BREAKING: Bob McDonnell found guilty of 11 counts, all corruption; Maureen McDonnell guilty on 8 corruption counts, obstruction of justice. #McDonnellTrial
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge Friday threw out new Texas abortion restrictions that would have effectively closed more than a dozen clinics statewide in a victory for opponents of tough new anti-abortion laws sweeping across the U.S.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel sided with clinics that sued over one of the most disputed measures of a sweeping anti-abortion bill signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2013. The ruling stops new clinic requirements that would have left seven abortion facilities in Texas come Monday, when the law was set to take effect.
Texas currently has 19 abortion providers — already down from more than 40 just two years ago, according to groups that sued the state for the second time over the law known as HB2.
"The overall effect of the provisions is to create an impermissible obstacle as applied to all women seeking a previability abortion," Yeakel wrote in his 21-page ruling.
The ruling blocks a portion of the that law would have required abortion facilities in Texas to meet hospital-level operating standards, which supporters say will protect women’s health. But Yeakel concluded the intent was only to “close existing licensed abortion clinics.”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who is the favorite to become governor next year, vowed to seek an immediate appeal to try to preserve the new clinic rules.
Clinics called the measures a backdoor effort to outlaw abortions, which has been a constitutional right since the Roe v. Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.
Under the new restrictions, the only remaining abortion facilities in Texas would have been in major cities, and there would have been none in the entire western half of the nation’s second-largest state. For women in El Paso, the closest abortion provider would be in New Mexico — an option the state wanted Yeakel to take into consideration, even though New Mexico’s rules for abortion clinics are far less rigorous.
"It’s an undue burden for women in Texas — and thankfully today the court agreed," said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, which would have been among the clinic operators affected. "The evidence has been stacking up against the state and against the politicians who so cynically passed these laws in the name of safety."
Miller said that she will now seek to re-open a clinic in the Rio Grande Valley — where there hasn’t been an abortion provider for months — as soon as this weekend.
The new Texas restrictions would have required clinics to have operating rooms, air filtration systems and other standards that are typically only mandated in surgical settings.
Some clinics in Texas already stopped offering abortions after another part of the 2013 bill required doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. That part of the law has been upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court in New Orleans, where the state will now seek a second reversal.
"The State disagrees with the court’s ruling and will seek immediate relief from the Fifth Circuit, which has already upheld HB2 once," Abbott spokeswoman Lauren Bean said.
Similar rules on admitting privileges have been blocked by federal courts in Mississippi, Kansas and Wisconsin.
Attorneys for the state denied that women would be burdened by fewer abortion facilities, saying nearly 9 in 10 women in Texas would still live within 150 miles of a provider. Critics say that still leaves nearly a million Texas women embarking on drives longer than three hours to get an abortion.
Opposition to the Texas law was so visible that Democrat Wendy Davis launched her campaign for governor behind the celebrity she achieved through a nearly 13-hour filibuster last summer that temporarily blocked the bill in the state Senate.
Her opponent in November is Abbott.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is a very conservative court. Seven of its ten active judges are Republicans, and these Republicans include some committed allies of the conservative Federalist Society. Nevertheless, anti-gay conservatives are likely to have little to celebrate once the Seventh Circuit hands down its closely watched decision in a pair of marriage equality cases the court will hear Tuesday. The Seventh Circuit just announced the three-judge panel who will hear this case — Judges Richard Posner, Anne Claire Williams and David Hamilton — and that appears to be very good news for Team Equality.
Judge Posner is the sole Republican on the panel — he’s served on the Court since President Reagan appointed him in 1981 — but he is a highly idiosyncratic judge who has grown increasingly critical of his fellow partisans in recent years. In a 2012 interview, for example, Posner complained that “there’s been a real deterioration in conservative thinking. And that has to lead people to re-examine and modify their thinking.” He added that he has personally “become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy.”
On the specific issue of gay rights, Posner’s views are a bit nuanced, but he is openly sympathetic to the case for equality. In a 2013 essay entitled “How Gay Marriage Became Legitimate,” Posner questioned the view that the courts have played much of a role in advancing LGBT equality. Using antiquated language, Posner’s bottom line was that “the growing acceptance of homosexual marriage seems a natural consequence of the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s rather than an effect, even to a small degree, of litigation.” Yet he was also dismissive of arguments against gay equality. “[I]t is hard to make a case for discriminating against [gay people],” Posner wrote, “apart from a religious case based largely on Roman Catholic doctrine.”
