Political Lomcevak (Tumbling the Liberal Mindset)
Saturday, June 28, 2003
Hamas is agreeing to a cease fire because:
a) A moment of clarity has convinced them that killing every man, woman and child in Israel is immoral?
b) That peace would benefit the Palestinians, and go a long way towards ensuring a two state solution?
c) The new Palestinian Prime Minister is exercising his muscles?
d) Hamas is on the ropes after a severe mauling by the Israeli's and realizes that its only hope of survival is a period of respite to allow reorganization and rebuilding?
I know what I think.
The Spin has begun. The decision contorted itself mightily in order not to find a fundamenal right, but that is not the way it will be spun. In some way, this is poetic justice, since the media doesn't seem interested in correctly reporting the dissenting opinions either.
And the door that has been opened a crack, is now being kicked open much further.
This is actually a good article
Debate on marriage and more looms
Ruling directly points to another clash in nation’s culture war
By David Von Drehle
THE WASHINGTON POST
WASHINGTON, June 27 — The Supreme Court ruling to strike down the nation’s anti-sodomy laws combined two of the most contentious issues on the political landscape by grounding the liberty of gays in the same legal turf that sustains the right to abortion — and it directly points to yet another clash in the culture war: a fight over gay marriage.
THE DECISION did not spell out what this could mean for laws banning gay marriage, gay adoption and related controversies. But dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia warned from the bench that the constitutional grounds for maintaining those prohibitions are now gone.
“It is clear from this that the Court has taken sides in the culture war,” Scalia declared, taking the unusual step of reading his dissent from the bench. He savaged the passing statement by the majority that the sodomy law decision had nothing to do with the gay marriage issue. “Do not believe it,” he warned.
NEW VIEW OF MORALITY
Lawrence v. Texas could have implications far beyond the closed doors of private homes. In an unexpectedly large step, the court said traditional morality is no justification for making legal distinctions among sexual behaviors of consenting adults. “The fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote, quoting approvingly from his colleague Justice John Paul Stevens.
And in at least one earlier precedent, the realm of private, intimate life has been defined by the Supreme Court to include “marriage ... family relationships [and] child rearing.”
At the same time, marriage and adoption are more public matters than the intimacies the court was dealing with in the Texas case. Other grounds, beyond morals alone, might be found to justify continuing those prohibitions if states choose to do so.
That’s the next fight.
It could come quickly. Gay rights lawyers recently filed suit in federal court challenging new wording in Nebraska’s constitution banning gay marriage; yesterday’s decision should strengthen their case. According to the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the decision “begins an entirely new chapter” in the campaign for gay rights, including the right to marry. Executive Director Kevin M. Cathcart stressed the broader impacts of the decision, saying, “This historic civil rights ruling promises real equality to gay people in our relationships, our families and our everyday lives.
Cathcart’s organization plans to take the weekend to hatch strategy and will announce on Monday “its aggressive plan for turning this landmark ruling into a reality.”
Across the cultural divide, Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family’s vice president of public policy, predicted that “if the people have no right to regulate sexuality then ultimately the institution of marriage is in peril, and with it, the welfare of the coming generations of children.”
SURPRISING SCOPE OF OPINION
Many observers had predicted that the court would find very narrow grounds to throw out a Texas law that criminalized sodomy for homosexuals only. After all, with a few notable exceptions, the high court has been reluctant over the past 25 years to write controversial decisions in broad strokes.
The court of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s — an era shaped by Chief Justice Earl Warren and that legendary builder of liberal majorities, Justice William J. Brennan Jr. — painted with a bold brush on issues ranging from civil rights to school prayer, from capital punishment to abortion. The justices became heroes to many and infuriated many others.
Marriage and adoption are more public matters than the intimacies the court was dealing with in the Texas case.
The court of the 1980s, ’90s and today — an era shaped by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and the increasingly dominant builder of centrist majorities, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor — has rolled back some of those decisions and shored up others. But the court has generally preferred to hunt for fresh controversies in abstract realms such as federalism and original intent where any outrage stirred up is registered in law review articles, not on billboards.
