Jim Obergefell and John Arthur had been together nearly two decades when John was stricken by terminal ALS. With their union unconstitutional in Ohio, the couple turned to friends and family to fund a medical flight to Maryland, where they wed, tearfully, on the tarmac [prev.]. After John's death, however, Jim found himself embroiled in an ugly legal battle with his native state over the right to survivor status on John's death certificate -- a fight he eventually took all the way to the Supreme Court. And that's how this morning -- two years after U.S. v. Windsor, a dozen after Lawrence v. Texas, and at the crest of an unprecedented wave of social change -- the heartbreaking case of Obergefell v. Hodges has at long last rendered same-sex marriage legal nationwide in a 5-4 decision lead by Justice Anthony Kennedy. [more inside]
Hotter Than Lava: Every day, cops toss dangerous military-style grenades during raids, with little oversight and horrifying results. [Via]
Debo Adegbile was selected by President Obama to be assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The Senate, aided and abetted by seven Democratic senators, killed his nomination. Why? Because he’s fought for civil rights.
Happy Valentine's day from Justice Scalia: (video) how his dissent in DOMA case US v. Windsor (PDF here) helped lead to recent rulings against state gay marriage bans.
Following the state Supreme Court's decision in Griego v. Oliver [pdf], New Mexico has become the 17th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. [more inside]
Jury acquits escort shooter. Texas Penal Code s. 9.42 has been interpreted to possibly allow the shooting of sex workers who accept money at night but do not then perform sexual services, and Ezekiel Gilbert was therefore found to have the legal right to shoot at a sex worker over a $150 dispute. This interpretation of the defence of property has come under some criticism, and although the jury may have reached their decision on a different ground, the possibility of this defence under state law appears to be sound.
When police carried out a routine stop-and-search of her boyfriend on the London Underground, Gemma Atkinson filmed the incident. She was detained, handcuffed and threatened with arrest. She launched a legal battle, which ended with the police settling the case in 2010. With the money from the settlement she funded the production of this animated film, which she says shows how her story and highlights police misuse of counterterrorism powers to restrict photography. [more inside]
Jennie Linn McCormack "isn’t the only woman in recent years to be prosecuted for ending her own pregnancy. But her case could change the trajectory of abortion law in the United States": The Rise of DIY Abortions. [more inside]
With the U.S. Presidential election about 3 months away, and voter ID laws headed to court this Wednesday in Pennsylvania and in other states like Texas and Minnesota, Propublica tells you Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws. A solution to a nonproblem. [Previously] [more inside]
The Secret History of Guns. "The Ku Klux Klan, Ronald Reagan, and, for most of its history, the NRA all worked to control guns. The Founding Fathers? They required gun ownership—and regulated it. And no group has more fiercely advocated the right to bear loaded weapons in public than the Black Panthers—the true pioneers of the modern pro-gun movement. In the battle over gun rights in America, both sides have distorted history and the law, and there’s no resolution in sight." [Via]
Brazil's supreme court recognises same sex unions. The Brazilian Supreme Court voted 10-0 (one abstention) yesterday to recognise same-sex civil unions as of equal legal validity to marriage/ with "stable" same-sex couples now able to gain certificates that allow access to equal legal rights. "Discrimination generates hatred," said Justice Carlos Ayres Britto, who wrote the ruling. [more inside]
The Havasupai Tribe of Grand Canyon won a $700,000 settlement from Arizona State University, plus the return of remaining blood samples, regarding the use of members' blood and DNA for research. The Havasupai had originally contacted researchers at ASU concerning the Type II diabetes that has ravaged that tribe and others, particularly in the Southwest. [more inside]
Yesterday, US President Obama signed a $680bn military policy bill, which cuts military spending, including $2bn in funding for new F-22 fighter jets. However, the bill also contained the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation, and fulfilled an Obama campaign promise: acts of violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have now been added to the list of federal hate crimes.
