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Old 01-06-2011, 02:08 AM   #121
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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.
Hell, if those things had existed back then, I would find it hard to believe that there wouldn't have been laws in place about how to govern such things surrounding them, or at least debate about doing that.

It just seems logical to me that as times, attitudes, and people change, so, therefore, do the laws . And given the general mindset of Americans in the 18th century, call me crazy, but I'm going to go with the 21st century attitude instead.

And I'm sure, 200 some odd years from now, the laws will look drastically different from today as well.

Angela
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Old 01-06-2011, 03:25 PM   #122
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Our founding fathers were brilliant men,
Brilliant men? Really?

Once you allow that you have loss the argument.

They were very ordinary men, they did things in their own self interests. With some self-righteous claims thrown in.
Very much like the same people serving today.
No doubt there are many decent people and a few really bright ones in the both groups.
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Old 03-08-2011, 06:52 PM   #123
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I knew that would be the ruling but it still truly sucks-to put it nicely. The ruling came down last week.



WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a grieving father's pain over mocking protests at his Marine son's funeral must yield to First Amendment protections for free speech. All but one justice sided with a fundamentalist church that has stirred outrage with raucous demonstrations contending God is punishing the military for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

The 8-1 decision in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., was the latest in a line of court rulings that, as Chief Justice John Roberts said in his opinion for the court, protects "even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate."

The decision ended a lawsuit by Albert Snyder, who sued church members for the emotional pain they caused by showing up at his son Matthew's funeral. As they have at hundreds of other funerals, the Westboro members held signs with provocative messages, including "Thank God for dead soldiers," `'You're Going to Hell," `'God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11," and one that combined the U.S. Marine Corps motto, Semper Fi, with a slur against gay men.

Justice Samuel Alito, the lone dissenter, said Snyder wanted only to "bury his son in peace." Instead, Alito said, the protesters "brutally attacked" Matthew Snyder to attract public attention. "Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case," he said.

The ruling, though, was in line with many earlier court decisions that said the First Amendment exists to protect robust debate on public issues and free expression, no matter how distasteful. A year ago, the justices struck down a federal ban on videos that show graphic violence against animals. In 1988, the court unanimously overturned a verdict for the Rev. Jerry Falwell in his libel lawsuit against Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt over a raunchy parody ad.

What might have made this case different was that the Snyders are not celebrities or public officials but private citizens. Both Roberts and Alito agreed that the Snyders were the innocent victims of the long-running campaign by the church's pastor, the Rev. Fred Phelps, and his family members who make up most of the Westboro Baptist Church. Roberts said there was no doubt the protesters added to Albert Snyder's "already incalculable grief."

But Roberts said the frequency of the protests – and the church's practice of demonstrating against Catholics, Jews and many other groups – is an indication that Phelps and his flock were not mounting a personal attack against Snyder but expressing deeply held views on public topics.

Indeed, Matthew Snyder was not gay. But "Westboro believes that God is killing American soldiers as punishment for the nation's sinful policies," Roberts said.

"Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and – as it did here – inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker," Roberts said.


Snyder's reaction, at a news conference in York, Pa.: "My first thought was, eight justices don't have the common sense God gave a goat." He added, "We found out today we can no longer bury our dead in this country with dignity."

He said it was possible he would have to pay the Phelpses around $100,000, which they are seeking in legal fees, since he lost the lawsuit. The money would, in effect, finance more of the same activity he fought against, Snyder said.

Margie Phelps, a daughter of the minister and a lawyer who argued the case at the Supreme Court, said she expected the outcome. "The only surprise is that Justice Alito did not feel compelled to follow his oath," Phelps said. "We read the law. We follow the law. The only way for a different ruling is to shred the First Amendment."

She also offered her church's view of the decision. "I think it's pretty self-explanatory, but here's the core point: the wrath of God is pouring onto this land. Rather than trying to shut us up, use your platforms to tell this nation to mourn for your sins."

