Monday, February 23, 2015

Smerconish: "Real patriots voice opinions based on substance, not smears."

Years of blogging, briefing, debating, and public speaking have driven home to me one point -- a point that CNN's Michael Smerconish articulated perfectly last Friday. Personal attacks reveal the weakness of a person's position on the issues. Rudy Guiliani's recent attack on President Obama's patriotism is merely the most recent example. This is what people do when they cannot rationally defend their substantive beliefs.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

Williams-Yulee and Francis Bacon

Sir Francis Bacon, justly famous as the father of the scientific method, is less often remembered for his service and disgrace as a judge. In 1621 he was forced to resign from his position as Lord Chancellor of England after he shamefully confessed that he had accepted "gifts" from the parties who appeared before his court, although he denied that these gifts ever influenced his judgment. In his defense many historians contend that it was common practice for litigants in those days to make "contributions" to the judges who presided over their cases.

We have the same problem with "gifts" to judges, do we not? We call them "campaign contributions." Later this year in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar the United States Supreme Court will decide whether the law can prohibit judges from personally soliciting campaign contributions when running for office.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

State of Washington v. Arlene's Flowers: Washington Superior Court Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Couple

On February 18 in the case of Washington v. Arlene's Flowers Judge Alexander Eckstrom, Superior Court Judge for Benton County in the State of Washington, ruled in favor of a same-sex couple who sued a florist who refused to provide flowers for their wedding. The court upheld the enforcement of the state's non-discrimination law against the florist. The florist shop -- Arlene's Flowers -- had argued that it would violate the florist's religious beliefs to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, and that it would be unconstitutional to enforce the non-discrimination law against the florist. Judge Eckstrom ruled that state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation could be enforced under these circumstances.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Texas Federal Court Strikes Down DAPA - President's Order to Defer Deportation of 4.7 Million People

On Monday in the case of Texas v. United States federal District Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued a preliminary injunction against implementation of DAPA, the President's recent policy directive preventing the deportation of more than four million people. What was Judge Hanen's reasoning? Was it consistent with previous decisions of the United States Supreme Court?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Same Sex Marriage in Alabama - Showing Respect

A few days ago when last I posted on this topic Chief Justice Ray Moore stood in the courthouse door barring entry to same sex couples seeking marriage licenses. He had ordered Probate Judges across the state to disobey the federal court order striking down the Alabama constitutional provisions and statutes that prohibited same sex marriage. The Chief Justice did not purport to issue an injunction, nor did he propose to punish errant Probate Judges who might choose to obey the order of the District Court. Instead he called upon the governor of the state to enforce the law, presumably by taking some unspecified action against such judges. What happened? And what happens now?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Judge Ray Moore, Governor Robert Bentley, the Bible and the Constitution

     Late last night Ray Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, issued an order to all Probate Judges in Alabama to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In his order he called upon Governor Robert Bentley to enforce Alabama law prohibiting same sex marriages.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

King v. Burwell and the Separation of Powers

     On February 5 the New York Times published an op-ed by Linda Greenhouse, a leading commentator on the Supreme Court, entitled The Supreme Court at Stake: Overturning Obamacare Would Change the Nature of the Supreme Court. Greenhouse argues that King v. Burwell, the Affordable Care Act case currently pending in the Supreme Court, involves far more than mere questions of statutory construction and contends that the case has political and constitutional implications that put the Supreme Court itself in peril. I agree, and would add that if the Supreme Court eliminates billions of dollars of tax credits that Congress and the Internal Revenue Service intended to extend to American citizens that it would violate the doctrine of Separation of Powers.