Kane Gets Blowback on DOMA Decision

Attorney General Kathleen Kane is getting blowback this week on two separate issues.  First is her shameless wrangling to evict Judge Barry Feudale from his responsibilities overseeing central PA grand juries.  The second is over her decision not to defend the state’s Defense of marriage law in a suit filed by the ACLU.  Right wing ideologues are scorching her for this claiming she must because it is her duty to uphold the law, in this case, a law which has been declared unconstitutional on the federal level.

How can a law which has been declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court be defended on a state level?  It is no longer lawful and therefore indefensible.  Why is it these idiots, blinded by their bigotry, cannot understand that she is defending the law of the land by not defending this state one in court?

Kane Won’t Defend Pennsylvania Marriage Ban

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced yesterday her office will not defend the state’s DOMA law in a legal action entered into federal court by the ACLU of PA on behalf of two dozen same sex couples.  The Commonwealth passed the law limiting rights and we just saw the U.S. Supreme Court strike down the federal law as unconstitutional.  If the federal law is unconstitutional because its violates couple’s rights then each state law is also unconstitutional.  Unfortunately they will need to be litigated on a state by state basis.  Ours is the first such challenge to be filed nationally.

I called for such action the day the SCOTUS decision was issued, challenging my peers in committed relationships to seek marriage licenses then hire civil rights counsel to challenge the law.  This is what the ACLU is doing.  There’s no way, following the SCOTUS decision, that a Judge can go against that momentous, landmark decision and uphold these discriminatory laws.

Meanwhile State Reps Brian Sims and Steve McCarter  have co-sponsored a marriage equality bill in Harrisburg.  Sims is the first openly gay person elected to that body in Pennsylvania.  McCarter issued this statement yesterday following the Kane announcement:

I’m extremely proud of Attorney General Kane for doing what is best for Pennsylvanians and agreeing that we must not stand in the way of progress and true marriage equality for all,” McCarter said. “The law banning gay marriage is obsolete and frankly, a violation of the rights of thousands of LGBT citizens.

“It’s the right thing to do and is a fundamental civil rights issue,” McCarter said.

The lawsuit challenging the gay marriage ban was filed in federal court on Tuesday by two dozen Pennsylvania residents seeking to force Pennsylvania to allow them to marry or recognize their same-sex marriages performed in other states.

“Pennsylvania is the only state in the Northeast that does not allow either gay marriage or civil unions, which only acts as a detriment to our state,” McCarter said. “I’m honored to be working with Representative Brian Sims to gather support in the legislature for a bill that would legalize gay marriage and finally bring true marriage equality to all Pennsylvanians.”

 

ACLU, Couples Seek to Overturn Marriage Ban

The Pennsylvania ACLU is suing to overturn the state’s ban on same sex marriage in an action representing four couples denied equality under the law.  As I predicted after the SCOTUS decision on DOMA there is now legal precedent that denial of equal justice under law is unconstitutional and a gateway towards overturning state marriage bans.

If DOMA is unconstitutional then so is Pennsylvania’s ban on same sex marriage.  This lawsuit will take this case to federal court where the Supreme Court decision will be the basis of the decision.  The Court made very clear that gay couples cannot be denied the same benefits provided heterosexual couples who are allowed to marry and given rights denied under the law to LGBT couples.  The law of the land now says this is illegal.

News & Notes October 18, 2012

The Koch brothers and other billionaire company owners are using intimidation and threats to get their employees to vote Republican.  I thought voter intimidation was illegal?

Joe Pitts sent me a mailer today.  Has he forgotten who I am?  Why would he waste money trying to get my vote and claim he’s working to create jobs.  That what GOP Congressional candidates promised in 2010.  They, including Pitts, proceeded to block every job bill submitted by the president.  These assholes vowed to force the President to fail by filibustering every bill in the senate then turn around and blame HIM for the lackluster job creation numbers.  I thought conservatives believed in personal responsibility?

Mitt Romney blamed parents for violence done by their children during the debate.  Then his 42 year old son said he wanted to slug the president.

Any woman who votes for Mitt deserves what she’s going to get.  By the way, it won’t be a job.  More likely, if you’re a woman, voting for Romney will cost you your job.  Signing the Ryan Budget will slash government programs, many of which are staffed by women.  Cuts in education will cost female teachers their jobs.  Tax cuts will deepen the recession causing more layoffs.

Mitt syas he’ll cut taxes for the rich and won’t increase them for the middle class.  Guess who that leaves to pick up the tab?  Poor people.  Here’s a basic economics lesson:  you tax money.  Poor people don’t have any.

The state House was busy at the end of its session for the year.  After taking all summer off our hard working Representatives are off for the rest of the year.  Don’t you wish you had a job like that?  A charter school reform bill went unpassed.  It would have strengthened ethics and reporting for these bloodsuckers.

