The Supreme Court declined Monday to revive an Arizona law that prohibited most abortions after a pregnancy had reached 20 weeks.
The court, as is its custom, gave no reason for declining to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that the law was unconstitutional because it violated standards established by the justices 40 years ago in Roe v. Wade.
About a dozen other states have passed laws similar to Arizona’s, hoping they would provide a way to challenge the court’s ruling that abortion must be generally available to women before a fetus reaches viability, which is generally considered to be around 24 weeks. Pregnancies last about 40 weeks.
It is the third time this term that the court has decided not to review a lower court decision that struck down a restrictive state abortion law. The other two came from Oklahoma, where new rules would have practically eliminated drug-induced abortions and required what opponents said would be unnecessary ultrasound tests…
About the only critter dumber than a fundamentalist politician committed to the War on Women – is the equally committed voter who doesn’t mind wasting taxpayer dollars on defending patently unconstitutional laws restricting women’s reproductive rights. Guess they’d rather spend money on 18th Century bible beliefs instead of education for their kids.
Come to think of it – the last thing they want is educated children.
“The Supreme Court soundly declined to review the Ninth Circuit’s sound decision that Arizona’s abortion ban is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing precedent,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “. . . But women should not be forced to run to court, year after year, in state after state, to protect their constitutional rights and access to critical health care…”
Not all of the state laws imposing the 20-week limit have been challenged, because the procedure is so uncommon, she said. But laws in Georgia and Idaho have been blocked.
Nikki Thomas/director Sex Professionals of Canada, Terri-Jean Bedford, Valerie Scott
In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously struck down as unconstitutional the main scheme of criminal laws against the buying and selling of sex by prostitutes, saying it endangers the lives and security of vulnerable sex workers.
However, the country’s top court has given Parliament a one-year grace period to redraft a legislative scheme that could pass constitutional muster.
That means if, 12 months from today, the federal government has not redrawn the laws to address the court’s concern that they are too arbitrary, overbroad and “grossly disproportionate,” then prostitutes will be allowed to legally practice their trade, hire drivers, bodyguards, accountants and screen their clients freely.
In the meantime, the Criminal Code ban on brothels, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purposes of prostitution remain in full effect…
The stunning judgment that the country’s main prostitution laws breach fundamental Charter rights was a unanimous conclusion reached by all nine judges, including the retiring Justice Morris Fish. The court flatly rejected calls by the federal government’s lawyers to defer to Parliament on the contentious matter.
The appeal, known as Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, Lebovitch and Scott was brought by Toronto-based dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford, former prostitute Valerie Scott, and downtown eastside Vancouver’s Amy Lebovitch. All three were on hand in Ottawa, and rejoiced loudly.
If you haven’t been following the case, the article is long, detailed and informative. Frankly, it’s worth reading because it should nudge your own thought processes. The questions raised ain’t easy.
On one hand, any sort of libertarian outlook says, let folks earn a living however they wish if they aren’t producing permanent harm to individuals and society. That last word brings in all the religions and philosophers. Not me. Individual freedoms are pretty hard to celebrate to a level that harms a nation.
The only concern from my side is the opportunity for criminals enterprise to profit from and control the lives of sex workers. And history tells us that is easier under criminalization than without. As alcohol prohibition has taught us, as our wonderful war on drugs illustrates on a daily basis.
Worth thinking about, folks – even if the opportunity to visit the question in your own country isn’t likely.
“We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law” – Justice Chavez, New Mexico Supreme Court, December 19, 2013
This news just broke: The New Mexico Supreme Court affirms that our state constitution affirms the right to marry for same-sex couples!
Every progressive organization in New Mexico, everyone who fights for constitutional protection, economic freedom and protections under the law for every citizen in New Mexico is out on the streets celebrating. My emailbox is filled with folks who worked to press this case. The chimes of freedom ring throughout New Mexico even if the churches of official New Mexico are silent.
Folks who support freedom in New Mexico are fortunate in that many of our elected officials supported this struggle. With the exception of the sole Republican in New Mexico’s delegation to Congress support has been solid. Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham will be at celebrations throughout the state tonight. They’re posting congratulations at various social media sites and I for one will be spending a bit of time, this afternoon, wending my way through to “liking” each one of them.
Here’s a link to the official proclamation from the State Supreme Court.
Reaching for freedom in India
There’s been widespread outrage in India’s gay community, which is in shock after the country’s top court reversed a landmark 2009 Delhi High Court ruling that had decriminalised homosexual acts.
The court has now left it to parliament to legislate on Section 377, a 153-year-old colonial law, under which a same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offence” and punishable by a 10-year jail term.
Opposition to the 2009 ruling had come from more than a dozen political, social and religious groups and petitioners.
They put up an array of arguments, many of them bizarre and, some might say, disingenuous.
