Tag Archives: Supreme Court

A compromise in Rowan County?


Kim Davis went back to work Monday in Rowan County, Ky.

The question loomed: Would she do her taxpayer-funded job, which includes issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples?

Well, no, but actually yes.

Davis, the rogue county clerk who spent a few days in the slammer when a federal judge found her in contempt of court for railing to issue the licenses, said she wouldn’t do issue the licenses herself, but wouldn’t stand in the way of her deputy clerks who chose to do their jobs on her behalf.

You know, that sounds like a reasonable compromise to me.

If only, though, Davis would understand a couple of key points in this ridiculous sideshow.

One is that her religious faith isn’t being challenged. Two is that she took an oath to serve the entire public, and that includes gay citizens who, according to the nation’s highest court, are entitled to the same rights as all U.S. citizens.

If she can’t perform all the duties she took an oath to perform, she ought to quit.



Senate fails — one more time — to repeal Obamacare

When, oh when, are congressional Republicans going to wake up to the fact that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay?

The U.S. Senate tried once again — and failed once again — to repeal the ACA by seeking to tie it to a transportation funding bill. The vote split on party lines, with eight senators not voting.


Will this failed effort mean the end of future efforts? I am not holding my breath.

As Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., noted, the Senate now has voted 55 times to end the ACA. Fifty-five votes have failed. Meanwhile, she said, 20 million Americans have health insurance who didn’t have it before.

The U.S. Supreme Court — comprising a Republican-appointed conservative majority — has upheld the ACA in two rulings, the second of which brought a suggestion from GOP senators that we ought to make court justices stand for retention, which of course would require a fundamental change in the way the founding fathers established out system of government.

So much for “strict constructionist” views of the judiciary.

No one on either side of the political aisle believes the ACA is perfect. Yes, it has some flaws. Repeal of the law, though, isn’t the answer, particularly when those who want to repeal it keep failing to produce anything approaching a suitable alternative.

So, senators, let’s end the charade. Understand and accept — finally — that the Affordable Care Act is the law. Make it better if you wish. Failing that, then live with it.

A ‘Christian nation’? Never have been one

I heard it said over the weekend that “we aren’t a Christian nation … anymore.”

It took me aback.

We’ve been hearing a lot of that of late, particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling that state bans on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment and the “equal protection clause” contained within it. Therefore, gay marriage should be made legal in all the states, the court said.

Back to the point: Are we a Christian nation? Have we ever been one?

No and no.

I keep reading the U.S. Constitution and so help me, I cannot find the word “Christian” anywhere in it. Some of my friends on the right keep asserting that if the Constitution doesn’t say something specifically, then it’s not germane to a constitutional discussion. A former colleague of mine keeps asserting, for instance, that the Constitution doesn’t even mention “marriage,” but it does mention “the right to keep and bear arms.” That’s his way of affirming that the Second Amendment’s literal verbiage carries weight over the court’s broader interpretation of what’s allowed and what’s prohibited.

I am quite aware of the argument that the founders were driven by religious principles. I remain undecided, though, on the issue of whether they were devout believers in Jesus Christ, as some have asserted, or whether they were deists who believed in a more ecumenical God, or supreme being or “higher power.”

I also am quite aware that after considerable debate at the constitutional convention that produced our governing framework that they produced a document that is devoid of religious references … except for one mention. It says — in Article VI, Paragraph 3 — that there shall be “no religious test” for anyone seeking public office.

The founders’ immediate forebears fled Europe to escape religious persecution and to be free of state-mandated religion. That’s why they wrote a Constitution that spells out quite clearly that this would be a secular nation, governed by laws written by fallible human beings.

A Christian nation? Well, we’re a nation comprising citizens who are mostly Christian. They remain free to worship as they please. So are non-Christians, just as it’s always been since the beginning of this great republic.

God bless America.

Thanks, Supremes, for the blog traffic

Thanks go this morning to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The justices have helped High Plains Blogger set yet another monthly record for page views and visitors.