But the majority opinion in Lawrence went back to the earlier era for its inspiration. Drawing on the 1965 case that found a right to contraception and the 1973 case that found a right to abortion, Kennedy said that the “right to privacy” also applies to homosexuals. “Adults may choose to enter upon this relationship in the confines of their homes and their private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons,” he wrote. “The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to make this choice.”
With that, the court overturned a 1986 decision that had rejected the right-to-privacy argument for same-sex relationships. O’Connor voted with the 1986 majority, and she declined to repudiate that position yesterday. But she added a separate, sixth, vote for the new rule that legal distinctions between heterosexual relations and homosexual relations cannot be made on purely moral grounds.
“Moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate governmental interest under the Equal Protection Clause,” she wrote.
The high court has been reluctant over the past 25 years to write controversial decisions in broad strokes.
Scalia, Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas, in their dissents, said the step, if it was going to be taken, should have been left to the state legislatures. “Were I a member of the Texas legislature, I would vote to repeal” the sodomy law, Thomas wrote.
Legislatures “unlike judges, need not carry things to their logical conclusion,” Scalia noted. They can legalize “private homosexual acts” while continuing to prohibit gay marriage if they wish. “The Court today pretends that it possesses a similar freedom.”
Soon enough, America will find out.
Curiously enough this is not a bad thing for Bush, and the Republicans, I think. If the left wants to make the issue gay rights for the next year, it may be making a huge tactical error.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Strom Thurmond has just died. I am saddened. We will hear the shouts of glee from some on the left. Just remember that Strom lived as few have. He was a great American.
Update Blaster has some good stories. I like the Reagan joke
Justice Scalia can never be accused of writing obliquely. Yet, the major news media seems intent on getting what he has said wrong.
In this Texas sodomy case for example.
This is the piece on Scalia's opinion
"Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
Scalia, who wrote the dissenting opinion, took the unusual step of reading his dissent from the bench.
Stressing that he has “nothing against homosexuals,” Scalia wrote: “The court has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda. The court has taken sides in the culture war.”
Although the majority opinion said the case did not “involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter,” Scalia said the ruling invited laws allowing gay marriage.
“This reasoning leaves on shaky, pretty shaky grounds, state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples,” Scalia wrote.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the most prominent gay member of Congress, denounced Scalia’s dissent in harsh terms, noting that in one passage, Scalia began a reference to Kennedy’s opinion with the phrase “The majority coos ... .”
This is Scalia's complete Dissent
Here is the quote in its entirety
"Today's opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned. If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is "no legitimate state interest" for purposes of proscribing that conduct, ante, at 18; and if, as the Court coos (casting aside all pretense of neutrality), "[w]hen sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring," ante, at 6; what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising "[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution,"
"Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means. Social perceptions of sexual and other morality change over time, and every group has the right to persuade its fellow citizens that its view of such matters is the best. That homosexuals have achieved some success in that enterprise is attested to by the fact that Texas is one of the few remaining States that criminalize private, consensual homosexual acts. But persuading one's fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one's views in absence of democratic majority will is something else. I would no more require a State to criminalize homosexual acts--or, for that matter, display any moral disapprobation of them--than I would forbid it to do so. What Texas has chosen to do is well within the range of traditional democratic action, and its hand should not be stayed through the invention of a brand-new "constitutional right" by a Court that is impatient of democratic change."
The whole point of Scalia's dissent is to note that there is a thorny and complicated argument about the propiety of homosexual behavior in this country, and that it is wrong for the Court to inject itself as the final arbitrator of the dispute on either side. His point that the Court has taken the side of pro-homosexual debate is perfectly valid.