Veterans groups reacted to the ruling with dismay. Veterans of Foreign Wars national commander Richard L. Eubank said, "The Westboro Baptist Church may think they have won, but the VFW will continue to support community efforts to ensure no one hears their voice, because the right to free speech does not trump a family's right to mourn in private."

The picketers obeyed police instructions and stood about 1,000 feet from the Catholic church in Westminster, Md., where the funeral took place in March of 2006.

The protesters drew counter-demonstrators, as well as media coverage and a heavy police presence to maintain order. The result was a spectacle that led to altering the route of the funeral procession.

Several weeks later, Albert Snyder was surfing the Internet for tributes to his son from other soldiers and strangers when he came upon a poem on the church's website that assailed Matthew's parents for the way they brought up their son.

Soon after, Snyder filed a lawsuit accusing the Phelpses of intentionally inflicting emotional distress. He won $11 million at trial, later reduced by a judge to $5 million.

The federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., threw out the verdict and said the Constitution shielded the church members from liability. The Supreme Court agreed.

Forty-eight states, 42 U.S. senators and veterans groups had sided with Snyder, asking the court to shield funerals from the Phelps family's "psychological terrorism."

While distancing themselves from the church's message, media organizations, including The Associated Press, urged the court to side with the Phelps family because of concerns that a victory for Snyder could erode speech rights.

Roberts described the court's holding as narrow, and in a separate opinion Justice Stephen Breyer suggested that in other circumstances governments would not be "powerless to provide private individuals with necessary protection."

But in this case, Breyer said, it would be wrong to "punish Westboro for seeking to communicate its views on matters of public concern."
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Old 03-08-2011, 07:15 PM   #124
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It does suck, but there really aren't any legal grounds for Snyder's lawsuit.
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Old 03-09-2011, 10:17 AM   #125
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I agree with this ruling. We can't abridge free speech.
I like the idea of swarming the burials with silent supporters such that the Phelps' douches can't get close.

If we go down the "psychological terrorism" path, where could it possibly end?
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Old 03-09-2011, 10:32 AM   #126
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Unfortunately, yes, their "speech" is protected. I'd personally love to shut them up permanently, but...

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He said it was possible he would have to pay the Phelpses around $100,000, which they are seeking in legal fees, since he lost the lawsuit.
This, however, is bullshit. You won, Phelpses. Leave it at that. The other family's suffered enough.

I do wonder, though, if this can be amended to state that if an individual family wishes to deny these people the ability to set foot anywhere near their funeral, they can be allowed to do so. Would that be doable?

Angela
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:19 PM   #127
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This, however, is bullshit. You won, Phelpses. Leave it at that. The other family's suffered enough.
Oh no. That's the entire point of the WBC. They piss people off till they crack and do something irrational, and then take their money in lawsuits. Like 20% of them are lawyers.

I doubt they believe anything they say.
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Old 03-28-2011, 11:45 AM   #128
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By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Christine Kwapnoski hasn't done too badly in nearly 25 years in the Wal-Mart family, making more than $60,000 a year in a job she enjoys most days.

But Kwapnoski says she faced obstacles at Wal-Mart-owned Sam's Club stores in both Missouri and California: Men making more than women and getting promoted faster.

She never heard a supervisor tell a man, as she says one told her, to "doll up" or "blow the cobwebs off" her make-up.

Once she got over the fear that she might be fired, she joined what has turned into the largest job discrimination lawsuit ever.

The 46-year-old single mother of two is one of the named plaintiffs in a suit that will be argued at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. At stake is whether the suit can go forward as a class action that could involve 500,000 to 1.6 million women, according to varying estimates, and potentially could cost the world's largest retailer billions of dollars.

But the case's potential importance goes well beyond the Wal-Mart dispute, as evidenced by more than two dozen briefs filed by business interests on Wal-Mart's side, and civil rights, consumer and union groups on the other.

The question is crucial to the viability of discrimination claims, which become powerful vehicles to force change when they are presented together, instead of individually. Class actions increase pressure on businesses to settle suits because of the cost of defending them and the potential for very large judgments.

