Tag Archives: 14th Amendment

Oh, boy … let’s watch this clerk’s race

Kim Davis is going to seek re-election as county clerk in Rowan County, Ky.

Big deal, you say? Sure it is. Here’s why.

Rowan is the county clerk who made a big-time name for herself after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 to legalize gay marriage in all 50 of our states. It declared that the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection clause” meant that gay couples are entitled to be married because they are entitled to equal protection under the law.

Davis didn’t agree with that. She said that her religious beliefs wouldn’t allow her to sign off on marriage certificates involving gay couples. The court told her to do her job; she refused and then spent a few days in the slammer on a contempt of court charge. The issue was resolved when the courts ruled Davis didn’t have to sign the certificates, but could allow her deputies to do so.

During all that tumult, Davis changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. So now she wants to be re-elected to a second term.

I normally wouldn’t give a royal rat’s rear end about Kim Davis, except that I spent a good bit of time on this blog commenting on how she violated the oath of office she took.

It’s that oath — and her violation of it — that make her unfit for re-election.

This campaign under normal circumstances wouldn’t command any attention outside of Rowan County. It will, because Davis made such a spectacle of herself by protesting the high court’s decision on gay marriage.

Davis took an oath office to defend and protect the U.S. Constitution and to obey the law of the land. She failed to do her job by injecting religion into a secular political office. The oath she took doesn’t allow her to use her faith as a dodge.

That is how her political opponent ought to frame his or her campaign against her.

So, with that Kim Davis is going to run for re-election. I should resist the urge to follow how this will play out.

But I won’t.

Remember the time Kim Davis … you know?

Someone out there has brought back an earlier episode involving politics in the workplace, so I’ll just jump on that horse and ride it briefly here.

Kim Davis is the Rowan County (Ky.) clerk who once defied a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared that gay marriage is a protected right under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

She said her religious beliefs wouldn’t permit her to issue marriage license to gay couples. She violated the oath of her office; she had vowed to obey the Constitution and, you know, follow the law of the land.

She brought her personal political beliefs into the workplace. Bad, Kim … bad!

So now there’s some argument being kicked around in social media about those pro football players who are doing that very thing. They’re bringing their politics into their workplace, which happens to be on a field surrounded by tens of thousands of paying fans and millions more of them watching them do their jobs on television.

Some of those players are “taking a knee” when “The Star-Spangled Banner” is sung before games. Others are locking arms with teammates. Critics of this practice say that the athletes are acting inappropriately by politicizing their profession, not to mention that they’re “disrespecting the Constitution,” which I believe is a ludicrous assertion.

I’ll stipulate once more that I am not pleased by the nature of the protests by pro football players. I wish they had found another way to protest against police brutality against African-Americans, which is the initial reason for the protests.

That all said, if it’s OK — in the minds of many Americans — for Kim Davis, who serves the public in a public office, to bring her political beliefs into her workplace, why is it not OK for pro football players to do the same thing?

Stunning profile may emerge on local judicial bench

The Texas Panhandle received excellent federal judicial service for nearly four decades, thanks to the steady hand provided by U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson.

She is stepping aside. A new president has nominated a replacement for Judge Robinson. But some potentially chilling information is coming forth about the new guy.

The Texas Tribune is reporting on statements made by another judicial nominee who is linked to the man Donald Trump has selected for the Northern District of Texas federal bench. Jeff Mateer formerly served as general counsel for a right-wing advocacy group, the First Liberty Institute; Matthew Kaczmaryk — Trump’s choice to succeed Robinson — is deputy general counsel for the same group. Mateer now works in the Texas attorney general’s office. Follow me for a moment.

Mateer is Trump’s pick for another federal judgeship. He reportedly believes transgender children are part of “Satan’s work.”

