SCOTUS

The Rand Paul Show (Picking Up His Balls)

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian organization, hosted 9 potential contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nominations at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“Perhaps the time has come to examine whether or not governmental recognition of marriage is a good idea, for either party.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Because, you know, gay marriage is just the last straw.

No, seriously. The one and only Rand Paul:

The government should not prevent people from making contracts but that does not mean that the government must confer a special imprimatur upon a new definition of marriage.

Perhaps the time has come to examine whether or not governmental recognition of marriage is a good idea, for either party.

Since government has been involved in marriage, they have done what they always do — taxed it, regulated it, and now redefined it. It is hard to argue that government’s involvement in marriage has made it better, a fact also not surprising to those who believe government does little right.

Strangely, the Kentucky junior has no real grasp of political optics. We have heard this sort of talk before in Oklahoma, or as Mr. Paul noted in his special to Time, Alabama. But when it comes to the proposition that if you can’t make all the rules you’ll just pick up your balls and go home and pout, is that really a caliber of behavior we might reasonably describe as presidential?

There really isn’t any more time to adjust; Americans have had nearly two decades to accustom themselves to same sex marriage, and if they chose to spend those years bawling and stomping and fighting and pouting, why should everyone else have to wait even longer just so they can find new ways to pitch tantrums?

Is Mr. Paul capable of comprehending the optics, understanding just how ridiculous he looks striking this pose? Well, okay, of course he doesn’t; this is a guy who has trouble grasping the basics of plagiarism.

Stupid and petulant is no condition for mounting a presidential bid.

Oh. Right. Clown car, all that. He trails Bush, Walker, Rubio, and Carson. Maybe that’s the problem. Given the stupid factor in effect, Mr. Paul’s terrible shitty brat routine doesn’t really stand out as extraordinary, does it?

That still doesn’t mean the self-certified ophthalmologist has a clue about political optics.

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Image note: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian organization, hosted 9 potential contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nominations at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Paul, Rand. “Government Should Get Out of the Marriage Business Altogether”. Time. 28 June 2015.

Rubin, Jennifer. “Rand Paul has another problem”. The Washington Post. 8 November 2013.

A Clown Car Crossover Extravaganza

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015.

Two stars of the 2016 GOP Clown Car strove for fabulosity in a crossover clusterdiddle for the ages. Steve Benen of msnbc brings us the Tales of Two Petty Whines in the wake of marriage equality; first up, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s (R) grasp of constitutional law has long been a little fuzzy. In January, the Republican presidential candidate said Supreme Court rulings don’t set the law of the land because decisions need to be enshrined by lawmakers through “enabling legislation.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)The problem, of course, was that this was gibberish.

Huckabee’s argument was presented in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, which arrived on Friday. Right on cue, the former governor made a similar argument to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos yesterday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So are you calling for civil disobedience?

HUCKABEE: I don’t think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice. They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law. They will go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay the letters from a Birmingham jail reminded us, based on what St. Augustine said, that an unjust law is no law at all. And I do think that we’re going to see a lot of pastors who will have to make this tough decision.

He added moments later, “I’m not sure that every governor and every attorney general should just say, well, ‘It’s the law of the land,’ because there’s no enabling legislation.” When Stephanopoulos asked if he would enforce federal law if elected president, Huckabee said it would depend on Congress passing “enabling legislation.”

Mr. Benen makes the first, obvious point, that, “There won’t be ‘enabling legislation’.” Mr. Huckabee is, in all seriousness, pulling a screeching monkey out of his ass and telling you it’s a rabbit prophesying in a hat.

There is also the question of civil disobedience, and while most can agree it has its place, one wonders if our Republican neighbors can tell the difference. In tihs case, the proposition is a matter of civil disobedience in assertion of a right to discriminate and harm. In Jesus’ name, you know. Amen.

But wait, there’s more!

(more…)

The Ted Cruz Show (Hair-on-Fire Apoplexy)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responds to the 2015 State of the Union address in an online video, 20 January 2015.

“As ridiculous as Cruz’s posturing seems, it’s important to remember the broader context: national GOP candidates have a built-in incentive to be as hysterical as possible right now, in the hopes of currying favor with the party’s base. Mild, reasoned disappointment with the court doesn’t impress far-right activists; unrestrained, hair-on-fire apoplexy does.”

Steve Benen

This is an obvious point, or, at least one might think.

Steve Benen points to his msnbc colleague Benjy Sarlin’s report Friday last detailing the 2016 GOP presidential reactions following the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in favor of same sex marriage:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) went so far as to call for a constitutional convention to overturn the court’s decision while campaigning in Iowa, according to CNN. In an interview with Sean Hannity he called the back-to-back rulings on health care and gay marriage “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”

While the Texas junior is hardly the only Republican presidential candidate opting to skip out on posturing his response within the realm of general dignity, Mr. Benen responded aptly:

Hannity, incidentally, found Cruz’s rhetoric quite compelling, responding, “I couldn’t say it more eloquently.”

