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Open thread 9/21 UPDATE 9/22


This is an open thread. We’ll post any breaking news.

I’m back this week after losing electricity last week because of Hurricane Sally.

UPDATE 9/22: The Fourth Circuit denied rehearing en banc (with all Fourth Circuit judges) in Gavin Grimm’s case.


  • 1. VIRick  |  September 21, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Murkowski Will Not Support Replacing Ginsburg Before the Election

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska is the second Republican senator to announce she will not support replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the 2020 election, narrowing, but not preventing, the Republicans’ ability to push through Trump’s forthcoming Supreme Court pick. “For weeks, I have stated I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election,” Murkowski said in a statement. "Sadly, what was then hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed. I did not support taking up a nomination before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election — less than two months out, and I believe the same standard must apply."

    Murkowski’s decision isn’t exactly a surprise. Before Ginsburg died, she had said that she believed that if a new vacancy on the Court occurred, it should not be filled prior to the election because “fair is fair.” In 2016, Senate Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to take up Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, citing the coming election. McConnell said Friday night soon after Ginsburg died that the Senate would take up Trump’s nominee, which is expected to come this week.

    Murkowski’s statement came a day after Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican up for reelection, announced she believes the person who wins the presidential election in November should be able to nominate the justice who will replace Ginsburg. Republicans have 53 votes in the Senate, so four Republicans would need to vote against the confirmation of a new justice for it to fail if all Democrats vote together. If the Senate ties on a nominee, Vice President Mike Pence would be able to break it.

    Sen. Chuck Grassley reportedly said he “couldn’t move forward” with taking up a justice before the election, but has not confirmed his stance since the death of Ginsburg. And it’s currently unclear what senators like Sen. Mitt Romney, who broke with his party on Trump’s impeachment, and other Republicans in close elections, like Sen. Cory Gardner, will ultimately decide to do.

  • 2. VIRick  |  September 21, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Yay, Scotty is back after having lost electricity last week due to the passage of Hurricane Sally. We were keeping track, and knew it went right through that area, because given where I live, we always keep close track of hurricanes.

  • 3. VIRick  |  September 21, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    2020 Election: Florida Is Now Leaning Democratic

    As of today, 21 September 2020, on the ABC/FiveThirtyEight Presidential Electoral College map, Florida has finally been marked as "leaning Democratic," thus showing Biden with 319 electoral votes, up from 290, to Trump's 185. There are still 34 electoral votes as toss-ups in North Carolina, Ohio, and Maine 2, but right now, in all 3, Biden is narrowly leading.

    This change places 44 electoral votes in the "leaning Democratic" category, Florida, Arizona, and New Hampshire. At the same moment, there are 60 electoral votes in the "leaning Republican" category, Georgia, Iowa, and Texas, with the caveat that the lead in Iowa has become exceedingly thin.

    The Real Clear Politics no-toss-ups Electoral College map shows all three of the above toss-ups eventually going to Biden, giving him a final count of 353 electoral votes to Trump's 185.

    The honor of being the most perfectly balanced state is shifting away from North Carolina as it inches more Democratic, and instead, is now focusing onto Iowa.

  • 4. VIRick  |  September 21, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Mexico: Supreme Court Publishes Booklet on Jurisprudences Related to LGBT Rights

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    La SCJN publicó un cuadernillo, "Derechos de la Diversidad Sexual," el cual contiene jurisprudencias que ha emitido en cuestión de derechos LGBT en México.

    Supreme Court has published a booklet, "Rights of Sexual Diversity," which contains the jurisprudences that have been issued on the question of LGBT rights in Mexico.

  • 5. ianbirmingham  |  September 22, 2020 at 1:11 am

    A 6th GOP justice, nominated by an impeached president who lost the popular vote by 3M, confirmed by GOP senators representing 15M fewer Americans than their Democratic colleagues, after Obama's pick couldn't even get a vote.

