U.S. District Court

Inward Focus (Split Canyon Distraction Mix)

[#resist]

Protesters demonstrate on 16 September 2017 in Tunis against parliament passing an amnesty law for officials accused of corruption under toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. (Photo: Agence France-Presse)

There is nearly a joke waiting here—

Hundreds of Tunisians protested on Saturday in the streets of the capital against a widely contested new law that grants officials from the former regime involved in corruption amnesty from prosecution.

Tunisia’s parliament on Wednesday approved a law protecting officials accused of graft during the rule of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, triggering angry protests by the opposition and activists.

Waving flags and banners saying “No to forgiveness”, “Resisting against mafia rule”, around 1,500 people marched through the capital’s central Avenue Habib Bourguiba in the company of opposition leaders.

After months of protests, the law was amended from an original draft which would have also granted amnesty to corrupt businessmen. Now they will be liable to prosecution for crimes committed during Ben Ali’s 24-year rule.

(Reuters)

—because it should not be quite so easy for Americans to empathize so proximally.    (more…)

A “Political Question” (Abu Ghraib)

This is still going on:

A federal court of appels on Friday reinstated a case brought by four Iraqis who allege they were tortured by employees of CACI while they were held at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq War.

The case had been dismissed by a lower court that found the alleged abuses amounted to a “political question” and was beyond the court’s jurisdiction. But the case, which was first filed in 2008, was reinstated by a panel of judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

(Davenport)

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Davenport, Christian. “U.S. Appeals Court reinstates Abu Ghraib prison abuse case against CACI”. The Washington Post. 21 October 2016.

A Moment Spent Dwelling on Failure

Clockwise from top left: Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Peter Santilli, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne and Joseph O'Shaughnessy, insurrectionists who participated in the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in booking photos released 27 January 2016, by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

And then there is the update we would, on balance, prefer to not give a damn about:

Anti-government militants who seized a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon earlier this year conspired to intimidate government workers and steal property, a heavily armed invasion that was not protected by the U.S. Constitution, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Barrow told a packed courtroom in downtown Portland that during the January takeover, the conspirators, many wearing camouflage and toting rifles, practiced shooting drills and hand-to-hand combat at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. They also had a stockpile of some 15,000 rounds of ammunition.

“We all have a right to bear arms,” Barrow said. “This is a case about what the defendants did with those firearms.”

(Sherwood)

(more…)

Beyond Ridiculous

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is escorted from jail to a waiting crowd by Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver (right) and other lawyers from the Falwell Ministry-affiliated legal firm, in Grayson, Kentucky, Tuesday, 8 September 2015, after U.S. District Judge David Bunning lifted his contempt order. Ms. Davis' husband, Joe Davis, follows at rear. (Image via CNN)

This is not exactly unexpected:

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis walked out of a Kentucky detention center to massive applause Tuesday after spending five days behind bars for defying a federal order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But her attorney said that Davis would continue to abide by her conscience, which cannot condone same-sex nuptials, and that all licenses issued since her incarceration were not valid.

The defiant stand seems likely to land Davis right back in jail, from where she emerged Tuesday afternoon alongside her attorney, Mat Staver, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who was hosting a rally in her honor. Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, told reporters outside the detention center he’d be willing to go to jail in her place should a federal judge find she’s violated the conditions of her release.

Bunning said in his order Tuesday that Davis “shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.” But Staver suggested such interference was likely.

“She cannot allow a license authorizing same-sex marriage to go under her authority or name,” Staver said in an interview with NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez, ahead of Davis’ release. “That’s been her position from the beginning and that will be her position, I assume, on any subsequent occasion. She’s asking for a simple fix, a simple accommodation.”

“We’re back to square one,” he added. “She’s been released. But there has been no resolution.”

(Margolin)

Some questions for the office pool: Will it take days before Kim Davis lands herself in jail, or mere hours? How, exactly, can she interfere? Hide all the license forms in her safe? Cut the printer cables? Sabotage the network? Physically preclude her deputies from doing their jobs? Fire them for doing their jobs? No, really, how is this going to go?