For what it’s worth, it’s not hard to think of some genuinely tragic 24-hour periods in American history. The Lincoln assassination comes to mind. So does the time British troops burned the White House. There were days during the Civil War in which tens of thousands of Americans died on the battlefield. Just in the last century, we witnessed the JFK assassination, Pearl Harbor, and a corrupt president resign in disgrace.

For the Republican presidential hopeful, learning that Americans will have health benefits and loving couples will get married belongs on the same list.

The thing is that Mr. Cruz is not entirely wrong; the rest, as Benen points out, is a matter of perspective.

(more…)

Justice

People celebrate inside the Stonewall Inn, an iconic gay bar recently granted historic landmark status, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Today.

This is our honor.

• There is, of course, the decision itself: Obergefell v. Hodges (14-556)

• Or perhaps a headline: “Gay Marriage Supporters Win Supreme Court Victory”

• The author: “Kennedy: The Gay Marriage Justice”

• Another headline, this one somewhat overstated: “Texas Pastor Says He Will Set Himself On Fire In Protest Over Gay Marriage”

• Dissents or temper tantrums? “‘Ask the nearest hippie’: The conservative SCOTUS justices’ opinions on marriage equality are hilariously bitter”

• And why not ask a hippie? “We Asked the Nearest Hippie About Scalia: It Was David Crosby”

• Unfit for duty: “To avoid marrying gay couples, some Alabama counties have stopped marrying everyone”

• GOP presidential timber, part one: “Constitutional Remedies to a Lawless Supreme Court”

• Fifty-four years, cookie dough, and Stonewall celebrations: “From Ice Cream To Ian McKellen: Reactions To Same-Sex Marriage Ruling”

• GOP presidential timber, part two: “Jindal: ‘Let’s just get rid of the court'”

• GOP presidential timber, part three: “Scott Walker calls for Constitutional amendment to let states define marriage”

• What a real President of the United States sounds like: “Remarks by the President on the Supreme Court Decision on Marriage Equality”

I would at this time raise a glass to homophobic traditionalists from Sea to Shining Sea; without your dedicated, horrifying zeal, we might never have come this far. Indeed, your own cruelty and hatred shepherded this day.

Drink up, dreamers of hatred and supremacism; you’re running dry.

Then again, we also know you’re nowhere near finished, at least in your own minds. We’re here. We will hold the line. We know you’re targeting children, now, and we will hold the line.

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Image note: People celebrate inside the Stonewall Inn, an iconic gay bar recently granted historic landmark status, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Required Reading: Equal Protection Edition

Contemplation of Justice

This is pretty much required reading. William N. Eskridge Jr., of Yale Law School, offers an opinion in favor of Amendment XIV recognition of same-sex marriage in Ohio. The middle of the article stands out:

Justice Anthony Kennedy said: “This definition has been with us for millennia. It’s very difficult for the court to say, oh well, we know better.” Justice Samuel Alito asked: “How do you account for the fact that, as far as I’m aware, until the end of the 20th century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognized marriage between two people of the same sex?”

All of the justices and counsel addressing this point accepted the premise that no culture had ever recognized same-sex marriage. That premise is incorrect.

First- and second-century historians Suetonius and Tacitus (disapprovingly) documented official same-sex marriages in imperial Rome. Some modern historians have found plausible evidence of such marriages among Egyptians, Canaanites and Hittites and on islands in ancient Greece. So it is not right to say that the Western tradition had never entertained marriages between people of the same sex until the 20th century.

The evidence is overwhelming for non-Western cultures. In their 1951 book “Patterns of Sexual Behavior,” anthropologists Clellan Ford and Frank Beach surveyed 191 world cultures and found many examples of same-sex intimacy occurring “within the framework of courtship and marriage.” They were mainly referring to “berdache” marriages, in which a man would marry another man who performed domestic duties or a woman would marry a woman who worked outside the home. Researchers have demonstrated that a majority of Native American tribes (as well as many tribal people elsewhere in the world) have recognized such marriages at points in their histories.

Anthropologists have also documented the phenomena of “woman marriage” in African societies, in which a wealthy woman marries another woman and then secures her impregnation, thereby generating heirs. Anthropologist Denise O’Brien reports that such marriages have been recognized in more than 30 African cultures.

There are other examples (some more equivocal), but these show that there has been no universal definition of marriage that excludes same-sex couples.

To the one, it should be noted that Prof. Eskridge also authored an amicus brief in support of the Obergefell petitioners on the question of the Fourteenth. And while the interest of amici might be a bit thin, the brief still makes for excellent reading.

To the other, we should remember what is at stake: Ohio is trying to unmarry a dead man.

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Eskridge Jr., William N. “The 14th Amendment should cover same-sex marriage in Ohio”. The Washington Post. 19 June 2015.

Eskridge Jr., William N. and Ilya Shapiro. “Brief of Amici Curiae CATO Institute, William N. Eskridge Jr., and Steven Calabresi in Support of Petitioners”. Supreme Court of the United States. 6 March 2015.

Evil (Snyder Michi-Mix)

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), ca. 2015, in Associated Press photo.

God save the children of the Great Lake Beast.