In a 2015 speech, Mateer said this, according to the Texas Tribune Texas Tribune, about the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage in the United States: “I mean, it’s disgusting,” he said. “I’ve learned words I didn’t know. There are people who marry themselves. Somebody wanted to marry a tree. People marrying their pets. It’s just like — you know, you read the New Testament and you read about all the things and you think, ‘Oh, that’s not going on in our community.’ Oh yes it is. We’re going back to that time where debauchery rules.”

There you have it: Same-sex marriage equals “debauchery,” according to Mateer. The nation’s highest court ruled that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that all Americans are entitled to “equal protection under the law,” meaning that gay Americans have a constitutional right to marry people of the same gender.

My question is whether Kaczmaryk is cut from the same mold as Mateer, given that they both work for the same ultra-right wing advocacy group.

Is this the kind of justice we can expect from the federal bench in Amarillo? Please say it won’t be so.

Who’d ever thought we’d reach this point?

WASHINGTON — I’ve witnessed plenty in my lifetime: an erupting volcano, a Ku Klux Klan rally, returning to where I served in a time of war.

I was able to knock another experience off my list of things I thought I’d never see: I got to watch a gay pride extravaganza in the nation’s capital.

My first — and most profound — takeaway was this: An event such as what we saw could not have been possible a generation ago. It speaks to the changes in attitude, culture, social mores that have swept across the country.

I was told the gay pride activities were “tame” compared to how they used to be. Every one of the thousands of people I saw along the many streets we walked was fully clothed. I saw plenty of rainbow colors. People’s hair was dyed in the colors of “Gay Pride.” They were festooned in rainbow-colored clothing. They were lugging signs, selling trinkets of assorted value.

I saw lots of smiles on a gorgeous day under a bright late spring sun.

Who in the world could have foreseen events such this a generation ago, perhaps even a decade ago.

I guess we can thank the U.S. Supreme Court for delivering millions of Americans from a form of purgatory when it ruled that under the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection clause” that gay marriage is therefore legal in all 50 states of this great nation.

But here’s another aspect of what I heard about the gay pride activities taking place in this most political place in America: Corporate and, yes, church endorsement helped make it mainstream. Think about that for just a moment. Gay pride events no longer are the sole province of radicals and extremists intending to shake up “the establishment.” The establishment has signed on.

So the parade took place. The capital was alive with celebration along block after block around the corridors of political power. I was there to witness it.

It was cool.

Hold on! Court balance won’t change

All this hyperventilating over Donald Trump’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court is making me dizzy.

The president tonight brought out Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the 10th Circuit of Appeals, as his nominee for the nation’s highest court.

He’s a conservative, just as Trump promised. He is a “strict constitutional constructionist,” again as Trump vowed. He’s also a disciple of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, as Trump pledged.

Now we’re hearing talk about the “nuclear option” that Senate Democrats might employ to stop Gorsuch’s confirmation. They’ll oppose this fellow, seemingly as payback for the shabby treatment Senate Republicans leveled against President Obama’s choice to succeed Obama. Remember that? Senate GOPers said within hours of Scalia’s death that they would block anyone the president nominated. Obama selected Merrick Garland and the Senate didn’t even give him a hearing and a vote.

Let’s take a deep breath here.

I want to make a couple of points.

One, I detest the notion of Donald Trump nominating anyone to the court. But he won the presidency without my vote. He won enough electoral votes to take the oath of office. Thus, he earned the right to choose anyone he wants.

Gorsuch isn’t my kind of justice. But someone else is the president.

Two, the ideological balance of the U.S. Supreme Court is not going to change when — or if — Gorsuch is confirmed. Scalia was a conservative icon. He was a heroic figure among political conservatives. Placing another judicial conservative on the high court restores the court’s narrow 5-4 conservative bent.

I feel compelled to note that the court — with that narrow conservative majority — made two decisions that riled conservatives, um, bigly. It upheld the Affordable Care Act and it declared same-sex marriage to be legal under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

Would a Justice Gorsuch change that equation? I don’t see it. A nominee to succeed, say, one of the liberals on the court would most assuredly prompt a titanic political battle … as it should.

