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Old 08-05-2010, 05:28 PM   #106
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The 63 votes in favor of confirmation is the third-lowest total in more than half a century.



the other two that received less than Kagan:

Alito - 58 and Thomas - 52, deservedly so.
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Old 08-05-2010, 08:22 PM   #107
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McConnell to Franken: This isn't 'SNL'

When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell laid out his opposition to Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination, someone in the chamber appeared to be moving around in his chair, gasping and rolling his eyes.

It was Sen. Al Franken.

Moments before Kagan’s confirmation vote Thursday, the Minnesota Democrat was presiding over the Senate — and the Kentucky Republican thought the freshman senator was mocking his speech. Upon the conclusion of his remarks, a very irritated McConnell removed his microphone, approached the dais and confronted the former comedian.

"This isn't ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Al," McConnell told Franken sternly, according to people who overheard the exchange.

Franken later apologized to McConnell.

“The leader thought I was disrespectful while he was giving his speech on General Kagan,” Franken said in a statement to POLITICO. “He is entitled to give his speech with the presiding officer just listening respectfully. I went directly to his office after I was done presiding to apologize in person. He wasn’t there, so I’ve sent him a handwritten note.”
I watched the vote on C-Span

it was a bit surreal? with Franklin (Stuart Smalley) presiding.
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:12 AM   #108
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time.com

Leave it to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to argue that the Constitution does not, in fact, bar sex discrimination.

Even though the court has said for decades that the equal-protection clause protects women (and, for that matter, men) from sex discrimination, the outspoken, controversial Scalia claimed late last week that women's equality is entirely up to the political branches. "If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex," he told an audience at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law, "you have legislatures."

To anyone who has followed Justice Scalia's career, his latest provocative statement shouldn't come entirely as a surprise. It's been more than four years since he answered a reporter's question about his impartiality in religion cases with an under-the-chin hand gesture that some commentators said was a Sicilian obscenity. (A Supreme Court spokeswoman insisted the gesture was "dismissive" but not obscene.) And it's been about as long since Justice Scalia called his refusal to recuse himself from a case about Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force — after he had just gone on a duck-hunting trip with Cheney — the "proudest thing" he has done on the court.

But Justice Scalia's attack on the constitutional rights of women — and of gays, whom he also brushed off — is not just his usual mouthing off. One of his colleagues on the nation's highest court, Justice Stephen Breyer, has just come out with a book called Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge's View, which rightly argues that the Constitution is a living document — one that the founders intended to grow over time, to keep up with new events. Justice Scalia is roaring back in defense of "originalism," his view that the Constitution is stuck in the meaning it had when it was written in the 18th century.

Indeed, Justice Scalia likes to present his views as highly principled — he's not against equal rights for women or anyone else; he's just giving the Constitution the strict interpretation it must be given. He focuses on the fact that the 14th Amendment was drafted after the Civil War to help lift up freed slaves to equality. "Nobody thought it was directed against sex discrimination," he told his audience.

Yet, the idea that women are protected by the equal-protection clause is hardly new — or controversial. In 1971, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that they were protected, in an opinion by the conservative then Chief Justice Warren Burger. It is no small thing to talk about writing women out of equal protection — or Jews, or Latinos or other groups who would lose their protection by the same logic. It is nice to think that legislatures would protect these minorities from oppression by the majority, but we have a very different country when the Constitution guarantees that it is so.

And the fact that we have a very different country now from the days of the Founding Fathers is why Justice Scalia is on the wrong side of this debate. The drafters could have written the Constitution as a list of specific rules and said, "That's all, folks!" Instead, they wrote a document full of broadly written guarantees: "due process," "freedom of speech" and yes, "equal protection." As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes explained almost a century ago, the Constitution's framers created an "organism" that was meant to grow — and to be interpreted "in the light of our whole national experience," not based on "what was said a hundred years ago."

The Constitution would be a poor set of rights if it were locked in the 1780s. The Eighth Amendment would protect us against only the sort of punishment that was deemed cruel and unusual back then. As Justice Breyer has said, "Flogging as a punishment might have been fine in the 18th century. That doesn't mean that it would be OK ... today." And how could we say that the Fourth Amendment limits government wiretapping — when the founders could not have conceived of a telephone, much less a tap? (See pictures of six archetypes that shaped the way women dress today.)

Justice Scalia doesn't even have consistency on his side. After all, he has been happy to interpret the equal-protection clause broadly when it fits his purposes. In Bush v. Gore, he joined the majority that stopped the vote recount in Florida in 2000 — because they said equal protection required it. Is there really any reason to believe that the drafters — who, after all, were trying to help black people achieve equality — intended to protect President Bush's right to have the same procedures for a vote recount in Broward County as he had in Miami-Dade? (If Justice Scalia had been an equal-protection originalist in that case, he would have focused on the many black Floridians whose votes were not counted — not on the white President who wanted to stop counting votes.)

Even worse, while Justice Scalia argues for writing women out of the Constitution, there is another group he has been working hard to write in: corporations. The word "corporation" does not appear in the Constitution, and there is considerable evidence that the founders were worried about corporate influence. But in a landmark ruling earlier this year, Justice Scalia joined a narrow majority in striking down longstanding limits on corporate spending in federal elections, insisting that they violated the First Amendment.