Judge Williams is less outspoken than Posner — few, if any judges, share Posner’s affection for expressing his views in public — but she is a Clinton-appointee to the Seventh Circuit who is widely viewed as left-of-center. Given the overwhelming consensus among federal judges that marriage equality is required by the Constitution, it is unlikely that Williams will break with this consensus.
That leaves Judge Hamilton. Hamilton was literally the first judge President Obama nominated to a seat on the federal bench. Although the White House attempted to sell Hamilton as a moderate, most Senate Republicans filibustered his nomination in large part due to a handful of opinions he handed down as a federal district judge on social issues such as abortion and religion. As with Williams, it is unlikely that Hamilton will break with the widespread judicial consensus supporting equality.
All of this, of course, is said with a standard caveat. It ain’t over until the court issues its mandate, and there is no way to be certain about how any of these judges will rule. Nevertheless, marriage equality supporters should be very pleased with this panel.
On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a law that would have closed down Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, invalidating a 2012 measure requiring abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. The state’s only two abortion providers fly in from out of state to serve patients and were repeatedly denied partnerships with local hospitals.
The three-judge panel ruled that since the U.S. Supreme Court established a constitutional right to abortion, “Mississippi may not shift its obligation for established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state,” the Associated Press reports.
“Pre-viability, a woman has the constitutional right to end her pregnancy by abortion. H.B. 1390 effectively extinguishes that right within Mississippi’s borders,” judges E. Grady Jolly of Mississippi and Stephan A. Higginson of Louisiana wrote in the 2-1 ruling. Jolly was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, while Higginson was appointed by President Barack Obama.
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic has operated for nearly two decades and has become the state’s sole abortion provider. Back in 1981, Mississippi had as many as 14 different facilities that offered abortion services.
More than half the states have enacted laws that limit women’s access to abortion services by requiring clinics to undergo unnecessary and expensive renovations, including widening hallways, building closets, and installing water fountains. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes these so-called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws. Still, TRAP laws have already closed more than 50 abortion clinics over the past several years.
Today’s verdict is a victory for the people of Mississippi and for the supporters of reproductive choice.
h/t: Igor Volsky at Think Progress Health
"[I]nertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws."
WASHINGTON — The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held Monday that Virginia’s ban on same-sex couples’ marriages is unconstitutional.
On a 2-1 vote, the appeals court joined the wave of court decisions declaring such bans unconstitutional. The decision, by Judge Henry Floyd acknowledged both the debate over such laws and, in the court’s view, the clear constitutional impediment to laws banning same-sex couples from marrying.
“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable,” he wrote. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws.”
In considering the matter, Floyd, joined by Judge Roger Gregory, ruled, “The Virginia Marriage Laws … impede the right to marry by preventing same-sex couples from marrying and nullifying the legal import of their out-of-state marriages. Strict scrutiny therefore applies in this case.”
Judge Paul Niemeyer dissented from the decision, writing, “Because there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage and there are rational reasons for not recognizing it, just as there are rational reasons for recognizing it, I conclude that we, in the Third Branch, must allow the States to enact legislation on the subject in accordance with their political processes.”
The court heard arguments in the case in May.
Source: Chris Geidner for Buzzfeed
Over the past two years ultra-conservatives have seen a slate of victories in Kansas, long a bastion of political conservatism. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback instituted the most aggressive income tax cuts in state history, leading to extreme budget shortfalls; he cut public education funding so severely that the Kansas Supreme Court had to interfere; and he removed nearly 45 percent of poor families from state welfare.
Less noticed was Brownback’s move to change the way judges are selected for the state court of appeals—an action that had the full backing of the leading anti-choice group in the state.
“We have a pro-life house and a pro-life senate and a pro-life governor,” Mary Kay Culp, the executive director of Kansans for Life, told RH Reality Check. But, she said, there’s a problem. “We pass pro-life legislation—and we get sued. The next frontier is the courts.”
