JABbering Stooge

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Corporation for Politicized Broadcasting

In honor of Kenneth Y. Tomlinson's purge of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, here's a cartoon by Mark Fiore.

We've moved! Check out the new site here!

Back to SDI

CNN is reporting that the Air Force is begging President Bush "Please, pretty please, can we put weapons in space? Pretty please, with a cherry on top?"

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- The U.S. Air Force is seeking President Bush's approval of a national security directive that could move the United States closer to fielding offensive and defensive space weapons, the New York Times reported Tuesday, citing White House and Air Force officials.

Great. Just great. First we're sinking billions of hard-earned lucre into a ground-based technology that doesn't work right half the time, even when we cheat and put a transponder in for the test target to say "Here I am! Hit me! Hit me! Hit...awww...c'mon! You couldn't hit the broad side of a barn!" And now we want to sink billions more into SPACE-based technology? We can barely afford to keep the ISS aloft - what makes us think we can afford to put the military's expensive toys up there, as well?

Any deployment of space weapons would face financial, technological, political and diplomatic hurdles, as well as almost surely opposition from U.S. allies and potential enemies alike, fearing an arms race in space.

Yeah, diplomatic hurdles like THE OUTER SPACE TREATY!


We've moved! Check out the new site here!

Forgive Newsweek, Father, for it has sinned.

Let the self-flagellation begin. Newsweek has retracted its May 9th article on the desecration of the Qu'ran at Guantanamo Bay.

I think Keith Olbermann's commentary on the subject stands on its own.

Now, let's recap the places where the infamous "Qu'ran in the toilet" story or something similar has been reported:

  • Neil A. Lewis and Eric Schmitt, "Inquiry Finds Abuses at Guantanamo Bay," New York Times, May 1, 2005

  • James Meek, "The People the Law Forgot," UK Guardian, Dec. 3, 2003

  • Rosa Prince and Gary Jones, "My Hell in Camp X-Ray," Daily Mirror, March 12, 2004

  • Marc Kaufman and April Witt, "Out of Legal Limbo, Some Tell of Mistreatment," Washington Post, March 26, 2003

  • Composite statement: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Center for Constitutional Rights, August 4, 2004

  • Abdelhak Najib, "Les Américains pissaient sur le Coran et abusaient de nous sexuellement," La Gazette du Maroc, April 12, 2005

  • Haroon Rashid, "Ex-Inmates Share Guantanamo Ordeal," BBC, May 2, 2005

And yet, this is still not enough for the Rethuglicans. I can just imagine the confessional now:

Newsweek: Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
Scott McClellan: What is your sin?
Newsweek: I published an untrue story about flushing the Qu'ran down the toilet, except that it was all true.
Scott McClellan: I see.
Newsweek: But that's not all.
Scott McClellan: There's more?
Newsweek: Yes, the untrue true story has inflamed anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, except that it really hasn't, according to General Richard Meyers.
Scott McClellan: Your penance is 50 "Hail Marys" and 100 "Democrats are the Spawn of Satan Who Must Be Shot on Sights."

Bartcop is right. This is sure to give the Bush Crime Family total immunity on prisoner torture stories.

We've moved! Check out the new site here!

Jihad Squad's Hostile Takeover of Air Force Academy Continues

Well, today there are two stories about the continuing crisis at the Air Force Academy. Let's take them one at a time:

Failing Upward Trend Continues for Bush Flacks:

Lt. Gen. William Boykin, eat your heart out.

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (May 10) - The Pentagon said Monday it wants to promote a top commander at the Air Force Academy - a born-again Christian who has been the subject of complaints that he improperly mixes religion with education.

The announcement about Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida came one day before the scheduled arrival of a task force investigating allegations that cadets were pressured to attend religious services, public prayers were held before official events and Jewish cadets were harassed and insulted at the Colorado Springs school.

Man, promoted for being an intolerant blowhard and for encouraging the students who think like him to do the same. That must be nice.

FSU Football Coach Joins Jihad Squad:

My brother sent me this one: It appears that FSU Football Coach Bobby Bowden has weighed in on the matter of the Air Force Academy's growing intolerance for non-Christians.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden said Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry is fighting the government over the role of religion on his team.

Bowden brought up DeBerry while speaking to the Southern Colorado Fellowship of Christian Athletes on Sunday night.