(more…)

The Not-So-Gay Divorceé

VIII. Adjustment.

The question of a divorceé has long plagued Christian supremacists who denounce marriage equality and gay rights, but, you know, really? Not only has Kim Davis already licensed transgender man and his pansexual wife, and most likely also issued plenty of marriage licenses to divorceés, but it also turns out that Ms. Davis is herself a serial adulterer.

On this point, Travis Gettys of Raw Story considers an appearance by Dan Savage on msnbc; the author, advice columnist, and editor of The Stranger, Mr. Savage spared no punches:

“I think Kim Davis is waiting to cash in,” Savage told MSNBC. “I predicted from the beginning that she would defy all the court orders, defy the Supreme Court, she would ultimately be held in contempt of court, lose her job, perhaps go to prison for a short amount of time. And then she will have written for her, ghost written books. She will go on the right-wing lecture circuit and she’ll never have to do an honest day’s work ever again in her life.”

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in a mugshot, 3 September 2015, after being held in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge David Bunning, after she refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.“This is about someone hypocritically cashing in, and she is a hypocrite,” he added.

Savage referred to the defiant clerk’s statement complaining that courts were asking her to “violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage” — which the columnist dismissed as ridiculous.

“This is a woman who’s been divorced three times and married four times,” he said, reading from the US News & World Report article that pointed out Davis “gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband, (and) they were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second husband.”

“She’s now onto her fourth husband,” Savage said. “Jesus Christ himself in scripture condemned divorce, called it adultery and forbids it. Jesus Christ himself in scripture says not one word about same-sex marriage.”

Savage said the U.S. Supreme Court had already decided the issue of same-sex marriage, and he said Davis clearly should have followed the law all along.

“She’s not being asked to perform a sacrament, she is tasked with ascertaining that the people in front of her, the couple in front of her, have a legal right to get married and to provide them with that license,” he said. “She is not a minister. She actually thinks she works for God there in the county courthouse, when she actually works for Caesar — and someone needs to acquaint her with that fact.”

Or we might attend Mr. Savage himself, who recently blogged, among other notes:

I would say I can’t wait for a Muslim county clerk in, say, Dearborn, Michigan (which has a huge Muslim community), to refuse to issue a marriage license to a Christian couple on the grounds that the this kafir couple hasn’t been paying jizya… but that’s not going to happen. Religious minorities in this country intuitively understand that to empower religious bigots like Davis is to paint bullseyes on their own backs. So the Jesus-freak goons at the Liberty Counsel work to frame discrimination as a “religious freedom” because they’re confident that American Christians will be the ones doing the discriminating, not suffering from it.

This is an important point. Something about functional reality goes here.

(more…)

A Question of Right and Conscience

The Seal of the State of Washington

This is important:

Washington state can force pharmacies to dispense Plan B or other emergency contraceptives, a federal appeals court said Thursday in a long-running lawsuit brought by pharmacists who said they have religious objections to providing the drugs.

The unanimous decision Thursday by the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 2012 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton, who had found that the state’s rules violated the religious freedom of pharmacy owners. It was the second time the appeals court reversed Leighton in the case.

“This unanimous decision is a major victory for the people of Washington,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a prepared statement. “Decisions regarding medical care — including reproductive rights — are appropriately between a patient and his or her medical professionals.”

(Johnson)

Evergreen, get ready.

No, really. We’re into the presidential preseason. Do we really think Republicans are going to let this pass?

Then again, the lines are pretty clearly drawn this time; social conservatives can afford to lose, just not spectacularly and publicly. And should we add the consideration that they would be abandoning the marriage equality headlines in order to be seen hounding women yet again? It’s always a mystery, because most days soccons are perfectly happy to come for the women, and come again.

When your conscience requires your righteousness to harm others, we might suggest a careful inspection of its components. Should you do this for the Glory of the Lord, we might beg consideration of where your earthly judgment and cruelty stands within the God’s purview.

The Ninth said no. Round three, anyone?