Columbia University law professor John Coffee said that the high court could bring a virtual end to employment discrimination class actions filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, depending on how it decides the Wal-Mart case.

"Litigation brought by individuals under Title VII is just too costly," Coffee said. "It's either class action or nothing."

Illustrating the value of class actions, Brad Seligman, the California-based lawyer who conceived of and filed the suit 10 years ago, said the average salary for a woman at Wal-Mart was $13,000, about $1,100 less than the average for a man, when the case began. "That's hugely significant if you're making $13,000 a year, but not enough to hire a lawyer and bring a case."

The company has fought the suit every step of the way, Seligman said, because it is the "biggest litigation threat Wal-Mart has ever faced."

A trial judge and the federal appeals court in San Francisco, over a fierce dissent, said the suit could go forward.

But Wal-Mart wants the high court to stop the suit in its tracks. The company argues it includes too many women with too many different positions in its 3,400 stores across the country. Wal-Mart says its policies prohibit discrimination and that most management decisions are made at the store and regional levels, not at its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters.

Theodore J. Boutrous, Wal-Mart's California-based lawyer, said there is no evidence that women are poorly treated at Wal-Mart. "The evidence is the contrary of that," Boutrous said.

The company is not conceding that any woman has faced discrimination, but says that if any allegations are proven, they are isolated. "People will make errors," said Gisel Ruiz, Wal-Mart's executive vice president for people, as the company calls its human resources unit. "People are people."

Ruiz paints a very different picture of the opportunities offered women at Wal-Mart. She joined the company straight from college in 1992. "In less than four years, I went from an assistant manager trainee to running my own store," she said. "I'm one of thousands of women who have had a positive experience at Wal-Mart."

Kwapnoski, who works at the Sam's Club in Concord, Calif., is one of two women who continue to work at Wal-Mart while playing a prominent role in the suit. The other is Betty Dukes, a greeter at the Wal-Mart in Pittsburg, Calif.

"It's very hard for anyone to understand how difficult that is and what courage that is," Seligman said of Kwapnoski and Dukes. "They're Public Enemy No. 1 at Wal-Mart and they are known for their involvement in this lawsuit. Nevertheless, they get and up and go to work every day."

Kwapnoski didn't want to discuss any issues she faces at work as a result of the suit.

She said she has seen some changes at Wal-Mart since the suit was filed in 2001. The company now posts all its openings electronically. "It does give people a better idea of what's out there, but they still can be very easily passed over." she said. "But before you didn't even know the position was open."

The suit, citing what are now dated figures from 2001, contends that women are grossly underrepresented among managers, holding just 14 percent of store manager positions compared with more than 80 percent of lower-ranking supervisory jobs that are paid by the hour. Wal-Mart responds that women in its retail stores made up two-thirds of all employees and two-thirds of all managers in 2001.

Kwapnoski said she and a lot of women were promoted into management just after the suit was filed, although she has had only a couple of pay increases in the nine years since. She is the assistant manager in her store's groceries and produce sections.

Now, she said, promotions are back to the way they were before, favoring men over women.

She said she's hoping the long-running court fight will force Wal-Mart to recognize that, stories like Ruiz's aside, women are not valued as much as men are and that her bosses will begin to "make sure that good men and good women are being promoted, not just men."
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Old 05-03-2011, 05:37 PM   #129
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I remember reading about that case

That is just sad, sad, sad

SF Chronicle

(05-02) 17:12 PDT WASHINGTON -- A Texas high school cheerleader who was kicked off the squad for refusing to chant the name of a basketball player - the same athlete she said had raped her four months earlier - lost a U.S. Supreme Court appeal Monday.

A federal appeals court ruled in September that the cheerleader was speaking for the school, not herself, and had no right to remain silent when called on to cheer the athlete by name.

The Supreme Court denied review of the case Monday without comment.

The girl, identified by her initials H.S., was 16 when she said she was raped at a party in her southeast Texas hometown of Silsbee in October 2008. She identified the assailant as Rakheem Bolton, a star on the Silsbee High School football team.