Stung by the wave of state court cases consolidating marriage equality across the country, conservative groups in many states are now focusing on judicial elections to ensure the array of laws they’ve passed are upheld when challenged in state courts.
The result is that judicial selection—once a relatively obscure topic—has emerged as the focus of a new conservative strategy to reshape the way people become judges at the local level, according to experts who monitor judicial fairness.
“We’re seeing more interest in merit selection in a number of states, especially as high spending and political pressure become a bigger issue in contested judicial elections,” said Laurie Kinney, director of communications and public education at the national nonpartisan group Justice at Stake. “Special interest groups of many stripes have known for years now that judicial elections can provide an opening for political influence and spending that they believe will advance their agendas.”
While RH Reality Check did not find large donations from anti-choice groups to judges in the campaign finance records we examined, our reporting exposed a more profound strategy at work: an effort to cement conservative policy by changing the rules of the game.
Currently, 22 states have contested elections for judges, while 16 have some type of merit selection or governor-appointed system, according to Justice at Stake. Merit systems are intended to insulate the judicial selection process from political and special interest groups. The systems take different forms; a popular iteration establishes a non-partisan commission that accepts applications for judicial posts, and recommends three candidates to the state governor.
Recognizing the potential to influence judicial elections in the era of unlimited campaign contributions and “shadow money,” conservatives in multiple states have begun agitating to switch from merit-based appointment systems to open elections for judges. These groups are also active in opposing efforts to move toward merit-based systems.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, which lifted caps on campaign contributions, spending in state court races has skyrocketed. Total spending in 2011-2012 high court state races reached $56.4 million, up from just $31.7 million in 2001, with special interest groups and political parties spending 43 percent of that total, according to a joint report published in October 2013 by the Brennan Center for Justice, Justice at Stake, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
The New York Times recently published a story about the heated judicial election in North Carolina, where national groups like the Republican State Leadership Committee poured money into the state supreme court race as part of an effort to put more conservative judges on the bench nationwide. And as Dahlia Lithwick noted in Slate, “knocking off a state Supreme Court justice is one of the cheapest political endeavors going.”
But instead of knocking off particular judges, anti-choice groups seem to be mobilizing to change the entire system of judicial selection. Once they’ve successfully implemented contested elections or gubernatorial appointment, they can then fund judges and governors who will push a conservative agenda.
That’s why Kansans for Life supported the state legislature in 2013 when they moved to swap the court of appeals merit selection committee for a system in which the governor selects judges, which the senate then confirms. The bill, which became effective July 1, 2013, allows Gov. Brownback to hand-select justices, without making the application pool, interview process, or selection criteria public. The only oversight is that the Republican-controlled senate must confirm the nominee.
Now, Kansans for Life has its eyes set on the state supreme court.
Unlike the lower state courts, where the process for selecting judges could be changed with a simple majority vote, Kansas’s state constitution specifies the way that judges are selected for its highest court. Changing that system requires a constitutional amendment.
The state senate passed such a constitutional amendment—which would eradicate the merit selection nominating commission for the Supreme Court—in January 2013, but there was no vote in the house. The legislative session is now over.
Ryan Wright, the executive director of Kansans for Fair Courts, is wary of the push by Kansans for Life to change the constitutionally mandated selection process.
“Take the actual issue of abortion out of it; anytime you have a special interest group that is championing and cheering the [judicial selection] process, I think that should give everybody pause. Wait a second—what have they been promised? What have they been told privately? And why are they so excited about this?”
In the past three years, state legislatures in 11 states, including Montana, Tennessee (where merit selection will be on the general ballot in November), and Arkansas have attempted to pass merit selection bills in response to growing concerns about the politicization of state judiciaries, RH Reality Check’s research shows.
But legislators in some states have found those initiatives opposed by anti-choice groups.
Early this June, Pennsylvania state Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom) received an e-mail from the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation urging him to vote against HB 1848, a merit selection bill.
“This will be a scorecard vote for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, which represents more than 40 pro-life organizations and tens of thousands of members in Pennsylvania,” the email read. “A ‘yes’ vote will be considered a pro-abortion vote.”
As chief sponsor of the bill, Rep. Cutler was aware of the intense politics involved in selecting judges.
