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“After Two Decades Of Litigation”: Supreme Court Extends Same-Sex Marriage To All 50 States

The Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.

Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court’s ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.

The outcome is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, just as he did in the court’s previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

The Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.

Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court’s ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.


By: Mark Sherman, The Associated Press, Salon, June 26, 2015

June 26, 2015 Posted by | Marriage Equality, SCOTUS, U. S. Constitution | , , , | Leave a comment

“The Hard, Cold Politics Of Neo-Confederacy”: Now Fly Under The Flag Of “Constitutional Conservatism” With Tricorner Hat Of The Tea Party

Even as a lot of conservatives advanced dumb revisionist histories whereby no Republican had ever expressed sympathy for the Confederacy and its symbols, RealClearPolitics’ Sean Trende offered a clear-eyed analysis of the politics of the matter in recent decades, and while I don’t agree with all his conclusions, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Long story short: Trende argues that the “flag” controversy became a big deal during a relatively brief period when the older downscale rural white southerners who care about it were up for grabs (at least in non-presidential contests) between the two parties, and is now coming to an end because Democrats have lost them and Republicans can now take them for granted.

Because Democrats no longer see any electoral payoff in talking to guys with Confederate flags in the back of their pickup trucks, they no longer have any incentive to make even weak gestures toward keeping the flag around. Progressives are freed from their need to keep up their awkward dance with rural Southerners for the sake of maintaining some degree of power in the South (a dance that dates back at least to FDR’s reluctance to endorse anti-lynching laws). Polarization has forced them – and freed them – to explore new paths to power.

At the same time, it’s important to realize that most prominent Southern Republican politicians have roots in either the suburban or old establishment Democrat wings of the party. I doubt if Nikki Haley or Bobby Jindal grew up with much affection for the Confederate flag. The same goes for Mitch McConnell – who entered politics in Jefferson County (Louisville), an old Union town whose Republicanism was strong enough that it almost voted for Herbert Hoover in 1932.

The examples Trende offers of this dynamic include one with which I am very familiar: Zell Miller coming out for a “flag” change in 1993 and then losing badly among white rural voters in 1994. Cause and effect are not easy to untangle here, however. Miller was already going to lose a lot of support in rural North Georgia in 1994 because in 1990 he benefited enormously from a “native son” effect–North Georgia had rarely produced governors in a state long dominated politically by South Georgia “black belt” pols–that would not appear a second time. He also had an alternative strategy for a majority, based on his education initiatives, and in fact, he won in 1994 because some of his rural losses were offset by suburban gains. All of this is consistent with Trende’s theory that “polarization” eventually took the “flag” off the table, but real politicians had real risks and decisions to make.

As for Trende’s idea that neither party has had any interest in defending the Confederate heritage once Battle-flag-loving rural whites died off or became part of the GOP “base,” I think he misses the broader resonance of neo-Confederate ideology, which isn’t just about battle flags and whistling Dixie. As I argued at TPMCafe earlier this week, all sorts of notions associated with the Confederacy, from absolute state sovereignty and absolute private property rights to a hostile/paternalistic attitude towards African-Americans, remain active elements of hard-core conservative ideology. That they may now fly under the different, red-white-and-blue flag of “constitutional conservatism”–complete with the tricorner hat of the Tea Party–doesn’t change that.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 25, 2015

June 26, 2015 Posted by | Christian Conservatives, Confederate Flag, Racism, White Supremacy | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Wingnuts’ Confederate Flag Crisis”: Why They Can’t Admit Who’s Really Responsible For Dixie’s Latest Defeat

Even before eBay followed Walmart, Sears and Amazon’s lead by banning “rebel-flagged” items from its giant virtual yard sale, I realized that what I was watching was not a typical consumer revolt.

The Confederate battle flag — that bellicose assertion of a Southern “heritage” otherwise known as “white supremacy,” that defiant, “fuck you” of a symbol in whose honor the blood of far more than nine people has been shed — it wasn’t suddenly toxic because of last week’s massacre in Charleston. Multinational corporations, and the politicians they keep on retainer, weren’t disowning the flag because of a popular movement. The people hadn’t had the time to organize. The pavement on this road to Damascus was still wet.

Instead, what was actually happening, behind the scenes, wasn’t nearly so romantic. No one was breaking from their usual habits. Everyone, in fact, was doing what they always did. The profit-seeking entities were trying to maximize future earnings; and the state-level politicians were following their demands. This wasn’t a case of the powers-that-be doing something they resented. No one was pushed here; everyone was ready to jump.

Not for the first time in 2015, the conservative movement has found itself on the losing side of a culture war battle it once routinely won. And just as was the case in Indiana, when a petty and combative anti-gay law inspired national boycotts and a business-sector backlash, movement conservatives cannot fathom how liberals aren’t to blame. It’s conservatives, after all, who man the ramparts to protect capitalism and big business. As he was ranting about “the left’s” war on the Confederate flag on Tuesday, one could almost hear Rush Limbaugh transform into Walter Sobchak from “The Big Lebowski,” bellowing, “Has the whole world gone crazy?!”

