Archive for the ‘ Supreme Court ’ Category

America is at a major crossroads and it is time to decide what we want for our society. Do we want to work together to solve our issues and contribute to the positive growth of our nation or do we want to live in a society of hate where the left and the right are always at odds, where bullying and scapegoating is accepted? Do we want to lead the world in the promotion of human rights and democracy, or do we want to be the bully imposing our will on sovereign nations for our own benefit, even if our actions conflict with our most cherished ideals?

In many ways, our response to gay marriage is a microcosm of these larger questions. Paradoxically, while we condemn nations like China for their human rights violations, we still embrace racist practices here at home and give hate a forum. The Obama administration’s decision to no longer support the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a step in the right direction to end one of our nation’s last great frontiers of hate and denial of dignity and respect to a significant segment of our nation’s citizens. It is probably the best decision of Obama’s presidency to date, no matter what your politics and views regarding gay marriage are if for no other reason than the decision recognizes the humanity of gay men and women and that they are entitled to equal protection under our laws as citizens of the United States.

At the end of the day, gay marriage is not about you or me or what we think is right and wrong. Gay marriage is about the dignity and respect our fellow Americans deserve as citizens of the United States and equality under the law exactly like the way we have extended dignity and respect, under the law at least, to African Americans, Jewish Americans, Asian Americans, women and the disabled.

In terms of gay marriage issues, the United States is behind other nations of the world. “At a time when the legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships has been proceeding apace in advanced industrial nations around the world (most notably, in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Canada, Germany, and Hungary and partially or locally in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom), the efforts of U.S. legislators to prohibit legal recognition demand explanation.” (Adam, 2003).

Click to continue reading “Gay Marriage: Our Choice Between Hate and Civil Society”

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The history of education in the United States is a patchwork of family teachings, independent tutorials, public and private religious schools, grammar schools, vocational academies, Latin schools, colleges and universities with varying degrees of private, local township, school district, state and federal organization and control. While the framers of the United States constitution firmly believed that an educated citizenry was essential for the practice of democracy, and many of them argued for a national University of the United States and school system, there is no right to education articulated in the constitution or the Bill of Rights, and so no national system of education was ever organized. Pulliam and Van Patten (2007). Under the Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states anything not granted to the federal government or prohibited to the states by the constitution, systems of education have remained for the most part under local control.

The basic unit of education throughout the United States is the public school district. But since the days of the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay Colony, there has been great disparity in the funding of local education and the quality of education each district has provided for its population. Pulliam and Van Patten (2007). Nearly four-hundred years later not only do these funding and educational quality disparities continue to persist, but they are exacerbated by the positional nature of education. A quality education is necessary to get into a good college. A good college education is necessary to obtain a good job. A good job is necessary to pursue one’s dreams and live the life every man and woman wants to live, or in other words, to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” Payne-Tsoupros (2010). But the disparities that exist between school districts, and even within individual districts, jeopardize the ability of those most at risk—and especially those from school districts made up of populations on the lower end of the socio-economic continuum—from obtaining that all-important quality education.

Click to continue reading “Against a Constitutional Right to Education”

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“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States…” were the words that President Obama planned to say on January 20th before Chief Justice John Roberts botched the presidential oath of office and Mr. Obama repeated his mistake.  Assuming no darker motives—that Mr. Roberts was not deliberately creating a validation for a future ruling that Mr. Obama is not America’s president—his public snafu with Mr. Obama might at least foreshadow a period of little cooperation, perhaps even blatant counteraction, between an economically interventionist Mr. Obama and a still strict-constructionist Supreme Court.

1978, the last time America saw a Democratic majority in Congress as great as it is now—nearly 60%—coincided with the first term of President Carter—also a Democrat.  The 96th Congress that convened until 1980 was marked by broad productivity, passing more laws than the two Congress’ that preceded it.  If the high output of bills was due to Democratic control of the legislature and the White House, then the current—111th—Congress ought to be the most productive in a long time.  Nonetheless, the current federal judiciary remains much more conservative than that of 1978, suggesting that any productive period in Congress will likely be met with constitutionality rulings in the Supreme Court.

Click to continue reading “U.S. v. Barack Obama: The slippery slopes of the Constitution”

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Church and StateThis is the first part of a multi-part series on the issue of separation of church and state. With this being the holiday season, it just seemed appropriate to bring this issue up here on this blog considering this is the primary time of the year that we start hearing all the arguments for and against “separation of church and state.” Please keep in mind, while this discussion will attempt to remain as non-partisan and not promoting any single religion, the fact is the topic of this discussion is religion and it might appear there may be some encroachment on the non-partisanship promise of this blog. Please be rest assured, that is not the intent here.

The purpose of this discussion is to look at the historical context from which this idea was born and what it has meant to this country and religion over the past two centuries. The first place to start is the United States Constitution – in particular – the First Amendment as it relates to religion:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

This is also known as “The Establishment Clause.”  The interpretation of this particular line of the First Amendment has caused quite a problem over the last 50 years in the United States.  Secular organizations have used this language to have all forms of religion removed from any public establishment including schools, government buildings, court houses, etc. at all levels of government (local, county, state, and federal).  Their premise is that the First Amendment requires an absolute separation of church and state.  But, there is absolutely no mention of this particular phrase in the entire U.S. Constitution.  So – where did this come about?

Click to continue reading “Separation of Church and State — Part I”

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Great Seal of the State of California

Great Seal of the State of California

With California’s Proposition 8 now a part of California’s constitution, the next step in the battle over same-sex marriage will likely turn to the courts. With that in mind, it’s important to look at where the issue of same-sex marriage might be headed in the courts to understand the governmental processes at work as this very high-profile issue takes national center-stage, especially now with Barack Obama in the White House and the House and Senate controlled by the Democrats.

Background

The campaign for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the United States is a young one, but very reflective of modern society in the United States and the culture war that exists between liberal and traditional or conservative values. Briefly, back in 2000, California voters passed by a large majority an amendment to the California Family Code (CFC) that formally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. In 2004, the Massachusetts Supreme Court–in a landmark ruling that made international headlines–decided that laws prohibiting gay marriage were unconstitutional, thus opening the door for gay men and women to legally marry for the first time in the United States. This ruling drew immediate attacks from those opposed to gay marriage and resulted in an attempt to pass an amendment to the United States Constitution that would restrict marriage in all states to be between a man and a woman. The issue polarized America and became a major campaign issue in the 2004 election cycle. George Bush used the same-sex marriage issue to eek out a narrow re-election to the Presidency over John Kerry, Senator from Massachusetts.

Click to continue reading “Beyond Proposition 8: The U.S. Gay Marriage Ban Amendment”

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