Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Marriage Equality' Category

On LA Top Bench, Disagreement Voiced With U.S. Supreme Court

louisiana-quarterWhen 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.

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TX Legislator Wants Impeachment of 5 U.S. Supreme Court Justices

Rep. Bell

Rep. Bell

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.”

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From Foes to Friends: Red Wing and Vander Plaats

Iowa’s Bob Vander Plaats, President and Chief Executive Director of The Family Leader and Donna Red Wing, Executive Director of One Iowa have buried the hatchet, reports  The Washington Post.

Red Wing and Vander Plaats found themselves on opposite sides of a divisive debate over the courts and marriage equality when the latter “led a successful campaign to remove three state judges responsible for the 2009 Iowa gay marriage ruling,” according to the Post.  Red Wing, who is an advocate for LGBT rights, had called him “bigoted” and “cruel,” while he had called her marriage “unnatural.”

But following the death of a good friend, Red Wing promised to “try to honor that friend by making peace with her biggest nemesis. So she asked Vander Plaats to coffee,” noted the Post. “They agreed to coffee again. Then again.”

After SCOTUS’s same sex marriage decision, the Post reports, the two were “crossing paths between dueling interviews at a local TV station studio, they locked eyes. And then they hugged.” They also appeared together at a lunch organized by a local civil group, where they joked together and talked to the audience about trying to understand each other’s different views.

“I actually like Bob Vander Plaats,” Red Wing said at the lunch. “I love Donna,” Vander Plaats responded.


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U.S. Judge Issues Order on Marriage Licenses in Alabama

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade of Mobile, Al. ordered on Wednesday that probate judges who issue marriage licenses must issue them for all couples, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

Judge Granade had ruled earlier (see Gavel Grab) that same-sex couples had a right to wed in the state, but she held off implementing the ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court took a stand. It did so last week, declaring a constitutional right for same-sex couples to wed.

Meanwhile, according to The Advocate and also Birmingham Business Journal, a petition at the website for Chief Justice Moore’s impeachment has received more than 16,000 signatures. The petition contends the jurist should be removed “for his inability to perform his duties with impartiality.” The Advocate’s article was headlined, “He Went There: Antigay Judge Roy Moore Compares Marriage Equality to Holocaust.”

To learn about Chief Justice Moore’s opinions about same-sex marriage, read Gavel Grab.


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Critics Condemn ‘Imperial Court,’ Suggest Court-Stripping Amendment

Everyone knew that when the Supreme Court ruled on marriage equality, reaction would be divided, perhaps fiercely so. That was indeed the case when political leaders, candidates, and others began responding to the high court’s ruling on Friday that legalizes marriage for same-sex couples (see Gavel Grab).

GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee pledged not to “acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch,” according to The Hill. “The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do — redefine marriage,” he said. “We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.”

Another Republican candidate, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, warned that the 5-4 court  decision will “pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision.” He added, “The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states’ rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution.” Read more

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High Court Declares Right to Wed for Same-Sex Couples

635692961325633019-GTY-471417684Making history, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Friday that same-sex couples nationwide have a constitutional right to marry. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion.

The Washington Post reported, “The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.”

The New York Times said, “As in earlier civil rights cases, the Supreme Court had moved cautiously and methodically, laying careful judicial groundwork for a transformative decision.” Read more

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Maddow: ‘As Goes the Next President, So Goes the Court’

washington-supreme-court-building-washington-d-c-dc169With blockbuster cases still to be decided this month, the Supreme Court is in the spotlight. In The Washington Post, Rachel Maddow suggests that spotlight ought to continue into the 2016 presidential election because of the court’s role today, and the next president’s potential to shape the court:

“[W] the Supreme Court basking in center-stage glory (or ignominy), poised to potentially take health coverage away from millions of families, to issue a sweeping civil rights rebuke or advance and to decide the fate of the legally and logistically beleaguered system of lethal injection, it would be naive to think that in this election the Supreme Court will be only an elite political concern.

“Watch the debates this year. Choose your candidates wisely. When the justices rule on all of the huge cases to be decided this month, think about what kind of court majorities you want, for the rest of your life. As goes the next president, so goes the court.”

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Essay: On Marriage, Elected Judges Showing ‘Fear of Politics’?

Is there a difference between how state judges who are elected, and those who are appointed, address bans against marriage for same-sex couples? A Los Angeles Times op-ed by Billy Corriher of the Center for American Progress and Eric Lesh of Lambda Legal says there is a difference.

State high courts in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and New Jersey have issued decisions in favor of marriage equality, as have judges in Hawaii and California, although ballot measures later overruled those judges’ rulings, the authors said. All of these judges were appointed, and, the authors added, “Like federal judges with life tenure, they felt at liberty to side with equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, even if in so doing they were siding against the majority.”

Elected judges in such states as Arkansas and Texas “have lagged behind for years, perhaps because they feel pressure to rule based on popular sentiment,” the authors said, and the justices in those states “seem to be avoiding a political controversy by delaying their rulings.” And elected justices in Alabama voted to defy a federal court order telling probate judges that same-sex couples have a right to marry. The authors concluded, with an eye on an ultimate ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court: Read more

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Opinion: Ginsburg Within Rights to Officiate at Same-Sex Weddings

RespondingA general view of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington to remarks by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore about marriage equality, the U.S. Supreme Court, and impeachment (see Gavel Grab), ThinkProgress blog has published a lengthy reply.

It makes no sense to talk of impeaching U.S. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because she officiated at the marriages of same-sex couples, said the liberal blog, explaining as follows:

“The same-sex weddings Ginsburg has officiated were all conducted in Washington, DC, where it was legal for the couples to marry. Ginsburg was certainly correct that the Constitution vests her with judicial power, and DC law allows any ‘judge or retired judge of any court of record’ to officiate a marriage ceremony. Ginsburg was simply performing one of her official duties, administering the law as befits her constitutional title. Furthermore, she made no public comment on whether the couples were entitled to those marriages under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, the actual question at stake in the same-sex marriage cases.”

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Alabama’s Moore Floats Idea of Impeaching Some U.S. Justices

set-5a-color-roy-moore-chief-justice-14825913jpg-df54fe1459ae944bIn a talk with a conservative host, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore floated the idea of Congress launching impeachment proceedings if U.S. Supreme Court justices weighing a marriage equality decision “disobey” the U.S. Constitution.

The interview with Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins was posted by Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way. Chief Justice Moore said that U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan had performed marriage rites for same-sex couples. He went on to quote from a news article reporting that when Justice Ginsburg did so recently, she said she was doing so by powers vested in her by the U.S. Constitution.

Chief Justice Moore said, “She is doing it in the face of plain evidence that she is violating the ethical rules set for federal judges.” Justice Ginsburg was commenting on the issue that is before the court in a pending case, he said. He also registered his own view that the U.S. Constitution does not mention marriage. When asked by Perkins if Congress has a responsibility to act, Chief Justice Moore said yes.

“If Congress is going to let these justices disobey the Constitution they are sworn to uphold, then Congress has a check and a balance. It’s called impeachment,” he said. Huffington Post reported, “Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Wants Ruth Bader Ginsburg Impeached.” Read more

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