    When I say the system is rigged, this is what I mean. — Author Robert Reich

  • 6. guitaristbl  |  September 22, 2020 at 3:40 am

    Grassley and Gardner confirmed they will vote for Trump's nominee guaranteeing Barrett will be come scotus justice.
    Good while it lasted. But this is the end for civil rights in the US for the next 50 or so years. I wish I will be alive to see the time things will change but it is unlikely.

  • 7. JayJonson  |  September 22, 2020 at 5:43 am

    Again, your pessimism leads you to say absurd things and contributes to a defeatist attitude. Even if Barrett (who is not by any means the only possible nominee under consideration–and possible nominees include judges from battleground states like Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina) is pushed through, it will definitely not be "the end for civil rights in the US for the next 50 or so years." If Biden wins and the Democrats gain control of the Senate, as seems likely, there are many things they can do to restore civil rights in the country, as well as to reform the Supreme Court and the process for choosing Supreme Court nominees. Most importantly, they can pass legislation focusing on civil rights, including the Equality Act, policing reform, abortion rights legislation, and voting rights legislation, including addressing the baleful effects of Citizens United.

  • 8. guitaristbl  |  September 22, 2020 at 9:28 am

    They CAN proceed with SCOTUS reforms that haven't been seen or done in centuries but it doesn't mean they will. Biden is a moderate that will be accompanied at best by a moderate Congress with many members from conservative districts and states who won't dare to proceed with such ambitious judicial reforms. Will Manchin ever vote to add seats to SCOTUS? And what will make a difference in changing the process of choosing SCOTUS nominees if there is no vacancy? At best Biden will be able to fill a Breyer vacancy in the next 4 years. At best. No difference.

    Who says that any liberal legislation the Congress passes won't be shut down by the solid conservative majority at SCOTUS? If anything it is more than likely. Roberts cannot even control the legacy of supposed moderation of his court anymore, he is absolutely powerless if the other 5 decide to do so. And Barrett who is the presumptive nominee IMO is well to the right joining Alito and Thomas. I mean we talk about a woman who has questioned Brown v. Board of Education! The ideological center of the court is now Gorsuch for god's sake.

    The only thing I will agree is that the Democrats are likely to take the Senate and even more likely after such a vote. The Arizona and Colorado races become even more easier for dems and they can focus on North Carolina, Iowa, Montana and, why not? , South Carolina.

    I am not a pessimist or have a defeatist attitude. This is the single biggest defeat for civil rights in decades. It is a simple fact that has to be accepted. I don't say roll over and just die but this is the inevitable truth. And for it to change it will take a United democratic Party willing to play as dirty as the GOP and take all the flack that will come with it. And that is something I doubt will happen.

  • 9. VIRick  |  September 22, 2020 at 9:00 am

    Jay, "Yes" to all of the above, as addressed and enumerated in your reply.

  • 10. guitaristbl  |  September 22, 2020 at 9:18 am

    And Romney is voting to confirm as well. 51 votes not even Pence will need to bother to be there apparently. It will be that easy.

  • 11. VIRick  |  September 22, 2020 at 10:50 am

    Guanajuato: San Miguel de Allende Advertised as Same-Sex Honeymoon Destination

    In a banner ad at the top of the page on the "Advocate," San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato state, is advertising itself as a honeymoon destination for same-sex couples. In English, their ad reads:

    "San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato: the Heart of Mexico beats strong. We're ready when you are."

    On the right-hand side of the banner ad, there is a photo of a male same-sex couple embracing each other in the middle of the street in the old colonial center of the city. Further down, the same ad re-appears, with the same couple, but in a slightly different format. And even further down, there are a pair of ads showing a female same-sex couple holding hands, while leaning against an old wall.

    The only problem: Despite the advertising, Guanajuato state has yet to change its law to allow same-sex couples to marry there in that state. It is difficult to determine whether this ad is a less-than-subtle means of pushing their state congress to act to finally change their law, or whether San Miguel de Allende is merely advertising itself as an amenable honeymoon (or vacation) destination for same-sex couples after they have married elsewhere in a different state. Peculiarly enough, it also appears to be an ad having state governmental backing, as it emphasizes the logo for "Guanajuato" and for "GTO," its abbreviation.