The other part pf his dissent is focused on the reasoning of the majority. This is also valid. I do not want to get into the technicalities, as I do not possess the requisite talents. However, in discussing this decision with a few non-legal people today, I am reminded of one of the severe defects in the current debate. The fact that any debate about the bill of rights, or rights in general, as they are dealt with by the Courts, require a technical knowledge of Constitutional that is quite rigorous and difficult to possess. This ensures that not everyone can participate in the debate, only a select few. A dangerous step for us to take. Soon right discussion will lose any roots they had in laymans terms, and will become a legalistic abstraction.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Do you think that Israel is killing Hamas with subtle and tacit approval from both the USA and Abu Mazen? Hmmmmm. An interesting thought I have heard elsewhere.
Arguing with someone of the leftist persuasion is frequently useless. Especially when that individual makes statements like "W is a moron." This type of statement indicates one of two things.
1) The opponent thinks you are stupid enough to buy this.
2) The opponent is stupid enough to buy this.
Look, W is many things, and I can see how a leftist could think he is the spawn of Satan and the epitome of evil ('cept I thought you guys did't believe in evil), but stupid he is not. I am very certain that the nine Democratic runners for the losing spot don't think he is stupid. I don't think Tommy Daschle thinks W is dumb, nor do I think that Terry McCauliffe does as well. At least, if they do, it might explain the utter uselessness with which the Democrats are playing the political game.
I have never thought Liberals are dumb, but they have apparently lost their marbles over this guy, and he keeps handing them their asses. And to make it worse, he does so politely.
Monday, June 23, 2003
From Cox and Forkum
And I apparently lost all my readers. Oh well, time to start again. That is all the fun.
Firstly to all the legal professors out there. Your grading system is arbitrary and unreflective of a students' knowledge. My grades fluctuate for no apparent rhyme or reason. My understanding of the material is irrelevant. The size of the class is irrelevant. The rigor and aptitude of the class is irrelevant. My enjoyment of the material is irrelevant. My attendance in class is irrelevant. The time I put into studying is irrelevant. My fondness, or the lack thereof, of the professor is irrelevant. There is no apparent pattern that I can detect. Even if I felt I did well, sometimes I will not, and sometimes I will. If I felt I bombed the exam, sometimes I have and sometimes I have not. There is no way to tell. Oh well, if you are not in the top ten percent, then it is irrelevant anyway. Still, knowing that my efforts will result in what seems to be an arbitrary grade has more then a slight demotivationary effect on me.
Next. Signature gatherers. There is not a high burden to meet to obtain this job,is there? If you are going to debate about the issue you wish me to sign, at least have a minimal understanding of the legislation you wish me to look at. Example?
Signature Gatherer "Please sign this petition to raise the cigarette tax by $1.50 a pack for XXXX program, and .20 cents will go to the American Cancer Society, and various other groups"
Me "Let me ask you a question? When you intitially allocate the funds to the programs outlined in this petition, are you calculating the revenue stream from the tax revenue from current sales of tobacco, or have you accounted for the likely dropoff in demand for tobacco that this additional tax burden would impose?"
"What do you mean?"
"When you begin your program you will be allocated funds that will be recouped through the tax revenue generated by the sales of tobacco. However, the initial funding will have to be an estimation of revenues. If the program assumes that sales of tobacco will remain static even after the imposition of the tax, then there will be shortfall that may have to be covered by the state general fund. That fund (California) already has far to much expenditure"
"You are just assuming that sales will drop. They won't?"
"Ummmmm, the fact that sales will drop in the face of appreciating price is not an assumption, it is sort of an economic principle"
"Since you brought this up, why don't you find out?"
"I would think that since you brought up this subject, the burden is on you to understand the legislation, not me. Furthermore, you understand that this is a very regressive tax, in that it punishes smokers, a predominately lower income group?"
"Well, I don't care since I hate smokers."
"Well, okay, good night then"
Lastly, I couldn't go into work today since there were filthy hippies (literally) protesting genetic food. Look, I do not know the slightest thing about genetic foods, but yelling, screaming, and demonstrating while not taking a bath is not a means to convince people. If you are a dirty hippy (literally) then I automatically dismiss you. And I believe I am not alone.