In his latest national security speech, President Obama unequivocally reaffirms his commitment to closing GITMO. President Obama's strong statements reaffirming his administration's commitment to cleaning up the legal and ethical mess the Bush administration left behind comes just after congressional Democrats recently saw fit to capitulate to the Republican minority by defunding President Obama's efforts to close GITMO, ostensibly to ensure that President Obama proceeds prudently and avoids setting the terrorists loose on America's strip malls. But others interpret these latest maneuvers from the "weak-kneed" congressional Dems as reflecting a sudden acute case of the political jitters, pointing out that, despite all the fearful talk of the imminent dangers of possible terrorists being held and tried on American soil, it's not as though we haven't done it before. [more inside]
The SSD Project. "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has created this Surveillance Self-Defense site to educate the American public about the law and technology of government surveillance in the United States, providing the information and tools necessary to evaluate the threat of surveillance and take appropriate steps to defend against it." [Via]
Al Odah v. U.S. and Boumediene v. Bush go before SCOTUS Streaming on C-Span today. The Center for Constitutional Rights (great podcast) will argue before the Supreme Court today:
Immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, The Center for Constitutional Rights and cooperating counsel filed 11 new habeas petitions in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of over 70 detainees. These cases eventually became the consolidated cases of Al Odah v. United Statesand Boumediene v. Bush, the leading cases determining the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, the rights of non-citizens to challenge the legality of their detention in an offshore U.S. military base, and the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
New Hampshire approves same-sex unions with bipartisan, if contentious support, recognizing both in- and out-of-state unions and marriages. While New York's Eliot Spitzer follows up on a campaign promise, higher courts in California and Connecticut may make decisions on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage later this year, deciding if a civil union is an adequate legal substitution for marriage.
NYPD Intelligence Op Targets Dot-Matrix Graffiti Bike. More details on the premeditated arrest of Joshua Kinberg by the NYPD just before the 2004 Republican National Convention. Kinberg, now the CEO of FireAnt, was targeted by the "R.N.C. Intelligence Squad" for his Bikes Against Bush project. The police lost his Xtracycle. [Via BB.]
Plainclothes police serving a drug warrant defend killing an elderly woman in the roughest neighborhood in Atlanta. Perhaps it’s a flaw in the exclusionary rule. Or perhaps “had she been without her precious gun, she’d no doubt be alive today”
Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears. "Federal appeals court judges nominated by President Bush are threatening and undermining Americans’ rights and liberties, and working to reduce congressional authority to protect those rights and liberties, according to a legal analysis (PDF) published today by People For the American Way Foundation." [Via Talkleft.]
Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006). It was so pre-9/11 anyway. Instead we may get "our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts." What could go wrong?
"If anything, a civil rights background is considered a liability." Meet the politically-appointed career staffers of the Justice Dept.'s Civil Rights Division: ... the kinds of cases the Civil Rights Division is bringing have undergone a shift. The division is bringing fewer voting rights and employment cases involving systematic discrimination against African-Americans, and more alleging reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination against Christians. ... Thorough Boston Globe article on how the administration disbanded the hiring committee in 2002 to appoint lawyers with a very different vision of what civil rights are, and the ensuring and ongoing results.
"And yet the people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government." Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, publicly responds to criticisms on the publication of information about clandestine surveillance of private bank records of Americans, offering a rare glimpse into the Fourth Estate's complicated negotiations with the government over issues of public interest.
A call for Christian lawyers who have worked for the ACLU. The ACLU tries to be balanced , but considering the amount of effort they have put forth to inhibit Christian influence from/to the government, should a Christian lawyer work for them?
Only in 1967 did Loving v. Virginia overturn vigorously-enforced laws against interracial marriage in these 15 states--Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Only in 1964 did the Civil Rights Act overturn laws against equal access to voting, public accommodation, and public education. Only in 1963 did the Equal Pay Act mandate that men and women be paid the same wage for the same work at the same job. History isn't a superhighway, leading us in straight lines toward utopia. We fall back and we move forward, but over the past fifty years, the United States has become considerably more inclusive and equality of access to opportunity has widened. Take a look at this article from the Atlantic Monthly in 1956--1956!--if you don't believe me.
Rhode Island's nut case governor decided to repeal the Bill of Rights. Fortunately, he got knocked upside the head first. (Obnoxious registration required.)
Ronald Dworkin’s Rights and Terror [pdf]. At NYU's Colloquium in Legal, Political and Social Philosophy, Dworkin provides a useful catalogue of the Bush administration’s restrictions on the rights of both citizens and non-citizens of the US since September 11th. Via Crooked Timber and Larry Solum's Legal Theory Blog.