A gas chamber ban for animal shelters did pass.

A Senate bill allowing companies to keep your state income tax withholding is on a path for passage.  This would create a new Delaware type loophole for out of state corporations putting local firms at a competitive disadvantage.  It also robs taxpayers of their contributions to state government.

Sen. Larry Farnese is justly proud of his bill outlawing straw purchases of guns.  The bill strengthens current law.

Gov. Gasbag says he will sign a bill criminalizing sexting by teens.  There’s nothing like forcing kids into court for being young and dumb.  That’s it, give them a criminal record for showing their tits.

One of the few good things to be accomplished by this radical conservative state House was the voting down of a bill violating the Fourth Amendment.  It would have authorized police to obtain DNA samples, without warrants to search person’s bodies, for even summary offenses.  The ACLU said this today:  The government is constitutionally mandated to explain to a court why it wants to search someone,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “This bill undermined that fundamental liberty by allowing warrantless searches of a person’s body.”

The US Court of Appeals for the Second District struck down DOMA today.  It says it violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.  From the American Foundation for Equal Rights:  

“Today’s decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit continues the unceasing momentum toward marriage equality for all Americans and affirms that discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans is unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional.  The body of evidence in support of marriage equality is clear and convincing.  This decision, as well previous decisions in other DOMA cases and in our federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, signals that the arguments opposing the recognition of marriage for gay and lesbian Americans have no legal basis.  With today’s ruling, we are one step closer to the day when marriage equality is a reality for every American.”

I ran into a Birther yesterday while getting my Element inspected.  He insisted that President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya.  As evidence he cited his wedding ring with its Arabic inscription saying “there is no God but Allah.”  This is yet another myth created by Faux News.  I explained to him that he’s been brainwashed.  I won’t waste precious breaths trying to reason with fools who have chosen to live in a parallel universe where there is no reality.

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman is retiring and his seat is being contested by former Congresswoman Heather Wilson (disgraced in the GonzalesGate scandal) and Congressman Martin Heinrich.  Spanish normally win elections in The Land of Enchantment.  They have a saying in Santa Fe:  “the Indians have the land, the Spanish have government and the Anglos have the money.”  Democrat Heinrich is leading in the polls rather nicely.  They debated last evening.  I’m hoping to interview both outgoing Sen. Bingaman and incoming Sen. Heinrich next month while in Santa Fe.

Former Sen. George McGovern entered hospice care earlier this week and now is reported as being unresponsive.  He ran for president in 1972 against Richard Nixon.  A paranoid President sent a team of bungling burglars into Democratic headquarters in the Watergate.  The rest was history.

Berks Democrats keep embarrassing themselves.  This time Democratic DA John Adams endorsed Republican Attorney General candidate David Freed.  Another one may be financing the campaign of a Tea party candidate against a fellow Democrat.  I’m digging into campaign finance reports on that one.

Don’t trust those polls allegedly showing the race getting close in our Commonwealth.  If Obama thought there was any chance of losing our 20 electoral votes he’d be here along with Bruce Springsteen and Bill Clinton.  Meanwhile Mitt Romney sent his Pennsylvania spokesman on to Virginia.

Speaking of Virginia that state’s Health Commissioner resigned today over new abortion clinic regulations going into effect.  Gov. Bob McDonnell is trying to convince women to vote for Mitt but he can’t keep his head of Health because he’s so extreme on women’s women’s reproductive rights.  From the Associated Press:

Virginia Health Commissioner Karen Remley has resigned over the state’s controversial new abortion clinic regulations.

Remley submitted her resignation to Gov. Bob McDonnell Thursday. Her resignation is effective immediately.

Remley said in the letter that issues surrounding the development and enforcement of the clinic regulations have created an environment that compromises her ability to fulfill her duties. She did not elaborate.

The state Board of Health last month adopted regulations that require existing abortion clinics in Virginia to meet the same construction standards as new hospitals. Abortion-rights advocates argued the strict standards could force most clinics out of business.

Here in Pennsylvania our Dept. of Health has granted waivers to abortion clinics for many of the onerous new regulations forced upon them by Senate bill 732.

Voter ID Headed Back to Supreme Court

In a stark rebuke to the six Supreme Court Justices who ordered him to file an injunction against the Voter ID law for next month’s election a Commonwealth Court Judge disobeyed them today.  Judge Robert Simpson handed down an extremely limited injunction which will only result in a new appeal.  His order says voters can vote without photo ID November 6th but only on a provisional ballot if they don’t provide an ID.

Those provisional ballots won’t be counted for six days likely leaving the presidential election in limbo along with the state’s electoral votes.  If the number of provisional ballots exceeds the winner’s tally on election day the election results will remain up in the air.

