Scalia, as predicted

Three years ago I made a prediction about Political Figure Antonin Scalia regarding his professed adherence to stare decisis as it relates to same-sex marriage:

Lawrence v Texas established adequate precedence for the constitutional legalization of same-sex marriage. At least it did in political figure Scalia’s view. (In reality, the 14th Amendment established it.) That means that once same-sex marriage makes it way to the Supreme Court in the coming years, Scalia is going to rule in favor of it. That is, if he really does care about stare decisis. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

I hope I’m wrong, but here’s my prediction: Scalia is going to rule against same-sex marriage in overt defiance of the principles he pretends he holds.

What I was arguing here was that Scalia had whined in Lawrence that the Court’s decision to disallow governmental interference in the bedroom of consenting adults had, effectively, established precedence for same-sex marriage. That is, Scalia wrote in his dissent that if the Court could overturn a state’s ability to legislate against something based upon a moral opposition to homosexuality, then it would also have the power to overturn a state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Since Scalia is a self-professed lover of stare decisis – he believes past decisions must be taken into account in new decisions – it would only make sense for him to side with same-sex marriage proponents. Even though he dissented in Lawrence, the decision set precedent that, according to Scalia himself, the Court had the necessary latitude to strike down any ban on same-sex marriage that was premised on moral opposition. Today, however, he dissented in Obergefell v. Hodges, in blatant violation of his alleged principles and in full satisfaction of my three year old prediction.

Equality for gay people is on its way

I expect to see more and more rulings like this one:

A U.S. appeals court in New York on Thursday ruled that a U.S. law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is now the second federal appeals court to reject part of the Defense of Marriage Act. It upheld a lower court ruling that had found a central part of the law unconstitutional.

Appeals in several cases are currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which could choose to take up the issue in its current term.

Two members of a three-judge panel ruled in favor of Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old woman who argued that the law discriminates against gay couples in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

They found that gays and lesbians are entitled to heightened protection from the courts, based on the history of discrimination the group has suffered.

“Homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public,” Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote for the majority.

Here are two predictions I think I can fairly make from this. First is a repeat of what I’ve said about Political Figure Antonin Scalia: This ‘justice’ says he cares about stare decisis, the principle that past case precedence is an immensely important factor in deciding current cases. In Lawrence v Texas, it was established that states cannot make sodomy illegal, and Scalia said this sets the precedence that gay marriage cannot be outlawed. Thus, if this joke of a ‘justice’ actually believes in his so-called principles, he will vote against the idea that states can ban marriage by gay people. I predict he will not.

Second, Christians will claim that their religion always supported equal rights and protections under the law when enough time has passed. We may have to wait a couple of generations, but we should start hearing claims from mainstream Bible-thumpers that Christianity has not only always been in support of equal rights, but that it was the catalyst for the social and court movements we’re seeing today. That will be a blatant lie, but it is exactly what we have seen with slavery, anti-miscegenation laws, segregation, the Enlightenment, our secular forefathers, and especially science. I see no reason why these revisionist patterns will end.

Sorry, Christians, but gays are people, too

Good news has been popping up over the past week or so for the rights of gay Americans:

A federal appeals court in California has denied a petition to have Prop 8 -the 2008 California ballot initiative that defines marriage as between a man and a woman – further reviewed by a larger panel of judges, which means the case likely is headed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

In February , the majority of a three judge panel sitting on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Prop 8 ruling that the initiative “serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.” The court ruled on narrow grounds specific to California and Proposition 8. It did not find a fundamental right of same sex couples to marry.

Supporters of Prop 8 – opponents of gay marriage – had asked for “en banc” review of the case. This would have meant that the Chief Judge of the circuit along with 10 randomly selected judges would have mooted their colleagues’ decision and started anew. But in a filing today the court said that a majority of judges had voted to deny the petition.

We all know that Political Figure Scalia made his decision on this matter a few decades ago, and we all know that once Political Lapdog Thomas gets word of his lawless colleague’s position he will also be voting against equal rights. But that said, it’s hard to imagine the Supreme Court, even with 4 devoted bigots, will ultimately rule against fair treatment under the law. Sure, it took them until the 1950’s to make the right call on the mirror issue of racial segregation, gays in America have been swift with showing just how much of this country they are. Now that over half the nation is ready for equal rights for gays, I think the Supreme Court may be ready, too.

