Obama nominates Merrick Garland for Supreme Court

Merrick_Garland

Judge Merrick Garland

President Barack Obama has named D.C. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland, 63, as his nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Republicans have vowed not to consider any Obama nominee during the election year and said the next president should make the appointment.

That could be a risky gamble for Republicans. It assumes they win in the fall.

Should they win, however, President Trump might decide to turn the nomination process into a reality show. Ten judges compete to see who becomes the next Supreme Court justice.

“What would you do if protesters interrupted a campaign rally?” President Trump would ask.

“Calm down the crowd first,” the first contestant would answer.

“You’re fired,” President Trump would say. “Get ’em outta here.”

Or maybe, as he has suggested in the past, he’d appoint his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, a pro-choice federal judge.

On the Democratic side, President Bernie Sanders would appoint someone like Judge Phyllis Frye, a transgender judge from Houston, who pioneered trans rights in Texas.

Or President Clinton might nominate constitutional law scholar Barack Obama. Or maybe Michelle Obama. Or Wendy Davis.

So Judge Merrick Garland? He’s moderate. He’s the best they’re going to get.

Hold hearings on the nomination.

—  David Taffet

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dead at 79

Antonin_ScaliaOfficials in Presidio County in West Texas have confirmed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died this morning, Saturday, Feb. 13, at a ranch outside of Marfa. He was 79.

Scalia was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the bench in 1986 and known for his conservative views on issues ranging from abortion to same-sex marriage.

He was one of four dissenting justices in the Obergefell decision legalizing marriage equality last year. In his dissent, he wrote the majority “invent[ed] a new right and impose[d] that right on the rest of the country.”

He praised “the debate over marriage for same-sex couples [as a display of] American democracy at its best. But he also lamented the 5-4 decision for “ending the national debate.”

“Individuals on both sides of the issue passionately, but respectfully, attempted to persuade their fellow citizens to accept their views,” Scalia wrote. “Win or lose advocates for both sides continued pressing their cases, secure in the knowledge that an electoral loss can be negated by a later electoral win. That is exactly how our system of government is supposed to work.”

Scalia was a familiar voice of dissent in other notable LGBT cases. In the case Lawrence v. Texas declaring state sodomy bans unconstitutional, he wrote the court had “taken sides” in the culture wars.

“State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity [are now] called into question. The court has largely signed on to the homosexual agenda,” Scalia wrote.

Scalia stood by the comparison when asked by a student in 2012.

“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?” Scalia replied. “Can we have it against other things? I don’t apologize for the things I raise.”

In a discussion between Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. last February, Scalia asked the audience not to paint him as “anti-gay.”

His opinion in the Obergefell this spring will not pertain to the “substance” of whether couples should have the right to marry, but the issue of legal interpretation.

“That isn’t the issue,” he said. “The issue is who decides. Should these decisions be made by the Supreme Court without any text in the Constitution or any history in the Constitution to support imposing on the whole country or is it a matter left to the people?”

But his death also has another clear impact: will President Obama appoint a successor?

Not likely, wrote Emily Farris, assistant professor of political science at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

“I think it will be very difficult for Obama to get a nomination done in the midst of an election year. Even before Scalia’s death, people were predicting the 2016 presidential election could lead to a cataclysmic reshaping of SCOTUS,” Farris wrote.

Check out instant tea for the latest updates and commentary.

—  James Russell

UPDATE: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dead at 79

Antonin_Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died last night, Friday, Feb. 12, of natural causes at a ranch near Marfa. He was 79.

Check instant tea for more information as news comes in.

—  James Russell

American Airlines responds to LGBT groups’ concerns about union vote

Reservationists, gate agents and customer relations employees at American Airlines have been trying to unionize for about a year. With its bankruptcy, the airline has delayed a vote on whether the employees can unionize. Pilots, flight attendants and mechanics already belong to unions.

A vote on the service agents’ union is now scheduled for Dec. 4. Although American tried to block the vote, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia cleared the way today for about 10,000 American employees to decide whether to unionize.

While mostly a labor issue, the national LGBT group Pride At Work is concerned whether LGBT employees’ benefits would be among the first cut if service agents are not allowed to unionize. In states like Texas where employees have no protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity, a union contract can include those protections.

American Airlines has received a perfect 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for the last 11 years.

—  David Taffet

SCOTUS Caveman alert – Scalia: Women don’t have constitutional protection against discrimination

What’s next in the intellectual bloviating of conservative activist SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia – is slavery OK? We already know he doesn’t believe in the right for two consenting adults to engage in anything other than PIV sex.

He was interviewed recently and let loose this flaming pile of horseshite:

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don’t think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we’ve gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?

Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. … But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don’t like the death penalty anymore, that’s fine. You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.

What do you do when the original meaning of a constitutional provision is either in doubt or is unknown?

