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Kentucky Judge Refuses to Hear Any Case Involving a ‘Practicing Homosexual’ Wanting to Adopt a Child

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Breach of Ethics?

A Kentucky family court judge has announced he will not hear adoption cases involving any “practicing homosexual” or “homosexual parties” because it would not be in the “best interests of the child” to allow same-sex couples or LGBT people to be parents.

Judge W. Mitchell Nance, who was re-elected to an 8-year term when he ran unopposed in 2014, on Thursday issued an order saying he has the right and the obligation to recuse himself from any case in which he might have a personal bias.

The Courier-Journal reports Judge Nance says that “as a matter of conscience” he believes that “under no circumstance” would “the best interest of the child be promoted by the adoption by a practicing homosexual.”

Nance told the Courier-Journal in an interview, “I stand behind the law I have cited, the matter of conscience I addressed and the decision I have made.”

Asked if judges who oppose capital punishment should be able to recuse themselves from death penalty cases, he said, “I really have not thought about that enough to given an intelligent answer.”

Judge Nance’s stance, however, may be a problem.

“He has taken an oath to uphold the law, which by virtue of the equal protection clause does not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation,” Indiana University law school professor Charles Geyl, a judicial ethics expert, says. “If he is unable to set his personal views aside and uphold the law — not just in an isolated case, but with respect to an entire class of litigant because he finds them odious — it leads me to wonder whether he is able to honor his oath.”

Nance, not surprisingly, has been described by local attorneys as highly religious and opposed to divorce, The Courier-Journal notes.

“Even in uncontested divorces involving no children, he makes the parties appear in court, offers them condolences on the demise of their marriage and makes them explain why it didn’t work out.”

Attorneys say he also asked divorce litigants where they go to church and whether they are a true believer.

It’s unclear if that, too, is within the confines of proper judicial ethics.

Judge Nance notified local lawyers they will need to request a different judge should they have an adoption case involving LGBT people or same-sex couples.

But clearly the average person would have reason to believe Judge Nance’s personal biases extend past adoption.

Lawyers say Nance will now also have to disqualify himself from any litigation involving gay people, including divorces involving a spouse coming out of the closet. He said he understands that gays and lesbians would have reservations about appearing before him.”

It would seem that any LGBT person who Judge Nance ruled against might have reason to contest the ruling, as might any person who thinks the judge thought they are not a “true believer.”

Would a defendant or plaintiff whose views on marriage equality or rights of LGBT people are different than Judge Nance’s have reason to question his ability to be fair? Would they also have reason to question his rulings?

Dan Canon, a Louisville lawyer who helped win the right of same-sex marriage in Kentucky, said: “The bottom line is if this judge can’t fulfill his duties because of his personal biases, he should resign.” Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, said, “If he can’t do the job, he shouldn’t have the job.” 

The Glasgow Daily Times adds that “Nance performs marriages, but said he has never been asked to marry a gay couple. If he were asked, Nance said he would decline to perform the marriage rights.”

Depending on Kentucky law, that too could pose a problem for Nance.

Judge Nance is up for re-election in 2023.

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Image by Victoria Pickering via Flickr and a CC license

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OPINION

‘Big Journalism Fail’: Mainstream Media Blasted Over Coverage of Historic Trump Trial

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The media’s ability to shape public opinion is well-documented, and by the end of the second day of the first criminal trial in history of a former U.S. president critics are slamming the content, framing, and focus of mainstream media organizations. The biggest concerns: refusing to cover the former president’s apparent inability to stay awake in court, too much identifying information of potential and chosen jurors, and even subtle descriptions that can be used to feed into false perceptions the trial is “unfair” or, as the ex-president likes to say, a “scam.”

Overnight, CNN’s Oliver Darcy’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter blasted mainstream media outlets that “strangely show little interest in reporting on Donald Trump’s courtroom naps.”

“Imagine, for a moment, if President Joe Biden were to be caught openly sleeping at an important hearing,” Darcy posits. Trump was caught “nodding” off repeatedly several times over the first two days of trial (there is not trial Wednesdays). “Then imagine it were to occur at another important hearing the next day. Not only would right-wing media outlets like Fox News run wild with coverage questioning his fitness for office, mainstream news organizations would no doubt also treat the snooze fest as a serious news story. But, for some unknown reason, Donald Trump falling asleep at his historic criminal trial in New York (as he apparently did, again, on Tuesday) has been met with a rather muted response.”