Last season, DeBerry was asked to remove a banner from the locker room which displayed the "Competitor's Creed," including the lines "I am a Christian first and last ... I am a member of Team Jesus Christ."

"Fisher is fighting a heck of a battle over here at your academy (with) the U.S. government," Bowden was quoted as saying in the Gazette of Colorado Springs. "He's fighting a heck of a battle because he happens to be a Christian, and he wants his boys to be saved. I want my boys to be saved."

It's funny. Christians make up about 90% of this country's population, yet anytime there's a story about a law declaring Christians equal to God and non-Christians less than pond scum being blocked or some court upholding the freedom of religion clauses of the First Amendment, you get someone like Bowden whining about how Christians are being slaughtered in Satan's name. Weird.

"The problem with us Christians is we won't speak out," he said.

And yet, when non-Christians "speak out," guys like Bowden want to institute our own Kristallnacht...

We've moved! Check out the new site here!

What's Wrong with Nebraska?

As promised, here is my rebuttal to commentary at The Volokh Conspiracy on Citizens for Equal Protection et al. v. Bruning:

I think it's quite mistaken, and will be reversed on appeal. A few thoughts:

Obviously, I disagree, and will point out why as we go along. I'll admit, I don't know much about this guy, but from a small sample of his writing I can tell he's at least got a modicum of legal training, which should present an interesting challenge. Out of respect for that, I'll take him seriously.

Point 1:
The judge doesn't hold that there's a constitutional right to same-sex marriage as such. Rather, he holds that the recently enacted Nebraska constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage — "Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska." — is unconstitutional. (See footnote 1 of the decision.) But as I'll discuss below, the logic of the opinion suggests otherwise; if the judge is right, then states would indeed be required to recognize same-sex marriage.

I can't comment on the logical validity of this point until he actually discusses it (see Point 6), since all he has for this point is the claim.

However, even giving Volokh the benefit of the doubt, this point fails to answer the "so what?" question important to any historical or legal analysis. So what if the Equal Protection clause requires Nebraska to recognize Massachusetts' gay marriages? There is, at this point, no demonstrable evidence that allowing gays to marry would do more harm than good. In fact, the American Psychological Association, citing numerous studies, suggests that homosexual couples are just as qualified to raise children as heterosexual couples. Furthermore, the APA notes that "being gay is just as healthy as being straight." No harm, no foul. Thus, the government has no compelling public health reason to ban homosexual marriage.

Point 2:
First Amendment: The judge reasons that the amendment is unconstitutional because it interferes with people's First Amendment rights to advocate, and to association in order to advocate, for legislation protecting same-sex relationships: "The knowledge that any such proposed legislation violates the Nebraska Constitution chills or inhibits advocacy of that legislation, as well as impinging on freedom to join together in pursuit of those ends."

That, I think, can't be right. Most state constitutional provisions make it harder for people to enact certain laws — a state constitutional right to privacy, for instance, makes "chills or inhibits advocacy of [privacy-restricting] legislation" in precisely the same way as the Nebraska same-sex amendment does:

I broke this point up into two sections because it makes two distinct claims: 1) that state constitutional provisions banning homosexual marriage do not violate the First Amendment in the same way that other state constitutional provisions such as those protecting privacy rights do not violate the First Amendment and 2) that state constitutional limits on legislation do not violate the First Amendment because they don't prohibit free expression.

The second argument is predicated on the first, however, and the first exhibits a faulty premise - that state constitutional provisions banning homosexual marriage are in the same class of laws as state constitutional provisions protecting privacy, and thus do not violate the First Amendment. The reason bans on same-sex marriage aren't in the same class of laws as provisions protecting privacy rights is because one (privacy rights) empowers the individual by granting certain protections by unconstitutional intrusion by the state (Judge Bataillon's ruling cites Roberts v. United States Jaycees, Romer v. Evans, Board of Directors of Rotary Int'l. v. Rotary Club as precedent for such protection), while the other represents just such an intrusion that the Constitution was intended to prevent (bans on homosexual marriage).

Furthermore, Healy v. James (also cited in the ruling) concluded that any denial of official recognition to a class of individuals (in Healy v. James, the CCSC Students for a Democratic Society, in this case, homosexuals seeking marriage rights) placed an undue burden on those individuals' First Amendment rights. Additionally, the court could have used (but as far as I could tell, didn't use) McLaughlin v. Florida or similar anti-miscegenation cases to argue that banning homosexual marriage is as egregious a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment as laws banning interracial marriage which, via Healy v. James, would constitute an unconsitutional denial of official recognition. Thus the claim of a First Amendment violation is upheld.

