Tag Archive: U.S. Supreme Court

Historic Marriage Decision: What they said

Marriage Equality is now the law of the land and in every state, so affirmed in a 5-4 decision announced this morning by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. “No longer may this liberty be denied,” writes Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

Below, a roundup of some of what was said on this historic day – in NJ and elsewhere, by our governor, and other people who want to be president both on the equality side  and on the other side. Plus a bonus from Justice Clarence Thomas’ unintentionally ironic, moronic dissent.

SCOTUS robes up - equal & not-equal
Justices robe-up. Yay Photoshop. H/t Juan Melli

Jim Obergefell:

“My heart is also in Charleston. These past few weeks and months have been an important reminder that discrimination in many forms is alive and well in America. Progress for some is not progress for all. If we’re committed to equality, must be committed to justice for all.”

Barack Obama:

“Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens. And then sometimes, there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”

Supreme Court today: No news is neither good news nor bad news

The U. S. Supreme Court managed to issue numerous decisions today, even one on Marvel Entertainment Spider-Man. However, NOT included were the important and much-anticipated same-sex marriage or federal health exchange rulings. Both cases were argued late in the court session. The court is probably so divided, with back and forth between the majority and the dissent, that we will not have a decision until the bitter end.

The court has announced it will be in session on Thursday to hand out opinions. Some rulings could come as late as next Tuesday (the last scheduled day for for the court term.)

For more information go to the court website or SCOTUS blog which at this moment is still live blogging.  

Supreme Court decision on requiring states to allow same-sex marriage: It’s a nail-biter

When Garden State Equality held its 6th annual Equality Walk in Asbury Park yesterday many participants were wondering about the U. S. Supreme Court’s milestone ruling on same-sex marriage due within days. As Amy Howe on SCOTUS Blog says, “It’s a nail-biter. Once again, it may all come down to Justice Kennedy.” In so many close decisions he is the tie-breaker.

Proponents for same-sex marriage use two key arguments. One is based on equal protection principles. The other argues the constitution requires states to allow same-sex marriage as a fundamental constitutional right. Justice Scalia, an opponent, suggested the court should leave the issue for “the people” to decide.

The court will rule on two main points. The first is whether states must allow same-sex couples to marry. The second is whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The court is not considering abolishing gay marriage in states where it already exists, including New Jersey, but a negative ruling would be severe in states which resist offering this precious right.

If the court rules that states must allow same-sex marriage the second issue becomes moot. If the court rules that states are not required to allow marriage equality, it still could decide that states must recognize a marriage from another state. The third alternative is a ruling against both issues.  

In the earlier Windsor case Kennedy emphasized that “same-sex couples were entitled not to be demeaned or disparaged and the interests of their children demanded protection.” In oral arguments for the current case (Obergefell v. Hodges) he expressed doubt about requiring states to permit same-sex marriage – “The definition of marriage has been around for millennia;”  “It’s very difficult for the Court to say we know better;” and “The court should define a fundamental right in its narrowest terms.” You can’t take these words and assume an outcome. The ruling is anyone’s guess.  

Supreme Court decision on requiring states to allow same-sex marriage: It’s a nail-biter

When Garden State Equality held its 6th annual Equality Walk in Asbury Park yesterday many participants were wondering about the U. S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage due within days. As Amy Howe on SCOTUS Blog says, “It’s a nail-biter. Once again, it may all come down to Justice Kennedy.” In so many close decisions he is the tie-breaker.

Proponents for same-sex marriage use two key arguments. One is based on equal protection principles. The other argues the constitution requires states to allow same-sex marriage as a fundamental constitutional right. Justice Scalia, an opponent, suggested the court should leave the issue for “the people” to decide.

The court will rule on two main issues. The first is whether states must allow same-sex couples to marry. The second is whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The court is not considering abolishing gay marriage in states where it already exists, including New Jersey, but a negative ruling would be severe in states which resist offering this precious right.

If the court rules that states must allow same-sex marriage the second issue becomes moot. If the court rules that states are not required to allow marriage equality, it still could decide that states must recognize a marriage from another state. The third alternative is a ruling against both issues.  

In the earlier Windsor case Kennedy emphasized that “same-sex couples were entitled not to be demeaned or disparaged and the interests of their children demanded protection.” In oral arguments for the current case (Obergefell v. Hodges) he expressed doubt about requiring states to permit same-sex marriage – “The definition of marriage has been around for millennia;”  “It’s very difficult for the Court to say we know better;” and “The court should define a fundamental right in its narrowest terms.” You can’t take these words and assume an outcome. The ruling is anyone’s guess.  