I do not pretend that originalism is perfect. There are some questions you have no easy answer to, and you have to take your best shot. … We don’t have the answer to everything, but by God we have an answer to a lot of stuff … especially the most controversial: whether the death penalty is unconstitutional, whether there’s a constitutional right to abortion, to suicide, and I could go on. All the most controversial stuff. … I don’t even have to read the briefs, for Pete’s sake.

Amanda Terkel at Huff Post covered the reaction to “Little Tony’s” latest belching of retrograde thinking.

For the record, the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause states: “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.” That would seem to include protection against exactly the kind of discrimination to which Scalia referred.

Marcia Greenberger, founder and co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, called the justice’s comments “shocking” and said he was essentially saying that if the government sanctions discrimination against women, the judiciary offers no recourse.

“In these comments, Justice Scalia says if Congress wants to protect laws that prohibit sex discrimination, that’s up to them,” she said. “But what if they want to pass laws that discriminate? Then he says that there’s nothing the court will do to protect women from government-sanctioned discrimination against them. And that’s a pretty shocking position to take in 2011. It’s especially shocking in light of the decades of precedents and the numbers of justices who have agreed that there is protection in the 14th Amendment against sex discrimination, and struck down many, many laws in many, many areas on the basis of that protection.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Video: Antonin Scalia to teach Michele Bachmann’s Constitution class

Thank Right Wing Watch for this Looney World offering…would you like to be a fly on this wingnut wall? Watch Minnesota’s gift to the U.S. House tell Lou Dobbs about her guest lecturer…

Dobbs: You’ve got a terrific idea that you’re going to implement with the new Congress: a course on the Constitution for incoming Congressmen and women. Tell us about that.

Bachmann: We’re going to do what the NFL does and what the baseball teams do: we’re going to practice every week, if you will, our craft, which is studying and learning the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Justice Scalia has graciously agreed to kick off our class. The hour before we cast our first vote in congress, we’ll meet in the Capitol, we’ll have a seminar on some segment of the Constitution, we’ll have a speaker, we’ll have questions and answers, we’ll wrap our minds around this magnificent document [and] that’ll set the tone for the week while we’re in Washington.

I think it’s great and I’m hoping all the members of Congress will partake; it’s bipartisan.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Antonin Scalia: The 14th Amendment Should Not Apply To Homosexuals

Speaking on Friday at the University of Richmond, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia denounced the concept of a “living Constitution” and said the 14th Amendment was not written with the intent of granting equal protection to ALL Americans. Just the heterosexual ones.

“The due process clause has been distorted so it’s no longer a guarantee of process but a guarantee of liberty,” Scalia expounded. “But some of the liberties the Supreme Court has found to be protected by that word – liberty – nobody thought constituted a liberty when the 14th Amendment was adopted. Homosexual sodomy? It was criminal in all the states. Abortion? It was criminal in all the states.” “The way to change the Constitution is through amendments approved by the people, not by judges altering the meaning of its words,” he added.

Scalia made similar comments in September when he told a San Francisco law school that the Constitution offers no protection whatsoever to homosexuals or females. Gay people and women, he said, should go to their state legislatures and see if “current society wants to outlaw discrimination” based on gender or sexual orientation. In the landmark 2003 Supreme Court ruling overturning laws against sodomy, Lawrence vs. Texas, Scalia was the most vehement dissenting vote.

The famous “Equal Protection Clause” of the 14th Amendment, upon which entirely hangs the hopes of the federal marriage equality movement, reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. 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.”

RELATED: At 74 years old, Scalia is the longest-serving Supreme Court Justice, having been appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986. He is thought to be in relatively good health and most court watchers expect him to remain on the bench for as long another decade.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

High court may issue 1st Prop 8 ruling this week

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker

The Prop 8 case may be going to the Supreme Court sooner than expected — sometime this week.

Not the entire case. Just the motion to extend District Judge Vaughn Walker’s stay.

If the 9th Circuit Court opts not to extend the stay, the defendants in the case may take the case to the Supreme Court.

The argument by anti-gay marriage forces is that the stay needs to be extended to protect those who may marry. If the stay is lifted, those people may suffer harm. Nice of them to be so worried.

According to the New York Times, the anti-marriage folks would be facing an uphill battle on this issue, even with conservative members of the Supreme Court.

First, the interveners who’ve defended Prop 8 in the lower courts would have to convince the high court that this is their battle to fight. The state is the named defendant, but California’s governor and attorney general have declined to defend the marriage ban. In his decision last week allowing the stay to expire this Wednesday afternoon, Judge Walker questioned the defendants’ standing.

In the past, conservative members of the high court have taken narrow views about who has standing in appeals. No matter how much Justices Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito may despise the idea of same-sex marriage, allowing this group to appeal the case when the named defendants have declined to do so would go against precedent.

—  David Taffet