Sunday, May 3, 2015

RANDOM THOUGHTS #2 - JUDGES/CITIZENS UNITED, GW BUSH/MIDDLE EAST & GAY MARRIAGE/SCOTUS

JUDGES/CITIZENS UNITED
SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) has just ruled that it is Constitutional for states to limit campaign contributions in judicial elections. Let's see if I understand.

In the case of judicial elections, SCOTUS reasoned that money in and of itself is a corrupting influence.

In Citizens United regarding federal elections, SCOTUS reasoned that money in and of itself is not a corrupting influence.

Huh?

OK. I understand that there are nuances to both decisions. For instance, in the decision concerning judicial elections, SCOTUS reasoned that money (and money is speech according to SCOTUS) could unduly influence judges who are beholden to the facts of a case and the letter of the law. But politicians are obliged to listen to constituents. It's part of the job. So influencing a politician through speech (and money is speech, according to SCOTUS) is a protected right of constituents.

Forget for a moment the tortured logic that influencing a judge's interpretation of the law through money is corrupt but influencing the writer of those laws through money is not. And forget for a moment that a politician represents all constituents including those without the means to donate enough speech (money) to be heard. And forget for a moment that politicians can solicit money (speech) from donors outside of his/her constituency. And forget for a moment...

I'll tell you what. Just forget it.

GW BUSH/MIDDLE EAST
Former President George W. Bush recently spoke at a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, criticizing President Obama heavily for his handling of Middle East foreign policy. Like Dick Cheney saying that Obama is the worst President ever, there is so much that is absurd about Bush's opinions on Middle East policy that any commentary on my part would be a waste of energy.

GAY MARRIAGE #1
The ignorance displayed by the members of the Supreme Court during the oral arguments in the recent gay marriage case is simply astonishing. As quoted in the NY Times, Roberts stated, “Every definition that I looked up, prior to about a dozen years ago, defined marriage as unity between a man and a woman as husband and wife.”

“The word that keeps coming back to me in this case is millennia,” said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Those quotes demonstrate the need for those guys to take refresher courses in history, civics, and religion. The statements only hold true if you consider millennia to be a word meaning a few hundred years and if you confine your investigations to Western Europe. Otherwise, from Biblical times to the present day, marriage can more accurately be defined as the union between a man and as many women as law and custom allow, not a (one) man and a (one) woman. And let's not get into questions about procreation or the legal rights of women within a marriage. In fact, until very recently, wives were basically property and, as anyone who has seen Downton Abbey or read Pride and Prejudice knows, a wife couldn't claim an inheritance by right from her husband. Historically, marriage has been about male power. But we are a society today that sees the genders as equals, ergo...

I have no problem with those who want to define religious marriage in purely heterosexual terms. Let them join congregations with like-minded people led by pastors who refuse to officiate at gay weddings. I have no interest in forcing my views upon religionists. But as long as the State bestows public sector benefits to married couples, the definition of marriage must be broad enough to include homosexuals.

When you go to City Hall to get a marriage license, religious considerations should not play a part.

GAY MARRIAGE #2
Anyone who wonders whether or not the Voting Rights Act is still necessary to insure the rights of voters need look no further than Louisiana and Governor Jindl. According to Jindl, Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg and Kagan should recuse themselves from the gay marriage case because they had officiated at gay weddings in states that had already given gays the right to marry. All perfectly legal and what any judge or justice of the peace or religious pastor could have done in those states.

But not good enough, said  a Jindl spokesperson. Having participated in (perfectly legal) gay marriages indicates bias. In fact, Jindl would prefer that the liberal judges simply recused themselves from every case before the Court because...well...because they are liberals. In simple terms, according to Jindl, you have no right to vote if Jindl doesn't think that you'll agree with him. That's a pretty clear illustration of despotism - my way or the highway. And the Supreme Court says that minority voters in states like Louisiana are no longer in jeopardy from state-sponsored discrimination requiring federal oversight under the Voting Rights Act. And Jindl is running for President...

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