dissent

Required Reading (Justice and Dissent)

[#kneelbeforeJustice]Colin Kaepernick (r.) and Eric Reed kneel during the national anthem before a 2016 NFL game. (Photo: Associated Press)

“Donald Trump took time out from comparing missiles with Kim Jong Un and ignoring Puerto Rico to declare that the athlete who takes a knee is a ‘son of a b***h’ who should be fired for disrespecting America. He was harder on the athletes than on the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville.”

Leonard Pitts, Jr.

This is not one of those things where I get to say something like, “What he said!” or, “Plus one!” More directly, we can rest assured my part has something to do with paying the fuck attention.

Dear black people:

I guess we’ve messed up again. Seems like we’re never going to learn how to properly protest, no matter how hard conservatives try to teach us.

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What They Vote For (Yellowhammer Special)

#supremacism | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Lebanon's memories: Pictures of Lebanon's family, in happier days. (Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 5, "Gunsmoke Blows, Life Flows...")

This is the sort of thing only voters can achieve:

Rep. Mo Brooks is moving on after a distant third-place finish in the Republican primary on Tuesday for the Alabama Senate special election.

And Brooks is doing that without endorsing either of the two men, Judge Roy Moore and appointed Sen. Luther Strange, who beat him to enter a runoff on Sept. 26 to decide the GOP nominee.

(Connolly)

More precisely: After rejecting Rep. Mo Brooks to replace Attorney General and former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, voters find themselves presented with a choice between the disgraceful Luther Strange and the disgraced Roy Moore, and history reminds that state voters have already re-elected the twice-disgraced former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court after his first tumble from grace for abuse of authority. What chance does Luther Strange have? All he ever did was take his dispute against human rights, on behalf of religious supremacism, to the Supreme Court and lose.

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Dissent

#dissent | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC, December 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

“Policy dissent is in our culture. We even have awards for it.”

Unnamed U.S. diplomat serving in Africa

Speaking of movements, what apparently started on home shores, a State Department dissent cable, has gathered some serious moss. Support. Serious support. To wit, the New York Times reports:

Seal of the U.S. Department of StateWithin hours, a State Department dissent cable, asserting that President Trump’s executive order to temporarily bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries would not make the nation safer, traveled like a chain letter―or a viral video.

The cable wended its way through dozens of American embassies around the world, quickly emerging as one of the broadest protests by American officials against their president’s policies. And it is not over yet.

By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the letter had attracted around 1,000 signatures, State Department officials said, far more than any dissent cable in recent years. It was being delivered to management, and department officials said more diplomats wanted to add their names to it.

The State Department has 7,600 Foreign Service officers and 11,000 civil servants.

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Keystone Courage (Trumping Toomey)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube)

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).  (Photo: Getty Images)Steve Benen summarizes―

So, after dodging an easy question for nearly a year, Toomey will put off voting until late in the afternoon―75 minutes before polls close―and then he’ll grudgingly make an announcement about his preference.

―and on this occasion I must dissent: This is, quite clearly, not an easy question.

Ask Speaker Ryan; I hear the question started getting to him, by the end.

To the other, hemming and hawing probably beats attempting the dangerous and unadmired flip-flop-flip. Better to stand around looking like an idiot than to open your mouth and insist. Wait, that’s not how it goes, is it? Never mind. Republicans. The Party of Accountability. Values. Principles. Astounding. Or not. Whatever.

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Image notes: Top ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube). Right ― U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). (Photo: Getty Images)

Benen, Steve. “Paul Ryan and the candidate who must not be named”. msnbc. 1 November 2016.

—————. “Paul Ryan’s principles waver at election’s finish line”. msnbc. 7 November 2016.

—————. “Pennsylvania’s Toomey not through playing presidential games”. msnbc. 8 November 2016.

—————. “Under fire from the right, Ryan condemns a Democratic dystopia”. msnbc. 18 October 2016.

The Problem With Republicans (Justice in Waiting)

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks to the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church during their annual convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 8 July 2016. (Photo: Charles Mostoller/Reuters)

“I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

It’s not really a gaffe, is it? It’s an interesting headline from CNN: “John McCain: ‘I don’t know’ if Trump will be better for Supreme Court than Clinton”

Trump has released lists of 21 potential justices. He has pledged to choose from among those 21 when making Supreme Court selections, in a move that has earned him praise from conservatives, including his former rival in the Republican primary, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) listens to testimony by U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Commander and Resolute Support Commander Gen. John Campbell, on Capitol Hill in Washington, 4 February 2016. (Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo)Asked on the Dom Giordano program on 1210 WPHT Philadelphia radio whether Trump was the superior candidate on issues like the Supreme Court, the Arizona senator replied, “Uh, first of all, I don’t know, because I hear him saying a lot of different things.”