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Johnson, Gene. “Ruling: Washington can require pharmacies to dispense Plan B”. KIRO TV. 23 July 2015.

The End of the Paperwork

It is accomplished. Mark the date. What started in Utah, in December 2013, with Kitchen v. Herbert, has come to its end.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black has formally ruled that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states, but he put a hold on his order for the time being.

“Ohio’s marriage recognition is facially unconstitutional and unenforceable under any circumstances,” Black said in a written order he announced verbally 10 days ago.

Alan Johnson’s report for The Columbus Dispatch is charitable, at least compared to the ruling itself.

Order Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Declaratory Judgment and Permanent Injunction

On December 23, 2013, this Court ruled in no uncertain terms that:

“Article 15, Section 11, of the Ohio Constitution, and Ohio Revised Code Section 3101.01(C) [Ohio’s “marriage recognition bans”], violate rights secured by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in that same-sex couples married in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is lawful, who seek to have their out-of-state marriage recognized and accepted as legal in Ohio, are denied their fundamental right to marriage recognition without due process of law; and are denied their fundamental right to equal protection of the laws when Ohio does recognize comparable heterosexual marriages from other jurisdictions, even if obtained to circumvent Ohio law.”

Obergefell v. Wymyslo, 962 F. Supp. 2d 968, 997 (S.D.Ohio 2013).

The Obergefell ruling was constrained by the limited relief requested by the Plaintiffs in that case, but the analysis was nevertheless universal and unmitigated, and it directly compels the Court’s conclusion today. The record before the Court, which includes the judicially-noticed record in Obergefell, is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the State’s ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and, therefore, Ohio’s marriage recognition bans are facially unconstitutional and unenforceable under any circumstances.1

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1 The Court’s Order today does NOT require Ohio to authorize the performance of same-sex marriage in Ohio. Today’s ruling merely requires Ohio to recognize valid same-sex marriages lawfully performed in states which do authorize such marriages.

In truth, it only goes downhill from there for traditionalist advocates. The ruling is a barely patient, nearly patronizing lecture on just how finished the marriage equality issue is as a matter of law. Indeed, the footnote on page one is almost ironic; at this point, authorizing the performance of same-sex marriages in the state of Ohio is a mere bureaucratic detail, with the only question being just how badly conservatives want to embarrass themselves. No wonder he reiterates the point later in the ruling.

It’s over. It’s been over since December brought a decision in Utah, Kitchen v. Herbert. After today’s ruling, there are no more encores.

Today’s ruling settled the outstanding Full Faith and Credit question. Judge Black wrote (p.37):

Because this Court has found that Ohio’s marriage recognition bans are constitutionally invalid on their face and unenforceable, Defendants no longer have a basis on which to argue that recognizing same-sex marriages on out-of-state adoption decrees violates Ohio public policy, and thus it is unnecessary to reach Plaintiffs’ arguments based on the Full Faith and Credit Clause. However, the Court determines that, as expressed infra in endnote i, Plaintiffs have also demonstrated a compelling basis on which to find, and the Court does so find, that Plaintiffs Vitale and Talmas have a right to full faith and credit for their New York adoption decree here in Ohio. i

And that endnote (pp.41-43), summarized in one quoted sentence:

In the context of judgments, the full faith and credit obligation is exacting, giving nationwide force to a final judgment rendered in a state by a court of competent jurisdiction.

The paperwork really is finished for the judicial branch. Not even Justice Scalia can help the traditionalists. The show ended in December. The house lights just came on. Don’t care where you go, you just can’t stay here.

Everything else is a matter of bureaucratic details and cleaning up the mess.

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Johnson, Alan. “Ohio ordered to recognize legal same-sex marriages from other states”. The Columbus Dispatch. April 14, 2014.

Black, Timothy S. “Order Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Declaratory Judgment and Permanent Injunction”. Henry, et al. v. Himes, et al. United States District Court Southern District of Ohio (W.D.). April 14, 2014.

Shelby, Robert J. “Memorandum Decision and Order”. Kitchen, et al. v. Herbert, et al. United States District Court for the District of Utah Central Division. December 20, 2013.