Tag Archives: ruling

SCOTUS: Kentucky Clerk Must Issue Same Sex Marriage Licenses Despite Religious Beliefs

The United States Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a Kentucky county clerk must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The decision followed her request for an emergency order against issuing such licenses, stating that it violated her religious beliefs.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states in June. Two gay couples and two straight couples filed a lawsuit against Davis, challenging her policy.

[RELATED: Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Same Sex Marriage In All 50 States]

U.S. District Judge David Bunning issued a preliminary injunction requiring Davis to issue marriage licenses in July, noting that she had to “live up to her responsibilities as the county clerk despite her religious convictions.”

Davis issued an appeal asking the Supreme Court to block a lower court that was directing her to issue the licenses, and stating that she “holds an undisputed sincerely held religious belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, only.”

Davis’ lawyers also noted that if forced to approve marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples, Davis saw it as a “searing act of validation would forever echo in her conscience.”

The SCOTUS ruling did not include a dissent, and consisted of only one sentence: “The application for stay presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court is denied.”

The SCOTUS Blog’s Lyle Denniston noted that the Supreme Court’s order was “not a final ruling on Davis’s argument that her right to freedom of conscience should give her an exemption from having any part in the licensing process that would lead to same-sex marriages,” and that she still have “an appeal on that question now pending at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.”

While many questioned whether Davis would begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday morning that Davis is continuing to deny issuing licenses, despite the Supreme Court ruling.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to at least two couples Tuesday morning. David Ermold reportedly told Davis Tuesday that he and his partner, David Moore, would not “leave until we have a license.” Davis reportedly responded, “Then you’re going to have a long day.”

Federal Court Rules Texas Voter ID Law Violates Voting Rights Act

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that the current voter identification law in Texas, which was enacted in 2011 and is one of the strictest in the country, has had a “discriminatory effect” on minorities, and violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

While there are similar laws in Wisconsin and North Carolina, the voter ID law in Texas is considered to be one of the strictest in the country because it requires one of seven forms of a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license, a U.S. passport, a concealed-handgun license or an election identification certificate issued by the State Department of Public Safety. University IDs, voter registration cards and utility bills are not allowed.

“We urge the parties to work cooperatively with the district court to provide a prompt resolution of this matter to avoid election eve uncertainties and emergencies,” wrote the members of the federal Appeal’s Court.

In Oct. 2014, a U.S. district judge blocked Texas’ voter ID law, calling it an “unconstitutional poll tax,” and saying that its purpose was to discriminate against Hispanic and African-American citizens by creating “an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.

[RELATED: Voter ID Laws Blocked In Wisconsin And Texas]

The Texas attorney general’s office appealed the decision, and while the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the strict voter ID law would have a “discriminatory impact” that was in violation of the Voting Rights Act, it did not determine whether Texas legislators had a discriminatory purpose in passing the law.

The members of the appeals court claimed that although they saw “the charged nature of accusations of racism, particularly against a legislative body,” they also recognized the fact that “racism continues to exist in our modern American society despite years of laws designed to eradicate it.”

The Associated Press reported that the when the voter ID was used in Texas during the 2014 midterm elections, it required “an estimated 13.6 million registered Texas voters to have a photo ID to cast a ballot.”

[RELATED: Poll: Independents Will Soon Outnumber Republicans And Democrats Combined]

In a statement, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the Department of Justice is “pleased that the court of appeals agreed unanimously with the district court that the Texas statute violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act” and they are “studying the opinion in light of the future proceedings the court of appeals has ordered.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the ruling a victory for the state, rather than a defeat.

“Today’s ruling was a victory on the fundamental question of Texas’ right to protect the integrity of our elections and the state’s common sense Voter ID law remains in effect,” Paxton said. “I’m particularly pleased the panel saw through and rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that our law constituted a ‘poll tax.’ The intent of this law is to protect the voting process in Texas, and we will continue to defend this important safeguard for all Texas voters.”

In a statement from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, he said that the state will continue to fight to uphold its voter ID law.

“In light of ongoing voter fraud, it is imperative that Texas has a voter ID law that prevents cheating at the ballot box,” Abbott said. “Texas will continue to fight for its voter ID requirement to ensure the integrity of elections in the Lone Star State.”

For more election coverage click here.

California court ruling could bring about the end of conceal-carry restrictions

A ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals could allow more citizens to obtain a conceal-carry permit, and advocates estimate about two million people will apply for permits thanks to the ruling.

Previously, people who applied for carry concealed permits had to have a reason for wanting the permit, which the court ruled was a violation of citizen’s Second Amendment rights.

Brandon Combs of the Calguns Foundation spoke to CBS San Fransisco, saying, “Sometimes they’ll say, ‘You know, prove you’ve already been assaulted and then we’ll give you a license or prove how much money you carry or what kind of jewelry you wear.’”

This ruling though gets rid of the requirement and will allow people to apply for a permit without such a hindrance.

Many have also spoken out after the ruling, including some officials, saying they will not challenge the courts.  San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore is one such official.