One petitioner was a TV astrologer who told the court the ruling “compromises national defence since soldiers will start having sex with each other”…Perhaps most bizarrely, a spokesman for a popular yoga guru opposed the change, telling the court that he could “cure homosexuality through yoga”…
Ranged against this were some four main groups who filed petitions supporting the Delhi court decision.
They included parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people with stories of how the colonial-era law had caused trauma to them and harmed their family lives; a group of more than a dozen psychiatrists and psychologists who treat LGBT “patients”; and some distinguished academics and leading Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal…
The 2009 judgement came as a shot in the arm for India’s gay community. More and more of its members had begun to come out. “The verdict is a severe blow to them,” journalist and activist Vikram Doctor tells me. “Once people come out of the closet, they just cannot go back.”
I don’t know why I ever presumed India had left behind all the trappings of British Imperialism. Out-of-date and disfunctional, 19th Century policies are only honored by the truly backwards. Usually on the basis of religion or bigotry.
I had presumed that legal structures at least at the top of law’s pyramid in India would be self-limiting to those individuals genuinely qualified. Wrong, obviously.
Eight Northeastern and mid-Atlantic governors on Monday petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require “upwind” states in the Midwest and South to curb ozone-forming pollution from their power plants, which they say travels downwind and poses health risks to their citizens.
They want the EPA to force nine states – Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia – to regulate the emissions that cross into their borders through prevailing winds and contribute to higher ozone levels to the north and east of the upwind states.
The move comes just ahead of a closely watched Supreme Court review of an earlier appeals court rejection of the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.
The governors, led by Delaware governor Jack Markell, said the upwind states had failed for decades to install the technology needed to contain emissions of organic compounds and nitrogen oxides which cause asthma and other respiratory diseases and contribute to as much as 98 percent of the ozone air pollution problems in their own states.
The petition asks the EPA to require the upwind states to join them in an “Ozone Transport Region,” which under the federal Clean Air Act would force actions to limit air pollution consistent with the efforts of the “downwind” states…
Besides Delaware the states petitioning for the controls are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont…
In a case being closely monitored by environmentalists and energy companies, the Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider the EPA rule that would have set limits on pollution from coal-fired power plants in 28 states, generally referred to as “upwind states,” that directly affect air quality in other states…
Vickie Patton, general counsel for environmental group Environmental Defense Fund, said it is also in the interest of the upwind states to install pollution controls…”Cleaning up this harmful power plant pollution will mean healthier, longer lives for children, families and communities across the Midwest and the millions of people afflicted in downwind states,” she said.
What is it with creeps who dedicate their lives to profiteering from power generation? I’ve been involved in struggles against these scumbags over half my life. Take it all the way back to acid rain.
The only thing that matters in their contemptible lives is profit-and-loss statements with all the emphasis on that first word. They couldn’t care less about families and individuals in their own state much less someone next door or downwind. They should be required to live in a guard shack immediately downwind of one of their crud-belching coal-fired power plants. A shorter lifespan might change their style.
A US court is to hear a case that could result in horses being classified as a “vicious” species.
A boy’s parents sued a farm owner in the state of Connecticut after he was bitten by a horse named Scuppy in 2006.
A lower court said Scuppy belonged “to a species naturally inclined to do mischief and be vicious”. The state supreme court will now hear an appeal…If upheld, the lower court’s ruling could make horse ownership uninsurable, say equine industry figures.
The legal action began in 2006 after a boy tried to pet Scuppy at Glendale Farms in Milford…The animal reportedly bit the child on his right cheek, inflicting a serious injury.
The boy’s father, Anthony Vendrella, sued the farm’s owners, but lost in 2010 at a New Haven court.
That court ruled there was no evidence the farm’s owner knew of any previous incidents of aggression involving Scuppy.
But a Connecticut Appellate Court later overturned this verdict, finding that testimony suggested Scuppy’s species was “vicious” and that the boy’s injury had been foreseeable.
If upheld by the state’s supreme court, the verdict would be the first in the nation to classify horses as a vicious species, say analysts.
Could be about the dumbest legal precedent this side of the Dred Scott decision. If you can classify horses as a vicious species, you certainly could then apply the same definition to all dogs, maybe even rabbits. Cripes. Practically anything with four feet and teeth.
Police may take DNA samples from people arrested in connection with serious crimes, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a 5-to-4 decision.
The federal government and 28 states authorize the practice, and law enforcement officials say it is a valuable tool for investigating unsolved crimes. But the court said the testing was justified by a different reason: to identify the suspect in custody.
“When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and they bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, “taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
Justice Antonin Scalia summarized his dissent from the bench…“Make no mistake about it: because of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason,” Justice Scalia said from the bench…
There’s a bit more blah, blah, blah from Scalia. He voices the paranoia already part of the DNA of jerkwater populists who can’t get their brains around the United States as a union, a whole nation, instead of a confederacy.