Bolton ultimately pleaded guilty in September 2010 to a misdemeanor assault charge and received a suspended sentence.

At a February 2009 basketball game in Huntsville, Texas, H.S. joined in leading cheers for the Silsbee team, which included Bolton. But when Bolton went to the foul line to shoot a free throw, H.S. folded her arms and was silent.

H.S. said the district superintendent, his assistant and the school principal told her she had to cheer for Bolton or go home. She refused and was dismissed from the squad.

H.S., joined by her parents, sued school officials and the district. They claimed the school had punished her for exercising her right of free expression.

An appeals court in New Orleans ruled against her, saying a cheerleader acts as a "mouthpiece" for the school.

Federal courts have also ordered H.S. and her parents to reimburse the district more than $45,000 for the costs of defending against a frivolous suit.

The family's lawyer, Laurence Watts, said the ruling means students who try to exercise their right of free speech can be punished for refusing to follow "insensitive and unreasonable directions."

Read more: Cheerleader who wouldn't root for assailant loses
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Old 05-03-2011, 05:54 PM   #130
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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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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.

See this very interesting passage, on the so-called "living constitution", from the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.

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The framers were wise in their generation and wanted to do the very best possible to secure their own liberty and independence, and that also of their descendants to the latest days. It is preposterous to suppose that the people of one generation can lay down the best and only rules of government for all who are to come after them, and under unforeseen contingencies. At the time of the framing of our constitution the only physical forces that had been subdued and made to serve man and his labor, were the currents in the streams and in the air we breathe. Rude machinery, propelled by water power, had been invented, sails to propel ships upon the waters had been set to catch the passing breeze -- but the application of steam to propel vessels against both wind and current, and the machinery to do all manner of work had not been thought of. The instantaneous transmission of messages around the world by means of electricity would probably at that day have been attributed to witchcraft or a league with the Devil. Immaterial circumstances have changed as greatly as material ones. We could not and ought not to be rigidly bound by the rules laid down under circumstances so different for emergencies so utterly unanticipated. The fathers themselves would have been the first to declare that their prerogatives were not irrevocable. They would surely have resisted secession could they have lived to see the shape it assumed.

Passage from Ulysses S. Grant (1822–85). Personal Memoirs. 1885–86.
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:26 AM   #131
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Washington Post, Feb. 20
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Xavier Alvarez was in good company when he stood up at a public meeting and called himself a wounded war veteran who had received the top military award, the Medal of Honor. Alvarez was lying about his medal, his wounds and his military service, but he wasn’t the first man to invent war exploits.

He was, however, one of the first people prosecuted under a 2006 federal law aimed at curbing false claims of military valor. Concerns that the law improperly limits speech and turns people into criminals for things they say, rather than do, are at the heart of the Supreme Court’s review of his case and the Stolen Valor Act.


Veterans groups have come to the aid of the Obama administration, which calls the law a narrowly crafted effort to protect the system of military awards that was established during the Revolutionary war by Gen. George Washington. The high court will hear the case Wednesday, which is Washington’s 280th birthday. “They’re committing fraud. They’re impersonating somebody else. They take on attributes of somebody else, attributes of a hero who served honorably,” said Pam Sterner, whose college term paper calling for the law wound up in the hands of members of Congress. “When you do that, impersonating someone else, that’s fraud, not freedom of speech.” Civil liberties groups, writers, publishers and news media outlets, including The Associated Press, have told the justices they worry the law, and especially the administration’s defense of it, could lead to more attempts by government to regulate speech.
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Alvarez made his claims by way of introducing himself as an elected member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District in Pomona, CA. There is nothing to suggest that he received anything in exchange or that listeners especially believed him. Even Alvarez’ lawyers acknowledged their client sometimes has trouble telling the truth. “Xavier Alvarez lied,” they declare in the first sentence of their Supreme Court brief and go on to recount six separate lies in the next few lines. He lied when he claimed he played hockey for the Detroit Red Wings, married a Mexican starlet who made paparazzi swoon, was an engineer, rescued the American ambassador during the Iranian hostage crisis and was shot when he went back for the US flag. Alvarez also lied, they said, when he talked about his military service. But the lies Alvarez told harmed no one, they said, so what he did couldn’t be considered fraud.