He wasn’t alone, of course. And despite what you might expect, his tribal loyalty to the “Stars and Bars” (a misnomer, by the way) wasn’t exclusive to conservatives of his age. A young woman at Breitbart was similarly incensed by the flag’s sudden toxicity, blaming a “howling mob of both liberals and brown-nosing conservatives” for Amazon’s betrayal of the Confederacy’s trademark. A Generation X editor at the Federalist railed against the media for asking businesses if they planned to stop selling the flag, calling it “heretic hunting” and activism disguised as reporting. An evidently impatient colleague of hers took it one step further, likening calls against romanticizing the Confederacy to the Nazi regime.

As these spasms of inchoate rage overtook movement conservatives, it was almost funny how desperate they were to find someone — anyone — besides capitalists to blame. Bill Kristol, the self-styled Hébert of neoconservatism, trolled his way to sophomoric analogies involving a Cliff Notes version of the French Revolution; and then tumbled into the 19th century, saying,“today’s liberals would surely have been Copperheads.” One of the lesser lights at Hot Air, Michelle Malkin’s former haunt, provided a nice example of the “whataboutism” that became widespread on the right, asking no one in particular how the Confederacy could be bad so long as angsty teenagers still thought Che Guevara was cool?

Beneath their caterwauling and free-floating resentment, though, conservatives evinced a level of disorientation and fear that was in some ways sympathetic. It was like watching a millenarian sect discover the new Jerusalem was actually a suburban cul-de-sac. If liberals could not be blamed for this new dishonor, if it wasn’t liberals’ fault that the cultural norms of 2015 and 1995 were no longer the same, then what was the answer? Lefties might note how, under capitalism, “[a]ll that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned,” and say that the signifiers of the Confederacy were no different. But that’s of little to use to those who’d describe President Obama as a Bolshevik.

Yet for all the right’s professed belief in “common sense,” the reason why businesses were, metaphorically, setting the flag to the flame continued to elude conservatives, even when it was staring them in the face. As CNN, the Associated Press and others reported, the Amazons, eBays, Sears and Walmarts of the world weren’t acting out of fear or sentiment. Their motivations were straightforward, cold, and rational. Walmart wants to shed its reputation as a Red State phenomenon; Sears wants to prove it’s not exclusively for dads; Amazon’s politics are, if anything, probably “liberaltarian”; and it’s hard to imagine eBay’s pro-Confederate market was ever that big.

All of these companies, and the others like them surely to follow, were simply looking at the future; and what they saw was an America where a business implicitly legitimizing the flag had more to lose than to gain. As Jonathan Chait rightly argued, an old understanding of what it means to be American — an understanding profoundly bound to a certain definition of whiteness and constructed on a foundation of racist, revisionist history — is fading. “I know we’re going to lose eventually,” one pro-Confederate South Carolinian told the New York Times. His ranks, and the influence of his kind on the American mainstream, shrink a little more every day.


By: Elias Isquith, Staff Writer, Salon, June 25, 2015

June 26, 2015 Posted by | Businesses, Confederate Flag, White Supremacy | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“GOP Failure Theater”: How Conservatives Convinced Themselves That Another ObamaCare Loss Is Just Prelude To Greater Victory

There’s a ritual carried out by losing candidates on election night, in which they come before their supporters gathered in a hotel ballroom, look out at all the long faces and tired eyes, and say, “This has been a noble crusade. And though we may have lost today, the battle for the things we believe in goes on. I’ll be there fighting for that vision, and I hope you’ll be there with me.” Everyone applauds, and then they all go home.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled against what was simultaneously the most absurd and the most threatening challenge to the Affordable Care Act, conservatives are enacting something similar to that election night ritual. In private, many are expressing relief, since there was widespread worry that if the King v. Burwell lawsuit had succeeded, they would have been responsible for at least six million Americans losing insurance subsidies, and quite appropriately gotten the blame for it. But what are they saying publicly?

The politicians are finding virtue in consistency; their line is that this changes nothing.

“Today’s ruling won’t change ObamaCare’s multitude of broken promises,” said Mitch McConnell.

“ObamaCare is fundamentally broken,” said John Boehner. “Today’s ruling doesn’t change that fact.”

“Today’s ruling makes it clear that if we want to fix our broken healthcare system, then we will need to elect a Republican president,” said RNC chair Reince Priebus, who also made the fascinating observation that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be terrible for America.

Naturally, conservatives are disgusted with Chief Justice Roberts, whom they regard as an unreliable ally, unlike Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. Quin Hillyer of the National Review summed up their feelings: “He is a disgrace. That is all.” But as far as conservative commentators are concerned, the perfidy extends beyond the Supreme Court to the cowards and quislings in Congress. And so, in a particularly optimistic strain of thought, they’re arguing that the decision is really an excellent outcome.

That’s because it has saved the right from another round of what blogger Allahpundit calls “GOP failure theater,” in which Republicans in Congress “make a pretense of putting up a fight in hopes that conservative voters will be impressed and to obtain some sort of mostly meaningless concession to wave at them when the inevitable, and predestined, cave finally happens.”

