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Valar Qringaomis

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The US Supreme Court

BBC Radio 4 - The Battle for the US Constitution

"Gay marriage is probably not something the authors of the 14th amendment, like radical 1860s congressman John Bingham had in mind. But Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the gay marriage decision last year, argued that it still may be faithful to their broader intentions...

The protected status, the protected classes that are there are all but religion are an immutable characteristic. What race, sex. Religion was the only one that wasn't an immutable characteristic, and that's specifically protected in the Constitution.

So they got it right in the Civil Rights Act and then went on down the line and we've watched this thing that transitioned to what others will say is an evolution and I would say is a digression of our society when we began to protect the mutable characteristics that society has.

An immutable characteristic is one that can be independently verified and cannot be wilfully changed. Age is one, we added age to Civil Rights. That's fine. Disability is another one. If it truly is a disability, it can't be changed and it can be independently verified.

But the balance of this, they've changed now the word sex, which is independently verifiable and can't be wilfully changed, to gender, which is something now that is only in the person's head that's on their way to the bathroom...

'Let's say you and I decided to buy a beach house. The law is very clear: the government cannot seize that property from us without just compensation. Now let's say you and I as friends decided to come together and buy it together. Maybe we should create a corporation just so we can spell out our rights. Repairs are necessary, how we're going to fund it. Without this idea of corporate personhood, the government could go seize that beach house from the corporation. There's nothing protecting the seizure of that.'

But if a corporation is a person, it is entitled under the Fourteenth Amendment, so the courts have decided, to the equal protection of the laws...

The irony is that it's generally liberals who make the argument that the constitution evolves. So you can use the Fourteenth Amendment to allow gay marriage... but in this case, liberals think the courts have betrayed the original meaning of the Amendment by choosing to regard corporations as people"


BBC World Service - The Documentary, Court in the Centre

"There is very little in American life that doesn't come at some time before the United States Supreme Court...

Since Bork's nomination was rejected by the Senate, the political significance of each appointment has been endlessly parsed and assessed and today the process has come to a complete standstill...

We have a Supreme Court that is, has become increasingly political. Has ventured increasingly into very political waters. Waters that don't belong in the judicial branch of government.

And so it shouldn't be surprising to those on the left that at some point, those of us who are conservatives are going to push back and say that ok, if you want them to play this political role, if you're going to cheer them on every time they play this political role and in fact you're going to try to intimidate them into playing that increasingly political role, we're going to exercise our rights within our political system to stop it'...

As a lobbyist, Jack Abramoff's name became a byword for corruption, and he spent time prison as a result. But he's out now campaigning for good governance, and he worries that in a few recent decisions, the court has showed that it doesn't really understand how corruption works. Perhaps because, for the first time in its history, nobody on the court has ever been elected to public office...

I spoke to former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens... I asked him if the court was political, legal or both.

'Sometimes cases present issues that have political ramifications, there's no doubt about that, but it's a judicial body, it's a court. It does not initiate its own business. It decides cases that are initiated by litigants and there're a lot of issues that they might like to decide but if they are not presented to them in a judicial way, they can't decide them. Their business is to decide cases and controversies... It had been the tradition before every argument session that the judges do shake hands with one another and it's also a tradition that they have lunch together regularly, but during lunches they don't talk business. They're social gatherings and the social aspects and the business aspects of the court are really quite separate"
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