The Supreme Court issued a ton of rulings the last couple of weeks. I have to say that up to the last day, I didn’t care for much of them. Then on the last day, they did make a couple of favorable rulings for gay rights. To sum things up, looks like the courts are anti-employee, anti-minority, pro-business, and pro-police (maybe you could say pro-authority). But there were those two victories for gay rights. Anyway, for better or worse, here’s a few things that got decided this week:
- Gay rights got a major victory when DOMA was ruled unconstitutional. Specifically, they ruled that the federal government could not define marriage, but rather that power was left to the states. The result is that as long as the state you live in recognizes your marriage, the federal government cannot deny related federal benefits. (Of course the flip side is that if the state doesn’t recognize your marriage, the federal government doesn’t have to either. And then there’s the shady area of what happens if you are married in one state that recognizes gay marriage, but move to another state that does not.)
- A lesser victory for gay rights was achieved when the Supreme Court decided to dismiss the Prop 8 case due to lack of standing by those who brought the suit. Though really that was a way for the Supreme Court to find an out to not make a decision on the Constitutionality of same-sex marriage.
- The Supreme Court rulings just continue to reflect the shifting attitude about this, acceptance of marriage by any two individuals regardless of gender is going to happen, it’s just a matter of when, not if.
- Everything else?
- For one, the Voter’s Rights Act was gutted. The pre-clearance requirement (which required certain states/counties to get voting changes approved by the federal government) was rejected, supposedly because the majority said the formula is outdated*. The court said that Congress should pass a new formula. Apparently that was said without laughter, even though THIS congress is not going to pass any such thing. And states such as Texas and Mississippi pretty much didn’t even let enough time pass for even the whole decision to be read before reintroducing voter ID laws, which is practice is the very type of thing the Voter’s Rights Act was designed to prevent. After all, the states know best, right? (*This is not to say Congress shouldn’t address this. They should. It’s just the reality is that they won’t. So with this decision, you may as well have thrown out the whole law.)
- In a case where a white student had sued The University of Texas over its admission standards, claiming that they were racist against whites, the court threw out the lower courts ruling for the university and kicked the case back to them with a new standard that the court must be convinced that there were no other “race neutral” alternatives that would produce the same diverse results. (From what I remember reading about this case, this student’s claim was dubious because better qualified applicants than her were also denied admission, many of whom were minorities.)
- Corporations won big with two rulings. Now corporations can’t be held responsible for supervisors that sexually harass employees if that supervisor can’t hire/fire/demote/transfer/or punish that employee because apparently in the court’s eyes if you can’t do that, you can’t possibly be a real supervisor. Or perhaps you can’t possibly sexually harass. I am not sure which. Also, as a result of the other case, if a corporation is motivated to retaliate against an employee who complains about harassment and/or discrimination, it’s totally cool as long as that employee can’t prove that the complaint was the “deciding” factor of that retaliation. The message to employees is clear, keep your mouth shut and do your job, no matter how poorly you are treated.
- Police also won big. In a decision involving a man being questioned in regards to murder, the court decided that in order to have the right to remain silent, you must explicitly state that you are invoking that right, you can’t just remain silent. This seems odd to me, because it doesn’t seem to be a standard applied to our other rights.
My point is….meh, I don’t think I have a point. I guess given the make-up of the current court, I should be happy that there is any decision being made that isn’t strictly conservative.