Monday, June 29, 2015

Last Call For SCOTUSpalooza

The final cases of the term today:

Glossip v Gross, the Oklahoma lethal injection case, 5-4 with Alito writing the decision for Kennedy and the conservatives, saying that the drug midazolam, which Oklahoma uses to put death row inmates into a coma state before lethal injection, does not violate the Eighth Amendment on cruel and unusual punishment. SCOTUS ruled in a previous case that pentobarbital or sodium thiopental are no longer available for that purpose, the plaintiffs in the case argued that midazolam wasn’t as effective and the court basically rejected that argument.

Breyer and Ginsburg apparently asked for a ruling on the constitutionality of the death penalty itself, not enough votes to take that up. Blistering dissents from Sotomayor and Breyer on this one.

Arizona redistricting case, 5-4, Ginsburg’s opinion, joined by Kennedy and the liberals, holds that Arizona’s commission for redistricting created by a state referendum is valid, and that Arizona’s legislature does have standing to sue but that the case was rejected on the merits, upholding a lower court decision.

Multiple dissents by the conservative justices. California has a similar commission, and the question was if only the legislature could redistrict based on the Elections Clause of the Constitution, which says “Times, Places, and Manner of holding Elections for […] Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof.”

Michigan v EPA case, 5-4 with Scalia writing the opinion, Kennedy joining the conservatives. The EPA must take costs into account before deciding what regulations are necessary, but it is up to the agency to make that decision. However that effectively means the EPA has to justify the cost of President Obama’s EPA power plant rules, which the industry says will cost tens of billions of something ridiculous. It effectively means the power plant regulations have to be 100% rewritten. Whether or not that will happen before the end of this administration, who knows.

That’s all, folks.

A Game Of Texas Hold-Out

How long will Texas Republicans be able to get away with the tantrum phase of "resisting" a post-Obergefell America?

County clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on religious objections to gay marriage, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Sunday.

Paxton noted that clerks who refuse to issue licenses can expect to be sued, but added that “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs,” in many cases without charge.

The formal opinion did not specify what constitutes a sincerely held religious belief, noting that “the strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.”

Paxton said Friday’s “flawed” opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned bans against same-sex marriage in Texas and other states, placed religious people in conflict between following their faith and the U.S. Constitution.

“Friday, the United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist. In so doing, the court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law, but did nothing to weaken our resolve to protect religious liberty and return to democratic self-government in the face of judicial activists attempting to tell us how to live,” Paxton said.

Paxton’s opinion also noted that judges and justices of the peace can refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

“Judges and justices of the peace have no mandatory duty to conduct any wedding ceremony,” the opinion said, adding that couples cannot be refused on the basis of race, religion or national origin.

Pretty sure a federal judge will put an end this this very quickly, but again, how far will Republican bigots go with this?  Will they really start doing things like ending state-sanctioned marriage altogether?

Monday begins the backlash.  Pay attention to which states, and which GOP governors turned 2016 candidates are fighting this, especially when it comes to pretending to be moderates later on.

The Battle Yet To Come

The Obergefell v Hodges decision on Friday didn't end the battle for gay rights in America any more than Loving v Virginia ended the civil rights battle for black America, and the coming fight will be a lot harder: federal civil rights protections.

Exhilarated by the Supreme Court’sendorsement of same-sex marriage, gay rights leaders have turned their sights to what they see as the next big battle: obtaining federal, state and local legal protections in employment, housing, commerce and other arenas, just like those barring discrimination based on race, religion, sex and national origin.

The proposals pit advocates against many of the same religious conservatives who opposed legalizing same-sex marriage, and who now see the protection of what they call religious liberty as their most urgent task. These opponents argue that antidiscrimination laws will inevitably be used to force religious people and institutions to violate their beliefs, whether by providing services for same-sex weddings or by employing gay men and lesbians in church-related jobs.

Nationally, antidiscrimination laws for gay people are a patchwork with major geographic inequities, said Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institute at the School of Law of the University of California, Los Angeles. “Those who don’t live on the two coasts or in the Northeast have been left behind in terms of legal protection,” he said.

At least 22 states bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, and most of them also offer protections to transgender people.

Tennessee is one of the majority of states that do not bar such discrimination. There, in East Nashville, Tiffany Cannon and Lauren Horbal thought they had found the perfect house to share with a friend, and the landlord seemed ready to rent when they applied in April.

Then he called them to ask what their relationship with each other was, Ms. Horbal, 26, recalled.

She said that when the landlord learned that she and Ms. Cannon, 25, were partners, he said, “I’m not comfortable with that.” He refused to process their application, even after they offered to raise their rent by $150, to $700 a month, Ms. Horbal said.

The women, both restaurant workers, are still looking for a place to live.

The hard reality is that while you can now get married in a state like Tennessee or Kentucky of Arkansas or Florida if you're LGBTQ, you can still be fired or denied a place to live because of it. Remember, Gov. Sam Brownback removed protections for LGBTQ workers earlier this year in Kansas.

That national fight still rages on. And if you think that fight will be won with Republican bigots in charge of the House and Senate, dream on.


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