Later in the interview, McCain used the opportunity to make the case for fellow Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is locked in a close battle to retain his Senate seat in Pennsylvania. McCain promised that Republicans would be “united against any Supreme Court nominee” put forth by Clinton.

“I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up,” McCain said. “I promise you. This is where we need the majority and Pat Toomey is probably as articulate and effective on the floor of the Senate as anyone I have encountered.”

Or, as Taylor Link fashioned the obvious lede for Salon:

Sen. John McCain is sure that if Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wins, the Senate will continue to be an obstructionist mess.

In a Monday interview, the senator from Arizona said that Republican nominee Donald Trump is not necessarily a better candidate than Hillary Clinton when it comes to appointing Supreme Court justices and “promised” that Republicans wouldn’t approve any Clinton nominee to the Supreme Court.

Couldn’t see that one coming, eh?

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Every Little Thing the Reflex Does (Clarence Mark Remix)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas laughs while talking with other guests at The Federalist Society's 2011 Annual Dinner. (Cliff Owen/Associated Press)

This seems significant:

Justice Clarence Thomas has not asked a question from the Supreme Court bench since 2006. His majority opinions tend to be brisk, efficient and dutiful.

Now, studies using linguistic software have discovered another Thomas trait: Those opinions contain language from briefs submitted to the court at unusually high rates.

The findings that the taciturn justice’s opinions appear to rely heavily on the words of others do not suggest misconduct — legal writing often tracks source materials — but they do illuminate his distinctive role on the court.

Since his views on major legal questions can be idiosyncratic and unlikely to command a majority, he is particularly apt to be assigned the inconsequential and technical majority opinions that the justices call dogs. They often involve routine cases involving taxes, bankruptcy, pensions and patents, in which shared wording is particularly common.

Justice Thomas’s seven majority opinions in the last term were on average just 12 pages long and contained little but a summary of the facts and quotations from or characterizations of the relevant statutes and precedents. Since opinions are signed by justices but often drafted by law clerks, it may be that any borrowed language was the work of Justice Thomas’s clerks.

(Liptak)

It is true that such notions and the details from which they arise seem to many people obscure, or even petty. But to even casual observers of the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas is something of an enigma. And every time we get a glimpse into how he undertakes his role and duties as a Supreme Court Justice, we only end up with more questions, each stranger than the last.

But that’s the thing; compared to other aspects of his tenure, this isn’t exactly scandalous. In questions of scandal, it is just another piece of data that could be construed as relevant. Without worrying about such questions of scandal, this really is fascinating.

No, really:

In June, he slipped in a playful aside. What he had just read, a description of synthetic drugs, he said to laughter, was “a sentence which I completely do not understand.”

Still, there is actually a lot more to Adam Liptak’s report for the New York Times; and, yes, it really is fascinating.

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Image note: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas laughs while talking with other guests at The Federalist Society’s 2011 Annual Dinner. (Cliff Owen/Associated Press)

Liptak, Adam. “A Supreme Court Justice of Few Words, Many of Them Other People’s”. The New York Times. 27 August 2015.

Justice (Northern Flicker)

Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand, with son Khaya, in court at Mobile, Alabama, 24 July 2015, after Visiting Judge James Reid approved an intrafamily adoption petition.  Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange protested the Searcy-McKeand marriage all the way to the United States Supreme Court.  (Detail of photo from Let Love Define Family)

This is why:

Imagine sitting at your critically ill son’s bedside with your wife, watching the life ebb from the infant’s tiny body. Your baby is losing weight and desperately needs a feeding tube to sustain him until he receives an open-heart surgery, his only hope for survival, that is still two weeks away.

Your wife, upset and emotional, is unable to learn how to insert the tube. She is bullied by nurses and becomes hysterical so you step in and volunteer to take her place. But, because you are also a woman and living in a state with arcane marriage and adoption laws, you are denied. You are told, “You are not his mother.”

Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand of Mobile, Alabama, didn’t have to imagine this nightmare, because they had to live it. First they were stunned, then they were furious. And then they waged war against those arcane laws and changed history when they won.

(Hallstrom and Nichols)

And last month, on 24 July, Cari Searcy, whose name might ring a bell, and her wife Kim McKeand, went before Visiting Judge James Reid―sitting in for the infamous Probate Judge Don Davis―to receive approval for an intrafamily adoption. Khaya’s mothers are now both legally his mothers.

And this is why. Stand, speak, fight, win. Love. Live.

For all these years of fighting, Cari and Kim and Khaya now begin their adventure anew. It is our honor to bear witness, that this family should triumph over harmful and hateful Alabama “values”.

