It’s not unusual for one court to refer to another court’s rulings in similar cases. But a federal judge seems to be admonishing a higher court’s flawed ruling. Is he?
Today, federal Judge Ortrie D. Smith issued a ruling striking down Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage. The ruling was not unusualÂ â€“ over 50 rulingsÂ in support of marriage for same-sex couples have been made since last year’s Supreme Court DOMA decision, and only a handful in opposition.
One ruling opposing same-sex marriage, or, more accurately, one ruling supporting the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage came yesterday from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
That ruling, which many consider flawed, is based in part on the opinion of Judge Jeffrey Sutton.
Judge Sutton yesterday claimed that “the people” know best and their decision on the rights of the minority should be respected.
When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but asÂ fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.
It’s JudgeÂ Martha Craig Daughtrey‘sÂ 6th Circuit dissent that so aptly frames that majority opinion of Judge Sutton.
She writes, “the majority treats both the issues and the litigants here as mere abstractions. Instead of recognizing the plaintiffs as persons, suffering actual harm as a result of being denied the right to marry where they reside or the right to have their valid marriages recognized there, my colleagues view the plaintiffs as social activists who have somehow stumbled into federal court, inadvisably, when they should be out campaigning to win ‘the hearts and minds’ of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee voters to their cause.”
Judge Daughtrey adds, “the majority sets up a false premiseâ€”that the question before us is â€œwho should decide?â€â€”and leads us through a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism.”
In short, she says, Judge Sutton is saying the will of the majority should be respected, not the will or rights of the minority.
Today, in what appears to be a rebuke of the higher court’sÂ â€“ of Judge Sutton’s rulingÂ â€“ is the ruling of Judge Ortrie D. Smith.
This is long but whollyÂ worth reading:
“The Court does not take lightly a request to declare that a state law isÂ unconstitutional,” Judge Smith writes. “Statutes are passedÂ by theÂ duly electedÂ representatives of theÂ people.Â Article I,Â section 33Â constitutes theÂ direct expressionÂ of theÂ peopleâ€™s will.”
ItÂ is not on a whim that the Court supplants the will of the voters or the decisions of theÂ legislature.Â But it should not be forgotten that the Constitution is also an expression of theÂ peopleâ€™s will.Â Indeed, it isÂ the paramount expression ofÂ the peopleâ€™s will; it cannotÂ easily be cast aside orÂ circumvented by a vote ofÂ the citizens of a single state.Â
In other words, it seems Judge Smith is telling Judge Sutton, do your job.
Judge Smith continues:
JustÂ as Missouri citizens cannot abridge the First Amendment by amending the MissouriÂ Constitution, they cannot abridgeÂ the Fourteenth Amendment inÂ that manner.Â AsÂ Â Alexander Hamilton explainedÂ in describing the Constitutionâ€™s preeminent placeÂ inÂ the rule of law:Â
There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that everyÂ act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commissionÂ under which itÂ is exercised, isÂ void.Â No legislative act,Â therefore,Â contrary to theÂ Constitution, can be valid.Â To deny thisÂ would be toÂ affirm that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant isÂ above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior toÂ the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers may do notÂ only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.Â
The Federalist No.Â 78 (AlexanderÂ Hamilton).Â Later, Hamilton describedÂ theÂ importance of the judiciaryâ€™s role in insuring the Constitutionâ€™s role as the preeminentÂ law of the Nation, stating the judiciaryâ€™s role includes:Â
guard[ing] the Constitution and the rights of individuals from the effectsÂ of those ill humors which the arts of designing men, or the influence ofÂ particular conjunctures, sometimes disseminate among the peopleÂ themselves, and which, though they speedily give place to betterÂ information, and more deliberate reflection, have a tendency, in theÂ meantime, to occasion dangerous innovations in the government, andÂ serious oppressions of the minor party in the community.Â Id.Â It is the Courtâ€™s view that the provisions of this statute and this section of theÂ Missouri Constitution contraveneÂ the UnitedÂ States Constitution.Â Having reachedÂ that conclusion, it is the Courtâ€™s obligation to give effect and force to the UnitedÂ States Constitution.