  • 12. VIRick  |  September 22, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    "Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board:" 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Denies en Banc Rehearing

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 22 September 2020, in "Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board," the case wherein which the Virginia school board appealed the final decision in favor of the transgender student, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the school board's motion to have the full court reconsider the 3-judge panel's final decision in Gavin Grimm's favor.

    There are concurring statements by both Judge Neimeyer and Judge Wynn which accompany the order. Judge Wynn concurs because the panel decision was correct.

    On the other hand, Judge Neimeyer, who was in the minority in the panel decision, says it is correct to deny the rehearing but only because it seems futile and would be more efficient for the school board to go to the Supreme Court with their appeal. Neimeyer: "There is no reason to conclude that this court, even though en banc, will change its mind — now expressed in two opinions. It would, I believe, be the more efficient course for the School Board again to file a petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court with the hope that the Court will again be interested in granting it. The issues in this case certainly merit its doing so."

    The order is here:

  • 13. ianbirmingham  |  September 22, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Let's all take a moment to silently remember how we got here…

    Gays for Trump

    Log Cabin Republicans


    Is there no limit to human stupidity?

  • 14. bayareajohn  |  September 23, 2020 at 10:34 am

    Re Nonvoter study:
    Using data from 7,365 respondents to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study and the Electoral Integrity Project, Clark’s and Peterson’s research, published recently in the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, identifies four potential types of nonvoters…

    No mention of the 5th type or how many they estimate there are – THE NONRESPONDENTS to the project. Which rationally would be substantial given the subject. "Please answer the following questions if you are the type not to answer questions."

  • 15. davepCA  |  September 23, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    Don't forget these folks:

    "I didn't vote because Bernie didn't get the nomination"


    "I voted for an obscure unelectable third party to send a message".

    Thanks a lot. Idiots.

  • 16. scream4ever  |  September 23, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    No shit. I recently asked those I know if they're still proud of their vote and most haven't even responded.

  • 17. VIRick  |  September 22, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    Dominica: Up-Date on Court Challenge to Anti-Sodomy Law

    Per Maurice Tomlinson:

    Today, 17 September 2020, at what was meant to be the final case management conference before the start of the constitutional challenge to Dominica’s anti-sodomy law, the Dominica Christian Council applied for and received the court’s permission to intervene in this case. This means that the case, which was first filed in July 2019, has been further delayed and another case management hearing will now take place on 23 November.

    It is questionable as to what the Dominica Christian Council can add to this case, as it is a challenge to the ban on private consensual same-sex activity, and in no way touches on religious freedom. There is no attempt to force the churches to support same-sex intimacy, and even if this law were to be struck down, churches would still be at liberty to preach against homosexuality, in the same way that the legalization of divorce did not prevent some churches from continuing to condemn that practice.

    The position of the Dominica Christian Council is also at odds with the Catholic Bishop of Roseau, who heads by far the largest denomination on the island. As long ago as 2013, the bishop said that the Catholic Church did not support the anti-sodomy law, and has correctly refused to intervene to participate in the present court challenge.

    It is also important to remember Dominica's geographical location within the Caribbean, sandwiched as it is between two Overseas Departments of France, Martinique and Guadeloupe, both of which have had marriage equality since 2013. In addition, neither ever criminalized homosexuality. In fact, as long as Dominica remained French, neither did it. But then, the British showed up with their prudish Victorian morality, and imposed their pinch-lipped law criminalizing same-sex sexual activity upon a population which to this day remains culturally French, with significant ties to its immediate French neighbors, both of which are also much more economically developed, the reality of which has resulted in a massive drain of population out of Dominica.

    In the Caribbean, where a darker hue prevails, one's identification as being "French" has nothing to do with race or skin color, but rather, has everything to do with language, culture, citizenship, and even the very nominal identification of being a once-a-year "Catholic." For example, it is best not to say, in Patois (patwa), as in Dominica or St. Lucia, "La pli ka wini," but rather, as in Martinique or Guadeloupe, "La pluie est vient" (The rain is coming").