The nature of this blog — which focuses on public policy, with a smattering of life experience stuff thrown in — relies on the news cycle. The Supremes kicked that cycle in the backside this past week with two key rulings: on Obamacare and then on gay marriage.

The month started out quite strong, as the blog set a single-day record for page views and unique visitors. Then traffic kind of tailed off — but only a little.

It’s back up again, thanks to the grist handed to folks such as me on which to comment.

I’ve done so of late and readers of this blog have responded nicely.

I’m gratified for that response. Keep reading and sharing what you read … please.

As for the court, it’s now in recess until October.

Thanks, justices, for going out with a serious bang.

U.S. Constitution alive and well

There are those who say the U.S. Constitution is carved in stone.

Others say it is a living document.

I will side with the living document folks.

Consider this, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision that legalizes gay marriage across the nation.

The Constitution, when it was written, granted full citizenship rights to just a portion of the population.

* Men were allowed to vote. Not women.

* Black people were the property of white people; they were considered to be three-fifths of a human being.

Eventually, the Constitution underwent change.

The 19th Amendment gave women got the right to vote. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery. The 24th Amendment barred poll taxes as a requirement to vote in federal elections.

The courts stepped in on a number of fronts. The Supreme Court tossed out a state law that prohibited interracial marriage; it tossed out “separate but equal” provisions in public education, resulting in integration of our public schools; it ruled that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

Now it has ruled that same-sex couples are as entitled to marry as heterosexual couples.

The Constitution has evolved over time.

I believe the evolution will continue with this latest ruling.


Tumult unlikely to let up

gay marriage

It’s been a tumultuous past few days, right?

The Confederate flag has come under intense fire; then the Supreme Court steps in and — in order — affirms the Affordable Care Act and then legalizes gay marriage.

Let the arguments ensue.

As for the gay marriage issue, I want to make only this point.

Those who oppose the court’s ruling as a threat to traditional marriage ought to take a deep breath and wait.

They need to wait to see — and this will take time — if the rate of traditional weddings drops off; or if the rate of traditional divorce increases.

I suspect we’ll see an increase in gay marriages across the land, as same-sex couples now are able to marry openly — and legally. Would that increase signify a disproportionate representation of the number of Americans who happen to be gay? That remains to be seen as well. I continue to believe the percentage of gay people is as it’s always been; we’ve seen a spike in the percentage of those who have “come out.”

I only can speak for myself and — on this matter — for my wife. Neither of us feels threatened by the court decision. We’ve been at this marriage game for going on 44 years. It’s worked pretty well for us.

In that regard, I’m not yet willing to concede that the court majority’s ruling is going to trigger an avalanche of divorces among heterosexual couples. Nor am I willing to believe that a serious decline in weddings involving men and women marrying each other is on the horizon.

Patience, please. Let’s see what transpires.

Next up for Supremes? Gay marriage

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, with two conservative justices joining the liberals to form a majority coalition, it is fair to speculate about the gay marriage ruling that’s coming up.

My trick knee is throbbing and it’s telling me the court is going to declare that gay couples can legally be married.

What’s more, if conservatives think they’re angry now at Chief Justice John Roberts’s ruling in favor of the ACA, wait to see the reaction if he decides that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause applies to gay couples.


Republicans, such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, say that religious liberty is under attack. Cruz, who’s running for the GOP presidential nomination, told the Faith and Freedom Coalition: “I would encourage everyone here to be lifting up in prayer the court that they not engage in an act of naked and lawless judicial activism, tearing down the marriage laws adopted pursuant to the Constitution.”

There he goes again, using that word “lawless.”

The case under consideration deals with whether a gay couple can be married legally in one state and have it recognized in another. Federal judges have overturned state bans on gay marriage, declaring that such bans violate the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law for all citizens. Gay people are citizens, too.

The court surprised a lot of Americans — including me — by upholding the ACA.

I’m sensing a less-surprising outcome on the gay marriage issue.

The reaction, though, could be ferocious.

What if Obamacare gets stricken?

You’ve heard it said that one should be careful about they wish for, that they just might get it.