Of course, none of these laws or constitutional provisions violate the First Amendment; they don't keep people from expressing their ideas — they just make it harder for people to turn those ideas into law. That is the very purpose of constitutional constraints on legislation, and the purpose doesn't violate the First Amendment. But precisely the same is true about the Nebraska same-sex marriage amendment.

For all the reasons described above, the above claim by Volokh is false.

Point 3:
Intimate association: The Supreme Court has recognized that people have an unenumerated right to engage in intimate association — to make friends, to rear children, to live with relatives, and the like. The judge in this case argued that the Nebraska provision interfered with this right:

[Note: Quote from ruling removed for brevity]

I'm not sure that the court is reading the amendment properly: Living together and sharing expenses (or even ownership of property) is not necessarily "the uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship" — the only legal relationships there are those of co-owners, which have never been seen as "civil unions," "domestic partnerships," or "same-sex relationships." (The matter might be somewhat different as to shared custody of children.)

But these are the very rights that same-sex couples would like to have, that are being unfairly denied by the state. There is a bit of circuitous logic at work here:

1) In order to have a legal relationship, a same-sex couple must be able to obtain joint ownership of an object (e.g., a car, a house, etc.).
2) Only those in a legal relationship may become co-owners (defined by the amendment in question as only heterosexual couples).
3) Thus, in order to become a co-owner, the homosexual couple must be in a legal relationship.
4) See statement 1.

Now, one might argue that in order to break out of the loop, each member of a homosexual couple could obtain a legal heterosexual marriage. However, they still wouldn't be able to obtain co-ownership rights as the homosexual couple, and thus are still stuck in the loop.

But in any event, the amendment does not prohibit any cohabitation relationships — at most, it bars the government from giving them legal recognition as a "civil union," "domestic partnership," or "same-sex relationship." The right to intimate association does not include the right to have the government specially subsidize or recognize your intimate association. That's why, for instance, the law can give married people special benefits that single people lack. Your intimate association rights doubtless give you the constitutional right not to get married, but that doesn't mean the government has to give you as a single person the same subsidies and special legal privileges that it gives married people. (I will deal with the equality argument below, but for now my point is simply that there's no violation of intimate association rights here.)

But here's the kicker - Heterosexual couples can easily change their status from cohabitating couple to full legal marriage and obtain the benefits. Homosexuals are denied the same opportunity, which presents both an undue burden on their right to intimate association and an equal protection violation, as I will discuss below.

The amendment might conceivably bar same-sex couples, as couples, from adopting children or having foster children. But the constitutional right to intimate association does not include the right to adopt or to have foster children.

No, but it is one of the benefits associated with legal marriage that homosexual couples are being unfairly denied.

Point 4:
Equal protection: The court holds that the Nebraska amendment violates the Equal Protection Clause, citing Romer v. Evans (1996). Here, it's argument is at least plausible: Romer struck down a Colorado amendment that prohibited all state and local bans on sexual orientation discrimination. I think Romer is wrong, badly reasoned, and vague in its implications; but, while it's impossible to tell for sure given Romer's vagueness, I think that Nebraska amendment is constitutional even under Romer.

A bold statement, given how vague he believes the Romer decision to be. But I'm a sporting kind of guy - let's see if he can back it up.

Romer rested in large part on the conclusion that the Colorado amendment's "sheer breadth is so discontinuous with the reasons offered for it that the amendment seems inexplicable by anything but animus toward the class that it affects; it lacks a rational relationship to legitimate state interests." The Colorado amendment's defenders urged that the amendment was needed to protect "other citizens' freedom of association, and in particular the liberties of landlords or employers who have personal or religious objections to homosexuality"; and the Court did not condemn this interest. Rather, it concluded that "The breadth of the Amendment is so far removed from these particular justifications that we find it impossible to credit them," chiefly because the Colorado courts interpreted the amendment as being extremely broad, covering many situations where no private landlords or employers were involved (for instance, when the government created a nondiscrimination policy governing its own operations).

Seems reasonable to me. How does this prove that the Romer decision was overly broad?