  • 18. ianbirmingham  |  September 22, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    51% of voters want to abolish the electoral college

    In 2016, Trump lost the popular vote by roughly 3 million votes but won the electoral college against former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

  • 19. VIRick  |  September 22, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    Barbados: Up-Date on Planned Civil Union Law for Same-Sex Couples

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    In the most British of Eastern Caribbean nations, the Anglican Church, by far the largest denomination in Barbados, basically says that it neither condones nor opposes Government's plan to introduce LGBT civil unions.

    On 22 September 2020, in a long, rambling address, the Anglican Bishop of Barbados, Reverend Michael Maxwell, spent considerable time talking out of both sides on his mouth, stating that if Government wants to institute civil unions for same-sex couples, then the Government can do what it wishes within the civil arena, a matter which has nothing to do with the Anglican Church. As an example, we have this quote:

    “Civil union is of course, where the Government itself is putting in their own spin on the whole thing in terms of not being discriminatory in terms of persons’ rights of being able to have freedom of choice as what they see as their way of life. Personally, I believe that persons need to be given the freedom of choice that God has given us all to decide the way of life that we want to live.”

    He also refused to speculate on any future decisions that might be made on this matter by the Anglican Church. But essentially, like the Catholic Church in Dominica, the Anglican Church in Barbados correctly prefers to detach itself from matters pertaining strictly to the civil arena.

  • 20. VIRick  |  September 23, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    Georgia: Senate "Jungle" Primary Now a 3-Way Tie

    There are two US Senate elections in Georgia in 2020. In the regular-cycle election, the incumbent, David Perdue (R), might be a tiny bit ahead of the challenger, Jon Ossoff (D), perhaps by 1-2%,– but quite possibly by less.

    In the second contest, the one to fill Johnny Isakson's remaining term after he resigned because of health issues in early 2020, there is suddenly a 3-way tie for the lead in the wide-open "jungle" primary, one in which almost everyone and their mother is running. The wealthy appointed incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R), Rep. Doug Collins (R), and the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Raphael Warnock (D), are all now tied at 23%, as Democrats urge the several other Democrats, including Joe Lieberman's son, to drop out of the race and back Warnock.

    The top two contenders in this "jungle" primary on 3 November will then face each other in a run-off election in early January 2021. In addition to her 100% voting record backing Trump, Loeffler's chief claim to fame is that she is a wealthy Republican mega-donor, the wealthiest member in the entire Congress, and one who is mostly self-financing her own campaign. Collins, a sitting member in the House representing GA-9 in the northeastern quadrant of the state, is also just as much of a right-wing nut-job, but much less wealthy.

    At the presidential level, the latest polls show that Georgia, Iowa, and North Carolina are all essentially a tie.

  • 21. Fortguy  |  September 24, 2020 at 2:36 am

    If there is no majority winner in the GA jungle primary, the runoff won't be until Jan. 5 which is two days after the newly elected Congress convenes. Of course, the mail and provisional votes won't be counted until later with the canvassing and certification of the results much later, probably close to the day of the presidential inauguration. This will play into Hypocrite McConnell's considerations if the new Senate balance is really close and he hasn't pushed the RGB replacement through before the election.

  • 22. VIRick  |  September 24, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    Chicago "Boystown" to Be Officially Known as Northalsted

    Chicago’s most famous LGBTQ neighborhood, long known as Boystown, will now have the more inclusive moniker of Northalsted, at least in official marketing materials and for purposes of city recognition.

    The Northalsted Business Alliance, the chamber of commerce for the gayborhood centered along North Halsted Street, announced the change on Wednesday, 23 September 2020. The business group had done a survey in response to Chicagoans who objected to the gendered name as exclusionary. In their survey, 58 percent of respondents favored keeping the Boystown name, but the business group decided that that was not enough to merit keeping it.

    While there are other sections of Chicago with large queer presences, notably Andersonville, the North Halsted area is home to many bars and other businesses serving the LGBTQ population, as well as to many non-profits, including the Center on Halsted, Chicago’s LGBTQ community center. It also hosts a popular street festival, Northalsted Market Days, and is on the Pride parade route.