It is a strange view of the Constitution to say that when it says every "person" must have "equal protection," it does not protect women, but that freedom of "speech" — something only humans were capable of in 1787 and today — guarantees corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections.
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:17 AM   #109
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RICHMOND, Va. — The U.S. Supreme Court refused Tuesday to block the execution of a woman convicted of two hired killings, clearing the way for the state's first execution of a woman in nearly a century.

Teresa Lewis, 41, is scheduled to die by injection Thursday for providing sex and money to two men to kill her husband and stepson in October 2002 so she could collect on a quarter-million dollar insurance pay out.

Two of the three women on the court, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, voted to stop the execution. The court did not otherwise comment on its order.

The court's decision followed Gov. Bob McDonnell's refusal to reconsider a clemency request, which he rejected Friday.

"A good and decent person is about to lose her life because of a system that is broken," said attorney James E. Rocap III, who represents Lewis. He said he was referring to the decision by the Supreme Court and McDonnell's rejection of clemency.

Rocap appealed Monday to McDonnell to reconsider his decision to deny clemency to Lewis, claiming new evidence should spare Lewis the death penalty.

Rocap argued that one of the gunmen later claimed he manipulated Lewis, who is borderline mentally retarded, "to dupe her into believing he loved her so that he could achieve his own selfish goals."

The Virginia case has had repercussions as far away as Iran.

An Iranian news agency reported Tuesday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the West of launching a "heavy propaganda" campaign against the case of an Iranian woman who had been sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery but failing to react with outrage over the imminent execution of Lewis in Virginia.

Ahmadinejad's reported comments came during a speech Monday to Islamic clerics and other figures in New York, where he is attending the U.N. General Assembly.

Lewis pleaded guilty in May 2003 to two counts of capital murder for hire in the slayings of her husband Julian Lewis and her stepson, Charles Lewis.

The triggermen, Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller, were sentenced to life terms. Shallenberger, who Rocap names as the mastermind, committed suicide in prison in 2006.

"If she was not the mastermind – and it is now clear she was not – it is grossly unfair to impose the death sentence on her while Shallenberger and Fuller received life," Rocap wrote to McDonnell.

McDonnell's legal counsel said the governor's decision would stand.

Based on a thorough review, "the governor found no compelling reason to grant clemency and made a final decision," J. Jasen Eige wrote to Rocap, who released the response Tuesday.

Teresa Lewis and Julian Clifton Lewis Jr. met in 2000 at a Danville textile factory where they worked and later married. In 2002, Julian's son Charles bought a $250,000 life insurance policy when he was called for active duty by the U.S. Army Reserve. He named his father as beneficiary.

Lewis offered herself and her 16-year-old daughter for sex to Shallenberger and Fuller. She stood by while they shot Lewis, 51, and his son, who was 25, in 2002 in Pittsylvania County in Southside Virginia.

Lewis rummaged through her husband's pockets for money while he lay dying and waited nearly an hour before calling 911.

Lewis allowed a judge to determine her sentence. Her attorneys believed she stood a better chance of getting a life prison term from the judge who had never sentenced anyone to death.

The last execution of a woman in the U.S. occurred in 2005 when Frances Newton died by injection in Texas. In Virginia, the last woman executed was in 1912, when 17-year-old Virginia Christian died in the electric chair for suffocating her employer.

Thousands of advocates have appealed for Lewis' clemency, arguing she is a changed woman. Her scheduled execution has also stirred interest because of her gender.

Out of more than 1,200 executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, only 11 women have been executed. Of the more than 3,200 inmates on death row nationwide, 53 are women.
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Old 09-22-2010, 02:22 PM   #110
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I no longer support capital punishment.

I don't believe it can be properly administered.
And there is potential for innocent people to be executed.


This woman's case, however will do little to nothing to change anyone's mind on the issue. I can understand why many would have no sympathy for her.

Quote:
Teresa Lewis and Julian Clifton Lewis Jr. met in 2000 at a Danville textile factory where they worked and later married. In 2002, Julian's son Charles bought a $250,000 life insurance policy when he was called for active duty by the U.S. Army Reserve. He named his father as beneficiary.

Lewis offered herself and her 16-year-old daughter for sex to Shallenberger and Fuller. She stood by while they shot Lewis, 51, and his son, who was 25, in 2002 in Pittsylvania County in Southside Virginia.

Lewis rummaged through her husband's pockets for money while he lay dying and waited nearly an hour before calling 911.

Lewis allowed a judge to determine her sentence. Her attorneys believed she stood a better chance of getting a life prison term from the judge who had never sentenced anyone to death.
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:54 AM   #111
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(CNN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday in a legal battle that pits the privacy rights of grieving families and the free speech rights of demonstrators.

In 2006, members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested 300 feet from a funeral for Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in Westminster, Maryland, carrying signs reading "God hates you" and "Thank God for dead soldiers."