Plus there’s this:

Today’s ruling comes a week after a federal appeals court in Boston struck down a key provision of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In that case, legally married same sex couples argue that the federal government is denying them benefits available to opposite sex couples.

The Supreme Court will most likely consider both the Prop 8 case and the DOMA cases next term.

The tide is a-turnin’.

A prediction on Scalia

Lawrence v Texas was a case the Supreme Court had roughly a decade ago. The central question was whether or not states had the right to legislate private sexual acts between consenting adults. Specifically, Texas and other states had anti-sodomy laws meant to target gays. The court called bullshit and rightly pointed out the lack of constitutionality of such invasions of privacy. In the dissent to the law, political figure Scalia and Chester the Terrier avatar Thomas (and fashionista Rehnquist) gave some terrible arguments for their pre-decided votes. I want to focus on what Scalia said.

Part of what the chubby little shitbag did was appeal to stare decisis, something he applies only when convenient to his political ideology. But more importantly in his dissent is his exploration of the implications of the ruling:

One of the benefits of leaving regulation of this matter to the people rather than to the courts is that the people, unlike judges, need not carry things to their logical conclusion. The people may feel that their disapprobation of homosexual conduct is strong enough to disallow homosexual marriage, but not strong enough to criminalize private homosexual acts–and may legislate accordingly. The Court today pretends that it possesses a similar freedom of action, so that that we need not fear judicial imposition of homosexual marriage, as has recently occurred in Canada (in a decision that the Canadian Government has chosen not to appeal). See Halpern v. Toronto, 2003 WL 34950 (Ontario Ct. App.); Cohen, Dozens in Canada Follow Gay Couple’s Lead, Washington Post, June 12, 2003, p. A25. At the end of its opinion–after having laid waste the foundations of our rational-basis jurisprudence–the Court says that the present case “does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.” Ante, at 17. Do not believe it.

In other words, Lawrence v Texas established adequate precedence for the constitutional legalization of same-sex marriage. At least it did in political figure Scalia’s view. (In reality, the 14th Amendment established it.) That means that once same-sex marriage makes it way to the Supreme Court in the coming years, Scalia is going to rule in favor of it. That is, if he really does care about stare decisis. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

I hope I’m wrong, but here’s my prediction: Scalia is going to rule against same-sex marriage in overt defiance of the principles he pretends he holds.

Where Scalia and Thomas are plainly moral monsters

The Supreme Court recently made a 7-2 ruling which favored convicted murderer Cory Maples. Here are the basics. Maples was represented by a prominent firm, Sullivan and Cromwell, following his murder conviction. He and his current lawyers contend that the lawyers who represented him during his trial were incompetent (and underpaid) and as such he should be able to appeal his sentence of death. (He is not contesting his guilt.) Unfortunately, a series of terrible events made him miss a filing deadline. His first pro bono lawyers left Sullivan and Cromwell without informing their client. Then crucial letters he had sent off were marked returned to sender instead of being passed on to other lawyers. His local counsel, needed for formality reasons, took no action because the other lawyers were suppose to take the lead. A clerk also did nothing. Maples found out about everything about a month after the deadline. State and federal courts then said they could not waive the deadlines, largely because the actions of one’s lawyers is seen to also be the actions of the client.

Clearly we have a whole bunch of horseshit going on here. Maples is the victim of circumstances beyond his control from his prison cell. He did everything within his own power to meet the deadline for appealing. Justice Ginsburg, noting that deadlines usually are not touched by the courts, said this situation was unique because Maples “lacked any clue that he had better fend for himself.” It’s obvious that Maples deserves better than this, regardless of his crime.

What makes this all especially egregious is that Maples has a pretty good claim that had he been adequately represented he probably would have avoided the death penalty. The jury vote for murder-by-committee was 10-2, the minimum required under Alabama law. Had his trial lawyers not “appear to be stumbling around in the dark”, as one of them actually said in court, then it seems perfectly plausible that the man could have convinced at least one more person that he doesn’t deserve to be murdered.