HB 1848 did not appear to be a “pro-abortion,” or even a particularly charged, bill. It proposed adding an amendment to the state constitution so that Pennsylvania’s statewide appellate judges would no longer be selected by partisan elections, but instead by a citizen nominating commission, gubernatorial appointment, and senate confirmation. Periodic retention elections—where voters simply vote “yes” or “no” to keep an incumbent—would ensure that extraordinarily unpopular judges couldn’t stay on the bench.
Rep. Cutler, who is also the chairman of the Pennsylvania House Pro-Life Caucus, was unswayed by the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation’s email.
“I respectfully disagree with some of the issues they raise,” he told RH Reality Check in an interview. Rep. Cutler introduced a bill to prohibit abortion coverage in health insurance exchanges, and he would like to see a law in Pennsylvania (similar to the Wendy Davis-filibustered HB 2 in Texas) requiring abortion practitioners to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals. Even so, he doesn’t think “pro-life” groups should be able to choose Pennsylvania’s judges.
“I personally have concerns when judges have to go out and enter the political process in the way of traditional candidates. I’ve always thought that raised a lot of red flags, when they sit on cases at a later time,” he said. “From my perspective, this is not a pro-life or a pro-choice issue. It is really an issue around the integrity of the judiciary.”
Due in part to the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation’s email, the bill was never debated in the house. Because legislators are proposing a constitutional amendment, they will need to vote on the bill in two consecutive sessions before putting the question to the voters. Since the bill failed in this legislative session, it can’t appear on the general ballot until at least 2017.
In other states, merit selection of state judges appears to be a sleeper issue.
Minnesota hasn’t faced the same high-level spending on judicial elections that other states have, which means the push for reform has been less urgent. Still, the legislature came close last year to passing a bill that would present a merit selection constitutional amendment to voters in November.
The state’s main anti-choice group—Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL)—says on its website that it opposes merit selection because it believes citizens should be able to vote for specific judges, and because retention elections are equally politicized as open elections.
The group declined to comment for this story, but Sarah Walker, president of Minnesota’s Coalition for Impartial Justice, attributes the bill’s failure to strong opposition from MCCL.
“There was some fear about this becoming a campaign issue,” Walker said.
For the most part, MCCL, like its anti-choice counterparts around the country, did not launch active opposition to the merit selection bill until it was time for a hearing, Walker said. Then they sent last-minute letters to legislators promising to “score the issue”—present it to voters as an anti-abortion vote in election season voting guides—just as the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation did.
“Regardless of what side of issues you are on, I think that everyone should be able to agree that we want our judiciary to be accountable to the rule of law and the Constitution,” said Walker. “We don’t want anyone making campaign promises.”
Another Florida state court has ruled against the ban on same-sex marriage.
A second Florida judge has ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and unenforceable. It is the second such ruling in the state in as many weeks. Like last week’s ruling, the decision has been stayed pending appeal, so same-sex couples cannot yet begin marrying in Florida.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel opened her decision with an excerpt from Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision that overturned all bans on interracial marriage. Referring to passages like, “The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious… discriminations,” she noted that the language “applies equally” to the case at hand. She suggested it was “disingenuous” of the state to ignore it in their arguments.
Zabel dismissed many of the arguments made by Florida in court, including attempts to define “marriage” as inherently only being between a man and a woman. “The inquiry is not whether there is a right to same-sex marriage,” she emphasized, “but whether same-sex couples can be excluded from the right to marriage.”
Arguments about childrearing also fell flat, particularly because of Florida’s own jurisprudence; state courts previously knocked down laws banning same-sex couples from adopting in 2010. Not only does the court record show that same-sex couples make equally effective parents, but it demonstrates that child-rearing is a separate issue from marriage altogether. “Rather,” Zabel wrote, “the marriage bans merely prevent same-sex couples from having their already existent families and partnerships recognized in the same manner as opposite-sex couples,” which harms the children they are already raising.
Noting the country’s long history of overcoming prejudice and discrimination, Zabel concluded that, “as evidenced by the avalanche of court decisions unanimously favoring marriage equality, the dam that was denying justice on this front has been broken.”