Here, the law leaves state and local government free to enact bans on sexual orientation discrimination in lots of contexts. The government only mandates that marriage and similar institutions be reserved for opposite-sex couples; and this mandate is closely tied to the government's desire to reserve the special benefits of marriage for that sort of relationship — a union of one man and one woman — that Nebraskans think is particularly valuable to society, and thus particularly worth fostering.

But, as Judge Bataillon cited in Citizens against Rent Control v. Berkeley, "[t]he voters may no more violate the Constitution by enacting a ballot measure than a legislative body may do so by enacting legislation." And as I have already demonstrated above, the ban on homosexual marriages represents both an undue burden on homosexuals' intimate association freedoms and a violation of the Equal Protection clause.

The test that Romer set forth was that the law must have a rational relationship to legitimate state interests, not the very demanding "strict scrutiny" test (which requires narrow tailoring to compelling state interests). This "rational basis" test is traditionally pretty deferential to the government; and while in Romer it wasn't applied with the normal deference, the Court's stress in Romer was simply that the law was so overinclusive relative to the interest in protecting associational freedom that it was irrationally broad. Here, the law is a much better fit with the government interest. And it seems to me (and, I'd wager, to the Supreme Court) that the government interest in promoting opposite-sex relationships as the best for society is indeed a legitimate interest, even if it's one that reasonable minds may differ about.

I realize I'm just a neophyte when it comes to the law, but three things jump out at me in this paragraph:

1) Volokh claims that the Romer decision "wasn't applied with the normal deference," yet doesn't provide any logic or evidence to back up the claim.

2) As mentioned in my discussion of Point 1 earlier, the American Psychological Association has provided voluminous empirical evidence that a) homosexuals are equally qualified to raise children and b) homosexuals are no more or less healthy mentally than heterosexuals, thus negating the legitimate public good interest of the government - the only possible interest that I could see that might override concerns about civil liberties. Thus, the government has no case even under the supposedly "lax" standards of Romer.

3) With no legitimate overriding interests to stand on, one can only conclude that the sole reason for the ban on homosexual marriage is indeed an "irrational animus" against homosexuals.

Nor is it right to argue, as the court does, that the law "goes so far beyond defining marriage that the court can only conclude that the intent and purpose of the amendment is based on animus against [the] class [it affects]." First, the law doesn't go at all far beyond defining marriage; it clearly covers marriage and its modern equivalents and near-equivalents. It makes perfect sense that as new quasi-marriage statuses are set up to avoid the legal restrictions on marriage, voters would cover these quasi-marriages as well as traditional marriages.

But by tying certain legal benefits (co-ownership, bequeathing property upon death, etc.) to a particular definition of marriage that one class of citizens, by the very nature of who they are, has no access to, and has no legal recourse except the courts, and because there are no legitimate overriding government interests, the amendment does indeed "go so far beyond defining marriage" that the only "intent and purpose...is based on animus against [the] class [it affects]," as demonstrated above.

Second, while the law does reflect a sense that same-sex unions are less worthy of public support than opposite-sex unions, the Court has never held that this view is impermissible. Most laws reflect the notion that some conduct is better than other conduct.

Funny. In Point 1 above, Volokh castigates the court for opening the door to a state law banning gay marriage. Now he says that such an opinion is constitutionally correct. Which is it?

Unless (and I'll get to this below) the court really is saying that it's unconstitutional "animus" to have marriage be opposite-sex-only — that is to say, unless the court believes that Nebraska has to recognize same-sex marriages — there's no unconstitutional animus in Nebraska voters' insisting that marriage be opposite-sex-only, rather than just leaving the matter to their representatives in the legislature.

And as I demonstrated above (and at the risk of sounding like a broken record), as long as you're tying legal benefits to a particular definition of marriage that, by definition, precludes a whole class of people from even the possibility of participating without a legitimate overriding government interest, then that is absolutely "animus" against that particular class of people.

Incidentally, if you want to "protect" the institution of marriage from participation by homosexuals, you either have to get the government out of the practice by saying that marriage is a strictly religious venture, and that, in accordance with Church/State separation the government should not get involved (which interestingly enough, would permit gay marriage due to the existance of gay-friendly churches) or stop tying legal benefits to the practice (which would effectively result in the same thing, since the only reason for government to get involved in the institution of marriage is specifically to provide such benefits as a way of promoting marriage as a society stabilizing element). But perhaps the most effective way to "save" marriage would be to do something about the embarrassingly high rate of divorce among heterosexual couples.

