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Tag: Supreme Court

Supreme Court rules for non-discrimination in public schools

By Julia Rosen

The best summary of this case I’ve seen was by Adam Bonin over at Daily Kos, who writes:

And today it’s My Religion Doesn’t Like The Gays versus Our Policies Say You Can’t Discriminate Against Gays, in the context of the a student religious group at the Hastings College of Law — a part of the California public educational system.

The schools won with a 5-4 ruling. The Supreme Court upheld the ability for public schools to deny recognition and funding to campus organizations who violate the school’s non-discrimination policies. In this case the University of California’s Hastings School of Law had in place a non-discrimination policy against LGBTs and the had a request for recognition/support from Christian Legal Society, whose by-laws include:

In view of the clear dictates of Scripture, unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle is inconsistent with an affirmation of the Statement of Faith, and consequently may be regarded by CLS as disqualifying such an individual
from CLS membership…. [including] all acts of sexual conduct outside of God’s design for marriage between one man and one woman, which acts include fornication, adultery, and homosexual conduct.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, whose husband recently passed away read the majority decision in court today. Kennedy and Stevens wrote concurring decisions. Alito wrote the dissent.

Adam adds this crucial reminder of the limitations of this ruling:

It’s important to recognize the limits of today’s decision. It’s not “all student groups must allow all students at all campuses.” It’s simply this: if a school wants to have an “all comers” policy, then it’s allowed to enforce it and override the discriminatory beliefs of a group seeking recognition — in other words, that the government is not required to fund discrimination. Different universities, however, can make their own decisions as to what works for them.

We can’t really see this as a test of how Perry v. Schwarzenegger would go, but it is heartening to once again see Justice Kennedy on the side of the good.

90 Comments June 28, 2010

138,542 public comments: Televise the trial

By Julia Rosen

On Friday the Courage Campaign Institute delivered 140,671 signatures on a letter to Judge Walker, per his request for public comments on airing the trial. 138,248 were on paper, the rest of the letters urging him to televise the trial were delivered electronically.

It turns out that we accounted for nearly every single comment Judge Walker received. Karen Ocamb at LGBT POV:

Walker then said that he received “a substantial number of comments by 5:00pm Friday – 138,574” with the “overwhelming majority in favor of the rule change; there were 32 comments opposed. People laughed. He said uproar, however, was “very helpful” – noting that it is “highly unfortunate” that the courts have not dealt with the issue of public access in the past. “Finally, after some 20 years, we’ll get some sensible movement forward,” Walker said.

It seems Walker just counted the paper signatures, meaning that ours and CREDO’s members accounted for 138,248 of total submitted, thus 326 came from other sources. Those 326 dwarf the laughable total submitted by the opposition and brings into question, just how concerned they are about the videotaping of the trial, if they were unable to muster up much energy among their supporters.

Ed Wheland over at the right-wing NRO is attempting to twist this all against Judge Walker and call into question the legitimacy of our member’s comments:

Walker’s eagerness to play circus master is also reflected in his announcement yesterday, predictably eliciting guffaws in the courtroom audience, that he had received 138,542 responses in favor of his purported revision to Local Rule 77-3 and 32 responses opposed. Walker didn’t see fit to note that 138,248 of the supportive responses were signatures solicited by an activist group called the Courage Campaign that launched a petition drive urging its supporters to sign their names to a letter to Walker that “insist[s] that the trial of Proposition 8 be televised.”

Um no Ed, the laughter was amusement at the paltry total of comments those opposing the airing of the trial, as compared to the tens of thousands in support of his action to increase the transparency by televising the trial.

Why would Walker note where the public comments were collected? I assume Wheland wanted Walker to undercut their legitimacy. Just because our members did not put a stamp on their messages, that does not make them any less legitimate.

P.S. It’s the Courage Campaign Institute
P.P.S. They added their name to a letter. It was not a petition.

Now we wait for the Supreme Court to issue its ruling, which will come on Wednesday. I was listening to NPR this morning and they were noting that while Souter and Rehnquist were generally opposed to cameras in the courtroom, their replacements Roberts and Sotomayor are thought as been more friendly on the issue. They seem to be taking this opportunity as a chance to weigh in on the issue.

Obviously, we are hoping they actually go further than Walker did and allow the entire trial to be filmed live. But SCOTUS should at least resume the simulcasting to other federal courthouses and YouTube posting.

There is a lot of interest in this trial. Our hundreds of commentors and tens of thousands of visitors are just one indicator of demand for access to this trial. This is the most important civil rights trial in a generation and will affect millions of Americans. We have the opportunity to either keep the doors closed on this case or open up this trial to the public so Americans can witness history.

15 Comments January 12, 2010

The Trial Begins

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By Rick Jacobs

After two and a half hours in a cold, crisp San Francisco dawn at which a few hundred dauntless supporters of full marriage equality stood together to rally for justice, I am in the overflow video room at the Burton Federal Court House here in San Francisco for the civil rights trial of our generation. The room is cavernous and imposing, called “the ceremonial room” for the District Court. Two screens are set up in front the audience pews that would typically be reserved for observers of a trial. The screen on the left is active, with three video boxes showing the judge’s chair, the courtroom and the witness chair. According to the very kind ushers here, the judge will turn on the audio when he is ready. The screen on the left is for presentation of evidence. It’s dark right now, but again will be activated by the judge when appropriate.

We’re all very disappointed that Justice Kennedy has decided to refer the question of televising the case via YouTube until at least Wednesday, when the entire Supreme Court will rule on that question. 140,000 members of the Courage Campaign and Credo Mobile signed a petition during the public comment period established by Judge Walker. We delivered those signatures on Friday and all thought that this case would be open to the public.

For decades, the right wing has used the tools of fear in the form of thirty and sixty second television ads to sew discord and to pit Americans against each other in the pursuit of the basic right of consecrating love. Maggie Gallagher and the forces of NOM seek media attention when they can control it because they know that the truth destroys their arguments. They know that James Madison and the other framers of the US Constitution never imagined that Americans would vote on each other’s rights. And they know that, whether or not the trial is televised, this is the first time that a full, considered public airing of the philosophical and legal reasons that loving couples should marry.

Ted Olson wrote a brilliant op-ed in Newsweek that lays bare the right wing’s fallacious attacks on equality. It’s here.

[UPDATE]: Judge Walker just stated that he received 138,542 comments in favor of airing the trial and 32 opposed. Those were all of our members and CREDO’s. He commented on them being overwhelmingly in favor of rule change and dissemination of information via Internet.

7 Comments January 11, 2010