Archive for the 'Marriage Equality' Category
Regular readers of Gavel Grab are familiar with Iowa’s turbulent judicial retention (yes-or-no) elections in recent years. In 2010, three Iowa Supreme Court justices were ousted in retaliation for a controversial marriage ruling. In 2012, a similar ouster effort against a fourth justice was turned back, and the justice was retained.
For those less familiar with this history, the Talking Points Memo blog recaps much of it in fixing a spotlight on a more recent, related event: The Family Leader group posted last month an attack on Polk County District Judge Karen Romano, saying she apparently “has not learned a lesson” from” the 2010 election (see Gavel Grab). The Family Leader and some outside groups sought the justices’ removal then.
Judge Romano recently stirred controversy for some when she stayed a new Iowa Board of Medicine rule adopted to regulate medication abortions.
Talking Points Memo writer Andy Kopsa sees in Iowa — and other states — a growing threat to fair and impartial courts through retention election ouster efforts driven by special interests for political reasons: Read more
Ohio’s constitution bans marriage of same-sex couples, but a federal judge recently recognized the marriage of a same-sex Ohio couple who wed out-of-state. Now Republican state Rep. John Becker (photo) has urged the start of impeachment proceedings against the judge for “malfeasance and abuse of power.”
Becker urged U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, to launch impeachment proceedings against Federal District Judge Timothy S. Black, according to a Cincinnati.com article. Here is Wenstrup’s reply:
“While Judge Black’s ruling violated the Ohio Constitution and the will of Ohio voters, the question of whether this decision also violated the U.S. Constitution remains before a higher court. I will watch those appellate proceedings closely to see if Judge Black’s decision is upheld and I have full confidence in the Ohio’s office of the Attorney General during the appeals process.”
When Judge Black recognized earlier this year the marriage of James Obergefell and John Arthur, who were wed in Maryland, he wrote, “This is not a complicated case.” He went on, according to the Washington Post, ”The issue is whether the State of Ohio can discriminate against same sex marriages lawfully solemnized out of state, when Ohio law has historically and unambiguously provided that the validity of a marriage is determined by whether it complies with the law of the jurisdiction where it was celebrated.” Read more
Former Chief Justice Marsha Ternus of the Iowa Supreme Court was removed in a retention election almost three years ago amid an ouster campaign over a controversial court ruling.
Nonetheless, she still supports the retention (up-or-down) election process that is part of Iowa’s merit-based system for choosing judges, according to a Des Moines Register article.
It’s important for Iowans to remember that merit selection is the best means for getting qualified justices on the court, Justice Ternus said:
“I think what’s more significant is what we talked about today going forward and to make sure that we protect the merit selection that we have of judges here in Iowa. It’s the best way to make sure that we have a competent judiciary and one that will adhere to the rule of law.” Read more
Two prominent, bipartisan defenders of fair and impartial courts in Iowa are using a Des Moines Register commentary to urge the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board to investigate a complaint alleging the violation of state law during state Supreme Court retention elections in 2010 and 2012.
Political activist Fred Karger alleged in June that the National Organization for Marriage had violated state law by failing to disclose all of its donors when it pushed in the retention elections to oust four Iowa Supreme Court justices (see Gavel Grab).
The newspaper commentary was written by Sally Pederson and Joy Corning, former Democratic and Republican lieutenant governors, respectively, and honorary co-chairs of Justice Not Politics, a nonpartisan coalition. They wrote:
“There is no question that donations will continue to pour into our state, but unless we discover definitively whether the law was broken, Iowa will be open for business to any group that wants to use its limitless campaign funds to influence our courts.” Read more
Some of the harshest attacks launched against fair and impartial courts over single decisions were sparked by state judges’ votes on issues surrounding marriage for same-sex couples.
Now that the Supreme Court has issued two marriage rulings, some experts predict there may be more hard-fought court fights ahead, especially as advocates challenge state bans on marriage between same-sex couples.