Finally, note that the standard canon of interpreting statutes is that they must be interpreted to avoid constitutional problems, when such an interpretation is consistent with the language. For instance, if the court fears that reading the amendment broadly — for instance, covering co-tenancy contracts, or co-ownership arrangements, among romantically linked same-sex couples — would violate the Equal Protection Clause under Romer, then the court should read the amendment (quite plausibly) as not being that broad, and only covering marriages, statutory civil unions, or statutory domestic partnerships, not centuries-old generally applicable rules of contract and property law.

Again, even if it had been demonstrated that Romer had been applied too broadly (which has yet to be demonstrated), Romer was not even remotely close to the only case law that was used to decide this case, and that the amendment in question violates the intimate association freedoms of the First Amendment under Roberts v. United States Jaycees as well as the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Point 5:
Bill of Attainder Clause: The court also reasons that the law is an unconstitutional bill of attainder because it "inflict[s] punishment" on same-sex couples, because it's "directed at gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people and is intended to prohibit their political ability to effectuate changes opposed by the majority." That's quite mistaken, I think, for the reasons I mentioned as to the First Amendment — all state constitutional provisions, as well as federal laws that preempt state laws and state laws that preempt local laws, block some groups from enacting laws that they like.

Again, this premise is fatally flawed. See Points 1 and 2 for full discussion.

State constitutional bans on polygamy block polygamists from enacting laws that they like. State bans on lotteries block lottery operators from enacting laws that they like. Some state criminal rights provisions block some tough-on-crime folks from enacting laws that they like.

And in each case there are legitimate overriding state interests in banning such activities.

Virtually all known cases of polygamy have invariably involved what we would now consider statutory rape at some point or another. Furthermore, polygamous relationships are inherently unstable (For you anime fans, imagine if in Tenchi Muyou! Tenchi were married to Ayeka, Ryoko, Mihoshi, Kiyone, Washu and Sasami simultaneously).

Lotteries (or just about any form of gambling, in general), like prohibitions against certain potentially harmful substances, can be a magnet for organized crime (think Al Capone).

Finally, with "criminal rights" statutes that block certain "tough-on-crime" laws there is a federal constitutional concern (particularly in terms of the death penalty) with avoiding "cruel and unusual punishment."

As mentioned several times above, none of these sorts of concerns apply to homosexual marriage, which makes prohibiting homosexual marriage inherently unconstitutional.

Moreover, it's the nature of a democracy that the majority blocks "changes opposed by the majority." It may not block advocacy for such changes; but it can surely block such changes. And if the majority sufficiently opposes certain changes, it can block them at the state constitutional level rather than just at a state statutory level, or at a state statutory level rather than the local level. The whole point of state constitutions is for the statewide majority to prevent its representatives in the legislature (or voters or legislators in the state's political subunits) from enacting changes opposed by that statewide majority.

You know, it's this idea that the majority rules, and the minority can "go Cheney themselves" that most vexes liberals like myself. The idea is inherently anti-democratic and would have the Founding Fathers spinning in their graves. Furthermore, this sort of thinking advocates a return to a Hobbesian state of nature where the strong make the rules and the weak always get the shaft - antithetical to the very idea that civilization is supposed to promote - that of always bettering oneself and one's fellow citizens.

Moreover, majorities aren't always permanent - today's majority can easily become tomorrow's minority. If we're going to survive as a civilization, we need laws that withstand changes in the political landscape (after all, a stagnant civilization is a doomed civilization). Historical precedent has shown that the best way to do that is to continue to widen the circle of freedom to include those previously disenfranchized, within reasonable limits.

The prohibition on Bills of Attainder provision has never been read remotely as broadly as the court suggests; nor would it make any sense for it to be read this broadly.

Given that this sentence is the first time in the entire piece that Volokh even touches upon the Bills of Attainder argument, I'd say he still has considerable work to do if he wants to convince anyone that the Nebraska court was wrong to use it as a reason for striking the constitutional amendment in question.