Source: Zack Ford for ThinkProgress
BREAKING: Colorado’s constitutional ban on marriage equality has been struck down, ruling stayed pending appeal. #CO4M
As in the South Park episode “Follow That Egg!”, Colorado will remain on “Butt Buddies” (aka civil unions) status instead of full equal marriage.
Colorado state court judge strikes down marriage ban, stays ruling pending appeal: pic.twitter.com/SOyyhNEJTp— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) July 9, 2014
Judge strikes down Colorado’s gay marriage ban http://t.co/HClMyGeahL— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) July 9, 2014
BREAKING: Judge Strikes Down Colorado Ban on Gay Marriage http://t.co/rnsGsxjSdf— Towleroad (@tlrd) July 9, 2014
BREAKING: A Colorado judge has struck down the state’s gay marriage ban.— Blueroomstream (@Blueroomstream) July 9, 2014
On Same Day As SCOTUS' Descion Favoring Hobby Lobby, EWTN Granted Injunction Against Contraception Requirement | Broadcasting & Cable
EWTN, the Catholic programming network, has been granted an injunction from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals preventing the government from enforcing the HHS contraceptive services mandate.
The decision came the same day the Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that the Obamacare contraception mandate when applied to “closely held” corporations violates the law, though the court did not get to the First Amendment issues raised by the mandate. (http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf).
A U.S. District judge on June 17 had ruled that EWTN was subject to the mandate that it provide coverage of “contraception, abortion inducing drugs and sterilization” as part of its employee health care coverage,” according to EWTN.
While the Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby didn’t resolve the EWTN case, the network said, it “recognizes that business owners don’t give up their religious freedom when they start a business.”
The injunction means EWTN does not face the $35,000-per-day fines for not adhering to the mandate, which would have been levied starting July 1, said EWTN. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty represents both Hobby Lobby and EWTN, as well as others in the dozens of lawsuits filed against the contraception mandate.
“This has been a very good day for religious liberty in America,” said EWTN Chairman Michael P. Warsaw. “The Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case was a great affirmation of the constitutional right to freedom of religious expression.”
EWTN filed its original lawsuit in February 2012, but that was dismissed on technical grounds. It filed a second lawsuit in October 2013 against the DHS and agencies. The State of Alabama joined EWTN as a co-plaintiff in the new suit.
#SCOTUS Watch resumes Monday at 9AM CDT with Harris v. Quinn and Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby left in the bin.
In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court ruled against streaming broadcast TV company Aereo, deciding that the service is a “public” performance of the copyrighted local broadcast content it retransmits through digital antennas to the streaming devices of its paying customers
In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court ruled against streaming broadcast TV company Aereo, deciding that the service is a “public” performance of the copyrighted local broadcast content it retransmits through digital antennas to the streaming devices of its paying customers. Although the ruling just came out and experts are still combing through it, SCOTUSblog’s early take is that the decision is “sweeping and definitive” in its conclusion that Aereo is illegal.
Source: Abby Ohlheiser for The Wire
WASHINGTON — An investigation targeting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) for alleged illegal coordination with independent conservative groups during his 2012 recall election has been thrown into limbo by a lawsuit that could turn into the next big challenge to campaign finance limits.
The case has the potential to blow a hole in anti-coordination rules in Wisconsin and beyond — a hole that would effectively wipe away campaign contribution limits by allowing candidates to control the unlimited and secret contributions raised by not-really-independent groups.
For the last few years, Wisconsin prosecutors have been looking into allegations that Walker and his aides illegally coordinated with a dozen groups, ranging from the Wisconsin Club for Growth to the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, to support both the governor’s recall campaign and those of Republican state senators. After its offices were raided and documents seized by prosecutors, the Wisconsin Club for Growth sued, arguing that the investigation itself was a violation of its First Amendment rights to free speech and free association.
Moreover, the group contended it had not violated the state’s anti-coordination law because the ads it ran in coordination with the Walker camp constituted issue advocacy, which the group claims is not covered by the anti-coordination rules. While the ads named specific candidates for office, the group said, they did not rise to the level of electoral activity because they didn’t urge viewers to “vote for” or “vote against” anyone.
In January, a state judge agreed with the Wisconsin Club for Growth that Wisconsin law did not cover coordination between candidates and groups engaging in issue advocacy, even if the attack ads in question simply sidestepped the rules by avoiding the explicit “vote for/against” language.
