The arguments over Proposition 8 – the California ban on same-sex marriage – gave tantalizing hints about the thinking of Supreme Court justices hearing the case.
After a lawyer in support of the ban, Charles Cooper, argued that procreation and child-rearing were fundamental to a state’s interest in marriage, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg brought up a previous Supreme Court case in which justices ruled prison inmates have a right to marry even though they may be prevented from procreating, according to the BBC.
“There are lots of people who get married who can’t have children,” Justice Stephen Breyer reportedly told Cooper.
And Justice Anthony Kennedy, often seen as a swing vote, suggested children of same-sex couples would suffer an “immediate legal injury” under the ban.
Despite the intriguing clues, a Jewish leader of the marriage-equality movement cautioned against reading too much into the arguments.
“Today’s argument was lively as the justices grappled with the mix of substantive and procedural questions raised in this challenge to Prop 8.,” Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, told the Forward in an e-mail.
“Now they are going to dig into the mountain of briefs and evidence from a who’s who of America … all showing there is no good reason for denying committed same-sex couples the freedom to marry. It’s always tempting, and often misleading, to speculate about oral argument, but the truth is that it’s in the opinion-writing and circulating process that the justices reach their result,” said Wolfson, widely regarded as a pioneer in marriage rights in the U.S.
Many analysts said the justices appeared to be considering a narrow ruling in the case and avoiding a pronouncement about whether a fundamental right to gay marriage exists in the constitution.
A long list of characters helped elevate a pair of marriage-equality cases to the Supreme Court, where they’ll be heard in 2013. But if one person deserves credit for the ascent of the marriage-rights movement, it’s Evan Wolfson. In 2003, when even gay people felt it a fringe cause, Wolfson founded Freedom to Marry as a “campaign to win marriage nationwide.” A decade later, the organization has helped align marriage rights in nine states and Washington D.C. — and doubled public support for marriage equality to what Wolfson calls “a clear majority”.
Wolfson came to the marriage-equality fight battle-tested; in the 1990’s, he served as co-counsel in an historic Hawaii marriage case that essentially launched the cause. Wolfson has also reaped some of the fruits of his labor. He married biotech consultant Cheng He last October after the State of New York passed the Marriage Equality Act, a bill he pushed for himself. Wolfson, 55, spoke to the Forward from his Chelsea office.
Michael Kaminer: When you started Freedom to Marry, did you imagine you’d see marriage equality debated in front of the Supreme Court?
Evan Wolfson: That was always the goal. Our strategy derives from the lessons of history, from how America does its civil rights business, and from how other civil-rights movements have made progress. The strategy has always said we achieve social justice once either Congress or the Supreme Court brings the country to a national resolution. But that national resolution doesn’t come at the beginning, or even the early middle. It comes after a patchwork of struggles, and progress, and defeats, with some states moving faster while other states regress. The same strategy that brought us to this point of triumph and transformation will bring the freedom to marry home nationwide.
Supporters of jailed kosher meat CEO Sholom Rubashkin received a boost this week in the form of a blog post by a senior editor for the online magazine Slate.
The post, by Slate’s Emily Bazelon, provides rare secular media backing for Rubashkin, who enjoys overwhelming sympathy among Orthodox Jews.
A former top executive of the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking concern, Rubashkin was convicted of scores of counts of financial fraud in 2009 and is currently serving a 27-year jail sentence. The charges came in the wake of a massive immigration raid on the Agriprocessors facility.
The Forward was the first newspaper to report on employee and animal welfare problems at Agriprocessor’s Postville, Iowa plant.
In her Slate post, Bazelon pointed to two longstanding concerns about Rubashkin’s conviction and sentencing. Bazelon noted that his 27-year sentence is relatively long for a bank fraud conviction. She also cited concerns that the judge who heard the case, Linda Reade, was prejudiced by her involvement in planning the raid on the Agriprocessors plant.
Bazelon wrote that a number of attorneys — including Bazelon’s own sister — have filed amicus curiae briefs asking the Supreme Court to review a request for a retrial.
Sometimes the biggest news isn’t found in a hot new scoop, but in a recapitulation of a string of things you knew about but hadn’t put together already—or in little details that flesh out a trend you’d heard about, showing you how fast it’s building up.
An example of the first: Former labor secretary Robert Reich’s Christian Science Monitor blogpost last Tuesday about the ways in which the wealthy have gained and used their access to public discourse in order to change the rules of the game and further enrich themselves —
Yet when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with all this, they’re told the First Amendment doesn’t apply. Instead, they’re treated as public nuisances – clubbed, pepper-sprayed, thrown out of public parks and evicted from public spaces.
An example of the second: Haaretz military reporter Amos Harel’s news analysis the Friday before last about the growing culture war within the Israeli military between the secular values of the senior command and the increasing numbers of increasingly devout Orthodox soldiers and officers. You’ve heard about the tensions. Here are some of the details:
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