A three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco struck down the law as an unconstitutional restraint on free speech and said the government might instead invest in an awards database that would make it harder for people to lay claim to medals they never won. Last month, the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld the law in a separate case, saying the First Amendment does not always protect false statements.
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The issue might never have reached this stage if not for the efforts of Sterner, and her husband, Doug. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran who has made it his work in recent years to ensure that service members get the recognition they deserve and expose those who falsely claim acts of heroism under fire...Pam Sterner went back to school in her early 40s at Colorado State University in Pueblo, CO. In a political science course, she wrote a paper that grew out of her husband’s frustrations over phony award claimants whose worst punishment was public embarrassment. That paper eventually led to the Stolen Valor Act.
I predict there'll be some good sarcastic jibes from the justices over this one.

I'm not sure I'd even heard of this law, but it sounds pretty silly to me. People lie all the time about all kinds of things, and if for example an employee is found to have falsely claimed certain professional achievements on their résumé, their employer's right to take action against them is already protected. Why is this law necessary? Why does this particular type of achievement require special protections not afforded to other distinctions?
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Old 02-20-2012, 04:23 PM   #132
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when this thread got bumped, I thought this would be the post.
this was in my paper today and on public radio.

why can't this law be upheld? Aren't there laws against impersonating a law enforcement officer? A medial doctor? A lawyer?
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:39 PM   #133
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That's true, some states do have criminal impersonation statutes, but I was under the impression that's really just a subtype of fraud, where you're knowingly exposing others to potential harm for your own unfair gain. For example if I knew you were facing some sort of legal problem and falsely presented myself as a lawyer willing to advise you on the matter for $___. In the case of the Stolen Valor Act, the claim is that lying about having received a military decoration, in and of itself, "damage[s] the reputation and meaning of these medals."


ETA--just to clarify, here's the relevant passage of the Act with regard to Alvarez:
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Whoever falsely represents himself or herself, verbally or in writing, to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States, or any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces, or the ribbon, button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration or medal, or any colorable imitation thereof shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
Note that there are NO qualifications as to context, intent, etc.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:29 PM   #134
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I'd like to think that our military and government would be wise enough to investigate every single claim thoroughly so that the chances of someone being improperly awarded something would be slim. But I suspect that doesn't always happen that way.

Interesting topic. If someone is just going around blabbing that they fought in X war when they didn't, I don't think that in and of itself is a crime. It's horribly stupid, but "stupid" doesn't automatically equal "criminal".

But if someone is claiming to be a soldier and actually collecting benefits and awards and whatnot, and it turns out they are lying about the whole thing, then yeah, I think that is punishable. They are taking away benefits, money, and honors that should go to people who actually deserve and have earned them. That isn't free speech at that point, that is flat out fraud.
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:36 PM   #135
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Supreme Court To Revisit Affirmative Action In University Of Texas Case

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Supreme Court To Revisit Affirmative Action In University Of Texas Case

WASHINGTON -- Affirmative action is heading back to the Supreme Court, and this time its prospects for survival are poorer than ever.

The Court announced on Tuesday that it has agreed to hear a challenge to the University of Texas' affirmative action program, which is used in sorting through applications after the automatic admission of all in-state applicants who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

The state's top 10 percent law was passed as a race-neutral way of facilitating diversity on campus after a federal appeals court in 1996 banned affirmative action in Texas' public universities. Then in 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court -- in a majority opinion written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor for herself and the Court's four liberals -- approved of certain types of race-conscious admissions practices in higher education for the purpose of achieving a diverse student body.
The certainty of dark, dark days lay ahead for our country if we begin putting merit before the cult of diversity.
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