Monday’s ruling, Maryland v. King, No. 12-207, arose from the collection of DNA in 2009 from Alonzo Jay King Jr. after his arrest on assault charges in Wicomico County, Md. His DNA profile, obtained by swabbing his cheek, matched evidence from a 2003 rape case, and he was convicted of that crime…
Justice Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that the “quick and painless” swabbing procedure was a search under the Fourth Amendment, meaning it had to be justified as reasonable under the circumstances. The search was reasonable, he said, given “the need for law enforcement officers in a safe and accurate way to process and identify the persons and possessions they must take into custody.”
Such identification, he said, “is no different than matching an arrestee’s face to a wanted poster of a previously unidentified suspect; or matching tattoos to known gang members to reveal a criminal affiliation; or matching the arrestee’s fingerprints to those recovered from a crime scene.”
An inevitable follow-on to this decision will be appeals and modifications to the law in the same vein as other nations ahead of the United States in considering and utilizing modern technology.
The UK high courts have ruled that DNA samples gathered as part of an arrest must be destroyed, the results expunged if the suspect is found not guilty of any offense at the time.
The Supreme Court dealt a setback Tuesday to the campaign of abortion opponents to “defund” Planned Parenthood.
Without comment, the justices turned away Indiana’s defense of a 2011 law that would ban all Medicaid funds to an organization such as Planned Parenthood whose work includes performing abortions.
The high court let stand decisions by a federal judge in Indiana and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago that blocked the measure from taking effect. The “defunding law excludes Planned Parenthood from Medicaid for a reason unrelated to its fitness to provide medical services, violating its patients’ statutory right to obtain medical care from the qualified provider of their choice,” Judge Diane Sykes said last year for the 7th Circuit.
The Obama administration had joined the case on the side of Planned Parenthood and argued that the Medicaid law gives eligible low-income patients a right to obtain healthcare from any qualified provider. This is known as the free-choice-of-provider rule…
Two years ago, Indiana lawmakers voted to go further and forbid the spending of any Medicaid money — federal or state — through “any entity” whose facilities perform abortions. Hospitals and state-licensed surgical clinics were exempted. But Planned Parenthood went to federal court and sued on behalf of a doctor, a nurse and two patients.
Arizona’s Legislature passed a similar measure, but it too has been blocked by a federal judge.
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, welcomed the court’s decision.
“All women, no matter where they live, should be able to get quality, affordable healthcare from the healthcare provider they know and trust,” she said.
Anyone surprised how often a question of equal opportunity is opposed by the Republican Party and their Fundamentalist allies?
If you didn’t know what hypocrites and liars they all are – you might give some credence to all their posturing over Constitutional rights. But, every day – in every way possible – allowing someone to make a choice that affects their own life is opposed by these clown show-libertarians and their Old Testament ideology.
Biology has returned to the nation’s highest court. It’s not Darwin’s theory of evolution on the docket this time, but the nature of sex. Defenders of Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, base their case on what they call the “objective biological fact” that procreation is an exclusively heterosexual process. Citing the 18th-century English jurist William Blackstone, they argue that marriage should be “founded in nature.”
Evolution or sexuality, the same religious conservatives bring their ignorance to court.
This invocation of nature echoes other voices. Last December, before Pope Benedict XVI resigned, he used his Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia to deplore what he called a “new philosophy of sexuality” that manipulates and denies nature. Roy S. Moore, re-elected last fall as the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, once let rip with less measured language, exclaiming in a child-custody case that homosexuality was “a crime against nature and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Meanwhile, Tennessee legislators have repeatedly sought the prohibition of any sexual education “inconsistent with natural human reproduction.” None of this is, in fact, new: Oscar Wilde’s trials hinged on the courts’ understanding of natural love and unnatural vice.
References to biology coat these arguments with a gloss of scientific rigor. But before we write nature into law, let’s take a stroll outside the Supreme Court’s chambers and check those biological facts. Descending the steps of the court, we enter Washington’s planted landscape, a formal park where nature stands alongside patriotic monuments and federal buildings. There is no shortage of counsel about biology here.
The grandeur of the National Mall is rightly famous. Less well known are the hermaphroditic sex lives of many of its inhabitants. Japanese cherry trees break bud in explosions of pink; male and female coexist at the heart of each flower. The American elms that frame the Mall’s lawns present a more reserved countenance to the world. But their inconspicuous lime-green flowers are biologically bisexual. Ginkgo, another tree common in Washington, follows a Prop 8-approved sexual separation, growing as discrete males and females. But even the ginkgo will sometimes surprise horticulturalists with a stray flower of the other sex.