None of this will matter, of course, to Senate Democrats who are enraged at the president over many — seemingly countless — issues. His behavior in the first 10 days of his presidency, culminating with his firing of an acting attorney general over her refusal to defend Trump’s paranoid refugee ban, has angered Democrats to their core.

Thus, the fight is on.

It pains me to acknowledge it, but I must. Donald Trump vowed to nominate someone from a list of 20 or so jurists he revealed during his campaign. He has delivered on his pledge.

Judge Gorsuch isn’t to my liking. Moreover, my candidate lost. The other guy won. As they say, elections do have consequences.

Gay marriage is ‘settled law’ … how about abortion?

blackmun

Donald J. Trump says the U.S. Supreme Court has settled the issue of gay marriage, ruling that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides “equal protection” under the law to gay couples, thus allowing them to marry legally.

The president-elect made the right call there.

But wait a second!

What about abortion? The High Court also has ruled that women have a constitutional right to make decisions regarding their own bodies, that they are allowed to terminate a pregnancy. They cited the same 14th Amendment’s “right of privacy” provision, as noted in Justice Harry Blackmun’s opinion.

Is it settled law? One would think so.

Trump, though, has said he’s going to find someone to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court who opposes abortion, who would help overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.

Isn’t the Roe v. Wade decision “settled law” as well, just as much as the gay marriage decision of just a couple of years ago?

I should note, I suppose, that Trump once was adamantly pro-choice on the abortion issue. Now he is just as adamantly pro-life on the matter.

Trump now plans to apply the abortion litmus test to whomever he selects to the court post vacated by the death earlier this year of longtime conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalia.

Presidents normally say they don’t set up such tests for potential Supreme Court nominees … but of course they do. I’ll give Trump credit at least for all but admitting out loud he has established one critical benchmark for whomever he chooses to fill the court vacancy.

The credit, though, must be tempered by the “settled law” notion that the president-elect applies to one key social issue of our time while refusing to apply it to another.

Gay marriage, where Trump and GOP base part company

facebook-marriage-equality-rings

Here it comes.

The millions of Republican voters who stood by their man, Donald J. Trump, during the acrid presidential campaign might be feeling the first of many pangs of regret over one of their guy’s core beliefs.

Trump has told “60 Minutes” correspondent Leslie Stahl that gay marriage is the law of the land and that he’s “fine” with that. The U.S. Supreme Court decided it, legalized gay marriage in all the states. The issue is done, said Trump — quite correctly. There, you see? I actually can say something complimentary of the president-elect.

I almost could hear the teeth-gnashing while sitting in my study at home when he said that.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/305803-trump-diverts-from-gop-fine-with-supreme-courts-gay-marriage

Do you think the president-elect has upset those among his base, the folks who stood by him while he insulted prisoners of war, mocked a disabled reporter, admitted to groping women, denigrated a Gold Star family?

All of those things, taken separately, should have been enough to disqualify this guy from being nominated by a major political party, let alone from being elected president.

The GOP base — the true believers — stood by the nominee despite not even understanding what he believed.

Trump has vowed to appoint a conservative to the U.S. Supreme Court to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The court, though, has settled the gay marriage issue, citing the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and its “equal protection under the law” clause.

Trump tonight has indicated — finally! — that he understands the concept of “settled law.” The base of his party will be unhappy with the man they backed to the hilt.

Judge removed — with cause — from state’s highest court

bbwqbr7

Roy Moore took an oath when he became chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

The oath required him to follow the law, to adhere to the U.S. Constitution.

Then the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay people have the right — under the Constitution’s 14th Amendment equal protection clause — to marry others of the same gender.

Moore disagreed with that ruling. So he ruled that county clerks and other duly empowered local officials should adhere instead to a state law that denied marriage to gay people.

