Thursday, June 25, 2015

Now for the Big Ones

The court certainly has a taste for drama. Today's decision on Obamacare is just the appetizer. The main course and desert are yet to come.

Gay Marriage

This is the 1st biggie. The court must actually rule on two questions.

(1) - Whether states can ban Gay Marriage or whether it is a constitutional right under the 14th Amendment

(2) - Whether states must recognize Gay Marriages performed in other states

Of course if the court rules that Gay Marriage is protected under the 14th Amendment, the 2nd question becomes sort of obvious.

Regardless of whether you support or oppose gay marriage you have to recognize that it would be irresponsibility of the 1st order for the court to have refused to review lower court decisions until a split occurred, while allowing gay marriages to proceed, and then to reverse now.

The court should have stepped in immediately after the initial appeals court ruling. To try and roll back the clock now would be insanity and cause a level of legal chaos rarely before seen in this country. The costs alone associated with untangling things would be horrendous and that's not to mention the emotional toll.

Which doesn't mean a court with the likes of the Little Onion and Thomas the Obscure couldn't manage it but I can't believe Chief Justice Roberts would allow this on his watch.

My Opinion: The court should legalize Gay Marriage as a right under the 14th Amendment and require cross state recognition of Gay Marriages performed in other states and abroad.

What I Expect: I have a bad feeling about this one that we're going to get some sort of twisted legal abomination of a decision that's going to make the Dred Scott decision look like legal brilliance.


This one could easily have the single largest impact on the political structure of the Federal Government. Arizona voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2000 stripping the Legislature of the power to draw districts and giving it to an independent redistricting commission to avoid "gerrymandering," the practice of the majority party in the legislature drawing weird shaped districts to give it a political advantage.

The Legislature went to court, pointing out that Article I of the Constitution specifies that "the times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof."

Except of course the election districts aren't part of the "the times, places and manner of holding elections" and gerrymandering violates the fundamental concept of fair elections.

My Opinion: Not only should independent redistricting commissions be allowed they should be required!

What I Expect: Given the conservative nature of the court I expect the Arizona Legislature to win on this one and we will gerrymander on.

Lethal Injection

A challenge over the sedative used by several states in executions. The claim is that it merely paralyzes and doesn't protect from "cruel and unusual punishment" as advertised.

My Opinion: Since I'm opposed to Capital Punishment I'd like to see the court ban as many execution drugs as possible and make it harder and more expensive to continue with Capital Punishment.

What I Expect: I honestly don't know what to expect here. Could go either way.

Violent Crime

A challenge to a federal law that sets mandatory minimum sentences for federal firearms offenders who already have three convictions for "violent felonies."

Advocates argue that the law is too vague in defining what is a "violent felony."

My Opinion: I don't know enough about this to have an opinion.

What I Expect: I don't know enough about this to have any idea what to expect.

Power Plant Pollution

Three cases asking the court to force the Environmental Protection Agency to consider the economic cost of complying with regulations limiting emissions from power plants before it issues any rules.

Of course since the EPA has never been asked to consider costs before, this could have far reaching implications if it goes the wrong way.

My Opinion: Cost should not be a factor in EPA decisions.

What I Expect: I expect the court to order the EPA to consider cost. Hopefully it will be a narrow decision and not set a precedent that would effectively cripple the EPA.

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