Congressional Republicans have been wishing for an end to the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Supreme Court might grant them their wish. Then again, the court might uphold the ACA.

But if the court strikes down the subsidies set aside in the law and deprives an estimated 6.5 million Americans their health insurance, who do you suppose is going to feel the heat the most? I’m guessing it’ll be Republicans who will have to come up with a plan of their own to restore the lost health insurance that so many millions of Americans have been able to obtain under Obamacare.


The Hill reports that a court victory might be the GOP’s worst nightmare.

And get this, according to The Hill: “The politics of the King vs. Burwell case are extremely treacherous and tricky for Republicans because if the subsidies are thrown out by the court, Republicans are in the position of having to create a fix that would be seen as a problem by their most conservative supporters,” said John Ullyot, a GOP strategist and former senior Senate aide.”

So, key Republicans are going to be whipsawed. Their base doesn’t particularly like federally mandated anything, let alone health insurance. They’ll fight with GOP leaders who want to repair the ACA. Meanwhile, those 6.5 million Americans will see their health insurance evaporate. Many of them live in states that will become key battleground states for senators seeking re-election.

The court will hand its ruling down any day now. President Obama has criticized the court for even agreeing to hear this case; he believes the case doesn’t even merit a court decision, that the law is ironclad, given that the court already has upheld it once already prior to the 2012 presidential election.

Whatever the court decides — and I’m far from willing to concede that it’ll strip out the ACA subsidies — at least one side of the aisle is going to go ape.

Heck, if the court rules in favor of Republicans, we might see both sides of the aisle lapse into catatonic states.





McConnell may not block judge picks after all

I’m not going to be so terribly presumptuous to assume that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell read High Plains Blogger recently and may be reacting to its — I mean my — assertion that gridlock regarding judicial appointments is bad for the nation.

Still, I am heartened to hear that despite what McConnell told a radio talk show host, he really and truly doesn’t have plans to block all future circuit court and Supreme Court appointments during the remainder of President Obama’s administration.


The president has a number of circuit judge appointments pending in the Senate, which must approve them before the judges take their lifetime seats. A McConnell spokesman said the majority leader really didn’t say all those appointments were toast. They’d get a hearing and a vote, he said.

I’ve noted already that presidents deserve to select judicial appointees to their liking. That’s a consequence of national elections and Barack Obama has won two of them, in a row.

There’s still no word yet on what the Senate would do about a Supreme Court vacancy should one occur. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is said to be in poor health, but she says she isn’t retiring. She’s one of the liberals on the court. Her departure and a replacement wouldn’t shift the balance of power, at least theoretically.

If a conservative justice were to leave the court, well, that’s another matter.

In the meantime, the threat of locking down all future Obama appointments appears now to be lessening.

I’m left to wonder: Did the majority leader actually see my blog?

Nah. Couldn’t be … but it’s fun to wonder.


Anti-sodomy law still on the books? Get rid of it!

I just learned something today that I probably should have known already.

It’s that a law banning sodomy in Texas remains on the books, even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state’s anti-sodomy law to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Let me stipulate here that I am not comfortable writing about sex, so I’ll be discreet.


The anti-sodomy law was a vestige of the state’s prejudice against homosexual behavior. It banned same-sex intimacy. The Supreme Court then stepped in and said the state cannot ban such behavior, given that what two people do in the privacy of their home is, well, no one’s business but their own.

I thought the court’s striking down of the law meant the end of it. The state couldn’t enforce an unconstitutional law. Silly me. I was wrong.

The Texas Tribune reports that Texas isn’t alone among the states that still have anti-sodomy laws on the books. Eleven other states have these outdated laws.

They all should be repealed.

I find it incredibly hypocritical for legislators who contend that government shouldn’t interfere in people’s lives to retain a law that interferes in the most intrusive manner imaginable.

The highest court in the country ruled in 2003 that states could not punish people for engaging in same-sex intercourse, as Texas did.

The Legislature needs to finish off this law once and for all. Time’s wasting, ladies and gentlemen.