Among the teachings of the Topeka, Kansas-based fundamentalist church founded by pastor Fred Phelps is the belief that the deaths of U.S. soldiers is God's punishment for "the sin of homosexuality."

Albert Snyder, Matthew's father, said his son was not gay and the protesters should not have been at the funeral.

"I was just shocked that any individual could do this to another human being," Snyder told CNN. "I mean, it was inhuman."

Snyder's family sued the church in 2007, alleging invasion of privacy, international infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. A jury awarded the family $2.9 million in compensatory damages plus $8 million in punitive damages, which were later reduced to $5 million.

The church appealed the case in 2008 to the 4th District, which reversed the judgments a year later, siding with the church's allegations that its First Amendment rights were violated.

In a legal brief filed with the Supreme Court, church members claim it is their right to protest at certain events, including funerals, to promote their religious message: "That God's promise of love and heaven for those who obey him in this life is counterbalanced by God's wrath and hell for those who do not obey him."

Church members have participated in hundreds of other protests across the country. They also picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepherd, the victim of an anti-gay beating and one of those whom the Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was named.

The justices will be asked to look at how far states and private entities such as cemeteries and churches can go to justify picket-free zones and the use of "floating buffers" to silence or restrict speech or movements of demonstrators exercising their constitutional rights in a funeral setting.

The Supreme Court is not expected to rule on the matter for several months.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:39 AM   #112
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WASHINGTON -- The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

In a newly published interview in the legal magazine California Lawyer, Scalia said that while the Constitution does not disallow the passage of legislation outlawing such discrimination, it doesn't itself outlaw that behavior:

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don't think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we've gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?

Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. ... But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that's fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't. Nobody ever thought that that's what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don't need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don't like the death penalty anymore, that's fine. You want a right to abortion? There's nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn't mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it's a good idea and pass a law. That's what democracy is all about. It's not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.


For the record, the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause states: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." That would seem to include protection against exactly the kind of discrimination to which Scalia referred.

Marcia Greenberger, founder and co-president of the National Women's Law Center, called the justice's comments "shocking" and said he was essentially saying that if the government sanctions discrimination against women, the judiciary offers no recourse.

"In these comments, Justice Scalia says if Congress wants to protect laws that prohibit sex discrimination, that's up to them," she said. "But what if they want to pass laws that discriminate? Then he says that there's nothing the court will do to protect women from government-sanctioned discrimination against them. And that's a pretty shocking position to take in 2011. It's especially shocking in light of the decades of precedents and the numbers of justices who have agreed that there is protection in the 14th Amendment against sex discrimination, and struck down many, many laws in many, many areas on the basis of that protection."

Greenberger added that under Scalia's doctrine, women could be legally barred from juries, paid less by the government, receive fewer benefits in the armed forces, and be excluded from state-run schools -- all things that have happened in the past, before their rights to equal protection were enforced.


"In 1971, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that they were protected, in an opinion by the conservative then Chief Justice Warren Burger," Adam Cohen wrote in Time in September. "It is no small thing to talk about writing women out of equal protection -- or Jews, or Latinos or other groups who would lose their protection by the same logic. It is nice to think that legislatures would protect these minorities from oppression by the majority, but we have a very different country when the Constitution guarantees that it is so."

In 1996, Scalia cast the sole vote in favor of allowing the Virginia Military Institute to continue denying women admission.
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:41 AM   #113
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Activist judges
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:52 AM   #114
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I saw him speak in Montana. He is very convinced that the Constitution always has to be read in the context of when it was written. He ridiculed the "living tree" philosophy saying by that standard law would become virtually arbitrary.
Can't really recollect how exactly he put it, but that was pretty much his views.
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:10 PM   #115
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Trying to apply the context of 18th century law to 21st century law is an incredibly stupid approach.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:50 PM   #116
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Originally Posted by PhilsFan View Post
Trying to apply the context of 18th century law to 21st century law is an incredibly stupid approach.


I would like to hear your reasoning behind that statement.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:55 PM   #117
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We as a society are in a different place now. We should adjust some laws and interpretations accordingly. His approach of blankly applying the original, 18th century intention is, thus, incredibly stupid.
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Old 01-05-2011, 10:00 PM   #118
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We as a society are in a different place now. We should adjust some laws and interpretations accordingly. His approach of blankly applying the original, 18th century intention is, thus, incredibly stupid.

Thanks for your reply.

I guess, my question is what laws as applied in the 18th century
should now be interpreted in the 21th century.
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Old 01-05-2011, 10:48 PM   #119
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We've been adjusting for some time now. This isn't a new suggestion. All amendments after the first ten are adjustments.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:24 PM   #120
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I would like to hear your reasoning behind that statement.

It seems fairly obvious, but maybe it's not to everyone.

Our founding fathers were brilliant men, what made them so brilliant is that they knew they weren't infallible. They didn't know what TV, internet, or highways were, but they knew that someday the world would have such things and that those things would need to be governed.

The ironic thing is that you and Scalia actually think you're taking the constitution at face value and applying it in 18th century terms... but you're not. For example you and everyone else that mentions the 2nd ammendment always leaves out the context of militias.
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