Point 6:
But in any event — and here I return to what I said in point 1 — if the court is right about the Romer analysis, then it must be because there is no legitimate government interest in favoring opposite-sex long-term relationships over same-sex ones. Likewise, if the court is right about the intimate association analysis, then it must be because the right to intimate association guarantees same-sex couples the right to equal government benefits with opposite-sex married couples, rather than just a right to live together. And if the court is right about bills of attainder, then its analysis equally applies to state law rules that preempt contrary marriage provisions at the city level. (Imagine Portland or San Francisco trying to set up its own marriage rules, over the objections of the rest of Oregon or California.) And if that's so, then despite the court's protestations, its reasoning necessarily means that states are constitutionally required to recognize same-sex marriage (or, under the bill of attainder analysis, at least are required to let any locality recognize same-sex marriage).

The bulk of this last point is comprised of a rehash of Volokh's earlier flawed arguments. However, the conclusion he arrives at, that the justifications cited by the court for overturning the Nebraska constitutional provision banning same-sex marriage necessitates Nebraska recognizing same-sex marriage licenses from other states, is true. While the rules of deductive reasoning certainly allow one to arrive at a true conclusion from false premises, ultimately, the validity of the argument is corrupted ab initio by the false premises it is based on. Furthermore, Point 6 still fails to answer the "so what?" question that was left unanswered way back at Point 1.

Because of this, Volokh's arguments against the Nebraska court's ruling, while most professionally done, are sorely lacking.

We've moved! Check out the new site here!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Messages from the Reality-challenged Zone

Amazingly enough, I got a response to my May 13th post. Someone calling him/herself "p-bs-watcher" wrote:

Is Judge Bataillon so stupid as to believe that anyone would buy his argument, or is he so stupid as to believe it himself? See Laws Are Illegal

Alright, since you were kind enough to link to your argument on the subject, allow me to offer a point-by-point rebuttal.

Federal District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon has rendered a landmark decision.

I would say that that's painfully obvious, except for the fact that San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer did exactly the same for California's gay marriage amendment on March 14th of this year.

It is either a monument to judicial stupidity or to brazen sophistry depending on how much one credits the intelligence of the judge.

Actually, it is neither. The judge correctly cited prior precedent and the appropriate Amendments to the Constitution in this case. But then again, this doesn't surprise me - any time a judge issues a ruling that the right doesn't like, they tend to resort to this sort of name calling and ad hominem invective.

Professor Volokh has completed a detailed demolition of the ruling here, and is translated for the general public here.

I will give a "detailed demolition" of Volokh's "detailed demolition of the ruling" in my next post. Meanwhile, the "translation" into Joe Sixpack-ese is little more than the same old "judges who disagree with me are complete and utter morons" rot that one would expect from the thousand-word projectile vomit Ann Coulter passes off as a weekly calumny...er...column.

The most flagrantly absurd finding among many is that the Nebraska State Constitutional amendment violated the First Amendment rights of its opponents to propose legislation because "The knowledge that any such proposed legislation violates the Nebraska Constitution chills or inhibits advocacy of that legislation, as well as impinging on freedom to join together in pursuit of those ends."

Because the amendment to Nebraska's Constitution unduly impinges on homosexuals' right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." As has been our experience as a country, arbitrarily limiting the freedoms of a group often has bad, unintended consequences (as in the case of Prohibition, where we saw the rise of organized crime - Al Capone, for example), or, when "accompanied by an invidious or irrational animus against a certain group," as noted in the footnotes of the ruling, is inherently antithetical to the ideals of the Founding Fathers as outlined in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We're looking for "liberty for all," not "liberty for some" here - and THAT is the basis of the First Amendment angle to the ruling.

Only the uninitiated would have been so gauche as to think that was the purpose of laws and constitutions.

Only the uninitiated would have been so gauche as to think that First Amendment concerns were the only things cited by Judge Bataillon in striking down the Nebraska State Constitution's amendment. Remember, the Fourteenth Amendment states that "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Nowhere in the text of that is an exception made for State Constitutions - thus statutes in state constitutions are as subject to the same federal-level "constitutional smell test" as any other state law. Unless you'd like to try to argue that State constitutions are to be held in higher regard than the U.S. Constitution, but then you'd be running afoul of Clause 2 of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which states that the U.S. Constitution "shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

Translating into Joe Sixpack-ese, the clause reads as follows:

The U.S. Constitution "is the ultimate authority on valid laws. Judges at all levels must abide by the Constitution, even if a State's laws or elements of the State Constitution contradicts it."

Judge Bataillon has discovered what the rest of us had missed for over two hundred years. The first amendment trumps all.