READ MORE: SCOTUS Justices Appear to Want to Toss Obstruction Charges Against Some J6 Defendants: Experts

Noting, “It’s important,” Darcy asks, “why has much of the press fallen asleep at the wheel?” and serves up some examples – or lack thereof.

“ABC News and NBC News didn’t even bother mentioning it on their evening newscasts and many major outlets haven’t even filed straight stories on it. To be frank, if not for The NYT’s Maggie Haberman reporting on the matter Tuesday, it’s unclear whether the public — which is relying on news organizations to be its eyes and ears in the courtroom, given cameras are barred — would know about it.”

“It’s all the more bizarre given that Trump has made attacking ‘sleepy Joe’ a central tenet of his campaign, framing the president as lacking the stamina to serve in the nation’s highest office. Which is to say, the fact that Trump is the one apparently unable to stay awake in his own criminal trial isn’t a trivial story.”

Jennifer Schulze, a media critic who was a Chicago Sun-Times executive producer, WGN news director, and adjunct college professor of journalism, pointing to Darcy’s criticism, calls it “a big journalism fail.”

READ MORE: ‘Scared to Death’: GOP Ex-Congressman Brings Hammer Down on ‘Weak’ Trump

The ex-president is facing 34 felony counts for falsification of business records when he paid hush money to an adult film actress then allegedly tried to cover it up, which some say is election interference.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan is overseeing the Trump trial, and ordered the identities of all jurors and prospective jurors to remain anonymous. Trump has a proven track record of alleged attempts to intimidate witnesses, judges, prosecutors, and others involved in his trials.

Some are concerned the media went too far in posting and publishing some possibly identifying information internet sleuths could use to piece together their names.

“There is seriously far, far too much identifying information about prospective jurors, several of whom are now empaneled, coming out in the press,” warned attorney and author Luppe B. Luppen.

Here’s how Fox News host Jesse Watters used that information to target one empaneled juror, while attempting to discredit the trial.

Fox News’ Sean Hannity went after “Juror Number One,” who is the foreperson.

It is not just Fox News targeting jurors.

Even The New York Times’ coverage of jurors drew the ire of critics.

READ MORE: ‘Your Client Is a Criminal Defendant’: Judge Denies Trump Request to Skip Trial for SCOTUS

Here’s how The Times’ Jonah Bromwich reported on the jury foreperson:

“The foreperson who was just selected — that’s juror one, the de facto leader of the group who will likely help steer deliberations — works in sales and enjoys the outdoors. He is originally from Ireland, but will help decide the former American president’s fate.”

University of Wisconsin—Madison professor of political science, who has a Ph.D. in Government, criticized the Times’ reporting.

“100% certain if the foreperson were native born, they would not have written this sentence and used the formulation of ‘former president’ subtly implying the foreperson from Ireland is somehow not a real American.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

 

 

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OPINION

SCOTUS Justices Appear to Want to Toss Obstruction Charges Against Some J6 Defendants: Experts

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Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court appeared skeptical of a law used to prosecute over 300 January 6 defendants, and Donald Trump, as they heard oral arguments Tuesday.

“A decision rejecting the government’s interpretation of the law could not only disrupt those prosecutions but also eliminate two of the federal charges against former President Donald J. Trump in the case accusing him of plotting to subvert the 2020 election,” The New York Times reports.

“January 6 insurrectionists had a great day in the Supreme Court today,” Vox‘s Ian Millhiser reported. “Most of the justices seem to want to make it harder to prosecute January 6 rioters.”

Millhiser on social media put it this way: “On Monday, the Supreme Court effectively eliminated the right to hold a Black Lives Matter protest in three US states. On Tuesday, the same justices were very, very afraid that January 6 insurrectionists are being treated unfairly.”

READ MORE: ‘Scared to Death’: GOP Ex-Congressman Brings Hammer Down on ‘Weak’ Trump

Right-wing justices on the Supreme Court suggested the law, which makes it a crime to obstruct an official proceeding, could be used too broadly.

“Would a sit-in that disrupts a trial or access to a federal courthouse qualify?” Justice Neil Gorsuch asked, as NBC News reported. “Would a heckler in today’s audience qualify, or at the State of the Union address? Would pulling a fire alarm before a vote, qualify for 20 years in federal prison?”

Some legal experts appeared stunned and disappointed by the right-wing justices’ remarks.

“In oral argument today, Justice [Clarence] Thomas is minimizing the severity of the 1/6 insurrection at the Capitol. Perhaps that’s because his wife was part of the conspiracy. What a disgrace that he’s sitting on this case,” attorney and frequent CNN guest Jeffrey Toobin commented.

