8:09 AM, Jun 29, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Justice Anthony Kennedy, while dictating one of the most sweeping social changes in history in his opinion in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that legalized same-sex marriage across America, waxes magnanimous towards foes of the expansion of the millennia-old definition of marriage. He said those who believe same-sex marriage is wrong may "reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged" in the court's pronouncement. Likewise, President Obama spoke deferentially of "Americans of goodwill" whose "[o]pposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs."
But these statements are platitudes at best; more likely, they are simply disingenuous. In a previous Supreme Court opinion, United States v. Windsor, Kennedy characterized the Defense of Marriage Act as calculated to "degrade or demean" same-sex couples, hardly a "decent and honorable... premise" by any definition. And the president has often compared the treatment of gays wishing to marry with the treatment of blacks prior to civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Certainly the president would not characterize opponents of racial equality as "Americans of goodwill" simply following "sincere and deeply held beliefs."
So while Kennedy and the president pay lip service to religious freedom when it comes to the same-sex marriage, the American Civil Liberties Union is more forthright. Even before the decision was handed down on Friday, the ACLU's deputy legal director Louise Melling made clear in a Washington Post op-ed that toleration for religious liberty claims when it comes to same-sex marriage and gay rights issues in general is wearing thin. "[R]eligious liberty doesn’t mean the right to discriminate or to impose one’s views on others," Melling wrote.
On the surface, Melling's view may seem to be at odds with Kennedy's summation of his opinion's effect on religious liberty:
Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons. In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate.
But to what end? Even if the debate continues unhampered by further government intrusion on religious liberty, what can opponents hope to accomplish short of a constitutional amendment? Even if public opinion swings back in favor of traditional marriage, Kennedy's majority opinion has cut-off the legislative route. The above paragraph ends with:
The Constitution, however, does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex.
Even if 100 percent of the voters in a state opposed same-sex marriage, no state law or state constitutional amendment would withstand Kennedy's ruling. The last amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the twenty-seventh, was ratified in 1992, 202 years after it was introduced. Before that, the most recent amendment was ratified in 1971. This country does not amend the Constitution lightly, but even if it were to happen in this case, the process would not be a rapid one.
And how would opposition be treated during that time? As "decent and honorable"? As holding a "sincere" belief? Louise Melling of the ACLU provides the more likely answer:
8:34 PM, May 28, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Days after the indictment of FIFA officials and just a day after the indictment of Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the House, Attorney General Loretta Lynch is scheduled to mee with President Barack Obama. The meeting with take place in the Oval Office.
Via the president's public schedule.
"In the morning, the President and the Vice President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office. This meeting is closed press," the schedule reads.
2:10 PM, Apr 29, 2015 • By DAVID W. MURRAY and JOHN P. WALTERS
At a Manhattan fundraiser yesterday (as noted by The Hill), potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke of the rioting in Baltimore by invoking a theme of the Obama administration: the need for reform of the criminal justice system.
7:45 AM, Apr 29, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
At an Ivy League university, Hillary Clinton will propose having "body cameras for every officer nationally," the New York Times's Maggie Haberman reports on Twitter.
7:37 AM, Mar 31, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Less than four months ago, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice had concluded that the transgendered are among the classes of persons protected, unbeknownst to the framers of the legislation at the time, by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
11:31 AM, Dec 25, 2014 • By DAVID W. MURRAY
In April of this year, the Obama administration announced it would “reformulate” clemency guidelines for federal prison offenders. As the Washington Post described it, “Justice Department Prepares for Clemency Requests from Thousands of Inmates.” The paper claimed that this “unprecedented campaign to free nonviolent offenders” would continue for two years and that DOJ would “reassign dozens of lawyers to its understaffed pardons office to handle the requests from inmates.”
2:37 PM, Dec 4, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama alluded to the recent unrest in Ferguson and New York City in remarks today at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. The president talked of "restoring a sense of common purpose."
10:25 PM, Nov 24, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama, speaking live to the nation after the decision in Ferguson not to indict a police office for the killing of Michael Brown, said that "America isn't everything that it could be."
8:23 AM, Nov 4, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The Justice Department's Bureau of Prisons (BOP) recently committed $830,160 to purchase Protective Stab Vests for use by employees in federal prison facilities. The contract was awarded on a sole-source, no-bid basis because the need was determined to be of an "urgent and compelling nature." Documents accompanying the posting say that "thousands of vests ... are now considered to be End- of-Life" and need replacing, and vests are needed for new employees as well.
Admits he lives in a "bubble."7:45 AM, Oct 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama does not want to be a Supreme Court justice. He calls it "too monastic" for his own personality. Besides, in an interview with the New Yorker, President Obama acknowledges that he needs to get out of the "bubble" after what will be eight years as president of the United States.
11:39 AM, Sep 22, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan officiated a same-sex marriage over the weekend, the Associated Press reports. It was her first.
"Justice Elena Kagan has officiated for the first time at a same-sex wedding, a Maryland ceremony for her former law clerk and his husband," reports the AP.
12:20 PM, Sep 4, 2014 • By IKE BRANNON and JOSHUA WOLSON
When a class action lawsuit gets settled, the deal has to prescribe how the defendant will pay the members of the injured class and who can be part of that class.
9:10 AM, May 30, 2014 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Hillary Clinton is right about Benghazi—or at least she's right about one thing.
According to a story by Maggie Haberman about the Benghazi chapter in Clinton's forthcoming book Hard Choices, the former secretary of state contends that some of her critics have badly mischaracterized the now infamous question she asked at a January 23, 2012, congressional hearing: "What difference, at this point, does it make?"
3:31 PM, Nov 7, 2013 • By TERRY EASTLAND
“Detroit civil rights lawyer Shanta Driver made a last-minute decision to argue in a high-profile Supreme Court affirmative action case on Oct. 15 in part, she said, because so few African-Americans appear before the justices.”