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  • WHO WE ARE-Earlier this month, I arrived in San Diego following five days of driving across the country from Wisconsin. I pulled into my friend’s driveway, brought my things inside, and went back to my car to park it on the street. Almost immediately, a cop’s siren and flashing lights went off. I’d left my license in my friend’s apartment, so I…
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  • Santa Barbara Spill Underscores Why We Can’t Allow Arctic Oil Drilling

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    PLANET WATCH-Last week, a major oil spill in Santa Barbara County made headlines after a ruptured pipeline dumped as much as 105,000 gallons of crude oil on the California coastline. The spill stretches across roughly nine miles of state beach with tens of thousands of gallons entering marine protected areas in the Pacific Ocean. The spill took…
  • How Will David Ryu Honor His Campaign Pledges?

    Jack Humphreville
    LA WATCHDOG-In a race that focused on local issues, outsider David Ryu (photo) outpolled City Hall insider Carolyn Ramsay by almost 10 points (54.8% to 45.2%), representing a margin of over 2,300 votes. Yet, since less than 16% of Council District 4’s 153,000 registered voters bothered to vote, Ryu was supported by less than 9% of those eligible…
  • $15 an Hour: If This Ain't Socialism, Then What SHOULD We Call It?

    Ken Alpern
    CONSIDER THIS-Funny how when you accuse, or even suggest, to a liberal (or is it "progressive"? or is it "reformist"?) that he/she is socialist, they get all bent out of shape. One reason that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is so respected is that he says it like it is--he's a sincere socialist who means what he says and says what he means. One…
  • California Dreaming: Booms to Busts, the Optimists are Still Searching for the Gold

    James Preston Allen
    AT LENGTH-At a meeting I attended recently with the management of the Port of Los Angeles, a civic leader voiced his enduring optimism for a bright and successful future. I gave the unsolicited reply, “an ounce of skepticism is worth a pound of optimism.” Others at the meeting said aghast, “Oh, no. How would anything ever get accomplished?”…
  • LA’s Homeless: Not a lost Cause

    Denyse Selesnick
    MY TURN-I was both surprised and rather pleased about the reaction to my recent article. Apparently, many people in Los Angeles are realizing that the Homelessness isn’t just City Hall’s challenge but affects all of our neighborhoods. Even more important, it doesn’t just affect us economically but impacts our sense of humanity and fair play. Yes,…
  • Senate Race: Choosing Kamala or Loretta Comes Down to North vs. South … California

    Joe Mathews
    CONNECTING CALIFORNIA-Are you a Kamala or a Loretta? Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez—the two leading candidates for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat next year—confront Californians with a choice. But it’s not a choice about competing policies or political visions. Californians don’t have political arguments about…
  • From Tragedy, Healing

    Mike Newhouse
    GUEST WORDS-In the days after Brendon Glenn was killed, in the heart of Venice, I was starkly reminded of one of our community's biggest challenges. But, my perspective may surprise you. What first came to mind was not how we police. It was not about racism or homelessness. It was not about mental illness, or the insidious nature of drug or…

 

  • Can Strawberries Help Fight Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-There have been a number of studies over the years that could show evidence of strawberries fighting off cancer. Tong Chen lead a study…
  • Study: The Best Way to Quit Smoking … Bet On It

    Francie Diep
    WELLNESS-Oftentimes, money speaks louder than words. Apparently, that aphorism applies to cigarettes too. A new study finds that money incentives…
  • Exercise Can Help Anxiety … Here’s How

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-Statistics show that over 3 million American adults suffer from anxiety and there is no evidence that number will be declining any time…




Alert! World’s 10 most dangerous animals

Smashing good job. World’s leaders beating each other up

Trevor Noah warming up for takeover of the Daily Show

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Supreme Timing: Why It’s Better for the Supremes to Hear DOMA before Prop 8

CIVIL RIGHTS - In a bout of incredibly serendipitous timing that nobody could have predicted, within the span of a week, both the First and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal have paved the way for the Massachusetts DOMA ( Defense of Marriage Act) cases  and the Prop 8 case to be heard at the US Supreme Court.   As always, there are a few caveats to keep in mind.  First, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) of the House of Representatives, which is defending DOMA on the wishes of House Republicans due to the Justice Department’s decision not to defend the law, could potentially ask that the 3-judge panel decision made by the First Circuit be granted a rehearing by what’s called an en banc panel made up of all the appellate court’s active judges.  

