emerging field of announced candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, the role of our courts is sparking debate.

Newly announced candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said this week that the executive branch can ignore what the Supreme Court says in its anticipated decision about marriage equality, according to Washington Blade and reports.

“First of all, we have to understand how the Constitution works, the president is required to carry out the laws of the land, the laws of the land come from the legislative branch,” Carson told Newsmax TX. “So if the legislative branch creates a law or changes a law, the executive branch has a responsibly to carry it out. It doesn’t say they have the responsibility to carry out a judicial law.” Read more

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The Face of the Marriage Equality Case Is A White Male For A Reason

marriage equalityWhile the Supreme Court prepares to decide the constitutionality of marriage equality, the optics of the case have been over looked. The Hill explains that it is no coincidence that Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the case, is a white man.

A large body of research indicates that implicit bias against people of color manifests in the criminal justice system, and LGBT youth of color are at an even greater disadvantage. This manifests in homelessness rates, suicide attempt rates, and simple lack of sympathy. One particular study out of Northwestern University concludes that white male same-sex couples are more likely to be viewed with sympathy than other demographics:

“Some study participants were shown a white male couple, others a white female couple, black male couple, or a black female couple. After reading the article, participants were asked about their support of same-sex marriage rights. The study revealed that people’s support of gay marriage varied based on what image they were shown.

Participants who were exposed to the white male couple expressed greater support for same-sex marriage, compared to those who were exposed to any of the other three images. And those photos were of the white lesbian couple, black lesbian couple, or black gay male couple. This suggests that the public face of same-sex marriage may impact people’s views on the underlying issue.”

This implicit bias is seen through other studies, particularly those focused on the criminal justice system. So, the article concludes, as lawyers play off these biases for the benefit of their client – or even a group – they may also be distracting from serious issues affecting these communities.

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States Prepare for Marriage Equality Ruling

Activists and legislators alike are preparing for the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Although the Washington Post reports both advocates and opponents of marriage equality expect the justices to declare the bans on marriages unconstitutional, many are preparing for the opposite ruling.

“The justices could specify how states should treat their ruling,” the article explains, “But the precise fallout would probably depend on the state.” Legislation would be passed on both sides of the issue, referendums would be expected, and the politics would be volatile across the country.

“It would be a mess,” said Dale Carpenter, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Minnesota, noting that marriage confers 1,100 rights and benefits at the federal level and hundreds more from the states, from filing taxes jointly to inheriting hunting licenses. “There would be great uncertainty in the aftermath of such a ruling. All kinds of possibilities we can’t even think of would arise.”

Arguments were held on April 28, and a decision is expected near the end of the term.

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Supreme Court Arguments Reveal ‘Deep Divide’ Among Justices

29SCOTUS2-master675The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on whether the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.

According to The New York Times, the justices seemed  “deeply divided” on the civil rights issue, debating both what the  right answer is and the way in which to reach that answer. Comments from the justices included:

  • Chief Justice John Roberts said that he had looked up definitions of marriage and had been unable to find one written before a dozen years ago that did not define it as between a man and a woman. “If you succeed, that definition will not be operable. You are not seeking to join the institution. You are seeking to change the institution.”

  • Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said he was concerned about changing a conception of marriage that has persisted for millennia. Later, though, he expressed qualms about excluding gay families from what he called a noble and sacred institution

  • Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. asked whether groups of four people must be allowed to marry.

  • Justice Antonin Scalia said a ruling for same-sex marriage might require some members of the clergy to perform the ceremonies, even if they violate their religious teaching.

  • Justice Stephen G. Breyer described marriage as a fundamental liberty.

  • Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan said that allowing same-sex marriage would do no harm to the marriages of opposite-sex couples.

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SCOTUS Expected to Decide Marriage Equality Once and For All

gty_gay_marriage_supreme_court_jef_130614_wgOn Tuesday the Supreme Court will hear arguments on marriage equality bans in several states. In a recent decision giving federal benefits to same-sex couples, the Court stopped short of declaring marriage equality constitutional.

According to The Hill, court watchers expect that the Court will make that ruling this term.

“If they were going to uphold state bans, they wouldn’t have let it go this far,” said Neil Siegel, a law and political science professor at Duke University Law School. “Because the court declined to get involved earlier, you have many more same-sex couples that have lawfully been able to marry, and the court allowed that. I don’t think they are going to say, just kidding, or throw the country a curve ball now.”

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Court Powers Threatened Over Marriage Equality Cases

gty_gay_marriage_supreme_court_jef_130614_wgProposed legislation by Rep. Steve King (Iowa-R) to strip federal courts of their power to rule in marriage equality cases is being called “radical” by some.

MSNBC reports that King’s “Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015” has seven Republican co-sponsors. In a press release, King said:

“This bill strips federal courts of jurisdiction to hear cases related to marriage.  The effect of the bill would prevent federal courts from hearing marriage cases, leaving the issue to the States where it properly belongs. My bill strips Article III courts of jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court of appellate jurisdiction, ‘to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, any type of marriage.'”

This type of “court stripping” by Congress has been proposed around other hot button issues in the past, including  school prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. This proposal, which would not survive a Democratic filibuster in the Senate or be signed into law by President Obama, but is yet another example of legislative attacks on the court.

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Editorial Scolds Idaho Lawmakers for Judicial Impeachment Stance

An editorial in the Idaho Press-Tribune takes Idaho legislators to task for passing a resolution urging the impeachment of federal judges who support marriage for same-sex couples.   In a sharply worded piece, Opinion Editor Phil Bridges notes that the state House resolution disregards the fundamental constitutional principle of separation of powers.  He goes on to remind lawmakers that many of them voted for a law requiring the state’s high school seniors to pass a basic civics test.

Underscoring his point, Bridges writes, “You can’t declare that a judge should be kicked out because he or she has a difference of opinion on constitutional interpretation. That would be akin to judges declaring that lawmakers should be impeached for passing ‘bad law.’”

A wave of court rulings affirming marriage rights for same-sex couples has generated increasing calls for impeachment and censure of judges in a number of states.  While some have been symbolic, as in Idaho, others could result in penalties for sitting judges if passed.  See Gavel Grab.



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Cruz Wary of ‘Illegitimate’ Court Ruling on Marriage Equality

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican presidential candidate, told an Iowa audience that if the Supreme Court legalizes marriage for same-sex couples, it would be a “fundamentally illegitimate” ruling.

And if such a ruling comes from the nation’s highest court, Cruz said he would push Congress to remove federal court jurisdiction over the issue, the Dallas Morning News reported.

You can learn more from the Justice at Stake web page about court-stripping,  the removal of specific cases, or types of cases, from a court’s jurisdiction. This prevents courts from playing their vital role in our system of checks and balances—protecting individual rights, and ensuring that other branches of government uphold the law and Constitution.

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