Political figure Antonin Scalia and Chester the Terrier avatar Clarence Thomas saw things differently. They believed Maples was represented just fine through the whole process. After all, Scalia notes, once Sullivan and Cromwell were informed of the error their former employees made, they took action. This makes sense. I mean, who wouldn’t want a system where post hoc representation is the norm? “Sure, your lawyer was snorting blow and banging hookers while paying alley bums to get into fist fights, but his firm took action and fired him 8 years after your conviction. I don’t see what you’re whining about, pussy.”

Scalia then takes things one stupid step further and makes this terrible argument:

“The trick will be to allege,” Justice Scalia wrote, “not that counsel was ineffective, but rather that the counsel’s ineffectiveness demonstrates that he was not a genuinely representative agent.”

In other words, this decision may open up better legal avenues for defendants, thus we shouldn’t allow it. This is why I hate this purely political piece of shit. He is more concerned with closing off doors to fair trials than making the right decision. Justice Ginsburg notes that this situation is quite specific and unique, so Scalia’s argument is moot, but I don’t see what it matters even if he is right. So what if clients can argue that they never had genuine representation? Let the courts decide if that’s the case or not – just as they did here.

This is the M.O. for Scalia. He looks down the road at results he would personally dislike and sacrifices doing what is legally right as a result. Take Lawrence v Texas. He was perfectly happy to allow anti-sodomy laws because he feared the decision would open the road to gay marriage. It wasn’t that he thought there was any real legitimacy to the government criminalizing private acts of sex. Nope, he just doesn’t want them there gays to be gettin’ married. Just the same, he doesn’t want to see Maples get a fair shake at the system if it means a lot of other people will have more options; the man wants to keep doors closed. It’s such insane logic that I can’t help but condemn this shitbag for being a moral monster. He forsakes the law and tries to bring harm to people on illegitimate grounds. I really won’t be in the least bit upset when he dies. (The same goes for the pube guy.) I just hope it happens while we have a Democrat in office.

Supreme Court: Video games are art

Siding with reality, the Supreme Court has ruled against California in a decision regarding the status of video games:

Video games are art, and they deserve the exact same First Amendment protections as books, comics, plays and all the rest, the U.S. Supreme Court said Monday in a ruling about the sale of violent video games in California.

California had tried to argue that video games are inherently different from these other mediums because they are “interactive.” So if a kid has to pick up a controller and hit the B button — over and over again until he starts to get thumb arthritis — to kill a person in a video game, that’s different from reading about a similar murder, the state said.

The high court didn’t buy that argument, however.

I was reminded recently that this case was coming to a head and I wondered to myself how ‘Justice’ Scalia would rule. After a little consideration, I surmised he would come down in favor of the gaming industry. He often makes poor decisions based upon little to nothing, but this case was just too obvious for him to get wrong:

“Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas — and even social messages — through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world). That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.”

So not only does the interactive medium not make video games fundamentally different than things like music and literature (in terms of being art), it actually is a feature which helps to define it as art. Everyone has been telling this to California all along, but I’m glad the Supreme Court could articulate it so well.

And as much as I dislike Scalia, I’ve always thought he was a decent writer, sometimes even humorous. He doesn’t fail to deliver here:

That’s all well and good. But the most fun to be had in this potentially dry court opinion is when Scalia starts writing about how gory old-school stories are, too. He’s trying to make the point that stories have included violence for as long as there have been stories.

The examples are pretty hilarious:

“Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed,” he writes.

Then there’s this:

“Cinderella’s evil stepsisters have their eyes pecked out by doves. And Hansel and Gretel (children!) kill their captor by baking her in an oven.”

And, finally, if that wasn’t enough eye-related violence for you:

“High-school reading lists are full of similar fare. Homer’s Odysseus blinds Polyphemus the Cyclops by grinding out his eye with a heated stake.”

Well done, sir. Now excuse me while I go snipe some Elites.

Supreme Court recognizes that people change

In a no-brainer, the Supreme Court has picked up on the fact that 17 year olds are likely to be different individuals when they get older.

By a 5-4 vote, the court said young people serving life prison terms must have “a meaningful opportunity to obtain release” if they haven’t killed their victims. The majority opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy extended the “children are different” rationale that drove his decision five years ago that outlawed the death penalty for killers under 18.

