Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Supreme Court - My Thoughts

What if they made a weekly TV series "Supreme Law" like LA Law or Boston Legal or Night Court. It might make a great TV series but it would probably be better written.

I took the links to the audio and PDF of yesterday's arguments before the court from Russ at Blue Truck Red State and listened in.  Interesting, educational, but at times mundane.

Russ has all the summaries and links a person could ask for regarding the historic Supreme Court cases on Prop 8 and DOMA.  I won't add to that but just my own commentary in "The for what it's worth department".

I would guess that SCOTUS will throw out the Prop 8 case for lack of standing - that is what they were most concerned about.  Those arguing could not seem to get their arguments to be consistent.

Do the proponents of Prop 8 have standing?  Why should they defend the law if the state itself chooses not to?

Is the case just about California or is it broader?  Does it just apply to jurisdictions where same-sex couples already have some of the privileges of marriage and therefore not affect states with no rights for LGBT couples?  It sounded a lot like the lawyers were taking oral exams and prepared answers to all the wrong questions.

Will try to catch the DOMA arguments soon.  My guess is that this will have a better shot at status as it is a much more "federal" issue.

The real question is what kind of can of worms will it open?  With the constitution allowing states to regulate marriage, can the federal government then turn around and say they will not recognize what the states decide?  Will a decision striking down DOMA require states to recognize valid same-sex marriages performed in other states?  If so, will that essentially negate any State constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage?  And how will that then effect a ruling on Prop 8?

What I think this all reveals is that, although a nice and revolutionary idea at the time, the concept of individual states united under one federal government is inherently flawed, especially now, as travel, industry, technology and all has developed.

There has to be a greater consistency in state laws and regulations.  It is too easy for someone from my state, for example, to avoid paying sales tax on an expensive item just by traveling a couple of hours into New Hampshire where there is no sales tax; or to avoid automobile property tax by registering their car in Vermont using a post office box or a friend's address; or to avoid prosecution for DUI and failure to appear in Massachusetts by not driving through that state; or to avoid certain taxes by locating a business or a yacht in a state like Delaware; etc.

When it comes to marriage laws and same-sex marriage, the issues become so convoluted and inconsistent.  Add the dimensions of relocation, death, divorce, adoption, inheritance, benefits, responsibility for debt and it gets strange.  In Connecticut a spouse is responsible for a deceased spouse's debt - if my same-sex spouse dies and I flee to Oklahoma (I'd be crazy) would I no longer be in debt?  Well I hope the Supremes ask good questions, because I, for one, would like some answers.

Just got finished listening to the DOMA arguments. Whew!  Gave me a headache!  I guess it's wait and see.


  1. Glad you found my big box of links helpful. My feeling, as I've stated on BTRS, is that out of all this, we'll get marriage back in Calif. and federal recognition in the states that allow SSM, and not much more - precisely because of all those "convoluted" questions of standing, federalism, states' rights, etc., etc. So the struggle will have to go on a while longer; I really can't imagine SSM nationwide much before 2030, to be honest.

    But while the idea of going to a unitary system has cropped up before, I don't think Americans will ever buy it. We like being noncomformists too much, in certain ways. It's like, you may love your brothers and sisters, but once you're all out of the house, would you ever all want to move back under one roof again? I ask you.

    But now your New England states are tiny compared to the ones in the far South and West. New England could very tidily and efficiently be glommed into a single state, I think. But would all six of you really ever vote for that?



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