A Good Day for Gay Marriage

It’s not a total victory, but today’s two Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage are definitely gains for those supporting the right.

In the California Proposition 8 case, the Court ruled 5-4 that those seeking to defend the proposition (which bans gay marriage) lacked the standing to do so.  Since they don’t have standing either before the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, that means the district court decision allowing gay marriage was not reversed.  It was a narrow and limited victory, but a victory nonetheless.  The state of California would have had standing to defend the proposition voted for by its citizens, but it chose not to.

In the Defense of Marriage Act case, the Court acted more broadly and decisively in striking down the law, holding 5-4 that the federal government must recognize gay marriages from states where such marriages are legal.  Besides being a victory for gay marriage, it is also a victory for states’ rights.

The Scary FISA Court

From “For secretive surveillance court, rare scrutiny in wake of NSA leaks,” Peter Wallsten, Carol D. Leonnig and Alice Crites, WaPo:

“The public is getting a peek into the little-known workings of a powerful and mostly invisible government entity.  And it is seeing a court whose secret rulings have in effect created a body of law separate from the one on the books — one that gives U. S. spy agencies the authority to collect bulk information about Americans’ medical care, firearms purchases, credit card usage and other interactions with business and commerce, according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore).”

So You Don’t Have a Right to Remain Silent

In  what seems to me a bizarre ruling, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Salinas v. Texas that if you simply refuse to answer a question, that silence can be held against you at trial.  You can’t simply remain silent, you have to expressly invoke your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

It seems to me that if you refuse to answer, a prosecutor should not be able to use that against you before a judge or jury.  You shouldn’t have to say some “magic words” to receive your Fifth Amendment rights.

Supremes Strike Down Arizona Voting Law

By a 7-2 vote (Alito and Thomas dissenting), the Supreme Court struck down Arizona’s law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote in a federal election.  They held that the 1993 National Voter Registration Act trumps the more restrictive state law.  The federal law requires that you show I. D. like a driver’s license and sign a statement that you are a citizen.

The ruling will strike down similar laws in Georgia, Alabama, and Kansas.


Federal judge Edith Jones from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was considered a possible Supreme Court pick during the Bush 43 Administration.

Now a judicial misconduct complaint has been filed against her for alleging in a February speech that African-Americans and Hispanics are “predisposed to crime.”  If you’re looking for justice in her court, you’d damn well better be lily white.

Quote of the Day

“It is my belief, shared by many lawyers who have followed the legal battles over Guantanamo, that the president could have shut the prison down if he had really been determined to do so.  One reason the prisoners can’t get out is that the courts have essentially ruled that a president has an absolute right to imprison anyone he wants during a time of war — with no second-guessing from either of the other two branches of government.  by the same legal logic, a president can free any prisoner in a time of war.  Had the president taken that stance, there would undoubetdly have been a court fight.  but so what?  Aren’t some things worth fighting for?”

Joe Nocera, “Obama’s Gitmo Problem,” NYT

Ya Think?

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor now thinks maybe that whole Bush v. Gore thing (in which she voted to end the Florida recount and make Bush president) maybe wasn’t such a good idea after all:

“Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’  Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision.  It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.”

Obama Recess Appointments Unconstitutional

The Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit held today that President Obama abused his power in making recess appointments to the NLRB and cannot make such appointments when Congress is out of town for days or weeks, but only when a session of Congress has been permanently adjourned, which means at the end of the year.

It further held that he can make recess appointments only for vacancies that come up when the Senate has adjourned.

So unless the Supreme Court overturns this ruling, the whole recess appointment thing is pretty much over.

If the Senate would act on nominations as it’s supposed to, recess appointments wouldn’t be an issue.  And the ATF wouldn’t still be without a director after six years.  Isn’t that an abuse of the Senate’s power?


Gay Marriage Not LIke Murder, More Like Slavery

On the heels of all the attention to Antonin Scalia’s analogizing gay marriage to murder, GOP SC Sen. Lindsey “Butters” Graham says the correct analogy is not to murder, but to slavery.

Arguing that the Supreme Court shouldn’t rule in favor of gay marriage, Graham says it should be done only be constitutional amendment because, um, that’s how slavery was abolished.