How will you know if your provisional ballot will be counted?  Unless you write in a unique name for at least one office you won’t know.  This strange order says that although no ID be mandated those people must use a provisional ballot.  They will not have to produce a photo ID within six days (really two because PennDOT ID centers would only be open for two days) so why force them to use provisional ballots?  This is ridiculous.

Six Justices remanded the case back to this insubordinate Judge with orders to issue an injunction if even one voter was deemed to have their fundamental right to vote disenfranchised.  The Commonwealth cannot prove that event cannot be  avoided so the law should have been struck down completely for this election.  Judge Robert Simpson, an obvious idiot sitting on the bench, refused to do so.  We’ll remember this when he is up for retention.

PA Supreme Court: Delay Voter ID

In a victory for democracy the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the lawsuit attacking Voter ID to be remanded back to Superior Court to render a new verdict delaying implementation of the requirement disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.  Now perhaps we can go to federal court and get it declared unconstitutional.

Supreme Court Hears Voter ID Arguments

PCN telecast the Supreme Court arguments on Voter ID this morning saving me a trip to Philadelphia.  Watching and Tweeting the event I have some hope this terrible law, Act 18, will be, at least, stayed.  Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued for an injunction saying there isn’t enough preparation and time to  implement the law.  They made no argument the law is unconstitutional because it appears to be so under Pennsylvania law.  Since this is a case of state law being argued in a state court only state law applies.  Whether or not the law is constitutional under federal law is a case for the federal courts.  Federal courts have knocked down similar laws elsewhere.  This morning’s arguments have no bearing on federal issues of equal protection for instance.

Cases where legal, eligible voters are denied their fundamental right to vote can not be made until that actually happens.  Unfortunately irreparable harm will already have occurred where votes were not cast and counted that were legal in a federal election.  I didn’t hear much argument about such irreparable harm this morning.   The appellants case sounded weak to me, they simply want an injunction based on the fact the Commonwealth is unable to produce ID’s for voters.

Arguments began about whether the right to vote is fundamental.  The State argued it is not, that the legislature can apply limits on it.  They also went on to try and deny the state’s stipulation that no verifiable case of voter fraud has ever happened either here or elsewhere.  This got so ridiculous Justice Debra Todd finally read the entire stipulation to the Governor’s clueless lawyer.

Justices Todd and Seamus McCaffery asked pointed questions throughout supporting the implementation of an injunction.  Interestingly Republican Thomas Saylor had some very intriguing queries to the state’s lawyers.  His vote may be in play here or he might have been playing devil’s advocate.  One never really knows.  I found arguments that PennDOT is implementing the law specious.  There have numerous reports of the agency charging people $13.50 for the ID’s making this a poll tax.  Others say they’ve taken acceptable forms of identification only to be rebuffed by untrained PennDOT employees and have made repeated trips trying to secure an ID.  If someone has to make five trips to get an ID this law is wrong and unjustifiable.  That imposes an undue burden on voters.

The fact Tom Corbett’s lawyer Mr. Putnam began arguing in court that voter fraud exists was laughable and it destroyed any credibility he had before the Court.  When Justice Todd publicly embarrassed him by reading Corbett’s own stipulation saying otherwise I almost felt sorry for the bastard.  Almost…

News & Notes May Day Edition

This is my third time writing this today.  Every time I got halfway through Firefox crashed taking the work with it…  Now I’m using Chrome and trying to figure out how it works.  At least Chrome remembers my passwords and saves my tabs (I hope!).  My 64 bit system simply hasn’t worked well with Firefox and after today’s failures I’m fed up.

Today is May Day, the traditional labor celebration day worldwide.  Many general strikes were planned.  Occupy movements are also scheduled to resume as of today.  Occupy Delaware has been broken up though, as of this morning, several tents remained.  Occupy Wilkes-Barre says it will resume.

Vice President Joe Biden is in Easton tomorrow speaking at Lafayette College.  I plan on being there for coverage.

The President is in Afghanistan where 90 minutes ago he and President Karzai signed an agreement for ten years of cooperation after the 2014 U.S. withdrawal.  I’m on a White House conference call about it as I type.  The agreement says the U.S. will not maintain military bases in the country.  

Iraq is buying American fighter jets as the real reasons for our failed invasion there evolve:  it’s all about business.

Last week Pat Toomey joined every other male Republican Senator voting against the Violence Against Women Act.  The renewal expanded coverage to Native Americans, members of the LGBT community and others.  A section written by Bob Casey expands protections for college coeds who are a disproportionate number of the rapes in that age group.  Date rape continues being a problem at colleges and universities.  Why does Pat Toomey hate women?  Though the bill passed the Senate a House version passed today strips LGBT protections.  According to Republicans it’s OK for gays and lesbians to be beaten.