“Law enforcement’s role is to uphold and enforce the law,” said Gore, according to FOX News.  “Since becoming Sheriff, I have always maintained that it is the legislature’s responsibility to make the laws, and the judiciary’s responsibility to interpret them and their constitutionality.”

The ruling will not allow convicted felons or mentally ill citizens to possess or carry firearms though.  Firearms will also still be illegal to carry in places such as government buildings or schools.

“Some sheriffs are probably going to see this news as evidence their policies are wrong,” said Combs.  “But sheriffs and police chiefs in anti-gun jurisdictions may need more help seeing the light. We’ll be happy to help them, even if it means going to the Supreme Court.”

Federal Judge Rules NSA Spying IS Legal; Strange Ruling Cites Emotion, Sept 11. and Edward Snowden “Spawning Mischief”

One could argue that the ruling by a Federal Judge that the NSA spying program is legal was not only a horrible ruling, but based on his personal view and not grounded at all in law.

The headlines on Friday, December 27th, 2013 came across loud and clear.  “Federal Judge Rules NSA Spying is Legal”.  This ruling of course, was sudden and bit surprising to many people because it comes less than two weeks after another U.S. Circuit Court Judge ruled the exact opposite, saying that the NSA’s bulk collection of phone and email records is illegal, and likely a violation of the 4th Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure.

So where did this latest ruling come from?  In this case, it was U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley who dismissed an ACLU lawsuit claiming that the NSA program was violation of the 4th Amendment.

“The question for this court is whether the government’s bulk telephony metadata program is lawful. This court finds it is. But the question of whether that program should be conducted is for the other two coordinate branches of government to decide,” Pauley said.

What is most interesting about his ruling is how little, if at all, Judge Pauley actually explained the legal justification for his ruling.  Rather, he stated over and over why the September 11, 2001 terror attacks provide justification for the program.

“The government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world. It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program — a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data,” he said.

The Judge went on to claim that because of the “safeguards” in place for all this information gathered by the NSA, there is no reason to suspect or think that the government might abuse that information.  In response to the ACLU claim that the government, through this kind of data collection, would know whether or not someone had visited a sex hotline, had contemplated suicide, had struggled with gambling or drug addiction or had supported political candidates or causes, Judge Pauley insisted that the Government will not mis-use that kind of data.

What is most fascinating about this ruling is that Judge Pauley does not give a legal or Constitutional reason as to why the NSA has the right to this information or why the private information can be gathered and queried by federal agents.  He simply states that the government won’t misuse it and therefore, Americans shouldn’t be worried about it.

Contrast this ruling with the one by Judge Richard Leon which we told you about just under two weeks ago.  In this case, District Court Judge Leon cited legal reasons, not emotional ones, to strike down the NSA program stating,

“No Court has ever recognized a special need sufficient to justify continuous, daily searches of virtually every American citizen without any particularized suspicion.”

Judge Leon went on to say “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

Perhaps the most interesting part of the latest ruling by Judge Pauley was when the Judge took on Edward Snowden, stating that the only reason the ACLU has filed this lawsuit in the first place was because of Snowden’s disclosure of information.  Had Snowden never disclosed the program, the ACLU and the rest of America wouldn’t have known the program was taking place.  Calling the Snowden revelations “Another level of absurdity in this case”.

“It cannot possibly be that lawbreaking conduct by a government contractor that reveals state secrets — including the means and methods of intelligence gathering — could frustrate Congress’s intent. To hold otherwise would spawn mischief,” he wrote.

In a nutshell, Judge Pauley’s ruling is simple.  The government needs no legal permission to carry out their programs, they simply need a reason that trumps the rights of the individual.  Like the government lawyers, Pauley seems to believe that reason is the September 11 terror attacks.  Judge Pauley also chooses to never address the individual rights of the American citizen protected by the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and instead makes a ruling based in the old adage “What you don’t know won’t hurt you”.

Breaking News: Judge Rules On Detroit Bankruptcy- “Situation Unworkable”

Detroit

By Michael Lotfi,

The largest municipal bankruptcy in history was just allowed to move forward. US Bankruptcy Judge Steve Rhodes delivered the ruling, which declared the city could move forward with its plans for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Judge Rhodes ruled that objectors must appeal directly to the 6th Circuit and file separate motions. According to Judge Rhodes, “This situation has proved unworkable.” The struggling city is more than $18 billion in debt. The Detroit Free Press is updating live from the courthouse.

According to exiting Detroit Mayor Bing, “There’s going to be a lot of pain for a lot of different people. But in the long run, the future will be bright.” Last Summer the city first filed for bankruptcy after struggling for years to make payments to debtors. The city made headlines for pushing through plans to construct a new $444 million hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings with taxpayer money.

Last election cycle, President Obama praised Detroit and stated that because of his policies the city wouldn’t go bankrupt. “We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt. We bet on American workers and American ingenuity, and three years later, that bet is paying off in a big way,” President Obama said in a weekly address.

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