A Damoclean sword hovers over New Jersey’s ACA program

In addition to the marriage equality case, the U. S. Supreme Court will rule this month on the legality of tax subsidies offered in health insurance policies in states like New Jersey which opted for the federal marketplace. The legal dispute lies in the language of the ACA law which seems unintentionally to allow subsidies only to people who buy insurance through state-run health exchanges. The ruling will likely be a close one, and if the sword falls it will wreak a wide swath of damage throughout our state.

The impact would be severe as a total of 252,792 state residents have enrolled for insurance through the ACA federal marketplace, with 84 percent of them receiving subsidies. State residents would lose an average of $3,708 in annual subsidies if the court ruled the tax credits invalid, for a total of $780 million statewide. The loss of these subsidies would hurt people with the low incomes necessary to qualify, and it would render many unable to pay the full monthly cost resulting in losing their insurance and reducing access to treatment. Such an outcome would likely also result in higher premiums for all.

The back story: We could have had our own state health insurance exchange with stronger consumer protection than the federal exchange, plus, a $7 million federal grant for implementation. However in December 2012 Gov. Christie vetoed A3186 which would have established a NJ exchange and announced the state would default to a federal exchange. Earlier an interagency working group including Rutgers University had recommended a NJ exchange and prepared the groundwork. However the health insurance companies and parts of the medical community resisted the consumer protections embedded in the legislative bill. They won the day. NJ consumers lost. Now even more consumers are at risk to lose their subsidies because Christie bowed to big spenders.  

#DecisionDay Rally! (to follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark marriage decision)

Over the weekend, our niece and her beloved talked to us about their wedding plans. There’s a date, a dress, a place. But it’s all on hold. And that’s because they’re among young straight couples who vow not to marry until gay couples can, with that right respected in every state in the land.

Five years ago, as 7,000 equality advocates flooded the State House when the NJ Senate failed to pass marriage equality, I went around talking to people about why they were there. A woman I’ve known for years – straight, married and a mother – said the very best thing I heard that day: “I’m married, so I have a stake in the institution of marriage; it’s mine. And I believe that marriage will be better, stronger and more of what it should be when it includes all the couples in love.” Yeah, THAT.

Pretty easy to figure out why most gay people anxiously await the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision (which will come in June, and could blanket marriage equality across all states). But the fact is, it’s a key issue of justice and equality for so many people outside of the demographic whose rights it may immediately recognize. The haters come out in force of course, but the arc of winning favors our side. I was at the U.S. Supreme Court the day of the DOMA decision, and I’ve never seen such joy. I want to see that again.

Rally 6:30pm on the night of #DecisionDay

Garden State Equality & North Jersey Pride call for a rally 6:30pm of whatever night the U.S. Supreme Court announces their decision

Good weather location: Maplewood Town Hall front steps, 574 Valley St.

Bad weather location: Inside “The Woodland”, 60 Woodland Rd, Maplewood

Rally is on: WIN or lose. Check Facebook.

McCutcheon vs. FEC: U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Another Campaign Finance Law

The Court that brought you the Citizens United decision, upholding the concept of “corporate personhood” and allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited money independently to influence elections, today struck down federal limits on overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees. Your $35 check, even your $1,000 check, is now worth maybe a little less in the new world of how campaigns are paid for.

Though the contribution limits to candidates for president or Congress stays the same – $2,600 – the Court decided that limits on the total amount given are unconstitutional. This removes the ceiling for wealthy donors, who no longer have to add up all their checks written to make sure they haven’t exceeded the cap currently set by the federal government.

It was a 5-4 decision, with Chief Justice Roberts writing the decision. The Court found that the limits violate the First Amendment rights of contributors. It’s a green light to superwealthy donors. They, and everyone else have been restricted from giving no more than $48,600 to federal candidates, and $74,600 to political action committees during a two-year election cycle, for a maximum of $123,200. Those limits were part of post-Watergate reforms, to make it harder for big contributors to buy elections with their outsized wallets, and to restore public confidence in campaign finance.

We’re moving backwards now.

The victory goes to Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama businessman and GOP activist who challenged the cap on contributions. The RNC is already on record cheering the decision.

  • Here’s the decision – McCutcheon et al vs. Federal Election Commission.

  • Here’s a list of federal primary candidates on the NJ ballot.

  • Mother Jones walks through the implications.

  • Washington Post has the decision’s Winners & Losers.

  • Always worth reading – SCOTUSblog. Also, their live-blog from this morning.

     

  • Anonymous Expression: It Helped to Make America

    This is interesting, given the fact that Blue Jersey has a number of writers – both staff and reader – who post under anonymous usernames. Promoted by Rosi.

    The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is one of the heroic marvels of human freedom. Written carefully by one of America’s greatest legal minds, James Madison, and widely approved by the First Congress and the original 13 States, its words toll out as a celebration of liberation and a warning to would-be tyrants everywhere, particular in terms of its speech and press freedom provisions:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”