Friday, June 28, 2013

Court Watching and Learning, Disappointment and Rejoicing

This past two weeks I have started many blog posting that were never finished.  Today, on the anniversary of Stonewall, I am combining some of these to reflect the emotional Rollercoaster that has been June 2013.

MONDAY, June 17:

SCOTUSblog watching today.  No decisions on the big 4 (Affirmative Action, Voter Rights Act, DOMA or Prop 8.

I do now know that Ruth Bader Ginsberg can do 20 real pushups and that her late husband's cookbook is for sale at the SCOTUS gift shop.


Again none of the biggies.  The nail-biting goes on.

This court does rule with employers, not employees when it comes to discrimination. 

MONDAY, June 24

The decision on Affirmative Action was released.  In plain English the court held that an institution must demonstrate that all race-neutral options must be exhausted before race can be considered to achieve a diverse population.  In this case the institution was the University of Texas at Austin.  So affirmative action is not dead, but must be more highly scrutinized. 

TUESDAY, June 25:

Last Monday and Thursday, yesterday and today I have been glued to SCOTUSblog.  The decision on Perry and Windsor will be issued tomorrow.

In the meantime I have learned much.


Today's huge decision regarding the Voter Rights Act struck up conversation in my home.  I said asked him, as a southerner, "Don't you think that the VRA discriminates against the south?"

"If that higher scrutiny is lifted, I guarantee you that there will be changes that will attempt to limit the access to the polls for African-Americans and other minorities."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the preeminent watchdog group 40% of White Americans voted for an African-American president, in Alabama 15%. 

My belief is that lifting any scrutiny anywhere will open the door everywhere.  We saw last year that the lines were not just in the south.  However, I have never had to wait in a line to vote in my semi-rural polling place. Perhaps congress should make sure that polling places are distributed by population.  They certainly will never have the gumption to tinker with a formula.

All-in-all this is a troubling decision. There are many demonstrable voter repression actions that have been taken and are being proposed that will not be scrutinized.  States with voter ID bills pending are now given the green light.  The only ID needed here is my signature.


A TV commentator just referrred to the "usual 5-4" split.  That's a very real thing.  Although it is not always what happens, it happens often, especially in issues regarding a liberal/conservative ideology.  Whether you are a fan of the 5 or the 4 you should be disturbed by this.  This is court. It's only real job is to determine whether justice is being served.  As in the case of the VRA, congress has affirmed and reaffirmed this by huge majorities.  It's purpose is to assure that rights are not limited, that voting, the very basis of our democracy/republic is protected against

Justice Kennedy reads his opinion - Windsor v US

Today found Kyle and I hunched together watching SCOTUSblog scroll.

When the DOMA decision was released, Kyle cried and I was stunned.  This really was the absolute best decision that we could have hoped for from this conservative court.  DOMA is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.   We never had any doubt that was the case, but the decisions on the VRA and Affirmative action gave us some moments of real doubt as to what SCOTUS would do.  Another 5-4 decision, but this time in our favor.  Justice Kennedy has written 2 previous pro-gay decisions and now he has written 3.

Although we hoped that the court would declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional as well. It avoided this by returning it to the lower courts that already ruled that it was, but by denying standing to the appellants.  This is a cowardly way out, because if DOMA is unconstitutional then certainly so is Prop 8.  However the effect will be to allow marriage to resume rather quickly in California.  The opponents to same sex marriage will undoubtedly raise a ruckus, but the courts to which they would appeal have already ruled against them and the State of California refused to support their appeal because they agreed with the decisions of the court.

It is certainly possible that another proposition could be put forward, but polls show it would not pass.

So it's win-win for gay rights at the Supreme Court and we are very, very happy!

There is still a pall.  These decisions do not affect those in states where same-sex marriage is not legal, they do not affect any state but California.  There is still a section in DOMA that was not stuck down saying that no state may be forced to accept the same-sex marriages solemnized in another state.  This is clearly in conflict with "full faith and credit" that specifcally says that marriages in one state are recognized in another.  There will be more litigation.

As Dr. King has said, "The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice."


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