In May, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa concurred with the state judge in a far more sweeping ruling. Analogizing the investigation to “attempts to purify the public square” that lead to “the Guillotine and the Gulag,” Randa suspended the probe and ordered that all evidence be returned immediately. He held that prosecutors’ interpretation of the state law as it might apply to Walker and the groups would violate their First Amendment rights — by taking campaign restrictions beyond the constitutional limit — and thus so did the investigation. The judge repeatedly referenced the restricted definition of political “corruption” laid out by the Supreme Court in its recent Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions.
"The plaintiffs have found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted," Randa wrote. "Instead, it should be recognized as promoting political speech, an activity that is ‘ingrained in our culture.’"
The case has moved to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which has already stayed Randa’s ruling, thereby allowing the investigation to continue. The prosecutors argue that the state’s anti-coordination law is meant to cover coordination of issue advocacy.
"If Randa’s ruling stands on appeal, then the rules against coordination between a candidate and outside groups would go out the window in Wisconsin," University of California-Irvine electoral law professor Rick Hasenwrote in Slate.
A recent report from professors Daniel Tojaki and Renata E.B. Strause of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law warned that campaigns and independent groups are already doing everything in their power to coordinate without technically breaking these rules. Campaign staff complain, however, that they can’t control the messages of the groups helping them.
"A frequent refrain from campaign staff was that even independent spending by ‘friendly’ sources was less useful than it could have been," the report states.
If it stands, Randa’s ruling would open the door to this kind of greater control in Wisconsin. If the case finds its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the five justices opposed to campaign finance limits could extend this loophole across the country.
Following Randa, the Supreme Court could find it unconstitutional to apply anti-coordination rules to issue advocacy in state and federal campaigns. This would essentially “eviscerate campaign contribution limits” across the country, Hasen told HuffPost.
There are national groups ready and willing to take advantage of another Supreme Court strike against campaign finance law.
In the 2014 midterm elections, groups controlled by the Kochs, including Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, have already spent tens of millions of dollars on ads attacking Democratic candidates in Senate battleground states. These ads are generally designed to meet the standards for issue advocacy.
In a world where the circumvention of coordination rules “should not and cannot be condemned or restricted,” as Randa wrote, the Koch-linked groups could coordinate messaging in these issue advocacy spots and plan advertising buys with the campaigns they support. In effect, federal candidates and their campaigns would be able to direct the operations of groups that can accept checks for $10 million or $20 million from secret donors.
That’s likely to sound a lot more tempting than running their election efforts through their own campaigns. After all, those campaigns are hampered: They have to abide by laws that limit them to a measly $5,200 per individual donor and require the public disclosure of the names of their donors.
WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Utah’s ban on same-sex couples’ marriages is unconstitutional, making it the first appellate ruling on the issue since last June’s Supreme Court ruling striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit upheld the December 2013 federal trial court ruling that the ban is unconstitutional in a 2-1 decision written by Judge Carlos Lucero.
Judge Paul Kelly wrote a 21-page dissent, countering Lucero’s 65-page majority opinion. Judge Jermoe Holmes joined the majority opinion.
Importantly. however, he also concluded that because the Supreme Court stayed the trial court’s ruling in the Utah case pending the 10th Circuit appeal that it should stay its mandate of the appellate ruling “pending the disposition of any subsequently filed petition for writ of certiorari” to the Supreme Court.
The stay means same-sex couples’ marriages cannot continue at this time in Utah.
The 10th Circuit’s decision, which cites heavily from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in the DOMA case, United States v. Windsor, was issued one day before the one-year anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision.
Four big cases at SCOTUS left: NLRB v. Noel Canning, Harris v. Quinn, McCullen v. Coakley, and the biggie: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby.
Text: Four opinions left outstanding at SCOTUS that could be decided on tomorrow and at least other decision day (most likely Monday).
Here are the cases:
- NLRB v. Noel Canning (recess appointments)
- Harris v. Quinn (union dues, workers’ rights, unionization of home care workers)
- McCullen v. Coakley (abortion, protest buffer zones)
- Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby/Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, likely the last decision of the 2013-14 SCOTUS Term. (birth control, contraception, religious freedom, women’s health, religious exemptions)