Pretty much a slap down, wouldn’t you say?
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‘One Minute to Live, Sir’: Trump Shared Details of Soleimani Assassination With Top Dollar Donors at Mar-a-Lago Fundraiser
President Donald Trump shared moment-by-moment details of his assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani with top high-dollar donors at Friday night’s fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago. The Commander-in-Chief also revealed he authorized the killing, not because of any supposed “imminent threat,” as he has previously asserted, but because intelligence reports, he said, found Solemiani was “talking about bad stuff.”
Killing Solemani as an act of retribution instead of as a preventative measure against imminent attack could be a war crime, legal experts have said.
The Washington Post reports Trump “spoke broadly about Soleimani as ‘the father of the road side bomb’ responsible for ‘every young, beautiful man or woman who see walking around with no legs, no arms.'”
Soleimani “was saying bad things about our country, like we’re going to attack, we’re going to kill your people. I said, ‘listen, how much of this shit do we have to listen to, right?’” Trump said, to applause.
The president also gave a blow-by-blow account of Soleimani’s killing.
“‘Sir, they have two minutes and 11 seconds.’ No emotion. ‘two minutes and 11 seconds to live, sir. They’re in the car, they’re in an armored vehicle. Sir, they have approximately one minute to live, sir. 30 seconds. 10, 9, 8 …’ Then all of a sudden, boom,” Trump told the group of donors, according to audio recordings the Post received.
The Post also revealed that at Friday’s fundraiser, “Trump is heard boasting about increasing the defense budget by $2.5 trillion. To those who criticized his spending and the growing national debt, Trump said, ‘Who the hell cares about the budget? We’re going to have a country.'”
Lev Parnas Details ‘Intimate’ Cannabis Industry Dinner With Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
In an extensive interview with the Daily Beast, Lev Parnas — the associate of Rudy Giuliani who is at the center of more allegations of corruption against Donald Trump — revealed details of a meeting he had with Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner that the White House has tried to dismiss.
Speaking with the Beast’s Betsy Swan, Parnas stated that we was a participant at a private dinner at the Trump Hotel, with Swan writing, “In October 2018, he attended a dinner in a private suite at Trump Hotel hosted by the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action. The dinner, with around a dozen people, connected Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump with leaders in the cannabis industry. Parnas said he was invited because he “was a Trump loyalist,” and because the super PAC’s Director of Development Joey Ahearn knew he was pro-cannabis.”
According to Parnas, cannabis entrepreneurs were hoping to influence Kushner in the hope he could influence the White House’s stance on weed.
“They wanted Jared to be more involved, maybe help push the agenda with the president because they felt that that was something he needed to be more lenient on,” Parnas explained.
As for a picture taken with the couple that went viral, Parnas sais the White House was lying about the circumstances under which is was taken.
“The White House has claimed that a picture of Parnas with Kushner and Ivanka Trump was ‘taken at an event in a photo line.’” the report states. “Parnas, however, said it was taken at the intimate dinner with cannabis industry insiders. Two sources with knowledge of the dinner confirmed that it happened in October 2018 and that Parnas attended. The decor in the background of the picture–as Zack Everson, author of a newsletter on Trump properties noted–indicates the photo was taken in the pricey Trump Hotel suite where the dinner was hosted.”
You can read more here.
Rod Rosenstein Admits He Authorized Release of Strzok-Page Texts That Spawned Preposterous GOP Conspiracy Theories
Strzok and Page, who were involved in the Russia investigation prior to dismissal by former special counsel Robert Mueller, and whose extramarital affair inflamed Fox News’ outrage for months, revealed a dislike of President Donald Trump in their text messages, which formed the basis of GOP conspiracy theories that the FBI had been secretly working to bring down the president with the Russia investigation.
Subsequent investigations have failed to find any evidence that Strzok, Page, or any other FBI officials tried to politically target Trump with the power of the agency. However, a recent inspector general report suggests some of their surveillance practices may have been improper and require reform.
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