READ MORE: ‘I Have a Bucket of Water’: Dems to Save Johnson’s Job Over GOPer Who Wants ‘World to Burn

“The text of the obstruction law the Supreme Court is considering today pretty clearly applies to January 6 defendants. Will the purportedly textualist conservative majority, as in Trump v. Anderson, once again bypass text to avoid accountability for Trump and his supporters?” asked former federal corruption prosecutor Noah Bookbinder, who is now president of the government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

“Supreme Court expressed concern that Jan 6 prosecutions could chill violent insurrections against democracy,” wrote Scott Shapiro, a Yale Law School professor of law and professor of philosophy.

Elie Mystal, The Nation’s justice correspondent, did not hold back.

“The six conservative justices are absolutely trying to figure out how to throw out the obstruction charges against their cousins and wives and pledge brothers who attacked the Capitol on January 6,” he wrote.

Similar to Millhiser’s comparison, Mystal remarked, “If you think that trash you just heard from the Supreme Court about protecting J6 rioters will *ever* be applied to peaceful Black protesters, think again.”

READ MORE: ‘Something’s Fishy Here’: Trump’s Latest $175 Million Bond Filings Questioned by Experts

 

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News

‘I Have a Bucket of Water’: Dems to Save Johnson’s Job Over GOPer Who Wants ‘World to Burn’

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Mike Johnson can count on at least some Democrats to save his job after a second Republican announced he supports U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene‘s efforts to remove the embattled GOP Speaker of the House. Weeks ago Greene filed a motion to “vacate the chair,” which she can call up at any time to force a vote that could lead to Johnson losing his gavel.

“I just told Mike Johnson in conference that I’m cosponsoring the Motion to Vacate,” U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) declared late Tuesday morning. “He should pre-announce his resignation (as Boehner did), so we can pick a new Speaker without ever being without a GOP Speaker.”

“You’re not going to be the speaker much longer,” Massie directly told Speaker Johnson, Politico reports, citing two lawmakers in the room.

Asked by a social media user, “What was the straw that broke the Camel’s Back? FISA? Foreign War Funding? Spending more than Nancy Pelosi? All of the above?” Massie replied: “All of the above. This camel has a pallet of bricks.”

Like many far-right House Republicans, Massie is furious Speaker Johnson plans to put on the floor foreign aid and national security legislation to support Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan this week, only after Iran’s attack on Israel over the weekend forced his hand.

“Friday, we have one less Republican in the majority as Rep Gallagher leaves instead of finishing his term,” Massie wrote earlier Tuesday morning, referring to exiting U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI). “As a going away gift, Speaker Johnson plans to force the senate to take up Gallagher’s bill to ban tiktok and give Presidential power to ban websites.”

READ MORE: ‘Something’s Fishy Here’: Trump’s Latest $175 Million Bond Filings Questioned by Experts

“But still no border,” Massie lamented, referring to Republicans’ top priority after Donald Trump made clear he will campaign on an anti-immigrant platform and urged Republicans to block bipartisan legislation to fund additional border security.

(President Joe Biden and Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer supported the Senate’s bipartisan bill, which would have provided aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and a massive increase in border security. It was killed in the Senate after Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pulled his support in response to Trump’s remarks.)

Congresswoman Greene, who was accused by U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz last week of not having enough votes to “rename a post office,” much less unseat Speaker Johnson, responded to Massie’s remarks:

“Johnson is the Deep State Speaker of the House funding the Democrat’s agenda in an omnibus, blocking warrant requirements for FISA, this week ramming through billions for Ukraine, and now this after allowing Gallagher to leave his district without representation. Can’t continue.”

She also posted Massie’s signature signing onto her Motion to Vacate.

In a show of support for Johnson, last week Donald Trump held a joint press conference with the embattled Speaker, during which both attacked immigrants and Johnson vowed legislation to ban non-citizens from voting. It is already a federal felony for non-citizens to vote.

CNN’s Manu Raju reports, “after Gallagher resigns — Johnson would almost certainly need Democrats to save his job if the motion to oust him comes up for a vote. Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz says he would save Mike Johnson’s job if MTG [Marjorie Taylor Greene] brings motion to oust him.  Others like Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi also said they would vote to save Johnson  ‘Democrats don’t even let her rename post offices, I’m not gonna let her make a motion to vacate,’ Moskowitz told me.”

Moskowitz responded, saying: “My position hasn’t changed. Massie wants the world to burn, I won’t stand by and watch. I have a bucket of water.”

READ MORE: ‘Scared to Death’: GOP Ex-Congressman Brings Hammer Down on ‘Weak’ Trump
 

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