All he did was interpret the law (which is the job description of the Judicial Branch - read the Constitution some time; it's obvious you could use a refresher) and yet you want people to believe that he was pulling laws out of his butt. Sorry, but you'll have to do better than that if you want to convince me.

Laws are illegal. Constitutions are unconstitutional.

Only those that don't pass the federal-level Constitutional smell test, as mandated by the Fourteenth Amendment.

In the case of the U.S. Supreme Court, I argued that one must respect their expertise and intelligence, and therefore conclude that any outrageous ruling is intentional with malice aforethought. I can make no similar contention with respect to this court. I am forced to join my betters in the Blue State elites to question the capabilities of this flyover country rube. Is he so stupid as to believe that anyone would buy his argument, or is he so stupid as to believe it himself? I am sure it is all for the greater good.

Okay, now you're just descending to the level of Tom DeLay and John Cornyn - flinging ideological feces at judges whose rulings you disagree with.

In the immortal words of Anne Robinson: "You are the weakest link, goodbye!"

We've moved! Check out the new site here!

Friday, May 13, 2005

...To the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse...

Today was another full day of news to report. Let's go straight to the rundown:

In rare show of backbone, Dems place hold on Bolton nomination:

Amazingly, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) seems to be the sole posessor of all the Democrats' cajones. She has placed a hold on John Bolton's nomination (I thought the Rethuglicans had gotten rid of that pesky rule...).

Here's to hoping the Dems' newfound spine will hold, and is not simply lip service to the base.

Chaplain who blew whistle on theocrats' hostile takeover of AFA fired:

The Washington Post is reporting that the Air Force Academy chaplain who complained about attempts by SpongeDob StickyPants' Jihad Squad to bend the military academy to its will was fired today.

Of serious concern is the following couple of paragraphs:

As part of its response to the sexual assault charges, the academy asked a team from Yale Divinity School to visit the campus during the summer training for incoming freshmen.

"We were asked to study the quality of cadet-centered pastoral care," said Yale Prof. Kristen Leslie. "What we found was this very strong evangelical Christian voice just dominating. We thought that just didn't make sense in light of their mission, which was to protect and train cadets, not to win religious converts."

Again, I must ask: do we REALLY want the military to become an arm of religious conservatives' jihad against all things non-Christian?

Federal Judge sides with 14th Amendment - Nebraska constitution's amendment unconsitutional:

I'll let the first three paragraphs of the CNN article speak for themselves:

LINCOLN, Nebraska (AP) -- A federal judge Thursday struck down Nebraska's ban on gay marriage, saying the measure interferes not only with the rights of gay couples but also with those of foster parents, adopted children and people in a host of other living arrangements.

The constitutional amendment, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, was passed overwhelmingly by the voters in November 2000.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon said the ban "imposes significant burdens on both the expressive and intimate associational rights" of gays "and creates a significant barrier to the plaintiffs' right to petition or to participate in the political process."

The thing is though, this amendment, unlike other, similar bans on gay marriage, is very broadly worded - to the point of denying homosexuals other legal rights not generally covered under federal and state marriage statutes, which is why the federal judge threw it out. As fellow Bartcop posters have pointed out, it seems as though the amendment was purposely crafted to be unconstitutional for the purpose of whipping up the theocratic fascist base, and the timing of the ruling seems to bear this out. We're preparing for a major showdown over the makeup of the federal judiciary, and this kind of ruling can only serve to add fuel to the fire already burning in the hearts of those who wish to turn this country into a twisted version of The Handmaid's Tale.

Rove shifts tactics:

Don Waller (AmericanStranger), who was kind enough to link to me recently, has a post on blah3.com in which he suggests that the new round of military base closings is yet another ploy by Karl Rove to keep Republicans and Democrats like "Joementum" in line.

The Bush administration: humble workers in the Lord's American vineyard, or the political equivalent of La Cosa Nostra? You decide.

We've moved! Check out the new site here!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Emerging from an undisclosed location...

Well, final exams are finally over with, so let's look at the events that have developed while I was hunkered down in an undisclosed location preparing for the inevitable:

God Hates Democrats, So Sayeth Rev. Chandler:

It all started with the expulsion of nine members of the East Waynesville Baptist Church in Waynesville, North Carolina by Rev. Chan Chandler. 40 members left in protest, eventually resulting in his resignation.

All well and good - the bastard got his comeuppance. However, it seems that the good Reverand's defenders have drunk the communal Kool-Aid(TM):

"I don't believe he preached politics," church member Rhonda Trantham said. "I don't believe anyone should tell a preacher not to preach what's in the Bible."