Similarly, Ben Domenech argues that the decision is a good thing for conservatives, because now Republican candidates will have to come up with really good health care plans to enact when they take back the White House: “Thus, I think the ruling today probably increases the likelihood of repealing ObamaCare in 2017 by a not insignificant margin.” On a similar note, Bill Kristol tweeted, “Repeal of ObamaCare and replacement with limited-government alternative in 2017 will be one of modern conservatism’s finest hours.”

That presumes that the Republican nominee will win, of course. But it also presumes that he would have the ability and willingness to repeal the ACA upon taking office.

There’s no question that the Republican presidential candidates will continue to express their eagerness to do so, at least until we get to the general election. Though none of them has anything resembling a fully-formed plan for the “replace” part of “repeal and replace” that Republicans have been advocating for years, they still have to pay lip service to the idea that the consensus conservative health care plan is coming any day now. When you’ve spent the last five years arguing that this law is a poison-tipped dagger plunging into liberty’s heart, you can’t just say, “Eh, looks like we’ll live with it,” no matter what the practical reality might be.

The practical reality is that whatever public opinion may be about this large abstraction called “ObamaCare,” the law is delivering particular benefits of which Americans are quite fond and that they don’t want to lose. Taking away those subsidies through a lawsuit would have been a political disaster for Republicans, and that would have affected only a portion of the public. What if Republicans were to take away subsidies from people in all 50 states, and toss millions more off Medicaid, and make it so that now insurance companies can deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition again? That’s what repealing the ACA would mean. Republicans may not be able to admit it, as they promise that their phantom alternative plan would take care of all that, but they know that just undoing the ACA would be a disaster.

They can’t acknowledge that fact, because they have a constituency that has been fed heaping plates of apocalyptic rhetoric on this issue ever since the ACA became law. Those Republican base voters need to be told that, though they’ve suffered a loss, the fight is not over. As Ted Kennedy said 35 years ago in what may be the prototypical example of that losing candidate’s speech to his dismayed supporters, “the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributing Writer, The Week, June 25, 2015

June 26, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Conservatives, GOP | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Antonin Scalia’s ‘Interpretive Jiggery-Pokery'”: With Increasing Frequency, Scalia’s Reputation Continues To Deteriorate

Two years ago tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, much to Justice Antonin Scalia’s chagrin. Adding to his greatest-hits list, the far-right jurist called the majority’s rationale “legalistic argle-bargle.”

Today, as my msnbc colleague Irin Carmon reported, Scalia was once again in rare form today in his King v. Burwell dissent.

Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented. Writing on their behalf, Scalia accused the majority of acting in bad faith just to save the law. “So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” Scalia wrote in the dissent. He said Roberts’ reasoning was an act of “interpretive jiggery-pokery.”

No, seriously. Scalia actually used the phrase “interpretive jiggery-pokery.” It’s on page 8. Two pages later, he published the phrase “pure applesauce” as a complete sentence.

The justice has been embarrassing himself with increasing frequency, but Scalia’s reputation continues to deteriorate further.

The broader point, however, is less about the justice’s strange word choice and more about his increasingly twisted approach to the law.

The dissent in King is literally hard to believe. On page 17 of the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts even mocks the dissenters for making the opposite conclusion that they drew three years ago:

“It is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate in this manner.   See National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U. S. ___, ___ (2012) (SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., dissenting) (slip op., at 60) (“Without the federal subsidies … the exchanges would not operate as Congress intended and may not operate at all.”).

It’s no small detail. Three years ago, when the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality was challenged, Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Sam Alito read the law in such a way as to see all eligible consumers receiving subsidies, regardless of state or federal exchanges. In today’s dissent, these three had to read the law in the polar opposite way.

And therein lies the point: it seems as if the dissenting justices were so eager to rule against “Obamacare” that they were willing to ignore legislative history, legislative intent, context, and their own beliefs from three years ago.

I’m also reminded of this Linda Greenhouse piece from February.

Statutory interpretation is something the Supreme Court does all the time, week in and week out, term after term. And while the justices have irreconcilable differences over how to interpret the Constitution, they actually all agree on how to interpret statutory text.  […]

Every justice subscribes to the notion that statutory language has to be understood in context. Justice Scalia said it from the bench just last month, during an argument about the proper interpretation of the federal Fair Housing Act. “When we look at a provision of law, we look at the entire provision of law, including later amendments,” Justice Scalia said. “We try to make sense of the law as a whole.” … Across the ideological spectrum, the court’s opinions are filled with comments like Justice Scalia’s.

Today, Scalia threw all of that out the window, saying what matters isn’t the entire provision of law, but how he could take half a sentence out of context to undermine a law he doesn’t like.

“Words no longer have meaning,” Scalia whined today. In reality, words are still fine. What lacks meaning are Scalia’s unhinged complaints.


By: Steve Benen, The Madow Blog, June 25, 2015

June 26, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Antonin Scalia, SCOTUS | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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