The Pennsylvania ACLU is initiating legal action against Gov. Corbett and the Commonwealth over Voter ID.  The fact PennDOT is insisting on charging people for state issued identity papers for voting makes this a poll tax.  Those have been struck down by the Supreme Court.  This is the first of many legal actions to come caused by Corbett’s radical agenda which taxpayers will forced to cough up dollars to fund.  Instead of educating our children, providing services for the disabled and fixing our roads we’ll be paying lawyers in losing causes.

The AFL-CIO is ridiculing Mitt Romney:

New Mexico Senate candidate Eric Griego has a new ad targeting Heather Wilson on Social Security and Medicare:

This will be an interesting race to watch, New Mexico is a swing state and this open seat is a bellweather.

The Fox/Rupert Murdoch hacking scandal continues unfolding.  James Murdoch stepped down as head of the Fox empire in Britain and today Parliament found Murdoch senior “unfit” to run the company:

Texas efforts to defund Planned Parenthood met a roadblock when their law was declared unconstitutional.  It has already cost the Lone Star State $35 billion in federal Medicaid funding.  Rep. Daryl Metcalfe plans on introducing a similar initiative here soon.  Meanwhile the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down its “fetal personhood” legislation.

Poor Mitt Romney:  just after hiring a communications guru infamous for his sexist Tweets (he scrubbed his Tweets after being hired) Ric Grenell has quit already.  Instead of his horrible sexist comments about women (and, especially Rachel Maddow) being the cause for his exit it is his sexual orientation.  Republican extremists couldn’t bear having  a gay man in that position.

News & Notes December 16, 2011

You’ve got to admire the moxie and gall of Michele Bachmann.  Last night she claimed that PolitiFact had said everything she said was true.  PolitiFact:  No we didn’t.  They gave her a “pants on fire” for lying…yet again.

Christopher Hitchens died yesterday.  The elegance of his writing left one in awe, whether you agreed with him or not, everyone both loved and hated the man at times.  He wrote what he thought, what was on his mind and didn’t care what anyone else thought.  His free spirit is gone and we’ve all lost someone special.

Mike McQueary, testifying in Harrisburg at the preliminary trial for two PSU officials, says he told Joe Paterno about witnessing disturbing things of a very sexual nature between Coach Sandusky and a young boy.  Paterno told him he’d done “the right thing” by coming to him.  Assuming he meant by not going to police this is enough to justify Paterno’s firing.

Protesters marched in New York protesting the disenfranchisement of millions of voters.  Their target:  the infamous Koch brothers who finance such fringe legislation.

Tea Party Patriots leader Mark Meckler was arrested at Laguardia Airport for carrying a Glock pistol.  Not having a permit for the gun in New York carries a 15 year sentence.  I wonder if he’ll “get” religion about racial tolerance at Sing Sing?

Chris Dietz is running for State Representative in the 104th District of Dauphin and Lebanon Counties.  I know Chris and he’s an impressive young man.  His partner Alex Reber is a Board member of Planned Parenthood of Northeast and Mid Penn.

Here’s a great story about the tyranny of Daryl Metcalfe in the State Government Committee in Harrisburg.  The man is an unapologetic bully pushing through his fringe agenda.

More on happenings in Harrisburg from Andy Hoover of ACLU-PA:

The environmental damage from global warming is worse than anticipated.  Giant plumes of methane are coming to the surface in the Arctic Ocean.  Methane is about the worst pollutant possible is expanding climate change.  Gas drilling, or fracking, releases large amounts of methane also.  We simply must drastically reduce our use of carbon based fuels.

Here’s a real shocker:  Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a racist.  Tell us something we didn’t already know.  Yes, so he was racial profiling Hispanics… Tell us something we didn’t already know…

In this Year of the Protester, as Time calls it, some of them disrupted a hearing of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission:

Bill Maher does it again:

ACLU Expects Lawsuit Over SB 732

In a conference call this afternoon about State Senate Bill 732 I asked Andy Hoover of ACLU-PA if his organization will sue if the bill becomes law and he said he definitely expects such litigation.  He commented that lawyers are currently examining the issues involved.  Also on the call were Meghan Roach of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates (of which I’m a Board member), Jen Boulanger of the Allentown Women’s Center, Sari Stevens of Planned Parenthood and Dr. Beverly Dale of Pennsylvania Clergy for Choice.

Ms. Roach, a lawyer and Public Policy Advocate for Planned Parenthood Advocates, said the Supreme Court, in Planned Parenthood v Casey, said laws whose effect are to restrict access to abortion are unconstitutional.  SB 732 would result in the closure of all 20 abortion clinics in Pennsylvania.  Its regulations are so restrictive as to make it impossible for them to comply.

Gov. Corbett ran on a platform of putting Pennsylvanians back to work but each month of his term more have lost their jobs and the legislature has kept itself busy on bills having nothing to do with job creation.