This is what Attorney General Luther Strange sued to stop. This is what even Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas could see when he conceded the inevitability of marriage equalityα. This is why Chief Justice Roy Moore would refuse the U.S. Constitution, and Probate Judge Don Davis choose derelection. This is why Alabama would disgrace itself.

This family.

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Image note: Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand, with son Khaya, in court at Mobile, Alabama, 24 July 2015, after Visiting Judge James Reid approved an intrafamily adoption petition. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange protested the Searcy-McKeand marriage all the way to the United States Supreme Court. (Detail of photo from Let Love Define Family)

α From Justice Thomas’ dissent in Strange v. Searcy, in which the Court majority denied the State of Alabama stay against recognizing the same-sex marriage of Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand: “In this case, the Court refuses even to grant a temporary stay when it will resolve the issue at hand in several months.”

Hallstrom, Beth. “Here’s How Two Women Changed The Lives Of LGBT Families In Alabama Forever”. Ed. JamesMichael Nichols. The Huffington Post. 8 August 2015.

Thomas, Clarence. “On Application for Stay”. Strange v. Searcy. Supreme Court of the United States. 9 February 2015.

Good Advice (Always Be Prepared)

Her plan is to penetrate us … (Detail of frame from FLCL episode 4, 'Brittle Bullet')

“To talk to the government, you fill out a form―getting married is no different. Until today, only marriages comprised of a “husband” and a “wife” were eligible to fill out the papers, so the forms will be gender coded. It can be an uncomfortable moment when you’re standing at the clerk’s counter, pen in hand, one looking over the other’s shoulder, and that’s the moment you have to decide which name goes over “husband” and which goes over “wife.” In advance, flip a coin, have a heavy talk, allocate a gender between the top and the bottom. But, work it out on the way. Our clerk in Toronto picked for us, and I still disagree with his choice.”

Coco Soodek

No, really. This is a moment to lighten up and enjoy that this is really happening. HuffPo blogger Coco Soodek offers some advice to red-state gay couples as they prepare to celebrate their love, and justice as well.

It’s almost enough to make me want to go get married, like in Kansas, or something. You know, just because.

And, no, nothing goes here about the sanctity of marriage. Rather, we might simply mutter something about how stupid the proposition of me getting married could possibly be, and still be making sense. But that’s the fun part; we wouldn’t have to fiddle around or flip coins over gender.

Good luck, everyone. And remember, we might chuckle at the thought of Justice Scalia insulting his own wife, but he does have something of a point. That is to say, you know, just not a useful one for a Supreme Court dissent. Still, though, I used to joke that all feminists were asking was that women be treated like shit in the same way as everybody else. And, you know, that’s kind of a joke we can make about gay marriage. What we won in Obergefell is the right to be just as miserable as our heterosexual neighbors. And, yeah, you know, don’t analyze that point too much; it’s a joke.

Be well, friends.

Congratulations.

And, you know, I owe generations who came before me an eternal debt. Thank you so much.

But, yeah. Here we are.

Stand. Speak. Love. Live.

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Image note: “Her plan is to penetrate us ....” Commander Amaro explains the trouble with Raharu. (Detail of frame from FLCL episode 4, “Full Swing”)

Soodek, Coco. “Open Letter to Same Sex People Getting Married in Red States”. The Huffington Post. 2 July 2015.

Prokop, Andrew. “Scalia’s same-sex marriage dissent blasts judicial ‘putsch,’ Ivy Leaguers, fortune cookies”. Vox. 26 June 2015.

Something to Look Forward To

Phyllis Schalfly of the Eagle Forum speaks in this uncredited photo from December, 2011.

Michelangelo Signorile brings the least unexpected newsα from the rear guard (ha!) of the Conservative Culture Wars:

Amid battles that have erupted over states banning local anti-discrimination ordinances and moving forward on “religious liberties” laws targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people — seemingly catching some LGBT activists off-guard — Phyllis Schlafly has a message for the LGBT community: Don’t believe for a minute that the Supreme Court’s decision in June on marriage equality, no matter how positive, will diminish the crusade against LGBT equality. In fact, she says, it will only serve to reinvigorate the anti-gay movement ....

.... “The gays have their argument about inevitability,” the 90-year-old author of 25 books told me in an interview for SiriusXM Progress at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, over the weekend, during a book-signing including her new book, “Who Killed the American Family?”

“I don’t think that’s so,” Schlafly continued with a smile, rejecting the “inevitability” argument. “I’m extremely disappointed that the Republican Party, the conservative movement, even the Democratic Party and the churches, have been saying, ‘Well soon the court will decide, and that will be it.’ Well, a lot of people thought that about Roe v. Wade, and we’ve seen the whole abortion movement turned around in the last ten years.”

Suffice to say, madam, we look forward to it. You know where to find us; we’ll be here.

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