The Michigan Legislature is playing a dangerous game of chicken with the children in its care — and now Gov. Rick Snyder has exacerbated the danger by signing cynical legislation into law.

On Wednesday, Republican majorities in both chambers approved a bill that would allow faith-based adoption agencies — including those who take taxpayer dollars to place children who are in the state’s custody — to discriminate in the practice of their work. They can deny services to families that violate the agency’s religious beliefs, including unmarried couples, same-sex couples and those who hold different religious beliefs.

The legislation is a craven attempt to cloak discrimination in faith, and it leaves the best interests of the 13,000 children in the state’s care — entirely out of the equation.

Even worse, it sends Michigan in the exact wrong direction just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court could invalidate all legislative or constitutional provisions that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Should that happen, this statute, along with bigoted laws in states around the country, would fall like their predecessors — Jim Crow-era laws and regulations — after landmark rulings in the 1960s.

(Detroit Free Press)

Nothing hurts.

Actually, that’s wrong.

Something hurts.

Perhaps this is why people believe in souls. Because sometimes something hurts and it is hard to explain just what.

No, I cannot tell you where it hurts.

It just does.

(more…)

The Countdown: Weekend Edition

Contemplation of Justice

There are a few things here:

The Defense of Marriage Act decision overshadowed another 2013 case―Hollingsworth v. Perry―that could have determined whether states could ban same-sex marriage.

The case concerned a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment that barred same-sex couples from marriage. But Roberts, writing for the majority, dismissed the case, holding that the challengers did not have the legal standing to bring it to the court.

The ruling left in place a lower court decision that had invalidated Proposition 8 and thus paved the way for same-sex marriage in California. Roberts’ lesbian cousin, who lives in California, sat in the courtroom during arguments in the Prop 8 case.

Few people predicted that the issue would return so quickly to the Supreme Court, but waves of lower court judges―sometimes citing Windsor―struck down the state bans.

Ariane de Vogue is not wrong. It seemed strange at the time; the Hollingsworth outcome was one of my anti-prophet moments. When the case was selected, I actually told a friend it wouldn’t make sense for the Court to take the case and then punt. And, yet, here we are.

(more…)

The Value of Their Values

Lebanon ... and Hei (top), in thought (lower left), and mourning (lower right).  Details of frames from 'Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor'.

Speaking of incoherent, sputtering rage, because, well, nobody actually was, we do have this sort of sputtering, incoherent something to either amuse or distress or merely distract us:

The Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver is behind a new online petition asking supporters to reject a potential Supreme Court decision if justices vote in favor of making it unconstitutional for states to prohibit same-sex marriage.

“The Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage,” which Staver co-authored with Deacon Keith Fournier of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, defines marriage as “ontologically between one man and one woman” and “not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason.”

Although specifics of how the pledge will be enacted are scarce, the authors nonetheless ask supporters “to stand together to defend marriage for what it is, a bond between one man and one woman, intended for life, and open to the gift of children.”

(Wong)

Of course the specifics are scarce; they’re supposed to be when one is scratching around for straws to build a wall.

(more…)

Not Exactly a Legal Argument

This is something really quite genuinely incredible. The “Brief of Amici Curiae Same-Sex Attracted Men and Their Wives in Support of Respondents & Affirmance”, authored by one Darrin K. Johns, a Utah Attorney, defies general description. For those given to such myths as the seriousness and gravity of jurisprudence, the proposition that any court, much less the Supreme Court of the United States, ought be expected to endure such frivolity and, ultimately, self-harm as this brief constitutes might bring something of a shock. And no, it is not supposed to be this way.

It is also worth noting that the brief opens with quotes from three of the amici couples. The seven paragraphs that follow establish the interest of the amici; keep that in mind. (more…)

The Ted Cruz Show (The Stripper)

US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) delivers remarks before announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination to run for US President March 23, 2015, at Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia.  (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Note: Okay, this is the part where I feel really, really stupid. I hadn’t been paying attention, even while picking up on Matt Baume’s work at HuffPo. Welcome to the Emerald City, sir, and sorry for the late greeting.

So, anyway, Matt Baume, for Slog:

He treated the crowd to the usual foaming at the mouth about those gross homosexual marriages, but he also hinted that maybe the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality doesn’t have to be so, you know, supreme-ish.

What he was referring to is a little-known practice called “jurisdiction stripping”—yes, really, it’s called that. And the reason it’s little-known is that nobody’s managed to do it in 147 years.

In theory, Congress can pass a law stripping federal courts of their authority to rule on certain topics, and Cruz wants you to believe that he’s going to do that when it comes to marriage. Sure, Ted. Racist lawmakers weren’t able to stop Loving v. Virginia when the vast majority of the country opposed interracial marriage, but you’re going to be the one guy who manages to stop gays and lesbians from getting married in Laredo. Okay. Nice dream, bro.

Like so many folks in the stripping profession, Ted’s little performance is just a fun little tease. There’s no chance he’s actually going to go all the way.

It’s worth a read.

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Image note:US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) delivers remarks before announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination to run for US President March 23, 2015, at Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Baume, Matt. “Ted Cruz’s Strip Tease”. Slog. 7 April 2015.