    The area had been informally known as Boystown since the 1970s, and in 1997 Richard M. Daley, then Chicago’s mayor, issued a proclamation officially recognizing the name. However, banners displaying the Boystown name will be taken down and replaced in the next few weeks.

  • 23. guitaristbl  |  September 25, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    And of course Trump chooses Barrett for the seat. There would be no good choices but this probably the worst. This woman is scary.

  • 24. ianbirmingham  |  September 26, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    Barrett: The female version of Scalia

    Barrett, a judge on the Chicago-based 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals and a devout Roman Catholic, has been hailed by religious conservatives and others on the right as an ideological heir to conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia, the late Supreme Court justice for whom she clerked.

    Barrett said she was 'truly humbled' by the nomination and quickly aligned herself with Scalia's conservative approach to the law, saying his 'judicial philosophy is mine, too.'

    Scalia was nominated in 1986 under President Ronald Reagan and was the Supreme Court's most influential conservative.

    He had been a strong opponent of gay rights, affirmative action and abortion rights. He believed that the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, which protects a women's right to have an abortion, was wrongly decided.

    If her nomination is successful, it will give the Supreme Court a hard jerk to the right, as she'll be replacing the court's most liberal member, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died September 18.

  • 25. ianbirmingham  |  September 27, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    From law professor to a Supreme Court nomination in just 4 years: Amy Coney Barrett's meteoric rise

    Four years ago, Amy Coney Barrett was a little-known law professor in Indiana. Within weeks, she is likely to be the newest associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Barrett's fast-track rise, set to drive the nation's highest court to the right for a generation or longer, is the fulfillment of a decades-long effort by conservatives to remake the federal bench that kicked into high gear after President Donald Trump was elected.

    'Today's nomination is the capstone of a more than four-year process where the president seized upon the issue, stayed focused, and called attention to a small bench of very talented people who he could put on the Supreme Court,' said Leonard Leo, of the conservative Federalist Society.

    Barrett was the only candidate Trump interviewed in person for Ginsburg's seat.

  • 26. Fortguy  |  September 28, 2020 at 2:13 am

    I fully expect a senator on the Judiciary Committee to ask Coney Barrett the following:
    "Judge Coney Barrett, do you agree that a sitting judge must recuse herself from any case in which she has a conflict of interest or even a hint in the public eye that such a conflict may be real or perceived as so? Do you believe it would be appropriate for you to participate in any case regarding this year's presidential election when you were appointed by one of the contenders in what is expected to be a tightly fought contest? Do you feel that it would demean the standing of the Supreme Court for you to participate in any lawsuit before the court in which you were appointed by one of the contestants? Would the public reasonably perceive that your appointment would be a prid pro quo should you participate in any court decision in such a case? Do you even care?"

  • 27. VIRick  |  September 27, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    "New York Times" Just Published Trump's Federal Income Tax Returns

    Per CNN News with Anderson Cooper:

    Trump paid absolutely no federal income taxes, at all, whatsoever, zip, nada, ninguno, nenhum, in 10 of the 15 years between 2000-15, as shown on his federal tax filings, as obtained by the "New York Times," and then published by them on 27 September 2020. In the most-recent tax years obtained, 2016 and 2017, one in which he was a presidential candidate and then one in which he was a sitting President, he paid only $750.00 in federal income taxes in each of those years. He will also have 300-400 million dollars in debt on borrowed money coming due within the next several years.

    Apparently, despite the phony pretense, and the hollow claims of being a millionaire, a billionaire, or whatever, in truth, he has no money, has monstrous debts, has multiple failing mis-managed properties, has taken massive federal tax write-offs to cover these poor "investments," including $70,000 for having had his hair done, and has had endlessly litigious audit problems, one of which involves him wanting an $73 million tax refund that the IRS has refused, given that there are no legitimate grounds for such a preposterous refund. One can also go on to question as to who the debt-holders might be, and what they might want/demand in return, once the debt becomes due.

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