Tag Archives: 14th Amendment

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?


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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?

Governor allows clerks to hide their names


Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin took office and immediately issued a series of executive orders. Let’s look at one of them.

It no longer requires county clerks to put their names on marriage licenses. Can we hear an “amen!” from Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who refused to do her job as required by law, and her oath, on the grounds that issuing such licenses to gay couples violated her religious beliefs?

Bevin’s order intends to protect the religious rights of county clerks who object to issuing the licenses on religious grounds.

I believe the main issue here is whether county clerks — who take an oath to protect and defend their state and federal constitutions — are obligated to marry anyone who seeks a license. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that all citizens are guaranteed equal rights and protection under the law and it makes no stipulations about their sexual orientation.

If Gov. Bevin’s order now guarantees that all Kentucky residents can now seek and receive legal marriage licenses, without regard to whom they are marrying, then he’s done the right thing.


Feds trump states on gay marriage


The issue over whether a county clerk in a particular state has the authority to deny marriage licenses to gay couples brings up the time-honored debate over states’ rights.

Rowan County (Ky.) Clerk Kim Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses because she opposes — on religious grounds — sanctioning same-sex marriages.

A federal judge found her in contempt of court and threw her into a jail. Davis is appealing her incarceration to the Kentucky governor.

Does the state have the right to deny a marriage license to a gay couple? Here’s my view on it.

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law to all citizens. The U.S. Constitution is the governing framework for the federal government. The Constitution, therefore, is the pre-eminent law of the land.

The U.S. Supreme Court this year ruled, thus, that same-sex marriage is a protected right under the Constitution. Therefore, states must follow the law as prescribed in that document.

So, when someone takes an oath to “uphold the Constitution,” he or she is bound by that oath to perform the duties of his or her office.

The federal law, in this instance, trumps state law.


‘Anchor babies’ becomes campaign buzz phrase


Anchor babies. That’s the newest catch-phrase that is drawing some criticism for the way it sounds in describing some U.S. citizens.

Donald Trump is using the term. So is Jeb Bush. The two Republican presidential candidates — who’ve been batting each other around lately — seem to agree on the use of the term.

It’s meant to define individuals who were born in the United States to foreign nationals. They become U.S. citizens by virtue of their birthright — as prescribed in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

But get this: Three other GOP presidential candidates actually are “anchor babies.” Marco Rubio was born in the United States to Cuban parents. Ted Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. And then there’s Bobby Jindal, born in the U.S. to Indians. All three men are “anchor babies.”

Trump wants to repeal the 14th Amendment that grants U.S. citizenship to “anchor babies.” Rubio opposes Trump’s view about birthright citizenship.

It’s another issue that’s threatening to split the GOP field.