To no one’s surprise, Scalia and his puppet, Thomas, both dissented. Of course, they’re legal minds haven’t matured past the age of 11 year olds, so maybe they just aren’t aware of the obvious facts of life.

But even the average Joe can be an idiot. This is from the comment section on the Yahoo! article; I suspect it will turn out to be rather representative of the conservative criticism that will be dealt out to this piece of reason.

This is great. Once again the US Supreme Court is telling juveniles it is OK to disobey the laws of this country as long as you do it before 18.

Yes, that’s exactly it. Despite all the news reports, the quotes from the justices, and the actual written opinions, what has actually just happened is that the Supreme Court has ruled that there are no punishments for crimes committed as children. Rob a store at 17? You’re free. Snort cocaine and get busted at 16? No sweat. I mean, how else could someone possibly interpret such a heavy and complex ruling?!

Ted Olson

Ted Olson is one of the lawyers arguing in federal court that same-sex marriage is a right for all consenting adults. He’s long been in the middle of conservative circles, including Reagan’s administration. He has recently written a piece of Newsweek in which he makes the conservative case for gay marriage.

This procreation argument cannot be taken seriously. We do not inquire whether heterosexual couples intend to bear children, or have the capacity to have children, before we allow them to marry. We permit marriage by the elderly, by prison inmates, and by persons who have no intention of having children. What’s more, it is pernicious to think marriage should be limited to heterosexuals because of the state’s desire to promote procreation. We would surely not accept as constitutional a ban on marriage if a state were to decide, as China has done, to discourage procreation.

His final line is especially compelling. Of course, the procreation argument has long been a failure given all the people who don’t procreate, not to mention the fact that the government says nothing encouraging to the point anyway, but the comparison with China is the final nail in this long buried coffin. Give it a thought. What if, say, Montana offered tax breaks for specifically for couples with only one child? Or if Washington added a special tax for every child a couple has but the first? Would, then, a ban on marriage be acceptable? Of course not. Clearly, procreation is not the overriding factor here. It’s a lie when claimed otherwise.

Another argument, vaguer and even less persuasive, is that gay marriage somehow does harm to heterosexual marriage. I have yet to meet anyone who can explain to me what this means. In what way would allowing same-sex partners to marry diminish the marriages of heterosexual couples? Tellingly, when the judge in our case asked our opponent to identify the ways in which same-sex marriage would harm heterosexual marriage, to his credit he answered honestly: he could not think of any.

It’s obvious why he couldn’t think of any. Aside from the fact that same-sex marriage doesn’t harm heterosexual marriage, this isn’t actually an argument at all. It’s pure political rhetoric. It’s useless.

And, while our Constitution guarantees the freedom to exercise our individual religious convictions, it equally prohibits us from forcing our beliefs on others. I do not believe that our society can ever live up to the promise of equality, and the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, until we stop invidious discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

This, in truth, is the central argument against same-sex marriage. It isn’t always front and center per se; it’s often the other dishonest arguments that get put forth. But the reality is that the religious want to impose their beliefs on everyone without justification. That is part of the fundamental evil religion has always cultivated: We’re right and you’re wrong and we know it. We just know it.

These decisions have generated controversy, of course, but they are decisions of the nation’s highest court on which our clients are entitled to rely. If all citizens have a constitutional right to marry, if state laws that withdraw legal protections of gays and lesbians as a class are unconstitutional, and if private, intimate sexual conduct between persons of the same sex is protected by the Constitution, there is very little left on which opponents of same-sex marriage can rely. As Justice Antonin Scalia, who dissented in the Lawrence case, pointed out, “[W]hat [remaining] justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising ‘[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution’?” He is right, of course. One might agree or not with these decisions, but even Justice Scalia has acknowledged that they lead in only one direction.

Of course, it’s unlikely Scalia will abide by his own conclusion, instead making a purely political decision, when this case makes it to the Supreme Court. But, for once, he is right. There is no longer any valid legal argument* standing in the way of equality for same-sex couples.

*Key word legal. As for valid arguments based upon reason, understanding, and rationality, they’ve never actually existed.