Really? Care to explain to me how saying that people who voted for Kerry needed to "repent or resign" is IN ANY WAY AT ALL non-political?!!!

And just who is enjoining him from "preaching what's in the Bible," anyway? For that matter, abortion is not discussed AT ALL in the Bible - he'd be "adding to" the Bible, a blasphemy, if I remember my theology correctly.

Oh wait. I'm being too logical for these Pharisees. Never mind.

Of course, I'm sure Eggs Benedict is taking notes for the 2006 election cycle...

Bolton plan to fly a hijacked plane into the U.N. building nomination heads to Senate floor:

Karl Rove must've used the three week delay in Bolton's nomination to come down on waffling Republicans such as George Voinovich of Ohio like a ton of bricks, because the Senate Foreign Relations Committee just sent the nomination to the full Senate on a 10-8 party-line vote. Now to the credit of Voinovich and other Republicans of conscience on the Foreign Relations Committee, they managed to ensure that the committee made no recommendation either way on the nomination, and Voinovich has hinted that he would vote against Bolton's nomination.

Now with the co-dependent Dems' habit of not even taking a dump without Unka Karl's permission, expect them to fold like lawn chairs when the nomination comes up for a vote. Also, expect Rove to do some more arm-twisting to keep the wobbly Republicans in line.

My prediciton for the vote: Bolton sails through 100-0.

Nuclear-option clock set to 11:59:59 as stalled nominees sent to Senate:

Now we get down to the heart of the matter: several of Bush's judicial nominees that have been stalled by the Democrats are coming up for a vote on the Senate floor, starting with Alabama Attorney General William Pryor (no relation to comedian Richard Pryor) - a man who opposed the Violence Against Women Act and whose only saving grace is that he only wants to partially trash the First Amendment's protections against a state-mandated religion.

Nukeing the filibuster, the last of the Grand Thuggery Party's weapons to deny Democrats the same tools that they so ruthlessly wielded against a far larger number of Clinton's nominees than the number of blocked Bush nominees, would be the final stake through the heart of our dying democracy, as the Senate would become nothing more than a rubber stamp for this administration, surrendering what little power it has left to the executive branch. Yet somehow, Democrats are being castigated as "anti-democracy" and "anti-Christian bigots" for standing up for Constitution's "advice and consent" clause. The Rethuglicans want to have their cake and eat it, too.

Somehow, the rhetoric and tactics of the right reminds me of what we're always hearing about from them in regards to (Muslim) terrorists: Don't give them what they say they want, 'cause they'll just come back with bigger demands. Unfortunately, these days, those who have hijacked the Republican party won't be happy unless they get 10000000000000% of what they want. Thanks, co-dependent Democrats!

Republicans Gone Wild!
Finally, I leave you with the ever stranger doings of the Republicans under the covers:

First we had the well-known and (not so) widely reported pecadilloes of the managers of the House impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton.

Last year, in the run-up to the 2004 elections, Senator Barack Obama's initial opponent, Jack "I boinked Seven-of-Nine" Ryan dropped out of the race due to revelations in his divorce papers from actress Jeri Ryan that he took her to sex clubs and asked her to participate in various group sex acts.

Then there was First Lady Laura Bush's suggestion at the White House Correspondents' Dinner that President Bush had a penchant for "milking" horses in college, which prompted the Osama bin Laden of the anti-abortion movement, Neal Horsley, to admit to some "man-on-mule" action of his own to Alan Colmes.

Then there was the revelation that mega-homophobe and mayor of Spokane, WA Jim "Wild Wild" West had been caught by a reporter in a gay chat room giving 17-year-olds the Michael Jackson treatment, offering internships and other benefits for the "pleasure" of his company.

And finally, RawStory.com has revealed allegations by Hustler Magazine publisher Larry Flynt that Bush's nominee for U.N. ambassador has some Jack Ryan-esque skeletons in his closet. That's right, John "Short Temper Theater" Bolton is accused of forcing wife to engage in group sex at a place called "Plato's Retreat."

Kinda makes you wonder if Barney has any secrets he'd like to tell us, eh? Oh well, I'm not going to waste $80 million of the taxpayer's money looking into that sort of thing. I'll leave that to the American Inquisition.

We've moved! Check out the new site here!