Although the Supreme Court did not rule this week on a right to marriage, said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, its opinion striking down a key section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) gives advocates of gay rights more fodder to challenge marriage bans.
“This is the beginning of a whole new round of jurisprudence,” Romero told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s enormously significant.”
The Supreme Court’s dual rulings on marriages for same-sex couples made banner headlines, drew a flood of editorial commentary and cast the high court in a bright spotlight for the impact it has on citizens’ lives.
Explained Frank Bruni in a New York Times op-ed devoted to “The Court’s Immeasurable Impact”:
“Like all that happens at the highest levels of our government, like all the judgments rendered and statements made by the officials chosen to guide us, the court’s actions set a tone. They send a signal. They alter the climate of what’s considered just and what’s not, of what’s permissible and what’s intolerable, and that change ripples into every last corner of American life, shaping people’s very destinies.”
In the Washington Post, Dan Balz saw the court rulings as marking a sea change under way in American culture:
“Sometimes the court makes history outright, as it did when it outlawed segregated schools in 1954 or legalized abortion in 1973. Other times, it moves more deliberately, facilitating changes already underway. That was the Read more
President Obama hailed on Wednesday the Supreme Court’s decision overturning a key section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (see Gavel Grab), calling the statute “discrimination enshrined in law.”
“It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it,” he said, according to a New York Times report.
“I’ve directed the attorney general to work with other members of my cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly,” he added.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, voiced his disappointment in a statement, according to the Washington Post. “While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balances,” he said. ”A robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.”
The No. 2 Republican in the Senate, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said, “like it or not, the Supreme Court is the final word on constitutional matters.” He added, according to Politico, “It sounds to me that that battle will be moving to the states.”
The Supreme Court issued today two major decisions on cases about marriage for same-sex couples. Taken together, the rulings expanded gay rights, according to the New York Times.
In an historic 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, it struck down as unconstitutional a key section the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), denying federal benefits to gay or lesbian couples who are married.
In a case challenging Proposition 8, a California law barring same-sex couples from marrying, the high court said opponents did not have the legal standing to challenge a lower-court ruling that had found the ban unconstitutional.
In the DOMA case, United States v. Windsor, the ruling said, “DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others,” according to NBC News.
“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.” Read more
In a complaint filed with an Iowa ethics board, political activist Fred Karger alleged on Wednesday that the National Organization for Marriage violated state law by failing to disclose all of its donors when it pushed in 2010 and 2012 retention elections to oust four Iowa Supreme Court justices.
Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board Executive Director Megan Tooker said her board would look at the complaint to see if an investigation is warranted, according to a Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier article.
Karger was planning to file a related complaint on Thursday in Washington, D.C., Radio Iowa reported.
In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court found it unconstitutional to deny civil marriage to same-sex couples. The following year, an ouster campaign funded in large part by out-of-state interest groups led to the removal in a retention (up-or-down) election of three Supreme Court justices who had participated in the ruling. A similar attempt in 2012 to remove Justice David Wiggins from the bench did not succeed.
The fact that it is common for openly gay law clerks to work for both liberal and conservative Supreme Court justices could have a bearing on how the court decides two high-profile cases involving marriage for same-sex couples, suggests reporter Adam Liptak in a New York Times article.
“In addressing for the first time whether the law must recognize lesbian and gay couples as families,” said David C. Codell, who clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “certain of the justices undoubtedly will reflect upon their real-world experiences of getting to know and to understand lesbian and gay people as individuals and as members of families.”
Chief Justice John Roberts this year admitted more than two dozen members of the National LGBT Bar Association to the Supreme Court’s bar, a step Liptak cited in showing how far the court had come since 1986. That year, Justice Lewis Powell Jr. told his colleagues he had never met a homosexual. In fact, one of his clerks then was gay. Justice Powell went on to decide with his vote a ruling “that would end up devastating the gay rights movement,” Liptak wrote.