SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

March 6, 2015

Mute Justice speaks

The Mystery of Justice Thomas

One can’t help but wonder why Justice Thomas has been allowed to keep his seat at SCOTUS all these years when he never has anything to add or contribute.  I know he CAN  speak for I watched his entire interviewing process from introduction and the riveting but ignored Anita Hill contribution and finally, his bewildering acceptance to this high court. Practically every woman in this country was dumb-struck.  The bar used at this arcane group must be very mysterious, indeed — beyond us ordinary folk.  

I have considered this confusing injustice off an on over the years — how does one ‘get’ a job for life and not have to “DO” anything or give back in any way?  And who dreamed up ‘job-for-life’?  What ever,  it’s past time for it to go.   I have privately thought that Thomas  is silent for he doesn’t trust himself to speak his mind — therein revealing too much about himself.    

A straight-forward, disciplined mind capable of broad perspective and a certain sense of decency and  – respect for others has no fear of dialogue, for most generally, there is no bias or axe to grind . . i.e. Elizabeth Warren.  Let her receive a question and off she goes with easy, gracious, intelligent fluidity. . the answer to which, she hits the mark every time. But that’s Liz Warren, almost a rarity to be sure.  If only we could clone her. . .we could have her in the White House, SCOTUS. . .and keep her powerful thrust just where she is.  Those on the high bench are supposed to be able to think, debate, discuss and interrogate.  If they can’t do that,  why are they there?  

It’s not fair to dump everything on Ruthie, just because she can do it.  She’s another like Warren — CAN and WILL speak up for she’s a straight-up real human being who understands justice, the law AND the human condition.  Her good judgement finds not only the essence of the Law, but the heart and spirit of it too.  It’s about integrity, ethics, a feeling heart and an active mind.  And the gumption to do it right the first time.  She doesn’t pussyfoot around, but tells it like it is.  

So, what’s wrong with Clarence?  Who knows and frankly, it doesn’t concern me – – he disgusts me, I’m ashamed that he occupies space on our high bench.  But hey, maybe some of the others are also not too happy with him and don’t allow him to speak for fear of what he might say.   

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U.S. SUPREME COURT

Thomas says peers favor gays over states

                Justice Clarence Thomas                                             CHARLES DHARAPAK | AP PHOTO
By Mark Sherman
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is inappropriately signaling that it intends to clear the way for gay marriage across the nation, Justice Clarence Thomas complained in a stinging dissent to the court’s refusal to block the start of same-sex marriages in Alabama.Bitterly objecting to recent action, Thomas provided a rare insider’s perspective on the widely held view that the court’s embrace of gay marriage is a done deal.Thomas filed a dissenting opinion after his colleagues rejected Alabama’s plea to put a hold on same-sex marriages in the state until the Supreme Court resolves the issue nationwide in a few months.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The case will be argued in April and decided by the end of June.

Thomas said the court should have retained the status quo in states until then.

  • “This court looks the other way as yet another federal district judge casts aside state laws without making any effort to preserve the status quo pending the court’s resolution of a constitutional question it left open in United States v. Windsor,” Thomas wrote, referring to the court’s 2013 decision striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

That decision did not provide an answer as to whether states may define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

“This acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question. This is not the proper way to discharge our … responsibilities. And, it is indecorous for this Court to pretend that it is,” Thomas wrote.  “Today’s decision represents yet another example of this Court’s increasingly cavalier attitude toward the states,” he added.

Thomas was joined in his dissent by Justice Antonin Scalia.   (what a shocker!)

The opinion was remarkable less for the legal result it suggested than for its open criticism of fellow justices.

After all, many legal commentators have predicted not only the case’s outcome this spring (in favor of same-sex marriage), but the vote (5-4) and the author of the majority opinion (Justice Anthony Kennedy).

The number of states in which gay couples can marry has nearly doubled since October, from 19 to 37, largely as a result of terse Supreme Court orders that allowed lower court rulings to become final and rejected state efforts to keep marriage bans in place pending appeals.

  • “If you read the tea leaves the Supreme Court is leaving, the bans on same-sex marriage can’t be permitted. They’re unconstitutional,” said University of California-Berkeley law professor Jesse Choper.

Alabama on Monday became the 37th state in which same-sex couples can marry, following U.S. District Judge Callie Granade’s ruling in January that struck down as unconstitutional the state’s bans.

Granade had put her order on hold until Monday to let the state prepare for the change, and state Attorney General Luther Strange had asked for the delay to be extended for at least a few months.

Monday morning, some probate judges in Alabama began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, some of whom had been lined up for hours.

“It’s about time,” said Shante Wolfe, 21, as she left the courthouse in Montgomery with wife Tori Sisson. They had camped out in a tent to be the first in the county given a license.

But up to 52 of Alabama’s 67 counties, according to the gay-rights group Human Rights Campaign, declined to process the required paperwork for gay couples, perhaps heeding the call of state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore to defy the federal ruling.

Some counties shut down their licensing operations altogether.

The U.S. Supreme Court often freezes lawsuits in place when they raise the same issue the court already has agreed to decide. And when federal courts declare state laws unconstitutional, “our ordinary practice,” Thomas wrote, is to prevent those rulings from taking effect while they are being appealed.

But since October, the justices have repeatedly turned away state requests to keep same-sex marriages from taking place until appeals are resolved.

  • The court has been silent about the reasons for its actions in the gay-marriage cases. It similarly offered no explanation for orders in a series of challenges to state voter ID and registration laws in the fall, or for a decision to allow an execution in Oklahoma to proceed eight days before deciding to hear a challenge to the controversial sedative the state uses. (Way to go. . takin’ care of business  JT) 

Thomas and Scalia have been in dissent from the three major pro-gay rights decisions at the Supreme Court since 1996.

Information from The Washington Post and The New York Times was included in this story.

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