This en banc rehearing would essentially be another intermediate step at the First Circuit before the case could move to the Supreme Court.  

Such a move, however, would have a small chance of succeeding, given that the court is currently composed of five judges, making the 3-judge panel that struck down DOMA a clear majority to deny rehearing.  

And, of course, the Supreme Court has discretion in which cases it wishes to hear, which means that the justices do not necessarily have to take up any given appeal.  (In fact, less than 1 percent of cases are taken up by the high court each year.)
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When it comes to the DOMA cases, it is very unlikely the Supremes would not take up the appeals, given that a failure to do so would result in an act of Congress being declared unconstitutional and unenforceable in four states (and Puerto Rico!) while leaving it the law of the land in the other 46.  

On the other hand, it seems quite feasible the Court would decline to hear the Prop 8 case, given the Ninth Circuit’s clear efforts to limit its decisions to California only and not address any larger federal questions.

With all of these complexities in mind, it’s worth revisiting a question about which much ink (both digital and otherwise) has been spilled: is it better for marriage equality if the DOMA cases reach the Supreme Court first, or if the Prop 8 case does?  

Any answer to this question is necessarily rooted in the imprecise tea-leaves science of court-watching, but it is nevertheless a conversation worth having, especially considering the fact that the ground is now set for one or two high-profile marriage equality cases to make their way to the high court within the next year or so.

Writing yesterday in the Los Angeles Times, Douglas NeJaime of Loyola Law School argued, “Although Perry may provide more dramatic and compelling litigation, the DOMA cases present the Supreme Court with the best way forward.”  

And at Towleroad, the ever-insightful Ari Ezra Waldman lays out the arguments for why DOMA should come before Prop 8.  (I have to credit the many commenters on Waldman’s post for giving me some of the ideas that led to this series.)

I firmly agree with the argument that the best possible outcome for marriage equality at the Supreme Court in the next year or so is for the Court to consider the DOMA cases, uphold the lower courts’ rulings striking down the law, and decline to hear the challenge to the Ninth Circuit’s Prop 8 decision.

This is not to say that this outcome is the one that I truly wish for; on the contrary, in my heart I want the Supreme Court to take up the Prop 8 case and choose to side with Judge Vaughn Walker’s powerful and persuasive arguments that marriage discrimination is simply unacceptable under the U.S. Constitution.

But while I am an optimist at heart, I am a realist as well, and while it is important for all activists to be impatient, and to push the envelope, and to refuse to settle for less than everything they know is right and true, I think the most realistic scenario is almost as good for us as my imagined one.  

There are three reasons for this: 1) the different resonances that the DOMA case might have with the Court as opposed to the Prop 8 case, given the Supremes’ ideological makeup, 2) the distinct constitutional implications that striking down DOMA would have compared to striking down Prop 8 and 3) the wide-reaching and perhaps hitherto under-appreciated effect that a DOMA win would have for marriage equality, including in a post-Prop 8 California.

Starting tomorrow, I will explore one of these arguments in detail each day, and on Friday I will wrap up the series with a conclusion about the importance of the timing of the two cases.  

This entire series is meant to delve more deeply into the issues than a one-time post would allow and, I hope, will inspire a vigorous debate around the issue of timing.  

While these pieces represent my own opinion and my reasoning for holding that opinion, I hope that those who feel differently (or perhaps see flaws in the arguments I make) contribute to the discussion in the comments.  

As I said earlier in this introduction, predicting the actions of the Supreme Court is at best an art and not a science, but it is still an important exercise for our community, since it helps us look at the reality of the legal landscape in which we live rather than the one in which we might wish to live.  

The recent decisions of the First and Ninth Circuits mean we are living in an exciting time where matters of great importance are to be decided.  It helps if we go into them knowing where we stand.

(Jacob Combs are contributors to Courage Campaign Institute's Prop8TrialTracker.com,  where this piece was cross-posted. Look for parts 2-5 of this series here. -cw

Tags: Prop 8, DOMA, Supreme Court





CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 47
Pub: June 12, 2012

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