Well, Judge Moore’s days as head of the state’s highest court are over. The Alabama Court of the Judiciary has suspended Moore for the remainder of his term, declaring that he violated state and federal law by denying gay Alabamans the right to marry.

This isn’t the first time Moore has gotten into trouble over his refusal to abide by federal law. He was removed earlier for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse grounds in Montgomery, Ala. That act of defiance didn’t bother me nearly as much as this one does.

The nation’s highest court is empowered to interpret the Constitution. It ruled that the 14th Amendment provides equal protection to all Americans under the law and that the amendment doesn’t allow for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Moore has no authority to flout that ruling, the state’s Court of the Judiciary has ruled.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/alabama-justice-off-bench-for-defying-feds-on-gay-marriage/ar-BBwQ2VL?ocid=st

When will it sink in to this fellow’s apparently thick skull that when he takes an oath to follow the law and obey the U.S. Constitution, that there’s no wiggle room.

None.

Adhere to your oath or else step aside.

County clerk wins court fight; now, get to work

kim davis

Kim Davis is back in the news, if only for just a fleeting moment.

The Rowan County, Ky., clerk has won a court fight launched against her by two gay couples and two straight couples who had sued her for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

A federal judge ruled that Kentucky state law has been enacted that removes county clerks’ names from marriage licenses, which Davis and her supporters said protected her religious liberty, as she refused to issue the licenses based on her devotion to her Christian beliefs.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/08/21/judge-dismisses-lawsuits-against-kim-davis-over-marriage-licenses.html

As I see this ruling, it’s a dismissal on a technicality. Rowan no longer has to put her name on these licenses, which in Rowan County are issued by one of her deputies.

This whole case erupted after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is protected under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Davis decided to make a show of it by refusing to issue the licenses to gay couples — even though she took an oath to uphold the law of the land, the Constitution, and the laws of her state.

Davis has won a court battle. I get that.

She also messed up royally when she refused to fulfill the tenets of the oath she took when she assumed this public office.

Her religious liberty does not supersede the rights of those she has sworn to serve.

The county clerk can thank the Kentucky legislature for giving her room to wiggle her way out.

Irony abounds in Cruz citizenship debate

ted-cruz-sexy-eyes

There’s no denying the irony in this growing discussion over whether U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is constitutionally qualified to run for president of the United States.

To my mind — and to many others who know a whole lot more about constitutional law than I do — there should be no question about the Republican presidential candidate’s eligibility.

He is eligible to run. Period. End of discussion. The Constitution spells it out. He is a “natural-born citizen” whose mother is an American; thus, he is granted U.S. citizenship by birthright, even though he was born in Canada.

The irony?

Well, this issue came up regarding Barack Obama, except that some individuals didn’t believe what Obama had said, which is that he was born in Hawaii. They kept harping on his alleged birth in Kenya. So, what’s the big deal? The president’s mother also was an American citizen; his father was Kenyan.

If either Obama or Cruz — or both of them, for that matter — had been born on Mars, their citizenship shouldn’t be an issue.

The other irony is that Cruz is relying on the opinion of courts comprising unelected federal judges. He calls this matter a case of “settled law.” Strange, actually, that he would say such a thing, given the disdain he expressed for the federal judiciary after the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that gay marriage is now legal throughout the country, that the Constitution’s equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment applied to gay citizens seeking to marry people of the same gender.

I happen to believe that Cruz is right about the citizenship issue.

It won’t go away as long as Donald J. Trump continues to raise it along the GOP presidential campaign trail. Other Republicans now are beginning to echo Trump’s questioning of Cruz’s eligibility — although this concern seems born more out of Cruz’s rising poll numbers than of actual doubt over whether he’s a qualified U.S. citizen seeking the highest office in the land.

The volume is rising among those who are seeking to stall the Texas Republican’s campaign momentum.

It’s entertaining, to be sure, to watch the irony build on itself as this (non)-issue continues to fester.

I’m wondering: How does President Obama feel about it?